HC Deb 11 March 1926 vol 192 cc2553-6

asked the Minister of Pensions upon what grounds the majority of the 2,784 applications for education grants were refused by the Special Grants Committee; and how many of such applications were on behalf of boys and girls who had gained scholarships for secondary schools?


No statistical record is, I fear, kept which would enable this information to be given. I understand that cases may be found ineligible for grant on various grounds, a large number being altogether outside the scope of the Regulations. But I am informed that in a majority of the cases referred to the applicants were found ineligible by reason of the fact that the circumstances of the parent or parents were not such as to make payment of school fees, in addition to the maintenance of the child (which is already ordinarily provided by allowance under the Warrant), a proper charge upon public funds. As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, a grant towards the expenses of education as such is, under the Statute and Regulations governing the matter, only payable out of public funds in exceptional circumstances, where it is clear that, owing solely to the death or disablement of the father in consequence of war service, the additional cost cannot otherwise be met.


Does not the large number of applications that has been turned down indicate that the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman's Department is rather harsh in this matter, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, particularly since 1918, the number of working-class people anxious for their children to have secondary education has grown very rapidly, and, in these circumstances, does he not think his Department might act more generously to these particular applications?


I am not prepared to admit that every case sent on by district committees is of equal merits. The committees may vary.


Would the right hon. Gentleman admit there is no possibility of the special grants committee, or any other committee, knowing whether a man killed 10 years ago would not have been able to give his child a secondary school education, and in view of that, will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to have this Regulation altered?


I think the hon. Member's intention would be to give secondary education to every child of every soldier who has been killed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because in the existing conditions there have to be exceptional circumstances.


But will the right hon. Gentleman not admit that a scholarship case is exceptional?


asked the Minister of Pensions the number and the names of persons now serving on the Special Grants Committee; and whether the decisions of the Committee are regarded as final or if they are subject to review or amendment by the Ministry?


asked the Minister of Pensions who are the present members of the Special Grants Committee; and whether their decisions are subject to his consent?


The membership of the Special Grants Committee Is at present 13. I am circulating the names in the OFFICIAL REPORT. All applications for grants are determined by the Special Grants Committee in accordance with their rules of working as approved by the Minister from time to time, subject only to such audit check as is necessarily applicable to all proposals for expenditure out of the public funds voted by Parliament to the service of my Department.


Do I understand that the decision of the Special Grants Committee is not subject to the revision of the Minister, and that the Committee act independently?


The grants are determined by the Committee in accordance with the rules of working, as approved by the Minister from time to time, but, necessarily, they have to be such as are approved by this House for the purpose of securing to Parliament control of public funds.


Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that these men are unlucky enough, without having to bear this?

Following are the members of the Special Grants Committee: