Cabinet records for England and Wales

8th January 1999 at 00:00
Cabinet records for England and Wales reveal that plans to raise the school-leaving age to 16 in Britain were delayed for three years because the Wilson government preferred to concentrate on introducing comprehensive schools, writes David Walker.

The records show there was a fierce debate over postponing ROSLA - the raising of the school-leaving age - in 1968.

Wilson, who took office in 1964, inherited a Tory promise to raise the age from 15 to 16 by 1970. But after the spring spending cuts of 1968 it was deferred until 1973. Wilson cited economic reasons.

The decision prompted outrage. Documents now open at the Public Record Office at Kew show one unnamed minister saying that this was the decision which "most obviously contravened the basic principles for which this Government stood".

Lord Longford, Wilson's Lord Privy Seal, resigned in protest.

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