HC Deb 25 June 1974 vol 875 cc1195-7
17. Mr. Carter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he intends to announce the Government's action on the Russell Report proposals on adult education.

Mr. Gerry Fowler

As soon as I find it possible.

Mr. Carter

May I say that I find it only just possible to thank my hon. Friend for that reply? Is he aware that many of us have felt that for far too long adult education has been the Cinderella of education? May I ask him to sketch out for us, albeit in a few words, the kind of priorities the Government and in particular his Department attach to adult education?

Mr. Fowler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for asking that question because it gives me the opportunity to say that my right hon. Friend and I attach the highest importance to adult education. We are making as much haste as we can, consonant with getting it right and consonant with the present public expenditure situation. Since the Russell Report was with my right hon. Friend's predecessor 15 months ago and she did precisely nothing, I can give the House a solemn assurance that I have no desire to rival her in seeking an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for monumental inactivity.

Mr. Winterton

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Open University is playing an increasingly important part in adult education, an area which is being starved? Will he give the assurance that in future he will consider greater financial assistance for this important sector of education?

Mr. Fowler

I am always happy to assure the House. I will consider further assistance to what is perhaps one of the greatest creations of my party when last in power.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that many people, in spite of the lack of educational opportunities years ago, are making a contribution towards the nation's economy? Will he therefore treat the matter with more urgency than he has done in the past?

Mr. Fowler

I should find it difficult to treat it with more urgency than I am doing. I entirely share my hon. Friend's view.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the Minister give an assurance that he is considering urgently the recommendation contained in the Russell Report relating to the funding of students who are attending long-term residential colleges and in particular to the recommendation that grants for those students should be mandatory?

Mr. Fowler

We are considering and will consider this matter.