asked the President of the Board of Education what steps he proposes to take to ensure that all county education authorities recognise the urgency of establishing school canteens or of providing some means by which dinners brought by children can be warmed up, especially during the winter?
As a result of the circulars issued by the Board during the past three years, local education authorities are fully alive to the importance of establishing school canteens in county areas, and I am satisfied that authorities generally are doing their utmost. In the absence of canteens the Board have always encouraged authorities, where practicable, to make arrangements for warming food brought by children who have to travel some distance to reach school.
What percentage of children are now receiving school meals?
There is a Question very shortly, the answer to which will give the figures.
Is it not a fact that a great deal of the difficulty is caused through lack of staff and cooking facilities, and can the right hon. Gentleman not look into these matters and arrange for facilities to be made available, particularly in the country districts?
Yes, Sir, we recently issued new provisions for this, and I hope they will have some effect.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will expedite the provision and furnishing of one or more hostels in the borough of Lymington for the accommodation of the secondary school boys from Portsmouth who are attending the Hampshire County Council's secondary school at Brockenhurst?
I am informed that arrangements have been made by the Lymington Borough Council for the provision of a hostel at Milford-on-Sea, which it is hoped will be furnished and equipped ready for occupation by boys of the Portsmouth Southern secondary school at the beginning of next term. The local education authority are considering the question of transport to enable the boys to attend their school at Brockenhurst and can be relied upon to co-operate in the arrangements so far as their assistance is required.
asked the President of the Board of Education when he expects to introduce his Education Bill?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) on 23rd September, a copy of which I am sending him.
Is not that answer most discouraging? We are all waiting for a definite answer; when shall we get it?
I do not think the answer could be more encouraging at present.
asked the President of the Board of Education the terms and purpose of his message to the Special National Assembly of the National Union of Teachers, held on 30th October, to inaugurate a public campaign concerning the next Education Bill?
Certainly, Sir. The terms of the message which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT make its purpose quite clear.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give equal encouragement to the religious denominations and to the Part III authorities to put their views before the public?
They do not seem to have needed any encouragement.
Did the National Union of Teachers?
Is it not true—
Following is the Message referred to:
"I am happy to send a message to this National Assembly of teachers from all parts of the country.
Of the strength of the support for the Government's outline plans for Educational Reconstruction there can be no doubt.
Ever since I spoke to your Annual Conference in April of last year we have been gathering momentum, and the time is now approaching when our ideas must be carried to their logical conclusion.
I welcome this campaign of yours to bring home to the general public the urgency of educational reform. You will show that the teaching profession are alive to their responsibilities and to their opportunities.
We should all endeavour, through our public activities, to extend the measure of participation in this great scheme of reform. We should seek to widen the area of understanding and co-operation.
I have no doubt that this is the spirit in which you are setting out on your fresh initiative. I am confident that your influence will be deeply felt.
It is right that you should lead public opinion to realise that we must provide for a progressive and enlightened educational system if we hope to reap the full fruits of victory."
Schoolchildren's Footwear (Boot-Repairing Classes)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of the danger to the health of schoolchildren through not being properly shod; and whether he will encourage the local education authorities to extend the craft training of schoolchildren to boot repairing?
Yes, Sir. I am fully aware of the importance of schoolchildren being properly shod. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has given special consideration to the matter and has taken steps to improve both the quality and quantity of children's footwear. A number of schools have classes in boot repairing, but in view of the present shortage of leather and rubber and the difficulty in obtaining suitable instructors, it would not be practicable to make extensive provision of such classes throughout the country.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will ask for a report from His Majesty's inspector of schools for Stoke-on-Trent on the bad state of footwear of the schoolchildren attending the Orthopædic Clinic and the effect it has on the work of the clinic which is being largely under mined as a result; and whether he will take such steps to remedy the evil as is deemed necessary?
I am arranging for one of my medical officers to visit Stoke-on-Trent to inquire into this matter, and I will communicate with the hon. Member when I have received his report.