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Pupils (Maintenance)

Volume 885: debated on Tuesday 4 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he plans to introduce legislation requiring parents to maintain their children while undergoing full-time education.

Is the Secretary of State aware that student poverty can often result from parents refraining from assisting their children in full-time education in the way that the State assumes them to do in assessing grants under the means-test system? Is he also aware that in West Germany, for example, there is a requirement that parents accept responsibility for children in full-time education? Has he any thoughts about introducing similar legislation here?

This is a real problem. It would be difficult in practice to legislate on the financial arrangements between individual members of a family. I have recently asked local education authorities to notify parents directly of the amount they should contribute to make up the difference between the grant from public funds and the grant to which the student is entitled.

Would it be possible to arrange for parents who do not make up the grant in the proper way not to get their tax allowances?

I will consider any suggestions that may be put forward, but it is difficult to assess, measure and monitor the precise financial arrangements between members of a family unit to arrive at a decision on my hon. Friend's or any other suggestion in this respect.