HC Deb 22 October 1953 vol 518 cc2130-1
19. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Education what steps she proposes to take to provide a more uniform basis for the award of grants to students attending universities.

Miss Horsbrugh

I am sending the hon. Member copies of Circular 263 and Administrative Memorandum No. 425, which show the steps I have already taken to secure a more uniform basis for the award of grants to university students.

Mr. Willey

Will the right hon. Lady look at this matter again, because the steps which she has taken are far from adequate, and it is a growing anomaly that there are these very wide discrepancies between the assistance which students get who are attending the universities?

Miss Horsbrugh

I have looked into it, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows that there is an improvement. Out of 146 local education authorities, 117 have now adopted the selection procedure which I recommended and 29 have not yet done so, but will consider other arrangements for next year. One hundred and thirty-one authorities have adopted wholly or substantially the standard rates. I have again asked those who have not come into line to reconsider their arrangements for 1954–55.

Miss Bacon

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the proposal made in "Challenge to Britain" was that all these scholarships should be taken out of the hands of the local education authorities and made State scholarships? That is not only supported by the National Association of Labour Students and by the National Union of Students, but also by the Association of Conservative Students. Will she bring herself into line with her own students' organisation?

Miss Horsbrugh

I am glad to hear what the hon. Lady has said, because I was under the impression that the whole of the educational proposals in "Challenge to Britain" had been turned down.