Orders of the Day — Educational Expenditure (Priorities)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th April 1951.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Marshall Sir Sydney Marshall , Sutton and Cheam 12:00 am, 17th April 1951

I have one in my own district that I can produce. We have a great pressure in our schools. And the Minister must remember the very important point that we are providing in the State schools for only a percentage of the children of that age. If all the private schools in the country were closed tomorrow how would the State cope with the situation? I can only speak with authority for my own county, and I know it would be a problem which would be absolutely insoluble for us. We have the greatest sympathy with the Minister but we could not house all the children of five, six and seven years of age in the county of Surrey and I imagine that many other areas are in the same position.

It is not fair that the Minister should attempt to ride off this problem by saying that all children are going to school. I know very well many cases where parents cannot get their children admitted to our own primary State schools and have to send them to private schools and pay for them. I want to see children going to State schools because they get better training and better chances there. The Minister should not seek to excuse himself from the profound duty of the State to provide sufficient classes and teachers for primary education.

We know the Minister is immensely sympathetic towards every aspect of education and we hope he will consider seriously today whether, eventually, he will be able to secure enough money to provide the necessary teaching staffs and particularly the buildings so that primary classes can be reduced. That reduction and the provision of places for all our young people in State schools are urgent necessities.