HC Deb 12 December 1974 vol 883 cc751-2
16. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why parents who are obliged to contribute to the further education of their married daughter cannot write off this expense for income tax purposes.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

So long as a daughter over 16 is receiving full-time education at a university, college, school, or other educational establishment, the parent is entitled to claim the income tax child allowance of £305, whether she is married or not. This allowance is intended broadly to take account of a child's financial dependence or her parents so long as she is undergoing full-time education.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Is the Minister aware that that by no means compensates the father of a married daughter in those circumstances for the amount of grant that he is forced to pay on the purely artificial assumption that the daughter is still dependent upon him?

Mr. Sheldon

The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. No parent is forced to pay in that way. There is no obligation upon a parent by law to contribute. Deductions are made from grants to allow for parental contributions.

Mr. Woodall

Does what my hon. Friend said about daughters over the age of 16 apply to unmarried daughters over the age of 21?

Mr. Sheldon

Yes, Sir. A recent decision by the Court of Appeal showed that that was so.

Mrs. Thatcher

I wish to ask only one thing. Will the hon. Gentleman make clear that there is a moral obligation on the parent to find that contribution towards a university grant because he is means-tested on that basis? I would not like any impression to be left that the hon. Gentleman felt that there was no obligation to do so and that therefore the tax consequences followed.

Mr. Sheldon

I would not suggest that a moral obligation and an obligation for financial purposes are the same thing.