§ Mr. John MacKay
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what timing he proposes for the implementation of the provisions on parental choice of school contained in the Education (Scotland) Bill now before Parliament, in the light of the representations made to him by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
§ Mr. Younger
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has expressed its concern to me about the difficulty of preparing all the information for parents, set out in my consultative paper, in time to have it available early in 1982. Ideally, the information should be available then, since it is still my intention—subject of course to the further progress of the Bill in another place and to its enactment in due course—to bring the provisions of the Bill with regard to placing requests and the right to appeal if those requests are refused into operation by February and March 1982, respectively, in time for the start of the procedure for allocating places for the 1982–83 school session. Nevertheless, I have accepted that authorities would have difficulty in implementing at one and the same time the new requirements with regard to booklets of general information for parents, brochures on individual schools, and so on; and my Department has therefore informed COSLA that the major part of the requirements relating to information for parents will not be brought into operation until January 1983.
In so far as the proposed requirements merely reflect existing good practice in many areas, much of the information parenst may want is already available. I hope that wherever possible it will be given to those who ask for it, even though there will be no statutory obligation to provide it in the intial year of the operation of the new procedure.