HC Deb 13 November 1973 vol 864 cc233-4
13. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, through her inspectorate, she will arrange for a study of intensive instruction methods for the promotion of Russian.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Her Majesty's inspectors are already acquainted with the methods of intensive instruction in Russian, and I do not think that a special study is justified.

Mr. Moyle

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Russia is likely to remain a powerful and influential country for as far ahead as we can see? That will result in a long-term demand for people in this country who can speak Russian, and it is that, and not the short-term demand, which should be the criterion. Will the hon. Gentleman therefore do his utmost to reinstitute the intensive short course in Russian at Liverpool Polytechnic which has had such a high reputation and which his inspectors have recommended should be closed?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I think that without running any risks I can accept the hon. Gentleman's forecast of the permanent existence of Russia. With regard to intensive short courses, from time to time my Department gives approval to a series of one-year intensive short courses in Russian. These are run in further education establishments in order to give teachers of other foreign languages a qualification in Russian. In view of what the hon. Gentleman said, I shall consider the Liverpool case.

Mr. Redmond

In view of the appalling level of syntax, grammar and spelling that we see in some of our letters from graduates and students, would it not be better for the Department to concentrate on the teaching of English?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

We have no responsibility for curricula in the schools or for the literacy or illiteracy of our correspondents.