HC Deb 11 April 1963 vol 675 cc1460-1
14. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware of the growing concern regarding the loss of life each year of a number of schoolchildren due to drowning; and if he will take steps to ensure, as soon as possible, that every school child, upon reaching a suitable age, shall have the opportunity to be taught swimming and life-saving.

Mr. Chataway

My right hon. Friend is in sympathy with what the hon. Member seeks to achieve and he knows that schools and local education authorities are well aware of the importance of teaching children to swim. Both teaching and facilities are increasing, but he must leave to local discretion the extent to which these are provided for every child.

Mr. Wainwright

Does not the hon. Gentleman reaiise that shortage of money is holding back many local authorities from building baths attached to the schools? Most children losing their lives in inland rivers and ponds could not swim. Will not he do something more to encourage local authorities to provide these facilities? Even a small swimming pool would be very advantageous. Will he also consider the effect of teaching lifesaving to children?

Mr. Chataway

The number of school swimming pools is increasing, but covered swimming pools are expensive to build and school swimming often has to take place in public baths. That will have to continue to be the case for some time.