HC Deb 10 June 1971 vol 818 cc1210-2
5. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she recommends to local education authorities that insurance cover should be provided in respect of children participating in normal school activities.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir.

Mr. Clark

Is it not rather regrettable that many schoolchildren, if they become injured in the course of their normal school activities, either in a gymnasium or on a playing field, receive no financial help from certain local authorities? Does not this pose some difficulties? Is there not a case for all schoolchildren being covered by some form of insurance?

Mrs. Thatcher

I know that the hon. Gentleman has a very sad personal case in his constituency and that he has been very active in pursuing everything that can be done to help in that case. Where children undergo specially dangerous activities we advise special insurance cover but none for normal activities, which would seem to be more a matter for the parents. Where a disablement occurs through normal activities, in future the attendance allowance will help.

Mr. Greville Janner

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that compensation in such cases should not depend upon proving negligence against the school and that the child should be entitled to compensation through proper insurance even where no one has been negligent? Can she tell us how much it would cost to provide such personal accident insurance for schoolchildren?

Mrs. Thatcher

No, of course I cannot do so without notice. I do not think that we could advise at the moment that every child should be covered in normal activities by accident insurance. Children are covered, not through insurance, but through the ordinary rules of negligence where there is negligence.

Mr. Freeson

Does the right hon. Lady recognise that this matter goes beyond just schoolchildren at school and covers problems relating to membership of and activities in youth clubs using school buildings and similar public authority buildings within the education service? Will she consider this aspect? It has raised problems over a number of years in different local authority areas in both fields. Will she undertake at least not to close her mind to looking at the matter again?

Mrs. Thatcher

I will look at the matter, but I can give very little hope of an optimistic reply. It is part of my policy to try never to raise false hopes. I think that this policy is right.