HC Deb 05 July 1983 vol 45 cc142-3
9. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what subjects he expects to discuss at his next meeting with the chairman of the University Grants Committee.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Peter Brooke)

My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of the University Grants Committee frequently. Appropriate agenda are arranged.

Mr. Canavan

Does the Minister recall that just before the Dissolution of Parliament for the general election I tackled the Prime Minister about the claim by the principal of Edinburgh university that Government underestimates of student demand had led to an additional 1,000 students being turned away from Scottish universities? What steps have the Government taken to rectify the error and to provide additional funds for the UGC to give more young people the right to higher education which is being denied to thousands because of the meanness of the Tory Government?

Mr. Brooke

I am not sure that that arises on this question. Provision for the Scottish universities is at a higher level than in the rest of the country.

Mr. McQuarrie

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his first appearance at the Dispatch Box and wish him well in his new office. When he meets the chairman of the UGC, will he consider discussing the abolition of that committee because of the damage that it did to Scottish universities throughout last year?

Mr. Brooke

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. I doubt whether that is the first thing that I shall say to the chairman of the UGC.

Mr. Wilson

Will the Minister ask the chairman of the UGC whether there has been a change of policy on the fining of universities for taking students in excess of the number originally fixed by the UGC? Will he establish whether reports in The Observer of 19 June and The Guardian today are correct when they say that there has been a softening of attitude by both the UGC and the Government on student numbers?

Mr. Brooke

That is more a question for the UGC, but I understand that it has taken no such decision.

Mr. Michael Brown

When my hon. Friend meets the chairman of the UGC, will he draw to his attention the terrible plight of Hull university? I make no criticism of the total grant available to the UGC, but will my hon. Friend consider whether it has cut the cake in the right way?

Mr. Brooke

That is more a matter for the UGC than for me, but Hull university is more likely to feature on the agenda than the abolition of the UGC.