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House of Commons

Tuesday 23 October 1990

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[ Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]


Mr. Speaker : I regret to have to inform the House of the death of Norman Findlay Buchan esquire, Member for Paisley, South and I desire, on behalf of the House, to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and our sympathy with the relatives of the hon. Member.


City of Dundee District Council Order Confirmation Bill

Zetland Masonic Sick and Widows and Orphans Fund Order Confirmation Bill

Considered ; to be read the Third time.

Oral Answers to Questions



1. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what new proposals he will be putting forward to improve the pay and general standing of teachers.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. John MacGregor) : The remit that I gave to the interim advisory committeeon 14 September as regards teachers' pay and conditions in 1991-92 invites the committee to build on the far-reaching improvements introduced in teachers' pay following its excellent report of last year. I announced on 23 July my intention to introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity with a view to restoring teachers' negotiating rights in time for the 1992-93 settlement.

Mr. Townsend : Is not it a little shaming that local education authorities like Bexley have to recruit teachers from abroad due to the lack of the home-grown variety? Will my right hon. Friend make it crystal clear that teachers are a special case and that if we are to look after their recruitment, retention and general standing in the community, they must have a significant pay increase?

Mr. MacGregor : My hon. Friend knows that the position was greatly improved this year in areas where there were previously shortages. Only a handful of schools have vacancies this year. The number of teachers recruited from overseas was very small and in most cases was for

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special purposes. There has been a big improvement and that is due both to the increases in teacher supply which we are bringing about and to the general increase and improvement in teachers' pay and conditions.

Mr. Win Griffiths : The Secretary of State will know that many of those teachers recruited from abroad are already leaving schools because they are disillusioned. Will not he admit, that despite his valiant efforts on pay last year, teachers' salaries over the past three years are still lagging behind inflation? Will he now commit himself to ensuring that in this year's pay settlement teachers will receive an award that, at the very least, will keep pace with this year's inflation, if not improve on it? Until that is achieved, teachers, who are facing many extra burdens as a result of the national curriculum, will not teach with any enthusiasm in our schools.

Mr. MacGregor : The hon. Gentleman made several points and I will deal with one or two of them quickly. I repeat that the number of teachers recruited from overseas is very small in relation to the total teacher supply. Indeed, there are advantages in such recruitment and that practice has always been followed. On average, teachers have had an increase of 50 per cent. in their pay since 1986 and it is well up in real terms over the past 10 years. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that there is much greater flexibility in the teaching salary structure now and many teachers in particular shortage areas are receiving well above the average. There has been a substantial improvement and I indicated in my remit to the interim advisory committee the general shape of what I hope the teachers' pay settlement will be next year.

Mr. Patrick Thompson : Does my right hon. Friend accept that the general standing of teachers would be helped greatly if teachers and leading teachers in our schools were consulted more often than are administrators, politicians and others? May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his recent decision on single sciences, which was reached according to the very principle that I have just described? That is good for the recruitment of teachers. Let the advice of good teachers be taken more often.

Mr. MacGregor : I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He will know that I talk to an awful lot of teachers, not just to my advisory bodies, as I go round the country, and that they come to see me. The single science decision--I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments on it--in part reflected that. My hon. Friend will recognise also that, with the introduction of local management of schools and with decisions being taken much more at school level, it is much easier now for governing bodies and heads to consult teachers in their schools.

Mr. Straw : Why does the Secretary of State continue to mislead teachers and the public by making wholly untrue claims about the increases that teachers have enjoyed over the past four years, when the only increase that they have had in real terms was between 1986 and 1987? As the Select Committee report and the Secretary of State's own teachers' pay committee make clear, teachers' pay in real terms has been cut in each of the past three years. What kind of improvement in teachers' morale does the right hon. Gentleman think can be achieved when he and his colleagues have cut teachers' pay for each of the past three years? If he wants to improve matters, will he here and now

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give a categorical assurance that he will fully fund any increase in teachers' pay recommended by the interim advisory committee?

