HC Deb 25 June 1986 vol 100 cc376-418 7.12 pm
Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

I beg to move, That this House notes the importance of higher education for the future of the country; deplores the cutbacks in the recurrent grant to universities; condemns the failure to provide adequate resources for the public sector for continuing education and for research; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to open up higher education to a much wider group than ever before, including mature and part-time students. I begin by making what I hope are relatively non-controversial statements about higher education. I think that all right hon. and hon. Members agree that higher education is important for individual men and women because it builds up their information and knowledge; it develops their critical faculties and thinking powers; it encourages their interest and involvement in society and politics; and it enables them to obtain better paid and more interesting jobs.

However, higher education is important not just for individuals but for the community as a whole. Not only does it help to provide society with the pool of knowledge and scholarship that is so vital to our culture but also, as the CBI recently reminded the Government, it supplies industry with the skilled graduates and the scientific and technological research that it so desperately needs if it is to survive and prosper. Higher education trains the teachers for our schools, including those who teach the vital subjects of science and mathematics; so what happens to higher education must be a matter of national concern.

I stress also the importance of continuing education. Increasingly, as both the University Grants Committee and the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education recognised in their advice to the previous Secretary of State for Education and Science, education will need to be something that does not stop at age 16, 18 or 21. It will need to be a continuous process. Therefore we should be looking to higher education to provide the refresher and new skill courses for both industry and the professions and also an increasing number of second opportunities for adults.

Although I welcome the Government's recognition in their amendment of the importance of higher education, there is little sign in the Government's record so far that they have given priority to higher education. In fact, we are now spending a lower proportion of our gross national product on higher education than we were in the mid-1970s. So far, there is no sign of a Government strategy that will help to meet the future needs of the nation.

The Government admit that, since 1980–81, the universities have suffered a sharp cut in their resources. As the Minister with responsibility for higher education accepted in his 9 June reply to a parliamentary question from my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), who I am glad to see is here this evening, 13 universities suffered a cut in UGC funding of over 20 per cent. in real terms between 1980–81 and 1986–87. According to figures supplied by the Department of Education and Science, the aggregate cut over the same period for universities was 16.3 per cent.

The impact of cuts on this scale has been severe. The 1981–84 cuts fell most heavily on scientific and technological universities such as Aston, Salford and Bradford. In the current round of UGC cuts, science is still being hit. The UGC is planning for cuts in student numbers in the physical sciences, mathematics and statistics.

Overall, the vast majority of universities have had to live from hand to mouth— hardly the best atmosphere in which to encourage the long-term planning and effective management for which the Jarrett committee called and that the Government say they support.

However, it is not just a question of the impact on universities. One has to consider also the effect on both the supply of graduates and research. At least 12,000 well-qualified students a year, who would otherwise have been successful, have failed to obtain university places, while the overall cut in the recurrent grant to the universities means that there is less money for research.

In addition, we are now facing a very serious brain drain, caused by poor rewards and uncertain prospects. Doctor David Ingram, the vice-chancellor of the univeristy of Kent, recently returned from a visit to the United States, said: American universities made it clear that they expect to solve their difficulties in recruiting new staff by taking people from Britain's universities. Figures provided by the British embassy in Washington show that more than 1,000 engineers and scientists are entering the United States from the United Kingdom each year. Britain cannot afford to lose its best talent in that way.

I pay tribute to the fact that in a remarkably courageous and honest speech to the council of the Association of University Teachers on 16 May, the Minister with responsibility for higher education referred to the growing chorus of voices that is telling us that enough is enough and that the restrictions on public funding and pay that the universities have experienced in recent years cannot continue without significant damage not only to the universities directly but also to their capacity to produce the graduates and the research that the country needs. The Minister need not feel ashamed of' what he said. He believed it and was right to say it when he did, and I respect him for it.

On the subject of research, the Government amendment refers to an 8 per cent. increase in the science budget, but it does not say that about half the expenditure on research comes through the University Grants Committee. As we have seen, the UGC funding to universities has been cut by at least 16 per cent. since 1980–81. In addition, as the Advisory Board for the Research Councils has warned the Secretary of State, the increasing sophistication of scientific equipment adds an average of 10 per cent. per annum above average inflation to research costs.

It is hardly surprising that the scientific community talks about a crisis and that a campaign to save British science was launched at the beginning of the year. The advisory board told the Minister's predecessor last year: Over the last five years the Government has reduced the level of investment in scientists and their research in real terms against the trend in other developed countries. The economic and social effects on the United Kingdom of this may not become obvious for a few more years. However, we should warn the Government that when they do they are likely to be grave and effectively irreversible. I should now like to speak about what has happened in the public sector. Before the Minister alleges that I have no interest in the public sector, as he has done in a number of debates that he will remember outside the House, I should remind him that it was a Labour Government who created the polytechnics. There is no doubt that they have been highly successful and that they are providing effective and relative higher education for an increasing number of graduates, including one of my daughters. Without the polytechnics, the present problems in higher education would be considerably worse than they are.

The increase in the student population which the Government amendment mentions and which no doubt the Minister will speak about, has occurred in the public sector. Many of the students who might have gone to university if the number of places had not been cut have gone to the polytechnics. The increase is more the result of good luck than of good management by the Government. The Government have failed to provide the extra resources to match the extra students.

According to Government figures, the spend per student in the public sector has fallen by 22 per cent. in real terms since 1980–81. It is the local authorities, and especially the Labour authorities together with the NAB officials, who have until now insisted on giving priority to access, and rightly so. Both the NAB, the body responsible for planning and, more recently, the Council for National Academic Awards which is responsible for validation and review, have warned about the possible threat to quality if the spend per student continues to be cut. The CNAA has said: Present resourcing levels will not permit the quality of courses and output to he sustained in the long run. That is the background to the crisis of funding facing the public sector in 1987–88. I accept that the Government planning figures for that year are not immutable—that is one reason for the debate—but based on those figures the NAB committee has warned that if spending per student is to be retained and quality preserved, and if access is to be maintained, there will be a shortfall of £24 million. Unless the Government produce the extra money, that will mean that 9,500 student places will have to be cut. That is not just the estimate of the secretariat but the estimate of the NAB committee.

There is a threat to a number of polytechnic departments, including engineering departments at Sunderland and Wolverhampton. The Minister may say that this is a lot of scaremongering. I hope that those departments will not have to close, because it would be mad if they did. There is no doubt that those departments are threatened, because they have received letters from the NAB secretariat. Remember that the NAB is not in the pay of the Labour party but is trying to serve the NAB committee and the NAB council. It is an independent body, but of course it is excellently chaired by the Minister responsible for higher education, to whom tribute is due.

If the cuts in student numbers go ahead we will be turning away students who would be able to benefit from higher education, and that would be a clear breach of the Robbins principle. The Opposition believe, and our belief is supported by considerable evidence, that far more people could benefit from higher education than currently enjoy it.

The Government amendments says that substantially increased opportunities are being provided for adult and continuing education. Last year's Green Paper spoke of the importance of continuing education, but there is little evidence that the Government were prepared to provide extra resources for it.

A closer investigation of the Government's record suggests that they have cut resources for adult and continuing education in a number of crucial areas. University extra-mural departments have been cut, the grant to the Workers Educational Association has been cut and local authority adult education services have been squeezed. I know that there is widespread support for the Open university and that hon. Members in all parts of the House are strong supporters of that university. It was forced to make a cut of £8 million in planned expenditure between 1984 and 1986 and sharply to increase its tuition fees. This means that the university has had to turn away 25,000 students, about half of whom wish to study science and technology. The vice-chancellor of the Open university has rightly called it a public scandal.

There is also the plight of Birkbeck college, which the Prime Minister recently praised for its achievements. She was right to do so, because Birkbeck is a unique institution that specialises in part-time education and performs a great service for the community. But, as a result of the latest round of cuts and the changed formula for part-time students, the existence of Birkbeck must now be in doubt. I hope that that is not true and that the Minister will say that he will provide resources for it. All this hardly suggests that the Government have yet given wholehearted support to adult and continuing education. They must do so because they ought to help those who want to help themselves and their country by getting a better education.

All of us who look to the decade ahead will agree that higher and continuing education is likely to grow in importance to Britain. I have already mentioned our national research needs. Industry requires a sustained supply of graduates; as the Engineering Council has reminded us, it also needs more opportunities for continuing education. On Monday, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services issued its latest report on graduate employment prospects. It shows that there is already a disturbing and growing shortage of graduates in a number of key areas, and that there is a worrying 5 per cent. reduction in the number of engineering and technology graduates. What is even more disturbing for the future is the fall in the number of graduates who want to be teachers, especially of mathematics, physics and chemistry. Without the teachers, where are the scientists, engineers and mathematicians of the future to come from?

As the number of 18-year-olds begins to decline at the end of the decade, the problems could intensify. It is hardly likely that industry will need fewer graduates after 1990. If anything, industry will need more.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

It is interesting to listen to the hon. Gentleman's catalogue of woe, but he has not explained what his party intends to do if it ever gets the opportunity to do something. Is he aware that vice-chancellors and principals across the country know that he is not committed to restoring any of the cuts that have been made?

