§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I beg to move:That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Education Authority Bursaries (Scotland) (Amendment No. 1) Regulations, 1952 (S.I., 1952, No. 2215), dated 18th December, 1952, a copy of which was laid before this House on 19th December, be annulled.My purpose is to draw attention to the inadequacy of the bursaries which are provided under the new Regulations. Since 1947 there have been three sets of Regulations dealing with the bursaries which may be provided by the local education authorities in Scotland. The first set, in 1947, laid down that there should be a maximum of £80 as a maintenance grant for students living at home, and that covered the term period only. For those living away from home an additional grant had to be made. The Regulations also provided an additional grant of £25 for vacation periods.
The second set of Regulations, in 1949, changed the amounts, and for a very good reason. They laid down minimum instead of maximum grants. It had been found that a number of education authorities in Scotland were giving grants which were much less than the maximum allowed, and there was great variation in the amounts. The 1949 Regulations provided a minimum weekly grant of £1 5s. during term period plus a £5 maintenance grant during the vacation period for students living at home and £2 weekly during the term period plus the £5 vacation allowance for the student living away from home in either lodgings or a hostel.
The Regulations against which we are praying have increased the amounts of the awards, a student living at home now being eligible for a maintenance grant of £1 10s. weekly during the term period, and a student living away from home a grant of £2 10s. during the term period, and both types of student will also receive the £5 vacation allowance. There has thus been an increase of 5s. per week for the student living at home and 10s. per week for the student living away from home.
550 Our contention is that those increases are by no means adequate to meet the increased cost of living since the last Regulations were made. Indeed, we say that they cannot meet the increase in the cost of living caused by the considered policy of the present Government ever since they came to power. It may be said that these are minimum awards, but what we usually find is that when a minimum is set most local authorities, whatever their political colour, make it a maximum. We believe that these grants are so small that it will mean that many Scottish students of real ability will be prevented from going to a university because of their financial situation. In other words, these grants will do away with equality of opportunity in education.
That is a very serious matter for the individual student, but from the point of view of the nation it is even more serious. We realise that as a nation we face grave economic difficulties. One of the ways we can help to overcome them is by ensuring that one of our finest assets is used to the full. In Scotland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, one of the finest assets we have is the ability of our young men and women. If we really want to overcome the economic difficulties of this island, which depends so much on imports from other countries, we have to ensure that the skill and ability of our people is developed to the full. For that reason particularly I beg the Joint UnderSecretary to ensure that these grants are raised in the near future.
The position is made worse when compared with what is given to English students at provincial universities. I know in England there is a different system of State scholarship; but when the Minister decides what is to be given under State scholarships he advises local education authorities to give grants at the same rate. I know that the education authorities do not always accept the advice of the Minister, but I wish to give one or two examples to show how much worse off is the Scottish student compared with the English student.
The English student living at home receives £3 10s. weekly as a maintenance grant, compared with £1 10s. which the Scottish student receives. The English student also gets £40 for incidental expenses and another £20 as vacation allowance, which is a total of £60 against the £5 vacation allowance of the Scottish 551 student. The English student living away from home receives £5 10s. a week maintenance grant, against the £2 10s. received by the Scottish student, and there are also the extra allowances similar to those received by the student living at home.
On a yearly basis the English student living at home receives £165 maintenance grant against the £90 received by the Scottish student. The English student living away from home receives £218 and the Scottish student £120. I am not asking that the Scottish student should at this time receive what the English student is receiving. Whatever is given in grants to university students is taken from the global sum for education in Scotland. In other words, if we give higher grants to the students, it means a greater proportion taken from the money which we get for education.
The other point is that, quite frankly, I should be inclined from my own experience as a student at a university from a working class home—and perhaps also from my Scottish thriftiness—to think that English students are rather well treated; indeed, perhaps better treated than our present economic circumstances would suggest they should be. I always bear in mind that, when we are examining these matters, we have to think not only of our student population, but of the whole of our population. I think first of our old age pensioners, and what they are having to live on. I also think that whatever is given in grants to students, or in payment to myself as a Member of Parliament, has to come from the point of production somewhere. I know of many young men of student age working in the pits at the point of production, producing the national wealth some of which has to be used for students or unproductive workers wherever they are.
