HC Deb 10 June 1980 vol 986 cc288-9
11. Dr. Mawhinney

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he last discussed with the chairman of the University Grants Committee the future financing of British universities.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

On 18 February 1980. The chairman of the UGC was also present when I met representatives of the committee of vice-chancellors and principals of the universities of the United Kingdom on 22 May 1980.

Dr. Mawhinney

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Is he aware that there is a growing appreciation within the colleges of London university that it might be beneficial if those colleges were financed directly through the University Grants Committee, rather than through the agency of London university? Will he undertake to raise this matter with the University Grants Committee at the first opportunity?

Mr. Carlisle

I shall certainly consider the points made by my hon. Friend.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In discussing the future financing of universities will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that it would be contrary to all that universities stand for if a fee system was initiated in respect of home students that differentiated according to the school at which the student was educated?

Mr. Carlisle

Yes, I would. I find the posture of the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) extraordinary. In one and the same week he advocates that a wealthy American whose child is educated in this country should not be charged the full fees because to do so would apparently imply a policy which portrayed the morals of a scorpion—whatever that may mean—and that an Englishman who has paid both rates and taxes, but has chosen, in addition, to pay for his child's education, should be penalised by being required to pay full university fees.

Mr. Beith

Will not these discussions on university financing have to take some account of the level of university teachers' pay? Is not the present uncertainty as difficult for the universities to contend with as it is for the university teachers?

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman will know that we announced a recurrent grant to the universities of £987 million for the current year. With regard to university teachers' pay, I shall be meeting the president of the AUT later this afternoon.

Mr. Kinnock

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that he has just shown an incomprehension and misrepresentation of a level which I should not have thought was within his reach? Does he not agree that those people who consistently applaud the idea of purchasing secondary education should have that freedom and privilege extended to all levels of education if they wish to take advantage of it?

Mr. Carlisle

I am fully aware that the proposition which the hon. Gentleman appears to be propounding is that in a free society, if a person, having paid his rates and taxes, nevertheless chooses, in addition, to pay for his child's education, he should, by some means, be penalised by being refused the services at any other stage in the child's education for which he has already paid. I should have thought that that proposition was so vindictive, vicious and literally stupid as to be beyond the belief, even of the hon. Gentleman.

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