Schoolchildren (Insurance Cover)

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th June 1971.

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Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark , Colne Valley 12:00 am, 10th June 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she recommends to local education authorities that insurance cover should be provided in respect of children participating in normal school activities.

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark , Colne Valley

Is it not rather regrettable that many schoolchildren, if they become injured in the course of their normal school activities, either in a gymnasium or on a playing field, receive no financial help from certain local authorities? Does not this pose some difficulties? Is there not a case for all schoolchildren being covered by some form of insurance?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

I know that the hon. Gentleman has a very sad personal case in his constituency and that he has been very active in pursuing everything that can be done to help in that case. Where children undergo specially dangerous activities we advise special insurance cover but none for normal activities, which would seem to be more a matter for the parents. Where a disablement occurs through normal activities, in future the attendance allowance will help.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester North West

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that compensation in such cases should not depend upon proving negligence against the school and that the child should be entitled to compensation through proper insurance even where no one has been negligent? Can she tell us how much it would cost to provide such personal accident insurance for schoolchildren?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

No, of course I cannot do so without notice. I do not think that we could advise at the moment that every child should be covered in normal activities by accident insurance. Children are covered, not through insurance, but through the ordinary rules of negligence where there is negligence.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Willesden East

Does the right hon. Lady recognise that this matter goes beyond just schoolchildren at school and covers problems relating to membership of and activities in youth clubs using school buildings and similar public authority buildings within the education service? Will she consider this aspect? It has raised problems over a number of years in different local authority areas in both fields. Will she undertake at least not to close her mind to looking at the matter again?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science

I will look at the matter, but I can give very little hope of an optimistic reply. It is part of my policy to try never to raise false hopes. I think that this policy is right.