What we are asking for tonight is an adequate grant for Scottish students. The amounts of grants I have mentioned tonight are anything but adequate. They are making life very difficult indeed for Scottish students. They are making it, as I suggested, impossible for some Scottish students to get to universities at all. I do, finally, beg the Joint UnderSecretary to see what he can do as soon as possible to ensure that Scottish students have adequate grants.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I beg to second the Motion.
I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has given a very clear and useful review of the position and covered the main factors which the Joint Under-Secretary will have in mind when he replies to the debate. The particular importance of bursary provisions is not one which we in Scotland are likely to under-estimate. We have had it stressed in new ways in the last few years. We wish in these days to try to make sure that anyone who can benefit from higher education is not prevented from doing so by financial considerations. That is a policy in which our bursary Regulations play their part.
In this case, we are concerned with a particular section of the bursary Regulations regarding two types of students, the university type and the pre-vocational type. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can be altogether happy about either of these groups of students. If he asks himself whether, in Scotland, we are getting into the universitles and other institutions all the young men and women who can benefit from university training, I think he has to answer in the negative. A report was issued a few days ago, which had been submitted to the Secretary of State, which made that point again. We can get more university students from Scotland.
As to the other group, the pre-vocational group, it is well known that we have in this country a shortage of skilled craftsmen. Sir Godfrey Ince told us a short time ago that the shortage was likely to increase rather than decrease, and my hon. Friend has stressed the great need for making sure we get the best out of our manpower. It seems that the Under-Secretary must face the question: is there anything more that can be done by way of financial provision, and particularly by way of bursary provision, to make sure we get as many suitable people as possible into the universities and into the pre-vocational courses?
I do not think there is very much doubt that, in some cases, suitable young persons are today being prevented from taking university courses for financial reasons. It is more difficult to make any 553 general statement about the younger group—the pre-vocational group —because they are very much more diverse and the facts about them are a great deal less fully publicised, but, if it is possible, by way of the bursary Regulations, to help in ensuring that we do get all the people who should be going to the universities or taking the junior type of course, then the Joint Under-Secretary must see that the Regulations are suitable.
My hon. Friend has noted one or two of the ways in which our system differs from the English, and I share her general point of view. We differ, in particular, in the system of State scholarships. I do not think we need envy the English that system it may be perfectly satisfactory in England, but not necessarily one which we want to copy in Scotland. We differ from them in one other financial provision that is fairly general with Scottish students, and that is the Carnegie grant. On this question of a comparison between English awards and Scottish awards, what we want from the hon. Gentleman tonight is a fairly clear statement of the exact position, because there is today a considerable amount of interest in the differences between the practices of the two countries, and people do want to know why the differences exist.
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman one or two rather more detailed questions about the changes which he is actually making. The changes axe confined to the very small section of the existing Regulations concerned with maintenance allowances. I think we ought to ask him on what factors the figures have been arrived at. For instance, what is the relation of the increase to the increase in the cost of living, which is a point my hon. Friend stressed? I do not think that we in this House can argue with any great satisfaction about the exact rightness of one particular figure or another; we could lose ourselves in a discussion of that sort, but if the hon. Gentleman can give us the considerations that have been in the Government's mind in fixing these rates of increase, I think we will, at least, know a little better where we are.
I believe, with my hon. Friend, that the increases are not enough, but I am also with her in feeling that we do not want to raise them too high, not necessarily to the English level, and not to 554 such an extent that, vis-a-vis the other sections of our population, they will seem over-generous. I ask the hon. Gentleman why it was that he confined the increases to this one section of the Regulations. One can easily suggest one or two other sections which might have been increased. For instance, books and instruments; there must, I imagine, be a fairly considerable proportion of increase in the cost of these things since 1949.
Again, those meals which are not part of the ordinary maintenance allowance— meals taken away from home or outside the hostel or lodging—the cost of these must also have increased. The cost of travelling certainly has increased. Why are these all left untouched, and only maintenance allowances touched? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would explain what considerations led to the fixing of the maintenance allowance in preference to an alteration in the parents' contribution. I think the selection of the maintenance allowance is the more sensible method of the two because it enables a variation to be made in the proportion as between the junior and senior grants.
I notice that these increases are larger in proportion for the pre-vocational courses than for the older courses, and, bearing in mind the domestic circumstances, that seems to be a fairly desirable arrangement. I am, therefore, in agreement with the Minister on that general principle; but, again, one would like to know what were the factors which led him to take this decision.
