HC Deb 16 April 1964 vol 693 cc567-8
1. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the financial difficulties experienced by postgraduates, including some married with children, who are pursuing the child care course sponsored by his Department, as a result of their grants being subject to a means test based on parental income; and what steps he intends to take to remedy the position, in order to ensure that the child care services will be adequately staffed by trained personnel.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

The grant scheme for child care students, like the Ministry of Education university students scheme, provides for parental contributions in respect of postgraduate students, and I am aware of no grounds for treating child care students differently in this respect. The number of places on child care officer training courses is progressively increasing, as is the number of applications for training.

Mr. Abse

Is the Minister aware that there is plenty of precedent for giving grants to postgraduate students without a means test of this kind in so far as they are given, for example, in the D.S.I.R., in the Medical Research Council and in the Agricultural Research Council? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the grievous hardship that is falling on child care workers in Liverpool, in Nottingham and elsewhere? If he seriously means what he said the day before yesterday, that he wants trained child care workers in local authorities, why does he not do something, like other Departments, to remedy the hardship falling on these married people, sometimes, and postgraduate workers in universities?

Mr. Brooke

The other cases to which the hon. Gentleman refers are research students, but these are people taking professional training following a degree course. There is exactly the same arrangement, as I said, in the case of Ministry of Education students as in the case of child care students. I am indeed sorry that for a period there was delay in the payment of students' travelling expenses, but I am glad to say that the payments have now been brought up to date. There are plenty of people applying, and I do not seriously believe that there exists the severe hardship which the hon. Gentleman implies.