HC Deb 05 February 1980 vol 978 cc229-30
15. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will give details of the changes he proposes to make in student union financing.

Dr. Boyson

My right hon. and learned Friend will announce new arrangements in a written reply to a question later today.

Mr. Beith

Is not that an insult to the House? Is it not clear that the hon. Gentleman is trying to avoid being questioned on the subject for another six weeks, so that by the time he next stands at that Dispatch Box the scheme will be a fait accompli?

Dr. Boyson

I thought that the House would welcome the fact that at last the Government are taking action over student union financing. We could not have done it from the Dispatch Box, because the answer is too long. Hon. Members will wish to consider the whole scheme, and it is with pleasure that we will announce it today. I warned the hon. Gentleman yesterday that that was the only way that we could do it.

Mr. Kinnock

As I understand it, the principle of the answer is a brief one. It is not good enough for the hon. Gentleman to try to avoid the question asked by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) on the basis of the length of the answer. That is the hon. Gentleman's responsibility. We want the basic information now.

Dr. Boyson

The principle of making student unions more accountable than they are is accepted and understood by both sides of the House. The way that it has been worked out could not be explained briefly in the House, and that is why it will be done by a written answer.