I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) on 14th March in which my right hon. Friend announced a revised forecast of supply of secondary teachers.—[Vol. 833, c. 80–82.]
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have it from a reliable source that when Lanarkshire gets the intake from training colleges and universities after the summer vacation, there will still be a serious shortage of science, mathematics and technical teachers in Lanarkshire schools as a result of the Government's approach to comprehensive education? Does not the hon. Gentleman feel that he could go some way to resolving this problem by settling the salary application which is at present before him?
The last point is at present before the arbitration tribunal. In relation to Lanarkshire, I note what the hon. Gentleman says about technical and mathematical subjects. However I hope the hon. Gentleman accepts that there was a significant increase in the intake of colleges of education in the autumn of last year when the number increased by 797. This should go some way to resolving the problem this coming year.
I hope the hon. Gentleman realises that the reason for that improvement was the deplorable unemployment situation in Scotland last year, especially amongst graduates. I trust he is not presuming that this will be a continuing pattern. Can the hon. Gentleman say why, in this situation, the Government have taken the reactionary step of abolishing the special teacher recruitment scheme which allowed mature students to be trained for teaching?
The hon. Gentleman has tried to bring out this unemployment point on a number of occasions. While it is a factor, it is by no means the major one. I think it is now accepted that this is a good and well-paid profession. As for the special recruitment scheme, we have had a number of debates on it including an Adjournment debate, in the course of which I have tried to explain that we have made no dramatic change.
In those areas where there are special difficulties in getting teachers and where competent teachers might be available, will the hon. Gentleman ensure that there is not too rigid an application of the niceties of entry into the profession, so denying a school or schools the kind of assistance they require?