HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc1075-111

The Annual Report of the Scottish Education Department shall provide information on the number of persons attending secondary school with particular reference to any changes in number and to any changes in teacher/ pupil ratios as a consequence of the passage of this Act.—[Mr. Buchanan-Smith.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

With this we shall take Amendment No. 20, in Schedule 1, page 8, line 3, at end insert— Before making any direction, the Secretary of State shall furnish the governing body with all the information available to him concerning estimates of future school population recruitment of teachers and such other information as may be relevant".

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The very simple and straightforward purpose of the clause is to make sure that information is available publicly regarding the effect of the passage of the Bill. The measure will have a certain effect in relation to the dates on which people leave school, and this will affect the population in secondary schools in Scotland. Therefore, it is very important that this information should be available.

Amendment No. 20 relates to the changes which the Bill makes regarding the relationship between the Secretary of State and the governing bodies of teacher training colleges. It enables him to make certain directions to the governing bodies of these colleges. This is not something to which I object, but if directions are to be given, it is vitally important that all the information necessary and pertinent to their direction should be available as much to the governing bodies of teacher training colleges as to the Government.

The reason why I move the clause, and feel that this information is necessary both for the general public and the governing bodies of teacher training colleges in their dealings with the Secretary of State, is the crisis in Scottish education at present. Every hon. Member who represents a Scottish constituency knows that we are in a mess in education in Scotland at the moment, especially in relation to the numbers coming out of teacher training colleges this summer and the number of jobs available to them in schools this autumn.

I cannot illustrate this more dramatically than to quote from the front page of the Scottish Educational Journal—this is the most up-to-date information we have at the moment; if the Minister has any more information we would be glad to hear it—which carried out a survey. This showed that the number of students leaving colleges with qualifications to enter the teaching profession in Scotland this summer was 5,472. However, it also showed that the number of jobs available at the time was only 2,962. Anyone can see that we have a considerable shortfall, of more than 2,000, between the number of those leaving colleges and the number of jobs available.

I speak for every Scottish Member of this House—on both sides, because concern about this situation is not limited to one side. Every hon. Member representing a Scottish constituency feels it because we have had numerous approaches from both individuals and groups on this matter. There are two particular groups which are especially concerned about it at present. The first group is those who won their university degrees, having decided on leaving school up to five years ago to go in for these courses, but now, having done so, cannot get a job. These people are badly disillusioned.

The second group is those who sought to enter the teaching profession through the special recruitment scheme. I can give an example from my constituency of a person in his middle 40s who was in a job in industry but gave it up in response to the Government's appeal and entered teacher training college. He will gain his qualifications this summer, but so far has been unable to find a job. This man has considerable family commitments. His son is attending university. Like most parents, he must make a contribution to supplement his son's grant. I hope that I have shown the great personal difficulty which people of this sort are encountering in Scotland.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I do not wish to undermine the hon. Gentleman's argument when I ask whether his constituent was unable to get a job only in the geographical area of his preference.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

My constituent has been unable to get a job, full stop.

We hope that as time passes, and depending upon the situation in the West of Scotland, there will be an improvement in teacher recruitment. My own area of Tayside and the Grampian Region have been experiencing great diffi- culty over teacher recruitment. These areas have been told not to recruit above present standards and to use wastage to attain the Red Book standard. Greater wastage must be allowed amongst teachers than in any recent year.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to mislead the House, but he must put the record straight. The Grampion Regional Council began its reduction of standards in the city of Aberdeen long before there was any difficulty over Government expenditure. It did so of its own free choice.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I do not follow the hon. Gentleman. In the Grampian area, as in Tayside, there was a very high recruitment rate. It is now faced with allowing wastage to reduce staff to the Red Book standard, whereas before teachers were replaced as wastage took place. In this part of Scotland the problem is more serious than elsewhere because the total number of teachers will fall in absolute terms.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Will the hon. Member pay tribute to the Aberdeen education committee, which recruited well above the standards normally acceptable in this country? He said the Grampian Region was told to reduce teacher numbers, but the education committee had decided before any public expenditure difficulties—as a deliberate act of policy—to reduce the total complement of teachers.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

That may be true. I wish the hon. Member was not so sensitive. I am not apportioning blame. I am merely describing the present situation.

I have been careful to say that every hon. Member representing a Scottish constituency is naturally and properly concerned about the human problem involved and that the pupil-teacher ratio will deteriorate in areas where recruitment has been above the Red Book standard in the past.

The situation is extremely serious, especially in areas like Grampian and Tayside. We had a teacher shortage a few years ago. We improved the pupil-teacher ratio, and it is very disappointing to see the position deteriorating again. That is what I deplore.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

It does the hon. Gentleman credit that he is so keen to employ more teachers, but how will he pay for them? He has told us he would do it by cutting school milk and increasing the cost of school dinners. Does he still intend to deal with the problem in that way?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The hon. Gentleman has anticipated what I shall be saying. I have recognised the problem facing the Government of employing teachers from training colleges at a time when public expenditure must be cut. The Government are putting pressure on areas like Grampian and Tayside to reduce staffing to the Red Book standard and are putting pressure on other areas to recruit only up to that standard. Unemployment among teachers from training colleges will total about 2,000

I condemn the Government because they are losing the opportunity to improve the pupil-teacher ratio. We have a surplus of teachers for the first time in many years and the situation could be improved if the Government showed a better sense of priorities in education expenditure. It is nonsense to spend an extra £1 million on extending free school milk when the money could be spent to employ more teachers—which would be much more beneficial to young people. That extra £1 million would have employed about another 250 teachers for a year. Does the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) think that the extra £1 million is better spent on free milk than on employing another 250 teachers? That is the choice. If he thinks it is better spent on milk, let him say so.

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Buchan

The answer is "No". I think that money should be spent in both directions. I do not go around saying "Cut public expenditure". On the contrary, I object to the Government's strategy of cutting public expenditure. I think that milk should be free, school dinners should be kept down in price teachers should be employed.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Whatever the hon Gentleman may say with his voice, his feet voted in favour of cuts in public expenditure. People in Scotland cannot pay very much attention to what he says. He is trying to eat his cake and have it. Although he has not been consistent in what he has done, at least he has been fairly consistent in what he has said—namely, that he is prepared to increase public expenditure to any level, even if it bankrupts the country. If that is the policy that he wants to follow, let him do so.

I believe that I have taken a rather more realistic point of view. Given the Government's education budget, I believe that the resources could be spent very much better. I have referred to school milk, but there are other examples. I understand that raising school meal charges from 15p to 20p would have given an income throughout the United Kingdom of about £40 million to £50 million. Such an increase would have given the Scottish education budget an extra income of about £5 million. We are talking in terms of another 1,250 teachers in Scotland. If the raising of school meal charges had been allowed to go forward, if the Government had not had to give away that hostage to buy their new social contract and if they had not been prepared to go forward with the provision of free milk and had used the money for education purposes, there would have been sufficient money available this year to employ about another 1,500 teachers in Scotland. In terms of Scotland's education budget, that would have met the crisis that we are now facing. In contrast to the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West, I believe that I am being realistic. I have demonstrated what the Government could do within the education budget.

