HC Deb 01 February 1949 vol 460 cc1493-4
19. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will reconsider his refusal to make a grant under the Further Education and Training Scheme to a young man, particulars of whom have been sent to him, who has been refused a grant on the grounds that his professional training prior to enlistment was on a practical rather than an academic basis.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)

No, Sir. As has been explained to the hon. Member, this case cannot be accepted as one in which training for a professional career was prevented or interrupted by the applicant's war service.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that ruling is founded simply on the fact that the applicant's training began on a practical basis, and that before leaving school he was intended for this profession? Is he further aware that this rigid and narrow interpretation of the regulations in this and other cases is causing the gravest disquiet?.

Mr. Ness Edwards

I resent the accusation that I have been rigid or narrow in the interpretation of these regulations. I have attempted to interpret them most generously. I have stretched them as far as I can. I would point out to the House that these regulations were laid down under the Coalition Government, and I am trying to apply them fairly. In this case, no matter how I look at it, I cannot bring this young man within the scheme.

Mr. Lipson

Will the right hon. Gentleman give instructions to those who are responsible for administering these grants that it is the wish of Parliament that the emphasis should be on giving the grants wherever possible instead of, as at present, trying to find excuses for not giving them?

Mr. Ness Edwards

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The Department does not look for excuses not to give grants. I am afraid that the position now is that the Department looks for excuses to give the grants. I assure the House that in every case where there is reasonable doubt the matter goes to Lord Reading's Tribunal and that Tribunal decides, as between the applicant and the Ministry, whether the case is within the scheme.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the unsatisfactory attitude of the Department, as exemplified in this and other cases, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.