HC Deb 10 April 1973 vol 854 cc1125-6
17. Mr. Eadie

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what advice she has received from the University Grants Committee on financial resources available for universities of technology.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Before my right hon. Friend settled the total grants for the 1972–77 quinquennium the University Grants Committee gave her its confidential advice on the whole range of university development. The UGC decides the individual allocations.

Mr. Eadie

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the finance allocated, for example, to offshore engineering technology is ridiculously inadequate? Are not the Government shamed when they find that a distinguished draper gave £180,000 to the Heriot-Watt University to assist it in its offshore engineering technology? Have the Government no statement to make? Should not the Government apologise to the House for treating such a serious position in so niggardly a fashion?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I do not think there is anything to apologise for when recurrent and equipment grants under the quinquennium will total £1,790 million. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Heriot-Watt University. That university has benefited by a raising of the recurrent grant, which is to increase by 65 per cent. from £1.87 million to £3.09 million. It is perfectly acceptable that such major provisions should be supplemented from private sources.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that the great technological developments evident off the shore of Scotland are reflected in the grants which were probably evolved, developed and calculated long before the extent of North Sea natural gas was fully evident to my hon. Friend's Department and to the University Grants Committee? Has the sum of money for the Heriot-Watt University, for example, been beamed specially towards North Sea exploration and development?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That must be a matter for the university to decide. For specific research projects any university, including Heriot-Watt, can apply to the research council. It is also wholly justifiable for Heriot-Watt to see what help it can get from the petroleum industry. Heriot-Watt is establishing an institute of offshore engineering, thanks to the generosity of the Wolfson Foundation.

Mr. Dalyell

Are the Government prepared to match Wolfson's £170,000?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

As I have already said, we have made grants to Heriot-Watt which are very much in excess of the grant from the Wolfson Foundation.