HC Deb 01 February 1968 vol 757 cc1538-9
22. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to prevent local education authorities making school building, staff and pupils available for use in party political broadcasts

Mr. Gordon Walker

No, Sir. This is a matter for the local education authority and the school managers and governors to decide. They will, no doubt, take into account the undesirability of school children being involved in questions of political controversy.

Mr. Bell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the recent Labour Party broadcast was set in a Hull school, which was named, that the headmaster, a named member of the staff and pupils took part in the broadcast, the whole of which was set in the school? Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that to be desirable?

Mr. Gordon Walker

I was aware of those facts. This is a matter for the local education authority and it would be very wrong if I attempted to decide these things. I was not consulted ahead of this programme and there was no reason why I should have been, for it does not lie within my discretion. It is a matter for the local education authority, the headmaster and others. I have been informed that the children involved were questioned only after their parents had given consent.

Sir E. Boyle

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, while we would all support head teachers and other teachers and staff having the fullest opportunity to take part in ordinary political activities, it is a mistake to identify any one school with any particular political party in a way which surely seems to have happened in this case?

Mr. Gordon Walker

If it is a mistake, the right hon. Gentleman should direct his rebuke to the people concerned, who were the local education authority, the governors and the head teacher.

Mr. Ogden

Does my right hon. Friend think that there would have been any complaint from the Opposition if this had been a Conservative headmaster?

Hon. Members


Mr. Gordon Walker

I hope that hon. Members opposite would have been consistent enough to attack that, too, and I would have given the same answer.