HC Deb 08 July 1981 vol 8 cc458-501 7.14 pm
Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

I beg to move, That this House strongly condemns the cuts in resources for higher education by Her Majesty's Government including the imposition of 'full cost' fees for overseas students; deplores the deliberate reduction in student places by 20,000 which will mark the abandonment of the Robbins principle at a time when the population of student age is increasing and the higher education need of adults is growing; and notes with special concern the effect of cuts on those institutions which have made particular efforts to provide for the technological and scientific needs of the nation by their teaching and research activities.

This is the third time in 12 months that the Opposition have raised education matters during their Supply time. In July, almost exactly a year ago to the day, we raised the question of overseas student fees and tried to persuade the Government to abandon their malevolent, clumsy and destructive policy of imposing so-called full-cost fees on overseas students. We offered authoritative evidence for the view that such a policy would result in terrible consequences for British relationships with the Commonwealth and the Third world and awful results for the funding and financing of institutions and courses in higher education.

Tragically, we were proved correct. The 1981 UCCA returns demonstrate a fall in applications for places at British universities of 57 per cent. of demand in 1979 and 35 per cent. of demand in 1980.

In February, we drew attention to the impact of expenditure cuts on schools and referred extensively to the report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate on the impact of expenditure cuts. That report concluded that unless positive action was taken to counter the cuts, what were then limited anxieties could become major problems.

The Government's response to our appeals, and to the appeals of the HMI and others, has been to increase the cuts by making further withdrawals of finance from local education authorities and other local authorities.

We are now debating higher education at a time when our economic, technological and cultural needs are increasing, when the number of 18-year-olds in the population will reach a peak in 1982–83 and when adult generations have a greater need of occupational reorientation and refreshment than they have ever previously had in any technological age.

We do so at a time when our industrial and commercial competitors are sustaining larger proportions of their populations in higher and continuing education. In short, we raise the debate at a time when qualitative and quantitative individual and national needs for higher education have never been more profound or obvious and when failure to meet those needs has never been more damaging.

It is at this crucial time that the Government have decided to terminate the operation of the Robbins principle that higher education courses should be available for all those who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so. It is at this crucial time that the Government have put closure notices on the facilities of public sector higher education and advanced further education. It is at this time, through the agency of the complaining but compliant University Grants Committee, that the Government have exterminated 20,000 or 25,000 places in universities and taken resources worth 17 per cent. of total university funding away from those necessitous institutions.

It is at this time that the Government have weakened the essential research and development effort of the public and university sectors of education by impoverishing the institutions in which research is carried out as well as the individuals who do it. It is at this time that opportunities for youngsters to enter university research and teaching are being cut. The access for working-class children to enter higher education is being narrowed even beyond the abysmally low point that has been a tradition in our education system.

This is the higher education policy of a Government ruled by the theories of monetarism—economic theories that will burn the seed corn to gain a minute or two of heat. They are economic policies which, in the name of savings, waste talent, destroy opportunities, sacrifice enlightenment and defeat excellence. That is precisely what will occur as a result of what the Government are doing to higher education.

Previously, I said that the Secretary of State was complacent in his response to the menace that cuts impose on our education. I cannot say that now. The word "complacent" does not quite convey the right hon. and learned Gentleman's sense of urgency. He is the Von Schlieffen of supine and total inactivity. The Secretary of State even tries to represent the cuts—[Interruption.] I hope that Conservative Members will listen to what the Secretary of State has said. The right hon. and learned Gentleman claims that the cuts are a benign effort to understand the problems of unemployed graduates. Last week, the right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke on a television programme and asked what point there was in students undertaking their education when there was no demand for them at the end.

Perhaps it is time to ask what point there is in having a Secretary of State for Education and Science who has the ideology of a book burner. Perhaps it is time to ask what point there is in having a Secretary of State whose answer to the problem of unemployment is to create more, to remove the means of overcoming it or to obliterate one of the most creative alternatives to it. Perhaps we shall receive an answer from the Secretary of State's mentor, if we do not receive an answer from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I refer to the Under-Secretary of State. His vision of higher education is that of a system composed of a few—a very few— small elitist institutions of superb quality".

The Under-Secretary foresees several—but not too many—COW colleges with classes of 30 or 40 students. Those students will raise loans, live at home and simultaneously—although no one quite knows how—attend monotechnics and cramming academies where research is as rare as long hair. If any hon. Member does not believe that that is the hon. Gentleman's vision of higher education, he should read the article entitled "Pruning in Pursuit of Excellence", which was published in early March in The Guardian. In that article he called not for the equal clipping of all higher education institutions by nail scissors but rather the…careful pruning as if by secateurs in our gardens where dead wood is cut down and new growth and future blooms are encouraged. It is a pity that we do not have a soundtrack, because Beethoven's Pastoral symphony would have gone nicely with such sentiments.

I wonder how the technologists of Salford, the engineers of Aston or the scientists of Bradford feel about being described as "dead wood". I wonder whether polytechnics feel that they have been subjected to delicate pruning when, even on the Government's White Paper figures, the polytechnics will suffer proportionately double the cuts that are to be imposed on universities. Given that universities such as Aston place 95 per cent. to 98 per cent. of their graduates in employment and that 80 per cent. of polytechnic courses have a vocational content, does the hon. Gentleman think that they feel surplus to modern requirements? Of course, they do not. They are not surplus to modern requirements. Only the saloon-bar statisticians of the Tory Party could ever presume that they were or preside over a system that makes them surplus to requirements.

The Government's innumeracy begins with their earnestly and oft-made plea to higher education to fulfil the technological and scientific needs of the 1980s and the 1990s. The Secretary of State made that plea on the same day as Salford, Aston, Bradford, UMIST, UWIST, arid several other institutions—which have demonstrated considerable excellence and responsiveness to need—were shattered by huge and destructive cuts. If we apply the criterion "Does higher education deliver the goods", those institutions could demonstrate on any criterion—other than the peculiar one adopted by the Government and the University Grants Committee—that they deliver them.

Let us consider graduate placements in employment. The Financial Times annually publishes a table showing graduate placements. At the top of the table are Aston, Heriot-Watt and Brunel. Lower down the table, at position No. 11, stands Salford. Bradford is found at position 19. Which university comes after Bradford? Why—it is Oxford, at position 21. Bristol is in position 22 and Durham is in position 24.

I do not wish to make invidious comparisons, but if the criterion of delivering the goods is employed and if we rely on the accuracy of the statistics published by the Financial Times, those universities deliver the goods. They also deliver the goods in other respects. Outside research funding is one of the criteria that is used by the University Grants Committee and that is accepted by the Government. Last week The Sunday Times showed that the University of Bath was justifiably congratulating itself on the quality of research funding that it attracts and on the number of doctors of philosophy that it has produced in recent years. Therefore, in those terms too, universities at the top of the UGC's hit list can prove themselves better than many of the universities lower down on the list.

Let us look at the universities that respond to the needs of the age and at those universities that offer applied science, technology and engineering, biological sciences, pharmacy and a creative understanding of the problems of our towns and of our great cities' planning needs. Indeed, this is a relevant week in which to mention that. Those universities will be hit hardest and will have their efforts rewarded by defeat and by the most significant and ruinous cuts ever to be inflicted on our higher education system.

The Government's innumeracy extends further. It perhaps originates in an economic strategy that requires that higher education policy be dictated by, in the words of Sir James Hamilton, permanent secretary to the Department of Education and Science, "available expenditure". As Lord Robbins said, that then imposes the "device of target numbers" on higher education and results, in the words of Sir Alec Merrison, chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, in guaranteeing the maximum amount of damage for a minimum of saving. That was put more briefly, but with the same force, by the Committee of Directors of Polytechnics. Its members are not men to mince their words. They said that that policy will result "in chaos".

The Government's arithmetic neglects the huge cost impact of the loss of overseas students, which adds anything up to 7 per cent. on the effect of the other UGC and polytechnic cuts. That arithmetic pays no regard to the research obligations of higher education when it makes its neat and tidy pupil-teacher ratio calculations. It evades the fact that polytechnic degrees are one-third cheaper than university degrees and that college of higher education CNAA-validated degrees are 50 per cent. cheaper than those undertaken in universities. That arithmetic dishonesty evades the implications of making 4,000 university academics and 4,000 polytechnic teachers redundant.

The Government and the UGC know that legal actions for breach of contract could, in the calculation of Lord Annan and of many others, cost anything up to £200 million. Yet the Government are prepared to talk about making savings in public expenditure. That expense does not include the enormous cost—to the individuals concerned and to the local communities from which they come—which will result from the loss of non-academic jobs. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost as a result of the cuts. The arithmetic that the Government and the UGC employ in the university and non-university higher education sectors does not include the possibility that some universities, when subjected to cuts, will look for the cheapest courses. The clumsy cuts could invoke a shift away from the sciences, towards the cheaper subjects in the arts and humanities. That arithmetic even threatens to impose the "Heseltine principle", introduced by the Secretary of State for the Environment, of penalising overspending by making cuts in future years.

I am not saying for a moment that all higher education and every institution is a model of efficiency, staffed entirely by brilliant, earnest academics and populated by successively hard-working students or researchers who churn out the most immediately convertible technological miracles. I am not saying that there is not room for better management; there always is. I am not saying that there is no need for a change in purpose, structure and finance in higher education. But, with the full support of everyone who has stopped to think about it—I include Conservative Members—I do say that the manner, scale, speed and purpose of the Government's cuts in resources and places in both sectors of higher education will cause the maximum damage to individuals, to institutions and to the national interest.

Let us consider the effect on individuals under a Government who are supposed to be committed entirely to individual emancipation. For 20,000 young individuals the cuts make nonsense of the Tory manifesto pledge that we must restore to every child, regardless of background, the chance to progress as far as his or her abilities will allow. When the Secretary of State said earlier this year that he hoped that the universities would admit as many students as they could, consistent with their academic judgment, he was attempting to demonstrate that he has, after all, a sense of humour, because that is impossible with the kind of cuts he is imposing.

The fact is that 20,000 young people—who in any past year would have been able to gain admission to university on the basis of qualifications, the overwhelming majority of whom would stay the course and get their degrees—because of the cuts, and for no other reason, are being denied those 20,000 places. No one knows the comparable figure for higher education, but the number of 18-year-olds in the population will be 6.8 per cent. higher in 1982–83 than it was in 1979–80. The resources of universities are being cut by 11 per cent. and other higher education by even more. That will result in a reduction of student places in the same period of at least 5 per cent. but probably 8 per cent. It is obvious that the opportunities for higher education are being stolen from thousands who have qualified for it, who have aspired to it and who, even today, in schools and colleges throughout the country, are working towards getting the places that the Government are taking away.

Those who seek university education and are not among the traditional adolescent entrants are also victimised. The University Grants Committee's only concession to continuing education is transparent nonsense, because the fees charged and the requirements of self-financing other than for continuing education will effectively disqualify potential students on grounds of their economic situation. From Birkbeck College I read that for part-time education, this will mean that the 1981–82 fee for an undergraduate course would rise from the present £97 to £360—an increase of 270 per cent.—and a postgraduate course would rise from £142 to £660—a massive 370 per cent. increase. The UGC and the Court"— that is, of London— which decides how London's allocation is to be divided between the colleges, cannot 'make' Birkbeck raise its fees—it will quite simply be 'assumed' that the College is receiving the higher fee income and the UGC grant will be reduced accordingly. That is what I call baronial economics at its worst.

For institutions the cuts present, in the words of Sir Alec Merrison, managerial problems that cannot be solved in any sensible way. Those cuts do the same for teaching courses and research. The Government may, at astronomical cost, jettison lecturers, but how can they ensure that student demand shifts with the same smooth alacrity? They cannot. The consequence will be the most ridiculous inconsistency between subject and teacher provision and student subject demand. Against that background, how do the Government propose to ensure the continuation of research? By giving protection to the support of basic sciences, so they said in the March public expenditure White Paper. How can they do that when the places in which research is done and the people who do it are being weakened and run down by the university and polytechnic cuts? How can we have a dual system of research funding when the Government, in the view of all the chairmen of research councils, are chopping off one foot and the research councils can do no more, according to the CVCP, than offer a palliative for the serious damage that will be done as a result of the Government's decisions? Welcome, under a Tory Government, to the 1980s and the technological revolution!

Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that at Bradford the professor in charge of research into cancer treatment through chemotherapy has said that all that research may have to finish as a result of the cuts? Does not my hon. Friend think it illogical that, despite the Government's cuts, the number of students at London university who are to study ancient Egyptian, Hungarian and Dutch will remain the same?

