HC Deb 05 August 1965 vol 717 cc1867-9
26. Mr. Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will publish a series of posters designed to promote better racial understanding for use in schools within areas of high immigrant population.

Mr. Denis Howell

No, Sir. There is a great variety of information material, including posters, already available to the schools about the Commonwealth and about particular Commonwealth countries.

Mr. Hunt

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my Question related not to the Commonwealth but to race relations? Is he aware that on a recent visit to the United States I and a number of other hon. Members saw a number of posters very effectively used in the city of Philadelphia to this effect? Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that while sometimes it is difficult to persuade older people to change their attitudes of intolerance and prejudice it is most important that similar attitudes should not be allowed to develop among the younger generation? This is what I am asking the hon. Gentleman to do.

Mr. Howell

I was not aware that the hon. Gentleman recently visited Philadelphia. I am glad to hear it, and if he brought back anything useful I should certainly like to see him and talk it over with him. Generally speaking, it is felt by people engaged in education that posters of this sort might conceivably have the opposite effect of what it is intended. I assure the House that the entire teaching profession, so far as I can see, are determined to encourage the right attitude of mind among all their pupils, irrespective of colour or race.

Mr. Woodhouse

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that most children are quite unconscious of the existence of racial distinctions until the idea is put into their heads by their elders? Without knowing exactly what my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. Hunt) has in mind, may I say that my own instinct is rather to agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said about the undesirability of attracting attention to distinctions of this kind?

Mr. Howell

I entirely endorse those sentiments, which are borne out by my personal experience with my own children who attend a school where there is a large number of immigrants. There is absolutely no racial prejudice in such cases until it is injected from outside.

Sir E. Boyle

But, whatever one's views on the merits of this particular suggestion, what efforts is the hon. Gentleman's Department making to ensure that it has knowledge of all that is being done in the United States on this subject? Is it not most important that we in Britain should be well advised of every type of effort made to solve this problem in countries overseas?

Mr. Howell

Certainly. My right hon. Friend and I recently had discussions with people from the United States concerned with the problem, and the question which the right hon. Gentleman has asked will encourage us to make further inquiries in this regard.