HC Deb 19 June 1941 vol 372 cc795-6
11. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will define the responsibilities of persons on whom children are billeted as regards causing such children to attend school; and, in the event of the children refusing to go to school, what are the powers of the person specified in regard to the children?

The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Ramsbotham)

It is the duty of the parent to cause his child to receive efficient elementary education, and the expression "parent" is denned in the Education Act, 1921, as including "guardian and every person who is liable to maintain or have actual custody of the child." It would be for the courts to decide whether persons on whom the children are billeted fall within this definition.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there have been actual cases where unruly children have been billeted on foster parents who have been quite unable to control them and have been summoned? Further, is he aware that there have been cases where a foster parent has exercised force on the child and has been summoned for assault?

Mr. Ramsbotham

The question of liability is one for the courts, and in my experience there is no difficulty. However, I would like to have particulars of such cases. If a child persists in playing truant, the best course would probably be to re-billet him in a hostel where there is closer supervision than in an ordinary household.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Are local education authorities attending to their business to see that these children do attend schools in their localities?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I think they are taking vigorous steps in that direction.

Sir F. Fremantle

Would not a really good smacking be the best thing?

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