Mr. Radice

If we were in power today, we would not be making cuts. When we come to office, we will immediately start to repair some of the damage that has been done to quality and research. We would provide new resources for access for mature and part-time students and for continuing education. I give the pledge that, in the mid-1990s, there will he more people in higher and continuing education under a Labour Government than is planned by the present Government.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Radice

No. I am sorry, but I must get on.

I have so far dwelt on the problems, but there are also big opportunities. In spite of the cuts, much of higher education is of a good quality. We still have high quality research institutions and departments and we have the potential for a major expansion of higher and continuing education. The fall in the number of l8-year-olds by 1990 which I mentioned earlier offers Britain a major opportunity to open up higher education to a much wider group than ever before.

I welcomed the new Secretary of State in our previous debate, but I welcome him again today if he feels like it. He has an opportunity to respond to the cries of, "Enough is enough," which were repeated by the Minister with responsibility for higher education and the chairman of the NAB board. He has an opportunity to make a fresh start. He should immediately stop the cuts in university grants for 1986–87 and 1987–88. He should give the public sector the £24 million for which it is asking. He should provide the extra resources for science and he should tell higher education that he will provide new money for access, part-time and mature students and continuing education. He must respond sympathetically to the new pay deal which has been agreed between the university lecturers and the vice-chancellors' committee.

Investment in higher education is vital for the country's future. The message which must come from this debate is that students and parents and industry and higher education are expecting the new Secretary of State to fight in the Cabinet for higher education. He will be judged not by his charm—

Mr. Bryan Gould (Dagenham)

His what?

Mr. Radice

His charm. Nor will he be judged by his good looks or by his undoubted eloquence, but by the level of success that he achieves.

7.34 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: notes the importance of higher education for the future of the country: commends the Government on the increase of 17 per cent. in full time home student numbers since 1979, on the 8 per cent. increase in the science budget for the research councils as measured against average inflation, and on the substantially increased opportunities for adult and continuing education: and applauds the Government's intention to build on these successes, particularly through further increases in participation rates for both young and mature entrants.". I was very surprised to hear last week that the Opposition had chosen higher education as the subject for one of their Supply day debates, because it means free advertising time for the Government.

Since 1979, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in higher education. It is futile for the Opposition to talk of cuts when there are now 77,000 more full-time home students in higher education than there were in 1979 and when the number of part-time students is 60,000 higher.

The increases are due not solely to the fact that there are more 18 and 19-year-olds. About one quarter of the increase can be attributed to the demographic bulge. Most of the rest is due to the increase in the proportion of 18 and 19-year-olds who enter higher education, which has risen from 12.4 per cent. in 1979 to 13.9 per cent. last autumn. There has also been a 15 per cent. increase in the number of mature entrants from 34,000 to 39,000. All these increases contrast with the falls in student numbers and participation rates between 1975 and 1979.

Our policy is that places should be available for all with the intellectual competence, maturity and motivation to benefit from higher education. We are therefore committed to a regular review of the projections of future student numbers prepared for planning purposes. In 1984–85, more young people entered higher education than had been forecast. My Department is currently preparing revised projections which take account of this encouraging trend, and I hope to publish these new higher projections in the next few months. It remains the Government's clear objective to increase the proportion of young people who enter higher education.

Much has been made of comparisons with other countries. It is difficult to establish a common basis of comparison. In Britain, we tend to focus on the number of 18 and 19-year-olds who enter full-time courses, but other countries' statistics usually include all students, including part-timers. Japan's statistics, for example, include people on correspondence courses, and I understand that the figures for America include all those who undertake professional training in law, accountancy surveying, and the like. Nor must we forget that higher education courses in Britain are shorter and usually have lower wastage rates than those in other countries.

This is real statistical treacle and we must tread very warily. It is thick treacle and, treading as warily as I can, I must say that the best comparison is of the proportions who gain degrees and higher diplomas. On that basis, Britain is a little way behind Japan and America but on a par with achievements in France and West Germany and better than the rest of Europe.

Mr. Radice


Mr. Baker

I therefore deplore the Opposition's continued use of statistics of doubtful validity to make improper comparisons and to knock the achievements of our higher education system. I am aware that the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) wants to intervene. I had to listen carefully when he was interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) regarding the commitment about Labour's spending plans for higher education. The deputy leader of the Labour party—

Mr. Radice

A very good man.

Mr. Baker

Yes. I shall come to his opinion of the hon. Member in a moment.

The deputy leader of the Labour party made a speech a little while ago, about which The Times Educational Supplement of 20 June 1986 said: Hattersley rejects rapid university expansion. The Guardian of 14 June 1986 said: Hattersley trims hopes on higher education. The Morning Star, blunt as ever, on the same date said: Expansion not on, Hattersley tells dons. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said that the money for higher education will not be all that you need, even less will it be all that you ask for. To be frank, reasonable though I know him to be, I doubt if it will he all for which Giles Radice asks. What a volume of condescension there was in the phrase, reasonable though I know him to be. He is a reasonable man—we are all reasonable men—but I have never known the adjective "reasonable" to be used in such a dismissive, cutting and final way.

Mr. Radice

The quotation continues: We will replace the age of steep decline in higher education funding with an era of gradual expansion. If there is to be an argument between us it will be about the speed of improvement not the pace of deterioration or even the duration of stagnation. And I hope that my frankness in qualifying my promise of expansion will convince you of my sincerity in making the promise. I have the shadow Chancellor on my side. Does the Secretary of State have the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his side? We shall have to see.

Mr. Baker

That was most moving. I have a quotation from the leader of the Labour party, not the deputy leader. The right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), at a press conference — I expect the hon. Gentleman was present—was asked by Beverley Anderson, an Oxford polytechnic lecturer and a former Oxford city Labour councillor: You have to tell us how much money your education plans will cost and how much will go on our taxes and rates. If you do not, we will not take you seriously. As the hon. Gentleman knows, there was no answer to that question.

The hon. Gentleman said a great deal about cuts in university funding. I acknowledge that the previous public expenditure White Paper envisaged that grants to universities would be reduced in real terms by 1988–89. We never disguised the fact that that would present universities with a difficult task, especially as, at the same time, we are asking them to improve and reshape their provision in the light of developing national needs.

Against that background, my predecessor announced five weeks ago that the Government are ready to increase financial provision for the universities, provided they demonstrate real progress in implementing and building on the changes that are needed. Those changes include better management, improved standards of teaching, selectivity in research funding and rationalisation of small departments. I shall be discussing the way forward with the University Grants Committee and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals during the next few months before reaching decisions on public expenditure in the autumn.

To those hon. Members who persist in favouring press speculation to fact, I must reiterate that the UGC has made no recommendations to me about university closures. I can categorically state that the Government have no plans for closures. This emphatically does not mean that every faculty can expect to continue as it is. Professor Bernard Crick, who is not a subscribing member of the Conservative party, in The Observer last Sunday questioned whether every university should offer such a wide range of studies — what he described as a department store approach.

There must be scope for change and reform. Patterns of study and research cannot remain inviolate and unchanged for long periods.

A hundred years ago in Oxford, 93 per cent. of students—all men— studied arts subjects, mainly Greek, Latin and theology. Only 7 per cert. studied mathematics and the natural sciences. Today, the pattern is completely different. Though still a centre of excellence for the study of classics and theology, only 8 per cent. of Oxford students study such subjects, but about 40 per cent. are on science courses, and that picture is mirrored throughout the country.

My predecessor but one, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle), encouraged moves to change the balance between science and the humanities in higher education. In 1979, the proportion studying science was 45 per cent., with 55 per cent. on humanities courses. Today, it is almost 48 per cent. science. By 1989, it may be more than 50 per cent. science. This trend reflects the needs of our society today. For our society to be rich and prosperous, we must produce more technologists and engineers. From their talents, inventiveness, skills and energies will come the continuing wealth of our country.

The Government can take pride in the fact that they have stimulated a shift to science and engineering courses. Since 1979, the number of students on those courses has increased by 30 per cent. to 175,000, compared with an increase in total student numbers of 17 per cent. That was achieved largely through the efforts of individual universities and colleges, the UGC and the National Advisory Body, to which I pay tribute.

Contrary to what the hon. Gentleman said, the UGC is planning further increases in science student numbers. Moreover, we have given this change two boosts: first, through the information technology initiative, which created 5,000 extra places in universities, polytechnics and other colleges in electronic engineering and computer science at a cost of about £38 million over three years; and, secondly, by the engineering and technology programme announced in March last year, which will provide 5,000 additional places on high-quality first degree and masters couses in engineering, applied physics, materials science and computer science. This will cost £65 million in its first four years. In addition, industry will be contributing more than £24 million in support of the programme.

I do not for a moment undervalue the role of the study of the humanities in higher education. They are an essential ingredient in a civilised and well-balanced society and, rigorously taught, they develop analytical and critical skills much valued by employers. But we must turn out more proficient engineers and technologists at all levels in the education system.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

How does the Secretary of State reconcile what he has just said about the need for more engineers and technologists with the massive cuts that were made in the universities of Bradford, Salford and Aston in 1981, and the major cuts in those universities' budgets that were recently announced? It does not make sense. Can the Minister explain it to my constituents who are worried about the future of our universities?

Mr. Baker

I asked my officials to discover what will be the student intake this autumn. The best advice that I have—I cannot be categorical until the universities and polytechnics start again—is that there will be increases in the student intake this autumn.

