HC Deb 10 April 1973 vol 854 cc1119-20
11. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she intends to take following publication of the Russell Committee report on adult education.

29. Mr. Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she proposes following the publication of the Russell Committee report on adult education.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My right hon. Friend is studying the report which was published a fortnight ago. She will in due course be consulting those organisations which have a special interest in adult education.

Mr. Price

While all of us would hope to see the maximum numbers possible involved in adult education, may I ask what evidence there is of long-term Government planning to ensure that people's expectations are met regarding employment and what evidence there is that the jobs for which they are qualified will be available?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That is hardly a matter that comes within the province of my Department, but the Government's foresight regarding adult education is shown by the importance which we attach to this report.

Mr. Ellis

In view of the general criticism that the report is modest, may I ask whether the Minister can find it in himself to give the merest hint of the likelihood of a strong positive lead in due course by his Department?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I recognise the hon. Gentleman's interest, but he must be reasonable. The report has been published for only a fortnight and it has taken four years to prepare. I think that we must be given reasonable time to study its implications.

Mr. Wilkinson

In the light of the report, may I ask my hon. Friend to give some indication of his attitude to the Open University which is a major influence in the whole sphere of adult education and has done extremely good pioneering work? Will he say whether the Government feel that the multi-media approach and the credit system of assessment over the fairly long period in which adults are engaged in study are useful contributions in this area?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have always thought that the Open University was making a most important contribution to education. I was glad when it was founded and pleased to go with my right hon. Friend to pay an official visit there a few weeks ago.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has exposed the White Paper as a complete "con" trick on the public as there is no provision in it for adult education. If the Russell Report is to be implemented, surely the White Paper must be rewritten?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I believe that the White Paper on Education will count as one of the seminal educational documents to be published and will be remembered long after the inaccurate comments by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Spark-brook (Mr. Hattersley) have been forgotten. The adult education programme was not considered in the White Paper because it was the subject of a separate report.

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