HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc615-6
30. Mrs. Shirley Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will review the basis on which his Department grants aid to residential adult education colleges, with a view to bringing the proportion of grant they receive from public funds into line with that offered to other comparable institutions in the field of higher and further education.

Mr. Prentice

The five residential adult education colleges aided by the Department are unique, and the arrangements for grant reflect their circumstances. If these change, and the colleges wish to review the grant arrangements, my right hon. Friend will consider any representations they make.

Mrs. Williams

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask him to consider the rather low grant arrangements for these colleges in view of their importance to a large section of the community which has not had the chance to take advantage of the opportunities now available to a younger generation in higher and further education?

Mr. Prentice

It is difficult to make exact comparisons between these colleges and their circumstances and other parts of the further and higher education system. My right hon. Friend has not had any representations from the Committee representing the five colleges. He would, of course, consider any such representations.

Sir E. Boyle

Is the Minister aware that these colleges are about to be considerably enlarged through building programmes that have been approved? May I ask him to bear this point very much in mind, because in these circumstances there might be a strong case for looking at the provisions of the 1962 Act which applies to them?

Mr. Prentice

To some limited extent this point is being met in relation to the new building programme. The Exchequer is meeting 50 per cent. of the cost of the new programmes. Normally 40 per cent. of normal maintenance costs and so on are met.