School Building and Teacher Shortage

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th March 1963.

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Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Lewisham North 12:00 am, 26th March 1963

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: recognising the continuing problem of staffing the schools and the difficult physical conditions under which many schools still have to work, welcomes the notable progress made with the recruitment and supply of teachers and the impementation of the school building programme set out in the White Paper of 1958: and notes with approval the Government action in devoting a steadily rising proportion of the national resources to the public system of education". The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) uses such a quantity of black in the picture that he paints of the education service that it is sometimes hard to distinguish any likeness between the picture and the reality. I would never suggest that his speeches were other than works of art, but his effort today was more in the nature of a thoroughly gloomy abstract than an attempt at representational painting. His general charge—and, in essence, it is a generalised charge that he makes—is that we do not spend enough money, that we are starving the service, and that we give to education a miserably low priority. I think that that is his charge, because throughout he argued that inadequacies resulted from insufficient expenditure.

That is an odd charge, as I hope to show, to make of the Government at this time, and it is made all the odder by the quarter from which it comes, whether one considers the record of hon. Members opposite in office or their present attitudes. One would never guess from the hon. Gentleman's remarks that Britain spends more per head on education than almost any Western European country.