Mr. Edward M. Taylor:
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland by what year he estimates that a supply of teachers, schoolbuildings and other educational facilities, adequate to provide for the raising of the school-leaving age, will be available in Scotland.
The Government intend to proceed with the raising of the leaving age in session 1970–71. I do not underestimate the difficulties, particularly over the supply of teachers, but the Government are making every effort to ensure that the provisions made by education authorities are adequate.
Does not the Minister agree that all the indications are that these facilities will not be available? Does the Minister agree that it would be criminal folly to go ahead with raising the school-leaving age if we are not able to make provision for those required to teach the additional pupils?
There will be no difficulty at all with the school-building programme, because that programme has been recently very substantially increased. As I have said, there are difficulties about the supply of teachers, but the Government are at present considering this matter.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that the time has come to resume the open-ended discussions begun with the teachers' representatives a year ago, which might lead the way to achieving the kind of relationship in which the immediate problems facing the Teaching Council could be resolved?
The Secretary of State merely sits back and waits and does nothing, or appears to do nothing, about a problem which is growing very urgent indeed. Will he not seriously re-examine the question of the open-ended discussions, about which he held such high hopes in May, and see that they are resumed in order to do something to meet this ever-growing, ever-present problem?
I remind the hon. Gentleman that the decision to raise the school-leaving age was taken by the last Conservative Administration in 1964, and that they then did absolutely nothing about increasing the supply of teachers. Quite apart from the representations and advice which we shall receive from the General Teaching Council, only a week ago I started another publicity campaign for the special recruitment scheme. There has been an improvement in the incentives to married women to come back to teaching, and a number of other developments are going on at the moment.