It is a long established and well understood rule that teachers should not use their position to propagate their political views in the course of instruction. I have no evidence that this rule is being broken, but if the hon. and gallant Member has any particular case in mind and will let me have information I will investigate it.
If I give the Minister a copy of the text book I hold in my hand called "Life in the U.S.S.R." written by Mrs. Beatrice King, well known for her Communist associations, will he undertake to have this book withdrawn immediately from circulation, since it is Communist propaganda at its worst? Is it not a shocking and scandalous thing that the British taxpayer should pay for this subversive propaganda which is being taught to our children in the schools?
If the book is drawn to my notice, I will certainly look at it. I would point out that it was published in 1944, when people were saying different things about the U.S.S.R. from what they are saying today; but if it is being used for propaganda purposes, and I can find evidence of that, I will certainly inquire into it.
Is the Minister aware that the question of the hon. and gallant Member constitutes a gross reflection on the professional integrity of the teachers of this country, and that all teachers are united in condemning any attempt at political propaganda in the schools, whether it be Communist propaganda or Conservative propaganda?
Does not the Minister agree that it would have been a shocking thing to him to have found that 2,000 teachers in State schools in 1939 were members of the British Union of Fascists, and does he not find it equally shocking that today there are the same number at least, and probably more, Communist teachers in the State run schools of this country?
Mr. F. P. Crowder:
Is the Minister aware that Mrs. Beatrice King, who is the author of this pamphlet, is a leading member of the executive of the British Soviet Society and that she was chairman of its women's organisation last year? Is the Minister further aware that this Society is condemned and proscribed by his own party, and if it is not thought fitting and good that Socialists should have any contact with it, is it not worse that children should have their minds polluted by this insidious form of propaganda?