HC Deb 09 March 1972 vol 832 cc1638-9
17. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is satisfied with the working of the Education Act, 1944, in the light of modern educational developments and needs; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

In my view the broad structure of the 1944 Act continues to be relevant to modern conditions, but there is a need to consolidate all the Education Acts now on the Statute Book and to amend some of their detailed provisions.

Mr. Mitchell

Is the right hon. Lady aware that it is now 28 years since we had a major Education Act? The 1944 Act was based on a tripartite system of education which no longer applies, and it was passed when the concept of the middle school had not even been heard of. Does not she think that it is time we had a new major Act?

Mrs. Thatcher

The middle school was dealt with in a separate Act for that specific purpose. The tripartite system is not a function of the 1944 Act, but an administrative arrangement separate from it. In spite of disagreeing with the hon. Gentleman's reasons, I am still hoping to amend the 1944 Act and successive Acts when we have legislative time.

Mr. Pardoe

If the right hon. Lady is satisfied with the 1944 Act, presumably she intends to implement the recommendation about county colleges. Will she say what her policy is towards introducing compulsory part-time education for everyone up to the age of 18?

Mrs. Thatcher

I said that I was not wholly satisfied with the 1944 Act and that I would consolidate and amend it as soon as I had legislative time to do so.