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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 763: debated on Thursday 2 May 1968

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Wales

Public Appointments

1 and 2.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) whether he will publish in the Official Report a list of those appointments in national or local government service in Wales from which non-Welsh speakers are excluded; and if he will make a statement;

(2) whether he will take steps to end the practice whereby various public appointments in Wales discriminate against those of otherwise high ability on the basis of their inability to speak a minority language within the Principality.

I am not aware of any such discrimination. Appointments to public bodies in Wales for which I have responsibility are made on merit and the requirement of ability to speak Welsh arises only where the qualification is necessary for the proper performance of the duties concerned.

Information as to central and local government appointments calling for Welsh-speaking ability is not readily available and its collection would involve a disproportionate expenditure of time and money.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in some of the more populated parts of Wales Welsh is almost as dead a language as Anglo-Saxon in England and discrimination against English-speaking applicants for jobs in such areas is little better than a protection racket designed to give jobs to the boys?

I am surprised at my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks). I have just told him that I have no evidence of discrimination. If he, with his interest in our affairs—which we welcome—can produce evidence, I will gladly look at it.

We on this side of the House would like to take this opportunity of welcoming the right hon. Gentleman back to the Welsh Office. He is in no way a prodigal son. We wish him well in his efforts in the Cabinet in pushing forward matters of importance to Wales.

Was not the subject of the Question to some extent touched on during our discussions in the Welsh Grand Committee concerning the Report of the Hughes Parry Committee?

I am deeply grateful to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt). Mr. Llefarydd, r'wy'n hapus iawn heddiw. I know it is out of order to go on too long, but I merely said that I am happy to be in this office.

The question of discrimination has been gone into in great depth.

I, too, offer my congratulations and good wishes to my right hon. Friend.

With regard to the reference in Question No. 2 to a minority language, is my right hon. Friend aware that Welsh is the oldest living language in Europe and is so precious that many of us hope that it will go on for ever?

Is the Secretary of State aware that Welsh has been the only language spoken in most of Wales over most of its history and has been the only language of Government? Is he also aware that that would be the situation today if Welshmen had enjoyed self-government throughout the centuries?

I may add that it was this Government which, for the first time, gave equal validity to the Welsh language with the English language. As long as I am in this office I shall do all I can to ensure that those who want the facility to learn and speak it shall have it.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter has been thoroughly considered in the Welsh Grand Committee and on the Floor of the House in connection with the validity of the Welsh language? Is he also aware that highest posts in the academic sector in Wales are held at present by persons who are unable to speak Welsh?

It is equally true that some of the highest posts in England are held by those who do speak Welsh.

Rhayader (Development Plan)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what progress has been made in his technical inquiries about the development plan of Rhayader; and whether he will make a statement.

Further investigations indicate that the trunk road line selected by the consultants who prepared the Rhayader Report is more suitable than a possible alternative. I am satisfied, therefore, that the Report provides a sound basis for the expansion of the town.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept my sincere thanks for the statement he has made? Could he go further or let the House know at some time what financial support will be given for development of Rhayader in future?

There will be discussions between the Welsh authorities and the Welsh Office on this question.

Welsh Council

4.

asked the Secretary of States for Wales whether he will now state the names of the persons who are to serve on the new Council for Wales; and if he will make a statement.

I am circulating the names and the terms of reference in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Council will hold its first meeting in Cardiff on Monday, 13th May. I hope to attend. The House will, I am sure, want to wish this new Council success in its efforts to serve the Welsh people.

I join my right hon. Friend in wishing the Council every success, but can he assure us that in matter like the closure of the Mid-Wales line, there will be a special panel on this Council to consider it, as is now required in any future railway closures?

The organisation of the Council's work is a matter for the Council, but when my hon. Friend considers its terms of reference, he will see that his hopes are almost certain to be fulfilled.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side welcome the Government's decision to get rid of the Welsh Economic Council, of which he was Chairman and with which we disagreed? We wish the new Council very well. Can he assure us that there will be adequate industrial representation, particularly with regard to employment prospects, and that its proceedings will be made public?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be satisfied that the Council is widely representative of Welsh life, including industry. I can give no assurances this afternoon about its proceedings being public. Also, I should like to pay my tribute to the Welsh Economic Council for the hard and faithful work its members performed on behalf of Wales.

Would my right hon. Friend pursue the matter of the Council sitting in public, which is very important? Will the working papers and reports of the Council be available to hon. Members?

All this had better await my discussions with the Chairman of the Welsh Council. I can give no assurance today about its deliberations being public.

Since the Welsh Economic Council was set up at the same time as those for Scotland and the English regions, can my right hon. Friend assure us that the functions hitherto performed by that Council will now be completely vested in the new Welsh Council?

This Council will have even broader powers than the Welsh Economic Council.

Following is the information:

Welsh Council

Chairman

Professor BRINLEY THOMAS, Head of Department of Economics, University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff.

Members

Alderman JOHN ALLISON, J.P., Alderman, Swansea County Borough Council; Member, Welsh Advisory Committee for Civil Aviation.

Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. R. E. B. BEAUMONT, C.B.E., T.D., J.P., V.L., Member, Development Commission; Member, Council on Tribunals; Chairman, Montgomeryshire Agricultural Executive Committee.

Councillor G. R. BEESTON, M.B.E., J.P., Member, Monmouthshire County Council; Executive Member, Council for the Protection of Rural Wales.

Principal C. W. L. BEVAN, C.B.E., B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.I.C., Principal, University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff.

W. F. CARTWRIGHT, LL.D., D.L., M.I.Mech.E., Managing Director, South Wales Group, British Steel Corporation.

Colonel W. R. CRAWSHAY, D.S.O., E.R.D., T.D., A.D.C., D.L., Chairman, Welsh Arts Council.

BRYN DAVIES, South Wales Organiser, National Union of Agricultural Workers.

D. J. DAVIES, Chairman, Wales Tourist Board.

G. PRYS DAVIES, LL.M. (Wales), Member, Welsh Committee of I.T.A.; Member, Court of Governors of the University of Wales; Solicitor.

J. A. DAVIES, J.P., Member, National Farmers Union Council and Economic Development Committee for Agriculture.

Dr. MARGARET DAVIES, M.A., Ph.D., Member, National Parks Commission.

Councillor W. ARMON ELLIS, LL.B., Member, Flintshire County Council; Solicitor.