Mr. MacGregor : The hon. Gentleman must take into account the fact that there is now much greater flexibility in the teachers' salary structure system. Therefore, a considerable number of teachers will have had substantial increases in the past few years. In the period of this Government, teachers' pay on average has increased by 30 per cent. in real terms ; that compares with an average increase of 6 per cent. under the previous Labour Government. I shall be making further comments about teachers' pay for next year. At present, of course, the interim advisory committee has hardly embarked on its work. I shall make comments at the appropriate time when the education part of local authority total standard spending is announced. I noticed that, in the Walden interview, the hon. Gentleman was all over the shop when asked about Labour's commitment to extra spending. It was not going to come from extra taxation ; it was not going to come from extra borrowing ; it was not going to come from anywhere.

Teacher Shortages

2. Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further initiatives are currently being considered by his Department to help relieve the problems of teacher shortages in particular subjects in the south-east.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Tim Eggar) : We already have in place a range of measures that are helping to relieve teacher supply difficulties in the south-east. Our September count of vacancies revealed that all local education authorities, including those in London and the south-east, had succeeded in filling the great majority of the posts that were vacant at the beginning of the summer.

Mr. Taylor : I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister of State, welcome him to his debut with chalk and blackboard in the House and wish him a long and successful stay in his position.

In Surrey, the problem is becoming quite serious. The readvertisement of jobs for primary school teachers is running at about 27 per cent., and for secondary school teachers it is now 31 per cent. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that the measures that have been announced will be brought in as soon as possible so that local pay bargaining can increase the potential for giving bursaries to teachers in special subjects, in particular maths, modern languages and science? Will he also make sure that local management of schools provides even greater flexibility so that Surrey and other counties in the south-east can fill their vacancies?

Mr. Eggar : My hon. Friend will reflect upon the need for his own county council to consider whether local funding is appropriate at some time in the future. Surrey has taken advantage of a scheme run by my Department, that has enabled the setting up of courses specifically for women returners who have experience in teaching modern languages. As a result of one course alone, Surrey was able to recruit 22 modern language teachers.

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Mr. Flannery : Does the Minister of State realise that the Select Committee would never have published its report on teacher supply, which took nearly two years to complete, unless the position was deadly serious? Does he realise also that talking about being able to put a body in front of every class, whether it be in the south-east or elsewhere, is nonsense? The number of applications for major teaching posts has fallen catastrophically. Whereas there used to be 20 or 30 applications, the number has now dropped to one, two or three, and the people who are employed are not necessarily the people who are wanted? As the problem is more serious than that, will the Minister please treat it as being more serious and settle it once and for all?

Mr. Eggar : The hon. Gentleman appears not to be aware that the overwhelming majority of classes have permanent teachers who teach children on a well-established basis. The level of teacher vacancies in our schools is almost exactly the same as it was 10 years ago when the Labour party left government. Those are the facts. It is no good the hon. Gentleman exaggerating the position.

Mr. Dunn : Does my hon. Friend accept that the only way to eliminate teacher shortages in the south-east is to abolish national pay scales and to move to a system of regional pay with school-centred pay bargaining? The second thing that could be done to improve teacher morale in the south-east would be to ask the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) to keep his mouth shut for at least a year.

Mr. Eggar : I am sure that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) will pay attention to the advice given by my hon. Friend. We should all benefit from that advice being followed.

Pupils (Testing)

3. Ms. Mowlam : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his deliberations about standardised testing for seven-year-olds.

5. Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy on the testing of children at the ages of seven and 11 years as a means of monitoring standards in schools.

Mr. MacGregor : I made an oral statement to the House on 18 October and published the specification for the first standard assessment tasks to assess seven-year-olds in 1991. Copies of the specification have been placed in the Library and the Vote Office.

The formal assessment of seven and 11-year-olds is a key part of the national curriculum and will contribute enormously to the effective monitoring and raising of educational standards in schools.

Ms. Mowlam : Will the Minister think back to when he and his friends took the 11-plus and remember how some of his friends were labelled a success while others were labelled a failure? Will the right hon. Gentleman reassure the House that the results of the testing for seven-year-olds will not be made public?