Finally, may I stress the general arguments which my hon. Friend put before the House. These matters are of wider interest than they used to be. Nowadays, it is not simply a question of the ability of a student and his future career. That is very important in any democratic society, in which the individual counts so much, but in addition there is a very strong national interest. As my hon. Friend said, manpower—and particularly highly educated or highly skilled manpower—is one of our comparatively few big economic assets, and it is up to the Minister and his colleagues to develop that type of manpower as far as possible.
Besides the students, the parents and the local education authorities are interested in any additional information the Minister can give on this subject. Many parents are delving as best they can, with 555 the knowledge available to them, into the question why their sons or daughters are getting the allowances which they receive, and no more and no less. I am sure that education committees, with our Scottish tradition, are as generous as they feel they can be, but to a large extent they are guided and their allowances are set by the Regulations. What we want from the Minister tonight is a full explanation of why he has decided on these figures and has allocated them as he has done, and of the factors which prompted him to make these Regulations.
§ 10.54 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
These Regulations undoubtedly raise the allowances for students slightly above those which were in force in 1949. As the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) pointed out, in the case of a student living at home the increase is 5s. a week, and for a student living in lodgings the increase is 10s. a week. But there are genuine doubts and anxiety as to whether this increase now meets all the requirements of our students.
Many of my hon. Friends and I were impressed with the information which was given to us by a deputation from the Scottish Union of Students, who came to see us some months ago. They were able to furnish us with some evidence of the financial difficulties which were facing students, particularly at Glasgow University, and they also told us the results of a survey which has been carried out under the guidance of one of the staff of the School of Economics in Dundee.
Although some of the figures were approximate, and I would hesitate to accept all which were given, it seems to me that the allowances fixed in the 1949 Regulations are now inadequate, and that there might well be room for improvement on those fixed in the present Regulations. I understand that it is the intention of the Secretary of State to look into the points raised by the Scottish Union of Students. He indicated as much in his answer to a Question put to him by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) on 28th November. At the end of that answer he said:I do not consider it practicable to make any further increase in the allowances for the 556 present and I therefore propose to make the Regulations forthwith in the form in which they were published. I intend, however, to look further into the points made by the Union".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th November, 1952; Vol. 508, c. 104.]I welcome that assurance by the Secretary of State, and I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to tell us tonight that the review is proceeding. In the meantime, I think we would do well to accept the Regulations which are before us, as they represent some advance on the scale of allowances laid down in the 1949 Regulations.
§ 10.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Johnston (Paisley)
I do not desire to add anything to the general plea so eloquently put forward, but I do wish to ask the Joint Under-Secretary some questions, and to raise with him a matter which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and I have been raising with him, with lack of success, for some months that is, the definition of the words "whole time ", which occur in the first paragraph of the Regulations. There is no definition of the words in the Act, or in the Regulations. I understand that the Department has made a definition, though I do not know what that definition is. The first question I would ask is: what is that definition? I do not know that the definition is such that it forbids any person receiving a maintenance grant at a Scottish University entering into an apprenticeship of any kind.
This knowledge came to me for the first time a few months ago, when I was examining in law at one of the universities. While going over the papers I discovered that a young man from one of the Highland counties had written a series of extremely good papers which were marred by one or two extraordinary errors. The papers showed that he had a thorough knowledge of academic law, but very little knowledge of its practical application. After the examinations I ascertained that, contrary to the usual practice, he was not doing, at one and the same time, an apprenticeship and studying for the degree of bachelor of laws.
I also ascertained that the reason was that if he went into an office and became an apprentice, he could no longer receive the maintenance grant. If he did not receive the grant, he could not continue at the university. The choice open to him 557 was to go to the university and take the degree of bachelor of laws and, when he had done that, to try and do an apprenticeship; or to do the apprenticeship and forgo the maintenance grant. That, I suggest, is a piece of complete absurdity. It is the worst type of officialdom. It results in the maximum expenditure by the State.
If a grant were made to a person who was doing an apprenticeship the sum which he received as an apprentice could be taken into account when assessing the grant; but, since he is not allowed to be an apprentice, what happens is that he does not become an apprentice and the full grant is payable. The giving of the grant has the least satisfactory result, because it means that the State, instead of having a fully qualified man at the end of the period of grant, gets a person who has the academic qualifications, but no practical experience.
