HC Deb 04 May 1976 vol 910 cc1045-6
6. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will publish interim observations on the Expenditure Committee's Report on post-graduate education.

Mr. Gerry Fowler

No, Sir. As my right hon. Friend indicated in his answer to a Question by the hon. Member on 5th February, we hope that a full reply will be published soon.

Mr. Marten

Does the Minister of State realise that it is two and a half years since this excellent report was published and that the Government have not yet made any observations on it? Can he say, first, whether that is a record, secondly, when the report will be published and, thirdly, which of the recommendations has caused the Government such great difficulty that they have had to delay their reply?

Mr. Fowler

The Government have established many records, and we are proud of most of them. I share the hon. Member's view about the nature of this excellent report, which raises all the right questions even if it does not provide all the right answers. The difficulty is that, such is the system of control and financing of post-graduate studies, it was necessary to seek the observations of a large number of bodies, including the Vice-Chancellors' Committee and the Science Research Council. We shall be ready to give a detailed reply very soon.

Dr. Hampson

Is it not a fact that one of the main problems has been the constant change of Ministers in the Department? Is it not a fact that we have never had so many ministerial changes at the Department of Education as we have had under this Government? Since we had the unprecedented situation of a debate without the Government having produced a White Paper on the report, will there be another debate when the White Paper is produced?

Mr. Fowler

That is essentially a matter for discussion through the usual channels. As for the number of Ministers at the Department, I am normally there—with a number of intermissions.