HC Deb 01 February 1945 vol 407 cc1620-1
39. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Education what steps have been taken to ensure that elementary and secondary schools are adequately heated during the present cold period; and if he will permit schoolchildren to remain in warm school buildings under suitable supervision where their homes are without heat.

Mr. Butler

The responsibility for ensuring that school premises are adequately heated rests with the local education authority or the governing bodies of the schools concerned. It is a matter for arrangement between the responsible school authorities and the regional officers of the Ministry of Fuel and Power for securing that sufficient quantities of fuel are available at the schools. As regards the second part of the Question, the use of school premises out of school hours is a matter for local arrangement: so far as my department is concerned, there would be no objection to children being allowed to remain at their school under supervision after school hours.

Mr. Sorensen

Could the right hon. Gentleman be positive rather than negative in this matter? He says that the Department has no objection, but would he not make recommendations, especially in those areas where the absence of accommodation has imposed hardship on the children?

Mr. Butler

Local education authorities are responsible for the administration of education in their areas with my help and advice. I cannot go any further.

Mr. Rhys Davies

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman's Department contributes to local authorities towards the education of children, cannot he take some steps to prevent the recurrence of what happened in Manchester last week when about 30 schools were closed because there was no heat, although the schools are within two or three miles of pits producing coal?

Mr. Butler

We give all the help we can, but I am confident that local authorities, particularly the ones to which the hon. Member refers, are competent to deal with their own affairs in the best way possible.