HC Deb 20 December 1988 vol 144 cc270-1
5. Mr. Amos

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will include education about the dangers of smoking in the school curriculum; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Butcher

Health education has been identified by the Government as an important cross-curricular theme to be covered by different foundation subjects within the national curriculum. As a result, different foundation subject working groups are being asked to cover appropriate aspects of health education within their recommendations. For example, the science working group recommends that all pupils should receive education within the science curriculum about the harmful effects of smoking. My right hon. Friend is now considering this, along with all the recommendations made by the council on science.

Mr. Amos

I am grateful for that positive reply. As 19 per cent. of fifth form boys and 30 per cent. of fifth form girls are regular smokers, will my hon. Friend have discussions to ensure that all staff set an example by not being allowed to smoke in public areas of their schools?

Mr. Butcher

As always, that will be a matter for the schools themselves. Most of them will observe the sort of practices that my hon. Friend wants. There have been improvements and reductions in the proportion of our youngsters who smoke, but we should not see that as the end of the story. Health education and personal and social education should make young people aware of the dangers of smoking.

Dr. Moonie

In view of the Minister's concern about the problem of smoking, will he ensure that the CTC in Teesside, which is sponsored by British American Tobacco, carries a Government health warning?

Mr. Butcher

I shall be charitable and interpret the hon. Gentleman's question as a serious one. I am sure that the parts of the curriculum which relate to health education in the maintained sector will still be relevant in that school.

Mr. Key

Will my hon. Friend also take a serious look at the problem of smoking on school buses? Can he confirm that it is illegal for drivers of school buses and other public service vehicles to smoke on duty?

Mr. Butcher

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I shall draw the attention of the appropriate officials at the Department to that point to see whether the inspectorate should focus on it.