HC Deb 04 February 1971 vol 810 cc1901-3
26. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she has read Choice in Welfare 1970, showing results of a survey under the Institute of Economic Affairs, a copy of which is in her possession; and if, in the light of that survey, she has any proposals to encourge parents who so desire to pay for the education of their children.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have read the Institute of Economic Affairs' third report on Choice in Welfare with great interest. I trust that parents who wish to will continue to support the independent schools.

Mr. King

Does not every financial forecast indicate the growing difficulty of financing the improved education system we all want to see if taxation is to be the only source of revenue? Will my right hon. Friend, therefore, through the taxation system or otherwise, do her utmost to see that private money is injected into the system?

Mrs. Thatcher

I could not possibly agree to that because it is not my Ministerial duty so to do. I think that this report will contribute greatly to the discussion of independent education in future.

Mr. Kaufman

Will the right hon. Lady look again favourably at her hon. Friend's suggestion following the dictum of the Secretary of State for Social Services on Monday? Would not charges of this kind provide a financial incentive to children to look after their own educational interests and thus provide financial savings which the Chancellor of the Exchequer could use for further tax reductions for the better-off?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not quite sure that I got the full impact of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. It seemed to me somewhat abstruse and at one point I was not quite convinced that jocularity was confined to the Dispatch Box.

Mr. Marks

Would the right hon. Lady give protection to parents who misguidedly pay for their children's education by publishing the list of the 1,300 independent schools not recognised by the Department as efficient? Will she publish it so that they do not have to come to London to look at the manuscript list before they can find out?

Mrs. Thatcher

There is a later Question about that subject on the Order Paper. The majority of these schools have never applied for or wished to have recognition as efficient, since some of the best-known ones can stand on their own reputations without having to have such recognition added to their qualifications.

Miss Lestor

Can the right hon. Lady say what attention she is giving, in view of the question about parents who pay for their children's education, to the rate relief received by public schools registered as charities? Should not that list be made more widely known among those who have to bear the brunt of the rate relief?

Mrs. Thatcher

I trust that the rate relief to educational charities will continue.