HC Deb 25 May 1950 vol 475 cc2212-4
14. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Education if he will give an assurance that the present instructions from officials of his Department to those in charge of small children's homes throughout the country, to the effect that the children should not be taught to say "Please" and "Thank you," will be rescinded.

20. Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Minister of Education why the principal of a school, of whose name he has been informed, was instructed to cease to teach the children to say "Please" and "Thank you"; and if he will reverse these instructions.

Mr. Tomlinson

It is not part of the duties of His Majesty's inspector to instruct, but to observe, discuss and sometimes to advise. We all like children to say "Please" and "Thank you." But experience in good normal homes, on which we should all wish to base our practice, suggests that individual and friendly training is more effective and more appropriate with very young children than anything in the nature of drill or routine.

Mr. De la Bère

Will the Minister please make sure that every encouragement is given to ensure that the children are trained in both courtesy and kindness? Does he realise that the one aim of my life is to spread a little ray of sunshine?

Mr. Blackburn

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. De la Bère), is an arbiter of good and bad behaviour, and is he also aware that evidently there must have been a great lapse in his Department in the past, because it has undoubtedly failed to educate most hon. Members opposite?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Can I please ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his very long answer, which, I must confess, to some of us seemed almost incomprehensible, meant that these instructions were or were not given by an official of his Department?

Mr. Tomlinson

No instructions were given, but advice was offered by the inspector concerned. For the benefit of the House I should like to say that I have gone to a lot of trouble to find out exactly what happened and I have full confidence in the inspector. Might I also point out that these children, about whom such a song and dance is being made, were three years and three months old.

Mr. Cocks

Could the expressions "Please" and "Thank you" be used by Members of Parliament at Question Time?

Sir J. Lucas

Is not the leaving out of any mention of the word "obedience" or manners or sense of duty in the curriculum of school children having a most disastrous effect at the present time?

Mr. Tomlinson

I would point out that this was a school in the nature of a nursery. If children have been waiting four hours between one meal and another, and somebody suggests that the only basis upon which they will be allowed to obtain their dinner is if they say "Thank you"—[HON. MEMBERS "Why not?"] I am telling hon. Members why not. There are far better methods of teaching a child to say "Thank you" than by insisting that it should say it before it gets its dinner.

Mr. De la Bère

Thank you very much.