HC Deb 29 January 1974 vol 868 cc230-1
10. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she can yet say whether she intends to make any changes in the criteria governing the assessment of grants to students, with particular reference to parental income and students who marry.

21. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will now make a further statement on the level of student grants.

Mr. Raison

My right hon. Friend expects to announce the results of the current review of student grants, including any changes in the parental contribution and the married woman's rate of grant, in the spring.

Mr. Chapman

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. Will he ask his right hon. Friend to pay particular attention, before making a statement, to two categories, namely, those students who have been separated from their parents in quite tragic circumstances before starting courses and who are at a disadvantage because their grant would have been based upon their parents' income, and, secondly, women students who are married to low-income non-student husbands who, by any criteria of discrimination, are at a disadvantage compared with their contemporaries?

Mr. Raison

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will take note of my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

The Minister has referred to the publication of a report in the spring. In view of the grave hardship suffered by so many students and of the anomalies which exist regarding students' grants, of which those Members who have colleges in their constituencies are well aware, will he do everything possible to accelerate the publication of the report?

Mr. Raison

We are anxious to push ahead but it is a complicated matter. We have received two of the three special reports dealing with the facts of the situation and it is now possible to make some headway with our deliberations.

Mr. Marten

As the age of 18 is now, for all intents and purposes, the age of majority, why should parental income be considered after a student reaches the age of 18?

Mr. Raison

That point of view is held by many people. I must point out that substantial sums of money are at stake.

Mr. George Cunningham

Does the Minister agree that it is grossly unfair that parental income for these purposes should be considered net of mortgage repayments but never net of any rent rebates? I understand the administrative convenience of the arrangement, but will the Minister consider the position which, on the surface, is completely illogical?

Mr. Raison

I am doubtful whether we can meet the hon. Gentleman, but I shall bear his point in mind.

19. Mr. Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will amend the regulations covering special equipment grants to enable a student following an architecture degree or ARIBA diploma course to be eligible for such a grant.

Mr. Raison

These students are already eligible for a special equipment grant of up to £20 per annum. The level of this grant is under consideration as part of the general review of student grants.

Mr. Winterton

Does my hon. Friend agree that although certain students are eligible for the equipment grant other students requiring the same equipment for the courses which they are taking are not eligible for it? This is a very unjust situation. Will my hon. Friend give serious consideration to this point in the review which is taking place?

Mr. Raison

I assure my hon. Friend that this matter is being considered in the current review.

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