HC Deb 17 March 1982 vol 20 cc360-410 3.41 pm
Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

I beg to move, That this House condemns the cuts made by Her Majesty's Government in higher education in Scotland, which are denying eductional opportunity to qualified young people, causing disruption to university finances and staffing, leading to loss of morale in all sectors of higher education, and imposing hardship on students; and calls for access to higher education to be made available at an adequate level of students' grants to those qualified and able to benefit from it.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Milan

I noticed immediately that the Prime Minister's amendment contained no refutation of the point made in our motion, that the Government's attitude to higher education and particularly the university sector will mean the denial of education opportunities to thousands of young people. Nor does the Government amendment give any educational reason for the Government's recent action. The reason is simple. They can give no educational reason for the cuts in university and other finance now being imposed. The Government simply wish to save public expenditure. They are not concerned about the educational consequences and there are no educational reasons for anything that they have done.

This country does not overspend on higher education. Comparisons can be made with other countries, but I am always somewhat sceptical about them, as they do not always compare like with like. I shall not go into that today, but such comparisons, even heavily qualified, in no way lead one to conclude that the United Kingdom is particularly generous or extravagent in the provision of higher education. Compared with most of our industrial competitors in other parts of the world, we spend relatively poorly on higher education, and I believe that some of the deficiencies in our industrial, manufacturing and economic structure are not unconnected with that fact.

Secondly, as a general preliminary point, I should point out that what is happening in higher education today is part of a pattern affecting all our young people leaving school and amounts to a general denial of educational and employment opportunity. There is an appalling unemployment problem among school leavers, especially among those with no qualifications. The latest figure for Scotland is about 22, 000. The real figure is considerably greater, as there are 31, 000 young people on the youth opportunities programme. The real total is therefore more than 50, 000. Moreover, the vast bulk of young people find no jobs on completing a YOP course. The number finding jobs has fallen from 78 per cent in 1978–79 to 30 per cent. now.

Large numbers of 16 to 19-year-olds receive no education whatever. They are not involved in the formal or informal education system in any way. There has also been a reduction in the number of apprenticeships in Scotland. Furthermore, those who receive education in universities or elsewhere face great problems in finding jobs when they quallify. What is happening in the universities and other sectors of higher education is part of a pattern which is making the situation much worse for many young people.

Before dealing with the universities, I wish to deal with the sector of higher education in Scotland which is the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State. In doing so, I shall comment briefly on the recent report of the Council for Tertiary Education. Clearly, discussion of that report and the way in which non-university tertiary education is organised in Scotland requires a separate debate, so I shall not be diverted into that today. I make just a few preliminary comments.

First, the report is not very persuasive about the links between the universities and non-university higher education in Scotland. I certainly agree that a national overview is required, which will have to include the universities as well as the non-university sector. I am also not particularly attracted to the continuation of what is in effect a two-tier system, with the central institutions on the one hand and the local authority sector on the other. Finally, from our experience with the University Grants Committee, with which I shall deal later, the prospect of 100 per cent. funding by the Secretary of State for further education in Scotland does not fill me with any great enthusiasm, given the kind of Government that we at present have. As those matters clearly require a separate debate, I shall not go into detail today, except to say that this whole area of provision is extremely important and it is vital that we get the structure right.

The position of local authority further education colleges in the Scottish education system was the subject of a parliamentary answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) on 17 November last year, from which it seemed that the Government actually expected a reduction in full-time equivalents for vocational education in further education colleges as well as reductions in the university and central institutions sector. If that has not happened, it is not for good educational reasons. If the reduction has not taken place, it is basically because unemployment has forced more young people into education. Also, there is now greater provision in further education colleges relating to the youth opportunities programme, as there will be subsequently for the youth training scheme. We do not yet know the educational content of the youth training scheme in any detail, but it certainly does not by itself provide any real additional educational opportunity in terms of the overall view of education at further education colleges.

With regard to the colleges of education, I shall not go through the sad and shameful history of the Government's attitude and actions. That ground has been traversed thoroughly on previous occasions. The Government have reneged on the promises that they made in Opposition. They have now closed two colleges and rationalised another, and the number of students entering the colleges in the years after 1982–83 is likely to be substantially reduced, particularly on the secondary side.

The Government will claim that as the number of pupils in secondary schools is going down, the number of students going into colleges of education will naturally fall as well. What the Government do not point out, and what the Under-Secretary of State in particular, who is always boasting about the fine pupil-teacher ratios does not disclose is that, as the public expenditure White Paper published the other day demonstrates, the Government are planning not for an improvement in PTRs over the next few years but for a substantial deterioration. The figures are disclosed on page 60 of the White Paper.

At the moment the PTR at the primary stage, which affects the entrance to colleges of education, is 20.3. According to the Government, in 1982–83 that should deteriorate to 21.8 because that is all that they are providing finance for. In secondary schools the 1981–82 PTR is 14.4, but for the next three years the Government are providing for a deterioration of the PTR to 14.6.

These figures simply mean that if the local authorities allowed a deterioration in the pupil-teacher ratio to bring them into line with the amount of financial provision that the Government will make available in 1982–83 and subsequent years they would have to get rid of 2, 000 teachers. When the Under-Secretary of State boasts about PTRs, the House and the country are not told that the reason for these good PTRs is that local authorities are deliberately providing better ratios than the Government are providing finances for. This is part of the excessive local authority expenditure about which the Secretary of State is always complaining.

If the local authorities were to reduce PTRs in this way they would have to make teachers redundant. At least that is taken care of in the public expenditure White Paper because we are told that there is provision in subsequent years for redundancy payments to primary teachers. Far from improving the position the Government are asking local authorities to make the position worse in primary and secondary schools, by sacking primary teachers now. They will subsequently sack secondary school teachers as well.

In secondary schools in particular it is hypocrisy for the Government to be asking for the deterioration in PTRs. As the numbers of secondary pupils go down there are certain diseconomies of scale that mean that if standards are to be maintained PTRs have to be improved. The Government are keen on Munn and Dunning and want to have it implemented in secondary schools, but if that is to happen PTRs will have to improve because that requires more staff. At the very time when the numbers of pupils are going down, and Munn and Dunning is supposed to be introduced, the Government are telling local authorities to make the PTRs in the secondary schools worse. I do not believe that that will happen but if it did it would mean a considerable deterioration in standards. That is part of the background against which we must consider colleges of education in Scotland.

The Government have gone further than closing two colleges of education and rationalising one other. They are now talking about rationalisation of the courses at the secondary school level. They are also talking about reducing the secondary intake into our colleges of education from 1, 400 last year to 1, 000 this year and 500 by 1985–86. If these reductions are made we cannot maintain the college of education system that we now have in Scotland.

The Government will have to provide new tasks for the colleges of education or they will have to link the colleges in some other way with other educational institutions unless there are to be further closures in colleges of education in Scotland. If the Government proceed upon this path and insist on these reductions in the PTRs and the colleges of education there will be further closures of those colleges. The Secretary of State must be frank, as he has not been so far, and tell us what he has in mind for colleges of education.

Some colleges thought they were all right when the previous closures were announced and that they did not have to fight with their colleagues to maintain their colleges. Some of them have already been rudely awakened by the figures published yesterday and some will have an even bigger shock in the future. So too will some Conservative Members who have listened to the honeyed words of the Secretary of State on this matter.

Central institutions are the other part of the system under the direct control of the Secretary of State. I hope that the Secretary of State can tell us about their funding today. As I understand it, he is talking—no doubt he will correct me if I am wrong—about level funding as a whole for 1982–83, with some switch of resources from art to technical colleges.

Whatever is happening, the one thing that we can be sure of is that central institutions, any more than the universities of colleges of education, will not be able to meet the demand for qualified young people leaving school who want to enter them. In particular, they will not be able to meet the demand from those young people who are denied university and college of education places because of the university and college cuts. There will be no solution to the Scottish problems through the central institutions, although I shall listen with care to what the Secretary of State has to say.

Turning from the Secretary of State's direct responsibilities, and before going on to the universities, I wish to say something about students' grants. A critical problem is developing, about which the general public are not yet fully aware. Between 1976 and 1979, the last years of the previous Labour Government—as the National Union of Students, I am glad to see, acknowledged in its submission to the Government for the grant increase for 1982–83—student grants kept pace with changes in the retail price index. Since 1979 there has been a deliberate reduction in the real value of the student grant.

The NUS reckoned that the increase that would have been required in 1982–83 to bring the grant back to the 1979 value would have been 17.4 per cent. The Government offered an increase of 4 per cent. No doubt they can argue that other people are getting 4 per cent. and that is what they are asking people to accept as a salary or wage increase in the public sector. Yet, the students will not have anything like the 4 per cent. increase, because as well as increasing the grants by only 4 per cent. the Government have also frozen the scales of parental contribution. That means considerably less than 4 per cent. in practice.

First of all, for those on the minimum grant, which is £410, the grant is frozen. About 10 per cent. who are on that grant now will have no increase. Rather more students will move on to the minimum grant because of the freezing of the parental scale. Some students who get grants above the minimum will go down to the minimum and will have a reduction. Those already on the minimum will have no increase.

On the maximum grant the increase is 4 per cent., but the number on the maximum grant will be reduced. It will not be the same percentage as in the current year because the freezing of the parental scale will reduce the total percentage of students, which is now about 35 to 40 per cent. Some of them will have the 4 per cent. increase and some will have a reduced grant because the freezing of the parental scale will bring them down from the maximum.

Students who receive a part grant, which assumes a parental contribution, will suffer. About 50 per cent. of students are in that category. They will receive no increase. If the income of such students' parents has risen in accordance with the national average they will receive severely reduced grants in 1982–83. I hope that Government Members understand that. If they have not already received letters of complaint they can expect many when people who no doubt voted for them at the last election discover that their student sons and daughters will receive reduced grants because of the freezing of the parental scale and the small 4 per cent. increase in grants.

We do not yet know what all this means. The public expenditure White Paper is a mine of information. I am glad that the Minister responsible for education and science in Scotland is present. Page 38 of the White Paper sets out the results. Student awards in 1981–82 will cost £912 million. In 1982–83 they will cost £760 million. That is a reduction in cash terms of about £150 million. There is no adjustment for inflation in the figures.

I do not know how that figure is arrived at, but the Secretary of State must have known the average grant in Scotland for 1982–83, compared with 1981–82 before the White Paper was published. The figures in the White Paper have to be adjusted because of changes in fees. The reduction that I have mentioned is not entirely accounted for by the amount of money going to students. We should like the matter cleared up. What is the real increase for 1982–83 for England and, more particularly, for Scotland?

The Secretary of State must have the figures. What was the average grant for 1981–82 and what, after this generous settlement, will be the average grant for 1982–83? I hope that the Secretary of State will give the figures when he replies to the debate. Whatever the figures, large numbers of students will not even receive the 4 per cent. increase. Many students will receive a reduced grant in cash terms in 1982–83, despite the cost of living, for students as well as for everybody else, going up substantially.

That is not the end of the Government's meanness to students. The Secretary of State has announced that grants will no longer be paid for repeat years. A feature of our student grant system for as far back as I remember is that all students can repeat a year and still receive grant. They cannot repeat more than a year on a grant and if they have to they finance themselves. The repeat year provision is to be removed. Any student who has to repeat a year must finance himself for that year.

That is an attack on working-class students. Students from working-class backgrounds struggling through university who have to take a repeat year and who are not financed will have to abandon their courses. Students who are lucky enough to be on minimum grant, who have parents with substantial incomes, or who can find finance through their families, will be able to continue, but the Government's mean provision means that students from modest backgrounds will be forced to abandon their studies. The same is proposed for students who transfer from one course to another. Many students will not be able to continue with their university or other higher education courses.

Another meanness involves the postgraduate quotas which are to be made permanent. They were reduced in 1981–82 by 15 per cent. What will be the further reduction in 1982–83? The quota applies to everybody. Even students of the Church of Scotland and entrants to the legal and other professions will be subject to the postgraduate quota under the new system.

The public expenditure White Paper contains a sinister phrase. Perhaps the Minister responsible can explain what it means. The Government are trying to move from a system of grants to a system of student loans. I put it on record that the Labour Party opposes that. On page 40 a peculiar phrase suggests that grants to students will be frozen at the 1982–83 level for the next two years of the public expenditure programme. Do the Government intend that? Do they intend to freeze student grants for 1983–84 and 1984–85? The Government must be able to tell us whether that is their intention. If they do not intend to freeze grants I hope that the Secretary of State will explain.

Students' standards of living in 1982–83 will be reduced. It would be intolerable if in the following years there was a further reduction in the standards of living of higher education students.

When the cuts were announced by the University Grants Committee last July we made a number of criticisms. Those criticisms are as valid today as they were in July. We said that there was no educational justification for the cuts. No such justification has been produced since then. We said that there would be a denial of opportunity for thousands of young people who were able, qualified and willing to go to Scottish universities. That applies today.

Indeed, the figures published by the UGC last July understate the position. Read crudely, the figures suggest that the reduction of places in Scotland is about 1, 700. The real reduction is 3, 800, as a letter from the Under-Secretary responsible for Education and Science in Scotland to my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. O'Neill) admitted the other day. The UGC paper in which the crude figures appear is riddled with inaccuracies. That is only one such inaccuracy.

The position is worse than that, because the figure takes no account of the fact that we have not reached the peak of potential student population in Scotland, although that peak will be reached in a couple of years.

We also said that the cuts could not be justified in terms of deployment between courses and universities, some of which are better or more attuned to modern needs than others. The favoured courses such as engineering and science will be badly affected by the cuts announced in July, as will courses in the arts, the humanities and the rest. We said that the UGC had its sums wrong. At some Scottish universities—Aberdeen is a prime example—the figures for student numbers and for finance are not even comparable arithmetically. I will come to the problem that we have in Aberdeen because of that. There was no fairness between universities. Some universities, including the new university at Stirling, were savagely attacked by the UGC.

We said that there was no point blaming the UGC because it was simply acting as hatchet man for the Government. It is the Government who are responsible, not the UGC. We said that the UGC provisions had not taken account of the four-year degree course in Scottish universities. That charge has not been answered. A number of those points were made at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Education and Science in November. He no more answered them then than he did in the debate the following day or has done since.

We said that the timetable was too short. Even if what the Government were doing was justified, to do it over three years was absurd and would cause—in the UGC's own phrase—disorder and diseconomy in the universities. That comment has been fully justified by what has happened since last July. We also said that to carry out such a policy on that time scale would be extremely expensive. It would involve large-scale redundancies and expensive redundancy payments because many academic staff have security of tenure. Even if one were agreeable to the reductions—which we were not—to do it over a longer period would save money rather than cause additional expense. In some cases, those reductions would prejudice the viability of individual universities; Stirling was mentioned in that respect.