Mr. Kinnock

As someone who never presumed to be a scholar but will always defend scholarship, I do not think that we should necessarily make those comparisons. What my hon. Friend says about Bradford is echoed by the pharmacists at Aston and by the applied chemists at Salford. We can measure the consequence of the cuts, without being overly macabre, by the additional deaths from the most miserable illnesses simply because the research is suspended and its produce destroyed.

Against that background, the damage to the national interest is obvious. The Government's definition of "national interest" is somewhat different from that of most sane people. It amounts to a repeated reference to cutting public spending, no matter what roots are torn up. However, that still does not explain the size of the cuts in higher education, neither does it help to gear higher education to the needs of society. It does not do much to explain why the cuts have been applied to cause the least trouble to the most remote of higher education institutions, while taking great 25 per cent. and 30 per cent. swathes from the institutions most sensitive to contemporary needs.

I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will admit that the further north the institution and the nearer it is to the polytechnic system, the bigger the cut and the greater the damage. In case anyone thinks that this is a mischievous bit of philistine rabble-rousing against the serene wisdom of the UGC or the dispassionate pruning of the Government, as the Under-Secretary says—I am never guilty of rabble-rousing, philistine or otherwise—let him look at the table published by The Times of the impact of cuts. That shows an immense disparity of treatment between the old and the new. There is to be a 30 per cent. cut in students and a 44 per cent. cut in grant to Salford between 1981 and 1983–84. But there is a 4 per cent. cut in students and a 4 per cent. cut in grant at Durham. There is to be a 22 per cent. cut in students and a 31 per cent. cut in grant at Aston for the same period and a 3 per cent. cut in students and a 13 per cent. cut in grant at Oxford. There is to be a 19 per cent. cut in students and a 33 per cent. cut in grant at Bradford and a 2 per cent. cut in students and a 10 per cent. cut in grant at Cambridge for the same period. Three out of the six worst-hit universities are former colleges of advanced technology. Four of those six are universities cited by the Association of University Teachers as prominent in part-time education. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not try to use the University of Bath to contest those arguments, because the administrative officer, Mr. Richard Mawditt, said in The Sunday Times: Last year, 13 per cent. of our total income came from industry or public sources other than UGC grant". I congratulate Bath wholeheartedly, as I have already said, but if patronage, no matter how worthy, is to become a major determinant of whether higher education survives we are observing the most gigantic backward step. If that is the criterion we should look at Aston and Salford, which do at least as well as Bath in attracting outside resources and in the production of PhDs.

The hit list goes on, and time grows short. I do not make these comparisons for invidious purposes. It would be silly to want even more to be afflicted. But the differences leap out, and they can do nothing other than reaffirm the view that with the UGC and the Government tradition has vanquished fairness. Universities that have made great efforts to provide breadth of access, relevance of courses, and sensitivity of provision in meeting contemporary needs and foreseeable change, have been rewarded with the most unjustifiable penalties. The UGC has passed a resounding and undeserved vote of no confidence in these by the reduction of resources and places. They are now more exposed to the demeaning and demoralising attrition which is the conscious policy of the Government in their attitude to higher education.

By inflicting this scale of cuts, the Government can now justify their own prejudices by imposing a financial regime that will fulfil its own prophecies. These are virile educational institutions that have been cut, and they will fight back. My great hope is that they will not have been so lamed by the cuts in resources as to forbid their survival and that other universities will support their efforts and not seek refuge in false security engendered by the narrow escape that they have made this time.

Mr. William van Straubenzee (Wokingham)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kinnock

No, I am sorry, but I want to get on so that other hon. Members may take part in the debate.

I should like to debate many other issues arising from the Government's attack on higher education, but there simply is not time to do that this evening. However, I should like to discuss the constitution, role and personnel of the UGC, now that it has been forced to change its function and which, whilst having to exercise an unprecedented power of direction, which shatters university autonomy, remains a body that is not subject to any effective public or parliamentary scrutiny.

The UGC's members exercise, as a criterion, the quality of research. I want to know, as do many thousands of people, precisely what that means. To whom is the UGC accountable? Is it simply an agency of cuts, doing the bidding of a guilty Government? What are its functions of advice, as defined in its explanatory handbook? Is the coincidence of gentle treatment of the universities from which UGC members come or at which they were educated merely a coincidence, or am I impugning the members of the UGC?

If I am impugning them, I deeply regret it and I publicly apologise now. But they will agree with me that the only way in which they can effectively counter and contradict—I would be pleased to see them do it—the various charges that are being made concerning this coincidence between their background and the incidence of cuts is now, themselves, to suggest to the Government that they change their constitution to conform with the realities now imposed upon them by the Government.

There are other matters that I should like to talk about. I should like to give a great deal of attention to the leaked document on public sector higher education financing, which we know is a proposition by the Government to introduce a structure that will facilitate cuts more easily and has nothing to do with the good husbandry of public resources.

I should like us to deliberate upon the need for a comprehensive system of higher education, the closing of the binary divide, and the need to increase the proportions of each generation who get into higher education. Time does not permit us to do that. I should like to rehearse the policies developed by my own party, but, again, time forbids that.

What we need to know tonight, in any case, is what the Government now intend to do. Will they produce a supplementary UGC grant to stop this scarring of our higher education system, in some cases possibly beyond recovery? Will they now begin the scientific appraisal of the state of higher education by starting an inquiry or even a Royal Commission? Or will they continue to conduct themselves as they have been conducting themselves—entirely destructively, stopping at nothing, saving no value and safeguarding no interest, in order to achieve their foolish public expenditure targets?

The condition of higher education in Britain has, by the actions of the present Government over the past two years, been disastrously set back, as it will be by the Government's actions in years to come. That is the consensus from people of all political opinions and none who are in the universities as academics or in the communities around universities and understand their value. What the Government are doing is to contradict individual and national interests, to diminish our country's most worthwhile values and to disregard our best opportunities and our most fundamental needs. That is why we shall vote against the Government tonight and why we shall go on fighting these cuts until we can reverse them.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

7.45 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Mark Carlisle)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House, recognising the need for restraint in public expenditure, notes that the Government continues to make substantial resources available for higher education and welcomes the recommendations of the University Grants Committee for the rationalisation of the university system to ensure a balanced provision.

At the end of his remarks the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) said that there were many other educational matters that he would like to raise on the Floor of the House. I should be happy to debate them at any time.

Mr. Kinnock

In your time.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman told us that this is our third debate on education during the period of the present Government. His speech on this occasion was typical of his speeches on the two previous occasions. It was full of numerous and unfair attacks on the University Grants Committee. It is no defence to impugn people's integrity and then say "If I am impugning them, I withdraw it." The hon. Gentleman's speech was full of wild exaggeration, hyperbole and statements that could not possibly be justified. I take just one or two.

The hon. Gentleman said that the UGC, in the division of its money, had been biased in favour of the South against the North. I remind him that both in expenditure and in numbers it has made fewer reductions in Scotland than in Wales, and fewer reductions in Wales than in England.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle


Mr. Canavan

Why not?

Mr. Carlisle

Because there is only a short time, I have a lot to say, and many hon. Members wish to speak.

The hon. Member for Bedwellty used the phrase "malevolent policies". He talked about the "awful results" of the funding and financing of universities as a result of our policies on overseas students. Is he not aware that there are today in our universities, on a policy of full funding, 7 per cent. more overseas students than had been provided for by the funding policy of the previous Government? How, therefore, is that so dreadful?

The hon. Member talked about the weakening of the research effort. He said that we had stolen the opportunities from people for higher education. He had the nerve at one stage to say that, as a result of these policies, there would be 20,000 fewer places per year in universities than there had been in any past year. I shall deal with that point shortly, as I come to it. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should check his facts before he repeats what others say.

The fact is that the hon. Gentleman gave the impression throughout his speech that the Government were somehow involved in a destruction of the university system.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

Yes, quite so.

Mr. Carlisle

Opposition Members ought to think for a moment to realise how ridiculous that statement is. We are not involved in the destruction of the university system. We are involved in a necessary reappraisal of university provision in Britain in the light of the country's needs to restrain public expenditure, in the recognition of the possibility of rationalisation within universities, and in the face of the fact that over the next decade and a half there will be a drop of 30 per cent. in the number of people of university age.

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's hyperbole and exaggeration today, and to his comment that the proposals in these policies were to reduce the number of places by 20,000 as against any past year in our universities, is for me to remind him that even if—I repeat "even if'—the UGC's assumptions as to student numbers are in practice realised, we shall probably have by 1984–85 as many university places for home students as we had in the last full academic year when the previous Government were in power—in other words, 1977–78.

The hon. Gentleman does not realise that there are now many thousands more in the universities than in 1979. When the hon. Gentleman derides me, apparently for suggesting last year that I hoped that the universities would make available to students as many opportunities as possible within the money made available to them, I remind him that I made that statement against a background of the university vice-chancellors stating that a system of level funding for that year would inevitably lead to substantial reductions in places. I did not believe it. I said the reverse. The hon. Gentleman knows that last year, faced with level funding, far from there occurring a reduction in the number of places in universities, the universities took 7,000 more home students than in the previous year.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)


Mr. Carlisle

I shall give way in a moment. When the hon. Member for Bedwellty talks as he does, and as the motion does, about cuts in resources, which is right, because there will be cuts, I remind him that in this coming educational year we shall be spending £1,300 million on our universities. That takes no account of the support of students at the universities. We shall be spending £1,800 million on higher education. That is 16 per cent. of the total education budget, which is 10 per cent. of public expenditure or 5 per cent. of the gross national product.

Mr. Flannery

The Secretary of State's figures are produced on a false basis. Last night, our education group discussed with the Association of University Teachers, the figures that he has just given. Is it not a reality that in the 1980s there will be far more 18-year-olds—approximately 25 per cent. More—and, therefore, more applications to go to universities? Is he dodging that fact and pretending that it does not exist?

Mr. Carlisle

I am not dodging that fact. I was going to deal with it. It is right that in 1982–83 the number of 18-year-olds will rise. From the middle of the 1980s to the middle of the 1990s the number of 18-year-olds will fall by 30 per cent. I am not disputing that the reductions in expenditure for which we ask are bound to have some effect during that period of the hump. To suggest, as the hon. Gentleman did, that we have removed for all time 20 per cent. of the places that have been available in any past year, when the University Grants Committee is proposing to provide in 1984–85 for a similar number of places to those that were in existence in 1977–78, is a wild exaggeration.

I doubt whether those assumptions will be proved right. They were based on the assumed number of places in 1979–80 on the then basis of funding. With level funding, the universities actually increased their number of places by 7,000 last year. They cannot now be heard to say, having achieved what they said they could not achieve, that they expect the degree of drop that the University Grants Committee implies.

I must briefly remind the House that one of the tasks the Government were elected to undertake was to reduce, where possible, the level of public expenditure and to reduce the burden on industry and on the individual. In that position, education, with the amount that it spends, cannot be exempt, and universities, important as they are, cannot be sacrosanct.

Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall)


Mr. Carlisle

I shall give way in a moment. All money spent, even in universities, has to be raised. I ask the House to recognise the size of cuts we are making against the background of the country's needs and the country's ability to pay. Of course, hon. Members want the best opportunities possible for our children. That depends, in the end, on extending the country's economic base to enable us to make that provision.

Mr. Holland

This argument is clearly crucial to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's justification for the cuts. Since public enterprise in this country represents less than 15 per cent. of gross domestic product, the effect of an injection of £100 into higher education is that £85 worth of goods and services is supplied by the private sector. Public spending in education sustains rather than drains the private sector. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's whole case is wrongly based.

Mr. Carlisle

Public expenditure on higher education has to be met out of taxes and rates. We face a proposal that over the next three years we should reduce the home funding of students following a period of continuing expansion in university education over the previous two decades. The atmosphere has been such that it has seemed natural that expansion should take place. However, it took place against warnings—delivered as long ago as 1969 by Mrs. Shirley Williams—of the need for universities to adopt a realistic attitude.

Mr. Canavan

A traitor.

Mr. Carlisle

Over the period covering the years 1960, 1970 and 1980, the university student population has risen from 96,000, to 203,000, to 265,000. The full population in higher education has gone up from 179,000, to 429,000, to 466,000.

Dr. Oonagh McDonald (Thurrock)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Carlisle

I am sorry. I shall not give way.

