§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the State Scholarships Amending Regulations No. 4, 1961 (S.I., 1961, No. 1621), dated 21st August, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th August, in the last Session of Parliament, be annulled.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Do I understand that it is the wish of the House to take the other Prayer at the same time?That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Training of Teachers (Grant) Amending Regulations No. 2, 1961 (S.I., 1961, No. 1622), dated 21st August, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 29th August, in the last Session of Parliament, be annulled.
§ Mrs. White
I suggest that that would be convenient.
The two sets of Regulations under consideration touch upon the same matters of principle and very largely coincide on matters of detail. The reason for praying against them is not that we have any objection to them as they are at present administered. They were made in August this year and affect the present practice for giving grants to students. However, we thought it only right that, as so much of this aspect of educational administration is governed by delegated legislation, we should use this opportunity to discuss some of the matters involved. We shall shortly be concerned with the Committee stage of the Education Bill, which is an enabling Bill and does not include the sort of details contained in these Regulations. Before we reach the point at which Regulations under the Bill when it is enacted will be made, it is only right to discuss some of these matters.
The Regulations are fairly narrow. They are primarily concerned with the dependants' grants which may be paid to students who are in teacher-training colleges, or who are holders of State scholarships at universities. There is one point concerned with State scholarships which has nothing to do with dependants, and that is the amount of 1290 money which a State scholar is permitted to keep without inquiry into the means of himself or his parents. That amount is fixed by these Regulations at £50. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) would like some explanation from the Parliamentary Secretary about why the State scholar is allowed to keep only £50, whereas the holder of an open award is allowed to keep £100. However, I do not propose to go into that subject further. We had a long discussion some time ago on State scholarships and I now propose to turn to the matter of dependants' allowances.
A student can obtain an allowance for wife or child—or husband, if that case should arise—or other dependant only in certain fairly strictly defined conditions. He has to be 25 on 31st July in the year in which the course starts. Alternatively, he may have kept himself by his own earnings for a period of at least three years. If he has done National Service, half of that time may count towards the qualifying period of three years.
I draw the attention of the House to the fact that his age at the time when the course begins or when the award is offered—and the award is normally offered before the course begins—must be as laid down. If he qualifies or would become 25 after 31st July of the year in which the award is offered—and he may be studying in a teacher training college for at least two years and possibly for three—he may be 27 or 28 and still be considered dependent upon his parents. That is how I understand the Regulations and the correspondence which I have had from the Ministry on individual cases. If he should be married but had not been over 25 before 31st July of the year when the award was offered, he is not eligible for dependants' allowances for his wife or any children.
This is not normally of great importance to State scholars who are usually a good deal younger. However, it can arise with State studentships and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to make clear whether the Regulations cover State studentships. If they do, it is a serious matter. A State studentship is normally awarded for post-graduate 1291 work, research work, which means that someone who is going on after his first degree to undertake research is not eligible for marriage allowance nor dependants' allowance unless he was more than 25 in the year when the award was offered.
I contend that this is quite unrealistic in the light of modern conditions. People are marrying very much younger. I was at my old college at Oxford not so very long ago, and I inquired about some of the new graduates who had gone down the previous year. The number of those who had married or were about to marry was quite astonishing, to my mind, compared with the very small number of my generation who married as young as that.
I recall that when I was at college, although a number of girls married fairly soon after they had gone down, only one married immediately on going down, and she married her tutor. The present idea of university students is, of course, quite different. We are told on all sides that they mature earlier. They certainly marry much sooner, and start their families much younger. Whatever one may think about it, these are the facts. If our grants provisions do not take account of this, then we shall lose people either for the teaching profession, in the case of the teacher training grants where the older people may be concerned, or for research in the case of State studentships for graduate research. We may lose very valuable people who will be discouraged from continuing their training or research because we are not taking account of their way of life, and we are asking them to remain unmarried or remain without dependants until an age which may be 27 or 28.
I would illustrate what I am saying by referring to two cases on both of which in recent months I have corresponded with the Ministry. One was the case of a young man in training who approached me because he felt that he was in a position in which he should be treated as an adult. This young man was 24 when he started his teacher training, but because he was 24 when he started, the fact that he was 25½ when he came to see me was neither here nor there. It is the year in which the award is offered that is the qualifying date.