When we put that point to the Secretary of State for Education and Science—I am grateful to him for being here this afternoon, despite what I am about to say about him—he said that he did not really want any universities to be closed deliberately. He did not rule out the possibility that some might be closed by accident or inadvertence, but he was not setting out to close any deliberately. All those criticisms have been fully justified by events since last July and none has been answered.

I think that the Government expected that the fuss and palaver would all blow over, that universities have had such crises before but that things would soon continue calmly and easily. That has not happened. Some university expectations were equally wide of the mark. Some of them, including Scottish universities, in their innocence felt that the injustice was so blatant that they had only to explain it to the UGC for some adjustment to be made. Not a single Scottish university has had any adjustment at all in its provisions following their representations to the UGC. Indeed, in some cases, the UGC has sent them a curt letter which has not answered their points at all but simply said that nothing can be done.

One change since July is that in January the Secretary of State for Education and Science, acknowledging that there would be 5, 000 redundancies among academic staff, said that he was willing to agree a standard compulsory redundancy scheme. We do not know how much that will cost. Figures of £150 to £200 million have been floating around. What is the Government's estimate of the cost of that scheme? They have taken on an open-ended commitment. It will cost £150 to £200 million to make people unemployed, to reduce standards of academic excellence in universities and to deny university education to large numbers of our young people. It is a complete waste of money. That money should be spent on improving our educational structure and giving additional educational opportunities rather than making people unemployed.

We are now coming to the crunch. Over the next few months some disagreeable and nasty situations will arise in particular Scottish universities. It looks as if Aberdeen will be the first with 160 redundancies among its academic staff. They will be fought and fought legally. It is an absolute disaster. The UGC has not justified what is happening to Aberdeen. In Stirling there is a critical situation, with which my hon. Friends will deal. There was talk of making 62 academic, and many other non-academic, posts redundant. In Glasgow there has been talk of 431 redundancies over the next three years, including 200 academic staff. In Strathclyde there has been talk of 250 redundancies over three years, including 112 academic staff. In St. Andrews over the next two years 50 academic and 70 non-academic staff will go. Of course, similar tales of woe are to be told at other universities that I have not mentioned.

The Government have produced unnecessary waste, confusion, bitterness and anger. At the end of the day they are not likely to have saved much, or any money. Nobody in the House or in the universities believes that our educational system must continue unchanged to the end of time. If that feeling existed in some universities until a few years ago, I do not regret that that feeling has passed. The residual lingering feeling that nothing can be changed except for the worse and that expansion in every direction, regardless of priorities, always produces better educational provision, exists only in a few departments. I do not believe that and I never have. I do not believe that it applies to other sectors of our educational system either. If change is to come, it must come within the context of a controlled overall expansion of educational opportunity and expenditure. We cannot get the necessary changes in our educational system, do justice to young people at school, deal with the appallingly difficult problems of 16 to 19-year-olds, or deal with the problems of those in higher education by a process of indiscriminate, ill-considered cuts which are doing immense damage to higher education in Scotland and elsewhere. However, that is the road that the Government have set out upon and that is why we condemn them today.

4.18 pm
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Younger)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House recognises the need for higher education in Scotland to bear a proportion of reductions in public expenditure and commends the steps taken by Her Majesty's Government and the University Grants Committee to re-order priorities to ensure a high standard of provision consistent with national needs. I, too, am glad to have the opportunity this afternoon to cover this important subject. I am grateful to the Opposition for making this time available to us.

I start by making some complaints to the Opposition about the somewhat strange arrangements under which we are discussing this matter. The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) quite properly devoted a great deal of his speech to the changes that have taken place in the universities. I should have thought that it would be appropriate to have proper arrangements for the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who are directly responsible to have an opportunity to speak in the debate.

I am surprised that those Labour Members who are responsible for shadowing the Department of Education and Science—the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) made a short appearance—have not made an appearance. That is to be regretted. Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), who have direct responsibilities for the universities, have heard what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

The right hon. Gentleman's contribution to the debate is deeply disappointing. He rightly expands at length and with great care on all the things that anyone could find that were unsatisfactory about educational provisions in the higher sphere, but if the right hon. Gentleman's position as Opposition spokesman on Scotland means anything, he should have considered the matter in a more responsible and round fashion.

Anyone can list the things that he would like to see in higher education without paying the slightest regard to the availablility of the money to finance it. It is the easiest thing in the world to do that. I could easily spend half an hour or more listing all the things that I should like to see in higher education, but I should have to ignore the question whether there was enough money to finance them or where one could find such money.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)


Mr. Younger

I have only just begun my speech and I shall not give way at present. It is understandable that a Back Bencher might make such a speech, but it is deplorable that the right hon. Gentleman should make no reference to the availability of money to finance the task to which he referred.

The right hon. Gentleman had the effrontery to mention teacher training colleges. Someone from Mars, listening to the debate, might think that that was the aspect that had most deeply shocked the right hon. Gentleman. He might think that the right hon. Gentleman was shocked that anyone should reduce teacher training provision, yet only a few years ago the right hon. Gentleman proposed to close or amalgamate no fewer than four colleges.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)


Mr. Younger

When the arrangements that the right hon. Member for Craigton had made were shown to be inadequate, he abandoned his scheme. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention that today. He gave many figures for pupil-teacher ratios. Of all people, I should not have expected the right hon. Gentleman to make a mistake when using figures to make a point. He is far more expert on figures than most of us will ever be, but, from the way that he presented his case, I gathered that he had taken the present pupil-teacher ratios and compared them with the provisions in the rate support grant for the coming year.

If the right hon. Gentleman were to compare like with like, he would find a different story. If the right hon. Gentleman were to look at the rate support grants—about which he always complains—he would find that there had been provision in each year for an improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio in primary and secondary education. That goes for the coming year as well. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would know that that was the right way of doing things.

Mr. Millan

Does the Secretary of State want, or expect, local authorities to reduce pupil-teacher ratios to the levels in the White Paper? Is that what he is asking them to do?

Mr. Younger

Local authorities are perfectly free to do that. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Craigton and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) must face the fact that the provisions in the rate support grant settlements allow for the highest ever pupil-teacher ratios. [Interruption.] If local authorities have chosen to spend more and to produce even better ratios, that is their decision. My provisions allow for the highest ever ratios. The right hon. Gentleman should at least admit that.

Mr. Millan

The right hon. Gentleman is always lecturing local authorities on their extravagent expenditure. Will he now answer my question? He is providing only for badly deteriorating pupil-teacher ratios. Does he expect local authorities to reduce their standards to his?

Mr. Younger

That is the same question as the right hon. Gentleman asked before. I certainly expect local authorities to reduce their expenditure to reasonable levels. If they choose to do so by reducing their standards, that is their business. My job is to provide for them in the rate support grant. The right hon. Gentleman should know that the pupil-teacher ratios in primary and secondary schools that are provided for in the rate support grant have improved by 0.1 per cent. in each case from 1981–82 to 1982–83. Pupil-teacher ratios will be held steady at that level until 1984–85. Therefore, the lower figures shown for 1980–81 and 1981–82 represent the actual level of staffing and not the staffing levels provided for in the rate support grant. [Interruption.] I think that I have dealt satisfactorily with that point.

The debate covers higher education generally. I cannot speak for the chorus line on the Opposition Back Benches, but those members will get their chance to speak later.—[Interruption.] As this is a short debate I shall try to cover in the briefest time possible the whole spectrum of higher education.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Although we are grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for waking up Opposition Members after the opening speech by the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), it would be helpful to hear my right hon. Friend's speech. It is continually being interrupted by Opposition Members, who will no doubt catch your eye in due course.

Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The debate would be better and there would be less noise from Opposition Members if the Secretary of State had the courage to let hon. Members intervene in his speech.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

The best way to debate the subject is to allow the Secretary of State to be heard.

Mr. Younger

I probably have the best record for giving way. In the space of about six minutes I have given way three times, and I shall not give way again. [Interruption.] Front-Bench Members are the most prestigious and one should give way to them. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) for pointing out that I have succeeded not only in waking up the Opposition—itself quite a feat—and drawing some Opposition Members to the Chamber—which is an unusual pleasure—but in rousing the Opposition to make enough noise to attract the hon. Member for Bedwellty back into the Chamber. That is very welcome. [Interruption.]

In the brief time available I shall give as many answers as possible to the questions that have been raised about higher education. We should get the balance of our higher education system into perspective. The number of students in Scotland in higher education is divided into the proportion attending each of the sections that make up higher education. In the session 1981–82, 45, 000 students are taking full-time courses at our eight universities; 17, 000 in the central institutions and colleges of education and 11, 000 in full-time or sandwich advanced courses in the colleges of further education. That is a total of 73, 000, of which 62 per cent. attend universities and 38 per cent. colleges in the public sector. That clearly shows the great importance in Scotland of the central institutions in higher education as a whole.

It would have been much more appropriate for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to deal with the universities, but as I keep in close touch with the Scottish universities and my right hon. Friend, I should be happy to say a few words about the university system in Scotland.

Mr. Maxton


Mr. Younger

I must press on, otherwise I shall take up too much time.

We can at least unite in regretting that it might be necessary to halt a process of expansion in higher education that began in the Robbins era and that there now must be some reduction in the level of funding. However, there are two significant differences between the Government and the Opposition. First, we recognise the reality of the economic situation, while the Labour Party consistently refuses to do so. Over the years successive Governments have allocated considerable resources to the establishment of new universities and colleges, and to the development of existing institutions. Expansions could not continue in a period of economic stagnation, and therefore some retrenchment is inevitable.

Secondly, the Conservative Party recognises that what is happening to the universities does not relate in any way to the death blow attitude displayed by the right hon. Member for Craigton. I agree that there are painful and difficult adjustments to make and that the total level of activity in universities—because of those changes—will be reduced, but I am certain that these economies will do no fundamental damage to the structure of our university system, which will remain well able to respond to the challenges that it will face during the years ahead.

I say that partly because the significance of the economies requested is being massively exaggerated in relation both to the total size and the fundamental health of the university system, and partly because the selectivity with which the cuts have been made by the University Grants Committee has helped to ensure that the best is being preserved and that we shall continue to have a university system that is capable of responding to the demands of the future.

After all, the reduction in numbers that is required in Scotland amounts to 4.4 per cent. of a total number which has grown every year for many years. It is a reduction that we would have preferred not to make, but it cannot be described in the totally destructive terms that the right hon. Gentleman used today.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dumfermline)

The Secretary of State said that he had been in close touch with the principals of Scottish universities. Can he name one who agrees with the type of selectivity that the UGC has asked the universities to undertake?

Mr. Younger

It is not for me to put words into the mouths of university principals. [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman does not want to hear the answer to his question. He seems to be engaging in a private discussion with his hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes)—or possibly a private war. Of course I have been in close touch with university principals. I am sure that there is no university principal or headmaster of any school or further education institution who welcomes the fact that he is to get less money to spend next year. Who would? If I may say so, it is an absurd question.

My second general point is that, even if Opposition Members were to accept the need for a reduction in university expenditure, I should have thought that, on mature reflection, they would agree that it is right that the pattern of that reduction and the advice given to the universities should be decided not by the Government but by the UGC, which is used to apportioning funds between universities.

Mr. Robert Hughes


Mr. Younger

Surely I should have the opportunity to develop my argument.

Mr. Hughes

I thank the Secretary of State for giving way. He knows that the UGC has not explained to any of the universities the reasons why they have been treated in a particular way. Despite all the recommendations that have been made the information is still not available. The UGC has told me that it will not make the information public and that it will not answer my queries about what is happening. Will the right hon. Gentleman bring pressure to bear on the UGC to have a public debate about the secret way in which it has made the cuts?

Mr. Younger

That is not a matter for me, in any case. Of course, my right hon. Friend will note what the hon. Gentleman says in that regard.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

He is not here.

Mr. Younger

I ask all right hon. and hon. Members to recognise, as I think the right hon. Member for Craigton did, that the UGC is only doing its job in implementing something for which the Government decided the basic pattern. It is therefore wholly appropriate to pay tribute to the UGC for the way in which it has tackled an exceedingly difficult job. It is right that I should say that.

I want to make two comments about the university system in Scotland. The first is that, as a simple matter of fact, Scottish universities have fared slightly better than their counterparts in England and Wales in terms of both money and student numbers. The second is that the UGC has specifically recognised two particular features of the Scottish system—the four-year course, and the special circumstances of those Scottish universities that have a larger than average proportion of home-based students. I am therefore satisfied that it would be wrong for any right hon. or hon. Member, in Scotland at any rate, to say that Scotland has been treated worse than any other part of Britain. Indeed, it has been treated slightly better. I emphasise, too, that both the Government and the UGC are doing everything that they can, in an admittedly difficult situation, to make a sensitive and flexible response to a difficult developing situation.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Under-Secretary have been deeply concerned about the Scottish aspects of these changes. Both have met the Scottish principals, and that has helped particularly my responsibilities for health in Scotland. As I announced last December, I have been able to recognise the heavy demands that the Health Service in Scotland makes on the universities, and I have made special provision to allow the replacement in NHS establishments in Scotland of any posts which universities were obliged to cut which were essential to the maintenance of patient care or the output of trained specialists essential to the Health Service.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has shown his flexibility by being willing to agree to a redundancy compensation scheme for academic staff, which is very similar to that proposed by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and which generously recognises that significant numbers of them have academic tenure to take into account. This has been of significant help to the universities in their task of managing this difficult process of contraction.

The UGC is also sensitive to the continuing needs of the university system in Scotland. I have discussed the situation with the chairman of the UGC, and I much appreciate the significant amount of time that he personally has given to meetings with the Scottish principals. Although the financial situation leaves it relatively little flexibility, the committee has made certain responses which are worth recording. First, it told Aberdeen that it is sympathetic to the university's desire to develop further its work in engineering, and decided that, if the university were to succeed in obtaining adequate external funding for an additional chair, the committee would consider providing a degree of supporting funding.

Secondly, it has continued the funding of Edinburgh's work as one of only two specially selected centres in the United Kingdom on the application of microprocessors in science and engineering subjects. Heriot-Watt has also been chosen by the Department of Industry as a centre for the work of its microprocessor applications project.

Thirdly, the UGC is planning an element of special support for biotechnology in its grant allocations for 1982–83 at a limited number of universities. I am confident that the undoubted expertise that exists in Scottish universities in biotechnology will ensure that they will attract a healthy proportion of the special funds available, and enable them to sustain and further develop their capability in this important area.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Younger


Mr. Canavan


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat if the Minister does not give way.

Mr. Younger

I have such respect for my own Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), that I want to protect him from making his usual intervention, because it usually rebounds on himself. It is in his own best interests if I let him off.

