HC Deb 23 July 1974 vol 877 cc1283-5
12. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations he has had with the Ministers of Education of the other member States of the European Community.

Mr. Gerry Fowler

My right hon. Friend attended a Council and Conference of Ministers of Education in Luxembourg on 6th June last. The main subjects discussed by the Ministers were the mutual recognition of diplomas and cooperation in education within the nine member States.

Sir A. Meyer

Is it not a fact that progress in this body has been so disappointing as to amount to practically nothing? Since the only saving grace of the Labour Party is a commitment to the brotherhood of man and international good will may I ask whether the Government will seek to instil some kind of activity into this comatose body so that children in our schools are no longer taught the kind of pernicious jingoistic nonsense about "British oil" or worse still, "Scottish oil"?

Mr. Fowler

I share the basic attitude expressed by my hon. brother on the benches opposite. There are many important matters before the Council of Ministers. The mutual recognition of degrees and diplomas is perhaps the most pressing. I regard it as unfortunate from an internationalist point of view that further progress has not been made to this date, not only within the Community but within the wider international community.

Mr. Tom Ellis

Is my hon. Friend aware that exchange visits within Europe involving many more school-children than at present would be welcomed by many progressively minded people in this country? May I ask him to seek to establish, in collaboration with his European colleagues, permanent machinery to encourage and facilitate this development?

Mr. Fowler

I too would welcome such a development but I would go further than my hon. Friend and say that it should not be simply on a European basis.

Mr. William Shelton

May I ask whether the Secretary of State's colleagues took the opportunity of pointing out to him that certainly in West Germany and France, instead of moving towards abolition of selection those countries are moving much more towards continuous selection throughout a child's time at school? Did the Secretary of State take the opportunity of discussing with his colleagues practical means whereby more parental choice and parental rights could be introduced into our schools?

Mr. Fowler

We must recognise that pernicious and irrational views about education are not peculiar to Tory Members. They may rear their ugly heads in other countries too.