A. J. EVANS, M.B.E., F.I.A.C., Clerk, Llangefni Rural District Council.

Major A. S. D. GRAESSER, D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C., T.D., D.L., J.P., Managing Director, R. Graesser Limited.

Professor IVOR GOWAN, M.A., Head of Department of Political Science, University College, Aberystwyth.

K. GRIFFIN, Area Secretary, Electrical Trades Union; Member, Welsh Advisory Committee for Civil Aviation.

J. S. A. HODGE, F.A.C.C.A., Merchant Banker; Chairman and Managing Director, The Hodge Group Limited; Chairman, Gwent and West of England Enterprises.

Professor H. MORRIS JONES, B.A., B.Litt., Head of Department of Social Theory and Institutions, University College, Bangor.

T. MERVYN JONES, C.B.E., M.A., LL.M.(Cantab), LL.B.(Wales), Chairman, Wales Gas Board; Chairman, Civic Trust for Wales.

Tom JONES, O.B.E., J.P., Secretary, North Wales T.U.C. Regional Advisory Committee; Regional Secretary, Transport and General Workers' Union, North Wales.

HENRY J. KROCH, Managing Director, A.B. Electronic Components Limited.

Alderman E. T. KINSEY MORGAN, C.B.E., Alderman, Radnorshire County Council.

SIR ALFRED NICHOLAS, C.B.E., LL.D., Chairman, Development Corporation for Wales, Chairman, Aberdare Holdings Limited; Chairman, South Wales Switchgear Limited.

Councillor R. H. OWEN, B.E.M., J.P., Member, Caernarvonshire County Council.

Councillor W. C. PHILPIN, Member, Pembrokeshire County Council.

Alderman Mrs. DOROTHY REES, C.B.E., J.P., Alderman, Glamorgan County Council.

M. W. ROSSER, Chartered Accountant; Partner in Deloitte, Plender Griffiths and Company.

O. GRAHAM SAUNDERS, Regional Secretary, South Wales Advisory Committee, Trades Union Congress.

DOUGLAS A. SCOTT, O.B.E., J.P., F.I.O.B., Chairman, Andrew Scott (Civil Engineers) Limited.

Alderman P. SQUIRE, J.P., Chairman, Sports Council for Wales; Alderman, Glamorgan County Council.

Councillor D. D. THOMAS, M.B.E., J.P., Member, Llandeilo Rural District Council.

Alderman G. A. S. THORNBULL, T.D., J.P., Director, Edward Curran Engineering Limited; Alderman, Cardiff County Borough Council.

S. C. VOWLES, General Manager, Esso Refinery, Milford Haven.

GLYN WILLIAMS, President, South Wales Area of the National Union of Mineworkers.

G. PRYS WILLIAMS, C.B.E., formerly lecturer in business administration and Fbusiness statistics, London School of Economics.

TREVOR L. WILLIAMS, O.B.E., LL.M., Clerk, Wrexham Rural District Council.

Professor W. M. WILLIAMS, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, University College, Swansea.

The terms of reference of the Welsh Council are:

To provide a forum for the interchange of views and information on developments in the economic and cultural fields, and to advise on the implications for Wales of National policies.

To assist in the formulation of plans for Wales having regard to the best use of its resources, and to advise the Secretary of State for Wales on major land use and economic planning matters, including transport and communications.

To help to promote the work of the Development Corporation, the Wales Tourist Board, the Welsh Arts Council and of similar public bodies functioning in Wales as a whole or in a significant area of the Principality.

To encourage co-operation between the local authorities through schemes approved by the appropriate Ministers.

Option Mortgage Scheme

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many people in Wales have taken up the option mortgage scheme.

Precise numbers are not yet available since lenders are not required to give advance information, but about one in twenty existing borrowers have already take up the scheme, and the general trend is that one in every ten new borrowers is benefiting from it.

Would my hon. Friend consider, in view of the great help which this scheme can give to young married couples who are looking for a home, what further publicity he can give to it?

We have already given a great deal of publicity to it, and I am glad to tell my hon. Friend of the great interest which will play a big part in helping us to break records again this year in house building in Wales.

National Parks

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of the land of Wales will be included in National Parks in 1970.

About one-fifth of the area of Wales will be included in National Parks in 1970.

In view of that very high proportion, would the right hon. Gentleman press for the establishment of the headquarters of the proposed Country-side Commission in one of the Welsh National Parks, manned by Welshmen, with some English advisory committees to advise them on the English National Parks as suggested in the Western Mail this week?

Every organisation is welcome to make its headquarters in Wales and I will never be an impediment to such a step.

Will the advisory committee which is set up for Wales have headquarters in Wales? If so, would my right hon. Friend consider Brecon as the best place?

Cardiff, West, is a desirable resort, too, but I will bear in mind what my hon. Friend says.

Why was the Welsh Office not able to get the Government to agree to a separate commission for Wales under the new set-up of the Countryside Commission? This is a matter of some anxiety.

I can allay the hon. Gentleman's anxiety. There is a Welsh Committee, and Welsh interests will be protected. I will see to that, and, if I do not, my hon. Friend will.

Emigration

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will state the gross number of persons who emigrated from Wales in 1965–66 and 1966–67.

This information is not available. It could be found only by imposing a requirement on people leaving Wales to sign a declaration of some sort. This I am not prepared to recommend.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree, nevertheless, that the number must be very big, because there were 40,000 fewer at work in Wales in 1967 than in 1965, and this number makes nonsense of the forecast in his White Paper for the shortfall of jobs in 1970?

Two points arise. First, the hon. Gentleman—I regret to say this on my first occasion to answer Questions as Secretary of State—is wildly wrong. The number has fallen from just over 5,000 in the 1950s to a trickle. Second, perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to tell Welsh people that they are not free to move. Does he want the London Welsh to return home, for instance?

Public Water Supply, Mynydd Llandegai

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he is aware that the public water supply in the village of Mynydd Llandegai is tainted; and what steps are being taken to supply unadulterated water.

Yes, Sir. The water is affected by rust but analysis shows that there is no danger to health.

Work now in hand, and due to be completed in about three months' time, is expected to remedy the situation.