1292 This young man had been in the Armed Forces, had been drawing a subaltern's pay and had been living an independent, adult life. He then took employment, but for just less than the two years which would have qualified him for a grant. He then decided that his real vocation in life was teaching and he entered the teacher training college. He was told that, because he was under age and had not quite done the three years, he had to remain dependent on his parents who were subject, therefore, to a parental means test. He said that his total grant for this year, that is, from the spring of 1960 to the spring of 1961, was £3 6s. 6d. Obviously, his parents were in a position to make a contribution, but we can fully understand the feelings of this young man, who wished to get married. He said that he had already postponed marriage but that he felt that at the age of 25 it was not unreasonable to marry and he would be in some difficulty if he were still dependent on his parents because if he got married, because of the fact that he was not married before the course started, it would make no difference at all to his dependent status upon his parents. Therefore, we have a situation in which a young man whose sense of vocation must be very strong has to postpone his marriage and be prepared to take pocket money, and even his train fares, from his parents.
He told me,I was offered several posts in commerce, but turned them down. I still think I am doing the right thing, but do wish I could be allowed to pursue my studies as an independent adult.If I were in his position I would feel exactly the same. It is not even a case of a person qualifying at the age of 25; he has to be over the age of 25 even before the course starts, in July. I cannot help thinking that that is unrealistic in relation to modern trends.
The young man to whom I have been referring was a teacher, and everyone knows how short we are of teachers. Every education debate we have is contributed to by hon. Members who say how short we are of teachers. We all know that the older teacher is very often a more stable and more mature person, and someone like that, with experience of life, is a most valuable person if he decides to take up teaching, and the last 1293 thing we should do is to discourage him. But equally important is research work in various fields in the universities. It is not only that research workers are needed for science and industry; we all know that with the coming expansion of universities and teacher training colleges we shall need far more staff. Therefore, the people who are now doing research work in universities, and who are the potential staff of the future, should be encouraged in every way.
I have had the strongest representations from some of the staff at the University of London and from the Association of University Teachers in relation to the discouragement now given to people who are just on the borderline age of 25 and do not quite qualify. I have details of a case in respect of which I corresponded with the Parliamentary Secretary, in which these young people were asked to postpone for a year their research work, because then would then qualify for a marriage allowance. One young man in particular was 25 before the course started in October, but he had not had his birthday on 31st July and so did not qualify.
His professor wrote to me in acute indignation, saying that it was perfectly absurd to discourage a young man—a promising research worker—and tell him to wait a year so that he could take up his grant, and that if he did that he would qualify for a marriage allowance. In his reply to me the Parliamentary Secretary said that there was no scarcity of applicants for such awards. When the professor heard this he wrote back to me saying that this was nonsense.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson) indicated dissent.
§ Mrs. White
I will leave the Parliamentary Secretary to read the whole of his reply to me if he cares to do so, but that was certainly the sense of it. He said:Generally speaking, our grant conditions seem to be acceptable, and there is certainly no shortage of well qualified applicants for these awards.
§ Mr. Thompson
My only complaint is that the hon. Lady describes that as my reply, whereas it is only half a sentence taken out of it.
§ Mrs. White
I do not think that I have in the least misrepresented the hon. Member. I have now read the complete sentence. He said,Generally speaking, our grant conditions seem to be acceptable, and there is certainly no shortage of well qualified applicants for these awards.That is what the hon. Gentleman said, but the professor who wrote to me said it was nonsense, that it may be true of some fields of study but is by no means true of all. His field of study is Chinese, and he referred to the recent report of the Committee under Sir William Hayter which suggested that we should pay far more attention to Chinese and cognate subjects than we do at present. I am informed by other authorities that there are other subjects where this is also true, where there is not a superabundance of well-qualified research workers and where conditions of this kind militate against persons going into research when they have an opportunity to go into commerce or industry.
Therefore, I am certain that if we care about teachers and about increasing the supply of research workers, we should reconsider the conditions which we lay down for grants for dependants. I am well aware that the proposals in the two sets of Regulations are in line with the suggestions made in the Anderson Committee's Report and that it is open to the Parliamentary Secretary to quote that Report and say that the Government are putting its recommendations into effect. Although that may be a perfectly fair comment for him, it seems to me that this ought to be looked into again.
