51. Captain TODD
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he is aware that Mrs. K. Duncan, a school teacher under the London County Council, having been sentenced to two months' imprisonment for incitement, was only cautioned by the London County Council Education Committee and is now again teaching in a London school, and also that her husband, Mr. A. E. Duncan, having been fined in the summer for 1932 for taking part in a riot at Deptford, was also only cautioned by the London County Council and is also at present teaching in a grant-aided school; and whether he will take steps to ensure that teachers convicted of offences of this nature are not allowed to teach British children?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Ramsbotham)
My Noble Friend has made inquiries into the matters raised 544 in my hon. Friend's question, which had not previously been brought to the notice of the Board. From these inquiries the facts appear to be as follow. Mrs. Duncan was charged with being a disturber of the peace and an inciter of others to commit crimes and misdemeanours. She was ordered by the magistrate to find a surety in £50 to keep the peace for six months or go to prison for one month in default. She chose the latter course. She has not, in fact, been employed by the London County Council since September last. Mr. Duncan was fined £5 for obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty. I understand that in accordance with the usual practice the cases were both the subject of examination by the appropriate sub-committee of the London County Council, and that the two teachers referred to were severely cautioned by the chairman.
The Board's regulations require that if a teacher is convicted of a criminal offence the facts must be at once reported to the Board, and the case, therefore, of Mr. Duncan should have been so reported. I understand that it was through inadvertence that this was not done, and that steps have been taken to ensure strict compliance with the regulations for the future. In Mrs. Duncan's case the court did not proceed to a conviction and there was, therefore, no similar obligation on the London County Council to report the facts. The Board have now been furnished with particulars of the two cases and they are considering what further action can or ought to be taken in regard to them under their regulations.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in their issue of 4th February, the "Daily Worker" published an article suggesting that they had been able to intimidate the Education Committee of the London County Council, and prevent them taking action against these teachers; and does he not consider that action should be taken to prevent teachers with such very close connection with international atheism and Communism from teaching British children?
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
In reply to the first part of the supplementary question, I am not aware of the facts stated. In regard to the second part of the ques- 545 tion, it would be unwise to say anything to prejudice the position in view of the investigation which is to take place.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that both these teachers have very excellent records as members of the teaching profession, and will he resist the suggestion that teachers should be subjected to persecution for holding special political views?