HC Deb 26 June 1973 vol 858 cc1306-7
17. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will make a statement in the light of the Right to Consumer Education put forward in the Consumer Protection Charter adopted on 28th May by the Council of Europe.

Mrs. Thatcher

This proposal of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe is currently under consideration by the Council's Committee of Ministers and it is not yet clear to what extent member States can implement it. My hon. Friend knows that responsibility for the curriculum in the county schools in England and Wales is in the hands of local education authorities.

Mrs. Oppenheim

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the inclusion of consumer education in secondary school curricula would be extremely valuable? Does she agree that if that were done we might have a new generation of consumers emerging which will have some idea of their rights and obligations? While I accept that my right hon. Friend has no powers to direct curricula, will she consider sending an advisory circular from her Department informing local education authorities that the Council of Europe is recommending that children should be trained in consumer affairs?

Mrs. Thatcher

The recommendation has not yet gone through the Council's Committee of Ministers and, therefore, it is still being considered by them. I agree that it is advisable to have some education on consumer protection. I think my hon. Friend will agree that it need not necessarily be taught as a distinct subject. It will often come into home economics, craft courses and general study. A good deal is already being done in those subjects.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will the right hon. Lady say how far mathematics teachers are teaching children about the percentage rate of increase in food prices over the last two or three years? The right hon. Lady talked about mentally retarded children being taught fractions. Perhaps they can be taught how to read the cost of living increase.

Mrs. Thatcher

I expect so. I hope that teachers are also teaching them about increased production.