Finally, on the universities, I want to emphasise the significance of the broad thrust of the UGC's strategy and how important this is for the economy. The expansion of the university system was planned on the assumption that it could be sustained by continued growth in the economy, and over several years that just has not happened. This meant that when the expansion had to stop we were left with some institutions and departments within institutions that could no longer hope to reach the size originally planned. Some departments were, therefore, too small ever to become efficient or educationally fully effective.

In making its allocation within the new level of funding proposed for the system the UGC had to take account of this effect, amongst others, in considering how best to achieve the following four aims: first, to ensure the maintenance of a full range of subjects throughout the university system and to protect scholarships generally; secondly, to bring about a significant shift of emphasis in the system towards technology and those aspects of science central to our economic—

Mr. Canavan


Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Cananvan

On a technology point—

Mr. Younger

—and industrial future from the point of view of our need both for research and for trained manpower; thirdly, to preserve the vitality of the system and its ability to respond to new needs and challenges; and, lastly, to ensure the continued viability of institutions themselves.

Given the broad canvas with which the UGC had to deal and the limited time in which it had to work, it is easy for anyone to pick holes in what has been done in detail one way or another, but it is essential to look at the broad strategy, which is what I have tried to do. I am convinced that it is right and that in years to come the breakdown of what has been done in this admittedly difficult matter will prove to have been extraordinarily farsighted.

I come now to that sector of higher education for which I have a more direct responsibility, the central institutions, the colleges of education and the colleges of further education, in which a considerable amount of advanced work is done. These institutions account for 38 per cent. of all students taking full-time or sandwich courses at degree or equivalent level. The number of students enrolling in these courses continues to increase. In 1979 the number was 20, 000. In 1980 it rose by 10 per cent. to 22, 000, and last year it increased by a further 8 per cent. to 24, 000. It says a great deal for the efficiency of the institutions concerned that they contrived to accommodate this considerable influx without a substantial increase in the level of funding. Ten years ago—

Mr. Maxton

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Younger

I shall break off for a moment to explain to the House that if I go on too long and give way to everyone who would like me to give way, no one else will get in. It is a short debate. I had hoped that I would have the support of hon. Members on all sides in trying to confine my speech to a reasonable length. I do not think that it is fair on Back Benchers on either side if I give way.

Ten years ago the student-staff ratio in the central institutions stood at 8:1; today the average stands at 10:1; and in the colleges of technology the ratio is even higher. This represents a very significant achievement in terms of the improved utilisation of resources.

While the Government's expenditure plans allow for the contraction in teacher training to match the declining secondary school population, they will enable grants to the central institutions to be maintained at about the current level, and the provision made for further education generally in the rate support grant settlement for 1982–83 reflects the emphasis which the Government continue to place on the supply of trained manpower for industry and commerce.

The provision made for the central institutions in 1982–83 allows for expenditure at a level 8 per cent. above that for 1981–82 and 20 per cent. above the level for 1980–81. The RSG settlement for 1982–83 assumes local authority expenditure on further education at a level of 12 per cent. above that for last year. This is a measure of the importance that the Government attach to this sector of education.

Mr. Millan

Are these cash or real figures?

Mr. Younger

They are cash figures. All figures shown are cash. It is cash figures that the rest of the country has to work on. [Interruption.] Except the Labour Party, of course.

This, indeed, is the strength of the so-called public sector of higher education in Scotland, namely that the colleges are engaged in the business of providing vocationally orientated courses which are mounted and constantly adapted to meet the needs of industry, commerce and the professions. Over the years students who have successfully completed these courses have experienced little difficulty in obtaining employment. It is signficant that at the end of 1980, for instance, of those who had graduated in the summer and whose destination was known, only 8.3 per cent. had failed to obtain employment. To put it another way, over 91 per cent. obtained employment.

The introduction of new courses at advanced level in the central institutions and the other colleges is subject to approval by my Department. The criteria for approval includes evidence of a demand for the course from both employers and students which is not being satisfied by courses already available. This mechanism of control provides a useful safeguard against the proliferation of courses and the waste of resources and helps to ensure that students who successfully complete the course have a reasonable prospect of securing employment. Within the total resources available to the central institutions, my Department is seeking to give priority to those areas which are of key importance to our economic recovery, such as electronics and electrical engineering, computer science and industrial design.

The consultative paper on electronics manpower which was issued by the Scottish Office in June of last year has been well received by industry and by the universities and colleges. Expansion in the output of both graduates and qualified technicians in this field has a high priority; and it is encouraging that enrolments in both BSc and HND courses in the central institutions and colleges of further education are steadily rising.

Listening to the doom-laden speeches of Labour Members, one would gather that everywhere in higher education the shutters were going up and the lights were going out. I have no time to catalogue all the innovative and exciting work being undertaken. I shall mention only a few examples: the microelectronics education development centre located at Paisley college of technology, which since its inception in 1980 has provided over 50 courses attended by participants from well over 100 educational, industrial and commercial organisations; the postgraduate courses in offshore technology which have been provided by Robert Gordon's in Aberdeen in support of the oil industry and the offshore survival unit in the same college, which in 1980–81 provided training for over 7, 000 in the industry; the emergence of the Scottish college of textiles at Galashiels as a major centre of textiles technology in this country; the beginnings of work on robotics at Dundee college of technology; work pioneered by Leith nautical college in the handling of hazardous cargo; the introducton at Napier college of a new course in energy engineering and of a distinctive diploma course in European languages and marketing; and the planning—now at an advanced stage—of a new building for the Royal Scottish academy of music and drama, which will further enhance the facilities available in Glasgow for the enjoyment and promotion of the arts.

If that is a catalogue of a system in total decay and disaster it is a distortion of the whole picture. I hope that Opposition right hon. and hon. Members will remember that there are people working and studying in these institutions who do not require to have the situation unnecessarily made seem worse than it is.

The painful process of contraction in the colleges of education that I announced in August 1980 has in large measure been achieved. My answer to the question put by the right hon. Member for Craigton in his opening remarks is that no one can ever give a guarantee for ever more about any institution, but we have no plans for any further closures of colleges of education. The contraction process was not an end in itself, but part of the necessary process of enabling the colleges to come to terms with new developments in curriculum, assessment techniques and school organisation and to try to improve the quality of the teaching force even though the number of schools has to decline with the fall in the number of pupils.

One recent development has been approval of a new secondary teaching qualification in computing; at the same time arrangements are being made for an expanded programme of in-service training courses in computing to complement the rapidly spreading use of micro-computers in schools. In-service training is of increasing importance in a time of rapid technological change, and for this reason the level of funding of the colleges for in-service courses has been maintained at the level set in 1977.

These are all developments which dispel the notion that higher education in Scotland is suffering from some sort of paralysis. That these developments—and many others—are going ahead even though it is a time of financial stringency bears out my contention about the underlying strength of the system.

Both sectors of higher education—the universities and the colleges—have their own distinctive contribution to make. It remains Government policy that the role of the non-university institutions in higher education should be complementary to that of the universities and that the advanced courses they provide should have a strong vocational bias, with an increasing emphasis on meeting the demand for skilled manpower in industry and commerce.

I referred briefly to the machinery which exists to secure effective co-ordination in the provision of courses in the non-university sector. I am glad to say that more recently we have been able to institute informal arrangements for the exchange of information about prospective academic developments with the eight Scottish universities. There are, of course, difficulties in long-term planning in this, as in any field, and there is no suggestion at this stage of dovetailing the provision to be made in the university and non-university sectors. But there are obvious benefits to be gained from the pooling of information, not least at a time when resources are tight, and we have taken the first tentative steps towards achieving closer co-operation at national level.

There are already very useful links at local level between individual institutions, of course. These take a variety of forms. Co-operation between a university and a neighbouring institution may extend to the establishment of joint departments. An example of this is the link in respect of degree courses in architecture and town planning between the Heriot-Watt university and the Edinburgh college of art. The degree courses provided in some colleges are validated by a neighbouring university. There are also courses provided in a university to which a non-university institution makes its own contribution.

That kind of co-operation is illustrated by the institution of degree courses at Stirling university with a substantial input by Falkirk college of technology. I welcome this kind of collaboration and I am sure that it will increase as institutions recognise the importance of using to the best advantage the resources available to higher education in Scotland. My Department will continue to promote the exchange of information at national level which will facilitate that sort of collaboration.

The motion calls for access to higher education to be made available at an adequate level of students' grants".

Mr. Millan

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will deal with that matter. He is responsible for it.

Mr. Younger

I am on the point of dealing with it. I am happy to be able to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman on one thing, if on nothing else.

The right hon. Gentleman has criticised the Government for increasing the maximum rates of students' awards by no more than 4 per cent. for 1982–83 and for not raising the threshold for parental contributions in line with inflation. I entirely agree that it is desirable to try to increase the level of support for students by the maximum amount every year—at least by as much as inflation—if one can possibly do so. Of course, we wish to try to help students in every possible way.

On the 4 per cent. increase, the plain fact is that we must tailor our expenditure to what the country can afford. At a time when many people in industry will receive no rise in earnings, and when, indeed, many will have a reduction in earnings, an increase of 4 per cent. is not an unreasonable figure for students to be offered. We cannot exempt students from the essential restraints that everyone else is having to put up with in expenditure generally, both in the private sector and in the rest of the public sector.

If it had been possible to uprate awards by more than 4 per cent. we would of course have done so, but we must be even-handed in our treatment of a wide variety of different groups of people when we are considering how far our limited means can stretch. It is a luxury open only to an Opposition who do not expect to hold responsibility to look at needs without any regard to the resources to meet them.

We are asking wage and salary earners in the public sector to accept pay rises that can be accommodated within cash limits of 4 per cent. This applies to teachers, university lecturers, civil servants and various other groups. Therefore, it seems to me not at all unreasonable that students, who are in the same part of the public sector as all those people, should be treated similarly.

Incidentally, no other country in the EEC supports its students as generously as we do. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the practice in all our neighbouring countries, he will find that most which offer support have at least an element of loan financing in their arrangements. In those countries where grants are available they are almost always lower than in Great Britain and are certainly subject to much more stringent means-testing than in this country.

I return to the immediate question of the rates for 1982–83. The right hon. Gentleman was right to say that we had decided not to uprate parental contribution scales. It is true that, as he said, some students will receive less in cash in 1982–83 than they are receiving in 1981–82. This will be the case where their parents have been fortunate enough to enjoy an increase in their income in the previous year. But let us put this change into a reasonable perspective. Any parent on average earnings and with a modest mortgage equivalent to one year's salary will still be below the parental contribution threshold. In other words, his son or daughter will receive maximum grant.

Let us take what most people will describe as a comfortable level of earnings—about twice the national average, which is perhaps more like the amount earned by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire. I am not aware whether the hon. Gentleman has a mortgage; I would not pry into that. I have an idea that he probably has a nicely allocated council house which he lives in and enjoys. We at least know that the hon. Gentleman earns a salary of £13, 950 for all the excellent contributions that he makes in the House.

Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He has dealt with the parental contribution of a person on average earnings who is paying a mortgage. Will he deal with the discrimination against the person who is on average earnings and is paying rent? That person is discriminated against because he receives none of the concessions towards paying the rent that the mortgage payer receives towards paying his mortgage.

Mr. Younger

Such a person may not receive those concessions but he is fortunate in that there is great assistance from the public purse in the payment of the rent.

I was speaking of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire earning £13, 950, as other Members of Parliament do, and I was assuming a mortgage of one year's salary, which does not apply to the hon. Gentleman. The parental contribution and the grant will be roughly in balance at about £800 each for a student living away from home. In other words, we ask parents to contribute towards maintenance pound for pound along with the taxpayer. That does not seem to me to be too much to ask of people at that level of earnings to back a lifetime investment in their child's future.

In addition, in recent years there has been a rise in the proportion of students receiving maximum awards, from just over 30 per cent. in 1978–79 to about 40 per cent. now. This rise tends to show that previous increases in the parental contribution scale may have over-compensated for rises in income, thus bringing more people into eligibility for maximum awards. It is therefore reasonable to stabilise the situation by not increasing the threshold for next year.

Mr. Millan

All this is very interesting, but I asked the right hon. Gentleman a simple question, and he or his Department must know the answer. What is the average grant for 1981–82 and what will be the average grant for 1982–83? Does it show an increase or a decrease?

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman has asked a detailed question. I shall try to give him facts and figures, or ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to do so. The right hon. Gentleman made a point about the total awards expenditure. In the comparison that he took from the public expenditure survey, he overlooked the fact that tuition fees are being halved with effect from 1982–1983, which invalidates making a direct comparison. We expect about 60, 000 awards to be made in the current academic year, at a cost of about £125 million, and we expect similar expenditure next year. In any event, we shall certainly continue to pay grants on a mandatory basis to all eligible students who obtain places in higher education. That is surely the assurance that the right hon. Gentleman wants.

Mr. Millan

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question? A calculation must have been made, before the public expenditure White Paper was published, of the number of grants next year and the average grant compared with 1981–82 in cash terms. Why will he not answer that?

Mr. Younger

I shall try to express that in the precise form asked for by the right hon. Member for Craigton and will ask the Under-Secretary to deal with it when he replies. The basic figures are approximately 60, 000 people and a total expenditure of £125 million, and we expect something similar next year. In any event, we shall be paying grants to all those who qualify for them.

Mr. Millan


Mr. Younger

I must press on. The right hon. Gentleman is pushing the patience of the House a bit far. I have already spoken for far too long, because of constant interruptions. [Interruption.] Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will pause for a moment from making his speech from a sedentary position. It is not fair to the House to make it impossible for a speech to take a reasonable length, and I hope that he will forgive me if I have spoken for longer than I intended.

The Opposition chose the subject for debate and the right hon. Member for Craigton looked at only one side of the picture. He considered what he would like done in a perfect world if education were allowed to fulfil every need that anyone could envisage for it. He paid no attention to the requirement that money should be available to do the job, and therefore his case is wholly irresponsible.

Of course we recognise that asking universities to make economies creates many difficulties for them and puts pressure on people who must, therefore, re-order their priorities. However, everyone in Britain has to accept that when the national economy is going through an extremely difficult period. The proposition, if it is one, that the Opposition have been trying to put forward today seems to be that, although everyone else has to tailor his coat according to his cloth, at a time of great difficulty universities alone should be exempted from that policy. I am certain that that is not the view of those in universities. They have all taken a perfectly responsible view of the difficult task that we are putting on them.

Scotland's higher education system is having to save some money, but it is a strong, innovative and well-run system, and it can still claim to have some of the highest standards in the world. The motion is wholly unjustified and out of touch with reality, and therefore I ask the House to reject it.

