HC Deb 25 January 1973 vol 849 cc633-4
24. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement about the inquiry which she has instituted into the dispute between some teachers and the Teesside Education Authority.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The committee of inquiry was set up jointly by my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Employment under the chairmanship of Professor John Wood. We are grateful to him and his two colleagues for agreeing to serve. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the committee began its hearings yesterday and is continuing today. We are glad that the parties have found a formula which enables normal working to be resumed in Teesside pending the report of the committee.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that during the school recess I suggested that there should be an inquiry into this dispute? Why did the Minister wait until the children went back to school before ordering the inquiry?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The Department was grateful for the helpful advice offered by the right hon. Gentleman. We could not intervene until the parties concerned had exhausted the conciliation service of the Department of Employment. A representative of the local authority came to see the Permanent Secretary on 8th January, Mr. Casey saw the Permanent Secretary on 9th January, on 10th January we endeavoured to arrange talks between the two parties and on 11th January my right hon. Friend set up the inquiry. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that she acted with all due speed.