HC Deb 19 April 1923 vol 162 cc2258-60

asked the President of the Board of Education if he is aware that Miss K. Fenton, 39, Field Side, Thorne, near Don-caster, who was accepted last October as a student by the City of Leeds College at a fee of 30 per year, has now been notified that the fee is increased to £80 per year and, as a consequence, has been compelled to forfeit her place; and what steps he intends to take to deal with this and similar cases?


asked the President of the Board of Education whether, seeing that the high fees which local education authorities conducting training colleges have found it necessary, for their own protection, to impose on students from other areas will inevitably involve the selection of candidates for admission to the colleges next September on grounds of relative wealth rather than on grounds of relative merit, in these circumstances, he can, pending the Report of the Departmental Committee, find some means of enabling the local education authorities concerned to avoid discrimination against poor and meritorious candidates for admission?


I am aware that the fee for extra-Leeds students at the City of Leeds Training College has been increased from £30 to £80. With regard to the last part of Question No. 84, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, deal with this together with Question No. 93. As my right hon. Friend stated in reply to the hon. Member for the Roth-well Division of the West Riding (Mr. Lunn) on the 15th February, and to the Noble Lord on the 22nd February, he cannot but attribute the present situation largely to the unwillingness of Local Education Authorities who do not provide Training Colleges, but whose students use the Training Colleges of other Local Education Authorities, to cooperate with those Local Education Authorities, either by contributing to the cost of the colleges or by assisting students from their own areas to pay the increased fees. My right hon. Friend greatly regrets the failure of Local Education Authorities generally to come into a reasonable arrangement in this respect, but he has at present no power to compel them to do so. The Government are, however, fully alive to the educational disadvantages resulting from the imposition of very high fees, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has consented to allow the expenditure of a limited sum in the present financial year in order to relieve the situation. It must be clearly understood that this concession is made for one year only, and that it must not in any way be used to prejudice the question now before the Departmental Committee, or any action which may subsequently be taken as the result of their recommendations. Provisions for the application of the money will be included in the Board's Grant Regulations No. 4. In the meantime I must ask Local Education Authorities to defer their final selection of candidates for admission to their colleges.


Do I understand the Noble Lord to say that in cases similar to the one in question, where the parents have made extraordinary sacrifices, there will be a possibility, under the latest giant, of the students continuing their education?


The Regulation which will be isued will deal with the dis- tribution of the money, and, for the rest, I thinks that question rests with the particular training college.


Is not this position due to the fact that the Board of Education has gone back on the bargain that it made with local authorities who were willing to provide these training colleges? Does it not arise out of the operation of Circular 1297?


What opportunity will there be for children resident in rural areas several miles away from a college to gain any advantage from this suggested concession?


We are now debating the question.