HC Deb 09 March 1972 vol 832 cc1635-6
15. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further consideration is being given to her proposals that a change should be made in the classification of immigrant children to mean all children who had one parent born outside the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

I welcome the recommendations of the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration that there should be further discussion on this subject. Officers of the Department are meeting representatives of the local authority and teacher associations and of the Community Relations Commission on 27th March for this purpose.

Miss Lestor

Will the right hon. Lady answer the Question and say whether any further consideration is being given to the suggestion that immigrant children should be classified as meaning all children with one parent born outside the United Kingdom? Further, when looking at this whole question, will she consider whether the time has not come to stop talking in terms of immigrant children and start talking more in terms of children with particular problems in education, and to seek to get away from dividing our children into immigrants and non immigrants?

Mrs. Thatcher

That method of collecting statistics arises out of the 1969 recommendation of the Select Committee. Two different methods were put to the local authority associations and other interested bodies. Neither was acceptable to all of them, and therefore we are meeting together on 27th March to reconsider the whole problem.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the manner of collecting statistics on immigrant children has caused a great deal of bitter offence to a family in my constituency—one of whose parents comes from a country in Europe—who feel that the method by which their child has been singled out will damage its relationship with its school friends? Will the right hon. Lady ensure in future that the minimum amount of information is collected, and that it is collected with the utmost delicacy?

Mrs. Thatcher

Naturally, in the collection of statistics one is anxious to give no offence either to parents or to children We are aware that the basis upon which these statistics are collected at the moment is not the best one. But whatever is substituted in its place must be workable administratively and humanely.