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 Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester 12:00 am, 30th July 1962

I am provoked to take part in this debate because I wish to support what was said by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) in his concluding sentences, and because I was appalled at what was said by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). It is surprising for someone on the Opposition Front Bench to suggest that this Government have taken no note of the increase in the birth irate and the need to spend and provide more education. In 1951, in the last period of a Labour Government, the amount spent on education worked out at about 11s. per week per family of four. Today it has reached the level of about 32s. a week for a family of four. Even accounting fox any rise in the cost of living and increased school-building costs, this is a very substantial increase in the amount spent on education. This has been shown in an increase in the number of schools built and completed, in a substantial increase in the number of places provided at universities, and in a substantial increase in the number of teachers. I believe that this Government have coped exceedingly well. I hope that they cope even better in the future.

I take great delight at the appointment of my right hon. Friend the new Minister of Education. Of all the past Parliamentary Secretaries to the Ministry of Education he was probably the most popular with the profession and with circles within education. I believe that in that sense the profession and all those interested in furthering education take delight in his appointment. I believe that they also take delight in the appointment of his Parliamentary Secretary. This is a very powerful team which will aid the further development of education.

I want to say a few words in support of the hon. Member for West Lothian. It is important that we should ensure that teachers, not only prior to taking up their appointments but thereafter, are given the opportunity to have a general wide view of the problems of the world in order to impart to those whom they teach the facets of the changing world in which we live. Ordinary teachers, because of their restricted financial resources, are limited in the amount of travel they can undertake and in the facilities at their disposal to keep abreast of the changing world and economic events. I ask my right hon. Friend to give very serious consideration to ways by which teachers at later stages in their career—say, in their 30s or 40s—can travel and see something of the world and perhaps see something of factories and industries in this country. They would become all the better teachers for this experience.