A Liberal Democrat councillor has told a party conference that schools could suggest prostitution as a career to pupils.
Dennis Parsons, who is chairman of the Cheltenham Liberal Democrats, made the comment during a special session on sex work.
The retired civil servant said school career officers are currently not allowed to mention prostitution as a potential line of work, but added: ‘Why shouldn’t they?’
Mr Parsons also compared prostitution with accountancy when discussing how to combat the stigma attached to sex work.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron distanced himself from his remarks, but revealed he will not ‘slap down’ Mr Parsons for making the statement as people should be allowed to say ‘shocking things’.
Mr Parsons, a married father-of-five, said: ‘The fact that we are asking “should we seek to prevent people entering sex work?” is part of the problem.
‘You wouldn’t ask the question “should we prevent people becoming accountants?” You’d just take it for granted.
‘There is a stronger case, probably, for that than there is for preventing sex work.
‘We have had a chap suggest that one of the areas we need to be concerned about was families coercing people to go into the sex trade.
‘Well, again, you wouldn’t protest at families urging and coercing people into becoming accountants.
‘And even in this room full of liberals we have got a huge cultural problem that we do see sex work as different.
‘We see it as something a little bit tacky, and not quite nice, and not the sort of thing that we would want our sons and daughters to get involved in.
‘We talk about schools – how many schools are going to have careers officers say to people, “have you thought about prostitution?”
‘It’s not going to happen. And that’s a cultural thing. Why shouldn’t they? Why shouldn’t they?’
Mr Parsons claims to be an ‘old-fashioned Liberal’ and spent most of his career in London while also working as First Secretary in the British Embassy in Tokyo.
He also said that he ‘enjoys campaigning’ and is a supporter of Chelsea FC while also having a season ticket at his local club, Cheltenham Town FC. Full Report