Although we welcome the small things that the Secretary of State has said he hopes to use—for example, the job creation scheme, which I welcome and which I think is helpful—they will represent, as I understand it, only a small number of teachers. The right hon. Gentleman has not yet been able to tell us precisely how many teachers the measures he intends to use will produce, but they could be helpful and could raise the figures which I have mentioned.

The clause, if it is accepted, will enable the public in Scotland to judge better what the Government are doing should we face another crisis such as the one now before us. I have used this opportunity to explain what they are doing so that the figures are known throughout Scotland. We must expose the weakness of the Government's actions and their lack of priorities. We must expose their lack of urgency and their lack of priorities in education spending in Scotland, in that they are not prepared to spend the money that is available in the interests of young people in Scotland and in the interests of improvement in Scotland. If we agree to the clause and the amendment, it will mean that if another situation such as the one before us arises following the passage of the Bill, the people of Scotland will be better able to judge the information that is available and the way the Government treat it. They will understand how they get their priorities wrong in the way that they put them forward in the Bill. I hope that the clause will go a small way towards putting that right.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I am moved to speak on the amendment in view of what the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) has said about deploring the fact that in the Grampian and Tayside Regions, especially the Grampian Region, the number of teachers to be employed is no longer to be as high as it was. I find it difficult to accept the hon. Member's protestations about this, considering that for many years while I was a member of the Aberdeen Town Council I, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond), who was city treasurer at the time, spent many years fighting the Tories over the size of the education budget and beating them handsomely.

We increased our teacher supply because we thought it worth paying for. While the Tories of Aberdeen were going about shouting that the only important thing was keeping down the rates, we were prepared to argue that it was necessary to spend money locally to provide the best education. That is why I have always believed in public expenditure being as high as possible, and why I also accept that it must be paid for mainly through taxation. There may be difficulties about taxation, but there is no doubt that if we want new services we must pay for them.

The record should be put straight in terms of the Grampian Region. As soon as the new region, Tory-dominated and Tory-controlled, took over the service of education—having lost the education battle for 20 years in the city of Aberdeen —the first thing it did was to determine that the policy it had failed to carry out in the minority would be carried forward in the majority. Before there were any public expenditure constraints it decided to cut down on the number of teachers employed in the schools in the city of Aberdeen.

The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns said that he deplored that fact. So do I. I would have been happier if at the time when the cuts were made—when the teaching profession in Aberdeen was seeking to send deputations to meet the Grampian Region Town Council to discuss the matter—the hon. Member had raised his voice to say that it was wrong that the teacher supply should be reduced. The Grampian council refused to see a deputation from the local teaching profession to discuss staffing levels; in fact, the council would not even put letters written by Members of Parliament before the education committee so that its members could better make up their minds. Nothing could change the attitude of the council.

Now the council shelters behind the public expenditure restraints and the difficulties that exist throughout Scotland. I would have thought more of the council if it had said that, leaving aside the question of public expenditure restraints, it believed that the Red Book standard plus 5 per cent. was right for Aberdeen. The council should not shelter behind public expenditure restraints. Nor should the hon. Member for North Angus and Means, because there are teaching difficulties at the moment, seek to lay all the blame on the Government. I have made very plain my views on the question of mature students who went into the teaching profession under the special recruiting scheme. I did so in a speech in the House just before we rose for the Whitsun Recess, and I shall not repeat what I then said.

The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) used to be called the Silent Senator from Dumfries. I do not see him here—[Interruption.] I am sorry; he is here. But he is still silent, except for his occasional "Hear hears" on the question of teacher recruiting, while his hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns makes eloquent pleas on behalf of those who accepted the Government's appeal to join the teaching profession. The fact is that it was their Government to whom the people responded; it was they who carried on the special recruitment scheme and encouraged the people to come in. So theirs is the responsibility for not seeing far enough ahead.

I do not think that to publish information in the annual report of the Scottish Education Department is the best way of making that information available. My experience—I am sure that the Minister will bear this out—is that the information published in the annual report is far too late to be used as a basis for decisions in the future, because it is at least a year out of date. Even if reports are prepared at the end of the calendar or fiscal year to which they apply, they generally appear between six and nine months after that. That is no way to control public expenditure or to plan properly. We need information well in advance of such reports if we are to have a sensible education policy.

Mrs. Margaret Bain (Dunbartonshire, East)

I support the official Opposition amendment because the situation in Scotland in education circles is causing a great deal of concern.

Having just listened to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), I feel deeply concerned that he of all people should acquiesce in a situation in which a Government are cutting back so rigidly on expenditure in Scotland that we can do nothing but level down education opportunity there. That is basically what the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North has said. By supporting the Red Book standards and accepting them, he has acquiesced in a situation in which we are levelling down opportunities for working-class children in Scotland to rise through the problems that they face, to take opportunities in their hands and to rise to better things.

That is basically what the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends who cry loudest at present are saying. People such as the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), who vote in favour of expenditure cuts, and people such as the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), who do not have the courage of their convictions in order to vote against the cuts, are the people who are doing down the working class of Scotland.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I do not need any lessons in public integrity from the hon. Lady. I do not acquiesce about levelling down the standards. If the hon. Lady thinks that by supporting the Tories and censure motions on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill she and her hon. Friends are doing a service to the working-class people of Scotland, she had better learn what politics is about.

Mrs. Bain

The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues wish to cloud a particular issue. They do not like to accept a situation in which honesty is being displayed because the truth always hurts when it comes to a Labour Government, as they are the least Socialist of Governments.

I refer Labour Members to what was said earlier this week by the major teachers' union in Scotland, the EIS, about the present situation: The iron financial constraints placed upon local authorities by this Government. Labour Members voted in favour of these financial constraints and forced local authorities into a situation in which in my constituency they are dismissing part-time teachers who have served the public well and looked after and encouraged children. They are forcing these people into a situation in which there is no employment available for them. They are supporting people who will not give employment opportunities to young students in my constituency who attend Notre Dame and Jordanhill. They will not give them opportunities.

I remind Labour Members that the major teachers' union in Scotland has said that the limit of 33 pupils per class is too high and that after August it will refer every class of over 30 to an adjudication panel. I accept that as being very relevant. I speak as an experienced teacher. The situation of 33 children in a class is not acceptable to the majority of teachers in Scotland. They wish to see a reduction in class sizes in order to give pupils decent education opportunities—to which, of course, the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire is opposed.

The people in this House not only refuse to accept the financial obligation of what they have done but refuse to accept the moral obligations. Labour Members and Conservative Members have encouraged people to enter the teaching profession, but now they will not give them jobs. Young people were encouraged to stay on at school and to go into college, and some older people gave up secure employment to take higher studies at university and college, and now they are being given no opportunity to teach.

