HC Deb 27 July 1944 vol 402 cc968-70

Lords Amendment: In page 56, line 24, leave out "Any," and insert: Subject as hereinafter provided, the religious instruction given in any school maintained by a local education authority shall not be subject to inspection by any person who is not one of His Majesty's Inspectors or a person authorised by the Minister or by the authority: Provided that the.

Lords Amendment read a Second time.

Mr. Butler

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment, in line 4, to leave out from "inspection," to "authority," in line 6, and insert: except by one of His Majesty's Inspectors or by a person ordi- narily employed for the purpose of inspecting secular instruction either as an additional inspector appointed by the Minister or as an officer in the whole-time employment of a local education. The Clause when it left this House had a definite reference to a minister of religion being excluded from inspecting syllabus religious instruction. It has been thought, and representations have been made, that this unduly discriminated against a minister of religion, who naturally may be said to have a great interest in this question. The Government, therefore, had in mind to amend the Clause as it left this House and so to phrase matters that no discrimination would seem to be made against a minister of religion. That was the reason why an Amendment was originally made in this Clause. It does not mean that the Government have departed from their original view that in general inspection of denominational religious instruction should be carried out by someone from the diocese or by someone in whom the managers have an interest, and syllabus instruction should be inspected by His Majesty's inspectors. That is the position which the Government have always taken up. It is a position which I have taken up in this Bill and it is a position which this new draft Amendment retains. This is a matter to which many interests outside this House attach great importance and the effect of the new draft is that any person inspecting the syllabus instruction must be one of His Majesty's inspectors or a person employed for the purpose of inspecting secular instruction ordinarily employed, say, an additional inspector appointed by the Minister or an officer in the whole time employment of the local education authority. Therefore, the Amendment does maintain the position taken up by the Government throughout, and is agreeable to the interests concerned, to the denominations and to tie teachers themselves.

On the question of the entry of an incumbent into a school, the position, as I see it, is that the practice in various parts of the country, whereby a Minister of a religious denomination is invited into a school in an advisory capacity to advise the head teacher or a member of his staff in the giving of religious instruction, can and certainly should go on. It is a practice which is very much welcomed by certain teachers and is very successful in many schools, and it is one to which the denominations attach great importance. There is nothing in this Clause, as amended, to prevent the acceptance by a minister of a religious denomination of an invitation from the head teacher to enter the school in an advisory capacity. The denominations, I have reason to believe, attach great importance to this, but the fact that a visit in an advisory capacity is permitted by the Clause as amended does not alter the rule as to inspection.

Amendment to the Lords Amendment agreed to.

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 57, line 45, agreed to.