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Handicapped Children (Special Education)

Volume 982: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he proposes to seek to repeal section 10 of the Education Act 1976.

I announced to the House on 3 March that the Government intend to issue a White Paper outlining proposals for early legislation for a new framework for special education substantially on lines recommended by the Warnock report. Section 10 of the Education Act 1976 will be examined in this context.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that his reply will meet with a widespread welcome among those who believe that throughout the educational system handicapped children should be treated in exactly the same way as physically healthy children. Will he assure us that he will speed up the legislation once the White Paper has been issued and discussed?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. I believe that our proposals on Warnock have been widely welcomed. As I said in my statement on 3 March, we hope to produce the White Paper early this summer and to legislate at the earliest possible moment. My hon. Friend will appreciate that I cannot anticipate the contents of the next Queen's Speech.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that for years we have neglected children who require special attention and special teaching facilities? When will the Government ensure that children who suffer from all sorts of handicaps, such as speech difficulties, will be supplied with teachers in sufficient numbers to help them to become normal citizens?

I can only repeat what I have said. The Government have announced their acceptance of the general principle of the report of the Warnock committee, which was established by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in 1973.