Mr. Madden

Answer the question.

Mr. Baker

That is a good answer.

In technological education, as well as the massive increase in numbers starting courses of initial higher education, we have begun to make progress in the much-needed development of continuing education and professional updating. I saw something of this in a college in Southall which I visited this afternoon. My Department is playing its part through the £6 million PICKUP scheme. That is an acronym for the professional, industrial and commercial knowledge updating programme. That programme supports a range of innovative projects designed to keep people working in industry up to date through relevant courses in colleges.

The hon. Member for Durham, North mentioned Birkbeck. I. too, place great value on part-time courses of higher education; and, in view of the recent speculation, I take this opportunity to commend the important contribution which Birkbeck makes in this regard. As I have already told the House, it is for London university's court to decide how its block grant from the UGC is allocated among the university's constituent colleges. However, in the light of representations, the UGC has agreed to reconsider the weighting that it as given to part-time students at Birkbeck. We shall be watching the outcome of the committee's review with interest. Much will depend on the evidence which Birkbeck college produces and, as Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, who is a highly regarded mathematician as well as the UGC chairman, has made clear, this evidence will need to add up rather better than some of the figures that have been bandied about.

I shall now deal with a matter that has been mentioned in higher education debates — the recently announced assessment of research by the UGC. I applaud the UGC's attempt to assess the research quality of faculties in our universities. Three of the factors that were taken into account were quantitative: the number of academic staff and the number of research students, income from research councils, from medical and other research charities, and research contract income from industry and from Government Departments. The fourth and perhaps most important factor was the UGC's evaluation of the quality of research in each department, having regard to the university's research statements and to the views of the research councils, other research bodies and eminent experts.

Those qualitative judgments were reached by the subject sub-committees of the UGC, so that more than 120 academics and others were involved, representing a wide cross-section of the academic community. Who else could have done this effectively? The Government could not have done it.

I appreciate that any list of this sort is uncomfortable, because there are winners and losers. But it must be right to make a differential assessment. Otherwise the whole of university research is treated like the caucus race in Alice in Wonderland—a race devised by a mathematics don in which everybody wins. It is not right for the mediocre and the inadequate to bask in the glory of the outstanding and the brilliant.

Mr. Radice

I am not raising a debating point, one of the problems for the departments affected was that they did not know the criteria for the judgments made. That is one of the difficulties of the whole UGC process, and that is why the NAB is rather superior. We have more knowledge of why the NAB has taken its decisions.

Mr. Baker

That is a fair point, which has also been put to me by certain dons. I shall certainly discuss that with the UGC to see whether it is prepared to be more open about things. But having discussed the issue, I think that the work was done on as reasonable and as proper a basis as possible. It is, of course, easier to analyse the research qualities of a university than its teaching qualities. However, one is not attempting to analyse the teaching qualities of a university in this way.

The hon. Member for Durham, North mentioned research funding. The science budget—the funds that go to research councils—has grown by 8 per cent. since 1979. The science budget now stands at over £600 million. With the research funds channelled through the UGC—which the hon. Gentleman recognised as an important source — spending on the science base now stands at over £1 billion per year. The Government also support research through the departmental research and development programmes of the major departments. Expenditure by civil Government Departments totalled a further £1 billion in 1984–85. Support for innovation in industry by the Department of Trade and Industry is a substantial part of the total. That is an important contribution to research. Its emphasis is now on collaborative pre-competitive ventures, bringing together industry with scientific researchers in the universities and research councils. A notable example of that is the Alvey programme, which I launched when I was at the Department of Trade and Industry.

I should like to be able to increase overall funding further. However, some important issues must be faced. Has Britain got the balance of effort right between different areas of research? Have we got too many centres and departments engaging in research in particular areas? Would we get better value for money if the money and people were concentrated in fewer larger centres? How can we do better at carrying our research through into commercially successful innovation in industry? That is one of the most important things. For years we have been a brilliantly inventive nation. Yet time and again hon. Members could cite examples of where that inventiveness has not gone through to product development and has not led to world-beating products being on sale.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

It is all a question of money.

Mr. Baker

With respect, it is not just a question of money. A team with a brilliant inventor still needs someone to get the team's act together. When I was at the Department of Trade and Industry and was involved in a research programme directly related to industry, time and again I saw brilliant, outstanding and world-beating inventions in our universities, but I rarely saw a team that could take them to the stage of exploitation and development.

Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell, South)

I agree that it is not just a question of money. We need a total reversal of the Government's industrial policies. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the recent Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development report, which took up the theme of Martin and Irvine, whose book was subtitled, "Picking Winners"? The ACARD report said that the Government should pick winners and back them from the basic research stage through to applied research and development. Does the right hon. Gentleman espouse that philosophy?

Mr. Baker

When I was at the Department of Trade and Industry I found that one of the difficulties was that although one set out to pick winners, the losers often picked themselves. That is a problem. It does not mean to say that the Government do not need to promote and stimulate projects through their various agencies. From time to time we have had to take a big chance, but one must be prepared to do that, especially with the new technology.

Mr. Flannery

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Baker

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way, as this is a short debate. If I do give way, others may not be able to speak.

The hon. Member for Durham, North mentioned university pay. It has been asserted that the pay of university dons has fallen 20 to 25 per cent. behind the retail prices index since 1979, and demands have been made that the Government should give an immediate undertaking to foot the bill for restructuring salaries, as proposed by the AUT and the CVCP.

The Government reject the idea that pay should be settled solely by comparison with other groups. That happened in the 1970s and resulted in the spiralling inflation from which the Government had to rescue the country. We regard the main determinant in settling public sector pay to be what the country can afford in order to recruit, pay and motivate staff of the right quality.

Mr. Radice

What about the brain drain?

Mr. Baker

I shall come to that in a moment.

I recognise the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Durham, North as being those that are constantly quoted to us by the AUT. They are derived by excluding the Clegg-equivalent award — worth 17 per cent. — from cumulative salary increases since 1979. But the Clegg-equivalent increase was paid in April and October 1980, and on that basis cumulative salary increases between October 1979 and April 1985 — the time of the last salary increase—have almost kept up with inflation.

Nevertheless, there is some evidence to suggest that the present salary levels are not attractive to staff in those science and engineering disciplines where demand for skills is high. The proposals to which the hon. Member for Durham, North referred have indeed been put to the Government. I do not want to say anything about them now, except that, broadly speaking, we regard them as constructive, although there are some aspects that need to be developed further. Our willingness to consider making extra funds available will depend on the readiness of the universities and of the university lecturers to agree a new pay structure that provides greater flexibility and helps in the recruitment and retention of staff of an appropriate quality.

I turn to the polytechnics and to higher education outside the universities. That sector is crucially important and often attains a very high standard. I want to emphasise how vital it is. It now provides 55 per cent. of our higher education places, covering the polytechnics, which provide for some 30 per cent. of all higher education students, some 29 institutions that are grant-aided by my Department, providing 5 per cent. of all places, and a further 20 per cent. of all places are provided by 340 local authority colleges. There has been a dramatic and most welcome increase in the number of students in this sector since 1979. That growth in home and European Community students has amounted to 35 per cent. That striking success contrasts with what happened under the previous Labour Government when, between 1975 and 1979, there was a reduction of over 6 per cent. in the number of public sector students. I do not know what the hon. Member for Durham, North was doing when he trooped into the Lobby in support of those cuts.

Public sector higher education has made a major contribution to the significant switch towards science and technology. Enrolments in England in those subjects have increased by 62 per cent.— almost double the average for other subjects. I am also glad to be able to report that we have reversed another trend. In 1975, women represented 37 per cent. of public sector students. By 1979, under a Labour Government, the figure had fallen to 35 per cent. It has now recovered to 39 per cent., and is set to grow further.

I must pay tribute to the exemplary record of polytechnics in serving the needs of industry, commerce and the professions. Between 1979 and 1985 the polytechnics' income from research, consultancy and other services rose by no less 'than 85 per cent. in real terms. I am sure that hon. Members will have visited departments doing quite outstanding research. I remember seeing some very sophisticated chip technology using gallium arsenide in one polytechnic research department, and the standard was higher than that of much of the work carried out at universities.

I shall give three examples of the contributions being made by polytechnics. I believe that we should sing their praises rather more. North Staffordshire polytechnic, which I visited a couple of weeks ago, is doing splendid work in computer-aided design and engineering, and in computer studies generally. I was interested to note that it came top for computer studies in the recent employers' poll on polytechnics in The Sunday Times. More than 400 companies—which will ultimately provide the jobs— were asked, and that polytechnic came out top for the polytechnics and third in the overall list, after two university departments.

There is also the Hatfield polytechnic, which came top in mechanical engineering and has provided an invaluable service through its HERTIS scheme, based on its library, which provides local firms with instant access to a whole range of relevant commercial and industrial data.

Finally there is the Polytechnic of Central London. It has built up a very exciting research programme in sectors such as electronic engineering. It has attracted support from a variety of sources, including my old Department, the DTI. It is also seeking to develop a programme to allow former students with promising ideas to develop them on a commercial basis—what the hon. Member for Durham, North was getting at — using the polytechnic's facilities and with finance from the venture capital market.

