HC Deb 18 May 1982 vol 24 cc177-8
6. Mr. Guy Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he intends to introduce any further proposals to encourage the independent sector of education.

Sir Keith Joseph

I believe that our education system as a whole can only benefit from the diversity that a flourishing independent sector brings. That sector's success does not necessarily turn on initiatives from the centre and I have no plans for further legislation or other proposals.

Mr. Barnett

Is the Secretary of State aware that I am delighted to hear that he has no further plans to encourage the independent sector of education? Quite apart from the expense of the assisted places scheme, does he agree that such a scheme can only devalue the Government's attitude to the vital State education system and detract attention from the need to help in our schools those who require the greatest attention and expenditure?

Sir Keith Joseph

On the contrary, I believe that the assisted places scheme is entirely justified to remedy part of the Labour Government's wicked act in abolishing grammar and direct grant schools.

Mr. Greenway

Does my right hon. Friend agree that co-operation between the independent and maintained sectors can do nothing but valuable work for each? In particular, does he agree that teachers should be able to serve their probationary year in independent schools and be approved in the same way as in maintained schools? Does he agree that there is unfairness in this respect?

Sir Keith Joseph

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right to stress that there should be mutual understanding between the two sectors. There is in fact an interaction, depending on equality, between the public and private sectors. The question of probation raises complicated issues which my colleagues and I are now examining.

Mr. Kinnock

If the Secretary of State believes that central initiatives are inappropriate, will he make arrangements with his right hon. Friends to ensure that the current financial legislation makes provision for the charging of value added tax on school fees, the withdrawal of charity status, and make many other adjustments so that we can recoup the several scores of millions of pounds that now benefit the so-called private sector of British education?

Sir Keith Joseph

No, Sir. I leave such vindictive and destructive initiatives to emanate from the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends. I did not say that central initiatives are inappropriate. I said that, mercifully, the private sector does not depend upon them.

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