N.a.T.O.

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30 April 1959.

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Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield 12:00, 30 April 1959

asked the Minister of Education why he authorised the distribution to 5,000 schools of copies of a Ceremonial Hymn to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, published by the British Atlantic Committee, together with a message from M. Spaak requesting that the hymn should be sung at school prayers on N.A.T.O. Day, 4th May.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Sutton Coldfield

The distribution was made by the British Atlantic Committee on its own responsibility. It first suggested to local education authorities that schools might wish to commemorate the tenth anniversary of N.A.T.O. and offered copies of the two documents if they wished to have them. The Committee neither required nor sought my authority for this.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield

While I thank the Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that the so-called hymn asks for a divine blessing on N.A.T.O. and includes the words: Let N.A.T.O. grow in might,And put its foes to flight."? [Laughter.] This would be ridiculous if it were not rather serious. Does the Minister consider it fitting that young children should be involved in an attempt to glorify and sanctify a military alliance, especially in bellicose terms?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lloyd Mr Geoffrey Lloyd , Sutton Coldfield

I must point out that this does not involve my responsibility, as I showed in my earlier Answer. Perhaps the hon. Member might like to bring the matter to the attention of the vice-presidents of the British Atlantic Committee, who are, with the other members of the Committee, responsible for the document. I see that the first three are Lord Boothby, Lord Layton and Lord Pakenham.