11.45 p.m.

The Government will not accept their moral obligations. They did not do so in the case of Biafra. Those who are crying loudest are the very people who lack real sincerity. They lack genuine concern for the young people in Scotland—and especially for the young children and the deprived people whom some of them claim to represent. I have in mind the children from the slums in Glasgow, whom they claim to represent, but who are given no chance to escape from the vicious spiral of educational deprivation. Hon. Members on the Government side sit with smug smiles on their faces, like latter-day Neros, while Rome burns.

Although it goes much against my heart to support the Conservatives in anything, at least the clause tries to look at the reality of the situation and do something about it. Those of my party who are here tonight will support the Conservatives on it.

Mr. Buchan

I had not intended to speak in the debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I am very easily tempted.

We know that power without responsibility has been the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages. In listening to the hon. Lady the Member for Dumbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) talking tonight about the 2,000 teachers, I could not help thinking that we could have done with a little of this pseudo-fire and pseudo-integrity 10 days ago, when we were talking in terms of tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland, and when the SNP Members voted in the Lobby with the Tories. We are deeply concerned because the shipbuilding industry is involved.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing (Moray and Nairn)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Will the hon. Lady repeat her point of order?

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but could we have some relevancy in this debate on Scottish education?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is a matter for the Chair to decide at the appropriate time.

Mr. Buchan

It has been a wearisome experience for us to find ourselves continually smeared—

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

You cannot stand opposition.

Mr. Buchan

As for relevancy, we have already had a reference to Biafra. We have to put up with unmitigated smears from the Bench opposite, and sometimes these smears should be replied to with truth. The truth is that the Scottish National Party, whose Members we have heard tonight, always exploit a populist issue. It was Jimmy Reid who once said that if they thought oil would be a cure for constipation they would be advocating Scottish oil—

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Are we talking about oil now or about Scottish education?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must be allowed to use his own arguments and to develop them. If the Chair feels that they are becoming irrelevant, the Chair will make the decision.

Mr. Buchan

I was using a metaphor in relation to constipation rather than dealing with oil as such. I want especially to deal with the question of smearing because of what has been said about my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes).

The SNP talks about conviction, honesty and conscience. My hon. Friend happens to be the Member who resigned less than a year ago on the question of public expenditure. When we see one SNP Member with the courage, the conscience and the integrity of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North —who went against his own party on an issue on which he felt deeply—we may be able to have some respect for such a Member. The truth is that on no single issue which required an element of courage because it was unpopular has the SNP stood up to be counted. It has fought on every populist issue and has run from every unpopular issue. It has neither the courage of its convictions nor the courage—[Interruption.] With respect, I wish you would control some of your Back Benchers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not give instructions to the Chair.

Mr. Buchan

On the question of actual honesty by the hon. Members in the Scottish National Party, the hon. Lady clothed in white samite, mystic and wonderful, tells us about truth and honesty and then we see the distorted figures that they have been producing in the last two weeks. In another place I would have said they were lies but I cannot say that here.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (South Angus)

In respect of truth, the recent Strathclyde educational report points out that in some areas of Glasgow 99 per cent. of children have no qualifications or higher grades. Is that not another truth that the hon. Gentleman should look at?

Mr. Buchan

I have a lot of respect for the hon. Gentleman because he is one of the few hon. Members sitting on the SNP Bench who do not rely on smears and untruths. But the truth is that he is sitting on the same Bench and he knows about the distorted figures that we have had from the SNP over the past fortnight. That deals with their untruths.

I want to deal now with the propositions put forward by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). As I understand it the amendment is being brought forward as an excuse for an attack on the present position. Nothing else was said in his speech. The hon. Gentleman adduced no argument whatsoever in relation to the particular clause and its merits. He dealt only with the present situation. As we have had smears from the SNP, so we have had humbug and hypocrisy from the Tory benches. [Interruption.] They will get no smears from me. I reply to smears; I do not make them. I can quote them a smear. A reference was made to me by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East in the Cafeteria last week—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Cafeteria is not part of the Chamber. The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to the argument.

Mr. Buchan

Nevertheless, it related to the House of Commons. The suggestion was that the Glasgow Herald reporter must have been banqueted in the bar. With all respect, it is ridiculous for Members of the Scottish Nationalist Party to suggest that other people frequent the bar, and for that particular party of all parties and that particular hon. Member of all Members to suggest that about me, of all people. On the contrary, my leg is pulled because I rarely go into the bar. That is what I mean by smears and untruths.

Mr. Welsh

On a point of order. Is this in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is developing his argument. If he goes too far the Chair will pull him up.

Mr. Buchan

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the Scottish Nationalist Party had not raised the question of relevancy I would not have kept speaking about it.

The truth is that the situation we deplore is actually caused by the inadequacy of planning or the failure of courage of the Tory Party four years ago. But that having been said, it remains the responsibility of our Government to deal with it. On this point—and only on this isolated point—the hon. Member is right. Money should be spent to employ these teachers. But to suggest that it should come from school milk—out-Thatchering Thatcher; talk about Herod!—and from school dinners is an argument which has been rejected by the students themselves. If the hon. Member does not believe me, he should speak to them, as I have done. They are evincing in their sit-ins and their actions a greater responsibility and a greater honesty than the whole Tory Front Bench. We have had enough of these general demands for cutting public expenditure and then going after every populist issue to increase public expenditure.

So much for the Tory view. But there is a strong view on these Benches that the Government must change their policy. Yes, we voted with the Government. I would sooner have a Labour Government in power whose policy we can change than a Tory Government who want to slash public expenditure. We believe that the one hope for the people of this country is a Socialist Government.

The Government must have another look at this situation. The Secretary of State's arguments are not enough. I understand his difficulty but he is only toying with the problem. This problem is not the fault and responsibility of those who were induced to enter the special recruitment scheme or of those who are leaving in one year. I do not believe that the burden of this problem should fall on the backs of one year's output of students. Therefore, we demand a change in the policy. This is largely irrelevant to the amendment, but this is the argument which was adduced in its aid. Of course we want the information suggested in the amendment and the maximum knowledge with which we can work, but it lies ill on the lips of Tory Members to put forward this hypocrisy on the basis of a bogus new clause.

Mr. George Younger (Ayr)

I am sure that we are extremely gratified on this side to be told that we shall get the support of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) and her colleagues—although my pleasure was somewhat spoiled when she said that she regards Labour Members as not being Socialist enough for her, If they are not Socialist enough for her, I feel a chill run up my spine.

The hon. Lady's support is very welcome but I would suggest that her argument would have been much more effective if she had not called in question the motives of Labour Members. It is much better to call in question their policies or the choices they make, which is what I propose to do. I hope that she will accept that advice as well-meant.

