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Mr. Taylor : Does the Minister agree that the most suitable people to help in teaching are those who are already there, but that they are being forced out of education because of the lack of morale under the Government and the difficulties with pay and conditions
Column 12and with operating under the various changes that the Government have introduced? Would it not be better to tackle those things and to start talking to teachers once again through some proper machinery instead of trying to introduce failed and under-qualified ex- executives into teaching?
Mr. Butcher : Teachers' pay has increased by 40 per cent. in the past three years. In looking for signs about whether morale is improving or otherwise, the House will recognise that the response of the teaching profession to the major reform of GCSE and the extent to which teachers are opting for training, with enthusiasm, on the national curriculum are not signs of a profession that is demoralised. We have a great deal of hope for the future but, of course, we want to continue to address the difficulties of geographical and subject teacher shortages.
Mr. Patrick Thompson : In connection with the recruitment of teachers and other related issues, and bearing in mind that the voice of teachers is divided between at least four unions, will my hon. Friend and his colleagues look again at the idea of a professional teachers council to represent and to raise the professional standards of teachers in every way?
Mr. Butcher : That idea has been mooted fairly often in the past few years. Some teachers in the profession would like an organisation that would speak for them as a professional body and not as a politicised, unionised body. That issue is still open. Either through ignorance or otherwise some of the teachers' unions have made assertions on the subject of licensed teachers which are quite untrue. At the moment, graduates without initial teacher training represent about 7 per cent. of qualified teachers in secondary schools and 39 per cent. of teachers in secondary schools are not graduates. What we propose will do nothing to dilute the professionalism of the profession.
Mr. Straw : Will it be possible for applicants who have completed two years of higher education but who have failed their teaching practice on either a BEd or a PGCE course to be eligible for licensed teacher status?
Mr. Butcher : Let us assume that such an individual has an HND, which is not a graduation in the strict sense of the word. That person would be eligible to do two years' teacher training in a school. Only if he satisfies those who must assess him for that can he enter into the profession. I am not aswering an unequivocal "yes" to the hon. Gentleman's question. I would like to look at it in a little further detail and write to him. But everyone has to have two years' higher education, O-level GCSE in English and maths and two years' training in the schools. I would have thought that those were all excellent proposals.
Mr. Gerald Bowden : Considering the difficulty of recruiting suitably qualified people in the teaching profession, can my hon. Friend confirm the reports that the city technology college in Nottingham, which had advertised 13 teacher posts, has had over 900 teachers expressing interest in them and 250 firm applications? Does this not suggest that, where the school regime is right, teachers will want to go there?
Column 13He is going to build and staff an inner-city school which will change the life chances of inner-city children. That is what CTCs are all about. He is making those children fit for the world of work and they will be whole men and women into the bargain.
10. Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received concerning the provision of non-Christian religious teaching as part of the national core curriculum.
Mr. Janner : Is the Minister aware that parents who belong to minority faiths are increasingly concerned at what they feel to be inadequate provision for worship and education in their faiths where there is a substantial number of children of a particular faith in a school? Does she recognise that this anxiety has increased since the Education Reform Act 1968 and is shared by parents of the Hindu, Moslem, Jewish and other religions? Is she proposing to do anything as a result of the representations that she has received to meet these concerns?
Mrs. Rumbold : Certainly. We have taken careful note of the various representations that have been made to us. In terms of the act of worship, of course, the provision for parents to be allowed to withdraw their children remains as it was under the Education Act 1944. It may help the hon. and learned Gentleman if I say that not every act of worship in a county school will have to be either wholly or mainly broadly Christian in character, provided that the majority of acts of worship are. The head will have to take into account the family background of the pupils concerned when deciding on the precise nature of worship to be provided. As I have said, parents still have the option to withdraw their children if they so wish.
Miss Emma Nicholson : Does my hon. Friend not agree that teaching Christianity properly within the core curriculum provides a foundation for the teaching of comparative religion and indeed the degree subject of theology taught in many universities uses Christianity as the foundation and brings in other religions in the comparative framework? In that context, does she not agree that it is proper that Her Majesty's inspectors should monitor the teaching of religious education in the core curriculum?
Mrs. Rumbold : It is certainly right that, as my hon. Friend says, religious education should be monitored by Her Majesty's inspectors when they are looking at what is happening in the basic teaching of religious education. It is also right that religious education should refleect the central place of Christianity in our religious traditions. But the Act requires that local syllabuses should take account of the teaching and practices of all the principal religions in Great Britain. I hope that that will go some way towards answering my hon. Friend's question.
Mr. Kenneth Baker : The performance of Her Majesty's inspectors may be judged by the timely and effective advice they provide to me and my Department on policy matters ; by the number, range and quality of their reports and publications, and their inspections ; and by the extent to which I am kept appropriately informed about educational standards and trends.
