HC Deb 04 February 1985 vol 72 cc605-6
49. Mr. Greenway

asked the Attorney-General if, pursuant to his reply of 17 January, Official Report, column 191, he has any information as to whether the officers of the students' union of the North London polytechnic have now given any undertaking regarding their readiness to comply with the injunction granted by the High Court on 11 December 1984, restraining them from making or authorising payments from the funds of the students union to striking miners; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney-General (Sir Michael Havers)

The officers of the North London polytechnic students' union offered to give certain undertakings and at the same time asked for a revocation of the orders made by the court restraining them from doing certain acts and appointing a receiver and manager of the union funds. Their application came before the court this morning. While accepting the officers' undertakings, the court considered them insufficient in the light of the officers' past conduct and it therefore ruled that its previous order appointing the receiver should remain in force for the time being.

Mr. Greenway

Will my right hon. and learned Friend join me in welcoming the restraint placed by the law upon the students union officers of the polytechnic of North London from giving a further £10,000 of public money out of student union funds to the striking miners? Will he use every means that he can to recover the £3,000 already wrongly applied by the same people to the same cause and in defiance of their charitable status?

The Attorney-General

The purpose of my application to the court for the appointment of a receiver was to prevent the misuse of union funds. I prevented the payment of two cheques, each of £5,000, although in one case £2,150 in cash was drawn by the officers from the bank and handed over to a particular miner. Previously, another sum of £1,000 was handed over. It may be that the court will order them personally to seek to repay that.

Mr. Corbyn

Does the Attorney-General not accept that members of a student union or any other democratic organisation have a right to express their support for those who are fighting for their jobs and communities and that there have been an unwarranted and unfair series of press attacks on the leadership of the polytechnic of North London students union because of this matter, not least by the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway)?

The Attorney-General

If, of course, these people wish to use their own money no one will complain, but they are trustees of large sums of public money given to them by the Government, and that can be used only for the purpose for which it was given.