HC Deb 11 May 1972 vol 836 cc1531-2
6. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what advice and training have been provided through Her Majesty's inspectors and teachers on the teaching of Western European languages in view of the need to facilitate British trade with Western Europe.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Her Majesty's inspectors are in constant touch with local education authorities, schools and colleges and in the normal course of their duties give advice on foreign language teaching. Each year they run a series of short courses for teachers covering the languages most widely taught in schools and the techniques of instruction involved.

Mr. Tilney

Does my hon. Friend agree that once Britain joins the Common Market there will be a substantial demand by many British companies for salesmen who can speak several European languages? Should not great efforts now be made to see that the youth of this country is so qualified?

Mr. van Straubenzee

Yes, Sir. In my view, whether or not—but certainly when —we join the Common Market, this will be a great requirement for our young people. I would draw attention not only to the work on this subject done in the schools but to the work carried out in further education colleges, which is very material indeed.

Mr. Moyle

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that when this matter was last the subject of Questions on 9th March he agreed with me that English was likely to be the major working language of the Common Market because of its strength and precision and that provision for its teaching was going ahead on this basis? How does he reconcile this view with President Pompidou's desire that French should be the major working language of the Community?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I should have thought that in course of time English might become the major single language, but for a very long time—certainly in the foreseeable future—a good working knowledge of other languages in the Common Market will be an essential part of the equipment of our young people.