HC Deb 23 November 1972 vol 846 cc1493-4
1. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she has yet completed her examination of the role and status of student unions; and if she will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Thatcher)

Discussions with the parties mainly concerned are not yet complete. At present a number of different proposals have emerged but there is little common agreement.

Miss Lestor

I thank the Secretary of State for her reply. If the right hon. Lady agrees that it is important that good relations are maintained between the student unions and all areas of higher education, does she agree that it was rather unfortunate that her former Undersecretary of State made statements at the end of October in Abingdon about the leadership of the National Union of Students, calling it irresponsible and hypocritical? Does she think that that is unlikely to give the background to the discussions that she needs?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have nothing but praise for my former Under-Secretary of State.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my right hon. Friend consider making political organisations within student unions self-financing on the basis of individual subscriptions from the members? This is an area in which there is widespread public concern, and I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the matter seriously.

Mrs. Thatcher

There was a suggestion in the consultative document that certain subscriptions might be on a voluntary basis. That met with a very mixed response, but it is a possible suggestion.