We are not seriously suggesting that these Regulations should now be withdrawn—we have to go through this Parliamentary procedure in order to have an opportunity of discussing them—but we say that Sir Francis Hill's Standing Advisory Committee which has been set up to consider matters of detail relating to students' awards should look seriously at this matter. It should ask itself whether the Anderson Committee—which did a very good job but had many things to think about—took sufficient cognisance of the changes in social customs, particularly the change to earlier marriage, and, in particular, whether the age of 25 is now realistic, 1295 bearing in mind that it may in the event be 27, 28 or even beyond that. It should consider whether it might not be more sensible to reduce the age to 23. Again, it might be possible to say that whenever a person reached the age of 25, whatever period in the course it was, he should then be considered as an adult and treated as such, and should neither be considered as dependent on his parents nor regarded as banned from marriage and setting up a family to the detriment of his work. There is a very fair case for reconsidering the matter.
I do not wish to labour the point that under the Regulations what I have been discussing applies only to men. If women marry and have children and ask for a grant, they can do so from the age of 21. While one can see some of the reasons for this, I think it is a case of sex discrimination in the wrong direction. Some of my hon. Friends may wish to argue that the age should be 21 for both sexes. The age of 25 for a man seems to be out of keeping with present conditions, and I hope that the Government will give further consideration to this point.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
As a life-long feminist who has always fought for equal pay, I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) for her plea for equality for men on the question of maintenance grants for adults.
The Statutory Instruments Committee, on which I have the honour to serve, points out to Departments which submit amendments, and especially amendments to amendments to amendments, the need from time to time to consolidate and provide those who use them with Statutory Instruments which are easy to refer to.
The one about which I propose to speak tonight, Statutory Instrument No. 1621, which deals with State scholarships, illustrates this point. I admit that the Regulations cover a fairly narrow field, but this is the fourth amendment that we have had since 1954, and paragraph 2 (1) says:These Regulations amend the State Scholarships Regulations, 1954(b), as amended by the State Scholarships Amending Regulations 1296 No. 1, 1955(c), the State Scholarships Amending Regulations No. 2, 1957(d), and the State Scholarships Amending Regulations No. 3, 1958(e), hereinafter called the existing Regulations.If we were not dealing with a problem which, I regret to say, is to disappear very shortly—the problem of State scholarships—I think I would have asked the Minister whether the time had not arrived to set out the complete Regulations, with amendments, instead of sending anyone who wants to consult them, or even wishes to debate them, searching through five different documents.
It is important that we should know exactly what is taking place in this latest amendment to the Regulations. What the new Regulations do is to allow the State scholar to have a grant of £50, whatever the means of his parents, and whatever other financial awards he has won.
In 1954 the grant was £30, but then if a State scholar had won any other scholarships they were subtracted from his £30, and if he had won more than £30 in other scholarships he lost his £30. This, then, is a welcome advance, in that we are giving unconditionally to the State scholar, £50, independent of his own means, and independent of his parents' means.
The Minister is really conceding in one limited field a principle which he has said he accepts in theory but which he refuses to put into practice. That is, he is abolishing the means test for the State scholarship. It may be beyond the scope of the debate to argue this broader issue of the abolition of the means test for all university awards on the narrow matter of State scholarships, but I hope that we shall soon have an opportunity of doing so, and I urge the Minister to extend the principle which he is conceding in these Regulations.
The State scholar is still left in an an anomalous position vis-à-vis many university scholarship holders. Open scholarships to universities, and, much more regrettable in the second half of the twentieth century, closed scholarships to universities from the public schools, are often worth more than £50, and anyone who wins an open scholarship to university, provided it is not 1297 more than £100, is allowed to have it whatever the means of his parents.
I am sorry, therefore, that when the Minister decided to step up the figure from £30 he did not take the opportunity of raising it not merely to £50, but of making the State scholarship equivalent in financial value, as I am certain it already is in academic value, to the amount of the major open university scholarships.
Unfortunately, State scholarships are to be abolished next year. I regret this for reasons which I have stated in the House before, reasons which were much more eloquently and ably stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East, in the debate she opened in the House on 21st December last year.
I am certain that the Parliamentary Secretary, like his Minister, must often have read in Professor Brinley Thomas's minority Report to the Anderson Committee the arguments against abolishing State scholarships. He clearly shows that when we wipe out State scholarships we leave all candidates, except those with open scholarships, in a relatively uniform position, without any prestige or privilege attaching to the most brilliant scholars.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Member will not go wider than the Regulations we are discussing.
