HC Deb 09 May 1968 vol 764 cc612-3
34. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will revise Rule 16, in view of his policy of discontinuing the registration of independent boarding schools which are not recognised as efficient.

Mr. Edward Short

No, Sir. These rules are very general in character and it is the interpretation of terms in them, such as "suitable", "satisfactory", "efficient", which matters. I do not intend that the new policy shall be applied inflexibly.

Mr. Turton

Does not this rule specifically state that it is for conferring a special mark of the Secretary of States's approval and does not attempt to cover the small educational establishments? Is it not, therefore, ill-designed for laying down minimum standards and does not it require revision?

Mr. Short

I gave the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members opposite the assurance last week that I want to deal with this matter in a flexible way. He is showing great concern about the proprietors of these schools, but we have to consider the children in these schools as well. I do not think hon. Members opposite would send their horses to an unqualified vet, or put them in an inadequate stable, but they are willing to do this with their children. We have to show some concern for the children in these schools.

Sir E. Boyle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that answer will strike some of us as a little unfair and one-sided? My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) is showing a perfectly proper concern for proprietors who do mind about educational standards. Will the right hon. Gentleman look at this point again?

Mr. Short

I understand the point of view of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle). I know his concern and I do not want to be unfair to him, but hon. Members opposite have gone on about this for quite a long time. I have given them an assurance in explicit terms that I will deal with the matter in a careful and flexible way. I hope that they will accept that.