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Seditious And Blasphemous Teaching To Children Bill

Volume 236: debated on Friday 21 March 1930

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Order for Second Reading read.

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

In view of the shortness of the time at my disposal, I would ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading, and allow it to go to Committee, where it can be thoroughly thrashed out. There is no time to go into the details or arguments, or to give the necessary quotations which might be expected from the promoter of a Bill of this kind, but I would assure the House that this Bill is not directed in any way as propaganda against the Labour party. I believe that the Labour party suffer just as much from seditious and blasphemous teaching to children as any other party, and it is just as much to their interest that the youth of the country should be brought up loyal, patriotic and Godfearing citizens, as it is to the interest of the party to which I belong. There is no time to develop the matter as it should be developed, and for that reason I would appeal to the generosity of Members opposite to allow this Bill to have a Second Reading, so that in Committee the whole question can be thrashed out, every point of view considered, and all the arguments heard. If the Bill is a good Bill, it will come back to the House, but if it is not, it will no doubt be killed in Committee.

I was one of those who took part in the Debate upon a Bill similar to this which was introduced four or five years ago, and I am very glad to notice the improvement in tone on the part of the Mover of the Second Reading. There was no attempt to cast aspersions on the Labour party, and those associated with them, in the matter of the teaching which they assert exists. It was not quite so clear as that last time the matter was discussed. Indeed, that Debate in my judgment had for its purpose to give the impression that this so-called seditious and blasphemous teaching was much more widespread than even the one or two Communist Sunday schools which, with very great difficulty, the promoters on that occasion were able to quote in proof of their case.

Whatever case they may have had four or five years ago, they have less case to-day. This matter was discussed on one occason in the House of Lords, when the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed grave doubts as to the number of children's schools with which the Bill was supposed to deal, and as far as I know, of those schools which existed six or seven years ago, I doubt whether more than 20 per cent. exist at the present time. In the last Debate I asserted that the natural childhood of those who were being dealt with in the type of schools that Members of the party opposite referred to, would assert itself. The child is not fond of being taught "isms"; the child is too much of a natural being for that, and if it were true—and I assert it never was true—it is sufficient to leave the child—

It being Four of the Clock, the Debate stood Adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.

Adjourned at One minute after Four o'Clock until Monday next, 24th March.