HC Deb 19 October 1972 vol 843 cc428-9
6. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will now arrange through the school medical service for teaching aids required for sex education, including the danger of venereal disease, to be made available to local education authorities.

Mrs. Thatcher

Information about teaching materials suitable for use in schools is circulated to local education authorities by the Health Education Council, and authorities can draw upon the services of school medical officers as appropriate.

Mr. Janner

is the right hon. Lady aware of the appalling increase in the incidence of venereal disease, as revealed today in the report on the nation's health? Does she not think that the best way to combat this is through further health education in schools? Will she take steps to make suitable films and other aids available to schools and ensure that these are used so that young people are aware of the dangers they face?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think I have already made clear that this is done by way of the Health Education Council. I am aware of the seriousness of the problem, but I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that it is an easier problem to pose than to find precisely the right solution for it. It is a very sensitive problem, and in anything that one does through the schools one has to be careful not to do more harm than good.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the way in which sex education is conducted and also that the rights of parents who have expressed concern at different times are properly protected?

Mrs. Thatcher

In the vast majority of cases, with very rare exceptions, if parents and teachers get together on this problem the rights of parents are respected.

Mr. Deakins

Is there not a case, as in some other advanced countries, for eventually working towards a system whereby sex education becomes compulsory in the State school system?

Mrs. Thatcher

There may be a case, but it is not one that I should support immediately.