5.3 pm

Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

I am extremely flattered to be called to speak so early in this debate. I deeply deplore the fact that, in a short debate of this sort, more than an hour—almost an hour and a quarter—has been taken by the two Front Benches. This is not a private debate between two right hon. Members; it is a public debate. Therefore, I hope that many hon. Members will participate in it.

The Secretary of State was unreasonable in not addressing himself to the phrase "re-order priorities" in the amendment. My criticism is that, if there must be economies, there should not necessarily be exemptions. Mendes-France said: To govern is to choose. It might conceivably be argued, as it was today, that there should be total exemption for universities and university students from any of the Government's necessary economies. On the other hand, the Government must justify many of the economies. The first charge against them is that they have not re-ordered their priorities. If they have, they have not explained them to anybody.

The Secretary of State made a gallant attempt today to give us a catalogue of what I accept are recent remarkable achievements in Scottish education. We are progressing in new technology and activities which are natural to the development of our economy—at least on oil and gas development. I accept that the right hon. Gentleman's remarks were fair. However, it is not fair to say that every principal of every university in Scotland knows why economies have been thrust on their particular university and why these priorities have been chosen.

The Secretary of State put some gloss—I could use a stronger word—on the difference in priorities. For example, he mentioned the concern of many people—the effect of university economies on the working of the National Health Service. However, he has said only that special help will be given. Will it be given on the Scottish Office Vote? How much will be given? Why are priorities given to some areas rather than to others? I have received reports from colleagues in the medical profession stating that they are not being properly treated. The criticism still stands that the university cuts and the cuts in colleges of higher education, which will affect ancillaries in medical activities, have not been properly explained.

Another charge must be levelled not against the principals but against the Secretary of State. Almost all hon. Members met the principals in Committee upstairs at the beginning of this exercise. In a rather helpless way, the principals asked us, as Members of Parliament, to help them, through the UGC, to change the cuts. What did they ask us to do? Did they ask us to change the volume of the cuts? It is clearly the Government's prerogative to decide the volume of the cuts. I listened to the criticisms made not only by Opposition Members, but by Conservative Members. I presumed that the principals were appealing to us to obtain, by individual representation, the general figure of cuts reduced. Working in a synergistic way with that is, of course, the argument that specific universities and colleges of higher education have a case for additional assistance because of their present situation.

The Secretary of State told us—I cannot support his amendment and would be surprised if Opposition Members and, indeed, some Conservative Members could support it—that the Government have re-ordered their priorities to ensure a high standard of provision. I have not seen much of that. I support the Opposition motion while I admit it is rather one-sided. However, it is the Secretary of State's duty to defend his amendment and, in my submission, he did not do that.

The Secretary of State gave Aberdeen university as an example of where a special plea had been made on engineering. He, or the UGC, was prepared—I am never sure which is Dr. Jekyll and which is Mr. Hyde—to assist the engineering faculty, and I presume to try to attract a new chair to that university, if assistance could be found from outside. He, or the UGC, would then consider special assistance. Is that on a pound-for-pound basis? To whom is the Secretary of State addressing his remarks in private industry? That is a perfectly reasonable point to make. We have listened for more than 40 minutes to the Secretary of State, yet we are still denied much of the information that we need to make a proper assessment of the amendment and the motion.

Perhaps I do not criticise the Secretary of State with sufficient vigour. On this occasion I do, because, for a long speech, it was a bad speech. Even more embarrassing to us in this short debate is that we must have two Front Bench speeches at the end—certainly one from the Government to answer the questions that Back Benchers have asked. I specifically raise the question of Aberdeen university because I have little doubt that it reflects the postitions of other universities. The Secretary of State mentioned Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and other universities seeking outside private assistance to match what the public provision cannot make. It is in that sense that I criticise the Government's amendment and why I cannot see my way to support it. As for the comments about university students, I can perhaps set an example to the House—

The Under Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William Waldegrave)

For those of us who have tried to understand SDP policy on these matters—this is a little difficult because its spokesmen are at sixes and sevens—does he favour the UGC making decisions autonomously, or does he favour political direction?

Dr. Mabon

I am absolutely against political direction. One needs to distinguish between direction politically in a qualitative sense, which is academically unacceptable, and in a quantitative sense, which is what the Government are doing. There should be no diktat from on high from any Government to the UGC over what the budget should be. There needs to be a two-way traffic. The UGC has to try to argue its case item by item until the sum is known, and not start the other way round.

Mr. Waldegrave

The right hon. Gentleman's response enables me to explain to the alliance in my constituency that the line it takes does not accord with that of its leaders. I should, however, be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would confirm the words of the spokesman, I believe, for the alliance who stated recently that no one is seriously contemplating a restoration of the cuts. Is that the policy of the SDP?

Dr. Mabon

Of course, in the short term, the fact is—

Mr. Foulkes

The right hon. Gentleman has his Whip behind him.

Dr. Mabon

It is better than scorpions behind the hon. Gentleman.

We oppose the cuts. We support further consultations with the UGC. We would like to know how private industry can be involved.

Mr. Foulkes


Dr. Mabon

Why "Oh!"? It is perfectly right to argue these things again. If we are not arguing them again, what is the purpose of the debate? We could send a postcard to the House saying "Yes" or "No". The purpose of the debate—[Interruption.] Some hon. Members apparently cannot even send postcards. The purpose of the debate, I thought, was to try to convince the Government to change their mind. That is what I am suggesting.

I turn now to student grants. I benefited by the revolution at the end of the last war. I would not have benefited had it not been for the Bevin scheme of 1944. That scheme brought to universities many working class children who would otherwise never have dreamed of going to university. [Interruption.] I cannot hear the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) because he shouts too loudly. The scheme has been consolidated and evolved by both Governments of the old parties. But we are close to a position of bifurcation.

The Conservatives are seriously flirting with loans and a means test of quite hard nature. The difference in policies between the two parties has hardened in the last three years. On the Tory side, the hardening is towards loans and strictures on parents despite the Secretary of State's arguments about the £13, 000 a year man. Most people in the country do not earn £13, 000 a year. Many working class families, especially those containing more than one student, face a burden. To that end the Government should be opposed.

5.13 pm
Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

I should like, first, to congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on their choice of higher education in Scotland as the subject for debate. Nothing could be dearer to the hearts of many people in Scotland and nothing more relevant to the needs of Scotland. Sadly, nothing could more readily demonstrate the failure of the Government's policies. In higher education, as in other sectors of education, the Government have lurched from one crisis to another. Last summer there was the announcement of a cut of 20, 000 in the number of student places in higher education throughout the United Kingdom. A letter from the University Grants Committee at the time referred to a cut of 1, 730 university places in Scotland, but the real figure, taking a different base line, is twice as much. Account has also to be taken of the cuts in the number of places in colleges of education and higher education.

Some of the worst effects of the cuts, despite what the Secretary of State said about Scotland not coming off too badly, are to be seen in certain institutions in Scotland, including the University of Stirling in my constituency, not far from where the Secretary of State lives, or used to live. The proposed cut in Stirling is 27 per cent. in student numbers and 23 per cent. in the current grant. By 1984 this will take the university student population down to just over the 2, 000 mark. That is a savage blow for the youngest and smallest university in Scotland. It is the only university in Scotland to have been created out of nothing as a result of the Robbins report in the 1960s.

Because of the critical situation facing the University of Stirling and because, at the time, I was chairman of the Scottish Labour Party parliamentary group, towards the end of last year I led a delegation of Scottish Labour Members to see the Secretary of State for Education and Science shortly after he took over from the previous incumbent who was sacked. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher), was also present at the meeting. At first I thought that the hon. Gentleman probably intended to join the team in presenting a strong voice for the Scottish universities. We were concerned not only about the University of Stirling but about other Scottish universities, such as the University of Aberdeen which was, and still is, in a critical situation. It takes some believing, but the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North, who has responsibility for education in Scotland, sat dumb and contributed nothing to the meeting. Instead of being a useful member of the team, he was almost like a passenger. This is perhaps not surprising knowing the hon. Gentleman's record in education.

The hon. Gentleman has been responsible for closing three colleges of education—Hamilton, Callander Park and Craiglockhart. He has copied Ministers in the Department of Education and Science by raising fees for overseas students in Scottish colleges. We now have the ignominious distinction of charging overseas students the highest fees in the world.

The hon. Gentleman's record on student grants also leaves a lot to be desired. They have not kept pace with inflation. Even the 4 per cent., well below the current rate of inflation, is not a real figure. Many students will receive less in cash terms in the coming session compared with the current session. The Government are stopping grants for students who, for some reason or another, have to repeat courses. Those students may have been ill or experienced learning difficulties. They may simply wish to transfer from one course to another. We should always try to make our system of education as flexible as ever.

The hon. Gentleman has imposed a quota on many of the postgraduate courses—not only teaching courses, but others such as librarianship, social work and training for the ministry. Many of those students or potential students will be deprived of grants not only in the current session but in forthcoming sessions unless there is a change of policy.

The hon. Gentleman has also attacked students by withdrawing or threatening to withdraw or reduce their travel expenses. It would be helpful to hear his comments on that matter when he replies. The hon. Gentleman has given no justification—certainly no educational justification—for it. Nor does there appear to be any economic justification.

The hon. Gentleman asks how the Opposition believe that money can be found for all the improvements that we wish to see brought about. For a start, the Government could cancel Trident. That would save at least £7.5 billion. One could imagine the benefit of such an injection into the higher education system.

Many of the supposed cuts are false economy. I wonder what will be the net saving in some instances. The figure of £50 million was, I believe, announced not long ago by the Department of Education and Science for restructuring, including the paying of pensions and additional redundancy payments to lecturers. What is the sense in spending £50 million of public money to throw educated men and women on to the dole queues when they could be teaching youngsters who are clamouring to get into universities and colleges? If we are talking about economic recovery, we must bear in mind that the courses that are essential to train the people who are necessary for our economic recovery are the ones that will be cut and hit worst of all.

I refer the Secretary of State to the Conservative Party manifesto, which returned all the Ministers and all their faithful Back-Bench supporters at the General Election. That stated: Much of our higher education in Britain has a world-wide reputation for its quality. We shall seek to ensure that its excellence is maintained. We are aware of the special problems associated with the need to increase the number of high-quality entrants to the engineering professions. I do not know whether the Secretary of State is living in cloud-cuckoo-land. He was afraid to give way to me during his speech, but I can read to him the statistics of the number of science and engineering places that have been cut between the academic years 1980.81 and 1983.84. In Scotland as a whole, the total reduction is 1, 016 places, including 360 at Stirling university and 238 at Strathclyde university.

Where is the economic, educational or any justification for cutting off the supply of the life blood of future industry, especially engineering, which is so necessary for our economic revival? The sad truth is that, even when the economic revival comes—we shall require a change of Government before it comes—we shall be short of the trained, educated and skilled personnel who are so necessary to take full advantage of that economic recovery. I refer especially to science, engineering and technology.

What is the alternative, because it is clear that the Government's policy has been discredited? We have heard the SDP alternative. I remind the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon)—although I do not know for how long he will remain that—of a quotation from The Times Higher Education Supplement of 12 March 1982: A Social Democratic Liberal government would re-examine the Robbins principle but would be unable to restore all the cuts in higher education, Mr. Tom McNally, the SDP education spokesman, said this week. Perhaps that should not surprise us too much, because not long ago we saw Roy Jenkins, the carpetbagger himself, who is trying to use the people of Hillhead as a stepping stone back to Parliament, coming up to Scotland, where 97 per cent. of the children are in public sector education, and proclaiming in Hillhead the merits of private sector, fee-paying schools.

When the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) was Secretary of State for Education and Science, her record was arguably worse than that of the present Prime Minister. The right hon. Member for Crosby was the first holder of that post to preside over a reduction in real terms in the total budget for education and science. She was responsible for closing down more colleges of education than any Secretary of State before or since. She was responsible for engineering a confrontation with one of the most moderate of trade unions, which made the most modest of wage claims—the Association of University Teachers—and she was also responsible for accelerating the disgraceful trend whereby we now have the ignominious distinction of charging our overseas students the highest fees in the world.

Mr. Younger

Why did the hon. Gentleman support the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams)?

Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)


Mr. Canavan

I am sorry, but the boss of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) managed to get in first with a fairly weak intervention. He asked why I supported the right hon. Member for Crosby. The answer is that I did not. If he examines the records of the previous Parliament, he will find that I consistently voted for Socialist policies on education and everything else, compared with the right hon. Member for Crosby who, even then, was betraying the Labour Party manifesto and the Socialist commitments that we made to the electorate.

Mr. Henderson


Mr. Canavan

I have already given way to No. 1 and picked him off, so I do not wish to embarrass the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson).

Mr. McQuarrie


Mr. Canavan

I shall give way to the Buchan bulldog.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I accept that the hon. Gentleman opposed the right hon. Member for Crosby when she was Secretary of State for Education and Science. However, it must be clear, because she is now a member not of the Labour Party but of the SDP, that she cannot get away from the mistakes that she made then. The Times of 23 August 1978 stated: In November 1976, Mrs. Shirley Williams, who by then had taken over as Secretary of State, announced that local authorities would be asked to reduce their total overseas enrolments to the September 1975 figure. That was but one of the many catastrophic decisions that she made as Secretary of State for Education and Science in the Labour Government.

Mr. Maxton

That is the hon. Gentleman's speech.

Mr. Canavan

If the right hon. Member for Crosby, when she was Secretary of State for Education and Science, had stood by the commitments in the Labour Party manifesto on education, she would not be in such a terrible mess, which must be embarrassing to her as well as to others in the SDP.

What we wish as a real alternative is not just a full reversal of the cuts in education, and especially higher education. Neither do we wish only to return to the Robbins principle. We must try to extend the Robbins principle in order to make post-school education open to all who can benefit from it.

Despite what may be said in history about the 1964–70 Labour Government, one of their finest achievements was the initiation of the Open University. We should try to make every university an open university so that any student who can benefit from and wishes to enter university is guaranteed a place. Instead, we have the reverse. The Secretary of State for Education and Science and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are closing the door instead of opening it to thousands of well-qualified youngsters who will be thrown on the scrap heap of the dole queue.

I wish to read an extract from a letter that I received recently from the Chairman of the MacRobert Arts Centre committee at Stirling university. He states: In early September we had arranged to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our founding. If this takes place it could be the event of the year most heavily tinged with irony. For the centre was opened by the man who became the first Chairman of our Advisory Committee and Chairman of our Appeal Fund, namely Viscount Younger of Leckie. For the benefit of those who do not know, that is the Secretary of State for Scotland's father. The chairman went on: It is sad that the good deeds of the father should be so soon erased by the doctrinaire obscurantism of the son. But we must remember that this Government was elected to be pragmatic and flexible!" We have a Secretary of State for Scotland who is about as flexible as Genghis Khan. He and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science are behaving like uncivilised, barbaric savages, tearing apart every vestige of education and culture in this country.

