HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1289-91
21. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many children are attending special schools in accordance with section 32(4) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lady Tweedsmuir)

At January, 1963, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 10,549 children attending special schools. Of these, 1,135 were aged 15 and a further 74 were aged 16 or over.

Mr. Hannan

Does not the Under-Secretary agree that, since these children are compulsorily required to attend school until they reach the age of 16, they are being educated according to the Act and according to their aptitude and ability? In view of that fact, will not she make representations to her right hon. Friend to give way on the question of affording bursaries to the parents of such children?

Lady Tweedsmuir

I realise the problem involved in the fact that these children do not receive higher school bursaries, but the hon. Member will remember the debate we had on this matter a year ago. The problem is that if we gave bursaries in this case we should create other anomalies.

22. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the estimated cost of providing bursaries for children attending special schools compulsorily to the age of 16 years, similar to those provided for children attending normal schools after the statutory age of 15 years.

Lady Tweedsmuir

The total cost might be about £15,000 a year.

Mr. Hannan

Is the hon. Lady aware that the Minister of Education, replying to a similar Question, said that in England and Wiles there were about 7,000 such children between those ages, and that the estimated cost is £10,000£15,000? In view of the very small number of children and the almost infinitesimal sum of money involved, compared with the huge sums which are spent by this Home on other matters, is it not time that both Departments got together in order to sort out this very real grievance?

Lady Tweedsmuir

As I said before. I recognise the problem. But I am sure that the hon. Member realises that this would involve legislation.

Mr. Wainwright

Will the hon. Lady take into account the fact that this step is necessary to assist the parents of these children? Does not she agree that the sum of money involved is so small that something ought to be possible for these children throughout the United Kingdom? Will she impress upon her right hon. Friends that on this occasion Scotland should show herself to be an example to the rest of the United Kingdom, and make a grant in respect of these children? Does not she also agree that it would not mean much of an alteration to the Act to bring such a provision into operation? It would probably go through on the nod.

Lady Tweedsmuir

I agree that the sums involved are not very large in respect of either country, but legislation would be involved, and we could not manage it this Session.

Mr. Ross

Does not the hon. Lady appreciate that, with the help of the Opposition, she could secure that legislation easily and quickly during this Session? May we have, not just sympathy and understanding, but a little more generosity from the Government?

Lady Tweedsmuir

I could not promise legislation during this Session.