HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc205-6
32. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps, by legislation or otherwise, to ensure that all university students in receipt of public financial assistance repay their debts to the nation either by a specified minimum period of service in the United Kingdom after training or by actual repayment of the public investment involved.

Mr. Ross

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and I are keeping this problem under review.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend tell us exactly what that means? Is it not the case that increasing amounts of public money are being invested in these people, and that the public have a right to expect an adequate return from each individual? As this was raised at the Labour Party conference and not rejected out of hand from the platform, will my right hon. Friend make a statement on this at an early date in view of the public anxiety about the matter?

Mr. Ross

I think that we appreciate the public anxiety about the matter, and this is why we are reviewing the situation. The hon. Gentleman should not think that this is an easy matter. Many people go abroad. Graduates go abroad with a view to extending their experience and even returning to this country. Others go to help under-developed areas. It is true that some may go for purely personal monetary reasons, but this is not an easy matter on which to have restriction by legislation.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

I hope that my right hon. Friend does not share the rigid pragmatic approach of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton). Can my right hon. Friend say whether any formal permission or acknowledgment is sought by foreign Powers, whether they be English or Canadian, before a campaign is indulged in to poach the skills of Scotland?

Mr. Ross

I am sure that no formal approval is sought for these campaigns. I am concerned about this, even in relation to the last Question about the police. I am concerned about this selective advertising for and poaching of our trained personnel.