HC Deb 10 February 1972 vol 830 cc1536-8
10. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is her programme of consultations on the James Report.

12. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on the nature and manner of the consultations she is going to hold on the James Report on teacher education and training.

25 and 54. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) whether she will undertake to make a statement to the House when she has concluded her consultations on the James Report;

(2) how long she proposes to allow for the completion of consultations on the James Report.

56. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she intends to announce her policy on the recommendations contained in the James Report on the training of teachers.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have made it clear that I intend to allow time for the issues raised by the report to be widely considered and debated. I hope to initiate consultations not later than Easter, but, while I am anxious to avoid delay, I cannot say at this stage how long they are likely to take or how soon thereafter I shall be able to reach conclusions or announce them to the House.

Mr. Lane

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the consultations will be thorough in every respect, so that changes in teacher education and training can be properly considered in the wider context of possible changes in the shape of higher education as a whole, and not only in the teacher training sector?

Mrs. Thatcher

The consultations will be very thorough indeed. I gladly give my hon. Friend that assurance. I have already identified more than 30 organisations whose views will have to be taken formally before we reach any conclusion.

Mr. Willey

While we have to accept the James Report as the basis of the consultations and the reorganisation of teacher training, does the right hon. Lady appreciate that in some fundamental aspects the report is wholly unacceptable? Will she concentrate the early consultations arid discussions upon these points, so that positive and constructive proposals can be put forward for further discussion?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am reserving my views on the James Report. Those who come to me to consult are in no way limited in the views they wish to express.

Mr. Moyle

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that rapid implementation of the James Report will lead to an increase in the number of students at colleges of education who will not go in for teaching, to a reduction in the supply of teachers and to a consequent danger to teaching standards? Will she bear these points in mind during the consultations?

Mrs. Thatcher

I will take all advice into account and bear in mind what those who are consulted say about the report. Those who are not formally consulted are at liberty to send in their views now that they have the report.

Mr. Mitchell

Will the Minister ensure that whatever decision she comes to on the reform of teacher training based on the James Report will be backed by sufficient money to enable it to work properly?

Mrs. Thatcher

On the whole, the Conservative Government have been very successful in getting more money for educational purposes.

11. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will place in the libraries of the House of Commons, the Department of Education and Science and at least a dozen educational institutions, copies of the oral and written evidence presented to the James Committee on teacher education; and if she will publish this evidence as a parliamentary paper as soon as possible.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir. Much of the evidence was given orally and in confidence and was not recorded verbatim.

Mr. Spearing

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that if the written evidence is not published, the consultation cannot be as thorough-going as she says? Does she not agree that the report has wide implications and appears to be based on many assumptions which will not find universal acceptance?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, I do not think that failure to publish confidential evidence will limit the consultations. I cannot publish evidence which was given on the undertaking that it would not be published. The evidence given by the area training organisations is available on direct application to the organisations concerned.

Mr. Edward Short

The James Report shares with the Rothschild Report the characteristic of making a great many assertions which are, as far as we can see, completely unsupported by evidence. This is most unsatisfactory. Will not the right hon. Lady reconsider her decision and at least publish the written evidence?

Mrs. Thatcher

No. To publish part of the evidence would give a false impression. That would be the worst of all possible worlds. I cannot publish evidence which I undertook not to publish.