My Problem —by Mrs. Thatcher
If the Borough of Barnet's secondary school education problems were multiplied about 140 times, this would equal the amount of headaches facing Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education and Science.
And with Section 13 notices of the 1944 Education Act landing on her desk every day. “Thirteen is not my lucky number at the moment.”
Mrs. Thatcher, Finchley 's MP, said this on Saturday, when she spoke at the annual dinner dance held by Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association at the Selborne Hall, Southgate.
She clarified legal points about Section 13 notices, which have to be issued by local authorities before changing the character of a school.
And at the end she commented: “The beauty of it is that: I have said nothing about local conditions.”
She said that Government circular. 10/65 and 10/70 had no legal basis. “We all know that an instruction from a Minister in a circular. Conservative of Labour cannot alter the law. That can only be altered by Act of Parliament.”
Therefore, she pointed out, plans for secondary reorganisation have no legal basis.
This meant that the law remains as it always was—if there are plans for any one school which means its enlargement or change of character, it comes under Section 13 of the 1944 Education Act, which allows two months for objections from the public.
Mrs. Thatcher said that only at the end of that time, when the objections had been looked at properly, and when the local authority had replied to them, was the final decision made.
“There can be no change in character of that school until this decision has been taken,” she added.
Mrs. Thatcher, a qualified lawyer, said that the only legal basis on which a Minister could be challenged was on whether his or her duties under the Act had been properly carried out.
Earlier, Mrs. Thatcher spoke about the Industrial Relations Bill and recent events in the House of Commons.
In 1945, she told association members, the “Red Flag” had been sung in the House. She had never expected it to have happened again in her time, but it had, at 5 a.m. last Thursday, as the guillotine fell on the first few clauses of the Bill.
She said the House had divided 28 times, and as members waited for the results of the last division, some 200 Labour members began to sing, “doubtless to cheer themselves up.”
More time has been allowed for discussion on the Bill than to any other non-Finance Bill since 1945, she added, so there was plenty of time for discussions.
There was much support for the Bill, including the majority of ordinary members of unions who did not want to be pushed around by shop stewards.
Since the General Election there had been “a complete and utter downfall of Harold Wilson.” Unless the Labour Party had had the Industrial Relations Bill to fight, they would not have had a rally call.
Mrs. Thatcher described the Conservative Party as the most enduring party in British history, but said that support and loyalty would be needed in the years to come.
The new MP for Enfield West, Mr. Cecil Parkinson, referred to “the high esteem” for Mrs. Thatcher in Parliament and throughout the country.
“Your MP has been given the job of making sure that every child in this country has the opportunity to develop his or her talents to the full,” he added.
Mr. Parkinson said the Conservatives intended to keep their promise to make changes. Britain had the slowest growth-rate among the major Western nations, and if this steady declining trend continued, we would be the poorest country in Europe by 1980.
He compared Mrs. Barbara Castle— “all emotion” —with Mr. Robert Carr— “the most reasonable man” —and was loudly applauded when he emphasised that the Government would get the Bill through.