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Parents' Wishes

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 30 November 1961

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9.

asked the Minister of Education if, in view of the misunderstanding which arises in the minds of parents over Section 76 of the Education Act, 1944, he will in future legislation seek to amend this Section so that parents, managers, governors and local education authorities will know the position in relation to the education of pupils in accordance with the wishes of the parents.

I have published general guidance on the application of Section 76, which I am sending to the hon. Member. I do not think it would be wise or practicable to legislate in greater detail.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that local education authorities are very worried about some of the flimsy reasons which a small minority of parents are advancing for wanting to send their children to certain schools? Is it not a fact that this Section was intended to cover what one might term a conscience clause, and will the Minister make this perfectly clear in any direction he sends to local authorities?

I am not aware that the reasons are flimsy. I assure the hon. Gentleman that in the cases which have been brought to my notice the local authorities have given careful attention to the Section of the Act to which we are referring.

The Minister may have misunderstood what I said. Would not he consider, for instance, that when parents who are in dispute with the local authorities about the choice of school advance as the only reason against a certain school that it has not a certain uniform, that that is a flimsy reason?

If parents are aggrieved under this Section, they have a right of appeal to the Minister, and I hope that they will do so.

Will the Minister ensure that, providing the circumstances are reasonable, he will do everything in his power to safeguard the parents' choice of school in this way?

The usual question is precisely whether the expenditure is reasonable or not.