HC Deb 13 November 1973 vol 864 cc223-4
3. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will enter into discussions with universities and other institutes of higher education with a view to making free places available for Chilean refugees.

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

My right hon. Friend sees no need to do so.

Mr. Davis

If young people or academics seeking refuge from the tyranny in Chile seek to obtain admission to universities and other places of higher education in this country, does not the hon. Gentleman consider it important to show a measure of flexibility and ensure that they can come here with some hope of resuming their academic careers?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I understand that there are about 50 Chilean students, almost entirely postgraduate, at institutions of higher education in Britain. But if the hon. Gentleman has any particular cases in mind in which he thinks that either my right hon. Friend or I may be able to help, we shall be glad to hear from him.

Mr. Marten

Can my hon. Friend say who is paying for those 50 students?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The payment for those students is a matter for them; it is not a matter for my Department. I do not know what private arrangements they have made but, so far as I know, the Department is not paying for them.

Mr. Kinnock

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that progressive opinion throughout the world, including some Governments, is most critical of the action taken by Her Majesty's Government in many spheres regarding their policy towards the Fascist junta in Chile? As an educationist of some repute, does he think that it would be worth while extending the opportunities of our free education system to those victims of Fascist repression who have done nothing that could conceivably be called wrong in a democratic State in their own country?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Without going into the foreign political implications of what the hon. Gentleman has said, as I pointed out in reply to an earlier question my right hon. Friend and I will do what we can to help rather on grounds of individuals suffering hardship than on political grounds.