HC Deb 23 March 1977 vol 928 cc1277-8
19. Mrs. Bain

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many responses he has had to his Consultative Document on Teacher Training.

22. Mr. Alexander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement regarding the future of the 10 colleges of education in Scotland.

25. Mr. Rifkind

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on the future of the Scottish colleges of education in the light of further representations he has received during the consultative period.

30. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the progress of the consultations with the teacher training colleges; and when the Government are likely to produce a feasibility study in this connection.

Mr. Millan

Of the 63 organisations invited to comment on the consultative paper, 50 have so far replied. My hon. Friend and I have had meetings with a number of interested bodies, and meetings are also being held between my Department and the colleges of education mainly affected by the proposals. I am considering all the views expressed and hope to be able to make a further statement reasonably soon.

Mrs. Bain

It was extremely difficult to hear the right hon. Gentleman's reply. Will he indicate how many of the responses have supported the Government's proposals, because we suspect that none of the colleges accepts the proposals? When can we expect a final decision on the Government's plans on which colleges are to stay open?

Mr. Millan

There are some aspects of our proposals that are generally accepted, including, for example, the immediate question of the number of students to be admitted into colleges this year. It is no secret that many other aspects of the proposals have been criticised. One of the reasons why I want to produce final answers fairly quickly is to reduce the period of uncertainty.

Mr. Fletcher

Are we to have a revised consultation document laid before the House, with costings? When shall we be able to debate the consultation document, so that the House may vote and show its disapproval of the Government's proposals?

Mr. Millan

There will not be a consultation document, but I hope to give my conclusions on the matter in the next month or two.

Mr. Rifkind

Since the Secretary of State has suffered a humiliating rejection of his proposals by the House, in Committee, and by his own party conference in Perth last month, will he now remove the real concern that is felt by indicating that he will withdraw the proposals?

Mr. Millan

I do not accept what the hon. Member has said.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Does the Secretary of State accept that if he continues to refuse to do costings or to carry out a flexibility study on the measures affecting colleges in Scotland, no one in Scotland will believe that his consultations are anything other than a fraud?

Mr. Millan

I have not refused to do costings. I have said that I shall present the figures.

Mr. Henderson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I thank the House for such a large turn-out for Scottish Question Time, but I assure hon. Members that it is quite belated and that it will have no effect on the way in which the Scottish people will vote.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member knows that he should not use a point of order even to make a joke.