HC Deb 19 October 1939 vol 352 cc1013-4
28. Miss Rathbone

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he is aware that the work of reopening clubs and evening institutes for educational and recreational purposes, which is being recommended by the educational authorities, is being hampered by the instruction that has been issued that the premises so used must first be inspected by the Home Office, and that no teachers shall be sent to them until this has been done; that many of the activities are conducted in premises such as church halls which are being used on other nights of the week for other gatherings with the knowledge and approval of the local air-raid precautions authorities; and whether, in view of the facts, he will consider advising the local authorities concerned that they may supply the teachers for the activities, pending the result of the Home Office inspection?

Mr. Lindsay

In authorising the reopening of evening institutes in evacuation areas the Board laid down the condition that adequate air raid protection should be available in or accessible to the institution and that the number of students should not be so great as to impede their rapid and orderly evacuation to a place of safety. In view of the special responsibility which the Board have to take in sanctioning the reopening of schools in vulnerable areas, they are not prepared to relax this condition. I should add that the survey of buildings for this purpose in London has been specially undertaken by the Home Office, and I wish to express the Board's appreciation of the speed with which the survey is being carried out, with the result that a number of evening institutes have, I am informed, already been reopened.

Miss Rathbone

Is the Minister aware that, in spite of that, a large number of these small classes which were held in premises, now being used every night of the week for purposes which are more dangerous, are being held up and destroyed because the local authorities are not allowed to send teachers; and that to withdraw teachers from the children in these centres where they are much better—

Hon. Members


Mr. Lindsay

I am aware of the point to which the hon. Lady refers and we are making an attempt to deal with it as quickly as possible.