The Government have a good record on higher education, but there is no cause for complacency. I should like to see more of our young people at 18 and 19 going on to some form of higher education. Over the next few years, the actual numbers of 18 and 19-year-olds will fall substantially, and this will lead to quite a lot of necessary adjustments in higher education. I hope also that it will be possible for us to attract into higher education a higher proportion of young people than enter it at present. We have done well, and we will do even better.

8 pm

Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

We are grateful to the official Opposition for tabling this motion, even if we are bemused by their claims in a recent leaflet: Only one party has the right package of policies to do the job. That party is Labour. One looks eagerly at what there is in the document, and all that one finds is a list of percentage changes in UGC funding. I doubt whether that will achieve all that the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) claims.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for speaking in the debate, and I particularly welcome his constructive comments on young people, women and polytechnics. It is something for which we have been waiting a long time from a Secretary of State at Elizabeth house.

Twin crises face higher education. The first is funding, and academic pay plays a large part in it, threatening recruitment and retention; one welcomed what the Secretary of State promised— that he would look into this and constructively take heed of the AUT-CVCP discussions. The UGC overall funding by redistribution involves cuts in every institution except the London Graduate Business school. I hope that that will be noted.

There is a squeeze on the unit of resource in polytechnics, which threatens 9,500 places and threatens to bring about the same cycle of mistakes as we had in 1981 in the universities.

I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State has recognised that polytechnics are doing innovative work with new students. The staff have notably increased productivity and are teaching more students. Polytechnics have, until now, felt overlooked by the Government, even while meeting the Government's wishes on links to industry and the community.

The second crisis was touched on when the Secretary of State said that money cannot solve everything, because it is one of purpose. Those in higher education no longer feel that they are valued or respected by the Government. Many universities no longer feel a genuine involvement in the life of the communities, and there is a creeping feeling that higher education is marginal to the future of Britain, which is not helped by Governmentspeak about the sector being a drain on the economy. The danger is the creeping marginalisation of higher education.

When the Secretary of State took office he was widely welcomed in the press for his presentational skills. In his speech, he showed this on the subject of polytechnics; by acknowledging and rewarding the work that they do, he has laid a good foundation for better understanding in the maintained sector.

The twin crises are exemplified by the UGC letter, which concerns not only detailing of financial distribution, in which Scotland seemed peculiarly hard hit, but overall financial reductions. I hope that the Secretary of State will speak to the Secretary of State for Scotland to bring about the amelioration of that situation. The purpose of the reductions as expressed in the selectivity and criteria adopted by the UGC, has appeared on the scene with no explicit policy debate — it is a policy of repeat and default. The UGC has plumped for research as the guiding light, relegating teaching to a by-product or offshoot of this, threatening the dual support system and putting on one side anything worthy but non-traditional, such as part-time work or more generous provision for non-standard entrants.

Neither the arm's length principle nor direct funding seems to be working as it should. I can give two examples, of which the first is Birkbeck, which is funded at arm's length. The Government are leaving the UGC to change its full to part-time ratios, leaving Birkbeck a potential deficit that can be made up only by increasing fees by 250 per cent. Birkbeck does not fit into the UGC straitjacket. Students are already paying their own fees, when students in other universities get fees and grants paid for them. The average pre-tax income of a Birkbeck student is £8,300, making them more ordinary, from more ordinary backgrounds, than standard entrants. Despite that, the UGC formula gives a standard undergraduate half as much money again as one at Birkbeck. A Birkbeck student gets four years at half funding, as against three one-year full funding.

The Minister may say that this is a domestic, London university court matter in which the Government should not interfere. However, his Department has interfered so much in that which it had no right to interfere that it ill behoves him to say nothing and do nothing, while Birkbeck suffers. I hope that he will look into this with compassion.

The second example is the Open university which enjoys direct funding, but does not enjoy it a lot. Last year, it turned away 24,000 students —these are not statistics of doubtful validity—which is a record rate of rejection. The Open university could educate many more students at a marginal extra cost, possibly £100 or £200 a year each, because of its peculiar funding system and because fixed costs are such a high proportion of its expenditure. I ask the Secretary of State to think about that. The Open university has its friends and allies on both sides of the House, and it is not a political matter. We have a great deal to be proud of in having an Open university, which is now suffering.

Despite the restriction on student numbers, the demands for graduates is high and increasing. The Government believe, and they have shown this in the YTS, that upping an individual's skill level not only increases the chances of that person getting a job, but raises the overall rate of employment. University careers officers report this week that employers are having difficulty finding enough graduates and vacancies are 20 per cent. above those in 1985. However, the overall "output", in Governmentspeak, is down, despite the polytechnic having taken surplus from universities.

The Government should abandon the projection of demand set out in the Green Paper and plan for a reasonably constant APR and fill in spare capacity with other types, such as part-time courses, mature and non-A-level entrants.

Why have the Government decided to take students out of the benefit system and close off a whole avenue of consideration by the review, and why are the 16 to 19-yearolds excluded from it? Two hopeful directions have thereby been immediately ruled out by the Government's terms of reference. We invite the Government to look at the possibility of integration rather than compartment-talisation, to recognise the value of taking people off the dole in order to study—with the same money— and to ensure some flexibility to meet different costs which housing benefit currently provides for students.

I ask the House to look with care at the amendment to the Leader of the Opposition's motion. It states that the Government "applauds" their intention to build on these successes, particularly through further increases in participation rates for both young and mature entrants. I should like the Minister to tell the House specifically how much that will cost, how much the Government will pay towards that intention to "build on these successes" through "increases in participation."

My right hon. and hon. Friends have tabled an amendment about the 16 to 19-year-olds. The big gap in educational chances and access to higher education used to come at 11 years old, with the 11-plus. We are pleased that that no longer exists but the gap now comes, increasingly, at 16 years of age.

It is very expensive to keep a young person on at school, because not only does school cost money for the purchase of books which used to be provided, but the family loses potential money from the wage or the training allowance.

It is insane that of two options—school or dole—the dole should be financially more attractive. The fall in the number of young people staying on at school is surely a result of that. It might also be due to the attractions of YTS and its cash. There is a good case for saying that the financial disparity which attaches to each choice is adversely affecting educational participation.

The Government must set up the right structure to give young persons in education something for themselves to put into their hands. Initially it need be only a gesture. It could be child benefit paid direct to a student. Like public lending right, which the House introduced at minimal financial provision, paying young people at the age of 16, and putting such a Bill on the statute book, would pave the way to the further increases which must come.

I ask the Government to take a careful look at the options. I ask them to examine funding fees for part-timers, who are doubly disadvantaged against full-timers because they receive no grant and have to find their own fees. The Government should consider diversifying the entrance requirements to include two years of YTS. Some institutions already have special schemes. I mention in particular the black teacher trainees at the North-East London polytechnic. The Government should consider widening the requirements, which would not only increase the pool of ability, but reduce the tyranny of examinations in schools. The Government should guide the University Grants Committee towards a better ratio of money for full and part-timers.

As Christopher Ball, the chairman of the National Advisory Board and warden of Keble, has written: Our concern should not be that we might be putting at risk the quality of higher education by extending access to it … but rather that we are allowing to go to waste, undeveloped, too much inherent quality in our young people and in our adult population. An alliance Government would embrace the "new Robbins" principle advocated by the UGC and the NAB in their advice to the Government before the Green Paper that courses of higher education should be available for all those who are able to benefit from them and who wish to do so. We would do that without the qualification imposed by this Government, which renders their formal acceptance totally meaningless.

We do not believe that we are yet at the limits of useful or rewarding participation in higher education. The House will be grateful to the Secretary of State for accepting that and for giving his promise to consider a rising participation rate in higher education.

8.14 pm
Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

I take the opportunity, as the first Government Back Bencher to speak, warmly to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on his splendid speech, which will do much to raise morale amongst all those interested in higher education. He spoke about the splendid opportunity which the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) had given him to advertise Conservative policy on higher education. I am sure that I reflect the views of all my right hon. and hon. Friends when I say that the Secretary of State took every opportunity to put his message across.

As usual, the Opposition are critical of the level of resources available, without saying how, if they were in office, they would increase them. In my judgment, the Opposition have failed to applaud and accept the reality of the 17 per cent. increase in full-time home students in universities and polytechnics since 1979, or the increased opportunities for adult and continuing education. We have heard the same old gloomy mixture from the Opposition Front Bench and from the Liberal spokesman, the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud).

We are talking about facts which call not just for a further moan about the level of resources, but for new and imaginative, resource-generating ideas to ensure that the future of our universities is secure.

I must declare an interest. I am a member of the court of Brunel university in my constituency. I regard part of my job, as the hon. Member for Uxbridge, to speak up for Brunel, for the excellent academic staff there and for the students who, between them, contribute to its enviable reputation. I do not, of course, seek to deny that Brunel has some difficult financial problems to solve.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

An 18 per cent. cut.

Mr. Shersby

If the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) will contain himself, I shall give him the real figures and he will be able to listen to my proposals for resolving the difficulties.

Brunel university has to cope with a reduction of £600,000 in its annual grant, despite receiving £13.1 million from the University Grants Committee, plus some additional fees for computer board income, making a total of £15 million. That is causing understandable concern to members of the Association of University Teachers who lobbied me recently. I represent many of them and their future is of great importance to me. The hon. Member for Durham, North will know of my interest in the AUT. I told its members, as I now tell the House, that I shall make their views known, without pulling my punches.