Will my hon. Friend take note that this is a specimen of the drinking water in the village of Mynydd Llandegai, if he wants to examine it, brought to me in a surgery—I must emphasise, a constituency "surgery"? Will he also note that he, like me and others, would be loath to drink this water, however safe it may be? I can assure him that clothes washed in it take on its rather unpleasant colour. Will he takes steps to see—

On a point of order. By leave of the House, can the hon. Member's bottle be passed around?

I know something of a darker colour which is not dangerous either. The major scheme being designed at present should further improve both the quantity and the quality of supplies.

A55 Road (Re-Routing)

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will now make a statement on the results of the feasibility study of re-routing the A55 across the lower Conway Valley and through Bwlch y Ddeufaen so as to bypass the coastal area of the towns of Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Conway, Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan.

The Study Group is at present completing its report, which is concerned with the whole question of improving east-west communications in the Conway and Colwyn Bay area and not solely with the feasibility of the route named in the Question.

My right hon. Friend is not in a position to make a statement at present.

Will my hon. Friend, when he does decide, bear in mind that the cost of an inland road bypassing all these North Wales towns should be offset against the cost of the individual by-pass for each town and not, as seems to be the case now, merely against the cost of crossing the river at Conway?

Yes, Sir, my right hon. Friend will take note of these matters. It is appreciated that there is considerable public interest in this matter and my right hon. Friend will be glad to issue a statement after he has received and studied the report.

Pit Closures

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he requires the Welsh Economic Council to consider contemplated pit closures in Wales, when they inquire into the employment prospects in the localities affected, and submit reports to his Department.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Can he assure us that, before any future pit closures in Wales, the Welsh Council will be able to inquire into the unemployment rate in each locality, and, where it is high, to recommend the postponement of the closure?

May I add my personal good wishes to the Secretary of State on his appointment?

In this serious and important matter, which concerns both sides of the House, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear where the ultimate responsibility for pit closures lies? Will he, above all, make certain that wherever possible his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is not brought into this, because on so many occasions what he has said has been misinterpreted?

When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is brought in, it is always to good effect. The colliery closure programme is the National Coal Board's. I am in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power about closures generally and with my other colleagues about the action which needs to be taken to deal with the results of closures in particular areas.

Education And Science

Students (Unmarried Mothers)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek to make provision to assist unmarried student mothers to continue a course in further education while retaining custody of their child.

It is within the discretion of local education authorities to pay allowances for the dependent children of unmarried mothers.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Department could do much more to help these girls and that it is not so much a question of financial resources as of housing and the care of children during the time when mothers are studying? Can she say what help is being offered to students who are lone mothers, whether through divorce, widowhood, or any other reason?

I am aware of the need particularly for creches for the children of both unmarried mothers and women who are made single by circumstances. I assure my hon. Friend that we share his concern and that we are looking at the matter to see whether much more help can be given to widows and separated wives.

Astronomical Satellite

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will support the proposals of the Advisory Committee to the European Space Conference for a large astronomical satellite.

The Advisory Committee has put forward three alternative programmes, only one of which would include the large astronomical satellite. The scientific content of the L.A.S. project was designed by a United Kingdom team and the Government have always endorsed its scientific merit. But there is unlikely to be sufficient support from members of E.S.R.O. for this particular programme, nor is it likely that the necessary resources could now be found for it.

If that is so, to what is the 6 per cent. increase in the allocation of funds to E.S.R.O. over the next three years to be devoted? Are not the Government paying far too much attention to university scientific experiments and not enough to the practical and commercial virtues of space?

No, Sir. A range of experiments is available. The large astronomical satellite in the first of the Advisory Committee's options would require an expansion of 100 per cent. in cost over three years. As the hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware, it is not entirely for this Government to say whether such an expansion could be made, and I understand that the position is that it is not likely to be made.

Universities (Women Science Students)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he plans to take to encourage more women students to take up unfilled science places in universities.

Of those who apply through U.C.C.A. for science and technology courses in universities, a slightly higher proportion of women than of men is admitted. Only a fifth of the pupils taking A level science courses in school are girls. The Dainton Report has drawn public attention to the scope for attracting more girls to science and technology; teachers, parents and employers can do much to encourage girls to study these subjects.

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that she will do everything she can to persuade teachers and career mistresses to encourage girls to take science? Would she agree that her Department should take a tougher line with medical schools, which are now controlling about 15 per cent. of the intake of women students with science qualifications?

I share my hon. Friend's feelings on the first point. I believe that we will be in great difficulties, particularly from the teaching point of view, unless we encourage many more girls to take science, mathematics and technology. To answer the second point, my hon. Friend will be aware that this matter arises out of the Report of the Royal Commission on Medical Education, and since we have not yet made a statement about that, I hope that she will be willing to wait a little while.

Immigrant Children

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further action he plans to take to assist those local education authorities with a large number of immigrant children to meet their commitments.

I hope that local authorities will make known to me their requirements in respect of additional buildings or extra teacher quota, and I will give all possible help. I am at present awaiting the local authorities' submissions of schools of exceptional difficulty where qualified teachers are to receive an extra £75 a year. Since these will include schools in immigrant areas, it should help the teacher supply position there.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Wolverhampton, which is an area of acute difficulty in regard to this problem, has received no allocation from the £16 million which her right hon. Friend's predecessor distributed for this purpose? Will she have another look at the matter and see that something is forthcoming to help my constituency?

I am aware of that and, as I have explained to my hon. Friend, the £16 million which was allocated for the educational priority areas was designed to deal with the worst slum buildings in areas where children were deprived because of a number of factors, including overcrowding and home conditions. It was not intended to deal, in this context, with the overcrowding of schools due to the presence of immigrants. This matter is being dealt with by way of the ordinary school building programme. As my hon. Friend knows, Wolverhampton has been allocated four new primary schools for the coming year. The Chairman of the Wolverhampton Education Committee is reported in the Press to have said:

"This is going to ease our problems tremendously."

Will the Minister see that some of this extra help is used to provide facilities, such as nursery groups, for the under-fives in areas where there is a large number of immigrant children under five?

I am anxious to receive from local authorities their requests for extra minor works provision. I cannot say that it would go to the under-fives in particular areas where there is serious over-crowding in primary schools, but I am anxious that local authorities should make known to me their difficulties, whereupon we will do our best to meet them.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most people in Birmingham are satisfied with the help that the city has received from the Government and that any recent difficulties have been due far more to the mismanagement of the education committee than to any lack of help from the Government?

Yes, Sir. I have seen in a newspaper report that Birmingham considers that the difficulty which it experienced temporarily a week or two ago has now been overcome.

