HC Deb 09 May 1944 vol 399 cc1829-31
Mr. Silkin (Peckham)

I beg to move, in page 40, line 16, after "not," to insert: except in so far as may be authorised by paragraph (a) of sub-section (3) of section fourteen of this Act or by any special agreement. I regard it as most important that the relations between the local education authority and the governors or managers of aided schools should be made clear beyond any possible doubt. It is because this Clause, coupled with Clause 14 (3), may give rise to some doubt that I am moving the Amendment. This Clause provides that the Minister shall make regulations which, in effect, may mean that schools will require to have structural alterations to provide them with dining-rooms and kitchens for the provision of meals. That is rather a short explanation of the purpose of the Clause, but it is pretty correct. It makes it clear that the expenditure for so doing should fall upon the local education authority, and should not be borne by the managers or governors of an auxiliary school. That is clear, but Clause 14 (3) provides that, in aided schools, the cost of doing structural work, in accordance with standards laid down by the local education authority, shall be borne by the managers of those schools. Therefore, it appears to be somewhat inconsistent, because it is conceivable that in laying down standards, the local education authority may require the provision of kitchens and dining-rooms, especially in the case of new schools. In such a case the cost may be required to be borne by the managers of those schools. If the words in the Amendment were accepted, it would make it abundantly clear that there is no inconsistency between the two provisions. This is rather technical, but the words in the Amendment are merely designed to harmonise the provisions of Clause 14 (3) with the provisions of Clause 47. I, personally, am not in the least concerned who pays in the long run. I think it is far more important that there should be harmony in this matter, and no possible cause for friction hereafter over the success of this Measure. Therefore I hope we may have a reassuring statement or an acceptance of the Amendment from my hon. Friend.

Mr. John Wilmot (Kennington)

I beg to second the Amendment.

In reinforcement of what my hon. Friend has said, may I draw attenton to the exact words of Clause 47 which says that such Regulations shall not require the managers or governors of an auxiliary school to incur expenditure. And Clause 14 (3a) says: the following expenses shall be payable by the managers or governors of the school, that is to say, any expenses incurred in effecting such alterations to the school buildings as may be required by the local education authority for the purpose of securing that the school premises should conform to the prescribed standards. If there are prescribed standards for the buildings in which meals are provided, and these governors are required by the regulations to provide meals, then they must incur the expenditure, and I think it is essential that we should know at this point who has to pay.

Mr. Ede

I should not, myself, have thought there was any obscurity, and it shows the difficulty which clarification involves, that I had read this Amendment as an attempt to impose the expenditure on the managers or governors. I am glad to know, therefore, that that is not the intention of my hon. Friend, and that we are at one with regard to what we want to do, except that I understand the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) does not mind which way it goes—whether it is the local authority or the managers or governors—as long as he can be certain it is one or the other. Our intention is that no expenditure in connection with school meals shall fall upon the managers or governors of an auxiliary school, either with regard to staffing or with regard to buildings, and we thought that the words in Clause 47 made that clear. If there is any doubt—and I am bound to say there is no doubt in my mind—as to what Clause 14 (3a) may mean, in contradiction to that, I will have those words examined to make when that there is no possibility of doubt when the Measure comes into operation. I hope I have made it quite clear, however, that our intention is that this expense shall be borne by the local education authority.

Mr. Silkin

In view of that explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.