HC Deb 21 January 1965 vol 705 cc380-2
5. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy towards the provision of teacher representation on local authority education committees.

8. Mr. Reader Harris

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will state his policy on the desirability of the co-option of outside persons to local authority education committees.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Michael Stewart)

With permission, I will answer Questions No. 5 and No. 8 together.

Mr. Stainton

On a point of order. The Secretary of State suggests that he should answer both of these Questions together, but the purport of them is entirely different. One asks for the provision of teacher representation while the other concerns the co-option of outside persons.

Mr. Speaker

I am not in a position to suggest which Questions should or should not be answered together. I am afraid that I cannot help the hon. Member in this matter.

Mr. Stainton

Further to that point of order. The Secretary of State prefaced his remarks with the words, "With permission". With whose permission?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is on a false point. My predecessors have ruled that in those circumstances the words are merely a matter of courtesy to the House and not an indication that the Chair has any authority in the matter. Let us get on.

Mr. Stewart

Many local education authorities find it helpful to co-opt to the education committee teachers are well as others with special knowledge and experience of education.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, despite the fact that he has written to it and although it is strongly Socialist-controlled, the new Greater London Borough of Hounslow still refuses to co-opt any teachers or anybody else on to its education committee? Will he now assert his responsibilities as Minister and write again insisting on the borough implementing the spirit of the 1944 Education Act?

Mr. Stewart

The Education Act, 1944, requires that people with experience in education and people acquainted with educational conditions in an area should be on the education authority. They might, of course, be on by election as well as by co-option. I have no power to require a local authority to co-opt people of this kind. It is my duty to see that the law is kept and that local education authorities are in touch with professional experience. As I said, many local authorities find it helpful to do that by co-option. Some, however, do it by a structure of advisory committees.

Mr. Reader Harris

Does not the Minister agree that an advisory committee is not quite so satisfactory to the persons concerned as actually being a member of the committee? Is it not a fact that the new Borough of Hounslow is probably the only local authority, at any rate in the Greater London area, whether Conservative or Socialist-controlled, which is not making use of its powers under the Act?

Mr. Stewart

No. The hon. Gentleman is mistaken about that. I believe that Croydon and the L.C.C. follow a different line.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a good deal of concern and surprise in the County of Middlesex at the fact that the Borough of Hounslow should take this course—a course which is quite contrary to the previous practice of the county in this matter? Will the right hon. Gentleman write to the borough again saying that it should bring itself into line with the current practice?

Mr. Stewart

I have stated what my responsibilities and powers are in this matter.

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