Mr. MacGregor : The assessment, or testing, of seven-year-olds is designed to enable teachers and pupils in

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all schools to be aware on a systematic basis of the level that has been reached by individual pupils so that their strengths can be built on and their weaknesses tackled. Reporting will be to the parent. We have not proposed statutory obligatory reporting of the overall school results for seven-year-olds, but I hope that schools will publish aggregate figures and I shall encourage them to do so.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : Does my right hon. Friend agree that what parents really want is to know what their children are being taught and that they will therefore warmly welcome the tests that he has introduced? Does he further agree that, far from tests creating failure,s, the absence of testing would create failure, because no one would have any idea of what is being taught in some of our schools, especially in Labour authorities?

Mr. MacGregor : I agree with my hon. Friend on both points, but I would go further. I believe that through the standard external tests--not just the assessments by teachers--parents want to know how their children are progressing with the basics, such as reading, arithmetic, writing and basic scientific skills. That is what the tests concentrate on, because that is what parents and most teachers want.

Mr. Nellist : What standards are being set for, and what lessons are being learnt by the primary school children at St. Paul's school in Staffordshire, whose parents were told a couple of weeks ago to bring in not only their own pens, pencils, rubbers and hand towels, but-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Mr. Nellist : --but their own toilet rolls? Is not it a fact that not one education-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman must be given a chance to put his question.

Mr. Nellist : Is not it a fact that not one Education Minister on that Front Bench would allow any of his children to learn a lesson like that about the inadequacies of the education provision in this country? Why should our children have to learn that lesson?

Mr. MacGregor : I do not see what that has to do with the testing of seven-year-olds. The matter that the hon. Gentleman raised is for the local education authority. I believe that there was some misunderstanding of what was said at that time. It has nothing to do with the testing of seven-year- olds or with raising standards.

Mrs. Maureen Hicks : My right hon. Friend will have noted that the general public invariably dismiss what politicians say but like to listen to what royalty and religious figures say. Will he endorse the comments made today by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, a leading mother in Britain, who said exactly what we say--that we should get back to basics with standardised testing?

Mr. Speaker : Order. It is out of order to bring the royal family into our arguments.

Mrs. Hicks : The standard test brings us back to the three Rs-- reading, writing and arithmetic--so that children, parents and teachers know what children should learn. Is not it despicable that many educationists who talk about the decline in education are the very people who are against testing?

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Mr. MacGregor : The vast majority of parents welcome what we propose to do next summer on testing seven-year-olds. As my hon. Friend says, the external testing will concentrate on the basics, which are the fundamental parts of education for all children. I am sure that it is right to do so at the age of seven.

Ms. Armstrong : The Secretary of State recognises that the real role of testing at that early age is to aid children's learning and identify their strengths and weaknesses. How can teachers work on those weaknesses and give parents the confidence that problems that have been identified will be worked on without the additional support and encouragement which Surrey county council has costed at about £400,000 a year?

Mr. MacGregor : The hon. Lady will know that we have increased the spending per pupil in all schools across the board, not just primary schools, by over 40 per cent. after inflation. It is absolutely typical and it does not surprise me, but it is tedious to hear Labour Members pretend that they would be willing to spend more on education. They know perfectly well that they always include the phrase, "as resources allow". It was perfectly obvious from the comments made by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) on television recently that the Labour party will not increase spending more than we are doing. It is a bit rich of the hon. Lady to put forward that argument. We are increasing spending per pupil.

Mr. Anthony Coombs : My right hon. Friend will be aware of the anxiety felt by many at a report published at the beginning of September that showed that in 10 local education authorities reading standards have declined during the past 10 years. Does he agree that it is important that an assessment at the age of seven takes into account not only the standards achieved by individual children but the methods used by teachers to ensure that children can read properly? Does he also agree that parents are interested as much in how their children are doing in relation to other children as in how they are doing in an absolute sense?

Mr. MacGregor : The evidence from reports on some reading tests is not clear. That is why I have asked for testing to be done much more nationally. We shall have the results by Christmas. It is important to stress that that evidence is not clear. The educational psychologists who compiled a report said that it provided only prima facie evidence. However, one thing is clear. If, in any school, there is a decline in reading standards, it is to do not with resources, but, as those same educational psychologists said, with teaching methods. It is from that point of view that I shall consider the evidence. My hon. Friend is entirely right. The whole point of the national curriculum and of testing at seven is not only to make comparisons but to ensure that we have national information about reading standards compiled on a comparable basis.