It is unsatisfactory, too, from the point of view of the students and the universities, because it means that the student—particularly in his second and third years—is a very much less satisfactory student than he would be if he were able to do his academic studies along with his practical studies. I have mentioned law, but this applies to all the other professions—accountancy, engineering, and so on—except, curiously enough, medicine, though much of that course is practical. In medicine it does not matter whether or not the student is going to receive a salary or some other emolument.
It is also unsatisfactory because during the academic term the student who is receiving the grant spends two or three hours a day doing his academic studies —and, we hope, some more time in the evening—for only six or seven months in the year. He then goes away to his home, which may be in the more remote parts, in which case he has no access to the law books or technical books required. A further curious fact is that he can engage in any remunerative employment, either during the vacations or university terms, so long as it is not an apprenticeship.
I understand that this definition of the Department, which has resulted in this absurdity, has continued from the time when the Regulations were first made. I, as a Member of the Government of that time, must therefore accept my share of 558 responsibility, though I must confess that I knew nothing about it until recently, when I became a university examiner. But the fact that the absurdity occurred at one time is no reason for its continuance.
A possible explanation for it is that, as I understand, a similar rule applies in England; but the Joint Under-Secretary cannot say that there is a reason for the absurdity in the rates which he has to pay students and at the same time argue that he must follow the English practice. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Scotland recently announced that he declined to follow behind the coat tails of England. A second possible explanation is that the Minister of Labour's Regulations for industrial apprentices are not unlike those which apply to universities; but that is surely another absurdity.
I suggest that this is the time for the Joint Under-Secretary to announce that he is going to reconsider this whole matter and that, as a result, he will say that the definition of "whole-time" will be changed in such a way that those persons who wish to be both apprentices and university students at one and the same time shall be entitled to receive the maintenance grant.
§ 11.59 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Henderson Stewart)
This has been a useful and, I hope the House will think, a profitable discussion. I welcome it because I share the view of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) and hon. Members on both sides of the House that the present provisions are not adequate. Let us recognise that at the beginning.
In order that we may understand the situation, may I follow the hon. Lady with a brief recital of the history? What she said is correct; I merely offer to fill in one or two gaps. In 1944, when I was a member of it, the Advisory Council on Education drew attention to the inequalities to which the hon. Lady has referred. They did not recommend that we, in Scotland, should institute State scholarships as they have done in England, but they drew attention to the inequalities which existed and advised that education authorities should be more closely controlled by Regulation in the drawing up of the bursaries.
559 The Education Act of 1946, which most hon. Members here will remember, gave the necessary statutory powers to make that possible, and the revised bursary Regulations were made in 1947. The hon. Lady had a part in that, and I take the opportunity to compliment her, because the step then taken was valuable. There were further Regulations in 1949, the chief alteration being that they prescribed a minimum instead of a maximum for maintenance allowances. These were both good measures and the result was quite extraordinary.
The hon. Lady, I am sure, remembers the figures, but she will be comforted if I repeat them. Before the first of these Bursary Regulations, the total local authority expenditure on bursaries was only £331,000 a year. After the first Regulation, it rose to £766,000 a year; that was in 1947–48. In the next year it rose to £980,000 and in 1949–50 it exceeded £1 million.
It is clear that by introducing these Regulations the local authorities were encouraged—let us put it that way— greatly to extend their bursary provision, and I was delighted that that happened, because I, in my time, was assisted at the university by a bursary, as it then was, as an ex-soldier —a bursary provided by the State; but it is the same idea. I am very grateful for the assistance which I had, and I know how valuable such assistance is for young men and women.
In November, 1949, came the first economy circular. It said, however, that there was to be no curtailment of bursary provision, but authorities were enjoined to ensure that bursaries were awarded only to students capable of profiting. The hon. Lady will remember that those were her words. Our economy circular, last year, repeated those words so that, upon this, also, we are agreed.
In 1950 came the first representations from the students, pointing out that, with the rising cost of living, the bursaries ought to be increased. The reply then given by the Government—and I think a proper reply—was, "We altered these bursaries last year, and you cannot expect us to alter them again within 12 months." Since then, as we know, the students have been making repeated representations. Up to the time that the present Govern- 560 ment took office, no addition to the bursaries was made.
Last summer, after we had come into office—and I am not trying in any way to make a party point, but merely to recite the history—I and my right hon. Friend thought that something ought to be done, and it was therefore decided to introduce new Regulations.
