HC Deb 10 December 1942 vol 385 cc1677-8
12. Sir John Mellor

asked the President of the Board of Education upon what dates the distribution in May or June, 1942, of Communist leaflets, by permission of the headmistress at Malvern Hall School, Solihull, came to the notice of the Warwickshire Education Department, the Board of Education and the Board of Governors, respectively; what action was taken by each of these bodies and when; and what assurances have been obtained?

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

According to my information, the incident to which my hon. Friend refers was reported to His Majesty's Inspector on 25th September and was brought by him to the notice of the chairman of the governing body on 28th September. The matter was not, I understand, laid by the latter before the governing body, and I have no evidence to show when it first came to the knowledge of the local education authority, though it was communicated privately to the chairman of the County Council in June last. The Board formally asked the authority in an official letter on 26th November for an assurance that no repetition of the incident would be permitted to occur and this assurance was given on 3rd December. I would add that my Department has always discountenanced the dissemination in schools under their jurisdiction of views which are distinctive of any political party.

Sir J. Mellor

In fairness to the Board of Governors of the school, will my right hon. Friend say why this matter was not brought to their attention by the county authority at an earlier date, and is it in, the public interest that an attempt should be made to hush up a matter of this kind?

Mr. Butler

I agree that it would have been preferable for the matter to have been considered by the governing body at an earlier date, but I have to leave discretion in this matter to the chairman of the County Council. As regards the incident in general, I have asked for and received an assurance from the authority. In the circumstances I think we had better regard the matter as closed.

Mr. Bowles

Is it not a fact that the headmistress allowed posters issued by the Junior Imperial League to be shown on the notice board, and is this not an indication of some sort of personal vendetta between the hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) and the head mistress?