HC Deb 19 December 1963 vol 686 cc1418-20
16. Mr. Abse

asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware of the hardship caused to the dependent children of university students by the existing university award regulations; and whether he will amend the regulations to give local authorities discretionary powers to make awards for the support of children whose parents are students.

Sir E. Boyle

These cases are few and usually arise when the student, despite the clear and long standing rule that dependants' allowances will not be payable in such circumstances, marries after his course begins. The awards regulations are at present under review by my Department and the local authority associations.

Mr. Abse

Is the Minister aware that, irrespective of the regulations, children are sometimes born, and that, since children are born, they can suffer very severely if awards are not made? Since even the Minister of Education cannot prevent children being born, perhaps he would at least indicate that some changes can be made in the regulations in order to give discretion to local authorities in these matters?

Sir E. Boyle

I think I had better not comment on part of what the hon. Gentleman has asked me. The point is that any change would involve a general change in the rules regarding independent status. I do not necessarily rule this out, but I cannot at this moment anticipate the results of the review which is going on at the present time.

Mrs. White

When are we to have the results of the review? Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that this is something for which the Opposition have pressed consistently both during the latest legislation and since? Will he not now agree that the time has come to look again at the alteration in social habits which makes a change in the regulations necessary?

Sir E. Boyle

I cannot say today when the review is likely to be completed, but I will bear in mind the feeling on this matter which has been expressed.

29. Mrs. Hart

asked the Minister of Education what reply he has made to the request from the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child that he should consider giving local authorities discretionary powers to make dependants' allowances to students receiving university and other awards.

Sir E. Boyle

I have sent the hon. Lady a copy of my reply to this organisation.

Mrs. Hart

May I say how grateful I was to have it? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Council has sent another letter raising a particular point on the need for help for unmarried women students who have babies? I know that this subject bristles with difficulties, but has the right hon. Gentleman seen some of the reports over the last year of the studies into this problem? Will he make certain in the reconsideration of this whole grant question that full attention is given to this point so that a new policy may be determined?

Sir E. Boyle

Certainly I am very ready to consider this and I will write both to the Council and to the hon. Lady again when I have had time to consider these new points.