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Schoolchildren (Employment)

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 22 March 1951

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asked the Minister of Education how many county council local education authorities in 1950 refused to sanction the release of schoolchildren for employment in agriculture; and how many sanctioned exemptions.

In view of the abuse of the labour of schoolchildren which occurs, will the Parliamentary Secretary ask his right hon. Friends the Ministers of Education and Agriculture to ensure that this year sees the end of this concession for children to work in school time?

This matter has been a hardy annual for some time. Preliminary discussions have taken place, and my hon. Friend knows well what the present position is in agriculture.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that a few weeks ago the Minister of Education told me that he hoped to be consulted about this matter? Can he tell us whether his hopes have been realised?

As I understand it— and I have been at these consultations myself —consultations take place year by year.

Has there been any consultation with the children, who are the ones most interested in this subject?

Yes, Sir. I have consulted many children upon this subject, and I have found—as was certainly my experience at school—that they all seem to enjoy it very much.

Is my hon. Friend aware that Cornwall was one of the counties where children were exempted wholesale in years gone by and is now a county which does not operate a scheme? Will he take that into account as a factor towards abolishing this concession altogether?

I am certainly prepared to take into account that what comes first is the education of the children.