Even without the problems of financial restraint, the fall in population that we face from the mid-1980s means that this sort of expansion cannot continue. Some reduction and rationalisation is essential to meet the substantial drop in those of that age group who apply.

Dr. McDonald


Mr. Carlisle

I have given way three times. Many hon. Members wish to speak. I do not propose to give way again.

Faced with the need to make that reduction, it is important that the reductions in expenditure that have to be made, for which the Government must take full responsibility—and I do—are made in a way that causes the least possible disruption to the university system in the short term while starting to prepare that system for the needs of the future. That is the task that the Government entrusted to the University Grants Committee.

Of course, the committee has never suggested that the task of allocating a reduced recurrent grant is palatable. It is obviously far more attractive for the committee to be the arbiter of growth rather than the contractor. However, it undertook that task. I, for one, am grateful to it. I reject the impugning of the members of the committee by the hon. Member for Bedwellty.

I am sure that we are right to maintain the convention that while the Government decide how much the country can afford to spend on the universities generally, there should be no political interference in the detailed allocation of that sum between individual universities. It seems that some Labour Members wish to see political interference in the allocation of money, but if they think for a moment they will realise that they should not. The relationship between myself and the University Grants Committee in this year has been identical to that between a Minister of Education and the committee on any previous occasion.

Under a system which has served us well for over half a century, the UGC decides on the amount of grant for each university and advises on the implications for each university. But the UGC has to work within the resources made available by the Government. For that I take responsibility. It cannot create additional resources and is no more responsible for the size of the total sum it has to allocate than is the hon. Member for Bedwellty.

Individual vice-chancellors reserve and often use the freedom to complain from time to time when they do not like the decisions of that committee. But I do not think that any vice-chancellor has ever advocated any system other than the University Grants Committee, and I know that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, as a body, does not. The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) has interrupted two or three times from a sedentary position. The chairman and the members of the University Grants Committee have my full confidence in their integrity and the way that they have done their job. In view of the comments that I have heard the hon. Gentleman make earlier in a sotto voce manner, I should also like him to know that the chairman and two-thirds of the membership of that committee were appointed not by me but by my Labour predecessor.

Mr. Kinnock

I accept entirely what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says about the nature of his relationships with the UGC and the integrity of its members. However, does he accept that his Government's decision to impose cuts on the UGC fundamentally changed the conditions of the relationship and that that therefore requires a change in the constitution of the committee?

Mr. Carlisle

It does not require a change in the constitution of the UGC. What it requires, and what I have said twice tonight, is my accepting responsibility for the task that we are asking the UGC to do. I do not believe that it is right to make any change in the constitutional arrangement. The Government lay down the overall amount that is available, and the UGC, which is a body of academics with wide experience and of certain business people who are brought together for a difficult purpose, should be responsible for cuts. It has operated in that way for over half a century.

In approaching its task, the UGC has decided that the reduction required could not be distributed equally between institutions and fields of study without doing serious damage to the system and that it would therefore have to act selectively. That involves reducing the range of subjects taught at some universities, with consequent closures or radical reductions of some departments. The House must, however, face the fact that a necessary consequence of such an approach is that some universities must do better and some must do worse.

In making its decisions the UGC has had regard to the fact that it will affect the structure of the university system for the next decade and more. It has tried to ensure that, within the resources available, the system is fitted to meet the national needs over that period. I take responsibility for the overall reduction. In its allocation of recurrent grant for 1981–82 and its provisional allocation to 1983–84, the UGC has provided for a change in the distribution of students away from the arts and towards science and engineering. It has provided within the overall reduced number an increase in numbers in engineering and technology, an increase in the numbers that it assumes will be reading mathematics and physical science, an increase in the number of medical students and an increase in the number of students in business studies.

I fully understand the comment in the press and in the House that there appears to be a divorce between what I have said about the overall position and the fact that three of the universities that are former colleges of advanced technology stand high on the list of places where reductions have been made. They appear to have suffered badly.

The reasons for decisions on individual universities are a matter for the UGC, which takes many factors into account. However, I repeat that the places lost in technology or engineering have been more than compensated for elsewhere in the university system. While overall numbers are to fall by 5 per cent., the UGC has assumed that engineering and technology numbers will be increased by about 2 per cent.

Thirty universities are expected to increase their technology numbers, five to hold them constant and seven to decrease them. Of the 13 "technological" universities, three have been specifically asked to increase their engineering numbers and two to decrease them. In the remaining eight such universities, numbers are expected to remain constant or to increase slightly.

The major cuts at Aston and Salford are not in engineering but in other subjects. Bradford has been asked to concentrate on engineering, with no loss of numbers.

Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)

Does it make sense to require cuts in a technological university that mean that all the science departments will be cut by about 62 per cent., with 500 academic and non-academic job losses, a 32 per cent. cut in the budget and a huge student loss? That is killing a technological university and some departments are closing.

Mr. Carlisle

The UGC is responsible for dividing money between universities and it has to take many considerations into account. It has attempted to concern itself with the overall national provision. The committee will answer for its decisions about individual universities, but the decisions must be considered against a background of an overall increase in the number of engineering and technological places. Indeed, the UGC has suggested that Bradford university ought to be concentrating on engineering and should have no loss in that area.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

Many of us, including my right hon. and learned Friend's Labour predecessor, welcome the UGC's new approach, away from an across-the-board, formula-based approach towards more selective treatment, with universities such as Bradford being encouraged to do what they specialise and do well in. However, is my right hon. and learned Friend happy about the way that part-time students are to be treated? The Conservative Party ought to encourage such students because their motivation is of crucial importance.

Mr. Carlisle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I was about to say that many people have been calling for a shift away from the arts and towards engineering and technology for a long time. That will be the overall effect of the proposals, though they will mean different things to different universities.

The hon. Member for Bedwellty mentioned research. Despite the declining level of the total programme for education and science, the Government's support for science through the research councils is being maintained at broadly the current levels. The UGC is anxious to sustain its share of the dual support system for research in universities and has paid particular attention to the needs of research in the allocation of both recurrent and equipment grants.

The importance attached to preservation of the research base by both the Government and the UGC is another aspect of our determination to ensure that at the end of this exercise we have perhaps a leaner university system but one better oriented to national needs and operating within the context of what the nation can afford.

Some journalists and hon. Members have talked as if grants to universities were decided by drawing numbers out of a hat. I am not privy to the discussions of the UGC, but I know that the allocation of grant is a highly sophisticated process. The present exercise has been going on for many months. We do not have people present on the UGC when the allocation is made.

The present exercise has been going on for many months. It includes detailed discussion with every university and is built on the committee's contacts with the universities' cumulative expertise over a long period. In making the allocations the UGC rightly recognises that students choose courses rather than the nearest university. It is concerned, therefore, with national rather than local provision and with the need to maintain excellence.

The UGC has examined the range of courses being taught, the quality of education provided, the desirability of supporting each university in what it does best and the desirability of achieving the most economic operation possible. It has sought to ensure that the need to make savings does not lead to the extinction of minority subjects and to ensure the protection of the research base and the continuing viability of individual institutions.

Comments have been made about the way in which universities have decided to reduce expenditure. It is interesting that the Public Accounts Committee today published its report on universities. It states: The Government's plans for reductions in the future expenditure on universities will clearly require substantial modification of the present pattern of provision. This will in turn require strong guidance from the UGC to ensure that the changes take account as effectively and economically as possible of future national needs for university education. We are pleased to note that the UGC intends to be highly selective in applying the necessary cuts in universities grant allocations. I commend that view to the House. I ask the House to throw out the motion and to support the amendment.

8.11 pm
Sir Harold Wilson (Huyton)

I shall be brief, but I must first declare an interest—although not financial—as chancellor of Bradford university, one of a number of technological universities set up by the Governments of 1964–70 as part of the drive to help industry by increasing the number of technologically-trained recruits to engineering and related industries.

My criticisms relate to two major retrograde decisions by the Government for universities and to technological universities in particular. The Secretary of State sought to defend himself by suggesting that we were criticising the University Grants Committee. My criticism is not of the UGC but of the amount of money given to it by the Department. The right hon. Gentleman should have defended that rather than following a red herring.

The first mistake that the Government made was to reduce the number of overseas technological students entering British universities. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not mention that. They discouraged them by increasing fees and by other deterrents. That will sabotage our export prospects for a generation ahead. It will reduce orders for British goods in years to come.

In Bradford, and in a number of other institutions, I understand, all engineering, electrical engineering and other engineering students have to spend almost a third of their undergraduate careers working in industry—on the job and with their hands, the hard way.

Commonwealth and foreign students learn techniques based on British engineering practices. They forge a link with British factories and firms. In 10 to 20 years, when they become more senior in their domestic industries—and that has already happened—they will be likely to turn to the British firms where they worked and studied and place orders with them. That is already happening. Bradford university has been turning out such graduates since the late 1960s. Now, however, because of the Government's policy, the number of overseas students is due to fall, from 680 last year in Bradford to 225 in 1984–85. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman know that when he addressed the House? Did he make any attempt to defend that fall? It will mean a corresponding fall in British exports over many years to come.

My other main point relates to a requirement that we have always enforced in Bradford on our students reading for technology degrees. In addition to their period of work in British firms, they have to spend two terms and the intervening vacation working in factories or other places of work in another European country, and not only EEC countries. They have to learn the language—French, German, Finnish, Serbo-Croat or whatever—and on their return they have to write a long thesis in the language of the country where they have been working. To make sure that they have not slipped a bribe to a student in the modern languages school, they then have to face an oral interrogation on their thesis which takes place in the language itself.

In years to come some of those technologically-trained students—I am talking here about our students, not overseas students—may become salesmen, selling overseas and becoming more and more technological But, more than that, as any hon. Member who has been involved in negotiating overseas contracts will know, the technologist is now as much involved in the contract negotiations as the salesman, and possibly more so. The salesman opens up the deal, but without the engineer the company will not be able to secure the contract. The engineer has to explain why method A is more reliable and productive than method B.

As an illustration, in a country with an alternating electricity supply and a traditional way of building a plant, the engineer has to explain why that method will have to go and why the plant should be built in another way—perhaps because of direct current or whatever. He is the person who helps to secure the contract by showing buyers what they require, sometimes better than they know themselves, especially in a developing country.

I should like to mention another inevitable result of the Government's policy. I am grateful for the Secretary of State's preoccupation with Bradford. I wish that he had never started it but, since he did, at least he has tried to defend himself, albeit with little conviction. There is a point that I do not think he will know about, despite the fullness of his brief, but he should know about it. A short time ago I went to Bradford for a very special ceremony. My distinguished constituent, the Earl of Derby—not a member of my constituency party, I hasten to add— in his capacity as president of the cancer research foundation, presented the university with the foundation's award for the year.

There is no medical school at the university, although I understand that the Bradford medical officer of health is an honorary professor. In his citation, the noble Lord spoke of about 20 sufferers from breast cancer being completely cured, apart from others who were more seriously ill and whose life was lengthened but who were not cured. In the face of that, can the Secretary of State justify the heartlessness involved in his proposals, or will he say that he did not know about the medical aspect, and that he will have to look still further at engineering, which means cutting exports still further for the next 20 years? There is no way out for him on the basis of that policy.

The last three lord mayors of Bradford, irrespective of party—this is a completely non-political matter—have all made the work on breast cancer, the work of the oncology unit, their special charity. Now the Government are to smash the unit—clearly not through malice, but simply through ignorance.

Apart from that special area of the university's work, I hope that in a few minutes I have made clear the consequences of the cuts for one university. From technological exports to cancer research in Bradford, and no doubt elsewhere, we are—I repeat the phrase of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) —selling the seed corn, and for what? We are doing it for a small, short-term economy in current expenditure, a small fraction of what, to judge from recent financial reports, is lost in a couple of miles along the Embankment between the Treasury and the Bank, as we read nearly every day in the financial columns.

For all the reasons that I have given, from just one university, just one part of the country—I am not trying to suggest that they are being uniquely badly treated, though they are being treated worse than most others—every hon. Member, of whatever party, who is concerned about Britain's economic performance, and above all our exports in the short term and long term alike, has a clear duty to oppose the Government's proposals and policy.

8.22 pm
Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

It is an honour to follow the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson). He will appreciate that, although he has written the history of his own Government, other people will also write that history. Any of them looking back at the record of higher education since the war will find it difficult to be enthusiastic about any of the actions taken by any Government.

