§ 18. Mr. DENVILLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education if he will introduce a Bill to give all school children a holiday on Empire Day?
§ 19. Sir WILLIAM WAYLAND
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he will consider bringing in a Bill to make Empire Day a general holiday in all the national schools, the day to be named Empire Day and to be celebrated by the saluting of the Union Jack and the giving of an address to the children on the greatness of the British Empire?
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
The closing of schools on particular days has always been regarded as a matter for the discretion of the local education and school authorities. Legislation of the kind suggested would be likely to be resented as an unjustifiable interference with this local discretion, and its enforcement would prove difficult. The proper observance of Empire Day needs the full co-operation of the teachers and the school authorities, and is far more likely to be effectively secured on a voluntary than on a compulsory basis. My noble Friend therefore does not consider that any useful purpose would be served by introducing legislation in the matter.
§ Mr. DENVILLE
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the leader of the London County Council has stated definitely that he intends to abolish Empire Day in every school in the Metropolitan area?
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I have no information on the matter except what I have seen in the Press. According to the information there contained, the proposal appears to be to change Empire Day to Commonwealth Day. It would certainly seem that a proposal of that kind is somewhat academic and doctrinaire, but from what I gather there is no proposal to make any alteration in the ordinary form of observance.
§ Sir W. WAYLAND
Will the Minister suggest to the education authorities throughout the United Kingdom, and 464 especially to those in the Metropolis, the undesirability, in the interests of the children, of changing the name of the day?
§ Mr. MANDER
Would not this proposal be very inappropriate in view of the anti-Imperial policy of the Government in connection with New Zealand?