The rates of higher school bursaries are at present under consideration with a view to amending the regulations to enable increased bursaries to be paid for session 1974–75.
Will the Minister confirm that this is probably the most important bursary in the whole bursary system and that it is the most direct encouragement to able children from poorer families to stay on in higher education? Is he aware that under the present system if parents have an income of about £23 they do not qualify for any bursary at all? In view of the inflationary situation, is it not time that there was a rapid review of the situation so that there should be a more generous pattern of bursaries in this important sector?
I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Members for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) on this matter. Does the Minister recall that some time ago the regulations were amended to give some consideration to children who were infirm or handicapped. They were condemned to stay on at school until they were 16, as against the normal leaving age of 15. Now that the school leaving age has been raised to 16, with the probability that these children will stay on for a further period, will the Minister bear in mind this point in any review of the regulations?
Yes, I shall bear that point in mind. There always was an incentive to encourage children to stay on after school leaving age. We must not get involved in an argument about the respective merits of the ages 15 and 16.