Does the right hon. Lady's reply mean that the initiative in this matter is being left entirely with education authorities, or is the Department making inquiries into the adequacy of the arrangements being proposed?

My right hon. Friend and I are about to embark on visits to many of these areas, and we hope that during those visits we will learn at firsthand what is going on. We cannot know the position or the requirements unless local authorities let us know, and we hope to resolve both of these problems.

Independent Schools

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to implement the provisions of the Leadbetter missive, sent by his Department in March, 1968, to the proprietors of all unrecognised independent schools; and whether he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the letter, in view of its importance to thousands of educational establishments.

I am circulating a copy of the letter in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I hope that the first advisory visits will take place in the autumn term.

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. In view of the great additional amount of work of examination and inspection that will be required by Her Majesty's inspectors to bring all of these unrecognised schools up to the requisite standards, how many additional inspectors will be engaged in the next few years?

Following is the letter and the Department's Rules:

14th March, 1968.

Sir/Madam,

1. I am directed by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to draw your attention to his announcement in the House of Commons on 3rd November, 1967, of his decision to apply the standards required for recognition as efficient to all boarding schools included in the register of independent schools. He is anxious that all independent schools shall reach similar minimum standards, but he has decided to concentrate first on the boarding schools, both because the children's education and welfare depend during the term time entirely on the school and because their parents are often far away, sometimes out of the country.

2. The standards required for recognition as efficient are indicated in the Department's Rules 16 (copy enclosed) and are comparable to those of a well-run maintained school. All independent boarding schools which are not yet recognised as efficient will in due course be visited by members of a team of H.M. Inspectors who will assess the general efficiency of the school, the quality of the instruction, the suitability of the staff and of the premises, and the arrangements for the general welfare of the pupils. Proprietors will be given adequate notice of the dates chosen for the inspection of their schools.

3. Schools which are found to be below standard in any respect will then be advised by the Department of the measures that they will need to take to bring them up to the required standard, and they will be given a reasonable period, of a year or longer, before a further inspection takes place. The Secretary of State's aim is that schools should reach the required standard and the advice of H.M. Inspectors will be constructive and designed to that end. However, if, after the second inspection, a school has not made the improvements required of it and still falls below the standard needed for recognition as efficient, the Secretary of State will consider the issue of a notice of complaint against the proprietor of the school under Section 71 of the Education Act 1944. This procedure, which includes the right of appeal to an Independent Schools Tribunal, could in the last resort lead to the closure of the school.

4. If you would like any further information about the arrangements mentioned above please write to the Department at the above address, or consult H.M. Inspector for your school. As explained above, it is proposed to concentrate for some time on boarding schools, but when the new standards have been secured in those schools it is the Secretary of State's intention that measures will then be taken to raise minimum standards to a comparable level in the day schools. Meanwhile, he will of course continue to take action where necessary in respect of any day or boarding school which fails to satisfy the minimum standards hitherto applied under Part III of the Education Act, 1944.

I am, Sir/Madam,

Your obedient Servant,

D. H. Leadbetter.

To the Proprietors of all unrecognised Independent School

Rules 16

(Revised, December, 1965).

Department Of Education And Science Recognition As Efficient

Statement of the conditions upon which the Secretary of State for Education and Science will recognise certain schools and establishments of further education as efficient but not for the payment of grants.

1. Recognition as efficient is a special mark of the Secretary of State's approval and is given to:—

  • (a) Schools and
  • (b) Establishments of Further Education which apply for it and fulfil the conditions indicated below.
  • 2. In order to be eligible for recognition as efficient

  • (a) a school must provide a progressive general education suitable at all stages for pupils of an age-range of normally not less than three years between the ages of two and nineteen, and
  • (b) an establishment of further education must provide courses which are educationally sound, are suitable to the needs of students over the statutory school leaving age and have a content appropriate to their stated objectives.
  • 3. A school or establishment of further education must comply with any requirements of the Education Acts, 1944 to 1965, and the Regulations made under them.

    4. A school or establishment of further education must be kept on a level of efficiency which is satisfactory, regard being had to the purposes for which it is conducted and to the level of efficiency which would be required in the case of any similar school or establishment aided by grant.

    5. The instruction must be efficient and suitable and must be adequate in scope and character for the whole age-range of pupils.

    6. The number of pupils must be sufficient for economical and effective organisation.

    7. (i) The teaching staff must be suitable and sufficient in number and qualifications for providing adequate instruction at each stage of the course.

    (ii) No person shall be employed as a teacher who the Secretary of State decides, or the Minister or the Board of Education previously decided, is unsuitable either on medical grounds or on grounds of misconduct or grave professional default. If it has been decided that a teacher is suitable for employment to a limited extent only, he shall be employed only to that extent.

    (iii) If a teacher's engagement is terminated, whether by dismissal or resignation, on account of misconduct, grave professional default or conviction of a criminal offence, the facts must be reported forthwith to the Secretary of State.

    (iv) Before a decision is made as to the unsuitability of a teacher he will be informed of the charges against him and will have an opportunity for explanation or making representations on the subject.

    8. The premises must be adequate, suitable and properly equipped having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils. They must be kept in a proper state of repair, cleanliness and hygiene and adequate arrangements must be made for the health and safety of the pupils and staff in case of danger from fire and other causes.

    April, 1968

    SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND AND WALES INCLUDED IN THE REGISTER OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

    Recognised as Efficient

    Boys

    Girls

    Co-educational

    All

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Total

    Nursery*54549
    Primary†51279151821849284346630
    Secondary1162245561417578253
    Primary and Secondary851271914616059264332596
    252428792203971127287601,488

    * 3–6 age range.

    †5–13, in some cases.

    9. No instruction shall be given involving the use of:

  • (i) radioactive material other than elemental potassium, thorium or uranium, or such compounds of them as are normally used as chemical reagents, or
  • (ii) apparatus in which electrons are accelerated by a potential difference of five kilovolts or greater, other than apparatus used only for the purpose of receiving visual images by way of television and sounds connected therewith until the Secretary of State has given his approval (except that further education establishments using quantities small enough to bring them within the exemption provisions of the Code* need not seek his approval). He may withdraw his approval if at any time he is of opinion that the arrangements made for the health and safety of the pupils and staff are inadequate.
  • 10. Such registers and records must be kept and such information and returns must be furnished from time to time as the Secretary of State may require.