That is why the sooner we get rid of them, the better, so that we can replace them with a Labour Government committed to repairing the damage that has been done, to giving a higher priority to education and to creating a system whereby education, including higher education, is a right for all rather than just a privilege for the few.

5.30 pm
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Edinburgh, West)

I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) with much enjoyment, but he cannot be called a master of understatement. Indeed, there was at least one serious mis-statement in his speech. He said that Craiglockhart had been closed. In fact, it is still on the site—it may have been merged—and it is still operating strongly. I very much welcome that fact, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman does.

The hon. Gentleman also referred to the Robbins report. After the publication of that report there was an enormous expansion in the number of university students. If one excludes teacher training places and places for those over 21, in the first two years of this Government's term of office there were more places in higher education than the Robbins report predicted. That is in the context of a complete failure of the economy to expand, as Robbins predicted, in order to sustain this growth.

It would be very nice if the universities were completely immune from plans to restrict public expenditure, but the harsh reality is that virtually no organisations or institutions are immune in the battle against inflation. Indeed, with hyper-inflation they would suffer as much as everyone else.

I welcome the fact that, in a recent letter, the Secretary of State for Education and Science made available an additional £50 million this year to help with the restructuring of the university system. He wrote: This extra money will be available to help universities adjust to the lower level of funding now proposed, either to help with the cost of redundancy and premature retirement or possibly, in a few cases, to moderate the rate of rundown at individual institutions to achieve the same result with fewer redundancies over a slightly longer time scale". It is encouraging that a further amount for restructuring will be made available next year. I hope that it will be a substantial sum. It has made a considerable difference this year and has helped to ease the difficulties of transition.

Mr. Foulkes

I know that the hon. Gentleman is one of the more sympathetic Conservative Members. Is he aware that heads of departments in Scottish universities are harassing some of their junior staff to try to fill other vacancies to achieve the kind of cuts required by the Government? I hope that he will join me in condemning such a practice wherever it exists. Although I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education and Science some weeks ago, I have not yet had the courtesy of a reply.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. Edinburgh university has very much welcomed the allocation of this further £50 million, which will ease the transition. I take into account what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I shall speak to the university concerned.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), has visited some of the Scottish universities, including Edinburgh. I am sure that he exercises a benign influence in these matters. The additional problem for Edinburgh university is the expectation of finding a large sum for the universities superannuation pension scheme for academic and academic-related jobs. The national pension scheme has been the subject of an actuarial investigation, and the employers' contributions must be increased by: 3.8 per cent. That means that the universities will have to find an extra £18 million in total.

In the case of Edinburgh university, an additional £650, 000 a year will have to be found, starting on 1 April 1983. Therefore, this is not an immediate problem, but at present there is no indication where this sum will come from. If it is to be found by the employers and come out of the university budget, that will amount to a further cut.

I ask the Government to look sympathetically at this problem. It is not a key issue for this year, but it will arise next year, and with Britain now coming out of the recession I hope that the matter will be carefully considered.

Overall, the Government's policy must be followed through, as there will be a diminishing need for university places, which will begin to take effect after 1983–84. By the mid-1990s there will be 30 per cent. fewer 18-yearolds compared with the mid-1980s. It would have been preferable if savings in higher education could wait until the size of the relevant age group began to fall, but that ignores the fact that constraints on public expenditure, in the interests of the recovery of our trading and manufacturing base, are needed immediately.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I should like to continue, because many other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I look forward to listening to the hon. Gentleman's contribution, because I am sure that he wants to talk about Aberdeen university.

Under the plans of the University Grants Committee, there will be a 5 per cent. reduction in the home and EEC student population by 1984–85 compared with 1979–80. The crux of the matter is that by 1984–85 student places will have fallen to the level that existed under the Labour Government in 1977–78. If the present position, which Labour Members condemn, is so terrible, why did they not condemn the position in 1977–78, because the figures are exactly the same?

In the process of a reduction in the number of places, Scotland and Scottish universities have fared better than the United Kingdom average, and rightly so, taking account of Scottish circumstances. As the Secretary of State said, the numbers are due to fall by 4½ per cent. in Scotland, whereas the planned reduction for Britain as a whole is 5 per cent. In addition, contrary to what the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said, allowance has been made for the four-year courses at Scottish universities by permitting an additional year to achieve student numbers. That is entirely appropriate.

There is a particularly important aspect to the priorities of the UGC. There will be an expansion in certain key areas and more emphasis on training for practical and vocational work of an extremely important kind. That is only appropriate in a country that gave birth to the inventions of Stevenson and Watt, which made so much difference to United Kingdom industry.

The number of students studying engineering and technology will rise by 2 per cent., mathematics by 3 per cent. and physical sciences by 7 per cent. overall in Britain. There will also be an increase in the number concerned with certain aspects of biological sciences and business studies.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth)

What about Stirling?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I have said that, overall, there will be a substantial increase in Scotland. I very much welcome that. The hon. Gentleman may have a specific claim with regard to Stirling, and I hope that he will pursue that matter. Without question, the overall figures are in favour of these areas of study. I am surprised that Labour Members dispute that. The information that I have is conclusively to that effect.

In this connection, there is a matter relating to Heriot-Watt university about which the Minister responsible for universities can help. That university now has two campuses, one in Edinburgh and one in Riccarton on the west side of the city. There would be an enormous gain if Heriot-Watt could eliminate the costs of twin-site working and be sited entirely at Riccarton. That would release much additional potential, as students and lecturers could work together on research at the same site.

It would also help the Research Park development, where there are acres for research, which industrialists can take, and do so in conjunction with the university. In the context of large-scale industrial development at Sighthill nearby, there is no doubt that the speedy transfer to this site would greatly increase the university's potential. I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will take this matter up with the University Grants Committee. There is a need to transfer the university as quickly as possible in the interests of research and industry in Scotland.

Mr. Maxton

Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to accept the split-site concept at the new St. Andrew's college?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I should need to know a great deal more about that—

Mr. Maxton


Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. I thought that he was referring to a college in Edinburgh. If he is referring to St. Andrew's university—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—I should have to know more about the subject before giving an answer.

The Secretary of State, through the UGC, is providing specific support in particular areas. At Heriot-Watt, the Department of Industry is giving considerable assistance to a microprocessor applications project. There are other forms of assistance for biotechnology at a number of universities. I hope that the Scottish universities will snap up a large part of the funds, bearing in mind their expertise.

The Government, through the UGC, are providing funds for building progammes in Scotland. The library at Aberdeen university has been extended at a cost of about £1 million. A contribution has been made to Glasgow's Hetherington arts building, as well as a contribution to continuing alterations at Strathclyde, including new library provisions and accommodation for a new computer, starting in 1982–83 at a cost of £1 million.

Mr. Robert Hughes

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the ancient library at Kings college, which houses one of the best ancient libraries in Scotland, has been closed because of a lack of funds.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for mentioning that. However, £1 million will be spent on it from 1981, and I hope that the work will progress as quickly as possible. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, as a good constituency Member, will push for the opening of that library as soon as possible.

The shift from the arts and social sciences to engineering and technology will stand Scotland in good stead. Giving greater emphasis to practical and vocational courses, rather than those that are entirely contemplative, and concentrating on providing the best relevant education possible will help secure jobs for the future.

5.40 pm
Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

There is no doubt that the Government's policy on higher education is alien to Scottish tradition. From its beginning the Scottish nation has been interested in education, and I have always been proud of the fact that my country was one of the first to reach out for universal primary education. Moreover, in the Middle Ages Scotland had four universities, whereas England had only two.

The educational spirit of Scotland has always been extremely strong. The Government may feel that they can get away with cutting back on public expenditure and education in England and Wales but they will not do so in Scotland.

The Government's policy on universities is outrageous. It has been made clear by the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) that as a result of the cuts about 3, 800 university places will not be available for students. The Government may choose to laugh that off, but that means that 3, 800 youngsters will be deprived of the right to attend university and acquire the skills which should be theirs as of right.

I belong to a generation which grew up with the understanding that part of its social contract was freedon of access to universities and centres of higher education, and in the past there was a fight to extend the age at which children remained at school. That was all part of the tradition of extending the heritage of our nation's education and of fitting young people for the life ahead.

I am almost speechless with outrage at the philosophy and barbarism behind the Government's proposals. At the root of it is the fact that Ministers come from a stock or class of people which does not believe in extending education to the lesser orders of society. The Government would not be able to cut away at the feet of the university system and our institutions if they had a basic concept of justice and a grounding in educational philosophy. I should be ashamed to be a member of a Government who operated on the basis of this Government.

The Secretary of State spoke at length about the impact on the universities. In view of the shortage of time I cannot deal with each university, as some other hon. Members have done, in analysing the losses of academic jobs. However, the universities face significant cuts, and they will have difficulty in cutting back in the time scale presented to them. I disagreed with the Scottish principals when they told me that they wanted more time. I felt they should have fought vigorously to defend their universities, staff and students. However, they argued that a longer period would have enabled them to make economies to avoid the problems faced by the Department of Education and Science arising from tenure and from paying out large sums for unnecessary redundancies.

I bring a specific issue concerning Dundee university to the Government's attention. In common with other Tayside Members, I received a letter form the Tayside area committee for hospital medical services. The letter states: The University is proposing to make compulsory redundancies in Faculty of Medicine, despite the fact that Dundee University Medical School is already one of the most efficient in the country in the use of financial resources. The Secretary of State specifically stated that the Government had acted to prevent an impact on the National Health Service. However, the letter states that there will be no new money to fund these posts and that the money will have to come from the existing NHS budget and this will necessarily impair other parts of the Service. I hope that the Secretary of State will remember that Tayside is in an especially difficult position. It is caught in the share and shape agreements, under which its income is to be restricted to benefit other parts of Scotland. It is a heavy burden that it has to bear. The doctors on the committee say specifically that whereas it is the intention of the DHSS to increase the number of consultants there is a danger that their numbers will fall in Tayside. I hope that the Minister will address himself specifically to that issue when he replies.

Mr. Henderson


Mr. Wilson

No, I shall not give way. I had better make progress. I hope that the Minister will address himself to the possible decline in the number of consultants in Tayside when he replies, or by letter thereafter.

I am worried that the changes that are being made in the universities will restrict the range of degrees on offer and curtail places because of the pressure on the system. For a period English students with A-level qualifications, which were considered to be superior to their Scottish counterparts, managed to get places in certain Scottish universities over the shoulders of equally qualified Scots with the Scottish higher certificate qualification. I want the Government to give an assurance that in no circumstances will that happen under the restrictions which now operate. I ask the Minister to say when he replies that Scots with Scottish qualifications will get priority of entry to their own universities.

The Minister at the Department of Education and Science who is responsible for the universities must take it into account that Scottish universities occupy a more prominent place in the Scottish education system than English universities occupy within the English system. It seems from the Minister's nod that he has begun to take that fact on board. Scottish universities are functionally different from their English counterparts and include many students who in England might be studying at alternative institutions. Whatever future decisions are taken by the Government, I hope that the different function in Scotland will be recognised and that our education system will not be impaired.

I deplore and condemn the expenditure cuts and I hope that the Opposition spokesman will indicate where the Labour Party stands when he replies. We have been told that the Social Democratic Party would not make good the cuts. The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), the shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science, said at a fringe meeting during the 1981 Labour Party conference that a Labour Government would not restore spending in higher education to its pre-cut level. He said that such a proposal was "against all reason". If that is so, why is the Labour Party not saying where it stands on the cuts? It is up to the Labour Party to explain what it has in mind—[Interruption.]—and I shall not listen to the comical chorus from the Labour Back Benches. Earlier in the debate the hilarity and jocularity of Labour Back Benchers was a disgrace in a serious debate.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

I wish to put the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) in context. They related to restoration department by department and not to global restoration.

Mr. Foulkes

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) would do better to get on with his speech and to give up the pomposity.

Mr. Wilson

That was skirted over by the right hon. Member for Craigton when he said that a Labour Government would restore everything. As I understand it, the level of public expenditure on education will not be guaranteed by a Labour Government.

Mr. Norman Hogg (Dunbartonshire, East)

That is not true.

Mr. Wilson

If that is so, we shall hear about it. We shall hear the extenuations and the explanations.

Mr. Foulkes

Let us hear your policy.

Mr. Wilson

We know what happened when the previous Labour Government were in office. Labour Members cannot blame the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams), who was Secretary of State for Education and Science in that Administration, because she acted with the full agreement and consensus of the Labour Cabinet in following pseudo-Socialist policies which it pretended to adopt and never intended to implement.

Mr. Foulkes

What is your policy?

Mr. Wilson

During the debates on devolution the Scottish universities opposed any devolution or decentralisation of responsibility from the universities to an elected Scottish body. Whether we have a Scottish UGC with all the universities represented on it or whether we do not have a committee but have a direct involvement with an elected Scottish Parliament, the people in the universities will now begin to realise that they made a severe error by placing their faith in an academically independent UGC, because, as has been acknowledged by the Government, the UGC is carrying out the decisions that were taken by the Government.

This is the second successive year in which students have been forced to accept a drop in the real value of their grants. The Secretary of State has said that students cannot be absolved from the other changes that are taking place. However, I would draw one specific matter to his attention. The levels of grant are fairly low. When there are increases in the heavy costs of lighting and heating, and in the hall of residence charges, students find life difficult. We are talking not so much about 4 per cent. on wages but 4 per cent. on benefits. Because of their low level, it is worth the Government looking again at the percentage at which increases are made.

We have discussed and shall discuss again with the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland the repeat grants and specifically the point made by one of my constituents that the higher diploma and HND courses in England are not biased so heavily towards the final year. The way in which the changes are taking place will have a distinct disadvantage for Scotland, but I shall follow the matter through by letter rather than taking up the time of the House.

There was an encouraging paragraph in the letter dated 12 March that I received from the Under-Secretary of State. He said that the Government had not yet taken a decision on transfer grants and that the whole situation was under review. The Government should seriously consider not making the changes that they had in mind. They would have an unfortunate effect on students because of the younger age entry at our universities and other educational institutions. Scottish students are more likely to make changes, so the transfer grants should be allowed to continue.

It seems strange that changes have taken place for diploma students which affect future solicitors. The phasing in has been unfortunate. It would seem to impact heavily on those who wish to enter the legal profession and who come from families that could not easily maintain them during the year of diploma service. I ask the Minister to re-examine the matter. I hope that his hands are not tied.

