§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
asked the President of the Board of Education why the Board was not putting into operation that part of Circular 576 which provided that children attending school should be medically examined when they reached the age of seven, and which was to come into effect in 1909; how far the statement in Circular 576, that the efficiency of the medical inspection of schools should be one of the grounds upon which Grants were to be given in future, had been carried into effect; whether, in consequence of medical inspection, education authorities were complaining that children were being kept away from school, with the result that Grants were diminishing rather than increasing; and whether this aspect of the case had been considered by the Board of Education, and how it proposed to meet it?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
With regard to the first part of the question, the Board decided to postpone the operation of this requirement in order to enable local education authorities to perfect their organisation and to systematise the work they are at present doing. They found, moreover, that a number of authorities were undertaking, or proposed to undertake, the medical inspection of children of all ages suffering from particular ailments, and the Board were unwilling to interrupt this work, which they hope will be attended with fruitful results. With regard to the second part of the question, the Board have not, in any respect, departed from the position taken up in the circular, but I am happy to say that it has not been necessary up to the present to withhold Grants on account of inefficient medical inspection. With regard to the third and fourth parts of the question, the Board have received complaints from some local education authorities, and they are giving careful consideration to the representations made to them, but I am not yet prepared to make any announcement on the subject.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Am I to understand, in respect of the first part of the question, that the Board of Education has departed from the conditions laid down in Circular 576 requiring the special inspection of school children at the age of seven?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
No. I would not put it in that definite form. We are in many cases accepting the arrangements which have been made by the education authorities for dealing with the problem in rather a different way and in many cases, I think, a better way.