§ Dr. King
With all respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I hope not to trespass on the narrowness of this debate. I have to make these preliminary observations in order to make the point which I seek to make.
The professor asks:If State scholars are as able as the winners of open awards, why should recognition of merit be confined to the latter?If that is true as an argument against the abolition of State scholarships, it is certainly true as an argument against the discrimination which still continues in these Regulations concerning the amount of money which the State scholar is allowed to have as of right compared with the amount that the university open scholar is allowed to have as of right.
I welcome the raising of the sum from £30 to £50; I welcome the abolition of the means test, but I would urge the 1298 Minister to think again about the issue that he has raised, and the principle that he has conceded, in the action he has taken. The other important change in the Regulation is that it increases the maintenance grants paid to a mature student for his wife—"spouse" is the word used in the Regulations; I can never understand why—his children or other dependants. I have been through all five Statutory Instruments to see exactly what the Minister has done about these grants.
A mature State scholar—an older State scholar—received for his wife in 1954 £121. This amount was raised in 1955 to £140 and in 1958 to £160. Under the new Regulations it remains at £160. I believe all these amounts to be inadequate, and I ask the Minister why, in 1961, he has made no change at all in the figure from what it was in 1958. When we turn to the children we find these interesting figures. In 1954, for the first child the student was allowed £44. That was raised in 1955 to £50, and now it is raised by a mere £5 to £55. But in 1954 the amount paid to all the children of the State scholar was the same.
In 1955, however, all except the first child were cut back to £30, and that sum has now been increased by the meagre sum of £5 for the second child, while there is no increase for the third child or any other children. Therefore, the total amount that a man with three children will get under these Regulations is £14 less for his children than he would have got in 1954.
I realise that there are very few "mature" students, because the word "mature" has a meaning under education law. By "mature" we mean over the age of 21, and now, by these Regulations, over the age of 25. There are very few mature State scholars, but those who have the courage to pursue a university or a technical course and have at the same time a wife and two or three children to keep, I think deserve better financial aid than is provided in these Regulations. Whoever it was in the Minister's Department who drew a distinction not only between the cost of the first and other children, but even between the cost of the second and third child, is pretty parsimonious.
1299 I suppose that it could be argued that because of the increase in children's allowances, and, because it is the job of the Minister to take away with one hand what the Treasury or the Chancellor has given with the other, the result is that whereas a mature student with three children was receiving in 1954 £133 for those children, under these Regulations, and when it is dearer to live in Britain, he will receive not £133 but £120. Moreover this Regulation tightens up the definition of mature student. He must now be over 25. Similarly, we are writing into another Bill which the House has to consider that the age of 25 is the minimum under which one can qualify for this kind of award. I believe the figure of 25 to be arbitrary and indefensible.
The mature student must also have earned his own living for at least three years, if he is to qualify for an award. Only half the time he serves in National Service however, is counted as earning his own living, and I have always protested about that. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that a man who serves his country for two years as a National Service man is earning his living as effectively and as honourably as anyone else in the country and it is outrageous that that should be counted as only half for the purposes of this grant. As I said, these Regulations improve the position of the student scholar slightly, and that of the mature student infinitesimally, especially if he happens to have three children. I hope that when the Minister is considering the problems of the university student he will think carefully over some of the points which are being raised in this debate.
§ 10.47 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
I wish to address my remarks purely to the maintenance allowance part of the Regulations. Most of the figures—the age of 25, the half of the period of National Service, the three years independent earning—must be conventional and any other figures would do almost as well. They have grown up haphazardly and have very little bearing on the present position of the older young people. Surely National Service qualifies as any kind of service and 1300 earning of income can do and ought to be accounted in full.
I should have thought that the earnings rule, especially with a student of independent means, was a conventional notional figure and one year would do as well as three. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us what magic there is in the period of three years. Surely the point is to determine whether a young person has been standing on his own feet economically. I hope that when these Regulations are revised again the figure framework will be given serious consideration.