Mr. Gill : Does my right hon. Friend consider that the retention of the core of Her Majesty's inspectors will be necessary once the full effects of the Education Reform Act 1988 translate themselves into the beneficial results which will derive from society's greater involvement and interest in education, particularly in the light of the answer given earlier this afternoon affecting the teacher appraisal schemes?
Mr. Baker : I am sure that parents will be taking a much greater interest in the performance of schools and their children as a cumulative effect of the result of our reforms. I am certain that there will be a continuing and important need for Her Majesty's inspectors to visit schools. They have increased their number of inspections. During the past 10 years, since we have been in office, the number of inspectors has risen from 430 to 490.
Mr. Madden : Will the Secretary of State arrange for inspectors to consider safety in schools? Will he despatch an inspector immediately to a first school in my constituency where all the electric switches are made of metal and where the electric plugs are sparking? That presents a real danger to the nursery and primary school children and the staff at the school. Will the Secretary of State also send an inspector to the Bradford Conservative-controlled education authority and ask why it is refusing to do anything about those dangers at a time when it has put £5 million into balances and has cut the education budget by millions?
The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher) : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.
Mr. Sillars : Is the Prime Minister aware that one of the major policy blunders of the past 10 years has been her attempt to use Scotland as an experimental area for the immoral poll tax? Is she aware that, despite the chicken-hearted failure of the Labour leadership,
Column 15hundreds of thousands of Scots will not pay and together that army will wreck the poll tax, sink her flagship and inflict a major political defeat upon her later this year?
The Prime Minister : The hon. Gentleman will be aware that under Scottish law, Scotland had already undergone a rating revaluation, and the results were so horrific that we had to change the law. I understand that the official Opposition may want another rating revaluation on a capital basis, which would be even more catastrophic. We have changed to a community charge, which is very much better and fairer. I understand that 99 per cent. of people have already registered, which would indicate an intention to fulfil their duties under the law. They are not only interested in how much they can get, but what is their duty to pay.
Sir Hugh Rossi : In welcoming my right hon. Friend's personal initiatives over matters of atmospheric pollution, the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect, may I ask her whether anything new has emerged from the much-publicised meeting that she had last week with Ministers in Downing street?
The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend will have seen some reports. The most obvious thing to come out of the meeting was the fact that we need a great deal more scientific evidence. Because there are so many variables to feed into the several climatic models, it is difficult to get scientists with a single opinion on how the climate in the several regions will be affected. Secondly, we noted the excellent progress being made in energy efficiency. We are now using less energy than we were in 1973, with an enormously increased gross domestic product. Thirdly, the most practical and immediate concern was the damaging effect of the destruction of tropical forests. That subject will be raised, I think, at the European summit and also at the economic summit, when we discuss how we can increasingly use aid to preserve those tropical forests.
The Prime Minister : The right hon. Gentleman knows why they are high at the moment-- [Interruption.] It is to ensure that inflation never rises to the 26 per cent. it did under the Labour Government.
The Prime Minister : We have done extremely well in that 3 million people have chosen, under this Government, to own their own home who would never have had that opportunity under Labour. Maybe the proof comes in home ownership and in how very well those who have purchased their homes have done in increasing their value.
Mr. Kinnock : Is the Prime Minister trying to say that we have had higher mortgage rates for longer under her Government because more people, just as in every previous year, have ended up buying their own houses?
The Prime Minister : No. I am saying that 3 million more families own their homes than was the case under Labour and that mortgage rates and interest rates are high because we are determined not to go back to Labour's inflation rate of 26.9 per cent. per annum.
Mr. Cash : Is my right hon. Friend aware of the continuing efforts of the European Legislation Committee to involve the House in more effective scrutiny of European legislation? Is she aware that the French Parliament, following our example, has introduced similar measures? Does she also agree that the more democracy there is in the European Community the better?
The Prime Minister : I know that my hon. Friend and other hon. Members are deeply concerned about the amount of legislation that is coming from Europe. It comes to the Scrutiny Committee of course only when it has got to the legislative stage. My right hon. Friends and I are deeply concerned about the number of proposals in the pipeline. It is extremely difficult to get the full facts about them and we must follow them up at that stage too. I agree with my hon. Friend that we need the scrutiny of national Parliaments and that the more we have the better. We also need to keep a very careful watch on the tendency of the Commission to acquire an increasing competence on many matters that are not necessary for the single market of 1992. That would result in an extremely large bureaucracy, which would be quite wrong.
Mr. Ashdown : Does the Prime Minister realise that when many millions in England and Wales go to the polls to vote on Thursday--the 10th anniversary of her election--they will hope-- [Interruption.] --that their single vote counts twice ; once for a good councillor, and once against the policies of her Government--against the privatisation of water, against the smashing up of the Health Service and against the poll tax? Does she realise that many millions in Britain, including those who voted for her Government, now ache for the removal of this damaging, disruptive and divisive Government?
