Page 1, 25th June 1943

25th June 1943
Page 1
Page 1, 25th June 1943 — LABOUR KEEPS OFF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
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Organisations: Labour Party
Locations: Liverpool

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LABOUR KEEPS OFF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

but there is deadlock ""Tgi,

over Education Bill

The Labour Party at its Annual Conference did not follow the T.U.C. in the latter's hostility to denominational schools.

Its silence about the issue of religious education was welcomed by Frank Pakenham in his speech at the Conference, and it is generally considered to be the consequence of the strong fight put up throughout the country during the last nine months

by Catholics. • The future, however, is still obscure. The new Bill is said to have been delayed by the present deadlock, and there is irritation in Government circles at the delay caused in various plans of post-war reconstruction that are dependent on the Bill.

Tentative suggestions for overcoming the deadlock include, we understand, the idea of applying a modified and more satisfactory form of the 1936 Act to the new situation.

By F. A. FULFORD Just as we predicted a few months ago, the Labour Party at its Whitsun Conference refused to go the T.U.C. way on the Schools issue. Strenuous campaigning on the part of Catholics during a period of nine months has procured them a very solid gain in causing Labour to halt in the question of Catholic schools. Not a single paper in the whole country has noted the significance of last week's events.

But this silver lining has a cloud, and it threatens on the horizon at this very moment. Certain difficulties have been made apparent in the course of the week. Them is deadlock in negotiations, Catholics are being accused of being reactionaries. Further progress in Government schemes for post-war reconstruction is held up through the absence of an Educational Bill, which does not materialise through the inability of all parties concerned to agree. Even the Labour Party may yet change its attitude and become an enemy.

Such is Jack Donovan's warning given me this week. A will to reach a solution is the urgent order of the day, he says.

ELEVENTH-HOUR CALL Let me first recall what happened nine months ago. When this paper sensed coming trouble at the T.U.C. Blackpool Conference in September, it telephoned its Liverpool ("respondent to hurry to Blackpool and warn Catholic Trade Unionists there that a surprise attack on their schools was being contemplated. He did, and an eleventh-hour clarion call was sounded among a determined nucleus at the Conference. But the champions were outnumbered, and this paper that week ran the following headline: " We were hopelessly unprepared. Lone Catholic voices shouted down in T.U.C. Education Fight."

Jack Donovan up to then unknown to the general Catholic public, stood out particularly prominent and grim. As readers will recall, he then championed, as he still does without ceasing, the right of workers to he rid of all interference with their rights. as parents.

Last week he sat relaxed at the Labour Party's Conference, for he knew that on this occasion the Party would not, contrary to custom, support the T.U.C. In fact, the Conference backed an Executive I7-Point Schools plan which, while dealing with every conceivable aspect of the question, markedly and deliberately ignored the religious issue. " Had Catholics not fought for nine mentho" Jack Donovan told me later, " there might have been an 18th Point along the lines of Clause 9 of the T.U.C. Memo, and my Party would have been committed to an impossible secularist policy."

" It was a great victory," Jack Donovan told me, as he emptied his pockets of letters he has receThed from all over the country from priests and Catholic organisations inviting him to go and talk to them about education.

He recognised that his Party's respect for its Catholic members is genuine. " Many members, and especially the M.P.s and their constituents, know that if the Party had taken a decision that is unjust to Catholics, it would have had a disastrous effect electorally, and it would postpone the possibility of Labour implementing the 17 Points," he said.

(Coadnued on page 5)




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