HC Deb 14 December 1972 vol 848 cc608-9
26. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she hopes to publish her White Paper on higher education.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

The White Paper presented to Parliament by my right hon. Friend on 6th December included proposals on higher education, amongst other topics.

Mr. Dalyell

What are the Government saying to those vice-chancellors—not least the Chairman-elect of the BBC—who complain that they do not know how much money they will have in the short- and middle-term, and therefore find any kind of rational forward planning rather difficult?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The White Paper sets out the details of the quinquennial settlement, and I understand that the University Grants Committee will be able to inform individual universities of their allocations in about a month's time.

Mr. Marten

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Expenditure Committee is shortly to publish its report on higher education? May we have an assurance that there will not be much delay, as there are on some reports, in giving the departmental replies to it?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am not aware of any delays in replies from my Department, and I hope that my arrival there will not make the position worse.

Mrs. Renée Short

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this and many other parts of the White Paper have received a considerable amount of criticism from certain informed quarters, particularly about the lack of opportunity for many pupils who will qualify for university education but will be unable to get it if the right hon. Lady's proposals are carried out? Does he not think that he ought to ask his right hon. Friend to reconsider the provision and realise that if it is necessary to make economies in certain areas of education they should not be made in the provision of teaching facilities?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am sure that well-informed quarters will know that the proportion of young people having a chance of higher education in 1981 will be half as great again as they are now—22 per cent. in 1981 compared with 15 per cent. in 1971—and if there are any quarters that are not informed about that I am sure the hon. Lady will do her best to spread the good news.