HC Deb 15 June 1972 vol 838 cc1698-700
2. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a further report on the consultations on the James Report.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William van Straubenzee)

My Department has now almost completed a preliminary round of discussions at official level with the bodies most closely concerned. These discussions are proving of great value in clarifying the principal issues arising from the report.

Mr. Willey

I fully appreciate the difficulties of getting as much agreement as possible but is the Under-Secretary aware that we seem to be losing momentum? We are all agreed that there is need of a radical improvement in teacher training. Will the hon. Gentleman do what he can to expedite consideration of the report and, if necessary, get partial agreement upon it upon which the Government can act?

Mr. van Straubenzee

There is no loss of momentum. The right hon. Gentleman will know better than most the very large number of bodies which have an absolute right to express a view. The next stage, which is not very long away, is the round of personal consultations by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. John E. B. Hill

Can my hon. Friend say whether the consultations are revealing a growing body of opinion in favour of the possible extension of the proposed Diploma of Higher Education to rather wider uses than those of purely teacher training, and can he say something about validation?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I would prefer to avoid speculation about any threads of agreement which might be beginning to emerge. There is a wide variety of views on both the points mentioned by my hon. Friend, and those views have already been expressed.

Mr. Moyle

As the Secretary of State is receiving a tremendous number of representations, may I ask in an entirely non-partisan way for an assurance that real consultations are taking place and that the representations are being discussed with the various bodies making them? Would it be possible for the Secretary of State to put her statistical branch on to producing a report of projections based on various assumptions about how the teacher-training problem might be solved? This might assist the consultations.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In reply to the first half of the question, the answer is quite definitely and absolutely "Yes". The consultations are absolutely meaningful. On the second half, there are later Questions on the Order Paper on statistics and I must be careful not to trespass on them.