HC Deb 07 April 1965 vol 710 cc477-8
28. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why a three-year residence in the United Kingdom is an essential qualification for grant under the Students' Allowances Scheme, when teachers are in short supply; and why each application is not considered on its merits.

Mr. Ross

Persons who come to Britain wholly or mainly to take a course of advanced education cannot be entitled to student allowances at the taxpayers' expense. Assistance can be given only if there is a strong probability that the student will remain in this country on completion of the course.

Applicants under the Special Recruitment Scheme for Teachers do not require a residential qualification.

Mr. Galbraith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it took four letters from me to persuade his hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) to allow a grant to be given to one of my constituents of whom there was no reason to suppose that she would not be teaching in this country? Would the right hon. Gentleman try to cut this sort of red tape, because the important thing is that we get teachers into our schools, and at the moment that is not happening, and in this case it would not have happened if I had not written four times?

Mr. Ross

We are very gateful to the hon. Gentleman for having brought to our attention the defects which existed. He is aware that this rule is a pretty inflexible rule—as it was interpreted by the previous Government, of which he was a member. It is a rule that if a person has not been resident for three years, that automatically cuts him out. We have adopted a different approach, and we thank him for his support in respect of our different approach. I thought that he might be congratulating us on the new flexibility which enabled him to give a satisfactory answer to his constituent.

Mr. Noble

Does not my hon. Friend's statement that four letters had to be written suggest that the first three times the Government turned it down and that any good idea must have come from my hon. Friend?

Mr. Ross

In fact we were already reviewing this rule, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) will confirm. I could understand the hon. Member's desire to get an earlier response, but I believe that he is very satisfied with the fact that we have shown flexibility and an improved attitude to this matter.