Labour Members cannot get out of this situation as easily as they think. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) to say that this is all due to what happened four years ago, that it should all have been put right then. But the previous Govern- ment's White Paper of 1973 foreshadowed some of this. My hon. Friend, whom he criticised for not completely cutting back on teacher training entry four years ago, was surely not expected to forecast then that there would be a Socialist Government who would so ruin the economy that it would run out of money. Alarming signals were raised at that time, but the teaching profession—and certainly Labour Members—would not listen to them.

12 midnight

The Government must make a clear statement of the present position. Whether or not what was done four years ago was right or wrong, it has been known for at least one year, if not two years, that this Government were running out of public money. Every newspaper has talked about it and everyone in the Government has known it. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) will not like it, but the Chancellor will have to cut public expenditure more. The hon. Member knows it, we know it and everyone else knows it, but the Chancellor cannot announce it now. So it is no use the Government pretending that this is a plot by someone else, that it has nothing to do with them. At the very least, the Minister might explain why no action was taken even a year ago to start making bigger reductions in entry to the colleges. The Government knew that they were running out of money, but they sat around and did nothing. We should be grateful to the Secretary of State for looking at the alternatives and for his willingness at least to use the job-creation scheme to bring about some improvement.

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West accused us of humbug. I do not think that he is right. He would have been fairer to say that there was a difference of opinion on education priorities between the Opposition and the Government. The Government think it more important to extend the availability of free school milk and keep down the cost of school meals than to give jobs to young teachers. They must think that they are right. We think that they are wrong. We think it more important to give jobs to young people who have done their teacher training than to make the sort of changes in education spending that the Government propose.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will at least give us the credit of having a different view of priorities and not accuse us of humbug when we are at least prepared, which he is not, to do the painful thing of trying to find some money for them. The hon. Gentleman is trying to have it all ways—he will vote for additional cuts in Government expenditure, support the young teachers in trouble, and try to spend money on extending the provision of free school milk and school meals. He tries to have it all at once. He is misguided. I do not question his motives, but he would accuse us of not being honest or straightforward about what we propose.

We are prepared to find the money, which is not easy. We are going to have to defend our decision on priorities, which is that it is more important to give these young teachers jobs than to pursue the Government's education priorities. I hope that the House, even if it does not agree with us, will at least concede that ours is an honest and straightforward point of view.

I hope that the Minister realises that we expect him to give us a clear report about the teacher-employment situation. New Clause 1 is designed to ensure that more information is made available to those who are to be involved in discussion on the question of courses at colleges of further education or in teacher training. Surely we can all agree that at some point there has not been enough information, or that, if there has, it has not been given due weight. Surely we can all at least accept that if there has clearly not been enough information we can do something in the Bill to ensure that it will be available in future to as many people as possible and thus avoid such a situation arising again.

Let us be under no illusion. What has been done has blighted the careers of these young people before they have even started. I believe that the Government accept some responsibility for these young people when they accept them into training in the first place. I do not think that the desire and need of the Government to cut expenditure invalidates that responsibility. It is simply not on to cut these young people off in the course of training, because one is not really a trained teacher until one has started teaching. It is better at least to stop their training after a year than to let them finish the course and cut them off then.

I hope that the Minister will give the House an up-to-date report of the situation and an estimate of the number of teachers who will now get jobs because of steps which the Secretary of State is prepared to take. What is the Minister's attitude to those authorities which are reducing the number of teachers not because of expenditure generally but because their own resources are insufficient?

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

I had not intended to take part in the debate but I must reply to the provocative remarks which have been made. I suspect that the clause was tabled to enable a debate to take place on the general situation and particularly on the alleged surplus of teachers. If we admit that a surplus exists the prime responsibility for the miscalculation which caused it must be taken by the Opposition because they were in Government when the children who are now in school were born.

Mr. Younger

Will the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) explain how any previous Conservative Government could have known that there would be a Socialist Government which would run out of money?

Mr. Canavan

The Opposition base their case not just on a shortage of money but on a surplus of teachers. They claim that there was a miscalculation. If there is, they are responsible because they were in office when these children were born. They should have done the necessary sums to avoid the present situation.

I used the term "alleged surplus" because I do not believe that there is a real surplus of teachers. There would be jobs for teachers to do if class sizes were reduced. The numbers in the Red Book and Circular 819 are not optimum numbers. I hoped that the unions concerned, including the EIS, show more guts by refusing to take classes with a flexible ceiling of 39.

Even the Prime Minister seemed to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) when he said that the alleged surplus of teachers would disappear if class sizes were reduced to 30 or less. The Prime Minister said that that was all very well but asked where the money was to come from.

We know how the Opposition would obtain the money. They would take it from the children. They would take the money out of the mouths of the children through school milk and school meals. Those are their priorities. Even to suggest that is shocking. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) said that students who are threatened with unemployment would reject that suggestion out of hand.

Ten Scottish Labour hon. Members recently visited Jordanhill College of Education and discussed the issue in detail with the Governor, staff and students. Not one of the students came up with the ludicrous Tory suggestion that we should cut school milk and meals to provide jobs for the teachers.

On Friday my hon. Friend the UnderSecretary—the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) —and I visited Callendar Park College, where we addressed the students and had a very courteous reception considering the circumstances and the unpopularity of the Government in this situation. We also answered many questions, in the course of which it was suggested by a small faction—one individual, I suspect —that we should cut overseas aid to provide jobs for student teachers. That suggestion was howled down by the majority of the students. The vast majority of student teachers have a far more developed social conscience than the Tories. They do not fall for such rubbish and do not call for cuts in areas of need, particularly overseas development or school milk and meals. Many parents of the children concerned are unemployed and very much in need.

It was also a bit thick for Tory Members, joined by SNP MPs to start laying into former Ministers, my hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes)—the former Under-Secretary in charge of education—and Renfrewshire, West, both of whom resigned from the Government because of their conscientious objection to certain aspects of Government policy. It was most dishonourable for Opposition Members to chide them because they did not vote against the Government on the public expenditure cuts.

I speak as one who did not go into the Lobby with the Government on that night, and who took a great deal of abuse from many people, including Ministers. But I tell SNP MPs that some of us on the Labour Benches have to think very carefully about what to do to express our opposition to a particular aspect of Government policy. It is not just a question of going willy-nilly into whatever Lobby we please in an irresponsible manner, irrespective of whether it will cause a General Election. Much as I oppose the cuts and the priorities in the White Paper, wild horses would not have dragged me into the same Lobby as those hypocrites who were in the same Lobby as the SNP, hypocrites because they were calling out for more savage cuts in public expenditure.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I know that the hon. Gentleman is using the word "hypocrites" as a generality, but I would prefer that he did not. It is an unparliamentary expression.

Mr. Canavan

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I do not think that the term is completely—

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to believe that children right up to the end of their school career should receive milk? Is it not the case that his Government—

Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)

The hon. Lady's children went to fee-paying schools.

Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)

All right, grandad.