The Prime Minister : Nonsense. Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that the privatisation of both of those industries was in the last election manifesto and that we won that election by a 100 majority, for which many people are and will remain profoundly grateful? We are going to win the next one too.
Mr. Baldry : Has my right hon. Friend had time to consider the Policy Studies Institute report "The School Effect", which shows that too many of our children in too many of our inner-city schools are being betrayed by too many Left-wing education authorities? Instead of pursuing a pretence of multicultural policies, it is time for those local educational authorities to start helping to fulfil
Column 17the potential of all their children and to concentrate on traditional ways in which to improve educational standards.
The Prime Minister : I have read reports on that report in the newspapers. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is anxious that it be published in full because it shows enormous variations in educational standards between schools of similar pupils. That is not right. We must make every effort to see that every child has a good education whatever their background. That is why my right hon. Friend is introducing a national curriculum and is spending so much time on teacher training and extra teacher training so that every child can have a really good education whatever local authority he is in.
Mr. Pendry : Having attended the memorial service at Liverpool last Saturday and having witnessed at first hand the grief of that football- loving city, may I ask the right hon. Lady now to consider that the most fitting and lasting memorial to those who tragically died in Hillsborough last month would be for the Government to provide the funding for a multi- purpose sports facility at Merseyside, in the same spirit as she set aside £19 million for egg producers earlier this year?
The Prime Minister : No, Sir. Some football clubs have spent a great deal, and others--not all in this country--are spending an increasing amount on the standards of their stadiums. The hon. Gentleman will know to which I refer. There is a good deal of money, as he knows, in football. Much of it--perhaps too much--goes on transfer fees and perhaps too little goes on stadiums. We all know that a good deal of the income from football pools also goes on improving stadiums. The hon. Gentleman will be familiar with all of those aspects. I went to the memorial service and of course I shared the grief of the people. I got very much the impression from them that, above all, they wanted all-seat stadiums in the future.
Dr. Twinn : Is my right hon. Friend aware that better street lighting can cut crime and cut the fear of crime? Will she endorse the findings of the urban programme and the estate action programme, as well as of the British parliamentary lighting group's surveys in Edmonton and Tower Hamlets, that money spent by local authorities on improving street lighting is money well worth spending in the fight against crime?
The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend draws my attention to the work done by the British parliamentary lighting group and to projects in Edmonton and Tower Hamlets, which seem to have shown that where more money is spent on lighting, the level of crime goes down. If that is so, we must look at those results carefully and see whether they can be furthered because we are anxious to reduce the level of crime as fast and as much as we can.
Mr. Barron : Has the Prime Minister read press statements about the attitude of general practitioners in the Vale of Glamorgan in relation to the Government's White Paper on the Health Service? Will she consider withdrawing that White Paper and funding the NHS in a proper manner and not put into effect the actions that are now proposed?
The Prime Minister : No, Sir, and we do not take any lectures on funding the Health Service from Labour Members-- [Interruption.] I repeat what I have said in past weeks : for every pound that Labour spent on the NHS, Tories are spending £3. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell that to the people in the Vale of Glamorgan. So, if they want to go back to Labour, that will cut resources, cut hospitals, cut the doctors, cut the nurses, cut their pay and cut the service to patients. Tell that to them.
Mr. Gardiner : Further to my right hon. Friend's reply to the question by the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), although the precise terms of the contract with GPs may be open to negotiation, will she agree that it is imperative that the proposed reforms of the NHS should go ahead and that the welfare of patients demands that the NHS cannot just go on as it is?
The Prime Minister : I agree with my hon. Friend. When the reforms in the NHS are through, it will be a much better service for patients than it now is. I understand why Labour Members do not want the reforms to go through. They know that when they have gone through, their protests and citicisms will be rumbled for what they were--wholly hollow and wholly misrepresentative of the true facts.
Miss Lestor : Is the Prime Minister aware that at the end of her decade as Prime Minister, there are in this country 75,000 missing children? The Government inform me that they do not collect figures nationally. The Children's Society, however, does. What does she intend to do about this problem?
The Prime Minister : The hon. Lady is well aware of the authorities that have a concern to find missing children. She is also well aware that the standard of living, the standard of education and the standard of health introduced under this Government give children a far better chance than they ever had before.
The Prime Minister : We have increased the number of police and their pay so that they can carry out all their duties, including that of finding missing children. We have increased the numbers way beyond what the Labour Government did.
Sir Peter Hordern : Has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to read the report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the supply of beer? Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread interest and admiration for the reforms affecting trade unions, doctors, dentists, lawyers, bankers and brokers, but that when it comes to proposals which may have the effect of closing half the village pubs, does she agree that she may have gone a step too far?
Column 20family very much. Of course, I am concerned, because of the villages, about the future of the village pub. There is increasing debate about the report, I am sure that my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will take that into account when he considers what to do about the report.
That the draft Summer Time Order 1989 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.-- [Mr. Fallon.]
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