Education (Expenditure Cuts)

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 1979.

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Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian 12:00 am, 21st November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has made any estimate of the number of primary and secondary schools that will be closed as a result of his decision to reduce expenditure on education.

Photo of Mr Alexander Fletcher Mr Alexander Fletcher , Edinburgh North

No, Sir. It is for regional and Islands councils to consider which schools they wish to propose for closure. The major factor which is likely to influence them is the substantial decline in pupil numbers, not the Government's expenditure plans.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Is the Minister aware that over the years, when primary and secondary schools were closed as a result of reorganisation, a solemn promise was given to parents that, as a consequence of the closures, their children would be transported to school? Are the Government giving the message to the country that families in semi-rural or rural areas will be faced with an additional burden of taxation?

Photo of Mr Alexander Fletcher Mr Alexander Fletcher , Edinburgh North

The Government's proposals will ensure, as I have already said, that the burden of cost will be more evenly spread. They also ensure that low income families will be safeguarded.

Photo of Mr David Myles Mr David Myles , Banffshire

Does my hon. Friend agree that far more harm is being done by way of the depopulation of rural areas through the exaggerated and hysterical scaremongering from the Opposition rather than as a result of the effects of the Education (No. 2) Bill?

Photo of Mr Alexander Fletcher Mr Alexander Fletcher , Edinburgh North

It is obvious that both the local authorities and the inhabitants of rural areas have much more sense in these matters than the Opposition.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Will the Minister comment on the announcement that 1,000 school teachers will be shed in Scotland? Will he please accept that the Opposition think it is absolutely tragic that the reduction in the school population is not being used as an opportunity to improve greatly the pupil-teacher ratio? Will he specifically say whether this involves the closure of colleges of education and how many people coming out of the colleges of education will be unable to find a job as a result?

Photo of Mr Alexander Fletcher Mr Alexander Fletcher , Edinburgh North

The estimated decline in school numbers for next year is 26,300. The pupil-teacher ratio will improve next year. However, it cannot be surprising, taking both of those factors into account, that there will still be a considerable reduction in the numbers of teachers in employment.