HC Deb 11 December 1969 vol 793 c623
16. Mr. Wright

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will amend the University and Other Awards Regulations in respect of married women students under 21 years of age to take account of the lowering of the age of majority to 18 years from January, 1970.

Mr. Fowler

Under these regulations, women who are over 21 and married before the beginning of their course are deemed to be independent of their parents. The corresponding age for men and single women is 25. It would be inequitable to make changes in favour of married women students without revising the entire system of parental contributions.

Mr. Wright

Does the Minister not appreciate the anomaly of this position? A married woman student under 21 with a parent who has considerable wealth is deemed to be dependent on that parent and may get no grant from the State, but, because she is married, she may get no grant from the parent. There is an anomaly here; will the hon. Gentleman not look at it again?

Mr. Fowler

Not now. The present system of student grants is largely based on the Report of the Anderson Committee, which was issued in 1960. If it were possible to abolish parental contributions there would be stronger claims than that of a married woman under 21, such as a married man student over 21 with children.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Will my hon. Friend look at the question of married men students under 21 in colleges of education who receive a single man's grant which is subject to parental contribution?

Mr. Fowler

Yes, but my hon. Friend is attacking the whole principle of parental contributions. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am afraid he is. There is no easy way out of this. The cost of abolishing parental contributions in the present academic year would be between £35million and £40 million.