HC Deb 09 July 1975 vol 895 cc518-20
13. Mrs Bain

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will undertake a survey to determine which of the areas of multiple deprivation, as defined in the Department of Environment report "Census Indicators of Urban Deprivation" are also areas of educational deprivation, taking into account such factors as staffing shortages, part-time education and temporary accommodation.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I do not propose to undertake a survey for this purpose. I keep a close watch on the problems of staff shortages, part-time education and temporary accommodaion and am aware of the areas in which they occur.

Mrs. Bain

Does the Minister agree, however, that there is an urgent need to define areas of educational deprivation since recent reports have shown that there is a close correlation between environmental deprivation and educational deprivation? Such a survey would readily identify those areas and point to remedial action which could be taken by the Government. Does the hon. Gentleman also agree that in face of existing evidence the Government's cut-back in expenditure on the school building programme and in other educational spheres shows up in a very bad light indeed?

Mr. Hughes

I accept that there is a relationship between urban deprivation and educational deprivation, but the hon. Lady misunderstands the problem if she thinks that we do not know the areas of educational deprivation or have no understanding of them. There is no instant remedy for the problems in those areas, and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise. The Government are still spending more on education in the current financial year than has been spent in previous years. We shall do all we can to see that what money is available is used to remedy deprivation.

Dr. Bray

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the areas that is well known for educational deprivation is North Forgewood, Motherwell? Will he consider in such areas making money available for special proposals to improve relations between schools and local communities, which is often a source of difficulty?

Mr. Hughes

That is an interesting suggestion, but we must accept that there are dangerous teacher shortages in areas of educational deprivation. It is a problem which has bedevilled the Scottish education system for a decade. Every effort has been made to try to get teachers to go to areas where there is a shortage of staff. The additional sum of £1¼ million made available by the Government to attract teachers into areas suffering staff shortages is still available, as is other money, if the teachers will get down to negotiating a system of incentive payments to help transfer teachers to those areas.

Mr. Rifkind

Does the Minister realise that all Conservative Members wish to dissociate themselves from the disgraceful suggestion made by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) last week that the Labour Party wish to keep poverty and deprivation in West-Central Scotland? Will he say what response the Government intend to make to requests by local authorities in West-Central Scotland for help to be given in those deprived areas?

Mr. Hughes

I am disappointed that the hon. Gentleman should repeat the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, East. It is not worth repeating.

In regard to special measures, we are in the process of allocating financial resources to areas of greatest need. This means that some areas will not be able to expand as fast as they would have liked to expand in order to ensure that areas which are experiencing difficulties will obtain the means to carry out a determined attack on educational deprivation.

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