HC Deb 15 March 1972 vol 833 cc527-30
22. Mr. Edward Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the position of the selective schools in Glasgow.

31. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future of selective schools in Glasgow.

Mr. Monro

My right hon. Friend has received and is considering Glasgow Education Authority's proposals for reorganisation of these schools. He will write to the authority as soon as he is able to do so. In the meantime I cannot make any statement.

Mr. Taylor

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the freedom of local authorities to reorganise their secondary education is subject to their producing educationally sound schemes and having prior con- sultation with parents and teachers? As the Glasgow scheme is an educational monstrosity designed to rush through changes before local government reform at the expense of first and second-year pupils, and as consultation with parents and teachers has been an inadequate farce, will my hon. Friend reject these savage plans?

Mr. Monro

I appreciate my hon. Friend's interest in the Glasgow schools. The answer to the first part of his question is "Yes". On the second part of his question it would be wrong for me to comment before I have considered the authority's proposals.

Mr. Galbraith

Is my hon. Friend aware of the acute interest that the proposal to butcher these fine schools is causing to countless parents who fear for their freedom of choice? To a Conservative, which I imagine my hon. Friend is, does not that mean keeping what is good? Why sacrifice these good schools on the altar of unproved comprehensiveness? When there are so many lame ducks about, surely the last thing to do is to guillotine one of Scotland's few remaining golden geese.

Mr. Monro

I appreciate my hon. Friend's active interest in the Glasgow schools. Hon. Members may be interested to know the number of communications that my right hon. Friend has received to date. There have been 5,692 separate letters and telegrams, and petitions containing 45,000 signatures. Only 21 of the letters have been in favour of the proposals. This is exclusive to the poll taken by the Scottish Daily Express, which resulted in figures of 10,456 against and only 298 for the proposals. It would be wrong for me to express an opinion on the proposals until we have considered them.

Mr. John Smith

Is not the hon. Gentleman showing his hand already by keeping up this pretence of genuine impartiality while assisting the propaganda efforts of his friends? Does not the hon. Gentleman recall in Committee upstairs hearing ad nauseamday and night from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) that the purpose of his party was to give freedom to local authorities to reorganise their secondary education? As soon as that freedom is exercised in a way that the hon. Member for Cathcart does not approve of, he eats his words.

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman can sound off as loudly as he likes. I will not comment until we have considered the proposals.

Mr. Buchan

The hon. Gentleman should realise the seriousness of what he has said. The content of his previous answer was leading up to a rejection. Clearly a rejection would be based upon political principles. The measures which have been forced upon him or suggested to him by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) have nothing to do with the present scheme. These demands were coming up before the scheme was published. It is wrong for the Minister to try to rely upon the Daily Express when, out of 2 million petition forms sent out, only 10,000 were returned, which represents 0.5 per cent. support for the suggestions coming in.

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) indicated that there was strong support for his point of view. I gave him the figures that he wished to know—

Mr. Ross


Mr. Monro

Yes, Hillhead; an equally important constituency as Kilmarnock. All hon. Members opposite must await my right hon. Friend's decision.

Mr. MacArthur

When my hon. Friend is making his careful study, will he bear in mind that a great many of us believe that the proposals which he has received are educationally crazy? Will he throw out these short-sighted proposals until an early decision can be considered in a balanced way by the new structure of local government in the west of Scotland?

Mr. Monro

All the relevant facts will be taken into careful consideration while we are dealing with these proposals. Until my right hon. Friend has made a decision, I am not prepared to say more.

Mr. Small

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether these schools are privately or publicly owned?

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman has been involved with Glasgow for a long time and will certainly know the answer.

Mr. Small

Does the Under-Secretary?

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Let someone tell him.

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