As the Regulations have grown up, I do not think that it has been appreciated that the students who have had a break and gone at 18 or 20 to a university have had a tussle with their social affairs. They have become students and they have to fulfil an obligation to a wife and children and, it may be, to a dependent relative. Within my experience of encouraging adult students to go to university I have had many cases in which the economic strain upon the wife has had a very deleterious effect on the husband's studies, and it seems to me that the Ministry of Education and the local education authorities should do everything within their power to overcome this difficulty.
The Crowther Report makes a very strong point of the need to recognise in the curriculum of schools and colleges the growing maturity particularly of girls and of young people generally, and it emphasises very forcibly the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East that men and women marry earlier. Perhaps I may quote one sentence:Today, half the women in the country and a quarter of the men are married before they are 25.These Regulations penalise some of the best parts of our population, the people who have the brains, in this case mature students, and who have the guts to persist in their studies. They are being penalised against their contemporaries. This is a very serious problem in relation to grammar school boys and girls—the problem of easy earnings in industry pulling people away from study. Why the Ministry of Education and the local education authorities should perpetuate that at a stage when these young 1301 men and women are very responsible, and are undertaking very arduous intellectual enterprises, is beyond me.
I want to mention a particular anomaly about which the International Union of Students feels very strongly and which these Regulations do nothing to amend. Students are practically debarred from assistance under the National Assistance Board. In the memorandum which it has submitted to the Hill Committee, the union states that it may well be the case that students are the only group in the community who are not eligible for assistance from the Assistance Board although they are in a full-time occupation which precludes them from earning. I will not labour the point except to state it, but I hope that in these and subsequent Regulations the Minister will give very serious consideration to this anomaly.
Perhaps I could also turn to the financial difficulties of married students with children. As my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen said, the sum of money is almost derisory. How can a student keep a second child on £35 a year? Hon. Members opposite spend more in one night on a dinner party. They expect that student, with all the costs and difficulties of being a student, to keep his second child on £35.
Many of us are anxious to create an atmosphere in which people will willingly come forward to the teacher-training colleges and places in universities and in some fields which are novel and not particularly applicable to the 18-year-old. Mention has been made of the need to study Chinese and Russian, and there is the need to study the social sciences. These are subjects which are particularly appropriate to mature people and particularly difficult for the 18-year-old. If the Government are to create the atmosphere in which people will come forward, every kind of little hardship which is put upon the mature student should be removed. Students must have confidence that every difficulty—whether they have old people dependent on them or young children—will as far as possible be removed by the Ministry of Education.
I therefore do not base my case on the fact that hard cases make bad law, but on the fact that if we are to get things moving throughout the popula- 1302 tion and to pick up the few hundred extra people we need for all the activities which we want to pursue in the modern complicated world, then Regulations such as these, drawn in a niggardly way under the shadow of a Treasury Minister, should be revised.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson)
I am grateful to hon. Members for providing an opportunity for discussing, however briefly, these Regulations. I find little difficulty in going a long way to associate myself with most of the remarks that have been made about the kind of objective we ought to have in setting our hand to this part of the job. We want to have the conditions right so that mature students as well as others will find their path as inviting as it can reasonably be made and as convenient for them as possible when they embark upon their courses of study.
It is not wrong to say, as I said in a letter to the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) in September, that there is no shortage of students coming forward. That is true. My resentment of her remarks arose because she categorised that as my reply to the case she had put. It was not. It was part of my reply, and I dealt with the main part of her case in the rest of my letter.
Students do come forward in the numbers for which there are places available. Many of them undertake considerable personal burdens in so doing. Many of them, as the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) has just reminded us, may find life very hard as they go through the process. We must give great credit to those who pursue their courses when life is not particularly easy. The fact is that the students we want are coming forward. Many of us, of course, would like to see more and more opportunities of this kind. I shall come in a moment to what is really the nub of the matter, the dependant's allowance and the basis upon which it must rest.
§ Mrs. White
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Gentleman unduly, but will he not agree that there has been a good deal of criticism recently in academic circles that the number of awards available to arts students, which are dealt 1303 with by his Ministry as opposed to science awards which come under the D.S.I.R., is far too small? If the numbers were increased, the point about having adequate applicants might well be different.
§ Mr. Thompson
Of course, there is room for great debate, which certainly could not take place on these Regulations, about how many awards there ought to be, and there would be opportunity for much disputation. It is enough, I think, for use to deal with the situation as we find it here.
