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Teacher Training

Volume 930: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now make a statement about the conclusions reached as a result of submissions made on the document "The Future of Teacher Training from 1977 Onwards".

I am considering all the views on my consultative paper that have been put to me by interested bodies and by hon. Members. As I indicated in the debate on 5th April, I shall give my conclusions as soon as possible.

As it is now clear that the college closures and mergers have been rejected by the lecturers' union, the ancillary workers' unions, the students' union, the college principals, the teachers' unions, the STUC, the Scottish Council of the Labour Party, the Churches, the Scottish Grand Committee and the House of Commons, can anyone seriously maintain that "they're a' oot o' step except oor Bruce"?

I might seriously maintain that. As I have said before, all the points put to me will be taken into account before I announce my conclusion, which I hope to give quite soon.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we welcome the possibility of the points we have made being taken into account? In view of the very many questions that were put to the Government, both in the Chamber and in the Scottish Grand Committee, none of which has been answered, will the Secretary of State consider the publication of a paper in which the ques tions are answered, or at least writing to the hon. Members who have put the questions?

My recollection is that quite a number of letters have been written to hon. Members and others. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It will probably be quite a lengthy statement.

In forming his conclusion should not my right hon. Friend take into account one incontrovertible fact, namely, that if he goes ahead with his proposal he faces the virtual certainty of a double-figure defeat in the House of Commons?

I take all sorts of things into consideration before reaching a final decision.

When the right hon. Gentleman issues his final statement, can we expect with it a financial costing of the Government's proposals at this stage? Would the right hon. Gentleman, or his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for education, care to visit any school in my constituency and show me where pupil-teacher ratios such as they have outlined are operating each hour of the school day?

As I have said on numerous occasions, we have the best pupil-teacher ratios that we have ever had. Incidentally, they are much more favourable than those in England and Wales.

Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman is deferring his decision on this matter until after next week's elections in Scotland?

No. I might even make a decision and publish it before the elections if I am able to do that, but I am making no promises about that either.