I have been asked how it was that we arrived at this change rather than that change: why concentrate on maintenance and why not, as we were asked, deal with other matters? I will be frank. We did not have much time to go into the whole matter. We thought that an interim measure, brought about quickly, was desired, and that is what these present Regulations are. This is an interim measure. It is retrospective. It acts from last October and we can fairly say we did the best we could as quickly 'as we could. We made it possible, from last October, for students to get some increase in their bursaries, although I do not say that increase is adequate. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North and everybody who has spoken tonight on this.
Regarding the comparison, first, with England and, secondly, with the students, as the hon. Lady admitted, and other hon. Members confirmed, it is not possible to make an accurate comparison with the English position because the structure is different. The English local authorities do not act under instructions from the Central Education Department, as they do in our country. Why should we slavishly follow the English pattern? The truth is that, in Scotland, we have had a long and honourable tradition of bursaries and we have set our own standards. I agree, too, that we are under no compulsion to adopt the English method. Let us rather apply ourselves to Scottish conditions, Scottish traditions, and Scottish standards, and make the bursaries adequate. That is what we all want to do.
I think the House would be interested if I said a word about the Carnegie bursaries because they have a bearing upon this matter. The Carnegie Trust, in the session 1951–52, distributed about £15,000 to 1,026 students. The number of university students, incidentally, in receipt of education authority bursaries that year was about 4,800. The amount 561 to be expended by the Carnegie trustees in the current session has risen to £20,000 and we are informed by them that a further increase is expected next session. I am sure we are all happy and grateful to hear that.
The Trust are prepared, they inform us, to make grants to students holding education authority bursaries, who are qualified and deserving, each case being considered on its merits. The House will be glad to have that information because it is to the advantage of our students. In Scotland, there has long been in addition to the Carnegie bursaries, a number of endowment trusts.
§ Miss Herbison
Could the hon. Gentleman tell me whether the grants given by the Carnegie Trust are under the same conditions as previously? He knows these grants were stopped for a time and have only recently begun again. Are they under the same conditions, by which there is no means tests for a bursary?
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not sure I can answer that point completely. We are informed that the trustees are prepared to give bursaries to students holding education authority grants, who are qualified and deserving. I do not think that a means test is imposed. I would not like to misinform the hon. Lady and I will confirm what I have said to her.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
If the Carnegie Trust gives a grant, does the education authority automatically include that in the means test, and reduce the grant accordingly?
§ Mr. Stewart
If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the Regulations made in 1949, he will see that is not so.
§ Mr. D. Johnston
Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that a Carnegie grant does not in any way cover a maintenance allowance? I think that is expressly provided for in the conditions of a Carnegie grant.
§ Mr. Stewart
If I understand accurately the information we have been given by the Carnegie trustees, it means that they are going to apply a fairly wide interpretation of the conditions. Those words, "qualified and deserving," are, I think, very wide, and I feel that the House can be reasonably satisfied that this is a 562 real addition to the provision of assistance for students.
I was going to say a word about the endowment trusts. I remember very well, when at school at Morrison's Academy, the Jane and John McDougal Trust Endowment, which many of the boys and girls of my time found helpful. There are 300 endowment trusts at present, and they have power to award bursaries to students at universities, training colleges, central institutions. The exact amount of annual payments of this kind is not known, but it is estimated at about £75,000. The maximum amount of individual award made by the trusts varies from £30 to £70.
I mention these things because, as all we Scots Members know, they indicate that there are sources other than local authorities from which our boys and girls can obtain help; and it has been so a long time, and I hope that it will always continue. But that is one of the reasons why it is not easy, or possible, in fact, to make a direct comparison with England.
I have covered the detailed points which the hon. Lady made. I agree with her—I have said already I agree with her —that the grants are, perhaps, on the small side. I would not agree with her, with respect, when she says the grants are so small that many students of real ability are prevented from going to the university. If she has a case, or cases, we shall, of course, be delighted and anxious to look into them, but when she was good enough, with one of her hon. Friends, to come to talk to me on this matter—I think in December—she asked us if we would look into the matter to see what the universities and others thought about this.
Well, we did that, and the information we got from the universities and the training colleges was that they did not consider there was much real hardship among students, but they did think there was some evidence of straitened circumstances. Perhaps, there is not a great deal of difference between the one and the other, but I am reporting accurately what was said to us.
