HC Deb 06 February 1969 vol 777 cc563-4
16. Mr. Alison

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will consider raising the ceiling level of private income, above which grants for mature students undergoing training at colleges of education suffer reductions pro rata.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

At the last review of student grants, a further disregard of £100 of private income was allowed for widows and divorced or separated wives with one or more dependents.

Mr. Alison

Does the hon. Lady appreciate that the ceiling is still extremely low for some mature students who have sacrificed a quite appreciable standard of living to go into teaching? Does she appreciate that in some families the wife is prevented from working to support her husband who is under training, because of the £100 limit, and that they live on savings to make it up? Is not this an uneconomic way of maximising the use of resources?

Mrs. Williams

Any man or woman who has had earnings above a certain level before coming into training is entitled to an additional allowance, as well as the one I have mentioned. If the hon. Gentleman has any particular case in mind I will look into it. But I would point out that our evidence is that hardship is less marked among mature students with other income than among students with no other income.

Mr. Peter M. Jackson

Is my hon. Friend aware that the ceiling has remained unchanged over the last decade? Will she, therefore, consider raising it in terms of the depreciation of the value of money?

Mrs. Williams

I am not sure to which of the several ceilings my hon. Friend is referring. But, as I have pointed out, one ceiling has been doubled. However, he is right in saying that another has not been changed.