§ Colonel HICKMAN
asked whether the President of the Board of Education will explain why, in the distribution of the Special Necessitous Aid Grant to certain local education authorities, the intention of Parliament that a Grant should be made to local education authorities with a rate in excess of 1s. 6d. in the £ equivalent to three-fourths of that excess has not been carried out; will he explain why, in the Regulations issued by the Department, local education authorities are not allowed to calculate as approved expenditure any expenditure on administration in excess of an amount equivalent to the amount produced by a rate of 1½d. in the £, and by what means and on what basis this limitation is arrived at, and also why expenditure incurred with the approval of the Local Government Board in respect of working balances loans, is excluded as approved expenditure by the Regulations, and stating how many claims have been reduced by these restrictions and the total amount saved to the Treasury thereby; and why, as the total of the claims alowed is £361,572 14s. 7d. against £350,000 provided for, each authority has been paid less than the amount claimed, and will he take steps to see that sufficient money is provided for in the current year to meet these claims?
In reply to the first question, the annual sum for Grant to necessitous areas is distributed under Regulations approved by Parliament, from which there has been no departure. Beyond voting the money from year to year for the purpose of the Grant, no intention has been expressed by Parliament with regard to it. In reply to the second question, the Regulations have for several years past fixed the limit 229 on the expenditure on administration to be aided from the Grant in order to apply the aid more to the charges of the direct maintenance of the schools. In reply to the third question, in view of the limitation on the amount available for this Grant, it became necessary in some way to limit the expenditure on which the Grant was payable, and the limitation referred to was inserted in the Regulations to secure this object. In reply to the fourth question, the repayment of the loans referred to is excluded from the expenditure because the receipt of them is also excluded from the income side of the account; but the expenditure of the money which local authorities derive from such loans is not excluded from the account. I cannot give any reply to the fifth question without an expenditure of labour, which I do not think can be justified. In reply to the sixth question, the Grant is limited in amount, and no saving is effected for the Treasury by the restrictions. In reply to the seventh question, the amount being limited to £350,000, a pro rata reduction is necessary. In reply to the last question, the Government are unable at present to consider the extension of this Grant.