Orders of the Day — Teachers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th July 1962.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North 12:00 am, 30th July 1962

As this is the first education debate we have had since the sackings, and as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. K. Thompson) is still a Member of this House, I am sure I speak for hon. Members on both sides when I say that he has everyone's sympathy. I do not regard a Parliamentary Secretary as being responsible for policy, as the right hon. Gentleman will no doubt be glad to know, but we appreciated the way in which the hon. Member stood up for his Department over the past years. I would not like to miss this opportunity of paying tribute to him.

We now welcome the right hon. Gentleman as Minister of Education. He is an eloquent and persuasive debater. I have had doubts, however. He was described as an intellectual, but I have carried out some research and I find that charge to be baseless, and I am very relieved to know it.

Although, as I have said, a Parliamentary Secretary is not responsible for the policy of his Department, the right hon. Gentleman, if he looks up his speeches made while he was Parliamentary Secretary, will find that they gravely misled us and the nation. He was at the Ministry at a critical time, when steps should have been taken to avoid the crisis in which we now find ourselves. Although he recognised that the second bulge was coming, unfortunately neither he nor his Minister did anything about it.

More recently the hon. Gentleman also spoke with great vigour and eloquence in defending the Government's policy towards the universities, but that again is a disastrous policy. Unless something is done, we shall find ourselves in an even more serious position.

I welcome the appointment of the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Chataway) as Parliamentary Secretary rather cursorily, because the latest information I have is from "Private Eye", which might be misleading. We look forward to hearing him during the next few months and we hope when we do that he will tell us of a change in Government policy. I say "few months" because no one expects the Government to last much longer than that.

We are obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) for raising this subject, which is perhaps one of the most serious problems facing us. We should be enjoying our good fortune instead of feeling miserable about it. The country is fortunate in that for many years it has been enjoying an increasing birth rate. But apparently no one at the Ministry of Education realised that an increasing birth rate meant that an increasing number of children would be going to school.