Appeal Court says 'wishes of the parents' does not always apply
I-HE Court of Appeal has rejected Mr. Thomas Watt's appeal against the judgment given in the Queen's Bench Division last November, when Mr. Justice Orrnerod refused to make an order compelling the Kesteven County Council to provide for the grammar school education of Mr. Watt's two sons at a Catholic school.
There was no State grammar school in the Kesteven County Council area of Lincolnshire. The council was willing to provide places for the boys as day pupils at the Stamford School—a non-Catholic independent school—and to pay the fees in full.
Mr. Watt sent them instead to the Dominican boarding schools at Laxton and Llanarth, where only part of the tuition fees was paid by the Kesteven County Council, although the full amounts were less than those charged at Stamford School.
Mr. Watt's claim was that the council was under a duty to pay the full tuition fees.
Explaining the decision of the Court of Appeal, a legal correspondent writes to THE CATHOLIC HERALD:
Lord Justice Denning ruled that section 76 of the Education Act 1944 did not imply that "pupils must in all cases be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents. It only laid down a general principle to which the Council must have regard."
His Lordship said that the issue did not depend in the least on the religious views of the parents. It "would have been just the same if a member of the Church of England wished for some reason or other to lend his boys away to a boarding school in some other part of the country."
The "short answer" to Mr. Watt said the Lord Justice, was that "while education was free in this ,country, it was only free at the school which the Council made available."
It will be observed, of course. that the. Council never offered to supply places for the boys in any alternative Catholic school nearer home.
The hope of Catholic parents that where no Catholic school was
available near their homes the education authorities would offer them a Catholic school elsewhere must be sacrificed, under the Act as now interpreted, to the fear that if the authorities shouldered this responsibility as a matter of duty. they would also have to shoulder the demands of every other parent, reasonable or otherwise.
There will for years to come be areas in which no Catholic secondary school is available. The Catholic community as a whole has an enormous financial burden to bear in providing Catholic schools, and it now looks as if individual Catholic parents in Mr. Watt's position will have to face additional financial commitments.
It is true that there arc regulations empowering a Council to assist these parents in cases of hardship according to their means. but that benefit is tied to the interpretation of section 76—an interpretation now seen to be far from generous to Catholic parents.
The Education Act. 1944, does not, therefore, as was thought at the time when it became law, impose a duty on education authorities which would safeguard the rights of Catholic parents and parents who share our belief in thit necessity of a religious education.
Unless there is an appeal to the House of Lords, the course is clear for a new approach to the legislature based on the failure of current legislation to achieve the end which it seems reasonable to suppose the original legislators had in mind.
It has been argued that if Parliament had intended to give Catholic parents the right to choose the school. Parliament would have said so in precise terms.
But it is also arguable that if section 76 was not related to parents' claims for recognition of their right to a religious education for their chitilren, it was not related to anything.
So section 76, it would seem, has failed as a piece of draughtsmanship and not because there is anything imprecise about the right of a father to have his child educated according to his religious beliefs. a right which Catholics have constantly been given to understand is properly recognised.
What is needed now—from the political as opposed to the legal viewpoint—is amending le/station which will make clear beyond dispute that if no Catholic school is available NI its own district, a local
education authority shall he in duty bound to provide for the education of Catholic children in a Catholic school of the appropriate grade in anceiher district.
Lord Justice Denning said that the authorities' duty was to make available only the particular school with which they had made arrangements.
Why should they not make whatever arrangements are necessary in the interests of Catholic children as well as in the interests of non-Catholics ?
Fr. H. Tristram dies at 73
Fr, Henry 1 ristram, M.A., the leading authority on the life and writings of Cardinal Newman, died at the Birmingham Oratory on Tuesday, aged 73 He was a brother of Prof. Ernest Tristram. Professor Emeritus of the Royal College of Art.
Last year Fr. Tristram revealed the existence of 250 sermons by Cardinal Newman which had come to light from Newman "little black boxes."
He joined the Oratorians in 1907 and was ordained four years later. For a few years he was Warden of the Oratory School at Caversham.
Londoner killed in plane crash
"Mr Jan Kacirek, of Richard Costain, Ltd.. a 26-year-old member of the Servite parish in London, was killed in arm airoplane crash in the Nigerian bush on Saturday.
Mr. John Kacirek. was to have returned to England last mortal after supervising the construction of a power station at Lagos. He stayed in Nigeria to gain experience in road construction."