Nursery Schools and Special Schools

Part of Orders of the Day — EDUCATION (No. 2) BILL – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 12th February 1980.

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Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Bristol North West 9:45 pm, 12th February 1980

The trouble about being too far down the line is that one has one's foxes successfully shot by other hon. Members. That has happened to me this evening. Therefore, my contribution can be short and necessarily sharp.

All hon. Members have referred to the Warnock report. I should like to quote briefly from another section entitled "Dialogue with Parents". It states: Parents of children with special needs require three principal forms of co-operative support—information, advice and practical help. Information is power, and information about schools is parent power. That is something of which we should all approve. However, without the amendment, a most important section of parents is in danger of being denied information on which to base important decisions about special schools for their handicapped children. That is something that we should not tolerate. I hope that that is not really intended by the Government.

Many Conservative Members with a particular interest in the needs of the handicapped and the disabled cannot stand by and see the parents of these children relegated to the status of second-class citizens. Why should they not be treated like the parents of ordinary children? Why should they be denied the information, as the clause suggests? It can be argued that in the case of special schools there is little choice. That is regrettable, but it is no reason for a denial of parental rights, and certainly no reason why discretion in this matter should be left to the local authorities.

The Tory Party believes in freedom of choice and information. Both are denied by the clause. That is why I commend amendment No. 1:23 to the House.