The intake of colleges of education has been reduced sharply. If one extends the secondary intake percentage basis announced for 1985–86, worrying figures emerge. The percentage intake for Aberdeen would be 55; for Dundee, 35; for Dunfermline, 25; for Jordanhill, 210; for Moray House, 95 and for St. Andrew's, 80. That is a total of 500.

Although the Secretary of State has given an assurance that he does not have in mind further rationalisation or closures, I detected a sotto voce remark as he concluded his statement. He said "at this time". Undoubtedly, the Scottish Education Department will have to consider providing alternative work. If such a small number of secondary students are taken in there will be an effect on the staffing at primary level, because there is sometimes cross-support between them.

I should also like the Government to comment on the fact that the SED now seems to be taking a hawk-like role over grants, entry and so on. The positions seem to have been reversed. That is remarkable. I hope that it is not true. If it is true, I hope that Ministers and the Scottish Education Department will fight for the education system in Scotland, rather than merely trying to influence the Department of Education and Science cuts.

I disagree entirely with the Government's philosophy. We should spend more on higher education and not cut it. In the Library yesterday I came across a book produced by the British Electrical and Allied Manufactures Association which spoke of the challenge from Japan. It states that, in Japan, Educational standards have improved dramatically since 1960 when it was the norm to leave school at the end of the compulsory period (middle school), at age 15. In 1960, 53.2 per cent. of the labour force had left education after middle school: by 1980 this ratio had dropped to 8.4 per cent. The ratio of high school graduates in the labour force increased from 37.3 per cent. in 1960 to 61.1 per cent. in 1980 and the percentage of those with some form of further or higher education qualification rose from 9.5 per cent. in 1960 to 30.5 per cent. in 1980… The educational levels of the labour force account in large measure for its high quality. Japan has invested a lot of money in education in the past, and it is clear that it intends to invest even more to raise educational standards. The Japanese know that the future lies in improved educational facilities to make the people more numerate and capable of taking on board technological changes—moving up the technological ladder. If that is Japan's policy as part of its industrial and economic challenge to the rest of the world, we should learn from it.

Against that background, I ask the Government to reverse their policies.

5.56 pm
Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)

It is extraordinary to hear the Socialist parties advance, without criticism, the extreme views of the most enthusiastic advocates of the privileged elite in our universities. Thank heavens the Association of University Teachers at St. Andrew's has adopted a more responsible and worthwhile approach, which deserves a great deal more attention.

Let us look at the fundamental basis of the approach of the Labour Party and its friends. What is the great cut in university finance of which we have heard so much today? On the original proposal it is less than 3 per cent. per annum overall in each of three years. Since the original proposal, the Government have announced over £150 million additional aid for the perceived restructuring as a consequence of the reduction. That is the reality.

At present we have restraints on the expenditure of central Government, local government and, far more severely, industry. In the £1, 000 million university budget it is not unreasonable to ask for the restraint proposed.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

How does the hon. Gentleman square his view with the example of Glasgow university, where 431 of the teaching staff are to disappear?

Mr. Henderson

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising the point. Three different groups are involved. The Government are responsible for setting the total sum given to the university system through the UGC.

The reduction that I have described relates to the cuts in the total funding going through the UGC. How the UGC divides that among individual universities is its business, not the Government's, and how individual universities react to the money made available to them is the responsibility of each university. At the end of the procedure, when one examines the work done by particular faculties in individual universities, it is difficult to identify those responsible for decisions at that level. I accept that there is a quandary there, to which the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) has drawn attention.

Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)


Mr. Henderson

No, I shall not give way. It would not be for the convenience of the House if I continued to give way every two or three minutes. I shall finish my speech and then other hon. Members may make theirs.

The Government are directly responsible for only a tiny proportionate cut in a huge budget. I cannot believe that that of itself is at the heart of the extreme noises made by limited sections of the academic community. The vast majority of people at universities will accept that it is not unreasonable for the university system to accept some of the expenditure constraints that apply to the rest of the public sector.

On the question of how the reduced funding is distributed, I shall not directly attack the UGC. Its job has not been easy. Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether it has been properly equipped for the job. It has never before had to face the type of decision that it has recently been required to make. It may need strengthening to carry out this important managerial role, which it has not had to perform in the past.

It is unfortunate that the debate has been politicised. It is worth pointing out that the chairman and most of the members of the UGC were appointed by the Labour Government. I am not making anything of that. I am not criticising the UGC's overall policy. Opposition Members suggest that the UGC is some kind of poodle of the Government, but it is not. It is independent. It has made its own decisions about the distribution of resources made available to it by Parliament.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) referred to Dundee medical school. I declare an interest inasmuch as my wife worked there for a year researching perinatal deaths. I shall not say too much about her view of the cost-effectiveness of that medical school except that she did not feel that it operated as a sweat shop or that it was impoverished. The implication of what members of the medical school told the hon. Member for Dundee, East and what they have also told me is that for many years there has been a hidden subsidy from the UGC to the Tayside health board and those who benefit from health services in the area. That is not an appropriate use of moneys provided for UGC purposes. Some attention should be paid to that.

The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) referred to the Robbins report. Many of the problems that we now face started in the post-Robbins era. For many universities, it started a growth which was in many ways of great benefit to the community, but which in other ways has led to uncritical expansion of activity without due consideration of how that expansion fits into the work of a university or the work of universities as a whole. The Robbins report, which caused expansion in many universities, hit St. Andrew's university hard, severing the departments of St. Andrew's university which were at Dundee. During the post-Robbins era, St. Andrew's has had to grow to compensate for that.

I mentioned earlier, as a result of the intervention of the right hon. Member for Western Isles, the confusion of responsibility for any particular decision. I have no quarrel with the overall policy of the UGC. Nor do I think that it has been widely challenged within the universities. It has been suggested that there should be some rationalisation of activities and a small shift in emphasis from arts to sciences and that there should be greater regard than before to standards and to cost performance. I do not think that anybody could quarrel with that. It is in relation to the very difficult individual decisions that the UGC has to make that there is the greatest reason for complaint.

I believe that the UGC has failed to recognise certain special characteristics of St. Andrew's. I give three reasons. First, there was the post-Robbins effect of the loss of a number of departments at St. Andrew's university. Secondly, St. Andrew's is a centre of excellence both nationally and internationally, as witnessed by the fact that of all the Scottish universities it is the one at which only half the total student population is Scottish based. In other words, it draws students from a very wide area of the country.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

That is special pleading.

Mr. Henderson

Thirdly, it has very low unit costs. I do not intend to press the specific case for St. Andrew's any further today. The university has made a plea to the UGC to have its case re-examined. It reports that it has received a reply from the UGC which it did not like and has commented at great length on a number of aspects of it, but it has not made the letter available to me before the debate so I am in no position to argue the case further.

The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) referred to the problem of grants. I would appreciate help from the Minister on three points.

First, there is some anxiety that English local authorities, which are accustomed to dealing with three-year degree courses, seem to be limiting grants to three years even for students attending Scottish universities. It is important to ensure that they recognise the tradition of the four-year honours degree course in Scotland. I should be grateful if the Minister will confirm that there is no cause for the anxiety that has been expressed to me about that.

Secondly, it has been suggested that the travel grant for students should be averaged out, so that if a student happens to live a long way from the university that will just be bad luck. It may be special pleading for St. Andrew's, which attracts students from great distances because it is one of the most popular universities in Great Britain, but I believe that it would be unfortunate if the travel grant ceased to fulfil its present function of recognising the costs of travel to and from the university and the student's home at the beginning and end of the term.

The third point is transfer of course, as distinct from a student failing to do his stuff academically and ploughing his examinations which is no one's fault but his own. A student may be in a course in a faculty at a Scottish university where there is a wider range of options than is often available in the English departmental system. Having had a better opportunity to consider matters in detail, the student may decide, perhaps on the advice of his tutors, to follow a different course from that in which he started. In those circumstances it would be unfortunate if it was not recognised in the grant.

The last point about grants is to do with cash limits. I can see the logic of my right hon. Friend's argument that student grants must take account of the cash limit policy being followed generally in the public sector. However, there is one important difference between the likes of a student on the one hand and the Civil Service on the other. We are seeing the reduction of the Civil Service and increasing productivity, and where there is a cash limit on Civil Service wages it enables the Government to pay more in percentage terms to individual civil servants than the actual percentage cash limit. There is not that opportunity for productivity or overtime, or any other ways of increasing earnings, for students. Next year I hope that the student grants will take that into account, even though students can benefit from the social security increases in the summer vacation.

My right hon. Friend made brief references to the report of the Council for Tertiary Education in Scotland, reviewing structure and management. It is perhaps unfortunate that in this debate we have talked so much about money and so little about education. This must be a very important report. One thing that perhaps we should be thinking about tonight, when the role of the Universities Grant Committee has been partly under discussion, is that the report, to paraphrase, suggests that there should be something equivalent to the UGC to work with the tertiary sector.

There has been a great deal of argument about demography and the number of student places available. It is important to recognise that, while there is a difference between the population base of those sections of society from which students principally come and society as a whole, nevertheless there will be by 1990 only a third of the number of people reaching the age of eighteen who reach that age this year. We are seeing a substantial drop in potential student numbers over the years and it would be foolish to continue funding on the basis that we will continue to expand as we have in the past.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I understand that it is hoped to start the winding-up speeches at twenty five to seven, but I hope that hon. Members will realise that the Front Bench took a long time in a short debate. I shall do my best to help hon. Members if they are brief.

6.13 pm
Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)

The truth of the matter is that Governments are prepared to spend money on what they want to and not to spend it on other things. Clearly, education will rank as a rather low priority during the lifetime of this Government. One thing that emerged from the speech of the Secretary of State was that he is viewing higher education as a book-keeping exercise despite the cost to the Treasury of unemployment. That cost ought to be in the "Guinness Book of Records". We are spending substantial sums on sustaining unemployment at a time when we could be doing more for industry and education.

We cannot shelter entirely behind the falling school rolls, because the drop in the number of school leavers will not have a serious effect until the middle of this decade. Already countries such as the United States, Japan and Sweden are educating about twice the percentage of 18-year-olds in higher education as we are. We cannot afford to cut back when applications for university places have reached an all-time high, yet the Government are proposing a 3 per cent. reduction in the number of places in 1982–83 as against 1981–82.

We ought to consider also the possibilities and potential of adults entering higher education. Why should it be assumed that for all time only school leavers will want to move into higher education? The Open University has shown the clear potential for those in their thirties, forties or fifties who seek higher education.

In Glasgow we have two universities, Strathclyde and Glasgow, which play a significant part in the local economy, not only by the number of people that they employ and the contribution that they indirectly make to the city's economic base, but to the potential that they afford for young people to get a better opening into industrial life. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said, the recent Graham report on tertiary education shows that there will be no great increase in resources. All that we can expect at the end of the day in the remainder of the tertiary education sector is a reshuffle of the institutional furniture.

While I see the Glasgow college of technology, which happens to be in the Maryhill constituency, as a suitable candidate, along with one or two other major Scottish further education colleges, for central funding, I am sceptical about whether that would increase the role that the college of technology would be able to play. I suspect that the Secretary of State will be able to turn the tap much more effectively when he wants to reduce the level of resources available.

The Secretary of State's statement this afternoon about student grants was unacceptable. He did not explain how the 4 per cent. increase can suffice in the present inflationary situation. I received an answer recently from the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science to the effect that there had been a 10 per cent. reduction in real terms in the amount of the maintenance award to students. That is not a particularly good record for a Government who keep telling us that they have student interests in mind.

The decision that has been taken over the parental contribution will be especially harsh on working-class families. It is the lower-paid families that will be up against the problem. It will not make much difference to the better-off families. The Government are more or less showing the red light to working-class families who want to send their young people to universities.

There are young people on the youth opportunities programme with ability who ought to be given the chance of taking a university or a higher education course, yet they are having to go on a youth opportunities programme because there is no employment available for them either.

The Government's approach to higher education is blunt and bludgeoning. It is the more cynical because most Cabinet members went to university. The Secretary of State for Scotland went to the same university as the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). In a recent House of Commons Library brief on higher education the point was made from that impartial source that not since the Geddes axe had the universities experienced such cuts in their financial base. Sixty years later we are experiencing the Joseph chopper.

Mr. Younger

I went to the same university and college as the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), but that did not do me much good.

Mr. Craigen

The present incumbent at the Scottish Office was not educated in Scotland, but the majority of his Cabinet colleagues had the benefit of a university education, and yet they are seeking to deny many young people that prospect.

There is no evidence that the Government have a clear policy for higher education, other than to put up more obstacles for working-class people.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Russell Johnston.

Mr. Maxton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not usually challege your calling of speakers and I am loth to do so, but you have called three minority spokesmen who represent five Members of the House when 42 hon. Members put their names to the motion. I find that rather tiring, to say the least.

Mr. Speaker

I know that it is frustrating for the hon. Gentleman. I have worked out how many minutes the different parties have taken. Minorities are entitled to be heard as well as the bigger parties. I call Mr. Russell Johnston.

Mr. Foulkes

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I am not prepared to have my selection of hon. Members challenged. I call Mr. Russell Johnston.

6.22 pm
Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I shall not be long. I shall take no more than five minutes, although it is difficult to say anything meaningful in such a short time. Hon. Members have interjected to say that there is not enough time to debate and cross-question. That is what this Chamber is supposed to be good at, and it is regrettable that it cannot exercise that function. We usually end up by making set speeches.

Mr. Foulkes

Why has the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), who was recently elected rector of Edinburgh university, not been able to sit through one minute of the debate to look after the interests of the students at that university?

Mr. Johnston

Because my right hon. Friend is not here.

As many hon. Members have said, the Government case that they want to save money is ill founded. When one examines the cost of redundancies over the next two or three years and balances that against what is to be saved one realises that we are losing.

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Association of University Teachers estimated redundancy costs of about £100 million and savings in the next couple of years of about £200 million net, and after that about £150 million a year.

Mr. Johnston

I have no time to argue that in detail. The figures have been contested. The chairman of the Stirling university co-ordinating committee, arguing the case for not reducing the numbers to 2, 020 but to 2, 360 said that the additional students would cost only about £435 each a year. The chairman said that he had sent letters of the analysis to the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Under-Secretary of State, who did not, although asked to do so, provide counter-arguments.

Mr. Waldegrave

We have heard the answer from the SDP. It will be interesting to hear what the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) says. Is he asking Ministers to intervene in the UGC's distribution?

Mr. Johnston

I think that the Government have a responsibility for the outcome of the UGC's decisions.

Mr. Waldegrave


Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) promised to try to take only five minutes. His time is almost up.

Mr. Johnston

I had a prepared speech, but I gave way because I thought that that was right. The Minister was more interested in scoring political points than in seeking a constructive and effective dialogue.

