HC Deb 13 March 1969 vol 779 cc1547-8
20. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek powers to encourage the joint use of laboratory, library and student union facilities between universities, colleges of education, polytechnics and colleges of further education.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

My right hon. Friend and I have already encouraged the sharing of facilities on a number of occasions and we shall continue to do so wherever it seems possible.

Mr. Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a gross disparity, particularly in the provision of student union facilities, sometimes with university students rating four and five times as much grant per student per facility as those at colleges of education and colleges of technology? What is she doing to bring these figures together? It is one of the causes of the present student unrest.

Mrs. Williams

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. We would welcome suggestions for local co-operation of this kind and would give them every possible help, but the matters which are concerned here are not purely for the Department of Education and Science but also for such bodies as the National Union of Students and, for that matter, the local authority associations.

Sir E. Boyle

The hon. Lady will remember that I raised this matter in our debate on the universities. Would she not agree that, apart from the issue of disparity—which I agree is important—from the point of view of the future rising cost of higher education it is highly important to bring together here the University Grants Committee and representatives of local authorities? Will she promise that she and her right hon. Friend will do their best to pursue this matter?

Mrs. Williams

The right hon. Gentleman and I are singing in harmony on this. He may also recall that I replied in that debate on the same lines. He will recollect also that the U.G.C., in its memorandum of guidance, strongly supported co-operation of this kind. There has been more than one Ministerial speech supporting this, and it would be very helpful for us to have specific local initiatives taken in this field.