HC Deb 19 November 1974 vol 881 cc1091-2
14. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to publish his recommendations on adult education arising from the Russell Committee's report.

Mr. Prentice

When I have completed my discussions with the main adult education interests about the report, I shall consider what action may be possible in the difficult economic circumstances.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a growing feeling that the report is taking so long to consider that many of the adults affected by it will be geriatrics by the time it is implemented? Not only is the delay causing a great deal of inconvenience to the administration of the organisations of which he speaks but it is limiting the opportunities for education of many adults.

Mr. Prentice

The report draws attention to the very great gaps in our present provisions. The speed with which we cope with these problems is bound to be related to the economic situation, but it is not all a question of having to wait for consultations. We have announced the provision of £1 million for classes for adult illiterates throughout the country. That was done in connection with the Russell Report. Last week I was able to announce the new statutory form of awards for adult schools and colleges such as Ruskin, Fircroft and elsewhere. Some things are being done to implement the report without waiting for these further consultations.

Dr. Hampson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, at a time when we know that full adult education ought to be expanded, when local authorities are cutting some of their nursery programmes and when we want to ensure that they pay their teachers and keep recruitment going, it is nonsense to concentrate the money and activities of this Department on reorganising secondary education?

Mr. Prentice

No, Sir. I have already explained the priority we are giving to the employment of teachers. The nursery programme is not being cut overall. Local authorities which are not fufilling their quotas are having them reallocated to other local authorities which are queueing up to take them. All this is compatible with going ahead with the reorganisation of secondary education and getting rid of the nonsense of the 11-plus.

Mr. Noble

When my right hon. Friend finally publishes the report, will he take full account of the tremendous contribution made by voluntary workers in adult education and ensure that they get the resources adequate to the task?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, Sir. This is a continuing process. My Department has recently had discussions with officers of the Workers' Educational Association, for example, about financial difficulties in several WEA districts and is providing additional grants to meet the immediate needs in some of those areas.