Student Loans

4. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the operation of the student loans scheme and access funds.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Alan Howarth) : The loans scheme is up and running and the access funds are in place.

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The Student Loans Company opened for business last month and I am delighted to tell the House that, as of yesterday, 14,500 students have already applied. The company is operating very efficiently, as I saw when I recently visited it.

Mr. Darling : If the student loans scheme is so good, why have only 14,500 students applied for it? Why are the Government spending £1 million on advertising the scheme, especially when, yesterday, Edinburgh university announced a freeze on all staff recruitment because of its dire financial position? Do the Government accept that money should be spent on funding our university education, or are they happy for it to fall further and further behind as the rest of Europe races ahead?

Mr. Howarth : The hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that funding in real terms has increased by some 9 per cent. during the period of this Government and, last year, in cash terms, an additional 10 per cent. was made available. During the three years of the present survey about £1 billion will be added to higher education expenditure for all purposes. Universities, far from being deprived of funding by the Government, have had a significant increase in funding and, correspondingly, are increasing the opportunities available to students in higher education.

Mr. Quentin Davies : Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to give the House an idea of the impact of the introduction of student loans on applications for student places this year?

Mr. Howarth : I am extremely encouraged, as is the House, I hope, that 14,500 applications have already been made to the scheme. In response to the first point of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling), I believe that that is an encouraging start to the scheme, especially considering that universities and polytechnics returned for the new academic year only in the past fortnight.

Mr. Andrew Smith : May I welcome the Minister to his new responsibilities? I should point out, however, that the 14,500 applications that he has just mentioned represent less than 2.5 per cent. of the Government's target of take-up. Is not that an abject failure? Does he believe that the student loans scheme offers the means by which students can pay supplementary fees for courses?

Mr. Howarth : Supplementary fees are not under discussion. The student loans scheme is designed to support student maintenance. The hon. Gentleman should not ignore the central fact that our new system of student support means more money for students. The uprated grant and the new loan represent an increase of 25 per cent. on last year's grant. There is no question but that it is welcome to students and all the indications are that this autumn enrolments have again risen substantially.

Rev. Martin Smyth : Does the Minister accept that although there has been an increase in university funding, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals believes that the money spent on advertising the loans scheme could have been better spent on better direct grants to students and on funding colleges?

Mr. Howarth : It is absolutely right that the scheme should have been publicised to students--the higher

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education institutions asked the Student Loans Company to undertake a publicity campaign. It must be right that students should be helped to be aware of the new entitlement to a loan, and students are finding it attractive. The higher education institutions have been thoroughly briefed on the procedures and students have been made aware of the opportunity available to them. We have already witnessed an encouraging number of applications for loans in the first fortnight of the new academic year and all the signs are that the scheme will be a great success.

Mr. Burt : Is not it true that Opposition Members and representatives of the National Union of Students spent a lot of time during the passage of the student loans Bill trying to frighten students away from applying to higher education institutions in order to make out their case that student loans would deter such applications? Will my hon. Friend confirm that applications for university and other higher education institutions this year verify the continual upward trend of students going into higher education? Does he agree that the student loans Bill made no difference at all?

Mr. Howarth : My hon. Friend is right to suggest that there has been a politically motivated campaign to discredit a scheme which is intended to work for the benefit of students. The only achievement of the NUS in its campaign against student loans was to cause a large traffic jam on one occasion in London. It has had to accept that students are welcoming this new opportunity and I was pleased to note that, recently, it advocated that its members should take advantage of the scheme.

Rural Schools

6. Mr. Pike : To ask the secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment he has made of the effect local management of schools is having on small schools in rural areas ; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Michael Fallon) : We have said that we shall monitor theffect of local management of schools carefully. LMS was introduced for the benefit of all schools. We expect small rural schools to share in those benefits.

Mr. Pike : Does the Minister recognise that small rural schools have particular problems arising from LMS? Will he see that local education authorities are able to continue to give the support necessary to ensure a balanced and fair education in those schools, or do the Government intend to put a nail in the coffin of small rural schools?

