HC Deb 26 March 1956 vol 550 cc1750-1
9. Mr. Mulley

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will now make a statement on the insurance position of research students undertaking full-time study for higher degrees; and if he will exercise his powers to refer the question of the interpretation of full-time education to the High Court for decision, to clarify the distinction between undergraduates and post-graduate students for purposes of insurance classification.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

My inquiries in this matter are not yet complete, and I have therefore nothing at present to add to what was said by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary on 6th March.

Mr. Mulley

Is the Minister aware that this change—because it is a change—in the attitude of his Ministry under these circumstances is causing very great concern at a time when the Government allegedly are hoping to expand their technical education programme? If he cannot make up his mind as to what "education" means, will he consult the universities, who, I believe, have already made representations? If he cannot take their word, will he at least exercise his powers and refer the matter to the courts, because it is becoming one of anxiety?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

There has been no change in the attitude of my Department since the decision of my predecessor in April, 1954, which was on a case which was treated as a precedent. It is a difficult matter, and I am consulting, among others, the universities who, I hope, may throw quite a lot of light on the difficult problem of what is "full-time education."

Mr. Beswick

While there is concern among all who are affected, will the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is quite unjustifiable to demand contributions from Commonwealth students doing postgraduate research in this country who cannot benefit from the Insurance Fund?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I certainly could not accept that principle which, if justifiable, would apply to all foreign workers in this country and would be quite contrary to the principles of the Scheme.