§ 33. Mr. Sorensen
asked the President of the Board of Education, if his attention has been drawn to the inquiries made by a certain education authority respecting the religious beliefs of teachers in council schools; whether he is aware of the disquiet this has caused; for what purpose such questions were put; and by what authority teachers are asked if they are Christians.
§ Mr. Ede
I have seen a reference in the Press to the matter but have had no further details. I appreciate the objections to applying religious tests to applicants for teaching posts in council schools and understand that it is not the practice of local education authorities to do so. In future the position of a teacher in this respect will be safeguarded by Clause 29 of the Education Bill.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Can my right hon. Friend reply specifically to the penultimate part of my Question—for what purpose were the questions put? Has he had any representations from any of the teachers' organisations?
§ Mr. Ede
To answer the penultimate part of the Question I should have to get into the mind of the local authority which 1885 put the questions. So far as I know, we have had no representations from teachers' organisations with regard to this matter, but we are aware that they watch this matter with considerable interest.
§ Sir Irving Albery
Are we to understand from the answer that local education authorities are now prohibited from inquiring whether those who are to teach the children are Christians?
§ Mr. Ede
That is the effect of Clause 29 of the Education Bill. When it becomes law undoubtedly it will not be possible to apply a religious test to a teacher in what will then be a county school.
§ Sir A. Southby
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he considers that in a Christian country it is unreasonable that Christian parents should be assured that their children are being taught by those who profess the Christian faith?