HC Deb 28 July 1960 vol 627 cc1855-6
36. Mrs. Butler

asked the Minister of Education if he will send a circular to local education authorities asking them to examine present requirements of head teachers with regard to school uniforms, with a view to giving parents greater freedom of choice of shops at which school uniforms can be purchased.

Sir D. Eccles

No, Sir. This is essentially a local matter. If parents have a complaint they should approach their local education authority.

Mrs. Butler

Does the Minister appreciate that parents are complaining that the attempt of some head teachers to restrict them to one supplier, not only for blazers and badges, but for items such as dresses, cardigans, sportswear and even nylons, leads to abuses and to parents having to pay more at the school shop than they would if they bought from the supplier of their own choice, or even if they made the clothes themselves—and many mothers like to make some garments for their daughters? Will he agree to send out a circular, which is a very simple matter and which might help to end some of these abuses?

Sir D. Eccles

In 1952, my Department asked local education authorities to see that requirements for school uniforms did not lead to entirely unnecessary expenditure. I do not think that they need any reminder of that. This is essentially part of their business in running the schools.

Mrs. White

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the mounting indignation about the rising cost of school uniforms? Is he aware that in my constituency, for example, there is a railwayman, earning less than £10 a week and with six children, who reckons that he will have to pay £27 for a uniform far his daughter, who is going to the local grammar school? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that this practice is vitiating free education in this country?

Sir D. Eccles

I have not had many complaints. Anyway, this is one of the items of equipment which are ordered through the usual machinery of the local authorities. I am sure that they would listen to a story, such as I have read in the Press, if it could be substantiated.