12.15 a.m.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

Is it not the case that Labour Members voted to take away milk from secondary school children, and that the Opposition voted to take away milk from primary school children? What is the hon. Gentleman's position on school milk?

Mr. Canavan

I am sure that SNP Members call out for not only free milk but free North Sea oil for the benefit of all children, adults and old-age pensioners but they do not have to put their money where their mouth is. It is being said that the additional money spent on school milk in this Bill could be better used in employing student teachers. I think that that is nonsense, and I think that student teachers would agree. I thought that the House should have an explanation from me and from others who have expressed disapproval of Government strategy on expenditure cuts but refuse to go into the Lobby with Conservative Members, who are crying out for even more savage cuts.

There is nothing new in SNP Members appearing in the same Lobby as Tories like the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor), North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) and Dumfries (Mr. Monro). I am sure that they would feel equally at home as they did 11 days ago when they tore up the telegrams sent to them by trade unionists and entered the Lobby with Tory Members. They obviously did not give tuppence for the job prospects of shipyard workers on Clydeside. It is no surprise in those circumstances that the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) got a pretty rough reception by shop stewards at Robb Caledon in Dundee.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

As one of the patient hon. Members of this House, may I ask whether we cannot have a little relevance brought into this debate. After all, we are supposed to be discussing Scottish education—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Chair will take care of this matter. The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) was developing his argument.

Mr. Canavan

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts (Cannock)

I do not know whether you heard, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the remark of the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing), who implied that you were failing to control the debate. I am sure that she would wish to withdraw that suggestion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I heard no such remark. I call Mr. Canavan.

Mr. Canavan

I am about to conclude, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to emphasise to the Government the need for action in this matter in regard to the prospects of teacher unemployment. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland as well as his Under-Secretary of State are here, in view of their educational responsibilities.

I remember the time when the present Secretary of State was in the shoes of the under-Secretary of State in charge of education in Scotland and I know that he has the cause of Scottish education close to his heart. I know that action has already been announced in terms of job creation money to help teachers to obtain jobs, and we are grateful for small mercies, but that is only a superficial scratch on the surface of the problem. Obviously more is required to be done. The difficulty lies in the fact that the Government have had the wrong priorities. They are spending far too much money on useless matters, such as defence. We can see the discrepancy when we examine the manifesto on which the Secretary of State and I fought the 1974 General Election. When we look at the White Paper and see that by the late 1970s we shall be spending more on defence than in the last financial year but less on housing and education how can we square that with what we set out in our 1974 General Election manifesto?

I realise that the Secretary of State is only one voice in the Cabinet. I hope that he uses it to express his disapproval of these priorities and tries to bring about a shift of resources in Scottish education to provide much-needed jobs for these teachers and, more important, a better education service for the children of working-class parents whom we were elected to represent. If the Secretary of State fails in this it will not only be the SNP and the Tories who will be complaining. There will be many good Labour supporters throughout the country who will be expressing their disapproval in the strongest possible terms.

Mr. Russell Johnston

I have two short questions to put to the Minister. Were the Scottish Education Department forecasts of teacher recruitment based on reducing class sizes below the Red Book standard or not? If they were based on the Red Book standard, clearly there was a mistake made in forecasting. If it is the case that the SED has been making inaccurate forecasts, what steps is the hon. Gentleman taking to correct this?

Secondly, taking the point made by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), can the hon. Gentleman quantify, in financial terms, the difference between having to pay unemployment benefit to teachers and making money available to allow them to teach, thus contributing to the improvement of education by a reduction in class sizes?

Mr. Monro

I am glad that the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) has brought the debate back to some sort of sensibility after the tirade of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), which did not do anything to help the present crisis or produce any suggestions for the future. I would like to answer one point made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), who was surprised to find me in the Chamber. No doubt he, like his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), would have continued his attack in my absence. What the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North needs to remember is that while Aberdeen Burgh—

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central) rose

Mr. Monro

Let me make my point. The hon. Gentleman is getting excited. He knows quite well that in the Adjournment debate in question he went out of his way to attack me when I was not in the Chamber.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that on that occasion I spoke only 14 minutes after he had spoken. It was not my fault that he left the Chamber after he ceased to speak. It was of his own volition. It is quite in order for an intervener in a debate to wait and listen to the following speech.

Mr. Monro

I waited to hear the following speech, but not the speech of the hon. Gentleman, who I did not know was to add his usual words of criticism.

Of course the pupil-teacher ratio in Aberdeen Burgh was the lowest in Scotland, at about 12.2 in 1973 and 11.9 in 1972. While that was highly commendable in terms of Aberdeen, it certainly was detrimental to the distribution of teachers throughout Scotland. Other areas in the West, Stirlingshire, Lanarkshire and Ren- frewshire, were running with a ratio of 18 to 1 to 20 to 1. With a falling pupil population in all areas of Scotland there was something to be said for the number of teachers in Aberdeen declining. The hon. Gentleman is making an unnecessary point, certainly one that is not valid in this debate.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I am in some bad odour in the city of Aberdeen because, when I was Minister, I put forward the view that Aberdeen should not continue to be above strength while there were such severe teacher shortages in the West of Scotland. I argued that one of the priorities of Socialism was that there should be increasing standards throughout the country. The position is changed now. We are not dealing with teacher shortages and the need to transfer teachers from areas of admittedly high standards to areas of lower standards. We are now dealing with a position when teachers cannot be employed. It does not make sense to reduce the number of teachers in the city of Aberdeen. The point I was making was that the new Tory-controlled education authority was reducing the number of teachers for reasons of policy—to reduce financial expenditure—and not for any altruistic motive.

Mr. Monro

Perhaps in winding up the Minister could tell us the pupil/teacher ratio in secondary education in the Grampian Region. If it is 14:1 or 13:1, the hon. Gentleman has not got a very good case. If it is 15:1 on the Red Book standards, there may be more merit in his argument.

Tonight we are considering the steps which could be taken to alleviate the situation in secondary education. We want to know why the Government did not take more drastic steps in 1974–75 to limit the intake of secondary applicants to the colleges of education. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said, it was laid down clearly in the 1972 White Paper that in primary and secondary education there would have to be a limitation on the number of entrants to the colleges. That limitation was started in the intake of 1972–73, and significantly carried forward in 1973–74, when the secondary intake was reduced by 13 per cent. and the primary intake by a significant number as well. It is a matter of great concern that with the situation which has developed today, particularly in relation to secondary teachers, the intake last September for 1975–76 went up by more than 300 over the 1974–75 figure. Surely the Minister must have had the figures at his finger-tips last year, and realised the need for a much more drastic cut-back in the colleges of education and the teaching associations. I know that it is not easy to deal with either body, but it was his duty to do so, and he fell short—particularly in relation to the secondary intake of a year ago—by not having a much more significant reduction in 1974 as a whole. In that year the reduction was only 6.9 per cent.