They and I know that one way of cutting costs is to eliminate teaching posts. Naturally, that worries them greatly. But even that is not an easy option because of the present position on academic tenure. I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will say whether the Government have any plans to abolish tenure. If they do not have such plans, other ways must be found to provide the necessary resources and to generate additional income. It is that latter possibility that I wish to explore in the debate.

If I branch into areas which are a little unconventional in a debate on higher education, I hope that the House will bear with me, because only by being innovative and creative can we look forward to providing the science and technology that we need for the future.

There may be some scope for further industrial research grants, but that scope is patchy and limited. It could, for example, produce another £250,000 profit, but that would still leave Brunel short of about £350,000 in the coming year.

Let us consider what positive options could be open not only to Brunel but to other universities that have been mentioned in the debate. The Government could make a meaningful contribution if it were made easier for industrial firms to establish a presence on university campuses to collaborate with academic departments. My right hon. Friend, with his creative and innovative approach to education, should urgently discuss that proposition with our right hon. Friend the Chancellor. Although under certain circumstances a university can keep the full rent for such an arrangement, those circumstances are still limited and there are still Treasury blocks. It is part of the job of every Member of Parliament to try to remove Treasury blocks. I am positive that my right hon. Friend will be in an admirable position to do so before we next debate this matter.

We need to encourage industry, through positive measures, to move on to the campuses and allow the universities to keep the rent. If a university could demonstrate that a commercial presence occupying space on its campus was to the benefit of both the university and the company and that it was not just a straightforward property deal, it should be allowed to retain the full financial benefit. That could generate considerable additional income.

The Government should do more to help establish departments of small firms in the universities. How would that work? If the House will forgive me, I shall take Brunel as my example because I know it well. The relationship that Brunel has with the Henley management college—one of the world's premier business schools — is well known. The strength of experience of Henley, together with Brunel's strength in applied science and technology, would provide a powerful base for the establishment of a chair of small firms. That chair could be concerned, first, with the technology transfer on which high-tech small firms are so dependent, and secondly, with the problems of management and finance.

Brunel and other similar universities, together with such colleges as Henley, have the expertise to provide a stronger base than most. I am sure that there are many other ways in which the whole concept of developing a chair of small firms could be progressed. What would it cost? It might be £30,000 a year, but that is only part of it. It would need at least two other academic posts and, perhaps, a research assistant.

I wonder what such an innovation would do for Britain. It would provide impetus to the development of short courses for those concentrating on the establishment of small firms. It could also stimulate research into the creation of conditions that would provide the best opportunity for small firms to succeed. Is there any identification of the common thread that must exist between those small firms that succeed and those that do not? I doubt whether there has been any systematic analysis of that, but there should be.

Why is it that only one third of 1 per cent. of graduates — other than in the professions—start businesses of their own, while in America the figure is 2.5 per cent. and in Japan it is 3 per cent.? I did not hear anything in the remarks of the hon. Members for Durham, North and for Cambridgeshire, North-East about that very important aspect of university life. I am sure that it is not because they are not interested in it, but merely because they wanted to deal with other matters. No doubt they would agree with me that the development in our universities of an understanding of what is required from graduates to obtain their degrees and contribute to small firms is vital.

I shall repeat the figures — only one third of 1 per cent. of graduates, other than the professions, start their own businesses, while in America it is 2.5 per cent. and in Japan it is 3 per cent. Why is that?

One reason, perhaps, is that a new approach is required towards putting over the technique necessary in determining markets for products and services. That should happen at undergraduate level for those taking a degree in areas with developing technology that could be exploited if only they knew how and had the enthusiasm and drive to have a go. Surely that is where a heavy orientation towards short courses should be available.

Our country desperately needs more small firms to widen and expand our industrial and commercial base and to create new jobs for the future. Is not that, perhaps, where a partnership between Government, industry and the universities could make a major contribution to encourage more of our best young people to have a go?

The Government, through the Department of Employment, have already made a commendable start in aiding graduates towards self-employment. The graduate enterprise programme is an excellent system for linking graduates with the world of enterprise and small business. It is, of course, an awareness programme providing information about what a career in small business enterprise is like and how graduates have successfully started their own businesses or become members of a small business management team.

It is good to see the scheme operating in cities and towns such as Durham, Salford, Sheffield and many others. It is also encouraging to note that graduates of any discipline are welcome and that allowances and research budgets are available up to £1,250. That scheme is complemented by the graduate extension scheme. It is encouraging to have sponsorship for the various programmes coming from many well-known industrial and commercial firms.

I invite hon. Members who have not studied those schemes to do so—they are very interesting. They are not generally thought of in terms of higher education because they come under the auspicies of the Department of Employment. They should be much more widely known and regarded as part of higher education. Is that not the basis of an idea that my right hon. Friend's Department could extend to provide more industrial sponsorship for postgraduate courses? Surely it is worth much closer examination.

There is a need to ensure that more students can benefit from higher and continuing education. I greatly welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement on 18 June of a review of the whole structure of student support. It has been widely welcomed by my constituents, be they parents or students. I am especially glad that my right hon. Friend has announced an increase of £36 in the maintenance grants to students living away from home from the beginning of the next academic year. It is a small but useful addition to the 2 per cent. announced last December. It is an overall increase of 4 per cent., which with falling inflation will be more welcome than it has ever been before — [interruption.] —perhaps even to constituents of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), whose bad manners I have observed.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will have every success with his review. I am especially glad that he will consider sponsorship by employers as well as other ways of ensuring that our students can look forward to a more secure and widely based financial support structure.

8.30 pm
Mr. Stan Thorne (Preston)

In view of the inordinately long speech to which we have just had to listen, I shall obviously have to cut the length of my speech radically if my hon. Friends are to have the opportunity of contributing to the debate. Perhaps that was the intention of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby).

Like the hon. Member for Uxbridge, I am associated with universities. The two with which I am associated are close to my constituency but not in it. These are the universities of Lancaster and Liverpool, both of which have found it appropriate to write to me about the debate. I shall not develop their representations particularly, as I wish to deal specifically With the Open university. Liverpool university makes it clear, however, that it faces a reduction of resources for recurrent expenditure of over 5 per cent. It is obvious that this will create major problems for the university. Lancaster university has told me that its block grant will lead to a reduction in education provision on a scale not hitherto experienced.

I have had the pleasure of being a mature student. In 1966, at the age of 48, I returned to school and was there for four years. Some hon. Members may not be prepared to accept this, but I believe that I have gained considerably from that experience. I was able subsequently to take a part-time position with the OU. I lectured at an institute of technology full time and assisted the OU by dealing with students of social studies, economics and politics. I was extremely impressed with the development that took place among those students. I do not want to go into great detail, but I remember especially a railway shunter who resided at Southport, who told me, "It is hopeless. I shall never make the progress that I need to make if I am going to get anywhere." Five years later, my wife and I happened to see a television programme on the OU, during which it was stated that a shunter was receiving his BA. That man had kept to it and he had succeeded. I mention that story because there are probably several million in Britain who, if they had the same opportunity, could produce the same sort of result.

The OU is turning away 25,000 potential students each year, about half of whom wish to study science and technology. This is a national disgrace. For a premium of' about £100 per head, the OU could expand its undergraduate student body by about 10,000, and that could be done relatively quickly. To expand beyond that level would require significant additional resources. Discussions are taking place with the visiting committee appointed by the DES, under the chairmanship of Sir Austin Bide, which is to advise on the OU's expansion to 100,000 undergraduates from the present level of 65,000.

There has been a 15-year history of constant demand at the OU which it has not been able to satisfy. Reductions in funding have placed restrictions on student numbers. There were 56,000 applications in 1986, and 24,000 were not offered a place. The 1987 intake will be severely affected by the promises made to some 1986 applicants that they could be considered in 1987. The median age of OU undergraduates is 32. The size of the older age groups which make up the bulk of the student population, will increase by 3 million by the end of the century. The competition for scarce jobs brings us to the qualification escalation from 0-level to A-level, from HNC to a degree and so on. Entry to many occupations requires higher qualification and the threat of selective redundancy pushes many to seek further qualifications.

A sizeable group were affected by the exclusion from teacher training in the 1970s, when a 70 per cent. reduction took place. The number of qualified school leavers with A-levels who did not proceed to higher education has increased to nearly 30,000 per year. It has been suggested by a former Minister that of those who qualified in 1985, over 40,000 failed to take up higher education. As I have said, the demand for places in the OU will continue. Indeed, the demand is such that the university will be unable to guarantee a place to anyone without requiring a wait of at least one year, and possibly two. Increased fees that have run ahead of inflation have led to an increase in the number refusing the offer of a place. Nevertheless, in 1985 the OU turned away more people than were offered places.

This is having an effect on the regional balance of the student population, and the OU's ability to remain open as a truly national institution may be jeopardised. The House may be aware that more students gain entry to universities from south of the line drawn from the Wash to Bristol than from north of that line. This may reflect unemployment and social conditions in various areas. The OU is anxious to maintain a balance between the number of entries from each of its 13 regions. Given the high and sustained demand for places at the OU, it has been suggested that there is a case for establishing a second OU to meet it. It is clear that the OU could expand its programme for undergraduates and for students continuing in education more cheaply than a new institution could be founded.

