HC Deb 01 December 1987 vol 123 cc754-5
11. Mr. David Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many representations he has received on the subject of the opting out proposals in the Education Bill.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

I have received over 900 written responses to my recent consultation paper, from a wide range of sources, together with a variety of less formal representations.

Mr. Evans

The representations are encouraging. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when the Bill becomes law the inquiries will increase substantially and, furthermore, that pupils will at last be educated according to the wishes of their parents?

Mr. Baker

I agree with my hon. Friend. I think that this will prove to be a very popular measure and will implement the very phrase in his question, which he drew from the Education Act 1944.

Mrs. Rosie Barnes

Does the Secretary of State agree that the main objection to the opting-out proposals is not that they will increase parental choice or break the local education authority monopoly on education, but that they will reintroduce the possibility of selection by ability?

Mr. Baker

I want to make it clear to the hon. Lady that when schools decide to opt out the Bill makes it clear that the character of the school will have to remain the same and the admissions policy will have to be agreed. The policy which the remnants of her party are putting forward represents a considerable extension of opting out. I think that the three of them in that party have now become experts in opting out.