Again, while the primary situation has been developing markedly in the last two years, here also the intake last September was up on the 1974–75 intake. The Minister really has failed lamentably to realise what has been happening over the last two years. This is a failure for which he must answer tonight. He must tell us why he took no drastic action when he had the figures. The SED had figures for the increase in the school population up to 1977–78, for a static year in 1978–79, and then a decrease into the 1980s. We want to know what figure was set for the intake for primary and secondary applicants in the current session. While the Minister did give a measure of provision for nursery education to local authorities in the current year, it was a pretty drastic cut on the projections in the 1972 White Paper. The nursery cut has meant the loss of a great many teaching jobs in Scotland.

12.30 a.m.

It is my impression that there has been a bigger than ever cutback in PE teachers for the coming year. I hope that the Minister will have something constructive to say on this score. There seem to be three main areas of shortage. One is in music. I accept that little can be done to move teachers quickly into that sphere. It is not something that a teacher can learn quickly; he must have a calling for it. There is, however, a chance that something can be done in the sector dealing with business studies. There is a shortage of teachers in this sector. It is posible to give teachers a good grounding in business studies to help reduce that shortage. Can the Minister do something more to equip teachers who are qualified in maths and science to switch to technical studies? There is a serious shortage here.

We must try to cope with the overall surplus of teachers by moving them from the subject they may have learned into these areas of shortage for the coming year. I hope too that the Minister will consider encouraging those over 65 to retire to make way for those who have recently qualified.

My hon. Friends and I could give any number of examples of where we would make cuts in expenditure to save money which could be devoted to teachers' salaries. The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire knows that those who required milk in the past whether on grounds of income or for medical reasons, were always able to obtain it. There was no need for his heart-burning attitude. It was his Government who cut milk for secondary schools and my Government felt justified in saying that certain classes in the primary sector would have to give it up as well. The hon. Gentlemans argument fell as flat as his speech. We want a constructive answer from the Minister, not the razzmatazz that we heard from the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire.

Mr. Russell Fairgrieve (Aberdeenshire, West)

It gives me great pleasure to speak after my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), with his great expertise in this subject, and to pay respects to him for what he did for education in Scotland when we were in Government. I wish also to support my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr Younger) on the question of priorities.

We are having this debate only because the Government have run out of money. It began with their buying of two General Elections with grossly inflationary wage settlements, followed by the wrong priorities, such as setting up the BNOC and now seeking to nationalise the aircraft and shipbuilding industries. These moves will cost thousands of millions of pounds which would be better used in education.

My hon. Friends have said that it might be better to look to items like school meals and milk instead of having unemployed school teachers. With the present level of family allowances and supplementary benefits and the need for some perental responsibility, can hon. Members really say that it is not right to look at this type of expenditure before we cut down on the employment of young school teachers? I do not think there are many children starving through lack of milk or food in this country, though no doubt hon. Members opposite will seek to bring cases to our attention.

As my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said, if we had handled the situation differently we could now be employing 1,500 more teachers. It is always the same with Labour Governments. Then never get the priorities right. We shall continue to get dogma instead of the employment of young teachers.

As long as this Government are in power, the people will be given bread and circuses while the real issues are ignored.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Frank McElhone)

A bad cold and the need to make progress on this Bill prevent me from responding as I should like to this debate, especially as we have an unusually high attendance for a Scottish debate. I hope this is an indication of deep interest in Scottish affairs which will continue for the rest of this Session and into the next.

We have heard nothing about the clause and the amendment. I wish we had heard a little about the clause. Were I to attempt to respond to it, I should get a very poor hearing from the Opposition. They tabled the clause to get information on the present employment position of student teachers in Scottish colleges. I do not fault them for that.

I hope the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) will not think it remiss of me if I do not give a long, detailed answer about the clause and the amendment. He need have no fears about consultation. Government Ministers will always provide information. A feature of the Committee stage was the tremendous amount of information we provided for hon. Members so that they could argue their case against the Government. The representative of ALCES, one of the organisations representing lecturers, has said that he was content with the information with which he was provided. The information given to hon. Members and the colleges was as full as possible, and this information will always be provided by the Government.

Anyone who follows our Press handouts will know that we publish each December the pupil-teacher ratio and the total number of teachers. At a Press conference when the figures were announced last December, I indicated that an extra 1,000 primary school teachers and 1,000 secondary school teachers would be going into our schools this year. Those are significant figures.

Expressions like "Circular 819" and "Red Book standard" may seem like mumbo-jumbo to hon. Members from south of the border. The circular deals with primary education, and the red book has nothing to do with Chairman Mao but, rather, refers to secondary schools. I hope that will be understood by hon. Members in England—including those who may be Scots by birth.

In the interests of making progress, I should try to respond to some of the contributions that have been made this evening. I begin by referring to the speech of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro). I must say that I feel extremely sorry for the hon. Gentleman. His hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) made a gallant attempt—but failed—to justify his hon. Friend's activities when he was an Under-Secretary of State for Scotland with responsibilities for education. He should accept—I do not claim infallibility and I do not think that the hon. Member for Dumfries would wish to claim it—that during 1973, when the primary teachers now leaving the colleges went in as students, the wrong judgment was made. I hope he will recognise that my right hon. Gentleman has taken the bull by the horns in reducing the intake into our colleges this year. It has been a very unpopular decision, but my right hon. Friend recognises that to put young people into our colleges this year would only be training them to be unemployed.

We must recognise that the birth rate in Scotland has been dropping dramatically. Between 1975–76 and 1980–81 we shall have over 100,000 fewer primary pupils in Scottish schools.

Mr. Monro

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that I was wrong way back in 1973, was it not five times more wrong in 1974 and 1975, when the trend was staring him in the face, for him to take the wrong decision?

Mr. McElhone

I am sorry that the memory of the hon. Gentleman is at fault. I was not in office in 1974 and 1975. Nevertheless, I take collective responsibility for the decisions of my predecessors.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to read a newspaper in the Chamber?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

If I happened to see an hon. Member reading a newspaper, it would not be in order.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

It is the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell).

Mr. McElhone

I am only sorry that the furore over the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Bill has led to this type of debate.

The hon. Member for Dumfries claims that there is a shortage of teachers for business studies. I must confess that I cannot answer that claim. I shall look into the matter. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that it will not be possible to change as rapidly as he and others would like to the training of teachers for technical subjects. I tell the House that there is now a surplus supply of PE teachers. The hon. Gentleman also asked for the college intake figures this year. They have been announced by my right hon. Friend, but I shall repeat them for the record—namely, 1,450 for primary schools and 2,700 for secondary schools.