The Prime Minister and other Government Front Bench spokesmen have often referred to Britain's need to be more competitive in world markets and to improve its technological and scientific performance. They have stressed the need for more training in those subjects. The Government should find the resources to make this possible instead of merely paying lip service to the need to do so. The OU can play a major part, and if the resources are available there will be no shortage of demand. The average number of applications during 1971–79 was 41,000 a year. That increased to 46,000 during 1980–86. There have been 56,000 applicants during 1985–86.

I note that some of my hon. Friends are becoming agitated, and perhaps they are thinking that it is time that I brought my remarks to an end. I shall do so in deference to their need.

8.39 pm
Mr. Stephen Dorrell (Loughborough)

I shall begin by declaring an interest, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am a member of both the court and council of Loughborough university. It was in that capacity, if in no other, that I was interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice).

I am bound to say that I am disappointed — my disappointment is probably shared by my hon. Friends — by the fact that we did not hear what the Labour party's policy is on higher education beyond an assurance, which I hardly regard as bankable, that a Labour Government would do more than the Tories. We need from the Opposition and, as I shall argue, from the Government, a clearer statement of their objectives and of what they regard the higher education system to be about.

I have read the document which the hon. Member for Durham, North is holding up, and it does not say so. The hon. Gentleman spoke about input cuts. There have been input cuts, and I think that some of them have been damaging. It was nonsense for the hon. Gentleman to talk only about resources and not about the objectives that he has for the different parts of the higher education system.

It is a great pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State for Education and Science to his new position. At least he does look down the right end of the telescope. He does talk about student numbers, student access and subject balance. Furthermore, he does talk a little—I hope that we shall be able to encourage him to talk a little more—about the assurance of quality that those involved in the higher education system want to see. The Government should apply more effort to making clear to the House, the country, and especially the higher education system, what their objectives are for the different institutions in the system. I think that the best illustration of the doubts that continue to exist relate to what my right hon. Friend's definition would he of the purpose of the binary line. What is the difference between a university, a polytechnic and colleges in the public sector?

My right hon. Friend referred to the number of undergraduates in the system. The increase in the number of undergraduates is welcomed. If we continue to maintain the distinction between a university and a polytechnic, presumably there is a reason for doing so. We cannot continue indefinitely to lump the two together when it suits us and not define what the difference is. If my right hon. Friend addresses that issue and states what he sees as the difference, he will illuminate not only his view of the polytechnics and the public sector but his view of the university sector.

The Government attempted to address the issues in the Green Paper published last year. The Green Paper was not terribly well received in the higher education world. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to improve upon that when he publishes the White Paper which the Government have promised. I shall quote from the Green Paper on the specific topic of the binary line to illustrate the weaknesses contained in it. The paragraph on polytechnics takes up one half of one side of the Green Paper. The most positive comment made about the polytechnics in the Green Paper was: There is however concern amongst them at the lack of public perception of their role in higher education. The Government shares this concern and has encouraged them to take steps to enhance their image. I am sure that that is important, but I do not think that it tackles the substance of the issue. I hope that when my right hon. Friend writes his White Paper as a result of the consultation process which the Green Paper initiated, which was undoubtedly necessary, he will deal rather more substantially with those issues. I hope that he will define his objectives in terms of the quality and the service which both the public sector and the universities should be expected to offer. I hope that he will define his objectives in terms of the number of students we can expect to see having access not simply to higher education as a whole but to the different component parts, and the reasons why.

I think that if we are given a definition of his objectives in terms of numbers, we shall have a more powerful weapon with which to defeat the NAB in the entirely specious argument going on with the NAB over the provision of places in 1987–88. I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Education and Science — the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) — will know that the NAB proposes to close the Loughborough college of art and design. I know that my hon. Friend is aware, although the House is not, that Loughborough college of art and design is the second largest college of art and design in the country. It has six to seven applicants per place for its higher education courses. Ninety per cent. of its graduates go straight into full-time employment. It shares a campus with Loughborough university and, therefore, benefits from all the ambience of a wider higher education clientele. It serves the specific needs of trained designers in an industry which any visitor to British industry and most British shops will see is necessary from the most superficial examination of British manufactured goods. The institution performs a vital role in our economy. Despite the specific advice to the contrary when the issue was last raised 18 months ago by the subject committee in the NAB organisation, the House will be amazed to hear that the NAB secretariat proposed the closure of Loughborough college of art and design.

I believe that that proposal amounts to an act of extraordinary vandalism. I believe that it was isolated because it would be an act of extraordinary vandalism. I understand that the NAB is involved in an exercise in brinkmanship with my hon. Friend. It is nothing more nor less than that. Regarding the need for a definition of objectives, especially in terms of student numbers, I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends that they have an opportunity to deny the NAB the pleasure of that brinkmanship if they commit themselves to clear objectives in terms of student numbers.

In my view, the White Paper should set out the objectives in terms of student numbers and state what those students will do when they enter the higher education system. I shall conclude by making a few remarks about what I see as the objectives of the university system as a distinct group from polytechnics. I hope that my right hon. Friend will define those objectives when he writes his White Paper.

Research is absolutely fundamental to my concept of a university. The purpose of a university is to allow the ablest students to mix with people who operate on the frontiers of scientific knowledge and with new and exciting ideas in the cultural disciplines. To talk about a teaching-only university or a teaching-only department in a university is to misunderstand the concept of what a university is all about.

My right hon. Friend said that we cannot expect the structure of departments in universities, or the structure of universities themselves, to be set in stone and to be sacrosanct. I accept that. If there are to be changes in the balance between departments which might, in the first instance, lead to the idea of a teaching-only department, that raises the question of whether the department is a proper university department and should continue to exist as a university department. It is because of the central role of research in my understanding of what a university is about that I hope that my right hon. Friend will feel able to make a commitment, which I know his predecessor found difficult, that we shall not go down the road of teaching-only universities — that is a contradiction in terms — that we shall resist that and regard as a regrettable compromise any suggestion that there should be teaching-only departments.

In order to have good research in universities, we must also have the facilities for research. Obviously, we must have the people to undertake research. I welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend has made clear his commitment to provide sufficient resources to ensure that there is infrastructure in research. It is not enough to say, "We are providing money to the research councils and, therefore, projects are going into the universities." The infrastructure must be there as well to ensure that the research capability of our system matches what is available on the continent and in North America. We must offer pay levels and job opportunities to academics which make it realistic for us to recruit the best into what should be the jewels of our academic system—our university research departments.

I said at the beginning that we must define our objectives by outputs, not inputs. No one can deny that higher education as a whole is an expensive commitment. We cannot make commitments— in terms of research, student grants and academic salaries — by writing cheques on an endless bank account. We should stick to the commitment that we gave in 1983–84 to level funding of the university system. I welcome the statement by the previous Secretary of State that he hoped to provide more money to the university system in 1987–88 and beyond. I hope that that will materialise and that the target to which my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State is working is the target of level funding against a 1983–84 base.

8.50 pm
Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)

The severe cuts in funding to the Scottish universities announced on 20 May are just the latest in a series of blows to reduce the opportunities in education at every level. The effect of that cumulative reduction in funding is to reduce further the level of educational opportunities commonly available to Scottish students. It is an extension of a series of lost opportunities which have affected schools, colleges and universities since the Conservative party came to power.

Falling school rolls in Scotland should have been seen as an opportunity to improve pupil-teacher ratios and to increase the real level of funding per head. In fact, the opportunity has been wasted and used only as another excuse for wasteful cuts in Government funding. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has pointed out the inadequacy of the Government support for Scottish schools. In 1985, not one educational authority in Scotland was able to contain educational expenditure within the relative needs assessment offered by Government. In every authority funds had to be diverted from other areas just to cover the most basic educational requirements.

The Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council's report took the view that declining numbers of school leavers in Scotland presented an opportunity for a renewed commitment to the principle of maximum access to further and higher education. In fact, the opposite has happened. An ever-increasing number of pupils are leaving Scottish schools with qualifications suitable for university entrance, yet the proportion of those 17-plus leavers gaining university places is not increasing. The number of new graduates at Scottish universities in each year since 1979 has remained roughly constant—in the 11,500 to 11,900 range — yet the proportion of well-qualified school leavers has increased from 8.6 per cent. to 10.5 per cent.

STEAC felt also that there were strong grounds to argue that the increases in the required parental contribution to the student grant and the cuts in real value of grant were having a noticeable effect in discouraging pupils from working homes from attempting to go into higher or further education. That is what has concerned the Opposition, but we did not hear from the Secretary of State about it.

There is clear evidence that the Robbins principle of providing university places for all those qualified by ability and attainment is being further eroded by the Government's attitude to student support. University intakes are increasingly reflecting a bias in favour of upper and middle-class families. The erosion of grants—the shifting of support from Government to students and their families—can 'only benefit the better-off and further inhibit the people from low income and unemployed households.

Donald McCallum, the chairman of the Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council, said that one of the most depressing things he had found during his recent review was the social difference in entry to higher education. More than 60 per cent. of children whose parents are in the professions took higher education, but that figure dropped to 5 per cent. for those whose parents were unskilled manual workers.

