HC Deb 28 February 1956 vol 549 cc1008-9
63. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the parents of deaf children who attend a special school and who are required to remain in attendance until the age of 16 receive no financial assistance although at this age other children become eligible for maintenance allowances by way of bursaries, provided they have entered the fourth year of senior secondary course; and if he will take steps to remove this discrimination against deaf children.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Henderson Stewart)

Section 43 (1) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, empowers education authorities to grant maintenance allowances by way of bursaries only to pupils whose parents voluntarily keep them at school beyond the statutory leaving age. I realise that for handicapped pupils—including deaf pupils—who attend a special school that age is 16 and not 15, as for other pupils, but my right hon. Friend would not feel justified in seeking to amend the Section so as to make eligible for bursaries of this kind any pupils whose attendance at school is compulsory.

Mr. Hughes

Yes, but does not the Minister realise that this is a very unjust discrimination against deaf children, a class which should not be penalised, but encouraged? Will he change the system so that deaf children may have decent opportunities in life?

Mr. Stewart

As the hon. and learned Gentleman will know, there are a great many handicapped children in Scotland—over 10,000. Of a total of 574 deaf children, 355 are receiving residential education, and the question which the hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned therefore does not arise.

Mr. Hughes

In view of that very unjust and wrong statement, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter at the first opportunity.

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