HC Deb 20 November 1974 vol 881 cc1296-7
4. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the effective increase in a student's grant after deducting the increased hostel fee for a resident student at Dundee College of Education.

Mr. Robert Hughes


Mr. Gourlay

Does my hon. Friend regard the increase as sufficient in the light of rising prices? Is it correct to assume that the figure of £48 applies only to students in receipt of the maximum grant? There are students who do not receive the parental contribution, which is taken into account in calculating the grant, and they are finding great difficulty in making ends meet. Therefore, at the next review, will my hon. Friend consider doing away with the necessity of the parental contribution? Further, since the Secretary of State saw fit to freeze the rents of council houses, could he not have frozen the rents of hostel accommodation?

Mr. Hughes

My hon. Friend raises a number of points. First, the question whether the additional £48 is adequate in view of rising prices is something that can be discussed later. The current student grant position is to apply for 12 months, instead of three years as previously. Therefore, there will soon be an opportunity to discuss the actual figures and various other matters.

The Government take the view that the parental contribution ought to be removed. However, there are other claims on Government money and we cannot promise to do away with the parental contribution immediately, although we shall work towards this.

Freezing rents in relation to hostel accommodation is a matter that has to be considered bearing in mind that the increase in student grants is intended to cover, if not all, certainly a great part of students' living costs and accommodation. We must be careful not to apply a double subsidy, so that a student receives an increased grant and at the same time more money has to be made available to see that hostels function in a viable way.

Mr. Corrie

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that something must be done to speed up the payment of grants? Many students who are being approached to pay hostel fees have not the money to do so.

Mr. Hughes

For the moment I content myself by saying that I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but there is a later Question, on which no doubt students' grant demands will be considered more deeply.