Contrary to the views of the Opposition, the fact is that in our Scottish schools we have the best pupil-teacher ratio that we have ever had. As regards the area that I represent in Glasgow and the areas that are represented by colleagues in the west of Scotland, which have suffered part-time education for 25 years, the House will be glad to know that the Director of Education for Strathclyde said on Friday last that we shall see the end of part-time education in these deprived areas for the first time for over a quarter of a century. That is a significant advance. There will still be a shortage of Scottish teachers in some subjects that have been mentioned—technical subjects and mathematics. We have been going as far abroad as Canada to try to persuade people to come here and teach in Scottish schools. We have to point out to English Members that there has been a reluctance in the past for teachers to come from the well-staffed areas of Grampian and Tayside to teach in the West of Scotland. Hon. Members who represent constituencies in the West of Scotland know this. We have tried desperately hard. The Director of Education for Strathclyde went to Tayside and Grampian this year to try to encourage teachers to come down.

12.45 a.m.

As for pupil-teacher ratios, the average for primary schools is 22.3 and for secondary schools 15.1. I do not come here tonight with an easy panacea for the problem of those teachers who will find it difficult to get jobs. I am appalled at anyone being unemployed, and I make no apologies for the present situation. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend has been taking certain initiatives, which have been announced and have been commented upon by hon. Members, in connection with job creation, the over-65s, and other activities. We must recognise that there is no easy panacea for the problem.

Mrs. Bain

Does the Minister accept that a logical way of using the surplus teachers from our colleges in Scotland would be to employ more teachers in the West of Scotland, in areas of deprivation, to compensate for the years of deprivation that many people have suffered in the past decade and to make sure that they leave school with adequate qualifications?

Mr. McElhone

We are well aware of that problem, but I must point out that the hon. Lady does Scotland no justice—and she certainly does the teaching profession no good—by the wild allegations she made tonight. I have chastised her on previous occasions. I say with some respect and courtesy—I treat all ladies with respect and courtesy—that the hon. Lady knows that in debates in which I was involved when I was dealing with health matters she made allegations about staffing in mental hospitals in Scotland which were totally wrong. She made a statement regarding hypothermia which was totally wrong. Her figures for cuts in Scottish expenditure are wrong, and she knows it. Members of the SNP must try to get some accuracy and honesty into their arguments, or they will become members of a bankrupt party.

I have attempted to cover the points made by the Opposition in the debate this evening. I have no doubt that what I have said will not be acceptable to them, but I do not stand here to give any glib promises or to offer any easy panacea for an extremely difficult problem—a problem which, as far as we are concerned, was created in the main by the Conservative Party when in Government. Hon. Members opposite should at least recognise that and respond to the efforts being made by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I am glad that on this occasion we have had a large attendance of Members from England and Wales as well as Scotland, because what we have heard tonight is one of the most shameful replies ever heard in the House of Commons. Time after time hon. Members on both sides of the House have emphasised the desperately serious situation in Scotland, where teacher unemployment is being deliberately created as a result of Government policy. Questions have been asked by hon. Members on both sides of the House, but all that we have had from the Minister was an indication that he supported the advertising for teachers in Canada, even though it seems that we shall have thousands unemployed in Scotland, and even though he must know that the starting salary for a teacher in Canada today is $11,000.

The Minister said that there would be consultation about redundancy and that he would give information. The one piece of information that has been requested by several hon. Members is an indication of the number of teachers who might be unemployed this year. On that the Minister said nothing. He merely said that he had had a Press conference in which he had told us some interesting things.

The Minister asked who was to pay for all this. He said "Blame the Tories." He wanted to blame my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) and those who were responsible for ensuring that for the first time in history, as he admitted, we would have an end to part-time education in Scotland. If there is one person who deserves credit for that bit of good news it is my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries. In the good old days of Tory Government we recruited sufficient students to remove the scourge of part-time education.

What is the Minister doing about the situation himself? He said that this all happened in 1973. But what happened with the intake only one year ago? Despite this apparent surplus of teachers, which the Minister said was apparent in 1973, from the most recent figures the Government this session have actually increased the number of students entering the colleges, from 2,400 to 2,493. Therefore, if it was obvious in 1973, one wonders why the Government increased the intake to the colleges.

We know the real reason. It was spelled out clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger). It is simply that the Government have got the economy into a mess. They have run out of money, and as a direct result of that they are having to put teachers out of work and to deprive Scotland of a unique opportunity to improve education standards.

There have been a number of good speeches in the debate. I always listen with great care to what is said by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) and the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes). They at least had the courage of their convictions and resigned from the Government because they deplored the Government's policies. In the case of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North, it was on the subject of education. What I remember, however, is that when the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North was dealing with some of these complex issues, the one person from the Back Benches who was repeatedly urging him to spend more and give more resources to health and education was the Minister, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone), who has now given us such a woefully inadequate answer.

What should be done? We were asked quite clearly by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West whether we think that we have an obligation. The Opposition certainly believe that we have a clear and absolute obligation to those teachers who were recruited into the colleges with the prospect of employment. We have a special obligation to those coming within the special recruitment scheme.

The Opposition are not irresponsible enough to call for increased spending straight—without proposing reductions. We have proposed alternatives. We have said that it would make more sense to employ the teachers and to cut down the increase proposed by the Government on school milk and to go ahead with the increase in school meal charges. By going ahead with those two increases we could employ 1,250 teachers who would otherwise be on the scrap heap.

However, the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) wanted to go outside this. When I heard him calling the EIS gutless, I thought that it was shameful. If there is anything like a gutless flounder, it is the hon. Gentleman. He said "I shall oppose the Government and vote against them, but on no account shall I bring about a General Election". He said "Let us go ahead and cut down on defence spending". What kind of cuts was he suggesting? Was it the Polaris base? That is probably what he was suggesting. In fact, it would automatically create 4,000 unemployed Scots if the Polaris base were closed down. Is it really suggested that 4,000 people should be made unemployed in order to create jobs for 1,250 teachers?

There are many suggestions that we could put forward. The Government have been flagrantly extravagant in the money they have spent on nationalisation schemes which will not save one job.

Division No. 163 AYES 12.55 a.m.
Adley, Robert Bulmer, Esmond Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Aitken, Jonathan Burden, F. A. du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Arnold, Tom Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Durant, Tony
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Carlisle, Mark Emery, Peter
Bain, Mrs Margaret Chalker, Mrs Lynda Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)
Banks, Robert Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Eyre, Reginald
Beith, A. J. Clark, William (Croydon S) Fairgrieve, Russell
Biffen, John Clegg, Walter Farr, John
Biggs-Davison, John Cockcroft, John Finsberg, Geoffrey
Blaker, Peter Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)
Body, Richard Cope, John Fookes, Miss Janet
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cormack, Patrick Forman, Nigel
Bottomley, Peter Corrie, John Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Costain, A. P. Fox, Marcus
Braine, Sir Bernard Crawford, Douglas Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)
Brittan, Leon Critchley, Julian Freud, Clement
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Crouch, David Fry, Peter
Bryan. Sir Paul Crowder, F. P. Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)
Buck, Antony Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Budgen, Nick Dodsworth, Geoffrey Glyn, Dr. Alan

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West talked about aircraft and shipbuilding nationalisation and how this would save jobs. I wonder if he has had any talks recently with steel workers in Scotland? They would have a different tale to tell him about how nationalisation loses and destroys jobs.