Until the early 1960s, too little was done. Then too much was done, too quickly and without any real understanding of the difficulties and perils of expanding too swiftly. In a single leap we went from 25 universities to 45, from 119,000 students to 300,000. Other sectors of higher education were also dramatically expanded very quickly.

Dr. McDonald

What is wrong with that?

Mr. Rhodes James

I was about to say that the purpose was admirable. I supported it then, and I support it now. But the manner in which it was done—

Sir Harold Wilson

What about the Open University?

Mr. Rhodes James

I support that, too.

The manner in which the expansion was carried out was open to some criticism. We now face the results.

I regret the circumstances of this debate. I regret the necessity behind them, but I strongly believe that we cannot go on as we have been. This has long been evident to the vice-chancellors of many universities. What they say in private is often very different from what they say in public.

Sir Harold Wilson

The hon. Gentleman knows that I am one of the most voracious readers of his history books. I always find them extremely accurate and entertaining. For that reason, I should not want the hon. Gentleman to fall into error tonight. He referred to the Open University. When I proposed the Open University, which I did before becoming leader of my party, the proposal was opposed in the House by the Conservative Party. At one stage it said that it would abolish it if it was elected. Thank goodness, it did not do so. At any rate, it proposed to alter the rules by having students aged between 18 and 25 years enter it to save expenditure on the existing universities. That is the record of the hon. Gentleman's party.

Mr. Rhodes James

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that I was not even a member of the Conservative Party then, so I cannot take any blame for that. The right hon. Gentleman also knows that I am the only Member who has held a senior position in higher education. I have supported the Open University. Like many others, at the beginning I was sceptical about its possibilities, but I accept that the right hon. Gentleman was right about that matter.

One of the most important points that the House must realise, as must the higher education sector, is that until recently it never occurred to most people in higher education to justify what they were doing or the high unit costs often involved. In their own eyes, universities are so sacrosanct and so untouchable by the pressures that affect other parts of the public sector that they have become remote from public opinion and concern. If the universities have few friends today outside their own portals, many of them have only themselves to blame. The mounting resentment against higher education, which I lament but which exists, has been compounded by the effects of the economic recession during the past five years.

The circumstances of academic life, including security of tenure and vastly improved salaries—quite rightly, I was involved in the universities' salaries negotiations—are almost unimaginable in industry and commerce. The circumstances of a student are unimaginable to most school leavers. If we are not careful, those resentments will develop into something very much more serious. I say that as someone who has worked for several years in higher education, who believes passionately in it and is a true friend of the universities. I hope that they will take it from me that I have seen a remorseless decline in public support and interest in the universities. I can tell the vice-chancellors and principals that they have more to worry about than the current proposals of the UGC. I am glad to say that some of them recognise that. I only wish that more of them did so. That is part of the sombre background against which the UGC has to work and the Government consider its proposals.

In general, I welcome the strategy proposed by the UGC. The general strategy is right. It brings long-overdue common sense and reality to the position. I emphasise the words "general strategy" because there are certain elements in all proposals given to all universities that are controversial, that will cause difficulties, and which can be discussed seriously between vice-chancellors and the UGC. The general strategy, which is a modest movement away from the arts to science, engineering and medicine, is fundamentally right. I would have been more radical, but I recognise the difficulties under which the UGC operates, and especially the diffuculty of timing.

Two key factors of higher education worry me, namely, the question of timing—over how many years these changes can be achieved—and the problem of capital cost. The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) was right in one sense. The natural sciences, engineering and research are the expensive parts of higher education. The arts are relatively cheap. It would be a tragedy—one which the UGC has avoided—if we found that economies were being made in the fundamentally important areas. That is why I support the general strategy of the UGC. I do not go entirely down the Finniston road. I do not accept the argument of many that all the arts are useless. There is something about the love of learning for its own sake and scholarship for its own sake which is precious in universities and higher education. But that having been said, and in view of that awful term "the relevance" of higher education to the problems of Britain, the change in balance which the UGC recommends should be supported by the House.

I wish to make one point which is not touched upon in the UGC report, and has not been touched upon in the debate. I refer to the status of what is called the mature student. I have become increasingly convinced that the mature student is one of the most hopeful and important areas. He may have had some higher education previously, which then turns out to be irrelevant. Another sector is important. There are those who were disadvantaged in earlier life and want the opportunity to change their career and specialty. That is the person to whom we should address our attention.

Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)


Mr. Rhodes James

I am sorry that the UGC could not deal with that issue. It will be one of the key questions in future.

I give a general endorsement to the strategy of the UGC. However, I confess to a growing unhappiness about higher education generally. It is costly, it is not very productive, it contains serious and, in my view, unnecessary elements of duplication and overlapping and it is not serving the nation and its future as well as it could do and as well as it must do. In short, we need a strategy and a coherence for higher education which has been lacking since the war.

Within its limits, the UGC has tried to do what it can. However, we lack an organisation that can take a general view of universities, polytechnics, colleges of further education and higher education as a whole. That is what we need. We shall not meet the overall problem by dealing with one section of higher education at a time.

I have thought hard about this problem. I confess that I cannot offer any particular answer. I can see the present weaknesses and I can see the potentialities. There is tremendous talent in Britain which could and should be developed through a better system of higher education. Currently we have an overlapping and expensive system that in general is not as efficient and effective as we wish. I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to consider die establishment of a body, preferably a non-political one—especially after this debate—to view for the first time the higher education system as a whole.

I make that suggestion seriously, although I appreciate that it is rather weak. It is an attempt to respond to the fundamental problem that lies behind the debate and the fundamental problem with which the UGC is trying to cope. We hope to have a far more effective, larger, more efficient and cost-effective higher education system. At the moment we do not have it except in certain centres of excellence. When the debate has concluded, when the speeches have been made and when the votes are being cast, I hope that for the first time for many years the House will address itself seriously to the real problems of higher education.

8.32 pm
Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

The University of Keele has suffered a savage cut of 30 per cent. in three to four years. It is ironic that the cuts have been made at a time when Keele is increasing in popularity year by year. Student applications increased by 7 per cent. in 1979–80 and by 17 per cent. in 1980–81 compared with increases of 1 per cent. to 3 per cent. nationally. The cuts will cause great damage.

I am disturbed about the implications for unemployment, which in my constituency has doubled in a year. Young people who do not find university places will be competing with those less able for jobs and other opportunities. It is the youngsters who are less able who will suffer most from the cuts that the Government are making.

I am concerned about the damage that will be done to education. I am concerned that Keele will be forced to discontinue Russian studies. It makes economic sense to produce yong people with a degree in Russian and science, as is done at Keele. The argument that too few youngsters are taught Russian at school does not carry weight at Keele, which produces its own students of Russian through the foundation year. Why cut Russian at Keele? Do we want to make it harder to trade with the Eastern bloc and to exchange scientific and technical information? Is classical Greek and Latin at Oxford or Cambridge a better investment for this country? I do not think so.

The foundation year introduced by the great Lord Lindsay is seriously under threat because of the cuts. The course is unique, providing a good general education to 40 per cent. to 45 per cent. of Keele undergraduates. It is of enormous help to mature students. I take the point made by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) about that. In providing language and science tuition it fills a gap that is left unfilled for many youngsters at some of our schools. At Keele it is possible for someone who goes to study history to complete a transfer course and go on to study chemistry and Russian. It is tailored to meet modern needs and provides that general education which, for one reason or another, is often denied to working class youngsters.

This Government deny not only work but education to our young people. Their policy is one of barbarism and one which they should drop before they smash yet another of our institutions.

8.36 pm
Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby)

Having listened to the arguments from the Opposition Benches, one would have thought that we were about to exterminate—to use the chosen word of the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock)—the whole university sector. However, the facts are different.

The number of home students will return to the figure of 1977–78. I believe that the present number of students is not endowed with a mystical quality. It is not hewn on tablets of stone that have been handed down from Elizabeth House or even 29 Tavistock Square. In many of our universities there are a substantial number of partly filled courses in various subjects, for example modern languages. That represents an inefficient use of scarce resources. It must be remembered that a nation's resources are finite and if they are misused or wasted in one area, that waste must be at the expense of another sector. It must be to our general advantage to ensure that we get the best value for money. There is no virtue in continuing to subsidise the inefficient at the expense of the needy.

At this time when the public sector is being generally reduced and other parts of the educational system with even fewer resources and even less room for manoeuvre are carrying their fair share of economies, it must follow that universities cannot be excluded from the need to make savings. That must be the case in equity. Can a special case be made for the universities as opposed to other sectors in education? In addition, it is equally well known that although our universities are research-intensive and generally cost-effective in the sense that the majority of students at the completion of their three-year course come out with a degree, the staff-student ratio is still high. There must be a clear need in our present economic circumstances to live within our means and to make savings. Surely those savings must be borne by all sectors of education.

Some of the partly-filled courses that I described earlier will be closed, but in all probability the student population taking those courses will remain basically the same. That is because students will attend the remaining courses, ensuring that they are completely filled. In anyone's language, that represents a better use of existing resources. Surely full courses must represent better value for money than a partly-filled course.

It is also worth recalling that the number of students who attend certain courses sometimes results in oversupply in a particular discipline—for example, law, accountancy, environmental sciences, social studies and even certain arts subjects. This point was well made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. There is an actual increase—not a decrease—in engineering, physics, mathematics, the hard technological sciences, business studies and science and technology generally. In other words, the vocational courses that are necessary for the future development of our country's economy are not being damaged or reduced.

Mr. Cryer

But they are.

Mr. Pawsey

Not at all.

Mr. Cryer

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the universities of Bradford, Salford and Aston are particularly directed towards technological courses and that Bradford is facing the complete ending of part of its courses? Indeed, the three universities—and Bradford in particular—feel that this is a preliminary to their complete abolition.

Mr. Pawsey

What the hon. Gentleman says may be true for the three universities that he has selected, but the total number of students attending the courses that I have described is increasing. [Interruption.] With every respect, the hon. Gentleman can huff and puff as much as he likes, but the facts are there. I do not doubt that, when he refers to his brief, he will find that what I have said is true.

It is my belief that the UGC is actively promoting a case for the sciences, technology and mathematics, as opposed to arts and social sciences. As has already been said in this House, that is surely a positive move in the right direction. I describe it as positive discrimination, and the effect of it will be twofold.

The casual and relatively unplanned growth of the universities throughout the 1960s and 1970s resulted in a substantial increase in the number of social scientists and arts graduates. It may be argued that that unprecedented development advanced the cause of liberal education. It may have directly benefited the individual student who was pursuing his own interests and enthusiasms, but those courses were not always to the advantage of the community at large.

One wonders how much of a positive disadvantage it was to our country's economy to see a substantial number of very able brains being creamed off, away from vocational studies. They may have been directed into what individual students decided were more desirable or easier disciplines, but none the less those disciplines do not materially assist industry or commerce. I am arguing that we should be endeavouring to channel more of our able brains into the wealth-creating sectors, because at the moment too many are flying off at a tangent. Instead of becoming wealth creators, they are becoming wealth consumers.

Mr. Kinnock

If the hon. Gentleman is in favour of more vocational orientation, will he join the Opposition in voting against the enormous cuts in polytechnic funding, bearing in mind that 80 per cent. of their students are in vocationally related studies?

Mr. Pawsey

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. If he will be patient, he will discover that I shall be answering his point a little later.

I am arguing that the wealth consumers should be making a positive contribution to the private sector. It can also be argued that the proposed economies, by focusing more attention on science and technology, will be strengthening the bond between industry and the universities. That must surely be to the positive advantage of our economy. It is a move that is long overdue.

I also believe that a reduction in the number of university places—and here I come to the point made by the hon. Member for Bedwellty—will stimulate further and higher education, with more changes in the curriculum, towards a more vocational structure, and with fewer academic subjects being taught. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that that must be to the advantage of our economy at large.

There is a belief that some universities will flourish as sectors of excellence, maintaining a clear commitment to teaching and scholarship. It is fair to say that others will have their research and teaching reduced. That need not necessarily be bad, because the result of not having controls on what was taught and where it was taught was the proliferation of small departments, which have not always been distinguished by either their research or their teaching. Perhaps that is best underlined by the comments of the chairman of the UGC, who argued in the autumn of 1980 that a philosophy of laissez faire that was acceptable in a growing economy and based on university populations of about 10,000 was no longer tenable. He said: We want everyone to be good at some things, but we want you to concentrate on your strengths, and not support pallid growths which are now never likely to reach maturity". The argument about excellence is not new and it is certainly practised in countries such as Germany.