    11. Failure to comply with the above conditions may lead to recognition being withheld or withdrawn.

    12. The Secretary of State will notify the Local Education Authority and, where appropriate, the Divisional Executive, of the granting of recognition and also of the withdrawal of any such recognition.

    * "Code of Practice for the Protection of Persons Exposed to Ionising Radiations in Research and Teaching" issued by the Ministry of Labour (H.M. Stationery Office, 1964).

    16.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in regard to independent education, how many infant, primary and secondary schools are now registered in his Department; how many of these are respectively, day and boarding; how many, respectively, recognised and unrecognised; and whether he will tabulate these statistics at the latest convenient date, by sex and/or co-educational status.

    With permission, I will circulate the table of figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

    Following is the table:

    Unrecognised

    Boys

    Girls

    Co-educational

    All

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Total

    Nursery*11939595
    Primary†749188393493143974
    Secondary11552481995472126
    Primary and Secondary1759102520997236181417
    10312353331,1601401,3162961,612

    All Schools in Register

    Boys

    Girls

    Co-educational

    All

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Day

    Bdg.

    Total

    Nursery*119841004104
    Primary†12528833181,057831,2153891,604
    Secondary127776964339229150379
    Primary and Secondary102186291713691565005131,013
    3555511322531,5572522,0441,0563,100

    * 3–6 age range.

    † 5–13, in some cases.

    17.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is imposing a limit on the minimum size of school that will be recognised as efficient under the new policy outlined in his Department's letter of March, 1968.

    I shall not be inflexible about sizes. Though there must be sufficient pupils for effective organisation, I know that some schools are provided for special needs and may justifiably be small.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are very many small schools and establishments run by tutors which cannot be recognised as efficient under Rule 16? Will he consider amending the regulations to enable them to become recognised?

    There are two aspects to this question. The first is that a school must be of such a size, having regard to the number of teachers, to enable it to be run efficiently. The second is that the communal life of the school is an important factor. However, bearing in mind these two factors, the right hon. Gentleman can be assured that I will not be inflexible about this; and if he has individual cases in mind I hope that he will mention them to me.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the change of policy announced by his predecessor whereby a school which is not recognised as efficient would lose registration requires a new flexibility in his rules about size, because if recognition is refused on the ground of size, the school is simply out of business?

    I do not think this requires a new rule. It may require more flexibility on our part, and I have given the assurance that we shall not be inflexible.

    18.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many additional inspectors are being appointed to carry out the programme outlined in the letter from his Department, dated March, 1968, to the proprietors of all unrecognised independent schools; and what will be the extra cost involved.

    Inspectors, including existing members of Her Majesty's Inspectorate, will be assigned to this programme as the need arises. To allow for this, up to 20 additional inspectors may be appointed in the ordinary course of recruitment. The extra cost involved in each additional appointment is estimated at about £3,000 a year.

    Will not the extra £60,000 going on this programme retard the work to be done in the implementation of the Plowden Committee's Report?

    No, I do not think it will. I believe that public interest now demands that we should take this step forward in independent schools. We shall do it sensibly, of course, but as more than half the registered independent schools are still not recognised as efficient, we must take a step forward in getting them efficient.

    While fully endorsing the policy of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter, may I ask if he would confirm the view that it will take six to 10 years to carry the programme through?

    No, I do not think it will take so long as that. It will take some time. It cannot be rushed. We will do it carefully and gradually. The Inspectorate is independent of my Department, but we shall begin this work and do it gradually and as carefully as we can.

    23.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the requirements which must be met before a school can be inscribed on the Register of Independent Schools; and what proposals he has for their alteration.

    Proprietors of a newly opened independent school are required to supply factual information in the form laid down by Regulations made under the Education Act, 1944. The school is then provisionally registered. Registration is not made final until H.M. Inspectors have made an inspection and have verified that the premises, accommodation and instruction are not unsuitable. I propose to apply progressively to all registered schools the standards required for a school to be recognised as efficient.

    In view of the fact that the system of registration has itself acted as a safeguard for parents, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that some form of registration is kept in future because there are many schools which would still serve a very useful purpose even though they cannot get up to the standards for recognition?

    No, I cannot accept that. The standard for registration in future—after a period of time, of course—will be the standard now required for recognition as efficient. I pointed out in reply to an earlier Question that of 3,000 independent schools rather more than half are not yet recognised as efficient. Public interest now demands that we should take some action about this.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Cholderton case and the subsequent inquiry proved that registration is no safeguard whatever? Will he press on, not with registration but with recognition?

    Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one main reason why half these schools are not recognised as efficient is that they have not yet applied to be so recognised?

    Yes. I do not put them all in the same category as the school mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price). It may be that a great many are not recognised because they have not applied for recognition, but we must get on with the task of inspecting these schools and bringing them up to standard.

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in the light of the letter dated March 1968 concerning the inspection of independent schools, he will make a statement about the instructions he has given to Her Majesty's inspectors as to the yardstick they shall use to measure the quality of the instruction and the suitability of the staff at these schools.

    I have given no such instructions. H.M. inspectors will continue to use their experience and judgment in recommending whether schools should be recognised as efficient by my Department.

    As these schools provide for a very wide variety of needs, will the Minister ensure that the inspectors' work is done as flexibly as possible, bearing in mind that quite a few of the teachers, even though not qualified as such, are doing very valuable work?

    We must bear in mind the children as well as the teachers in these schools. The time is rapidly approaching when we must insist that head teachers are qualified teachers. That is the first step. I pointed out earlier that in this country the inspectors are appointed by the Privy Council and are independent of the Department. I assure the House that we shall certainly be flexible and sensible in any action we take as a result of their reports.

    Single School Leaving Date

    19.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what would be the cost of introducing a single school leaving date in 1970; and what action he has now taken to ascertain the views of appropriate organisations on the desirability of this measure.

    The cost to local education authorities will be about £1 million a year for England and Wales. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, is consulting both sides of industry. I have already received the views of some local authority and teachers' organisations and I shall hold formal consultations with all these bodies in the near future.

    I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Will he accept that there was some concern in educational circles that the Department was expressing interest but not showing much enthusiasm about making inquiries? I am grateful that they are now proceeding?

    Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that it is not always in the best interests of a young person to have a single school leaving date?