I am very glad that Opposition speakers said that they had no desire to oppose the Regulations. The purpose of the Regulations is to bring the conditions of the students referred to into line with the generality of students who will be affected as a result of the legislation now before a Standing Committee of the House. The question raised is really this: why do we fix the age of 25 and lay down the other conditions which a student must satisfy if he is to qualify for dependants' allowances and awards?
It is essential that we should draw a line somewhere if we are not to lay ourselves open to the charge of allowing public funds to be used to encourage even earlier mariages even more generally. I am sure that the House would take the view that it cannot be right to allow public funds to be used for that purpose. But there are bound to be cases where it is right for the State to say that a student who qualifies in other ways by effort and intellectual ability but who, nevertheless, has some dependants should at a certain point have that fact recognised. It is open for debate where the line ought to be drawn.
In the Ministry we are very much aware of the comparatively new phenomenon of very early marriage on a large scale right across society. As the House knows, it is presenting us with a good many different problems, particularly in education, where we are dealing with young people as our ordinary stock in trade, as it were. I suppose that we are affected more than any other Government agency. I do not suppose hon. Members would wish to take the view that 25 is the right age for ever and ever. Conditions are changing and I 1304 would not like it to be thought that the Ministry's mind is closed on this point. But, having to draw a line somewhere, 25 seems to be about the right age where the break should occur.
In the changing conditions of our time we must be ready to reconsider this matter and I can assure the House that we are anxious to let our experience grow as to how the present Regulations are working out in practice and to be ready, if the time seems to indicate that a change is necessary, to make some change in the appropriate direction.
The age of 25 is not the law of the Medes and Persians, which is never to be altered, and while the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East quoted against the present age a particular case, I can assure her that I considered that case at the time she drew it to my attention and I have done so since. I remind the hon. Lady that wherever the line is drawn there will be a case like that of Mr. Scott—where, by an accident of the date of one's birth, or because of the phrasing of Regulations, someone will fall on the unfortunate side of the line. One cannot have statutory provisions which are so elastic that they fail for lack of definition. I hope that the numbers of cases falling on the wrong side of the line will be very small.
The amount of the dependants' allowances is a somewhat different issue. I appreciate that it is possible for there to be any number of widely differing needs, but how much is enough? The Ministry is faced with rapidly growing bills on almost every front and the House is aware of the grave complications we face, day by day, in making sure that we have our priorities right in the disposal of such sums available to us.
I do not suppose that anyone would pretend that the sums mentioned in these Regulations for the support of dependants represent easy living for anyone. They do not. They almost inevitably involve a certain amount of sacrifice and effort on those who benefit from them. But there is a limit and a pace of growth beyond which we cannot go. Sir Francis Hill has accepted the chairmanship of a Standing Advisory Committee which will ensure that the Minister's advice on the position of and demands on a student is constantly up to date. The questions we are debating 1305 now are among those that this Committee will be considering.
I hope that the House will agree that for the purposes of these Regulations it is enough for us to give them time to work out the remaining period of the life of the State scholarships and then, having garnered in this extra experience of how the shoe is pinching or how the cap is fitting, bring to the House whatever proposals seem appropriate in those circumstances.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King)—who is knowledgeable in these matters and whose advice is of great value to the House—drew attention to the fact that we are amending amendments to amendments to amendments and I take his point. I will see what we can do, when this remaining period of the State scholarships runs out and we are called on to offer new Regulations, to take account of the hon. Gentleman's point. We may be able to design Regulations which will be a little less obscured by the great undergrowth that spreads up around these things as time passes.
These Regulations are designed with the best intentions to see us through the period to the end of the State scholarships and I can assure hon. Members that we have taken note of the criticisms that have been made about their adequacy or otherwise and the terms of the grants in question. I hope that the House will invite the hon. Member for Flint, East to withdraw the Prayer.
§ 11.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will not feel offended when I say that my hon. Friends will not be entirely convinced by what he has said. We appreciate that these are terminal Regulations and that there will be an opportunity—soon, we hope—of discussing new Regulations. It is in the light of that that I think my hon. Friend may be willing to withdraw the Motion.
We appreciate the reference to the Standing Advisory Committee. We must, therefore, look to that Committee for hope, but it seems to me that in the debate an overwhelming case has been made out for the revision of these provisions and we hope that when the new Regulations come before us the pro- 1306 posals and suggestions of my hon. Friends will have been accepted by the Government.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.