Education (Scotland) Bill.

Part of Supplementary Vote of Credit, 1941. – in the House of Commons on 16th December 1941.

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Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is introducing this Bill. It is certainly an advance on the 1908 Act but it retains a principle which I have fought against ever since it was instituted in this House—the means test, the blackest piece of legislation we have ever put through. I wish my right hon. Friend had had a little more courage and had taken this principle out of this Bill. He said that Section 6 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1908, would be repealed but these words are retained: Where an education authority make provision for a child in pursuance of this Section they shall be entitled to recover from the parent of the child the expense thereby incurred. … I know there is a lot of talk about the people who can afford it being made to pay, but in this case you are penalising those who cannot pay. Nobody knows better than my right hon. Friend that Scots do not like folk probing into their circumstances. They resent it very much. They do not parade their poverty. He knows those sentiments and has echoed them many times. He should be the last person to retain this principle of the means test, particularly at a time when we are supposed to be making plans for a new world order. Here was a glorious opportunity for my right hon. Friend. Sarcastic references have been made occasionally in this House to the boast that the Scots are well-educated. I am an ordinary engineer and I am the father of seven children who have gone through the Scottish education system and who can take their place among the best-educated in England. They are the products of Scottish education.