School Bursaries

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1974.

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Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North 12:00 am, 23rd January 1974

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will amend the regulations to allow increased higher school bursaries to be paid by local authorities.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

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.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

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?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

This is exactly what my Department and I are doing at the moment. We are going into these matters in detail. An announcement will be made in good time.

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

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?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

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.