Finally, no one likes or wishes to make cuts of any kind, but it is wrong to paint my right hon. and learned Friend as some kind of latter-day Herod, anxious to slaughter the hapless universities. That is not so much bullrushes as bull. Our problem is the clear need to reconcile our desires with our resources, to find a middle path between spending what we can afford and cuts that cause real damage. I believe that those who are unbiased and fair-minded will feel that the UGC has got it about right.

8.45 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

As a large number of hon. Members wish to take part in this short debate I shall try to be brief.

First, the debate cannot be merely about the universities. It is about the whole of higher education. What is often referred to rather misleadingly as the maintained sector of higher education—the polytechnic and college sector—has been sustaining substantial cuts over a longer period and to a greater extent than the universities. That has already had a serious impact and will continue to do so.

It is worrying that we so often discuss cuts in the universities and the issues facing them as though the other sector did not exist. That is a fundamental mistake but one to which we are almost driven by the lack of a body with responsibility for concerting planning in both sectors. We talk about the rise or fall of particular subjects in one sector without any reference to whether the same subjects are rising or falling in the other.

This emphasises my party's belief that we need a national body in the maintained sector of higher education. Such a body should have some of the characteristics of the UGC and should enjoy some of the independence that the UGC enjoys. It should also work as closely as possible with the UGC. Indeed, I should like the binary line eventually to disappear—not because I wish to make universities of the whole of the maintained sector but because there is such a tremendous overlap between the activities of the two sectors that we cannot rationally discuss them for much longer in total isolation.

Despite the many criticisms of the UGC's decisions, I do not think that many people in the universities would exchange it either for the system by which the polytechnics are currently run or for direct control by the Department of Education and Science. I believe that it has to be selective in its approach, although it would have been better if we had seen more signs of selective activity in the area of expansion when this could have been clone more effectively. That is not to say that there was not some selectivity even in those clays. I remember when Durham took a fancy to the idea of starting its own medical school in Durham with another down the road in Newcastle. The UGC moved in on that occasion, so there was some selectivity even in those days.

Much, however, has been left to be done in the period of contraction. That is bound to make it almost impossible to achieve better use of resources in the universities, especially against a background of the Government's severely damaging policy on overseas students That policy has a direct effect on the financial viability of institutions and courses and all the appalling consequences for the future to which the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) referred. It is a very short-sighted policy.

In addition, particularly in the university sector, although this may be almost as true in the polytechnics, there are problems relating to the tenure of academic staff. These make any rapid adjustment or cutting almost impossible. Those problems cannot be overcome in a fair and just way without substantial sums being disbursed in redundancy payments and in buying out existing tenure rights. It is, therefore, wrong to imagine that the universities can cope easily with this situation.

I also believe that the present level of cuts on which the Government are engaged is based upon a mistaken view of what will happen over the next few years. The immediate impact of the cuts will come at a time when the number of 18-year-olds is increasing. The peak impact of the present cuts will come in 1982 or 1983 when more 18-year-olds then ever before will be trying to get into the universities. We shall then have the abandonment of the Robbins pinciple—which the Government have already admitted in a reply to a parliamentary question of mine—that those who are qualified for higher education will be able to obtain it. That principle will be abandoned in the peak years because of the impact of these cuts.

It would be right to look at what will be the impact in subsequent years when the numbers may fall away, but we shall be presented with other opportunities then. I see those years, when the number of 18-year-olds will reduce, as the time further to develop the life-long opportunities that the education system should present. I have never believed that universities and polytechnics should be the preserve of 18 to 21-year-olds. I have always wanted to see more people coming back for retraining or re-education or because they missed earlier opportunities.

That will be made more difficult by the fees policy. The example of Birkbeck college has been quoted. That college has a marvellous record of bringing into higher education people who would not otherwise have had access to it. The fees policy on which the UGC letter is based will not allow that to continue. We have also seen the impact of the fees policy on the Open University. As a result of lack of adequate maintenance provisions and the lack of new opportunities for financial support for mature students, we have seen the closing off of the opportunities that we ought to create for life-long education.

What worries me most is that the things we ought to be doing we will not be able to do under this programme. I have mentioned life-long education. Engineering and technology are another obvious example. During the last two days, I have had lengthy discussions with my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) and the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper), as well as a number of others who are concerned about the University of Salford. That university has sought to relate its work in technology to the industry of the area around it. At present, it provides 10 per cent. of the United Kingdom's engineering graduates. In addition, 63 per cent. of its graduates go into industry and commerce as against 23 per cent. nationally. We ought to be encouraging the sort of things that it is doing. I am deeply worried about the impact of the UGC's present proposals on universities such as that.

Indeed, some of the UGC's proposals intrigue me. An hon. Member spoke earlier as if the UGC letter meant that social sciences and the "soft disciplines" would be abandoned in favour of the things he thinks we most need. But if we study the UGC letter we find that, although it wants to reduce student numbers in the social sciences, it wants to increase research in the social sciences. That is a specific objective. The letter implies that there will be no redundancies or major reductions in staffing in the social sciences, because the UGC wants to improve ratios and allow for more research. I am not sure whether that is the right balance.

We do not want a general reduction to mediocrity in the universities. We are, therefore, worried about the level of cuts. If there are to be cuts they must be applied in a reasonably selective way. In those circumstances it is inevitable that some courses will disappear from the present system. I am profoundly worried that this is taking place without any coherent planning between the university, polytechnic and college sectors.

We need high-quality teaching and worthwhile research that are closely related to the community and all its needs—its economic, technological, cultural and spiritual needs. In my view, this programme will not serve those ends.

8.54 pm
Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

I listened with great attention to the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock). He described the Government as innumerate. He went on to give us a fascinating geography lesson. He said "The further north, the greater the damage". He informed a slightly startled House that the cut at Durham was 4 per cent. in grants and 4 per cent. in students. I am sure that the citizens of Durham will be startled to find that overnight they have been transported to the South.

I also listened with great care to what my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) said about looking at higher education as a whole. That is absolutely true. I have been told that time and again by the lecturers at the University of Lancaster.

It is now 20 years since, following the Robbins report, the decision was taken to establish a university at the northern end of Lancashire, which hitherto had been totally neglected. I am delighted that Lancaster was chosen for the honour. At the beginning, we had the great fortune to have a prudent vice-chancellor and to have as university secretary from the beginning until only a few months ago a gifted man, Stephen Jeffreys, who watched expenditure extremely carefully. That care is standing us in good stead now. His successor is carrying on this prudent financing.

Like most universities, at the beginning, the staff-student ratio was generous as faculties built up their student numbers and as they "grew into" the basic minimum of staff requirements in the new departments. Over the years that imbalance has been corrected and since 1973 the cost per student in real terms has been reduced by no less than 9 per cent. Administrative costs, in proportion to our budget, have been reduced from 7.2 per cent. in 1975 to 6.2 per cent. in 1981. That is no small feat. Still more impressively, our energy consumption has been reduced by 37 per cent. by means of strict and sophisticated monitoring devices.

In an effort to build up resources, to widen the experience of students and to make a contribution to the wider educational scene, strenuous and very successful efforts were made to attract undergraduates and graduates from mnay parts of the world and particularly close links were established with Malaysia and Singapore. A steady stream of undergraduates from the Far East has come to the university, to the great benefit of all concerned and not least—as several hon. Members have said—to the advantageous prospect of expanding trade to those countries. The right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) made that point.

It was, therefore, a sad blow to us in Lancaster when the Labour Government imposed strict quotas on the number of overseas students who were to be allowed to come. It was another blow when the fees for overseas students were raised 18 months ago. It may well be that we cried wolf too loudly in the beginning and forecast a much more severe fall-off in overseas student numbers this academic year than occurred. Equally, the Secretary of State and the Minister were too sanguine in believing that the fall-off would be relatively minor. Not surprisingly, the fall-off has been delayed by a year, but it shows every sign of being severe and will make a substantial impact on the university's financing.

Indeed, the cut of 5½ per cent., which the University Grants Committee has imposed upon us, would be increased by about £300,000 a year, to about 8½ per cent., if the number of overseas students were to decrease in the way thought likely. On several occasions the Minister has said that if the fall-off is severe he will reconsider the matter, both in its own right—since we do not wish our universities to become too insular—and in the effect of reductions on university finances. I hope that he will do so as soon as the acceptances for the next academic year have been confirmed by students in situ.

During the Easter Recess I pleaded the case for Singapore and Malaysia to continue to send students to us. I found that there was a passionate wish to do so but a fear that economic factors would compel those countries to send their students to America instead.

For a long time I was the only hon. Member who was a sociologist and I may still be the only one. Therefore, I cannot be said to be anti-sociology. However, as Baroness Seear said in the other place on 24 June, we went overboard on the social sciences in the 1960s. The University Grants Committee evidently feels that the time has come to redress the balance of student numbers in favour of the sciences and business studies and, in so doing, to improve the staff-student ratio and the opportunity for highly qualified research in the social science faculties. Those faculties are being tightened up. We particularly need better statistics in sociology. It never ceases to amaze me that, unlike our transatlantic competitors. we have appeared for generations to believe that good business men, like Topsy, "just growed". Now, rather late in the day, we are realising that business skills must be learnt. What is more important, they must actively be co-ordinated in the life of industry around us.

At Lancaster we are fortunate in that our university coordinates its efforts closely with local industry in what is called "Enterprise Lancaster". This has been of considerable help in attracting science-based industry to our area. I am glad that business studies have been singled out by the University Grants Committee for expansion. Lancaster university is setting a commendable commercial example by making an estimated net profit of £120,000 in the current year by hosting conferences and so on.

At a time when many people in all walks of life are experiencing the sheer terror of actual or threatened redundancy, surely the facilities of our universities must be used to the full to enable people to broaden their experience and reorientate their lives. I am glad that Lancaster has opened its doors to local people who wish to attend its lectures. Without any increased expense, the university is giving them a chance to broaden their interests and possibly reorientate their lives by its introduction of open lectures.

That is the sort of experiment that will wither if the cuts go too deep. I beg my right hon. and learned Friend to ensure that that does not happen and that in pruning we do not kill the trees

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

Order. The winding-up speeches will start at 9.30 pm. If it is possible to limit speeches to five minutes, that will be helpful.

9.3 pm

Mr. Ben Ford (Bradford, North)

Bradford has been singled out as one of the three universities hardest hit by the cuts. It was told—"invited" in academic terms—by the University Grants Committee that it must cut almost a quarter of its students over a period of three years from 4,360 to 3,530. That is grotesque.

Bradford university has built itself up as a centre of excellence. It has carefully balanced its courses, and that balance is about to be destroyed. The president of the National Union of Students called the Government "educational vandals". That fits. The Robbins principle has been abrogated, and this is the reward to those universities that have reduced their unit costs by 10 per cent. over 10 years. The Government are employing fools' logic. They are making savings now at the expense of the future. They are looking at the next generation and saying "Hang you, Jack. I'm all right. I've been to university".

Bradford has had a reduction in its grant of 32 per cent. In 1980–81 its income from all sources was £20 million. The cuts from now to 1983–84 will be £6.4 million and the grant will be reduced from £14.45 million now to £9.64 million. That will lead to probable redundancies of 160 teaching staff and 320 to 350 non-teaching staff.

Mathematical sciences are being phased out. Why? The days of using matches went out with the 14th Earl. These days, mathematics are at the core of innovation and design in a technological society. What is the university to do about the offers that have already been made this year? Who will pay the redundancy pay for teachers who have contracts that give them 12 months' notice or payment in lieu? Next year there is to be a £2½ million cut at Bradford. If the cuts are enforced as suggested by the UGC, Bradford will go £500,000 into debt, because it has only £2 million in reserve. What my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) said becomes a possibility—that Bradford university may go bankrupt.

Worst of all, the research base is threatened and a cancer research unit being planned and built—assisted by the Bradford lord mayor's war on cancer fund—will probably have to close. There will be no medical or pharmacological skills to support it because those courses will have to close.

Britain will lose prestige and orders by the decline in the number of overseas students in Bradford university. I have personal experience of this because I used to work for an advanced electronics company that trained overseas students, and time and again those students went back home and later ordered equipment from that company. The same applies elsewhere, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) said.

The UGC is not a statutory body. It was set up by Treasury minute some years ago. It consists of 20 persons who have been educated in eight universities. I am not attacking either the UGC or those persons. I am just trying to put matters in perspective. Ten of those persons were educated at "Oxbridge". It is obviously unrepresentative. It includes only one person with first-hand experience of a new technological university.

