asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the introduction of foreign languages into Scottish primary schools, he will approve the introduction of the Gaelic language with a view to preserving Scottish culture; and if he will make a statement.
It is open to any education authority to provide Gaelic courses in primary as in secondary schools. In Gaelic-speaking areas education authorities have a duty to ensure that adequate provision is made for the teaching of Gaelic language and literature and 4,125 primary pupils are studying it in these areas.
Can my hon. Friend see whether that information can be made known to all Scottish local education authorities? Is she aware that while French, for example, is being taught— and we welcome the introduction of the teaching of French in primary schools— in many primary schools in my district Gaelic is not taught as a subject of instruction? Therefore, in the interests of her Scottish culture, will my hon. Friend make sure that this information is available to the education authority concerned?
A number of pupils outside the area which normally speaks it are studying it. For example, at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lanark and Renfrewshire just under 500 secondary pupils are taking it. Certainly the education authorities know their duties and power.
Mr. Russell Johnston
Is the hon. Lady aware that restricted experiments in Gaelic teaching in primary schools in the county of Inverness have been going on for some time? Would she take steps to make some money directly available and, if this is possible, to extend the area where this is being done? At present it is relatively restricted and the restriction is primarily financial.
This is a matter for the education authorities concerned. They have a duty in it. The allocations of money which they have are supposed to provide for this, but I would be very glad to look at the particular point if the hon. Member will write to me about it.