HC Deb 30 June 1980 vol 987 cc1065-6
5. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has completed his consultations with the Welsh Joint Education Committee and other educational bodies regarding the place of Welsh in the school curriculum in Wales.

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Michael Roberts)

No. Written comments on our consultative document have been offered by a number of bodies, and I shall be discussing this matter with representatives of the Welsh Joint Education Committee next month.

Mr. Hooson

Does my hon. Friend agree that if we are to have a proper place for the Welsh language in the school curriculum it is necessary to improve the standard of school books and other material in the language?

Mr. Michael Roberts

Yes. It was partly for that reason that we wrote into the Education Act a power to give specific grants to local education authorities. In administering the scheme we intend to give high priority to Welsh language books.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Does the Minister accept that many of us strongly oppose the Government's proposal for a core curriculum? However, should he decide to implement such a proposal, we take the view that Welsh medium teaching should be part of that core in some form in all schools in Wales.

Mr. Michael Roberts

The linguistic pattern of Welsh throughout Wales is so varied that it will differ from one local authority to another. The point of the consultations is to ensure that Welsh plays an important part in the curriculum of our schools in Wales.

Sir Raymond Gower

Will my hon. Friend study particularly in his future consideration of this matter the availability of competent teachers of Welsh, particularly in those parts of the country where not so much Welsh is spoken?

Mr. Michael Roberts

We are concerned with the competent teaching of Welsh and every other subject.

Mr. Alan Williams

We welcome the extra specific grant, but is the hon. Gentleman sure that the strings attached to it will not be a deterrent? Is it correct that, to obtain the grant, local authorities will have to divert some of their existing programmes as their contribution? Will not that mean a further cutback in existing programmes in the education system, and is there not a risk that that will sour the attitudes of parents and education committees, who already resent the fact that 1 million fewer school books will be bought this year?

Mr. Michael Roberts

The problem of school books has been with us for a long time, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to know that. As for the questions raised recently by the WJEC. I shall be meeting the committee on 25 July and those matters will be discussed. We want to ensure that the new resources being injected will result, for the most part, in new initiatives. We do not want local expenditure by central Government expenditure.