It is time that a statutory body was formed, with public accountability and including students and trade union representation. Alternatively, the UGC could be abolished altogether. University authorities have said to me that if they have to negotiate cuts, they would prefer to negotiate directly with the Minister.

Finally, looking at the Government's policies over the years and following the events of recent weeks, many of us have a sense of impending doom. People are living in desperation from one day to the next. The Conservative Government are trying to change in three years social and economic structures that have taken three decades to construct. They seem to be moving steadily and inevitably towards a catharsis.

One of three things must happen. The Government must change their policies; there will have to be a revolt in the ranks of Tory Members, resulting in the demise of the Prime Minister; social unrest will increase to a pitch amounting to the destabilisation of society.

The Tories must change course soon. They are providing fertile ground for Left-wing revolutionary elements and Right-wing Fascists to do their dirty work. The people of Britain demand responsible, capable and constructive government. If the Conservatives cannot offer that, they should go and make way for those who will.

9.7 pm

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

I want to make two brief pleas to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. However, I want, first, to correct the inference in the remarks of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir. H. Wilson) about the Conservative attitude to the Open University. Although the right hon. Gentleman was absolutely right in saying that the planning of the Open University took place under his Administration, it actually began under the Administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). It was my right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister who was responsible for going ahead with the Open University. Lord Perry, the vice—chancellor of the Open University, even commended to the senate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for an honorary degree for the work that she did in ensuring that the university was launched.

My main point on the university front is that for many years, and far too long, as the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, there was an additive policy in the universities. Growth assumed that one added on to what one had. Institutions and those of us who taught in them by and large added on things as they took our fancy, and a whole range of departments—drama, Russian, Chinese and so on—appeared in all our universities, and history and the humanities appeared in the technical universities. There was no case for doing that, and there should have been a more selective expansion.

Therefore, I welcome the present selective approach to the way in which we develop the system. However, I agree that it is vital that the Government should make clear to the whole of higher education what the strategy is to be. The universities and polytechnics clearly believe that what happens is at the whim of the Treasury; that it amounts to ad hoch-ery due to the need to make cuts. It is vital to say that we have an overall view of where development should occur, that this is where the money will be steered and that institutions will then be left to develop their strengths—Bradford and all of them have strengths—and to concentrate on those strengths rather than to spread themselves across the whole of university courses.

It is within that selective approach that I make the plea that we must ensure that mechanisms exist to safeguard the part—time and mature students and the sandwich provision. These are the things that are most related to the vocational needs of the country. The Government always give a broad steer to the UGC. That is how Imperial college was founded. The Government of the day asked the UGC to ensure that an institution of such excellence and such specialism was created. That is what is needed now.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)


Dr. Hampson

I fear that I do not have time to give way. I have promised to be brief.

It must be wrong that half of our higher education provision is left to the whim of individual local authorities and that a major part of the national provision, which is meant, according to Crosland, to be the most socially responsible part of the system, in its expansion and its cutbacks, is under the control of individual local authorities and not under national guidance. It must be right that we have a national body to determine how that sector is developed. It must be right that this national body, within the cash limits available to it, gives a more direct steer than is possible in the universities for part-time work, sandwich work and the crucial technician level courses, the sub-degree level courses that no other part of the higher education system provides.

It must be right to move, as I believe my right hon. and learned Friend wishes, towards establishing a national body and that the institutions are dealt with directly by such a national body. We must cut away the bureaucracy of the RSG, the indirect funding of institutions, the red tape and committee work, and the interference and the petty controls that some local authorities foist on their polytechnics. They should be dealt with directly as institutions, as happens with universities.

Incentive should be given to bodies that, as a collective group of institutions, raise £7 million by selling their educational wares in the world to do the things that they are good at doing. What often happens now is that local authorities quibble and fight to get their hands on the money that institutions raise by selling courses and expertise.

I urge my right hon. and learned Friend to press ahead with the establishment of a national body to enable the polytechnics to be effective partners in the higher education system and to achieve the rationalisation that is indispensable if we are to make the best use of resources.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I appeal to the House. I hope that the Front Benches, which between them occupied an hour at the beginning of the debate, will co-operate by making brief winding-up speeches. That will be only fair to the rest of the House. I have a long list of hon. Members wishing to speak, some of whom, in any case, will not have the chance to do so.

9.13 pm.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

Last week's announcement by the Secretary of State and the circular letter from the UGC amount to the most savage blow struck against higher education probably by any Government in history. The effects of the cuts are devastating on the whole of higher education, but I wish to mention particularly Stirling university in my constituency—the youngest university in Britain, established in 1967, where the number of home students now amounts to 2,739. The UGC proposes a reduction in home students of 27 per cent., which would take the home students' roll to just over the 2,000 mark by 1984, and a reduction in the recurrent grant of 23 per cent. over the same period.

I ask the Minister, and also the UGC, what possible justification exists for singling out Stirling university for such a savage blow. The only philosophy behind the distribution of the cuts seems to be that the smaller one is and the younger one is, the harder the Government, through the UGC, will hit one. I lay the blame primarily at the Government's door. The volume of cuts in education expenditure is the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Nevertheless, the UGC does not come out of the process with clean hands. The Government are directly responsible for the volume of cuts, but the distribution of those cuts is the responsibility of the UGC, and that Oxbridge-oriented group have become the lackeys of a Government who are hell-bent on destroying our education system. The members of the UGC are simply trying to protect a privileged minority within that system.

The UGC's circular letter referred to a reduction of about 5 per cent. in student numbers and of 11 to 15 per cent. in recurrent grant in the period up to 1983–84. But the figures for Stirling are a 27 per cent. reduction in student numbers and a 23 per cent. reduction in recurrent grant.

The circular also refers to the desirability of increases in some types of science courses, but those courses are being cut at Stirling because the university has been told to reduce the number of science places by up to 300.

The Government pride themselves on an educational philosophy which is supposed to be based on freedom of choice. But applications to Stirling university in the current year have increased by more than 30 per cent. compared with a slight national decrease. Even on the Government's criterion of freedom of choice, I see no reason for discriminating against Stirling university.

As for the economics of the argument, I am reliably informed that Stirling university has the lowest student unit cost of all Scottish universities. As regards the employment prospects of students, the percentage gaining permanent employment within one year of graduation from Stirling is well above the national average. No matter what criterion one picks, there seems to be no justification for the savage cuts that the Government and the UGC are attempting to impose on Stirling university.

The university is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, employers in my constituency, with more than 1,100 employees. 'Within the Central region of Scotland unemployment is getting worse because the Government are virtually destroying the industrial base of the area. More than 14,000 people are already unemployed in the region.

The Government are determined to go ahead with the closure of the nearby Callendar Park college of education, but I warn them that there will be massive opposition if they attempt to do to Stirling university what they have done to Callendar Park. I assure them that there will be widespread opposition, not just from me but from academics, teachers, students, trade unions representing academic and ancillary staff, the local trades councils and the whole community.

I assure the Government that if they think that they can further mutilate the educational base of my constituency and the Central region they will have a fight on their hands. We are faced with an unprecedented act of educational vandalism, committed by a discredited Government. That is why we must fight their proposals all the way.

9.18 pm
Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

I do not share the views of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan). Sheffield university has fared slightly better than some others. It is situated mainly in my constituency and over 30 or 40 years I have seen it become part of the community and an arm of industry in the city.

More recently, I have had the privilege of serving on the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts, which has discussed these matters with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. The report "The Funding and Organisation of Courses in Higher Education" has already had one reply from my right hon. and learned Friend. We expect another in due course. The Select Committee made many recommendations. It referred to pluralism rather than the binary system, wanting to see universities, colleges and polytechnics come together and be looked at as a whole.

I support the Government's amendment. Universities and other higher education institutions must play their part in making a contribution to the economy along with many other institutions, including industry. Private sector industry in particular has had to streamline consistently, not only in the last two years but in the last 10 to 15 years. The streamlining has moved to the public sector. The Secretary of State for Education and Science discussed that with the Select Committee in evidence on 17 December. The Select Committee was aware of the nature of the challenge facing the University Grants Committee and of the problems for education then.

I return to the Sheffield scene. The relationship between town and gown has always presented a problem. Sheffield has benefited in the quality of life from its association with the university over the past 30 years. Sheffield university has departments of metallurgy, fuel technology and glass technology. Over the years the British Iron and Steel Research Association worked hand in hand with the university.

Industrialists at managerial and technical levels have worked with the university. Not only do departments such as these need funds from the Science and Engineering Research Council—and I shall not comment on dual funding—but there is a relationship with industry through contract research and endowments to chairs in the university.

Today, leaders from Sheffield's industry have, once again, spoken to the Secretary of State for Industry about the cut in profitability and in the numbers in employment. The same leaders, many of whom have provided services as pro-vice-chancellors, treasurers and members of the university finance committee— I was a member of the council for many years—realise that cuts have to he made and, if public expenditure and, in consequence, taxation are to be reduced, expect the universities to do the same. It is important that the professors and lecturers in Sheffield realise this situation.

ereLast year the Select Committee went to New York State. There, because of the likelihood of cuts in the number of people going to university, cuts on the campus had to be made with flexibility. It was an education to see how the problem of contraction was dealt with and faced in New York State. Flexibility is vital. A student per capita grant system means that if there are no students there are no grants. Those in charge of the campus with reduced funds had to face cuts in the colleges.

It has been put to me in this country that finance committees of universities—the treasurer, vice-chancellor and team—need time for change. The plea that I have received is that time should be given to bring about the change. I hope that time will be given to universities as too drastic change will cause confusion.

The Select Committee examined tenure. Many young professors and lecturers see senior men past their time taking positions which they should give to younger men. That matter was raised by the Select Committee and the Secretary of State has replied. Those in industry who live alongside universities have had to face redundancies. They ask why universities should be exempt from what goes on in industry.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the Front Bench speakers for their co-operation. The winding—up speeches will not begin until 9.40 pm, which means that, with luck, it should be possible for three more Members to take part in the debate.

9.24 pm
Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)

It is the mainly technological universities most worthy of support that have suffered the worst cuts: Salford, Bradford, Stirling, Keele and Hull.

I want to tell the House of three of the remarkable achievements of Salford, the worst hit of all. It has invented and produced a swivel walker, which enables children and adults disabled from the waist down to walk. It operates by their moving their shoulders from side to side. This morning I received a letter from a Salford mother who says: The Swivel Walker has brought a new dimension into the lives of severely handicapped children.

The university has also built six experimental houses that can be heated to 70 degrees throughout the year at a cost of £1 a week. This has proved a tremendous success after a year's habitation.

Thirdly, the university has invented and produced small motor cars for the disabled—cars which also carry their wheelchairs—at a fraction of the normal commercial cost.

All these spectacular developments come from a university that is to suffer the most vicious cut of all. The blow will be six times as serious as the average of cuts for all colleges and universities—cuts which I also oppose. There will be a 30 per cent. reduction in the number of students at Salford, and a 44 per cent. reduction in grant, unless we stop it. How nonsensical and ruinous can the Government get?

The cutbacks at Salford are so devastating that doubts were expressed to me by a deputation that came to Parliament yesterday about whether the university would survive. The cuts may be the first step towards closure of the university, which is the city's pride. I shall press within the Labour Party for it to include in its election manifesto a pledge to reverse the cuts.

These blows have been inflicted on a class basis. Universities with a high percentage of working-class students are to suffer most, while Oxford, Cambridge and some others get off relatively freely.

Sitting on the University Grants Committee are the representatives of the posh universities, appointed by the Secretary of State. Not one of the six worst hit colleges is represented on the UGC's council. These unrepresented universities are the chief victims—another instance of anti-working class bias.

The Government have decided to act first and consider the educational, economic and social consequences later. After slashing the total grant, they are hiding behind the UGC's skirts. When we protest to the Government they say—I have in my pocket a written reply that I received today—"It is nothing to do with us; it is the UGC". When we go to the UGC, it says "Go to the Secretary of State". It is a Catch 22 situation.

The Opposition's task is to make the Government rescind the cuts. Apart from the Ministry of Defence, the UGC is the supreme example of non-accountability for the expenditure of public money. That must end.

The UGC representatives have not once visited Salford in the past three years. Its engineering department has not been visited by them in the past 10 years.

