HC Deb 01 December 1960 vol 631 cc577-9
34. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Minister of Education whether he is yet in a position to make a further statement on his consideration of the recommendations of the Anderson Committee on Grants to Students.

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, Sir. The Government have decided on the general lines of the radical revision of the scale of parental contributions which I announced in the House on the 7th November.

The details of this scale, which will come into force in October, 1961, will be published shortly, after I have consulted the local authority associations. In addition to university students, the new scale will apply also to students taking comparable courses in further education institutions and to teachers in training. No contribution will be required below £700—net scale income—and in general there will be a substantial reduction in the amounts which parents will be required to contribute. The Income Tax child allowance will be continued. The cost of the relaxation of the means test now proposed will be approximately £10 million in a full year. The system of making awards in Scotland differs in several respects from that in England and Wales and the application of the Government's decisions to Scotland is still under discussion. My right hon. Friend will make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. Montgomery

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that Answer, and while I am glad that at least some advance is being made in this field, may I say that I am not altogether satisfied that the advance goes far enough? As we believe in the principle of free secondary education for all, and any child who passes for a grammar school gets a place irrespective of the parents' income, why cannot we transfer this further and give those with the necessary ability a place in further education irrespective of the parents' income.

Sir D. Eccles

This drastic relaxation of the means test is without prejudice to full abolition if on examination it should turn out to be the right thing to do.

Mrs. White

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the net cost of the proposal will be? The gross cost is presumably £10 million, but the Treasury will recoup on the Income Tax side. Can he say what will be the net cost?

Sir D. Eccles

Not without notice, but the child allowance for Income Tax purposes is being continued and the effect of that is that poorer parents will be better off under this relaxation than they would be by complete abolition.

Mr. Chetwynd

Are we to understand from the Minister's statement that all local education authorities are to apply this uniformly?

Sir D. Eccles

That is the intention.