The questions which get asked in the House of Commons by MPs can sometimes reveal the hidden depths of the political leaders of our country. On the most basic level we need to appreciate that each written question asked is calculated as costing £140 as part of the £2Bn which Parliament costs to run each year. It would be churlish to reduce all of the activities of the Parliament to cost alone but it is amazing to think that in a time of austerity, one MP was willing to spend £280 of our money on these two questions, or perhaps I have missed something? Greg Knight is the Conservative MP for East Yorkshire and he is not new to Politics. He was a Councillor in Leicstershire from 1976-1983 and in 1983 entered the House of Commons where he has worked ever since, sitting in a safe seat. He is of the same cohort of MPs as Edward Leigh and Charles Kennedy who I wrote about a few days ago. His full title is Sir Gregory Knight as he was knighted for Political Service in 2013. At the next election he will have spent more than half his life in Parliament.
I was alerted to the two Questions from Sir Greg by ‘They Work For You’ which is an excellent resource. The questions are:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has discussed or plans to discuss with her French counterpart the banning of wi-fi signals in nursery and primary schools in France; and if she will make a statement.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether she has issued guidance to nursery and primary schools on the installation of wi-fi in classrooms.
These questions caught my eye because I work for a company that provides some IT for Schools and even Nurseries and members of my family have been involved in the running of PreSchools. Some of which have had WiFi installed and some of which have not. Although there are a number of people who claim that WiFi signals are dangerous and clearly young brains would be most susceptible, there is no evidence to suggest that these concerns have any foundation in science. To the best of my knowledge none of this has happened as a result of any French Intervention, nor would WiFi signals from France impact PreSchools in Yorkshire no matter how one looks at the data!
Nick Gibb, The Minister for Schools answered on behalf of Nicky Morgan:
The Secretary of State for Education has not discussed this matter with her French counterpart and no discussion is currently planned.
The Department for Educaiton has not issued guidance to nursery and primary schools on the installation of wi-fi in classrooms. The department provides advice to schools on health and safety, and it is for individual schools to decide whether or not to implement wi-fi technology in order to meet their needs. Public Health England leads on this issue and has advised that it sees no reason why schools should not use wi-fi equipment. Schools must take reasonable steps to ensure that staff and pupils are not exposed to health and safety risks by conducting a risk assessment and, if necessary, putting measures in place to minimise any known risk.
I confess that even with my background understanding of WiFi in School I don’t begin to understand what this question refers to, but then I haven’t sat in Parliament for the last 32 years!