HC Deb 27 May 1954 vol 528 cc591-2
22. Miss Bacon

asked the Minister of Education what instructions she has recently issued to local authorities with respect to the size of playing fields for girls' and boys' secondary schools.

Miss Horsbrugh

For most sizes of secondary school the minimum area of playing field required is reduced by the Standards for School Premises Regulations, 1954, which came into effect last month. A distinction is also made between the areas required for boys and for girls because the latter normally use smaller pitches.

Miss Bacon

Can the right hon. Lady tell me what reason she has for saying that girls usually use smaller pitches than men for their playing fields? Has she not heard of hockey as well as football? Does she not agree that this is sex discrimination at a very early age?

Miss Horsbrugh

The hon. Lady has asked me whether I know that there are such games as football and hockey. She will appreciate that although girls play hockey, there may yet be sex discrimination at our schools in that they do not play football.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Do we understand the right hon. Lady to say that she is reducing the size of playing fields? Is this not a most unfortunate and serious instance of class discrimination in facilities for children?

Miss Horsbrugh

It is certainly not class discrimination. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes, I will send him information about the changes which are being made. I am sure that he will agree that the acreage in the case of the larger schools was too great. The changes are in respect of schools of the 1,500-pupil size. In the case of the smaller schools no changes are being made.