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Gipsy Children, Dudley

Volume 499: debated on Thursday 24 April 1952

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1.

asked the Minister of Education how many children were attending local schools from the gipsy encampment at Dudley, Worcestershire, before the families and their caravan homes were evicted on 27th March; and how many have since found places in schools within the boundaries of the Brierley Hill local authority.

I am informed that no children from this gipsy encampment attended schools in Dudley, or Brierley Hill.

Is the right hon. Lady not aware that, at the annual conference of the National Union of Women Teachers last week at Harrogate, a resolution was passed saying that something should be done about having these children registered and sent to school? Is she not further aware that there are many districts where they were going to school but where they have now been driven out of built-up areas into the woods and are to get no education at all?

The fact that they have moved on is nothing to do with me or with the local authority. The encampment at Dudley was visited regularly by school attendance officers in order to try to induce parents to send the children to school, but, by the time it had been arranged that they should be obliged to send them to school, they had moved on.

Is not that dreadful information when it is a fact that it was the police who drove them out? Where they had no horses to pull the caravans, the police got between the shafts and pulled them away from one site into another area. The Minister is incorrect.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am not responsible for how they moved or whether they were moved by the police or anybody else. I was looking to the fact of whether the children were there and whether we could get them into school.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that these people were treated with the utmost consideration by the authorities of Dudley, but that they constituted an intolerable public nuisance? As my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) is so solicitous for their welfare, would he kindly issue an invitation and arrange for their transport to Dartford?

I think the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that it is not my work as Minister of Education to deal with difficulties between two hon. Gentlemen opposite.

In view of the incorrect information given on this subject, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.