Oral Answers to Questions — Special Schools (Handicapped Children)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1972.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 20th April 1972

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to improve the co-ordination between the Department of Education and Science and the Scottish Office in respect of the placing of handicapped children in special schools.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I have been asked to reply.

The Education Departments already work very closely together on this and all other matters of common interest.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Does the right hon. Gentleman regard it as satisfactory that English education authorities, particularly in the North West, are sending their problem children to a private fee-paying school in my constituency at a cost to their ratepayers of £800 per year per child? It is a private school which has not been registered by the Scottish Education Department. Indeed, the English Minister advised these English education authorities to withdraw their children because, on the basis of a report from the Scottish Education Department, the facilities at that school were considered unsatisfactory. Does not this show that there is a considerable lack of co-ordination and knowledge about the scale of the problem itself?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I do not think so. I have looked with care at this particular school. The position is not a difference in practice but a difference in law, in that in the English situation the Secretary of State's permission is necessary but that is not so in Scotland since the Act of 1969 passed by the previous Administration.

Photo of Mr Jack Dormand Mr Jack Dormand , Easington

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the fundamental cause of the continuing troubles in this area of education is the basic lack of adequate provision for children with all types of handicap and that something ought to be done about it very quickly? Will the right hon. Gentleman advise his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science that she ought to get her priorities right and spend much more on this aspect of education and not, for example, give £2 million to the direct grant schools?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

This problem is well recognised on both sides of the House. I think the hon. Gentleman will find that there has been an encouraging increase recently in the provision made by local education authorities. Clearly, however, a good deal more remains to be done.