§ 90. Colonel Sir A. HOLBROOK
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he took any steps to obtain impartial advice before issuing, as an official publication of the Board of Education, a book entitled "Hygiene of Food and Drink: Syllabus and Lessons for Use in Schools, and Notes for the Assistance of Teachers "; and whether, as this book takes a biassed view of a very controversial question, he will either 926 withdraw it or adequately revise the syllabus?
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Lewis)
The syllabus in question was submitted, while still in draft, to a number of distinguished physiologists for their observations and suggestions. I cannot admit that the syllabus is biased. It represents ascertained facts or conclusions from them. Since 1909, when the part relating to alcohol was first published in substantially its present form, the Board have received very little general criticism and practically no specific criticism of its contents. Any specific criticisms will be carefully considered on their merits, but I certainly do not propose to withdraw the syllabus.
I have already said that any criticisms of the circular will be most carefully considered.
§ Viscountess ASTOR
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider where the criticisms come from? I think" the right hon. Gentleman will find that the only criticisms come from the trade. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
§ Sir A. HOLBROOK
I wish to say that I have no connection whatever with the trade referred to by the hon. Member for Plymouth.
§ Mr. SEDDON
Can we have, a syllabus sent to each Member of the House of Commons in order that hon. Members may see what is in it?
91. Mr. DOYLE
asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to a syllabus of lessons for use in schools entitled Hygiene of Food and Drink; who is responsible for its introduction; whether he is satisfied as to the accuracy of the> statistics quoted; whether any of the statements contained therein are controversial or debatable; and, if so, will he authorise the withdrawal of the pamphlet?
Yes, Sir; my right hon. Friend authorised the revision and expansion of the Board's temperance 927 syllabus of 1909 so as to bring the matter contained in it up to date and in accord with present scientific knowledge on the subject of food and drink. Much care was exercised in the preparation of the syllabus to ensure that all statistics quoted should be accurate, but if the hon. Member has reason to doubt them, I will gladly consider specific suggestions for their correction. As regards the last part of the question, I may refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Baronet the Member for Nottingham East on 25th October. I do not propose to withdraw the syllabus.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say if the ratepayer or the taxpayer pays for this syllabus?
Neither the ratepayer nor the taxpayer pays for it. It is issued at a price which covers not only the cost of publication, but also the cost of distribution.
§ Major NALL
On what authority does the Department publish a syllabus which is used for a partisan propaganda?
§ Major G. HAMILTON
If neither "the ratepayer nor the taxpayer pays for it, upon whom does the cost fall when a public elementary school uses it?
Perhaps I ought to amend my answer. When a local authority purchases a number of copies it naturally pays for them through the Stationery Office and, therefore, to that extent the ratepayer is chargeable. What I had in mind was that no charge falls upon the taxpayer.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Is it not the case that a similar syllabus and papers have been considered previously by the Education Department and have not been approved?
I am not aware of that. The syllabus, so far as it relates to drink, is substantially in the same form as that in which it has appeared since the year 1908. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is practically the same.
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that all the statements in the syllabus are correct?
As far as I am aware all the statements contained in the syllabus are correct. As I have already said, if any hon. Member has any specific suggestions or criticisms to offer they will be carefully considered.