HC Deb 23 January 1974 vol 867 cc1634-5
8. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now make a statement about his meeting with the Educational Institute for Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers for Scotland.

Mr. Monro

I had useful meetings on 8th January with both organisations and discussed staffing, accommodation and working conditions generally. I am now considering a number of points that were put to me, including the institute's proposal for a working party on conditions of service.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the hon. Gentleman agree after meeting both organisations that their members are the moderates in the teaching profession? Having visited Lanarkshire, does not he agree that there should be an immediate inquiry, as the situation there requires immediate attention? What remedy has he for dealing with this serious position, bearing in mind the go-slow in Scotland as a whole and in Lanarkshire in particular?

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman is perhaps exaggerating when he says "Scotland as a whole". I have had very useful talks with the teaching associations and last week I met the employing associations. In the light of what everyone has told me I shall make a decision fairly shortly on what steps to take. On the general issue, we are looking closely at the designation scheme and hope to make an announcement on it in the not too distant future. I am having very constructive talks with the local authority associations about recruitment generally in Scotland and on the possibility of the better staffed authorities not recruiting as many staff as they have in the past, so that other areas, particularly Lanarkshire and Glasgow, will have a better opportunity this summer.

Mr. Carmichael

Does the Minister accept that we are pleased that he is thinking in terms of a spread of the available teaching manpower over the country as a whole? What is his attitude to the inquiry that both organisations have requested? I agree that a Royal Commission is perhaps a bit more than is required, but is not the situation so bad and so puzzling that a deeper inquiry than the one he promised is necessary?

Mr. Monro

I accept, as I have always done, that the situation in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire is difficult. I ask hon. Members to keep the matter in perspective by looking at Scotland as a whole, where the pupil-teacher ratio is better now than it has been in any other year, with the exception of 1972. I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me for preferring not to make a statement at the moment. I have told the teaching associations that I shall let them know as early as possible in February, and I am busily considering all the information they have put to me.