I have no wish to keep the House long. Aberdeen is the worst hit university. Stirling is badly hit. In Heriot-Watt, courses in Pharmacy and Business organisation which are well subscribed, are to be cut altogether. It is a matter for concern. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) said that in other advanced countries expenditure on students is increasing. It is regrettable that in Britain it appears to be decreasing.

6.26 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Perth and East Perthshire)

I am saddened that we have had to rush the end of the debate. I draw attention to the comments about student grants. One of my daughters is at university, and the second one has been accepted. I accept that it is my duty to contribute to both of my children's personal expenses while they are at university. According to the figures mentioned this afternoon, I shall probably be footing half the cost of the previous grant. That is a worthwhile investment in my children. First, I can afford it. Secondly, I hope that lily contribution will make it possible for others who cannot afford it to go to university.

May we have an assurance that any youngsters of high calibre and with above average examination results will ' not be excluded from university simply because they come from humble homes? I look for a firm commitment on that. I should contribute even more if I thought that that would make it possible for others to attend university. I was not fortunate enough to attend university, but I should like as many capable people as possible to get there.

We must question whether we are making the best possible use of existing facilities and resources in Scotland. Are we catering for the nation's future needs in higher education in a way that will be helpful in the future? Will the changes and the financial constrictions create the permanent damage that some people allege?

If one removes 4½ per cent. from 100 per cent. one is left with 95½ per cent. That does not seem to decimate anything. If by removing the 4½ per cent. one ensures that others can benefit, I approve. It is unrealistic for individuals engaged in higher education to expect that nothing will change, that whatever is happening in the outside world will not affect them and that they will be insulated. That is not realistic and the House should not expect it to continue in that way.

No one can deny that there is always scope for improvement in efficiency and performance in any organisation. Higher education is no exception. Colleges of education and universities in Scotland contain considerable areas where efficiency and organisation could be improved. After decades of constant growth, universities were ready for rationalisation. With fewer pupils in schools, there was a need to reduce the total number of students in teacher training colleges.

Scotland's universities have a proud record and a world-wide reputation. They will rise to the challenge of the times, just as they have done in the past. There are many fine brains available to them. They should be able to make better use than most of what they have available. Those fine brains are never slow to tell everybody else how to improve what they do. I am not being critical. That is one of the functions of our universities. Perhaps they will now turn their great talents and skills to their own use in these difficult times.

In conclusion, I draw attention to the new training initiative. I hope that this will be the beginning of a more realistic and cost-effective academic and vocational integrated training and education scheme—a scheme that will prepare our young people for tomorrow's world. It is a small beginning, but I am not satisfied with it and I suspect that few other hon. Members will be. However, it is a beginning, although a long overdue beginning.

I do not believe that all higher education is concerned only with universities. They are only one part of the higher education sector. Therefore, we should not be too concerned if the universitiies have been called upon to make some realistic changes, provided that—and I qualify this—we are satisfied that we are shifting resources to where the needs are greatest. The shift of funds into the new training initiative and into other areas is the beginning of the kind of change for which we have waited for far too long.

6.31 pm
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

The Government have sought to imply that the Opposition's criticisms of what is happening in universities are extreme or ill founded, or both. Yet, as hon. Members know—especially those from the North-East of Scotland—nothing we have said in the House has not been said either publicly or privately by the principal of the university of Aberdeen. He has said quite plainly that the damage being done to Aberdeen university is severe, particularly because the cuts have been front-loaded, with 53 per cent. falling in the first year, 27 per cent. in the second year and 20 per cent. in the third year.

In his latest statement, the principal has made it clear that there will have to be severe staffing reductions. He says: However, it must be emphasised that a reduction in staffing to the levels set out in the Planning Committee report represents a major disruption of the work of the university. The activities of many splendid departments and staff of the highest quality will be seriously damaged with the abandonment of successful careers and the likelihood of much human misery. That "human misery" refers not just to university staff losing their jobs, but to the effect upon the quality of education given to the students, and, indeed, the feelings of those young people who will not now be able to go to university.

Perhaps the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) can simply write that off as being of no account. I speak as someone with great regard for our university system, not because I had the opportunity to take part in it, but because of what it has given my children. I bemoan greatly the fact that many young children of the same age as some of my children will not get to university as a result of the cuts.

Ever since we have raised this matter, the Government have hidden behind the UGC. Every time we have raised this with Ministers, they have said, "Let the university take its case to the UGC and see what happens". What has happened? The UGC wrote to Aberdeen university on 23 February explaining, in one curt paragraph, that the conditions of the July letter about the cuts were unchanged, both as regards the financial position and student numbers. That is a disgrace. Even worse, every attempt to get the UGC to explain its position and to explain why it has acted differently towards different universities has been met with a blank refusal to make the information available.

I am sorry if I was churlish towards the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science yesterday during Question Time. I should be grateful if he would do us the courtesy of coming to Aberdeen. However, his visits have not produced any results. There has ben no change and he must be extremely disappointed. Time is short and I shall not speak for long. We are in the process of destroying a university system that has been built up over many years. It is not true that unlimited amounts of money have been poured into our universities over the years. I do not hide behind the fact that in the past four to six years money has been held back and universities have had to make savings. However, given the failure to expand during the past four or five years, this cut is very serious. The Government have made a political decision to cut the UGC's money and it is unfair of them to hide behind that body. They must make more money available. They will reap as they sow and they will reap destruction.

The Government must realise that the parents of many of those waiting to go to university belong to the middle class and are not used—unlike the working class—to having their living standards attacked. They will bring retribution upon the Government and the Government will deserve everything they get. If we fail to educate our people, we fail to invest in the future. That can mean only ruin for the whole country.

Mr. Maxton


Mr. O'Neill


Mr. Speaker

Mr. O'Neill.

Mr. Maxton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that you cannot call me, but I feel that I must raise a point of order about something said by the Secretary of State. If I had been called I would have raised it in my speech. During his speech—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should whisper to his hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. O'Neill), who is about to speak. I am sorry, but the hon. Gentleman's point is not a point of order if it is a point of argument with the Secretary of State.

Mr. Maxton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to raise a point of order about the statutes and rights of the House. The House has set up statutory bodies to negotiate salaries. Today, the Secretary of State essentially put aside all those negotiating bodies by saying that certain sections of workers would have to accept a certain pay rise. That raises a constitutional issue about bodies that have been set up by Parliament.

Mr. Speaker

That is a point of argument and not a point of order upon which I can rule.

6.37 pm
Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

The Opposition welcome the debate. We wish to ensure that the position of Scottish universities, colleges of education, the central institutions and colleges of further education, which are under local authority control, is defended in the House. The Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State have failed not only to do that, but to provide adequate support for the two basic elements in our higher education programme. They have failed to sustain the Robbins principle and to supply adequate levels of student support.

The Secretary of State, in a disgraceful speech, failed to give any satisfactory answers to the questions posed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan). I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will reconsider those questions when he replies to the debate. What is the real value of the increase in average student grant? The so-called 4 per cent. rise will result in more students being on the minimum grant, fewer students being on the maximum grant and less money for those students in the middle. The situation is totally unsatisfactory. The National Union of Students has suggested that an award of 17.4 per cent. would bring student grants up to the 1979 level. The Government cannot get away from that figure. They will betray even their supporters if they do not come near to that figure soon.

Final year students will be genuinely concerned. A recent survey in Glasgow university—I am sure that many of the students who took part in the survey will be casting their votes next week—showed that 75 per cent. of final year students are existing on overdrafts. Scottish students have a four-year university course, so they have to live on inadequate grants for a longer time. Therefore, honours students in their third and fourth years will be under extreme financial pressure. It is a complete betrayal of the principle on which the Mackenzie report was based and on which the grant system has operated since 1962.

On university funding, we must take account of the special nature of Scottish universities. Their special nature relates not only to their four-year courses. The whole nature of our course structure is different from that south of the border. There is greater flexibility. Scottish institutions have always been proud of their broad study base. Therefore, it is important that departments should be sustained so that they can fulfil not only their degree awarding function but their service function, whereby students have an opportunity to participate in the widest possible range of study during their time at university. The UGC did not take account of that fact in its funding. I-see that the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science agrees with me. This serious criticism has not been adequately met.

We have yet to hear the share of the £50 million that will be made available to Scottish universities for redundancies. We know that the redundancy arrangements do not take adequate account of the members of staff who are under 50 years of age. The Secretary of State praised the UGC for the way in which it carried out the cuts. He spoke about the four criteria that were applied—scholarship, taking due note of technology and making sure that the vitality and viability of institutions were sustained. The UGC has failed on all those counts.

On scholarship, the basis on which the recommended cuts were made was, to say the least, pretty feeble. On technology, it has not taken adequate account of the tremendous contributions made in that respect by many of our universities, such as Stirling and Aberdeen. On vitality, it is all too clear that universities are now incredibly depressed and that the morale among staff and students is at its lowest ebb. On viability, all we can say is that it is a serious matter when a university in the centre of Scotland has to support only 2, 000 to 2, 100 students. I shall not press the matter too strongly here, but Members of Parliament who represent constituencies in the centre of Scotland do not trust the Secretary of State when he says that he will keep open institutions, because he has already closed one college of education.

In further education, the idea that potential applicants will be in a position to transfer from some universities to the Napier college in Edinburgh is ludicrous, I discovered today from Lothian region that the expected number of places available at that college next year for technology courses will be down by about 500 on what was expected in 1980 when it started its expansion programme.

The Labour Party's commitment is clear. It is to sustain the Robbins principle and to ensure adequate support for all those who are qualified to attend. We want to make sure that Scottish universities, colleges of education and technical colleges provide an opportunity for all those who are capable of benefiting from the courses to do so. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) said, it is not simply a matter of looking at the school figures for prospective fifth and sixth years. We have a responsibility to adults who wish to come back to education to improve their qualifications or to be retrained. The Minister has said nothing today that would suggest that that will be possible with the level of funding that is proposed. Therefore, I have no hesitation in asking the House to give its unqualified support to the motion and to defeat the Government amendment, which is a disgrace to Scottish academic life.

6.45 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Alexander Fletcher)

A number of rather wild accusations have been made by Opposition Members about higher education in Scotland—enough to justify this debate. We therefore welcome the opportunity to respond to the many questions that have been asked.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) made a brief speech, in which he said that we were destroying the university system in Britain. That is untrue. My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) gave the correct response to that when he said that there are many important calls on the Exchequer, particularly from young people. He talked about the needs of apprentices and the tremendous public expenditure on the new training initiative. Important as universities are, and important as our students are, they are not underprivileged. They are not among the members of our society today who are least well looked after or cared for by taxpayers and others.

The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) asked about the average grant for students. In 1981–82 the figure was £1, 135. That average figure includes students who are on the minimum grant of £410, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate. No precise calculation can be made for the average grant in 1982–83, because it depends on the assessment of parental earnings in as many as 60, 000 cases. However, we estimate at this moment that it will be about the same amount—about £1, 100, the figure for the current year.

Mr. Millan

The Under-Secretary says that it will be about £1, 100. That would not be about the same amount. That would be a reduction. At best he is saying that there will be no increase in student grants next year.

Mr. Fletcher

I made the qualification that it was a rough estimate. It is well in advance of the detailed calculations that are being made. The grant will be about the same as in the current year.

The right hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon) made some exaggerated comments. I was somewhat surprised at him. He claimed that university principals had not been told by the UGC why recommendations for changes had been made. That is untrue. Full consultations took place. It is not good enough to read out one letter from the chairman of the UGC to the principal of a university, when there have been meetings, telephone calls and discussions, not just with the UGC, but with my right hon. and hon. Friends, in particular my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, who takes a close and personal interest in this matter generally and in Scotland in particular. He has sat through this debate and has heard the criticisms that have been made, so there is no justification for the criticisms that the right hon. Gentleman made.

The right hon. Member also asked about the new engineering chair at Aberdeen. In that case—in Aberdeen, of all places—the UGC is saying "By all means find some private sector support for the project. If you do, not necessarily on a pound-for-pound basis, we will give support to the chair." That is a reasonable point for the UGC to make.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Fletcher

I must reply to the debate. There is very little time.

The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) raised the question of repeat years. These will not be refused where there are clear medical or compassionate grounds. That has been made clear in the correspondence that I have had with hon. Members, and I am glad to repeat it now. However, the automatic offer of grant for repeat years was over-generous and not necessarily helpful to students or to the universities, because it usually accepted failure or lack of effort far too easily. That cannot be good for the recipients or for the academic institutions. The new policy will be fairer to the students and, of course, to taxpayers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) made a helpful and constructive speech. He was right to set out the benefits that come from the increased number of places available in engineering, mathematics, sciences and other subjects of that kind. We are looking sympathetically at the point that he raised about the university pension fund.

The UGC has assured Heriot-Watt university that it will be given every encouragement to concentrate its activities at Riccarton and to move out of the city centre.

Several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), referred to postgraduate students' allowances. I should like to elaborate a little on this important matter. The scheme for 1982–83 was described in a paper sent out by my Department on 29 January this year. There may be some misconception about this. After the experience of the considerable growth in awards up to 1980–81, we decided to place a ceiling on awards under the scheme. This has meant a reduction in total awards from about 1, 750 to just under 1, 500, but hon. Members will be pleased to learn that we intend to maintain the total of grants at the present level for the next academic session, 1982–83.

The right hon. Member for Craigton voiced concern about the extension of quota controls to certain courses which were exempted last year. These include the diploma in legal practice, certain diploma courses in architecture and courses for the ministry. I am happy to reassure hon. Members that transitional arrangements are being worked out in consultation with the educational institutions and the professional associations concerned to ensure that students committed to a certain diploma course in one of those subjects before January 1982, when the new policy was announced, will be financed to the end of their studies. The consultation paper promised consultation on the quotas to be fixed for 1982–83, and these are well under way. We are sure that some of the difficulties that have been raised with us will be overcome.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) suggested that students at St. Andrews and perhaps other universities in Scotland were not receiving the full grant from local education authorities in England for a full four-year course. We have no evidence of this. If my hon. Friend has details of a specific refusal I should be very grateful if he would let me have them.

As my hon. Friend said, Labour Members argue about higher education, as they do about everything else, on the narrow basis of public expenditure. This debate has been no exception, with the result that they have failed to realise the major advances that are taking place in higher education in Scotland. Improvements are taking place and financial resources are being conserved at the same time, because there is a greater overall cost-effectiveness.

As my right hon. Friend said, the strength of our central institutions is that they are engaged in the business of providing vocationally orientated courses that meet the needs of industries and of the professions. As a result the colleges also meet the needs of their students, almost all of whom obtain employment when they graduate. This is particularly the case in electronics, oil and gas, textiles and other industries, at which many more college courses are aimed today than was the case two or three years ago. We have doubled the number of higher national diplomas in electronics. We have increased by 50 per cent. in the past couple of years the number of electrical engineering graduates. These are the sorts of vocational courses that more and more young people want and we are providing them to the best of our ability. These are the skills that industry needs very much today.

