HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc857-8
28. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to encourage schools to accept visits from the Marriage Guidance Council.

Mr. Redhead

It is for the local education authorities and the schools to decide whether to avail themselves of the Council's help. I am glad to note that many already do so.

Mr. Winnick

Is my hon. Friend aware that this organisation does a tremendous amount of good work when it is allowed to go into schools and give pre-marriage courses? Is he also aware that a number of local education authorities seem most reluctant to allow the Marriage Guidance Council to go into schools, even though the headmasters may be in favour?

Mr. Redhead

On the first point, I am of course, aware of the work of the Council in schools and other educational establishments, and I recognise that it helps to meet the needs expressed in the Newsom Report. It must be emphasised, however, that as my right hon. Friend does not direct what the schools shall teach or how it should be taught, he must leave it to the local education authorities and schools to decide, in the light of their circumstances, the extent to which use is made of the Marriage Guidance Council.

Mrs. Knight

Would the hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that by no means all of us are happy about tiny teen-age mini-marriages, which are so frequently followed by early twenties divorce? Would he further note that the Marriage Guidance Council more properly has a two-pronged action—partly for engaged couples and partly for those whose marriages have gone on the rocks, neither of whom one would hope to find in schools, whose pupils can be more properly guided by the schools' medical officers?

Mr. Redhead

What the hon. Lady says adds point to the fact that this is very much a personal and local business, to be determined in the light of the judgment of the local authority.