HC Deb 22 July 1980 vol 989 cc642-4W
Mr. Allan Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is now in a position to announce the results of his consultations on an assisted places scheme for Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Younger

The consultations produced a substantial body of comment, and I am grateful to the parties concerned for the trouble they have taken. Some of the comment from parties completely opposed to education outside the public sector was naturally adverse, but, even so, many of these parties, after expressing opposition in principle, went on to offer constructive suggestions. The responses of the schools were mixed. Many showed that they would greatly prefer to retain the traditional block grant rather than have it converted into free remission grant. That, however, is incompatible with the Government's aim of substituting for a subsidy that is wholly indiscriminate one that is related to parental means. The comment as a whole convinced me that the scheme for Scotland should differ in certain respects from the original consultative proposals.

The broad outline of the scheme on which I have now decided, however, remains as in the original proposals. The whole of the resources at present available in the form of block grant to 21 schools (for which it represents about 20 per cent. of their maintenance expenditure) will be converted over a period of five years into fee remission grant to be used to enable them to offer assistance with fees in accord with a statutory income scale. So far as resources permit, children already in the schools will be included if they qualify under the income scale. Thus in the first year of the scheme—1981–82—one-fifth of the available resources will be devoted to fee remission and this proportion will increase by equal steps during the phase-over period.

The income scale is under consideration. I have already consulted on a scale and I shall ask schools to let me have the best estimates they can of the demand for assistance in accord with that scale and shall take a decision in the light of their replies.

Not all of the existing grant-aided schools will be in a position to take up the whole of the grant available for fee remission, and I shall therefore be in a position, without any increase in planned resources, to invite independent schools to apply for a measure of fee remission grant. Any such applications will be considered on their merits.

I am publishing today a policy paper giving details of the scheme. This is being sent to the same range of interested parties as received the original consultative paper, and copies of it have been

Northampton Northamptonshire
Birthplace of mother Number of births Percentage of all live births Number of births Percentage of all live births
(a) New Commonwealth and Pakistan
1974 96 4.9 232 3.1
1975 95 4.9 217 3.1
1976 128 6.6 266 3.8
1977 128 6.8 305 4.6
1978 138 6.6 294 4.3
(b) Irish Republic
1974 98 5.0 209 2.8
1975 83 4.3 164 2.4
1976 83 4.3 143 21
1977 66 3.5 132 20
1978 61 2.9 129 1.9
(c) Other regions outside the United Kingdom
1974 63 3.2 213 2.9
1975 52 2.7 208 3.0
1976 47 2.4 199 2.9
1977 41 2.2 212 3.2
1978 47 2.2 193 2.8
(d) United Kingdom
1974 1,693 86.8 6,786 91.2
1975 1,695 88.1 6,351 91.5
1976 1,672 86.6 6,305 91.2
1977 1,659 87.5 5,918 90.0
1978 1,850 88.1 6,294 91.0

sent to all hon. Members for Scottish constituencies and have been placed in the Library.