As many hon. Members have said, we have a serious and difficult problem before us. We have the prospect of certainly more than 1,000 Scottish teachers being unemployed—perhaps 2,000. We do not know exactly how many. These are teachers who need not be unemployed. They are teachers for whom we have a special obligation.

We have a unique opportunity further to improve Scottish teaching standards. Here we have a Minister who spent all his time on the Back Benches calling for more spending on education and on social work, and who is at present personally in charge of a policy of deliberately creating teacher unemployment and of cutting down home helps and school crossing patrols.

We should not only vote for the clause as a gesture of our absolute abhorrence of the Government's policies. We should do it as an indication of our contempt for a Minister who is not prepared to stand up and be counted when his policies are creating misery and unemployment in the country he represents.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 217, Noes 257.

Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Macfarlane, Neil St. John-Stevas, Norman
Goodhart, Philip MacGregor, John Scott, Nicholas
Goodhew, Victor McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Goodlad, Alastair Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Marten, Neil Shelton, William (Streatham)
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Mates, Michael Shepherd, Colin
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mather, Carol Shersby, Michael
Gray, Hamish Mawby, Ray Sims, Roger
Griffiths, Eldon Mayhew, Patrick Sinclair, Sir George
Grist, Ian Meyer, Sir Anthony Skeet, T. H. H.
Grylls, Michael Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Hall, Sir John Mills, Peter Speed, Keith
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Miscampbell, Norman Spence, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Hampson, Dr Keith Moate, Roger Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Hannam, John Monro, Hector Sproat, Iain
Hastings, Stephen Montgomery, Fergus Stainton, Keith
Hayhoe, Barney More, Jasper (Ludlow) Stanbrook, Ivor
Henderson, Douglas Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Stanley, John
Hicks, Robert Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Higgins, Terence L. Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Hooson, Emlyn Mudd, David Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Hordern, Peter Neave, Airey Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Nelson, Anthony Stradling, Thomas J.
Hunt, David (Wirral) Neubert, Michael Tapsell, Peter
Hunt, John Normanton, Tom Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Hurd, Douglas Nott, John Tebbit, Norman
Hutchison, Michael Clark Onslow, Cranley Temple-Morris, Peter
James, David Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Osborn, John Thompson, George
Jessel, Toby Page, John (Harrow West) Townsend, Cyril D.
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Tugendhat, Christopher
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Penhaligon, David Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Percival, Ian Viggers, Peter
Jopling, Michael Price, David (Eastleigh) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Prior, Rt Hon James Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Pym, Rt Hon Francis Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Kershaw, Anthony Rathbone, Tim Walters, Dennis
Kimball, Marcus Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Warren, Kenneth
King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rees-Davies, W. R. Weatherill, Bernard
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Reid, George Wells, John
Kitson, Sir Timorthy Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Welsh, Andrew
Knox, David Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Lane, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas Wiggin, Jerry
Latham, Michael (Melton) Ridsdale, Julian Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Lawrence, Ivan Rifkind, Malcolm Winterton, Nicholas
Le Marchant, Spencer Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Younger, Hon George
Lloyd, Ian Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Loveridge, John Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Luce, Richard Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Mr. W. Benyon and
MacCormick, Iain Royle, Sir Anthony Mr. Fred Silvester.
McCrindle, Robert Sainsbury, Tim
Allaun, Frank Campbell, Ian Dell, Rt Hon Edmund
Anderson, Donald Canavan, Dennis Dempsey, James
Archer, Peter Cant, R. B. Doig, Peter
Armstrong, Ernest Carmichael, Neil Dormand, J. D.
Ashton, Joe Cartwright, John Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Duffy, A. E. P.
Atkinson, Norman Clemitson, Ivor Dunn, James A.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Dunnett, Jack
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cohen, Stanley Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Coleman, Donald Eadie, Alex
Bates, Alf Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Edge, Geoff
Bean, R. E. Concannon, J. D. Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Conlan, Bernard Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Bidwell, Sydney Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Ennals, David
Bishop, E. S. Corbett, Robin Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Evans John (Newton)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Cryer, Bob Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Dalyell, Tam Flannery, Martin
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Davidson, Arthur Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Buchan, Norman Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Buchanan, Richard Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Deakins, Eric Ford, Ben
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Forrester, John
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Maclennan, Robert Rowlands, Ted
Freeson, Reginald McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Sandelson, Neville
George, Bruce McNamara, Kevin Sedgemore, Brian
Gilbert, Dr John Madden, Max Selby, Harry
Golding, John Magee, Bryan Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Gould, Bryan Mahon, Simon Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Gourlay, Harry Mallalieu, J. P. W. Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Grant, George (Morpeth) Marks, Kenneth Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Grant, John (Islington C) Marquand, David Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Grocott, Bruce Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Skinner, Dennis
Hardy, Peter Mason, Rt Hon Roy Small, William
Harper, Joseph Maynard, Miss Joan Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Meacher, Michael Snape, Peter
Heffer, Eric S. Mendelson, John Spearing, Nigel
Hooley, Frank Mikardo, Ian Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis Millan, Bruce Stoddart, David
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Stott, Roger
Huckfield, Les Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Molloy, William Strauss, Rt Hn G. R.
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Moonman, Eric Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Swain, Thomas
Hunter, Adam Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Moyle, Roland Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Tierney, Sydney
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Newens, Stanley Tinn, James
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Noble, Mike Tomlinson, John
John, Brynmor Oakes, Gordon Tuck, Raphael
Johnson, James (Hull West) Ogden, Eric Urwin, T. W.
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Orbach, Maurice Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Ovenden, John Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Judd, Frank Palmer, Arthur Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Kaufman, Gerald Park, George Ward, Michael
Kelley, Richard Parker, John Watkins, David
Kerr, Russell Parry, Robert Watkinson, John
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Pavitt, Laurie Weetch, Ken
Kinnock, Neil Peart, Rt Hon Fred Wellbeloved, James
Lambie, David Pendry, Tom White, Frank R. (Bury)
Lamborn, Harry Perry, Ernest White, James (Pollok)
Lamond, James Phipps, Dr Colin Whitehead, Phillip
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Prescott, John Whitlock, William
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Price, C. (Lewisham W) Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Price, William (Rugby) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Radice, Giles Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Litterick, Tom Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Williams, Sir Thomas
Lomas, Kenneth Richardson, Miss Jo Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Loyden, Eddie Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Luard, Evan Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Robinson, Geoffrey Woodall, Alec
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Roderick, Caerwyn Woof, Robert
McCartney, Hugh Rodgers, George (Chorley) Wrigglesworth, Ian
McElhone, Frank Rodgers, William (Stockton) Young, David (Bolton E)
MacFarquhar, Roderick Rooker, J. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Roper, John
Mackenzie, Gregor Rose, Paul B. Mr. Ted Graham and
Mackintosh, John P. Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Mr. A. W. Stallard.

Question accordingly negatived.

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