HC Deb 19 December 1946 vol 431 cc2174-6
97. Mr. Piratin

asked the Minister of Education whether she has investigated the case, brought to her attention by the hon. Member for Mile End, relating to a further education training grant, in which the applicant wrote on 13th January asking for an increase and her Department replied on 30th July, informing him that he would receive an increase of grant dating back to autumn term, 1945; if she is aware that at 11th December no such increase had been granted; why there has been a delay of six months in replying to the applicant; and why, after 4½ months, the increase of grant has not yet been paid.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)

This student has up to the present been paid at the rate of his original award. Since last January he has made requests for six separate adjustments in his rate of grant, and the amount of his award has twice been reassessed. I very much regret the delay in making the additional payments due to him, but he has now been paid all the arrears up to date.

Mr. Piratin

While I am glad to hear that the back payments have now been made, nevertheless, is this not a further indication that the Department should look into the whole question which was raised last week and still continues?

Mr. Hardman

The whole question is being looked into very thoroughly and, no doubt, some more information will be received.

100. Mr. Granville Sharp

asked the Minister of Education how many times she has exercised her power under paragraph 7 (2), S.R. & O. 1291, to make an interim grant pending the determination of an award under the Further Education and Training Scheme; and whether, in view of the financial embarrassment caused to ex-Servicemen and their families by the delay in the assessment and payment of awards by her Department, she will exercise this power more frequently.

Mr. Hardman

No record is kept of the number of cases in which interim grants have been made under the Regulation referred to, but small interim grants have frequently been made in cases of hardship. My right hon. Friend is always ready to exercise the discretion allowed under this particular Regulation, within the limits proper for the due safeguarding of public funds.

Mr. Sharp

In view of the bottleneck in the Awards Branch of his Department, and the fact that there are many thousands of students anxiously awaiting remittances applied for months ago, will my hon. Friend ensure that the Minister exercises her power to make an interim grant on many occasions during the next few days?

Mr. Hardman

I can assure my hon. Friend that the bottleneck is not only in my Department.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

Wherever the bottleneck is, could my hon. Friend say what is the average maximum award made under this interim grant?

Mr. Hardman

No, Sir, I do not think I can be expected to give that detailed information today.

Mr. Scollan

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether it would be in Order for the House to congratulate you on giving England a much needed century?

101. Mr. Sharp

asked the Minister of Education whether she is aware that the Leeds Appointments Department of the Ministry of Labour forwarded, on 23rd August, to the Awards Branch of her Department, the documents referring to the application made by Mr. Colin Johnson, Moravian Villas, Gomersal, near Leeds, for a Further Education grant to enable him to resume the training as a teacher broken by military service; that Mr. Johnson has a wife and child to maintain and, after one term at Leeds University, has already used up his savings because neither award nor payment has yet been made; that two reminders of his circumstances have been sent to the Awards Branch without effect; and whether, in view of the extenuating circumstances, she will exercise her power under paragraph 7 (2), S.R. & 0. 1291, and make an immediate interim grant pending a speedy determination of the award.

Mr. Hardman

This student had already, before his war service, spent a year at Hull University College and has applied for a grant towards the cost of a full four-year course at Leeds University. I regret that, owing to the need for clearing up this aspect of the application, and to the very heavy pressure of work in my Department, a decision on this case has been held up. An interim payment of £25 has already been made to Mr. Johnson in the exceptional circumstances of his case, pending a final settlement of grant.