    Yes, I agree that there are two sides to this question. There is the great difficulty which the Crowther Report pointed out about turning all school leavers on to the labour market at the same time, but there are also advantages. These two sides we shall weigh in consultation with all the bodies concerned.

    Secondary Education (Non-Selective Principle)

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now introduce legislation to ensure that the non-selective principle in secondary education is adhered to by all local education authorities.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that the 1944 Act requires local authorities to carry out national policy under his control and direction? In view of the fact that many large authorities, in particular the Birmingham authority, have now made clear that they have no intention whatever of introducing comprehensive education, does he not think the time has come to prepare and introduce legislation?

    I certainly hope that that can be avoided. We should not underestimate the progress which has been made; 109 local authorities have had schemes approved and a large number of others have submitted schemes. So far only six have declined outright. I hope it will not be necessary to introduce legislation about this.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are two views about the interpretation of the 1944 Act and of the basis suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price)? If the right hon. Gentleman were to introduce such legislation, he should not expect it to be uncontroversial.

    I am aware of that, but I would not have thought that there were two views about the need to prevent the appalling brain drain at the age of 11 which has faced our society for too long.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that any such interference with the right of local education authorities to determine the shape and pattern of education in their areas would put in issue the whole administration of local education and the charging of a large part of it to the rates?

    I do not under-estimate the difficulties of this matter, but the right hon. Gentleman must recognise that those on this side of the House fought the last two elections quite clearly on this issue. We made no bones about this. This was our policy and it is regarded as national policy. I hope that local education authorities will comply with it, as the great majority are doing. It would be unthinkable that six local authorities should stick to the tripartite system when the rest had gone over to a comprehensive system. I sincerely hope that it will not be necessary to introduce legislation, but I remind the party opposite that this Government have still three years left before the next General Election.

    is my right hon. Friend aware that under the jurisdiction of Mr. Chataway the I.L.E.A. is trying to destroy the comprehensive system in London by reintroducing selective entry?

    I cannot comment on the Inner London scheme, which has been submitted but which I have not yet fully considered.

    Maintained Schools (First Aid)

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will now take steps to ensure that at least one member of the staff of all maintained schools holds a first aid certificate, and that every maintained school is equipped with a first aid kit.

    It is for the responsible school authorities to consider whether any steps are necessary. The importance of these provisions is stressed in the Department's pamphlet "Safety at School".

    Will the Minister remember that in some schools on an average one child a day gets cut or bruised in the playground and there should be some competent person there to mop them up? Will the right hon. Lady see that a circular is sent out about this?

    I fully agree with the hon. Member and this is stressed in the pamphlet. The pamphlet stresses that every school should include in its staff teachers who have attended a course of training and taken a certificate in first aid. It also recommends that there should be a fully equipped and readily accessible first aid box. I hope that all local authorities and all schools will comply with this request made in the pamphlet.

    Primary Schools, Ealing (Immigrant Children)

    25.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what additional help he plans to give to the London Borough of Ealing, Southall and Acton to help it with the serious problems arising from the high and increasing proportion of immigrant children in its primary schools.

    I have already taken these difficulties into account in deciding the authority's minor works allocation for 1968–69, and I have also increased their teacher quota for the next academic year by 70 teachers—four more than the authority asked for. I am very ready to consider any other proposals which the authority put to me which lie within my responsibility.

    I am glad to have the assurance that the right hon. Lady will welcome other approaches from my local education authority, because when they have been made in the past the door has been shut. I ask her to accept that those of us on both sides of the House who are trying to keep down the temperature on this issue must have Government financial support for the great problems of our constituents.

    I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman said. Very shortly I and other Ministers concerned with immigration are receiving a deputation from the Ealing authority on the matter.

    Teachers (Schools Council Working Paper No 7)

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which local education authorities are placing teachers in industry for short periods on the lines of Schools Council Working Paper No. 7 during the 1967–68 school year.

    I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the 35 authorities taking part this year in schemes organised jointly by the Confederation of British Industry and the Schools Council. Local education authorities and local committees of the British Productivity Council are cooperating in other schemes and I greatly welcome these initiatives.

    As it is two years since the initial experiment, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that enough progress is being made with this scheme, which was welcomed by both the C.B.I. and the Schools Councils? What further steps has she in mind for stimulating it still further?

    I should like to see these schemes extended, and I shall consider whether any approach to the local education authorities is now necessary.

    Following is the information:

    English Counties

    BerkshireLancashire
    CheshireNorthumberland
    CornwallYorkshire (West Riding)
    Essex
    Hertfordshire

    English County Boroughs

    BarnsleyMiddlesbrough
    BirkenheadNewcastle-on-Tyne
    BootlePlymouth
    BristolReading
    CarlisleRotherham
    ChesterSt. Helens
    DoncasterSheffield
    DarlingtonSunderland
    GatesheadWallasey
    LeedsWigan
    LiverpoolWorksop

    Welsh Counties
    DenbighshireGlamorgan
    FlintshireMonmouthshire

    Welsh County Boroughs

    Newport

    National Library

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will await the report of Dr. Dainton's Committee before taking any irrevocable step, such as the disposal of property, that twould prevent the Bloomsbury site being used for the building of a national library.

    As my right hon. Friend is aware, the Government took a decision last October not to proceed with the Bloomsbury site for a national library and exploratory discussions have since been opened with the planning authorities concerned about alternative sites in Central London. The procedure for the disposal of property already in the Government's hands must await the outcome of discussions about the future planning and use of the site.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that very strong and conclusive arguments have been put forward by the leading museum and library authorities on the subject? Would not it be more sensible to await the outcome of Dr. Dainton's Committee's Report, which will bear on the subject, before coming to a final decision?

    The Government have already come to a final decision on this site, which I should make quite clear is irrevocable. Whether or not any irrevocable steps will be taken on the site will depend on the date when Dr. Dainton's report is issued and the length of time it takes to conclude discussions with the planning authorities.

    Burnham Committee (Teacher Representation)

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussions he has had with bodies representing teachers about their representation on the Burnham Committee; and if he will make a statement.

    None about represensation on the main Committee. The composition of working parties is a matter for the Committee itself.

    What response has the Minister had to the speech he made recently in which he urged that representative bodies of teachers should get together for joint action for Burnham and other purposes?

    I hope that the teachers can solve this matter themselves. I have no intention of intervening in the dispute about the working party. If the teachers really want me to regard them as a profession they must settle this kind of domestic dispute themselves.

    New Medical Schools (Location)

    29.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his policy regarding the proposals by the Royal Commission on Medical Education concerning the location of the new medical schools.

    I cannot yet add to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) on 23rd April.—[Vol. 763, c. 23.]

    Is the Minister aware that the matter is now of very urgent concern, especially in the Midlands, where British doctors are not being trained in adequate numbers at present? Will she expedite a decision?

    I am well aware of the urgency of the matter. The report was not made available to Ministers before publication, and the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that a number of consultations are to be held. We shall make a statement as soon as we can.

    Home Department

    London Airport (Immigration Control)

    30.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that 40 immigration officers working at London, Heathrow, Airport, the arrival point for the majority of Asian immigrants, are concerned with the corruption and deceit which occurs in getting immigrants into this country; and what urgent steps he is taking to stop these abuses.

    I keep under continuous review the methods for preventing abuses of the immigration control. There are established procedures for bringing to bear the experience of immigration officers at all levels in these matters and these channels have been and are in regular use.

    Would the Home Secretary be good enough to give the House an assurance that these immigration officers will not be punished for bringing this grave scandal to the public notice?

    I think that the junior grades who were concerned are aware of the possibility of conflict between the views they may hold privately and any public expression which could give rise to a challenge to their impartiality in administering Acts of Parliament. This is a matter far beyond party controversy, and every party should uphold the use of the regular machinery that exists for discussion of problems concerning the work of civil servants.

    Power Production (Comparative Costs)

    Q1.

    asked the Prime Minister whether he will co-ordinate the activities of the Minister of Technology and the Minister of Power, with a view to their producing a comparative study of the respective costs of providing power by means of coal, natural gas and nuclear energy.

    My right hon. Friends already work closely together on all matters of common concern, but if my hon. Friend wants information about matters falling within their responsibilities, perhaps he would address Questions to them.

    Is not my right hon. Friend aware that many hundreds of millions of pounds have already been wasted in building nuclear power stations which cannot produce electricity as cheaply as the cheapest coal-fired station? Is he aware that the new coal-fired station at Ratcliffe, near Nottingham will shortly be producing electricity at ·54d. per unit as against the honed for ·56d. per unit at the new nuclear power station at Dungeness B, which will not be operating until 1971? What is the point of having a Select Committee—

    What is the point of having a Select Committee recommending an independent full inquiry into costs and the Government doing nothing about it?

    There are many views about the proper accountancy and the proper figures to be used for evaluating different methods of producing power. All these were gone into very fully before we produced our White Paper on fuel policy. My hon. Friend referred to the Report of the Select Committee, which went into these matters in very great detail and had available to it all the information the Departments could give it. He will be glad to know that it is hoped that in the very near future the House as a whole will be able to debate this very important Report.

    Will the Prime Minister draw to his hon. Friend's attention the appendices in the Select Committee's Report containing a very full account of the Minister of Power's special committee set up to evaluate the costs of producing electricity from different sources? Does the Prime Minister agree that the Central Electricity Generating Board is most unlikely to choose as the source of fuel one which is more expensive than the minimum? That is why it is expanding the nuclear energy programme.

    I agree with the hon. Gentleman's views, but no doubt my hon. Friend has already fully studied appendices 43 and 44 to the Select Committee's Report which contained all the technical information available, but I think that perhaps he had rather made up his mind on the subject before he read them.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that the real problem here is to have an agreed basis between the various conflicting parties on which to erect a calculation of these costs, and that until this is done there is no point in providing further figures for various lobbyists to quote back and forth to one another?

    I was very much concerned with trying to evaluate the statistical quotations of lobbyists on similar matters even before nuclear power was used. At the end of the war the gas and electricity lobbyists could always produce figures to prove their own point. The most authoritative and independent work done in this field was that presented to the Select Committee.

    Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference

    Q2.

    asked the Prime Minister when the next Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference will be held.

    I have as yet nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 4th April to a Question by the hon. and learned Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham).—[Vol. 762, c. 600.]

    Is the Prime Minister aware that all of us who have profound regard for the Commonwealth are beginning to feel a little uneasy about the delay in getting this conference date fixed, particularly as there are so many problems facing the Commonwealth at present? Has the Commonwealth Secretary-General told him the reasons for the delay? If so, can the right hon. Gentleman tell some of them to us?

    I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am as concerned as he is about this, but I do not think that there is any ground for his anxiety. The Secretary-General has been in touch with a considerable number of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. It is a question of getting agreement and fixing a date. The talks are very well advanced and I hope that the Secretary-General will be able to announce something in the near future. As soon as he does, I shall inform the House.

    When my right hon. Friend and the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers decide on another conference, will he carefully consider the possibility of holding it in Canberra rather than in London?

    The convenience of all the Commonwealth Prime Ministers is, of course, considered. At one point, Ottawa was very much favoured for the meeting and I expressed our warm willingness to go there. But it is now rather more difficult for agreement to be reached on Ottawa for reasons which are the fault of no one in Canada. Canberra has not been much favoured, partly on travel grounds, and not all Commonwealth countries are represented there. One advantage of London is that all the Commonwealth countries are represented and have their own channels of communication here.

    What progress has been made in the consultations about the question of Commonwealth citizens being an item on the agenda? Are these being carried on in the Secretariat? If the conference is to be in London in October, as has been widely suggested, will the Prime Minister ensure, in the interests of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides who would like the opportunity to meet leaders of the Commonwealth, that it is not held during either of the party conferences?

    I have heard no suggestion of a final date and, of course, I agree that it is extremely important that members of all parties should have the chance of meeting delegates to the conference. If the experience of the last two, and probably three, conferences is a guide, this one will spread over a week, which will provide adequate time, whatever date is chosen. As to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I am not in a position to talk about the agenda. It has to be agreed but it is inconceivable, as I have said before, that this subject should not be on it.

    Prime Minister (Official Visits To Scotland)

    Q3.

    asked the Prime Minister on how many occasions he has made official visits to Scotland since October, 1966 on what dates; and how long his visit lasted on each occasion.

    As the Answer is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

    Is the Prime Minister aware that London Government is out of touch with Scotland's political climate, and that more frequent and longer visits by him would acquaint him at first hand with the rapid growth in demand for self-government in Scotland? Is he further aware that my invitation to him, previously extended, to tour Scotland as the guest of the Scottish National Party still stands?