The National Union of Students in Scotland has attacked a Government philosophy on student support which is clearly intended to encourage people to go out and do part-time jobs to supplement what is recognised as an inadequate grant and added that studying for a degree a tier working all night in a bar is hardly the way to improve educational standards. We have been making noises and speeches for the past 20-odd years about opening up higher education to those disadvantaged groups within society. But, as Donald McCallum confirmed, the figures remain firmly the same. The STEAC report concluded that financial support was "crucial" to encouraging mature students and those from working-class backgrounds to take some form of higher education.

Mr. Willie W. Hamilton (Fife, Central)

My hon. Friend is making a justified attack on the Government's educational policies. Does he recognise that there are three education Departments in the United Kingdom — for England, Wales and Scotland — and that the only Department which has not been represented during the debate on the Government Front Bench is the Scottish Education Department? That is the greatest insult to Scottish people and Scottish Members of Parliament who are interested in the whole ambit of education.

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend is correct. Almost everyone has accepted that Scottish universities have suffered disproportionately compared with other universities in the United Kingdom. Not only the Government Front Bench but the Conservative Back Benches have been empty of Scottish Members. Not one Scottish Conservative Back Bencher has been present during the whole debate. My hon. Friend is right to draw the attention of Scottish people to that important fact.

In an increasingly complex world, both in social and technological terms, the role of the nursery, primary and secondary schools as the sources of knowledge and understanding has never been greater. The skills exhibited by the modern teacher would not be recognised by a teacher who had left the teaching profession 20 years ago and would have outstripped even the skills of a teacher of only a decade ago. Those in the schools throughout this past decade and those entering the profession of teaching have faced the greatest changes and challenges. This has happened during a decade of falling investment in education's capital resources and in day-to-day expenditure on education.

The management side of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee recognised in its working party report on teachers' workloads published in August 1985 that the teachers' workloads had "significantly increased" as they responded and adapted to the new working methods and conditions. If we are to ensure that more young people go on to higher and further education, it is essential that the Government take account of the various inquiries into teachers' pay. Only today it was reported that the chairman of the Scottish Examination Board, Dr. Macintosh, said, in introducing the board's submission to the main inquiry on teachers' pay and conditions, that the key message was that while teachers' duties on exams needed to be specified 'this by itself will not be sufficient: we also need the goodwill only a professional salary will generate and release.' The Labour Party is firmly of the view that the greatest asset to the education service in the "professional" approach of teachers. It is that professional approach which developed the substantial role of pastoral care for which the Scottish education system was properly noted. Similarly, the extra-curricular activities of teachers were born of that same "professional" approach. The will and the wish are clearly identified in the teaching profession to re-establish that flexible approach to extra-curricular activities which previously enriched the school experience. That is why the Government must ensure that, whatever the recommendations of the main inquiry on teachers' professional standards and financial rewards, they must provide the finance to ensure that they do not seriously affect the responsibility of the various regional authorities for other aspects of education.

During my Adjournment debate on Wednesday 18 June, the Under-Secretary of State, said that I did not refer to some of the areas in Dundee university. The following morning I received a letter from Professor Spear saying that the Dundee group, which is a leading British and European group on the subject of amorphous semiconductors, is presently underpaid because of the decision of the University Grants Committee. In spite of the fact that it has been given prestigious scientific awards such as the Max Born medal, the Europhysics prize, the Duddell medal and the Maxwell premium, physics at Dundee was assessed by the UGC as being below average. That further supports the point I was making and I intend to pursue it with the Under-Secretary at a later date.

We have made our policy quite clear and we have outlined it in our document "Education Throughout Life". In spite of what Tory Members may say, the people of Britain have more confidence in that document and it is that document which will do much more for higher education in this country than anything said from the Government Dispatch Box tonight.

8.59 pm
Mr. Mark Wolfson (Sevenoaks)

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on his robust, encouraging and factual speech.

I want to spend a few minutes dealing with the content of higher educaton as well as expenditure. Value for money is directly relevant to my point. I want to highlight the importance of educating people at any age and stage to be as capable as possible of utilising all their knowledge, skills and abilities in work and leisure.

I shall describe what I understand to be education for capability, which is presently being promoted under the auspices of the Royal Society of Arts. That concept is already well developed in schools, and it is now appropriate to encourage similar developments in higher education. In Britain, there is an imbalance in the process described by the two words "education" and "training". The idea of the educated person is still often that of a scholarly individual who has not necessarily been educated or trained to exercise useful skills; who may be able to understand but not necessarily to act.

There have already been references in the debate to the problem of Britain often being able to develop new ideas in research and development but not being able effectively to put those ideas into productive operation. Young people in higher education increasingly specialise, and often in ways which mean that they are taught to practise only the skills of scholarship and science. They acquire knowledge of particular subjects, but they may not be equipped to use, that knowledge in ways that are relevant to the world outside the education system. An example of that is language teaching, which has recently been given a high priority by education Ministers. It has been lamentably ineffective in providing students with the ability to converse and communicate in a foreign language, even at the end of O and A-level courses.

Higher education entry requirements through the examination boards still place too much emphasis on teaching grammar and literature in language curricula at the expense of oral skills. As a result, British students, who spend as many hours learning a foreign language as their counterparts in Europe, complete their courses still inarticulate, although probably well versed in the literature and history of that language and its culture. Surely it is of far higher priority to produce students first with oral skills and later with those other skills in foreign languages. Education for capability would give oral ability that first priority.

What is the fastest way to change the emphasis in language teaching? It is for university departments to require a far higher level of fluency in language than at present as a fundamental entry requirement. If that change were made—for example, if 60 per cent. of marks were given for oral skills — curricula and teaching methods would rapidly follow. They would have to. In that example I hope that I have made it clear that education for capability means the provision of knowledge and skills relevant to and useful in the outside world.

I have two other examples from engineering and medicine.

At Heriot-Watt university, the civil engineering dept has developed a radical new approach to its own teaching process—an approach designed to take greater account of' the students' needs as assessed by themselves — to help the students to know better how to learn and to establish methods by which they can assess their own progress. The details of how that is done are not for the debate. Suffice to say, the development is already proving successful.

In medicine, too, the capability required after full-time university education in some medical schools is now being more fully researched and analysed, and lessons are being drawn for changes in the structure of the curriculum.

Finally, at the North-East London polytechnic, a degree by independent study has been established, with considerable success. It allows students to achieve a degree based on the acquiring of knowledge and skills that they themselves have identified as necessary to them in 'their work and social setting.

My point is that effective higher and further education is crucial to the economic health and well-being of this country. That is a point on which the whole House is agreed. In bringing to the attention of the House those brief examples of initiatives taken within the concept of education for capability in higher education, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench will give them and other similar initiatives a fair wind and consider how, through the direct funding within their own control, as well as through the University Grants Committee itself, such pilot schemes may be spread elsewhere. Indeed, the UGC may need to be restructured to become more user-friendly—as I would describe it—from the point of view of the user after rather than during education.

If student loans become part of the financial structure supporting higher and further education, they would have a direct effect by encouraging students to be more selective in their choice of both their university and course paying particular attention to how effective a chosen course would be in providing a capability in the world after education as well as providing knowledge that is valued for itself.

9.7 pm

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

I denounce what the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson) has just said about student loans. Nothing worse could happen to students than that they should be subject to bank managers' whims, that they should have to do without food, and that they should have to have poor hooks and live in lousy accommodation to try to make ends meet. I hope that one of the first things that the next Labour Government do is establish a proper rate of student grant and work towards abolishing the parental contribution. That contribution is evil in the way in which it affects students. It is rotten, particularly in the treatment of women students, because regrettably many parents are not prepared to give women students the proper support that they should get in university, if they have to make a contribution from their income.

The Secretary of State welcomed the debate as a splendid advertisement for the Government's policies. I want to look at the Government's policies, particularly as they affect Humberside and Hull. I want to examine the two enormous blows that we have suffered in the past month of May, in our university institution and college of higher education.

I do not say that in the recent rounds Hull has been treated that much worse than most universities. They have all been treated lousily. Events since 1981 show the bad picture of what has happened under a Conservative Government to Hull university. Hull's problems have been exacerbated by a historical basis of underfunding of about £500,000 a year. There were 20 per cent. cuts in 1981, and there has been an accumulation of additional cuts since then. After the most rigorous examination of their accounts, the university authorities are trying to raise funds from all sorts of different sources. Nevertheless they project a deficit of £500,000 at the end of this year. That deficit has caused the loss of more than 120 academic posts. In May of this year, the Government announced that there would be a 5.55 per cent. underfunding in real terms to the university. That means that the projected deficit on account to the end of 1986–87 is £1,600,000. That is a lot of money, and represents a lot of teaching jobs and places going vacant. That is a despicable thing to happen to the university.

However, the Department has failed to take on board the fact that that level of underfunding will have a serious effect on the local economy and the region as a whole. A study carried out in 1981 by the Leeds school of economics stated that Yorkshire and Humberside have to depend on higher education activity to maintain economic activity in their regions.

Hull university, with its 2,000 staff, academic and others, is the biggest employer in north Humberside, apart from British Aerospace. Cuts in the university funding effect the whole region. The university has an important role to play as an institution in a depressed area. I would like to give an example of how depressed the area is. B and Q advertised for 53 jobs in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall). The Hull Daily Mail reported that there were more than 800 applications for those jobs. That illustrates the degree of unemployment in the area. Such a high level of applications for jobs, which would not have been regarded as terribly important or desirable 10 years ago, is indicative of the importance of public funding in the area.

