HC Deb 27 July 1967 vol 751 cc953-4
16. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what limits are placed upon expenditure by local education authorities for the amount they pay towards the compulsory membership of the Students Union for students at universities on local authority awards; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

Local education authority awards for first degree and designated comparable courses cover the full cost of subscriptions to student unions where membership is obligatory. Student union subscriptions are subject to the Government's prices and incomes policy.

Mr. Marten

Yes, but surely, if these students unions are a closed shop—as they often are in some universities—and if they decide, once the prices and incomes policy permits, to double the subscription, why should ratepayers be forced to pay what the union demands? Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that these are payable only to unions with no political affiliation?

Mr. Roberts

I can certainly give an assurance on the second point. I have considerable sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says about how high such subscriptions should go. Discussions are now going on among the Department, the universities, the University Grants Committee and the local authority associations about students' fees generally. They might look at this, as it is so often part of the tuition fee, and might possibly make a recommendation.