From the archive - Action on independents stepped up

17th June 2011 at 01:00
4 July 1980 - Labour left-wingers prepare latest assault in battle to abolish private education

Labour left-wingers will make a further attempt to strengthen the party's assault on independent schools.

A four-stage plan of action "towards the abolition of the private education sector" has been approved by the party's education and science sub-committee and will go to the powerful home policy committee on Monday.

However, Caroline Benn, wife of Tony Benn, who chairs the home policy committee, is said to want to reinstate a proposal to charge ex-public school pupils full-cost fees (#163;2,000 to #163;5,000) if they go to university.

Another member of the party's education committee is trying to harden the proposal on the withdrawal of charitable status, which he fears could be too slow in its effect.

The policy group's report currently proposes that amendments should be made to the law on charities which would remove charitable status from private schools that charge fees to private individuals.

However, private schools that do not charge fees (such as voluntary schools) and those agreeing to serve the community as a whole would be able to keep their special status, which gives them valuable tax and rate advantages.

The dissenter on charitable status feels that it would be simpler and more effective to return responsibilities for educational charities to the Department of Education and Science, from which it was transferred to the Charity Commissioners in 1972.

The policy group's report has passed relatively unscratched through its consideration by the party's education and science sub-committee.

The most important change was the decision to water down the controversial proposal to charge ex-public school pupils full-cost fees (now #163;2,000 to #163;5,000) if they go to university.

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