§ Mr. Stewart
I suppose they felt—certainly, I think—that the present scales are 563 not quite enough to meet those straitened circumstances; not enough money to buy a reasonably decent midday meal—that sort of thing. That is the difference, I suppose, between hardship and straitened circumstances. But I did make those inquiries, and I do not think it would be fair to our Scottish system to say that any student today of any ability is prevented from attending the university because he does not get sufficient assistance.
§ Miss Herbison
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but surely the information he has just given is about students who are at the university, and what the professors and lecturers said about them. Professors and lecturers cannot have any more knowledge about students who have not reached the university, and who would have reached it if the grants had been adequate.
§ Mr. Stewart
I quite agree that the hon. Lady is entitled to say that, but I just have not any evidence of it. If she has any evidence, I invite her to present it. I do not believe there is any evidence to justify that view, but I gladly invite hon. Members to give us the evidence if they have got it.
I was glad the hon. Lady said, with regard to the English provisions, that she thought they were, perhaps, a little more than they need be—better, she said, than the economic circumstances of the country justified. I rather agree with her.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. M. MacPherson) asked about pre-vocational and student bursaries. I agree with what he said, but I believe that everybody accepts that we do not want the same bursary for both categories. The House will be interested to hear that about 56 per cent. of all students at Scottish universities live at home—I was surprised at that—and so do 66 per cent. of those attending training colleges, which means that home ties and home circumstances exist in a great majority of cases.
I have already said that we do not regard these Regulations as the last word, and it may well be that the considerations put to us by the hon. Gentleman deserve further consideration. He asked how the maintenance allowances were arrived at. 564 We did not have a very lengthy scientific examination. As I explained, we wanted to do something quickly. We are now making a further examination which will be a little more exact and comprehensive. The hon. Member asked why we confined it to maintenance and did not include the other matters. I agree that in a fuller examination questions of books and midday meals will come up for consideration.
With regard to what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Lieut.-Commander Hutchison), as I have said, the students petitioned various Governments. Our proposals do not go as far as the students ask. On the other hand, the students do not ask for anything like the English figure. What we want to do is to get somewhere nearer the Scottish students' requests.
I do not want to say more than I am entitled to do, but I can tell the House that we feel that a case has been made for better bursaries, and I give an undertaking that we will immediately consider the matter. In fact, we are already doing it. If I am asked when we hope to get something done, I can only say that we should like to have the revised Regulations ready for the next university session beginning in the autumn of this year.
I come now to the matter raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston). It is a limited point, and it is also a difficult one. He suggests that a boy learning to be, say, an accountant has to have office experience. In my student days many of the boys taking the commerce degree, which I took, spent the bulk of their days in offices under apprenticeship. It has never been thought by any Government that that sort of boy could be regarded as a full-time student.
Hon. Members may say that it is absurd, but the difficulty is that if one was to make special provision for professional students one would have to make an equivalent provision for industrial students. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not? "] I agree, and I am not saying that that should not be done, but it is a much bigger problem. The Ministry of Labour have a view on this matter. and because of the wide ramifications of the problem no Government has yet been able to do as the hon. and learned Gentleman asks us to do. Nevertheless, 565 it is a matter that deserves consideration.
I was impressed with this case many months ago. It has been looked into, but I must tell the House that it is surrounded by many difficulties and I do not see an easy way out. I should like to find one, but I confess I am not able to offer one tonight. I hope that I have met the general views of the House. I undertake that we shall give immediate consideration to these matters, and I hope we shall be successful.
§ 11.21 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The news we have had about the review is very welcome. The hon. Gentleman states that he hopes to have the Regulations out by the next university term, which is early in October. This House is in Recess during August, September and October. Students going to the university for the first time will have to consider the possibility of getting help and whether that help will be sufficient. They will have to know a good deal earlier than October, because the acceptances have to be completed by that time. Are we to understand that these new Regulations may be published sometime in July, because that is what it means?
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I am not able to commit myself to a date. We are 566 aware of that point, and we shall do everything we can to meet the desire of the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Manuel
The Joint Under-Secretary mentioned that 60 per cent. of the students lived at home. Has he any information about the distances they have to travel to receive their education and what is the outlay in travelling expenses?
§ Mr. Stewart
I recognise the importance of that point. I will give the exact figures. Of the students at the universities 55 per cent. live at home. Of the students at training colleges 66 per cent. live at home. I cannot tell the hon. Member how many live a distance from the universities or colleges, but, obviously, a good many do, and their travelling expenses are a considerable item.
§ Miss Herbison
In view of the assurances given by the hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the. Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.