HC Deb 21 April 1913 vol 52 cc30-1 P
55. Mr. KING

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the right of parents to send their children to school before and after the age of compulsory attendance was recognised before 1870 in the Education Code, was confirmed by the Education Act of 1870, was recognised in every subsequent Code until 1905, and was P also assumed in the Free Education Act of 1891 and by the Memorandum issued by the Eight Hon. A. H. D. Acland in May, 1903; whether he is aware that the right of parents, thus repeatedly sanctioned both by Parliament and the Board of Education, has been taken away by the action of the Board of Education divesting itself of the responsibility to enforce it; and whether, in view of a pledge of the Government given in 1906 that this obstruction of the rights of parents should cease, he will take early steps to restore to parents a valued right and to redeem the pledge of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's Government?


I think I am aware of all the material facts. I am satisfied that the Board acted legally in leaving the admission of children under five to the discretion of the local education authorities, but whether the Board could or could not compel them to provide accommodation for children under five is a question which could only be determined by the Courts.


Will the right hon. Gentleman afford facilities to the Courts if a friendly action is taken to test whether the Board of Education has been acting within its powers?


I am quite sure that the Board of Education has been acting within its powers.