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Volume 389: debated on Thursday 6 May 1943

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Administrative Areas


asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is his intention to institute an impartial inquiry before introducing a Bill dealing with the question of educational administrative areas?

As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Hannah) on 21st January last, I invited my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister without Portfolio to advise me on this matter, and I am now considering the advice which he has given me. I have therefore nothing further to add to this reply at present.

Is it the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to publish the proposals before they are embodied in any Bill which comes before this House?

I think it is important for the House and the public to see all my proposals together. When the time comes I can assure the hon. Member there will be plenty of time to look at them and express opinions on them.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that some of the smaller authorities are some of the most progressive and efficient and will very much resent being legislated out of existence in the interests of larger and less efficient authorities?

Yes, Sir, I am aware of the excellent work done by many of the Part 3 authorities—by the Part 3 authorities as a whole—and it is not my idea to cut away local interests in education.

London County Council Teachers (Other Work)


asked the President of the Board of Education how many qualified and unqualified teachers employed by the London County Council are engaged in work other than that of teaching?

One thousand four hundred and forty-five elementary and secondary school teachers employed by the L.C.C. are engaged in work other than that of teaching.

In view of the shortage of teachers, will the right hon. Gentleman try to find out how many L.C.C. teachers are employed in the meals centres, and get them returned to the work for which they were trained and are paid?

Yes, Sir, I have made some inquiries, and I find that very few are now working in the Londoners' Meals Service. They are doing valuable work there, but I agree that the work of teaching is most important at the present time.

Elementary Schools (Cost)


asked the President of the Board of Education the cost to the State in elementary schools per child in 1913 and at the latest date for which figures are available?

The cost to the Exchequer per child in average attendance in elementary schools in 1913–14 was £2 3s. 8d. In 1938–39, the latest year for which figures are available, the comparable figure was £7 18s. 8d.

Pre-Service Training


asked the President of the Board of Education the nature of the pre-service training provided for boys and girls of 16 to 18 years of age who have now to register on reaching the age of 16 for such training?

I am sending my hon. Friend copies of Circulars 1577 and 1585, together with other memoranda issued by the Board, which will, I think, give him the information he desires.

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House how many girls and boys between 16 and 18 have availed themselves of some form of pre-service training?

Organised Youth Movement


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will inform the House as to the numbers of boys and girls in the London area and in the country as a whole between the ages of 14 and 16 years; and what percentage of these have joined any form of organised youth movement?

I am unable to give up-to-date population figures, but I estimate that the total number of boys and girls in the age group 14–16 in England and Wales may be of the order of 1,100,000 of whom 80,000 to 90,000 may be referable to London. As regards the second part of the Question, I regret that no figures are available.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a report, I think in September last, of the L.C.C. said that only 17 per cent. of the girls and boys interviewed had joined any youth movement? Is that figure approximately correct, and, if so, is it not very unsatisfactory?

I remember that there was a certain amount of discussion at the time about those figures. The position was not so clear as the hon. Member makes out. I shall be glad to give him exact information for him to judge if he will let me send it to him.

Teachers (Supply)


asked the President of the Board of Education what plans he is making to ensure that an adequate supply of teachers will be forthcoming for the next three years?

I can assure my hon. Friend that I am taking such steps as circumstances allow to ensure adequate staffing of the schools from year to year. The circumstances of the time do not, however, admit of my making a three-year plan.

I was not thinking so much of a three-year plan but of whether my right hon. Friend has not evidence that classes are now getting larger and absenteeism is growing among school children, and that the accumulating shortage of teachers is partly responsible for this state of affairs?

Over the country as a whole we are maintaining a remarkable average of pupils to teachers. In certain areas the difficulties to which my hon. Friend draws attention do exist.

Demobilised Personnel (Education And Training)


asked the President of the Board of Education whether his Department is represented, and by whom, in the body which is set up to consider the further education and training of demobilised men and women?

I assume that my hon. Friend refers to the Interdepartmental Committee of which Lord Hankey is Chairman. The Board is represented by the Deputy Secretary.

Could not my right hon. Friend ask the Minister of Labour jointly to issue the recent memorandum as a White Paper, and would he see that there is somebody representing the Board with education experience on the body which takes executive action inside the Appointments Department, so that potential teachers can be found from those now being demobilised?

I will certainly discuss that with my right hon. Friend. As to the suggestion made with regard to the executive action by the Board I think there has been a tendency to under-rate the part which the Board is playing in this matter and the interest which I intend the Board shall take in the administration of this scheme.

Young Persons (Hours Of Work)


asked the President of the Board of Education whether the material available, as a result of the registration of young persons, has been collated by his Department; what light it throws on excessive hours of work; what consequent action is being reflected in policy; and when he is proposing to publish a report?

Yes, Sir, a White Paper is being prepared, and I hope that my hon. Friend will await its publication. He should then obtain the information which he desires.