HC Deb 04 June 1957 vol 571 cc1061-2
23. Mr. Marquand

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer his estimate of the cost of abandoning the means test for State scholarships if parents were not permitted to receive child allowance against Income Tax in respect of such scholars.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

About £350,000.

Mr. Marquand

Is not this a very substantial reduction on the estimate given to the House some time ago by the Minister of Education, which did not include any change in the child allowance? Does the Chancellor think the suggestion which I have made is a practical one? If it requires legislation, would he be prepared to take the opportunity of the passage of the Finance Bill through the House to do something of this kind?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This is the best estimate I can give after careful consideration of the cost. There are, of course, many other factors besides the cost, as well as the question of whether it might extend to other scholarships. I prefer not to deal with the matter by question and answer.

Mr. Jay

What is the reason for the Government keeping this means test in existence?

Mr. Thorneycroft

To do what is suggested would be costly—it would cost a certain sum of money if we did it in the existing field, but if we extended it to local education authority awards, which might be a logical extension of the principle, it would cost rather more—I think another £3 million. It is not something that I rule out; I merely give the cost of it.