There are two other factors that have helped to bring about the improved cost-effectiveness in higher education. First, there is the liaison between the colleges themselves and between the colleges and universities, which has been led and encouraged by the Scottish Education Department. This has never been better. As a consequence, resources are being put to better use. Secondly, the central institutions have increased considerably their student intake, without a corresponding increase in staff numbers. As my right hon. Friend said, the ratio has gone from eight students to one lecturer about two years ago to 10:1 today without any reduction in standards in the colleges. Those are the sorts of changes and improvements that can be made in higher education, as in anything else, at a time when resources have to be used more effectively.

With regard to the universities, Opposition Members will realise that the equipment grant is also important, particularly in technical subjects such as science, in the medical schools and in the engineering faculties. Under the Labour Government the equipment grant decreased in real terms, whereas under this Government it has increased in real terms. That is a proper ordering of priorities for higher education in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom. I am sure that my hon. Friends will appreciate the importance of that decision.

In regard to higher education funding as it affects Scotland, the figures that I shall quote exclude expenditure on universities but include recurrent expenditure on teacher training, on further education in local authority and central institutions, and on student awards. The Scottish expenditure figures in cash terms for 1981–82 were £281 million, for 1982–83 £295 million and for 1983–84 £306 million. These are modest but important advances in public expenditure aimed at the very area that is the subject of the debate—higher education in Scotland.

At the same time, expenditure in central institutions is increasing. Provision in percentage terms in 1982–83 is 8 per cent. above that for 1981–82 and 20 per cent. above the level for 1980–81. The rate support grant settlement for 1982–83 assumes local authority expenditure on further education at a level of 12 per cent. above that for last year. That again is a significant contribution to education in Scotland. These figures totally refute the charge that the Government are failing to give the fullest possible support to Scotland's renowned education system.

Other steps are being taken to improve education in Scotland. We have been very quick off the mark in the introduction of microcomputers into schools and colleges. We have helped to bring together education and industry in microelectronics and in biotechnology. My right hon. Friend and I sponsor meetings to make sure that industry and education at the higher level are talking to each other and working with each other.

My right hon. Friend has made special provision to allow the replacement in National Health Service establishments of any post which universities can no longer afford but which are important for patient care or are important for the output of trained specialists. This is additional funding. It does not come off the revenue amounts made available to the health boards; it has been added to the revenue expenditure of the NHS in Scotland. I believe that Opposition Members will welcome that.

Hon. Members also raised the question of my right hon. Friend's decision on repeated periods of study. This does not affect students who change courses. We are reviewing our policies in this area, again in consultation with the appropriate education interests.

The Government have not neglected higher education in Scotland. The University Grants Committee is steering the universities towards more vocational courses, science based. That is admittedly at the expense of fewer places in the arts and social sciences, but it is done to meet national and local needs.

The transitional period of course raises difficulties, particularly as few people in universities have experienced anything other than an expanding amount of public funding. But the situation requires radical thinking and new ideas, which have been provided both by the Government and by the UGC. This assists in particular the students themselves, who require vocational training so that they can find employment in the competitive industrial situation in the world today.

I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the amendment and defeat the motion.

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

The House divided: Ayes 231, Noes 293.

Division No. 93] [7 pm
Abse, Leo Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)
Adams, Allen Cohen, Stanley
Allaun, Frank Coleman, Donald
Alton, David Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Anderson, Donald Conlan, Bernard
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cowans, Harry
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)
Ashton, Joe Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)
Atkinson, N. (H'gey, ) Crowther, Stan
Bagier, GordonA.T. Cryer, Bob
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cunningham, G.(IslingtonS)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Cunningham, DrJ. (W'h'n)
Beith, A.J. Dalyell, Tam
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Davidson, Arthur
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp'tN) Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L 'lli)
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Booth, RtHonAlbert Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Boothroyd, MissBetty Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Deakins, Eric
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'yS) Dixon, Donald
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Dobson, Frank
Buchan, Norman Dormand, Jack
Callaghan, Jim(Midd't'n&P) Douglas, Dick
Campbell, Ian Dubs, Alfred
Campbell-Savours, Dale Duffy, A. E. P.
Canavan, Dennis Dunn, James A.
Cant, R. B. Dunnett, Jack
Carmichael, Neil Eadie, Alex
Carter-Jones, Lewis Eastham, Ken
Cartwright, John Edwards, R. (W'hampt'nS E)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Ellis, R.(NE D'bysh're)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Mellish, RtHon Robert
English, Michael Mikardo, Ian
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Millan, RtHon Bruce
Evans, John (Newton) Mitchell, Austin(Grimsby)
Ewing, Harry Mitchell, R.C. (Soton Itchen)
Field, Frank Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fitch, Alan Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Moyle, RtHon Roland
Foot, RtHon Michael Mulley, RtHon Frederick
Ford, Ben Newens, Stanley
Forrester, John Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foster, Derek O'Neill, Martin
Foulkes, George Orme, RtHon Stanley
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Palmer, Arthur
Freud, Clement Park, George
Garrett, John (NorwichS) Parker, John
George, Bruce Parry, Robert
Gilbert, RtHon Dr John Pavitt, Laurie
Golding, John Pendry, Tom
Grant, George (Morpeth) Penhaligon, David
Grimond, RtHon J. Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Race, Reg
Hardy, Peter Radice, Giles
Harrison, RtHon Walter Richardson, Jo
Hart, RtHon Dame Judith Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Allan(Bootle)
Haynes, Frank Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Heffer, Eric S. Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hogg, N. (EDunb't'nshire) Rodgers, RtHon William
Holland, S.(L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Rooker, J. W.
HomeRobertson, John Roper, John
Homewood, William Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Hooley, Frank Rowlands, Ted
Huckfield, Les Ryman, John
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Sever, John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sheerman, Barry
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Janner, HonGreville Shore, Rt Hon Peter
John, Brynmor Short, Mrs Renée
Johnson, James (Hull West) Silkin, RtHon J.(Deptford)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Snape, Peter
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Soley, Clive
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Spearing, Nigel
Kerr, Russell Spriggs, Leslie
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Stallard, A.W.
Lambie, David Steel, Rt Hon David
Lamborn, Harry Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Lamond, James Stoddart, David
Leadbitter, Ted Stott, Roger
Leighton, Ronald Strang, Gavin
Lestor, MissJoan Straw, Jack
Lewis, Arthur(N'ham NW) Summerskill, HonDrShirley
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Litherland, Robert Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Thorne, Stan (PrestonSouth)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Tilley, John
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'dW) Tinn, James
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Torney, Tom
McCartney, Hugh Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McKelvey, William Wainwright, E, (DearneV)
MacKenzie, RtHonGregor Wainwright, R. (ColneV)
McNally, Thomas Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
McNamara, Kevin Watkins, David
McTaggart, Robert Wellbeloved, James
McWilliam, John Welsh, Michael
Marks, Kenneth White, Frank R.
Marshall, D(G'gowS'ton) White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Marshall, DrEdmund (Goole) Whitehead, Phillip
Marshall, Jim (LeicesterS) Whitlock, William
Martin, M(G'gowS'burn) Wigley, Dafydd
Maxton, John Williams, RtHonA.(S'sea W)
Maynard, MissJoan Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Meacher, Michael Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Wilson, RtHon Sir H.(H'ton) Young, David (Bolton E)
Wilson, William (C'trySE)
Winnick, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Woodall, Alec Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe and
Woolmer, Kenneth Mr. George Morton.
Wright, Sheila
Aitken, Jonathan Fairgrieve, SirRussell
Alexander, Richard Faith, MrsSheila
Alison, RtHon Michael Farr, John
Amery, RtHon Julian Fell, SirAnthony
Aspinwall, Jack Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Atkins, Robert (PrestonN) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Atkinson, David(B'm'th, E) Fisher, SirNigel
Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'ghN)
Baker, Nicholas (NDorset) Fletcher-Cooke, SirCharles
Banks, Robert Fookes, MissJanet
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Forman, Nigel
Bendall, Vivian Fowler, RtHon Norman
Benyon, Thomas(A'don) Fox, Marcus
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fraser, RtHon Sir Hugh
Best, Keith Fry, Peter
Bevan, David Gilroy Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Biggs-Davison, SirJohn Gardner, Edward (SFylde)
Blackburn, John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bonsor, SirNicholas Gilmour, RtHon Sir Ian
Boscawen, HonRobert Glyn, DrAlan
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Goodhart, SirPhilip
Boyson, DrRhodes Goodhew, SirVictor
Braine, SirBernard Goodlad, Alastair
Bright, Graham Gorst, John
Brinton, Tim Gow, Ian
Brooke, Hon Peter Grant, Anthony (HarrowC)
Brotherton, Michael Gray, Hamish
Brown, Michael(Brigg&Sc'n) Greenway, Harry
Browne, John(Winchester) Griffiths, E. (B'ySt. Edm 'ds)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Bryan, Sir Paul Grist, Ian
Buck, Antony Gummer, JohnSelwyn
Budgen, Nick Hamilton, Hon A.
Bulmer, Esmond Hamilton, Michael(Salisbury)
Burden, SirFrederick Hampson, DrKeith
Butcher, John Hannam, John
Cadbury, Jocelyn Haselhurst, Alan
Carlisle, John (LutonWest) Hastings, Stephen
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Carlisle, RtHon M.(R'c'n) Hawksley, Warren
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hayhoe, Barney
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Heddle, John
Chapman, Sydney Henderson, Barry
Churchill, W.S. Heseltine, RtHon Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hicks, Robert
Clark, Sir W, (Croydon S) Higgins, Rt HonTerence L.
Clarke, Kenneth(Rushcliffe) Hogg, HonDouglas(Gr'th'm)
Clegg, SirWalter Holland, Philip(Carlton)
Cockeram, Eric Hooson, Tom
Colvin, Michael Hordern, Peter
Cope, John Howell, RtHon D.(G'ldf'd)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Ralph (NNorfolk)
Corrie, John Hunt, David (Wirral)
Costain, SirAlbert Hunt, John(Ravensbourne)
Cranborne, Viscount Hurd, RtHon Douglas
Critchley, Julian Irving, Charles(Cheltenham)
Crouch, David Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Dean, Paul (NorthSomerset) JohnsonSmith, Geoffrey
Dickens, Geoffrey Jopling, RtHonMichael
Dorrell, Stephen Joseph, RtHon Sir Keith
Douglas-Hamilton, LordJ. Kaberry, SirDonald
Dover, Denshore Kellett-Bowman, MrsElaine
Dunn, Robert(Dartford) Kershaw, SirAnthony
Durant, Tony Kimball, SirMarcus
Dykes, Hugh King, RtHon Tom
Eden, RtHon Sir John Kitson, SirTimothy
Edwards, Rt Hon N, (P'broke) Knight, MrsJill
Eggar, Tim Knox, David
Elliott, SirWilliam Lamont, Norman
Emery, Sir Peter Lang, Ian
Eyre, Reginald Langford-Holt, SirJohn
Fairbairn, Nicholas Latham, Michael
Lawrence, Ivan Myles, David
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Neale, Gerrard
Lee, John Needham, Richard
LeMarchant, Spencer Nelson, Anthony
Lennox-Boyd, HonMark Neubert, Michael
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Newton, Tony
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Onslow, Cranley
Lloyd, Ian (Havant& W'loo) Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Osborn, John
Loveridge, John Page, John (Harrow, West)
Luce, Richard Page, Richard (SWHerts)
Lyell, Nicholas Parkinson, RtHonCecil
McCrindle, Robert Parris, Matthew
Macfarlane, Neil Patten, Christopher(Bath)
MacGregor, John Pawsey, James
McNair-Wilson, M.(N'bury) Peyton, Rt Hon John
McNair-Wilson, P. (NewF'st) Pink, R.Bonner
McQuarrie, Albert Pollock, Alexander
Madel, David Porter, Barry
Major, John Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Marland, Paul Price, SirDavid (Eastleigh)
Marlow, Antony Prior, Rt Hon James
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Proctor, K.Harvey
Mates, Michael Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Raison, RtHonTimothy
Mawby, Ray Rathbone, Tim
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Mayhew, Patrick Rees-Davies, W. R.
Mellor, David Renton, Tim
Meyer, SirAnthony Rhodes James, Robert
Miller, Hal (B'grove) RhysWilliams, SirBrandon
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Ridley, HonNicholas
Mills, Peter (WestDevon) Ridsdale, SirJulian
Miscampbell, Norman Rifkind, Malcolm
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Rippon, RtHonGeoffrey
Moate, Roger Roberts, M. (CardiffNW)
Monro, SirHector Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Montgomery, Fergus Rossi, Hugh
Moore, John Rost, Peter
Morgan, Geraint Royle, SirAnthony
Morris, M. (N'hamptonS) Sainsbury, HonTimothy
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Mudd, David Shaw, Michael(Scarborough)
Murphy, Christopher Shelton, William(Streatham)
Shepherd, Colin(Hereford) Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Shepherd, Richard Trippier, David
Silvester, Fred Trotter, Neville
Sims, Roger van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Skeet, T. H. H. Vaughan, DrGerard
Smith, Dudley Viggers, Peter
Speed, Keith Waddington, David
Speller, Tony Waldegrave, HonWilliam
Spence, John Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Spicer, Jim (WestDorset) Walker, B. (Perth)
Spicer, Michael (SWorcs) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Sproat, Iain Wall, SirPatrick
Squire, Robin Waller, Gary
Stainton, Keith Walters, Dennis
Stanbrook, Ivor Ward, John
Stanley, John Warren, Kenneth
Steen, Anthony Watson, John
Stevens, Martin Wells, Bowen
Stewart, A. (ERenfrewshire) Wells, John(Maidstone)
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Wheeler, John
Stokes, John Wickenden, Keith
StradlingThomas, J. Wiggin, Jerry
Tapsell, Peter Williams.D.(Montgomery)
Taylor, Teddy (S'endE) Winterton, Nicholas
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Wolfson, Mark
Temple-Morris, Peter Young, SirGeorge(Acton)
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Younger, RtHonGeorge
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Thompson, Donald Tellers for the Noes:
Thorne, Neil(IlfordSouth) Mr. Anthony Berry and
Thornton, Malcolm Mr. Carol Mather.
Townend, John (Bridlington)

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.

Main Question, as amended, agreed to.

Resolved, That this House recognises the need for higher education in Scotland to bear a proportion of reductions in public expenditure and commends the steps taken by Her Majesty's Government and the University Grants Committee to re-order priorities to ensure a high standard of provision consistent with national needs.

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