Mr. Fallon : There is ample scope for protecting small schools through the formula. Local education authorities may take account of the higher unit costs of delivering the curriculum in small schools and the salary costs in schools with fewer than 10 teachers. Lancashire does both.

Mr. David Nicholson : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he has just said about small rural schools and for the written answers that he has given me in the past two days about the way in which LMS will apply to such matters as school meals and the recruitment of rising-fives. Will he confirm that if parents at a school agree to support, and are prepared to pay the cost-effective price for, a proper school meals system, LMS will help that process?

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Mr. Fallon : I agree with my hon. Friend that there is much scope for further delegation of the current costs of supporting schools and of a number of services.

Sir Cyril Smith : Does the Minister agree that local management of schools would be better performed if the management were thoroughly representative of all shades of opinion in the community? Is he aware, for example, that in my authority, every secondary school governor is a Labour councillor and that not one Conservative or Liberal Democrat councillor has been elected to the board of a secondary school in the whole constituency? Do the Government have any plans to ensure that in future, local management is more representative of the whole community?

Mr. Fallon : We have no further plans, although I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman. We have already ensured that a larger number of governors are parent governors and that there is a representative on the governing body from the business community.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : I congratulate my hon. Friend on his appointment to his new post after two years' enforced silence in the Whips Office. Does he draw any conclusions from the fact that Labour authorities have kept back more of schools' budgets from the schools than have Conservative authorities? Does he agree that it is part of Labour's continuing negative and destructive attitude to education? Labour is against any form of reform, be it city technology colleges, grant- maintained schools, assisted places or the local management of schools.

Mr. Fallon : Only about 60 per cent. of the education work force is teaching. There are innumerable advisers and bureaucrats--an army of suede shoes--and, for example, Lancashire holds back about 23 per cent. of its schools budget, about £78 million, or £110,000 per average Lancashire school.

Scottish Education

7. Mr. Douglas : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the number of Scottish students entering Scottish universities for 1990-91.

Mr. Alan Howarth : Reliable figures for admissions to universities this autumn are not yet available. The number of Scottish-domiciled first year students entering Scottish universities last year was more than 5 per cent. higher than in 1988.

Mr. Douglas : May I crave your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, before putting my supplementary question, to say how sad hon. Members in all parts of the House must have been to hear of the death of Norman Buchan, the hon. Member for Paisley, South? He had enormous interest in the topic of education but, moreover, enormous interest in freedom of thought and expression. No matter how much one might disagree with Norman, one could always be absolutely sure that he would defend one's right to make one's point here, as much as he would want to have his point of view expressed. It is with great sadness that I rise to put this supplementary question, although he would be among the first to recognise that democracy in this form in the House must go on.

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May I ask the Minister to say what stresses and strains are being put on Scottish students at university, in particular through the loss of certain benefits and through the harassment that they are experiencing as a result of the threat of arresting their tuition fees to pay the poll tax?

Mr. Howarth : The House will have heard with great respect and sympathy the tribute of the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) for his friend the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan), and we all share those sentiments.

With respect to the matter that the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West raised in his supplementary question, he should recognise that more resources are now available to support students. We calculate that the average claim for benefit made by students would have been £327 in the current year. As the value of the loan outside London is £420 and there are, in addition, access funds, it is clear that most students are better off. The access funds are there to assist any students who may be found to be in genuine financial difficulty. As to what the hon. Gentleman referred to as harassment, I hope that he will accept that students have a responsibility to meet their community charge. Equally, local authorities have a responsibility to take any steps available to them to recover arrears. Arrestment of payment due to, or on behalf of, individuals is one such step. The exercise of the powers of local authorities and any challenge to them is a matter for the courts.

Mr. Allan Stewart : May I associate myself with the tribute to the late Norman Buchan, who was a constituency neighbour?

Will my hon. Friend the Minister confirm that a higher proportion of school leavers in Scotland enter higher education than in England? Is not it also the case in Scotland that all school leavers who are qualified and wish to do so receive places in higher education, either in Scottish universities or in the central institutions such as colleges of technology, which have expanded a great deal under the Government?

