MOTION MOVED ON CONSIDERATION OF COMMONS AMENDMENT No. 377

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 24th July 2000.

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Photo of Lord Alli Lord Alli Labour 7:15 pm, 24th July 2000

My Lords, I accept much of that criticism. However, under the law, parents have the right to withdraw their children if they disapprove of sex education lessons in schools. This argument, especially the argument of the noble Baroness, really falls down when one considers that Section 28 does not apply to independent schools. No one has suggested that those schools have been flooded by gay propaganda.

The second broad argument is basically that if you want to repeal Section 28 you must be in favour of promoting homosexuality to children, otherwise why not leave it on the statute book? As the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy, put it:

"The repeal of Section 28 will remove the small amount of protection which it has provided for the past 11 years against the manipulation of even quite young children against their parents' wishes by a small but vociferous and determined minority".

But, I say again, under the new guidelines this cannot happen. The policy on sex education in schools is determined by head teachers, parents and governors and delivered by individual teachers. No Member of this House has alleged that any teacher has been promoting homosexuality. If they have been doing so, they should say so now. I am sure that the Minister of State for Education would investigate such claims.