§ 3. Mr. Greville Janner
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which local authority education departments no longer provide school uniform grants.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Neil Macfarlane)
This information is not available within my Department.
§ Mr. Janner
Does the Minister agree that in areas in which clothing grants of this sort are not available the wearing of school uniform should not be compulsory, bearing in mind that it is a heavy additional burden upon poorer families, especially in areas such as Leicestershire where the burden is already growing because of the Tory councils' cuts in education allocation?
§ Mr. Macfarlane
Yes, I accept the main thrust of the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. I accept that it is a heavy burden on many families. For that reason, there is no statutory provision by the Government concerning the wearing of school uniform. The power to decide whether to prescribe uniform dress is usually placed with the governors or the head teacher at each school, and I think that that is right. The Leicester local education authority may have ceased giving assistance with school clothing some time ago, but the authority advised all its schools to be flexible on school uniform demands.
§ Mr. Beith
Does the Minister agree that local authorities should provide uniform grants in the light of the fact that he is bringing before the House regulations that will require schools taking part in the assisted places scheme to pay means-tested school uniform grants to every pupil eligible for them?
§ Mr. Macfarlane
The first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question does not arise because it is not the Government's intention to make a central imposition. Therefore, the rest of the supplementary question does not arise.