HC Deb 21 December 1972 vol 848 cc1557-8
12. Mr. Grylls

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many full-time and part-time students she expects to be in the polytechnics in the year 1975–76.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Estimates for individual years and for a particular group of institutions are bound to be uncertain. On the basis of information up to 1971, the figures might be of the order of 90,000–100,000 and 75,000–85,000 respectively.

Mr. Grylls

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Is he aware that, unlike the previous Government, which gave birth to the polytechnics but then starved them, the extra money being spent by the present Government in the polytechnics is very much welcomed in higher education generally? Will he pay special attention to getting more money for the expansion of library facilities in the new polytechnics, which are very short of money.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those encouraging remarks. May I, in turn, remind him that building projects due for completion between 1971 and 1975, which will cost £27 million, will add substantially to the capacity. The pace of expansion has now been stepped up. It is up to the authorities of the polytechnics to decide, within their budget, to what they will give priority. Certainly there is no point in having polytechnics without any books.

Mr. Moyle

Will the hon. Gentleman take the opportunity of telling the House now when the Government intend to produce a White Paper saying what they intend to do for those who will not be attending any polytechnic or other institution of higher learning, whether part time or full time, who amount to about 78 per cent. of the 16–19 age group? It is not sufficient for the Government merely to identify a gap.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

One White Paper per month is probably enough.

Mr. Winterton

Will my hon. Friend say what attention he is giving to the provision of residential accommodation for students attending polytechnics, and whether he will issue further advice to local authorities and others concerned to encourage as many as possible of those attending polytechnics to attend the local polytechnic rather than a polytechnic which is many miles away from their homes?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

We have already authorised residential expenditure for 1973–74 for 1,650 extra places. £2 million for residential projects will go to polytechnics and another £1 million will go to non-polytechnic projects. In 1974–75 that sum will rise to £5 million. With regard to students attending colleges and universities nearer their homes, that is a question which, under our present system, must be left to the individual choices of the students involved, but certainly the whole question is being studied within the Department.