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Voluntary Schools

Volume 499: debated on Thursday 24 April 1952

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8.

asked the Minister of Education if she is now in a position to make a statement about the proposals for financial assistance to the voluntary schools.

I would refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. K. Thompson), on 31st March.

While appreciating the fact that the Minister is anxious to assist voluntary schools as much as possible, can I ask her to realise that this is a very urgent matter now, and will she take steps to expedite the proposals in view of the grave financial circumstances of the voluntary schools?

Yes, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am entirely in favour of that. I have now completed discussions with all those who are interested. As I said in the answer, I hope to bring forward legislative proposals, but I think that the hon. Gentleman will realise that there is not much possibility at present of getting a Bill through the House of Commons in addition to what we are dealing with.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the delay in dealing with this matter is causing grave difficulties, as many of the voluntary schools are in quite an unfit condition for children to be taught in them, and in view of the fact that agreement had been reached with the late Government, why the delay now?

Perhaps the hon. Lady is unaware that no agreement had been reached with all the denominational bodies, the local authorities and the teachers. I have had discussions with many authorities who had had no previous knowledge of what was arranged or that discussions had taken place. As I say, those discussions are now completed but, as she will realise, time must be found for legislative proposals to go through this House, and I think she will agree with me that at the present time the prospect is not very cheerful.

Will the right hon. Lady consider asking through the usual channels whether legislation in this matter might be facilitated, in view of the great need for such legislation?

I will certainly press that these matters may be discussed. But I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that there is other legislation which it is desperately necessary to get through, and the quicker that goes through the quicker we can deal with the other.