Tuesday 21 October 2003

Class wars

The class warriors are at it again. Politicians are now threatening private schools:
SNP, Socialist and some Labour MSPs are preparing to join forces to try to change the law which allows private schools to be registered as charities, giving them tax breaks.

Without the tax breaks, the schools would be forced to put up fees to much higher levels than at present, a change which they claim would threaten their viability.

Now one could make the argument that schools should operate like other businesses and not be treated as charities. I agree, but that should apply to all schools. In other words the state should get out of the education business altogether. For the time being, parents of privately educated children should be allowed a full tax deduction equal to the savings made by not using the state system.

The usual suspects support the attack on private education:

Pat O’Donnell, of the NASUWT (a trade union), said that he had "no difficulty with them losing their charitable status".

"An independent school is not a charity; it’s a school," he added.

Judith Gillespie, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Association (sic), insisted that "private schools exclude people".

She said: "They are making profits. That is not the basis for a charity."

"Making profits" indeed. Who are the shareholders "profiting" from Huthchesons' Grammar School or George Watson's?

I wouldn't mind having some of their shares in my portfolio.