Yesterday hon. Members from the North-West received a large deputation from the Association of University Teachers. The union has a £½ million fund to fight redundancies. Teaching staff, unless guilty of misconduct, are appointed until they are 65. They will bring long and exceedingly expensive court cases to obtain, first, redundancy pay and, secondly, breach of contract damages. That will cost the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the short run far more than the Treasury will save by the cuts.

Salford university is the second biggest employer in the city, a city already stricken with serious unemployment. As a result of the cuts, 575 jobs will be destroyed. Somebody knows the figures, even if the Secretary of State does not. One-third of those jobs are academic and two-thirds are porters, cleaners, technicians and other non-teaching staff. What about the 1,200 student places that are being destroyed—1,200 in one university? It means that the 18-year-olds leaving school with advanced level certificates will have even less chance of a job. Yet, up to now, Salford has had a record of being one of the first universities in the country for finding employment for its graduates. The Government have put it top of the list for the axe.

For six years Dr. John Horlock, a distinguished engineer, has been the outstanding vice-chancellor of Salford. He recently left to become vice-chancellor of the Open University. His place has been taken by Dr. John Ashworth, currently the chief scientist on the Central Policy Review Staff at the Cabinet Office. He is a scientist of distinction. How must he feel at this moment?

9.31 pm
Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)

Reference has been made to the most severe cuts on record. I was asked about the total amount of finance provided through the UGC for universities when I attended a recent meeting of some dozens of university teachers at St. Andrews. I took the trouble to find out what was the funding, through the UGC, during the past 10 years in both actual and real terms. Those who have been in the House longer than I will recall that the largest single cut in university finance was of £200 million in real terms in one year. That was in 1977, the period of the Lib-Lab pact when Shirley Williams was Secretary of State for Education and Science. The largest funding that has ever been given through the UGC was when my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) was Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister was the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

The major difference between this relatively modest cut and that enormous cut in 1977, and the major difference between the present proposals and what happened then, is that these proposals go hand in hand with a rational change in the system. That is right. There is much to be proud of in our university system. It has already been said from both sides of the House, including by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), that there was scope for rationalisation and for pruning finance.

The universities account for only 45 of the 400 institutions of higher education. Several hundreds of students were admitted to our universities last year whose total educational qualifications were two grade "E" A-levels. That suggests that there is a qualitative problem. For academic reasons—never mind financial reasons—the exercise that is being undertakeen is long overdue. Those concerned with the exercise were right to be selective. I hope that the House and those concerned with universities will remember that even in the universities and departments within universities that have been frowned on by the UGC there are some excellent university teachers. In the universities that have come off lightly there are teachers who are not as perfect. It would be wrong automatically to equate the quality of work that the UGC wants to see with a particular quality in a university teacher and a particular institution. That would be grossly unfair.

I am concerned about the time scale over which the changes will take place. The first year target in the attempt to reach what is desired for 1983–84 is, put at its mildest, extremely difficult to achieve given that the discussions with the UGC will not be completed until half-way through the 1981 academic year.

Secondly, I suspect that redundancy, so far as it may be involved in this exercise, has been ducked to a large extent. Much more attention must be given to the problems that will arise if the targets are to be achieved over a period.

The UGC has had an extremely difficult task. I question whether it is equipped to carry through this sort of operation continually. It has given no policy guidance on divinity and theology in Scotland. I represent especially St. Andrews, the oldest university in Scotland. I question whether the principles which the UGC has enunciated have been taken as carefully into account as they should have been.

The exercise of initiating a rolling programme to ascertain the likely finances of universities some years ahead is much desired and should be expanded. I hope that it will be continued.

9.36 pm
Mr. Ronald W. Brown (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

I wish to focus the attention of the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in this otherwise dismal debate, on a ray of hope. I can put the right hon. and learned Gentleman in touch with about £13.2 million that he could redistribute to the universities of Aston and Salford and other places of excellence that will be the subject of cuts. I give the right hon. and learned Gentleman this opportunity because I believe that the University Grants Committee has behaved appallingly.

As the Secretary of State knows, there is a plan for putting the St. Bartholomew's hospital medical school and the London hospital medical school on one site at Charterhouse. That exercise would cost £1.8 million. I understand that the right and learned Gentleman has recently authorised the UGC to spend £15 million on putting these schools on to another site in another part of London. There is no rationale or reason for doing so. Even the University of London says that the only merit in making the change and spending £15 million lies in the UGC making the grant for the money to be spent.

I urge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to call upon the chairman of the UGC to stop this move. It would be far better to distribute the £13.2 million to the universities that will do so much for our country rather than spending it on putting two pre-clinical schools on to another site. He should adhere to the plan to site them at Charterhouse. All the facilities that are required are at Charterhouse. The running costs will be the same wherever they are. If he decides to adhere to the Charterhouse plan, he will be popular with the House and with those outside.

9.38 pm
Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)

It is clear from the debate that the Government's higher education policy can best be described as a policy of cut and come again. It is a policy that would apply nicely if the Secretary of State were running an ox roast at a village barbecue. It does not apply when British education is being barbecued. We are dealing with a precious national investment. However, to the cuts of last year and the process of atrophy which is now enveloping the polytechnic sector of the public sector of higher education have been added the ill-considered penalties of the overseas student policy, the March White Paper and now the UGC cuts.

Throughout the torrent of criticism that has been levelled at them in the debate, the Under-Secretary and his right hon. and learned Friend have sat on the Government Front Bench, the Gradgrind and Bounderby of the DES. No doubt they will tell us that all is still for the beset in the best of all possible worlds. What do they have to say about the implicit criticism in the UGC's letter? The committee has come in for some criticism during the debate, and in some respects deservedly so.

The UGC said recently that there was no solution to the problems it faced because the rate at which resources have been removed from the university system necessarily leads to disorder and diseconomy whatever path of change is followed and … because reductions in resources are being imposed at a time when demand for university education is still rising. Those words seem to imply that those who uttered them should have come back to the Government of the day, if they are to be more than the fuglemen of that Government. They should say what their view is of the destructive nature of the cuts on the university system. There are those who might say that if it held that view, the UGC would have been better placed to resign. Those people have been placed in an impossible position as the executors of a Government policy which left the universities and the whole university sector in such financial straits.

In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), the Secretary of State challenged the alleged exaggerations in my hon. Friend's speech. I want to hear from the Under-Secretary whether the figures put forward by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals are effectively to be challenged. Is the reduction in home and European Community student numbers 7½ per cent. and not 5 per cent. because this year's numbers are higher than those which the UGC has used as a baseline? Is there to be a one-in-seven reduction in opportunity for young people able and wishing to go on to university? Those are the figures put not by special interests on either side of the House but by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.

There are a number of questions which I should like to put to the Under-Secretary in the short time open to me. I hope that he will reply to them in kind. The first point was raised by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). Does the Under-Secretary now accept that the Robbins principle is dead? Are the Government prepared to have the courage of their malign convictions to come to the Dispatch Box and tell us that the Robbins principle is dead?

I was alarmed by what the Secretary of State said in commending to the House the report which came out today from the Public Accounts Committee. One of the recommendations from that Committee is that we should have cash limits for student grants. If we have that, we turn our backs on the mandatory student grant. If we turn our backs on the mandatory student grant, we attack the other side of the Robbins principle and we leave the university students of tomorrow unable to get that access to higher education which has been there since the Robbins committee first sat.

My second point has been raised by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. Why are there no figures for a 1980–81 baseline which would give us a more accurate view of the real cut in resources and tell us whether those resources are to be cut by more than 7 per cent., whether student numbers are to be cut by 20,000 as the Association of University Teachers and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals suggest, or whether the Government are sticking to the figure of 13,000 which was put out earlier?

The Government's timing is seriously out of kilter with the increases in the population of student age. The Under-Secretary, in one of his animadversions to the Young Conservatives, said that we must remember that the peak number of 18-year-olds will be reached by 1982 and then there will be a dramatic drop over the following 10 years. Does he stand by that? My information is that the number of students will rise until 1983. It will peak in that year because the age cohort will be 941,000. Far from there being a dramatic drop, the real numbers of people coming into the system and applying for places in higher education will be higher throughout the 1980s than they were for the 1970s. Those are the facts and that is what we should be dealing with tonight, even if we do not take into account the new needs for re-education, continuing education and the expanding of sandwich courses and part-time education and so on, which the industrial as well as the social needs of our society impel us to consider.

The Secretary of State said that the Government have not removed 20,000 places from the system for all time. Of course they have not. No Government can do anything for all time. What they have done is remove for all time the opportunities from those students who come into the age cohorts. That is the point and that is the indictment against the Government in the debate. If one is a young person, properly qualified in terms of the Robbins criteria, seeking access to higher education in 1981, 1982 and 1983, one's chances of getting it are significantly worsened by what the Government have allowed to happen.

I do not believe that a Secretary of State for Education and Science who cared deeply and passionately about education, and who was not prepared to see education become a function of public expenditure cuts, as it has been by this Government, could stand happily by while that was happening.

Can the Under-Secretary of State tell us whether the DES now has any figures whatever on the number of students in the coming year who will be thwarted in their attempt to get into higher education? If we are correct in our view that the places are now to be reduced, and if universities such as Aston are correct in saying that they will have to withdraw conditional acceptances already given to students, what is the figure? The Government should come clean and tell us what kind of research they have done.

I also want to know something about the position of the academic staff. How many redundancies will there be? The AUT calculates that there will be at least 3,000 redundancies in academic staff. As has already been said, this is happening equally, if not more so, as a result of the constraints of public expenditure that have affected the polytechnics.

The onslaughts that the Under-Secretary has made on the system of tenure, the false comparisons that he has drawn with Harvard and Yale and the suggestion that our staff-pupil ratio is far better in Britain than in those universities do not stand up against the kind of public expenditure requirement of the worst and the most wasteful kind that will have to be made if the Government now have to buy out tenure and make redundant 3,000 or 4,000 academic staff. That is without taking into account the countless other people in the universities who are employed by them or who are dependent on them at one remove and who will also lose their jobs. We should not forget the laboratory technicians, the librarians and the canteen ladies when we look at these reductions. They are just as important as those who are now facing the possibility of redundancy but who can perhaps claim up to £100,000 in compensation.

I should like to know how the University Grants Committee went about its task. In what way is there accountability for what it has done? The league table singled out the technological universities—not the remote universities referred to by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) which have never travelled in the realms of doubt and have never had to question their role. The universities that have been singled out for the most punitive cuts are those that are constantly self-questioning their role, that have to interlock with the society in which they live, that have to interlock with industry, that have to apply sandwich courses, that are frequently placed in the rotting city centres and that are not the kind of remote cathedral universities that seem to have done better out of the UGC's study.

What criteria has the UGC used in considering which universities to cut? Was it A-levels? Was it the research budget? Stirling had a research budget of 9.1 per cent. It had funding from 172 external bodies. Was Stirling penalised because it did not have sufficient research from outside? I think that it is the view of the research councils that if we hammer away at university science in the way that has been done in this exercise we shall damage qualitatively the whole of research into science in this country today.

What did the UGC do when it visited the various universities? Aston university has had to lose 100 out of 500 staff. The letter from the UGC told it to discontinue philosophy. It does not have any courses in philosophy. The UGC told it to discontinue architecture. It has already stopped architecture. The UGC told it to discontinue Russian. It is down to one student in Russian.

Mr. Greenway

Does the hon. Gentleman want Aston to retain a whole faculty for one student?

Mr. Whitehead

What kind of cuts can be made in these non-existent departments when the university is told to lose 1,000 students?

Aston university has a bio-deterioration research laboratory. It has one of the only two research and development units into fish farming in the country. It is leading in research into water pollution and other areas of this kind. Yet universities of this kind are being told to diminish their work in faculties such as engineering, which is being moved to universities such as Kent. That is entirely wrong. It shows the nature of the discrimination being practised against the technological universities.

Finally, it seems to me that the whole exercise mounted by the Government has, by its atavism, destroyed many institutions that may not be able to survive on their present numbers. It is no good saying that one chooses courses, not universities. A crisis of confidence in the universities will follow the financial crisis that has now taken place.

There is only one achievement left that the Government have not so far accomplished. That is to be the first Government in Western Europe to close a university. That is the only thing left for them to do. If they had any grace at all, the Ministers involved would resign.

9.50 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)

Until my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) pointed out that the cuts in one year under the Labour Government amounted to more than we now propose over a period of years, one might have believed some of the Opposition statements. I remind the Opposition that in 1969 Labour Ministers set out—and this was reported in The Times—13 methods of saving money far more drastic than those that we have proposed. They included the introduction of a loan system, the idea that people should be tied to jobs when they finished their courses, and all kinds of propositions of that kind. Many present Labour Members were Members of the House, and, indeed, Ministers, at that time.