    I am most grateful to the hon. Lady. I was not quite clear until this afternoon about her attitude. I thought that she was against what she considers "London Government" or any connection between Ministers in London and the welfare of Scotland. She has repeated her invitation to me and she will be glad to know that, on my arrival at the airport on my last visit but one, I had the pleasure of being greeted by cheerful and enthusiastic supporters of hers whose only contribution to my welcome was to hold the flag of Scotland upside down.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that we regret that he cannot come to Scotland oftener and appreciate the visits he makes? But if he cannot come to Scotland oftener, can he make a pilgrimage of penance to the Scottish Grand Committee, especially during the period of Estimates, when he may consider how much the Government of Scotland needs to be modernised?

    There are almost no limits to what I would do to help towards any solution of Scotland's problems, but my hon. Friend is really asking a bit much.

    The following is the information:

    I have visited Scotland ten times October, 1964, and five of these visits taken place since October, 1966. Three were to Her Majesty at Balmoral. The dates of the others were as follows:

    1965

    26th June.

    1966

    • 1lth–12th March.
    • 22nd April.

    1967

    • 21st July.
    • 19th October.

    1968

    • 23rd March.
    • 19th April.

    Each visit lasted about one day. I hope to pay a further visit to Scotland later this month.

    Social Policy (Co-Ordination)

    Q4.

    asked the Prime Minister what arrangements he is now making for the co-ordination of social policy.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answers I gave to Questions On 11th April by my hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) and on 25th April by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton).—[Vol. 762, c. 1582; Vol. 763, c. 76.]

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that we appreciate the amalgamation of the Ministries of Health and Social Security? Could he be more specific, however, about the Home Office functions which will be taken over by the new Department? Will he consider amalgamating in the new Department not only the Children's Department of the Home Office but also its functions in race relations as well, since this is primarily a social problem and more appropriate to a social Department?

    The merger between the Ministries of Health and Social Security does not involve any proposals for taking over part of the Home Office. The question of proper co-ordination in matters, for example, of children's welfare, will fall to be considered when we have the report of the Seebohm Committee, although that goes far beyond questions affecting children. My hon. Friend also mentioned race relations, and I remind him that I referred to race relations and community relations in areas where immigrants have gone in an Answer I gave on Tuesday about the reconstituted Committee presided over by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

    Does the Prime Minister recollect that his statement announcing the amalgamation of the Ministries of Health and Social Security was made in a Press release and not to the House? Why was this?

    It has been usual—indeed, almost invariable—for announcements affecting Ministerial changes to be made in the first instance in that way. I remember the famous case when the Leader of the Opposition became Lord Privy Seal. That was the way in which his appointment was announced and in the end we had to get all the information by staging an Adjournment debate. On this occasion, I informed the House very quickly afterwards in answer to a Question about the merger, and its purpose, over which my right hon. Friend is presiding.

    Secretary Of State For Economic Affairs (Scotland)

    Q5.

    asked the Prime Minister if he will define the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs in Scotland.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave on 7th December, 1967, to a Question by the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell).—[Vol. 755, c. 1660.]

    While the National Plan has been decently buried, the corpse of the Scottish Plan is still laid out in a back room of the Scottish Office. Since the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs has precious little else to do, could he not pay a visit to Edinburgh in order to put this stinking document beneath the sod?

    The hon. Gentleman must be responsible for his own choice of elegant language. He will doubtless be aware of the special responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland in all matters affecting economic co-ordination in Scotland, and perhaps he can find suitable adjectives to describe not only the effective assistance by the Government to industry in Scotland last year, which, exclusive of the Regional Employment Premium, was about £42 million—an all-time record figure—while the annual rate for the Regional Employment Premium itself is about £40 million.

    The hon. Gentleman will also no doubt find language to express pleasure in the fact that the latest unemployment figures in Scotland are lower than in any single month in 1963, when his party had been in office for 12 years.

    While my right hon. Friend is thinking of this matter, will he again take a look at the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the fact that all the power is concentrated in London? Does he think this a good way of running the affairs of the country today?

    The problems of the right division of functions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and other Ministers is always being considered, but I should have thought that it would be regarded as right for Scotland that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have these very wide-ranging functions. I think that it has been the view of the majority of right hon. and hon. Members, from all parties, that, in certain aspects of economic affairs—for example, the Board of Trade being responsible for the industry of Britain as a whole—it is a great advantage to Scotland to have this done on a United Kingdom basis.

    Is the Prime Minister aware, with reference to a previous remark of his, that flying a flag upside down is a well-known signal of distress? Is he aware that there is considerable distress in Scotland over the application of economic policies which may or may not make sense in the south of England, where the economy is over-heated, but which do not suit the Scottish situation? Will he look seriously at the possibility of strengthening the economic side of the Scottish Office and also providing Scottish Members with more statistics about the situation in Scotland, which differs from that in England?

    Those who were flying the flag upside down showed anything but distress and were singularly unaware that it was upside down.

    On the broader issues, one must judge these matters by the increasing help being given to industrial development in Scotland and by such revolutionary and at one time controversial proposals as the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which is now getting into its stride and is providing help for a part of Scotland which had been neglected for generations before it was established. The Government are by no means satisfied and I accept, as I have said many times, the economic necessity for Britain as well as for Scotland itself of narrowing the differentials in unemployment and economic prosperity between Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that, from practical experience, I consider that the Department in Scotland having one Minister provides all the advantages which he is now seeking to achieve by co-ordinating the social services in England, and that it has been a great success, because multi-Ministers lead to multi-arguments and a waste of time in Scotland?

    As the previous Answer in December to me which was referred to was extremely uninformative, and, as the Prime Minister has since then relinquished his responsibility in this sphere of activity, will he now make a statement about the divisions between Ministers as they are now?

    I have not relinquished my general responsibility for economic affairs, which is the duty of every Prime Minister, and, in particular, the very keen interest that I have taken from the moment that we came into office in problems of regional development, including those in Scotland and Wales. Following the change referred to by the hon. Gentleman, there is no difference in the relations between the Department of Economic Affairs and the Department of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

    Questions To Ministers

    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask your guidance? Is it possible for you to invite the Prime Minister, in view of the immense importance of Question No. Q6, to give an answer to it?

    It is not for Mr. Speaker to ask a Minister to take a Question. I tried to reach it.