N.B. The author is Tim Hewish – my Parliamentary Researcher.
Against the media backdrop of the Chancellor’s announcement to rein in benefit expenditure, there is one important policy pledge that should be granted more air time: – subsidised university education for the children of soldiers, sailors and airmen killed on active service.
David Willetts, Minister for University and Science, told the Conservative Conference today:
There is one group of families to whom we have a special debt – the brave men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan… and in one small way of recognising the ultimate sacrifice that they have made I can confirm that my department will set aside funding for new higher education scholarships for the children of deceased servicemen and women.
Under Labour, our armed forces have been overlooked and their educational needs left unmet. In short, their patriotism was lacking.
While in the United States, they have full programmes in place to help their service personal with the opportunity to a university education. The UK needs to study such a policy and develop our schemes to ensure our soldiers are not just in the best physical conditions, but also the leading figures in education and other civilian professions.
Today, the Conservatives continue to honour our Forces through political action and we will not leave a soldier behind:
We plan to go further. It is wrong that so many people, on leaving the armed forces, should face hard times. Liam Fox and I will honour our debt to them. That is why I can also confirm that my Department will continue funding service leavers to get new qualifications.