This is not a new form of rationalisation. It has been with us for a long time. The difference is that we have done something about it. The Labour Government put out a document, but, with the exception of one point, the universities have done nothing about it. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said recently at Kent university: It was a pity that these proposals"— that is, the Labour Government's proposals— were not treated more seriously at the time. But Universities then thought that they only had to shout loud enough that they were centres of excellence and everyone would bow. Universities walked so tall that they sometimes forgot about the ground. It is important to realise that what we are now doing people have been talking about on and off for years. At least we are achieving something along the way.

We are achieving rationalisation. [Interruption.] It may worry the Opposition, but they will have to listen. This is a policy of rationalisation, not of mere cuts but of careful pruning. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) for recognising that we are using pruning shears, not nail scissors. The fact that we had a good day today with the roses growing well again shows that the pruning was worth-while.

This matter has come to a head for two reasons. First, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State said, the Government were elected to cut Government expenditure. [Interruption.] It is not a pack of lies. Labour Members should not judge these things on the basis of their own manifestos. We were elected to cut Government expenditure. At present, we are limited by the money available, and that has acted as a catalyst.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) is quite right in saying that in 1982–83 there will be a peak in the number of 18-year-olds. For the next two years they will be in the universities. The number will then fall by 30 per cent. in 10 years. Unlike the Labour Government, we do not wait until there is an excess of teachers before doing anything about the situation arid then create unemployment among teachers. We have planning. The Opposition are supposed to believe in central planning, but as soon as they see any they object w it. I should have thought that they would welcome our planning.

Let us be clear about what has been done. There has been a switch from the arts to technology and science. Hon. Members may shake their heads. I shall give them the figures. In medicine, there will be an increase of 5 per cent. in three years, in dentistry an increase of 3 per cent.—so the Opposition had better keep their mouths shut for a while—in engineering and technology 2 per cent., in mathematics 3 per cent., in physical sciences 7 per cent. and in business studies 3 per cent. Those figures illustrate a switch to the sciences, technology, engineering and business studies which I am sure that hon. Members on both sides would welcome.

My hon. Friends the Members for Rugby (Mr. Pawsey) and Ripon (Dr. Hampson) said that there was no point in having half-courses in each university. Every university cannot offer every course to every student. That is the economics of Passchendaele. The way to rationalise the teaching of German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese or Spanish is to concentrate economic units in various universities. Such subjects should be moved to a university where they can be economic and taught alongside general studies.

That is a proper form of rationalisation. Minority subjects should be concentrated in a number of universities so that they can be taught in economic units to the benefit of both staff and students. We are maintaining the amount of money going to the research councils—£343 million in real terms.

Mr. Kinnock

indicated dissent

Dr. Boyson

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has been misled. In 1983–84, the number of students in universities will be slightly more than the number in 1977–78, the last year in which the Labour Government were in power. From what has been said, people would think that the locusts had descended and that no universities were left. We should also remember that in addition we have polytechnics and colleges of further and higher education. In fact, apart from universities, there are 396 institutions where degrees can be obtained, and many of them have vacancies.

This is not a betrayal of the Robbins principle. It is a question of ensuring that that principle is fulfilled. However, it does not mean that every pupil will be able to go to whichever university he wants, to read what he wants, in which year he wants, or to go on whichever train he wants.

Mr. Canavan

What about freedom of choice?

Dr. Boyson

There can be no ultimate freedom of choice. I am told that regularly enough about schools.

I appreciate the genuine concern of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) about overseas students. This year, 7 per cent. more students from overseas are in our universities than was allowed for under the Labour Government's quota system. One would think that they had all gone away in little boats or that they had never arrived here.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) is a learned man and is obviously concerned about this matter. He will therefore be interested to learn that there are now 13 per cent. more students in higher education than that envisaged in the quota. Had the universities admitted overseas students without charging a fee, they would have been in even greater financial difficulty.

Britain's real need is not necessarily more graduates. Employers do not say that they want more graduates, although at times they may say that they want better graduates. They want people to work on the workbench so that they can put research into practice.

A few weeks ago, I visited the Royal Society and I learnt that scientists must go abroad to have their research projects manufactured because they cannot be produced here. British research is as good as it has ever been, but we require the ability to make the goods arising from research quickly.

This year, we are spending more money in real terms on non-advanced education for 16 to 19-year-olds than ever before. I believe that to be a basic requirement for employment and other reasons.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) and my hon. Friends the Members for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) and Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) referred to the need for sensible rationalisation of higher education courses.

The University Grants Committee has been attacked. However, as my right hon. and learned Friend said, we do not know of a university vice-chancellor who would want to replace that body with direct Government interference. An article in last week's edition of The Times Higher Education Supplement states: Already several things are clear. The UGC is not trying to act like the Prussian High Command dictating every movement and controlling every movement and controlling every timetable … but its broad strategy deserves support. We wish to ensure that we shall have the university system that we want in the 1990s instead of being stuck—as Opposition Members want us to be—with the university system of the 1960s.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes, 230, Noes, 272.

Division No. 258] [10.00 pm
Abse, Leo Beith, A. J.
Adams, Allen Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N)
Allaun, Frank Bidwell, Sydney
Alton, David Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Anderson, Donald Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bray, Dr Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Ashton, Joe Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)
Atkinson, U. (H'gey,) Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Buchan, Norman
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Callaghan, Rt Hon J.
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)
Campbell, Ian Huckfield, Les
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.
Canavan, Dennis Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cant, R. B. Janner, Hon Greville
Carmichael, Neil Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Johnson, James (Hull West)
Cohen, Stanley Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Coleman, Donald Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Cook, Robin F. Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Cowans, Harry Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Craigen, J. M. Kerr, Russell
Crowther, J. S. Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cryer, Bob Kinnock, Neil
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lambie, David
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Lamond, James
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Leadbitter, Ted
Dalyell, Tam Leighton, Ronald
Davidson, Arthur Lestor, Miss Joan
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Litherland, Robert
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Dempsey, James Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)
Dewar, Donald Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Dixon, Donald McCartney, Hugh
Dobson, Frank McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dormand, Jack McElhone, Frank
Douglas, Dick McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dubs, Alfred McKelvey, William
Dunn, James A. MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Dunnett, Jack McMahon, Andrew
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. McNally, Thomas
Eastham, Ken McWilliam, John
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Magee, Bryan
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Marks, Kenneth
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)
English, Michael Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Ennals, Rt Hon David Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Evans, John (Newton) Maynard, Miss Joan
Ewing, Harry Meacher, Michael
Faulds, Andrew Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Field, Frank Mikardo, Ian
Flannery, Martin Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Ford, Ben Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Forrester, John Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Foster, Derek Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foulkes, George Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Newens, Stanley
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Ogden, Eric
George, Bruce O'Halloran, Michael
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John O'Neill, Martin
Ginsburg, David Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Golding, John Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Gourlay, Harry Palmer, Arthur
Graham, Ted Park, George
Grant, John (Islington C) Parker, John
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Pavitt, Laurie
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Pendry, Tom
Hardy, Peter Penhaligon, David
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Prescott, John
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Heffer, Eric S. Race, Reg
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Radice, Giles
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Richardson, Jo
Home Robertson, John Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Homewood, William Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hooley, Frank Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Horam, John Robertson, George
Howell, Rt Hon D. Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Howells, Geraint Rooker, J. W.
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Ryman, John Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Sever, John Tilley, John
Sheerman, Barry Tinn, James
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Torney, Tom
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Short, Mrs Renée Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford) Weetch, Ken
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Welsh, Michael
Silverman, Julius White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Skinner, Dennis Whitehead, Phillip
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Wigley, Dafydd
Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Snape, Peter Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Soley, Clive Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Spriggs, Leslie Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Stallard, A. W. Winnick, David
Steel, Rt Hon David Woolmer, Kenneth
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles) Wright, Sheila
Strang, Gavin Young, David (Bolton E)
Straw, Jack
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Mr. Frank Haynes and
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Mr. James Hamilton.
Adley, Robert Corrie, John
Aitken, Jonathan Costain, Sir Albert
Alexander, Richard Cranborne, Viscount
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Critchley, Julian
Ancram, Michael Dean, Paul (North Somerset)
Aspinwall, Jack Dickens, Geoffrey
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Dover, Denshore
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Durant, Tony
Banks, Robert Dykes, Hugh
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Eggar, Tim
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Elliott, Sir William
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Eyre, Reginald
Best, Keith Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bevan, David Gilroy Faith, Mrs Sheila
Biffen, Rt Hon John Farr, John
Biggs-Davison, John Fell, Anthony
Blackburn, John Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Blaker, Peter Finsberg, Geoffrey
Body, Richard Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Bowden, Andrew Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fookes, Miss Janet
Braine, Sir Bernard Forman, Nigel
Bright, Graham Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Brinton, Tim Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Brittan, Leon Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Brooke, Hon Peter Fry, Peter
Brotherton, Michael Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Browne, John (Winchester) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Budgen, Nick Glyn, Dr Alan
Bulmer, Esmond Goodhart, Philip
Burden, Sir Frederick Goodhew, Victor
Butcher, John Good lad, Alastair
Cadbury, Jocelyn Gorst, John
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Gower, Sir Raymond
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Gray, Hamish
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Greenway, Harry
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Grieve, Percy
Churchill, W. S. Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Grist, Ian
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gummer, John Selwyn
Clegg, Sir Walter Hamilton, Hon A.
Cockeram, Eric Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Colvin, Michael Hampson, Dr Keith
Cormack, Patrick Hannam, John
Haselhurst, Alan Needham, Richard
Hastings, Stephen Neubert, Michael
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Newton, Tony
Hawksley, Warren Onslow, Cranley
Hayhoe, Barney Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Heddle, John Osborn, John
Henderson, Barry Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby)
Hicks, Robert Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Parris, Matthew
Hill, James Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Patten, John (Oxford)
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Pawsey, James
Hooson, Tom Percival, Sir Ian
Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd) Pollock, Alexander
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Porter, Barry
Hunt, David (Wirral) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
lrving, Charles (Cheltenham) Proctor, K. Harvey
Jessel, Toby Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Raison, Timothy
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rathbone, Tim
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Kershaw, Anthony Renton, Tim
Kimball, Marcus Rhodes James, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Kitson, Sir Timothy Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Knight, Mrs Jill Rifkind, Malcolm
Knox, David Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lamont, Norman Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lang, lan Rossi, Hugh
Langford-Holt, Sir John Rost, Peter
Latham, Michael Royle, Sir Anthony
Lawrence, Ivan Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Le Marchant, Spencer Scott, Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lloyd, lan (Havant & W'loo) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shepherd, Richard
Loveridge, John Shersby, Michael
Luce, Richard Silvester, Fred
Lyell, Nicholas Sims, Roger
McCrindle, Robert Skeet, T. H. H.
Macfarlane, Neil Speller, Tony
MacGregor, John Spence, John
MacKay, John (Argyll) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Sproat, Iain
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Squire, Robin
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Stainton, Keith
McQuarrie, Albert Stanbrook, Ivor
Madel, David Stanley, John
Major, John Steen, Anthony
Marland, Paul Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Marlow, Tony Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Marten, Rt Hon Neil Stokes, John
Mates, Michael Stradling Thomas, J.
Mather, Carol Tapsell, Peter
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Tebbit, Norman
Mawby, Ray Temple-Morris, Peter
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thompson, Donald
Mayhew, Patrick Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Mellor, David Thornton, Malcolm
Meyer, Sir Anthony Townend, John (Bridlington)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Trippier, David
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Trotter, Neville
Mills, Peter (West Devon) van Straubenzee, Sir William
Miscampbell, Norman Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Moate, Roger Waddington, David
Monro, Hector Wakeham, John
Montgomery, Fergus Waldegrave, Hon William
Moore, John Walters, Dennis
Morgan, Geraint Ward, John
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Wells, Bowen
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Wheeler, John
Murphy, Christopher Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Myles, David Whitney, Raymond
Neale, Gerrard Wickenden, Keith
Wiggin, Jerry Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wilkinson, John
Williams, D. (Montgomery) Tellers for the Noes:
Winterton, Nicholas Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Wolfson, Mark Mr. John Cope.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House, recognising the need for restraint in public expenditure, notes that the Government continues to make substantial resources available for higher education and welcomes the recommendations of the University Grants Committee for the rationalisation of the university system to ensure a balanced provision.