Mr. Howarth : The quality of Scottish education has always been much respected south of the border, both at school and university level. It is noteworthy that rather more than a quarter of students in Scottish universities come from south of the border, which is a measure of the respect given to and attractiveness of Scottish university courses.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing : Does not the Under-Secretary understand that he stands condemned by his own words for his inability to understand the particular problems facing students? Does he really say to the House that any steps to recoup the poll tax are acceptable? In Scotland, tuition fees are being pursued by regional councillors so that students will have their poll tax deducted. Is that acceptable at a time when students are being denied access to social security benefits, when the grant system has been undercut and when there have been rising costs in accommodation, whether in the private or public sector? What will the Minister do to ensure that our students have a fair deal?

Mr. Howarth : As I said just now, the exercise of their powers by local education authorities in that regard is a matter for the courts. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the rights and wrongs of what they are

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doing. The hon. Lady also ignores the increase in resources available to the vast majority of students and the fact that access funds worth £25 million have been made available to universities and colleges so that they can use them to ensure that students are not in need. Beyond that, I trust that the hon. Lady is not implying that it would be in any way right for students to refuse to pay their community charge.

Schools-Industry Links

8. Mr. Knapman : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent initiatives have been taken by his Department to develop closer links between schools and industry ; and what resources have been committed for 1990-91 to help foster such links.

Mr. Fallon : The Department collaborates closely with other Government Departments in a range of activities including, in particular, an initiative to stimulate and support local education-business partnerships. We are also co-funding the new Foundation for Education Business Partnerships. This year, we expect to spend some £250,000 in direct grants to school-industry links ; that is in addition to the considerable resources devoted to that purpose by local education authorities.

Mr. Knapman : May I congratulate my hon. Friend on his consistent support for closer relationships between industrialists and educationists, because it is important that local education and training is directly tailored to the needs of the local community? What progress is being made by the education-business partnerships initiative recently announced by the Department of Education and Science?

Mr. Fallon : The partnerships initiative is making good progress. Already, about 90 per cent. of secondary schools have links with industry, as have more than half of all primary schools, but there is still more to be done.

Mr. Hardy : Such initiatives are clearly desirable, but would the Minister care to tell us how we can further pursue them in my constituency, since, if the level of present central support and rate capping persists next year, we seem bound to lose up to six teachers in every secondary school? Does he realise that teachers who would be involved in the initiative cannot be sure that they will retain their employment and thus take part in the initiative that the Government are eager to sponsor and applaud but quite unwilling to fund?

Mr. Fallon : The Department provides a considerable amount of money to help fund the initiatives and many heads, governors and teachers are co- operating closely with their local industries.

Sir John Stokes : Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the difficulties is the apparent reluctance of some of our well-known industrial leaders to speak on this subject on radio, television or directly to schools and to point out the satisfaction, scope and challenge of a career in industry?

Mr. Fallon : I agree with my hon. Friend. The object of school- industry links is to improve young people's readiness to cope with the opportunities, responsibilities and experience of working life, and to give them proper understanding of the enterprise culture and the importance of wealth creation.

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9. Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from Sir David Smith FRS, principal of Edinburgh university, on the subject of graduates using degrees for public service rather than making money for themselves.

Mr. Eggar : None, Sir, although the hon. Gentleman has kindly sent me a copy of Sir David's speech.

Mr. Dalyell : Whose fault is it that the world-ranking university of Edinburgh yesterday had to freeze staff appointments?

Mr. Eggar : Responsibility for financial matters rests with the university. The Universities Funding Council is available to provide advice and help to the university, if it is asked to do so. In his speech, which the hon. Gentleman sent to me, Sir David pointed out that Scotland benefited from the system of GB-wide higher education funding to the tune of some £30 million to £40 million, according to Sir David's calculations.

Mr. John Marshall : Does my hon. Friend agree that it is high time that academics became more businesslike in the use of the substantial amounts of public money that they receive?

Mr. Eggar : There is always a need for all higher education and other education institutions to think carefully about how they deploy their resources. Much progress has been made in the higher and further education sectors, but more remains to be done.

Dr. Bray : In universities such as Edinburgh, with a distinguished record of scientific research, the greatest discouragement falls upon those whose public service lies in such research. Is the Minister aware that the practical effect is that an increasing proportion of postgraduate students now come from abroad?

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