HC Deb 10 November 1966 vol 735 cc1518-9
16. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will announce proposals for increased maintenance allowances for sixth-form pupils.

Mr. Redhead

This is a matter for the discretion of local education authorities.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In view of the resolution on this matter accepted by the right hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary of State at his own party conference, does not the Minister of State feel bound to take some rather more positive step in this direction?

Mr. Redhead

We have no present plans for advising local authorities on the level of allowances which they should pay. Our latest information does not suggest that there is any need to offer them advice in this connection, and we are satisfied with the exercise of their discretion.

Mr. Bob Brown

Will my hon. Friend accept that it takes precisely as much to keep a 16-year-old as it does to keep an 18-year-old and that, therefore, there are many unfortunate young people who are under-privileged educationally today, to the detriment of the State? Will he urge local authorities to improve their grant system in this respect?

Mr. Redhead

It is fair to add that the latest information available, which relates to May, 1964, showed that the great majority of local education authorities were paying allowances at rates higher than those recommended by the Departmental Working Party in 1957, when it was then a matter subject to departmental approval. In fact, the then Minister approved rates lower than those recommended by the working party.