HC Deb 08 May 1990 vol 172 cc6-7
8. Mr. Janman

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the effect of the introduction of the national curriculum of the recent decision by some of the teachers' unions to take strike action.

Mr. MacGregor

I regret any industrial action in our schools. It can only damage children's education, serves no useful purpose and diminishes teachers' standing in the eyes of parents and of the public as a whole. For those reasons many teachers regard such action as undesirable and unacceptable.

Mr. Janman

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the calls for strike action within some teachers' unions are being led by members of Militant and the hard left—a notable example is Miss Anita Dickson, a self-declared supporter of Militant who has been elected to the NUT executive? Does my right hon. Friend consider that it is appropriate for such people to be teaching our children in our state schools?

Mr. MacGregor

I certainly think that the reactions of many parents to the comments and actions of some people in the teaching unions is that they would not wish their children to be taught by such people. The important message for us to get over is that the vast majority of teachers are not like that.

Mrs. Mahon

Will the Minister confirm that he has refused to meet any of the local authorities that have been poll tax capped? Will he tell the House how on earth the national curriculum can be implemented in Calderdale, where the budget has to be reduced by £5 million?

Mr. MacGregor

The reason is that it would be inappropriate for me to do so. Local education authorities that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is proposing to charge cap have had the opportunity to put forward alternative proposals which he is considering. That is the right way to proceed.