Some 75 per cent. of university expenditure is allocated to salaries and students are expected to spend £2,000 per annum in an area. It is clear that universities bring fresh resources into the areas. These resources are not being provided in any other way and these resources mean jobs.

The Leeds school calculated that for every academic post lost, another five jobs are lost in the local economy. We are not talking about ivory towers or about preserving jobs in a separate and distinct world separate from ordinary people. We are concerned about ordinary people, the cleaners on the north Hull estate, technicians, clerks, and secretaries. All manner of jobs are being lost as a result of the Government's cuts. In the face of all that, the Secretary of State wanted to talk about advertisements.

The vice-chancellor of Hull university told me that, as a result of the 120 academic posts lost between 1981–84, together with the concurrent cut in student numbers of some 17 per cent., there was probably a net loss in the local community of 1,000 jobs. Many of those jobs were lost in my constituency.

An examination of the estimate made by the NUT of the effects of the clawback shows that if another 84 jobs are lost at the university as a result of the projected deficit of £1,600,000, that will mean another 420 jobs lost in the local community. The AUT calculates that some £2 million of fresh resources are being lost to the local communities. That is a direct cut in our standard of living.

In the face of such cuts, the university is asked to develop in other ways. It has tried to do that and has been successful in high technology of one sort or another, and I pay tribute to it for that. However, there have been cuts in courses. Highly popular joint degree courses have been lost. An employer's survey of universities showed that Hull university was the tenth university from which employers wanted to take students for jobs. Yet that university's resources are to be cut.

At a more mundane level, the university has to worry about problems of routine maintenance and check to see how tatty its buildings are becoming. At one time, those buildings were a pride to society which kept them going. The Government's policy is also badly affecting staff morale.

Yesterday I took a delegation to the Secretary of State to discuss the effects of cuts in the public sector, and especially the possible loss of initial primary teacher training on Humberside. On the basis of the Leeds school model, we may lose about 400 local jobs as well as nearly 500 teacher training places.

The Government are taking away the opportunities of our local students, and, by gosh, we do not have enough local students going on to higher and further education in the north. By their cuts the Government show that they do not think that we are worth it. That is why I asked the former Secretary of State what we had done to deserve constant cuts over the decade that the Government have been power. The cuts in educational opportunities for people in my area have been savage. We have witnessed intellectual, academic and economic vandalism by the Government.

I promised to speak for only 10 minutes if I was lucky enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. I have taken nine minutes.

9.16 pm
Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

It is a great pleasure for me to follow the hon. Member for Kingstonupon-Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), first, because of my respect for him, secondly, because my wife was born in his constituency, and, thirdly, because my favourite and our greatest librarian, my friend Philip Larkin, was the hon. Gentleman's constituent. I do not disagree wholly with the strength and fervour with which the hon. Gentleman put his case.

I warmly welcome the important steps taken by the new Secretary of State and his Parliamentary Under-Secretary to reverse certain deeply unfortunate trends in higher education that compelled me to resign from my position in December.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer's new proposals on charities, the revised student grant review, the withdrawal of certain proposals on benefits for students and the 4 per cent. increase in the grant mark a crucial turning point, though I should tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that we still have some way to go.

I do not wish anything that I say to be critical of the previous Secretary of State—

Mr. William W. Hamilton

Why not?

Mr. Rhodes James

I have always had a high regard for my right hon. Friend the previous Secretary of State. The fact that our perceptions differed has not affected our personal friendship or that regard.

As I have emphasised to the House previously, when one looks back at what has gone wrong—and one has to look back over quite a period—one sees that the excessive euphoria of the 1960s was followed by excessive disillusionment. It is now time for new thinking. It is not just a question of new resources. Tragically, most of the assumptions under which Robbins operated have proved to be false.

I ask Ministers and others involved in the review to ask themselves, "What is higher education for? What is a university for? What is a polytechnic for?" My answer is that a university is a place where the love of learning for its own sake is honoured. The subject being studied does not affect that view. People who study engineering do not always become engineers; people who study history do not all become historians. The idea that if people are put into a specialty at the beginning they will emerge with that specialty is false. One needs flexibility and the burning faith of Lionel Robbins, for all his faults and for all the faults of his committee. He wanted young people to have a sniff of what higher education is all about.

I refer briefly to my right hon. Friend's remarks about academic salaries, which I most strongly welcome. They are hopelessly uncompetitive both in this country and abroad. The brain drain is a melancholy and strong reality. It is extraordinary that my 21-year-old daughter, who did not go to university, should be earning considerably more than a plasma physicist with a PhD at Cambridge university. With competition from the United States, Australia and West Germany, the position becomes unbearable. A Government who are supposed to be interested in market forces should bear this point very much in mind.

We shall await the results of the review of student loans. However, there is a substantial difference between first and second degrees. I am not opposed to a mixture of grants and loans, but very different considerations apply to the first and to the second degree.

I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) about the polytechnics. It is quite extraordinary that the Cambridge college of arts and technology proposes to abolish the study of geography. This is not just a constituency point. When Prince Albert was vice-chancellor of Cambridge university, he introduced not only the natural sciences tripos but the humanities tripos. The two go together. Last year's Green Paper got it wrong. This time I ask my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the House to get it right.

9.21 pm
Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

I have been told, Mr. Speaker, that I have three minutes, which is not very long. I thought that the Secretary of State was very complacent when he opened the debate. He referred to the problems faced by the polytechnics. Two polytechnics are under threat in the west Midlands. One is Coventry, where planning courses have been told to close. The other is Wolverhampton, where the engineering department has been told to close. That has been denied. We do not know where we are. Perhaps the Minister who is to reply will say exactly what the position is.

One of the highest levels of unemployment is to be found in the west Midlands. An enormous number of engineering firms have gone to the wall because of this Government's policies. When the Labour party takes office, we shall need as many engineers and technologists as we can get. In this appalling period of unemployment, technology is advancing with great difficulty. The Government remain complacent, boringly unadventurous and incapable of understanding the technological revolution that has hit industry throughout the world, if the present policies are allowed to continue, Britain will be incapable of standing up to the competition from the more industrially advanced countries.

The Secretary of State referred to Japan. I shall use just a minute to refer to a valuable lecture by Professor Jost of Manchester on technology versus unemployment. He said that Japan, with twice the population of the United Kingdom, produces 60,000 more qualified engineers than the United Kingdom, of whom about 6,000 are engineers with higher degrees. In 1984, Japan produced nearly 19,000 graduates in electrical and electronic engineering, while we produced a mere 2,400. In addition, Japan produced over 2,000 graduates with higher degrees—the equivalent of MScs and doctorates—in these disciplines, yet Japanese industry complains of a shortage of electronics and software engineers. It is time that the United Kingdom produced more scientists than Japan.

Unemployment in this country is appalling. We are short of industrial investment and we are not producing the technologists and the engineers that we shall need. After the next general election when a Labour Government take office they will carry out massive investment in the deprived areas of this country, such as the west Midlands and Hull. We shall ensure that jobs are provided and that the standard of living of our people is raised.

9.24 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

There are more students in higher education today than ever before and that is to the credit of a Conservative Government and their policies. We must given credit to the academics on the Robbins committee whose foresight for the development of our higher education system has ensured that many of us in the House are here because of Robbins. Many hon. Members are Robbins' children.

The Green Paper was mentioned. I hope that the Secretary of State will bear in mind some of the criticisms that have been levelled at the drop in the number of students by 1995–96 to 450,000. Many of us feel that the numbers are underestimated because we look at the number of children from middle class families who consistently seek higher education and see little or no change in that demand. If that demand prevails, there will continue to be a shortfall. I urge Education Ministers to look carefully at the statistics comparing Britain to our economic competitors. If they do that, they will see that the number of people entering higher education is unfortunately below the level of some of our competitors. We must work toward increasing that number.

The Government should work to the Green Paper. In some respects it has a great role to play, but it must be kept constantly under review and we must work on a day-to-day basis, because in some of its assumptions the Green Paper may prove to be wrong. I hope that the Minister will continue the drive that was started by his predecessor about increasing resources for research. I speak on behalf of the academics of Liverpool university because I am pleased to say that I liaise between them and this House. They would like to see an increase in the facilities and the amount of money available.

Many hon. Members have spoken better than I could about the importance of research in universities in relation to our industrial output. Can we have an increase in the number of teachers of mathematics, physics and statistics? The only way to bring about that increase is to ensure that teachers in higher institutes of learning are paid proper salaries. Those are my criticisms. The Government are on the right lines, but they ought to look at the failings and try to put them right. We should use some of the money that I hope the Secretary of State knows could be negotiated in the new future to improve the standard of higher education, because that is the seed corn of Britain for the foreseeable future.

9.28 pm
Dr. Oonagh McDonald (Thurrock)

I listened carefully to the speech by the Secretary of State. I noted his fancy footwork and the fact that he said nothing about the bids that he will put to the Chief Secretary for 1987–88 or what he expects to get. More important and significant than that, he had nothing to say about the response that he will make to the plea by the universities for £15 million reimbursement for unexpectedly high rates or about the £100 million that is desperately needed this year.

The Secretary of State's speech was far too complacent about the ability of the universities to meet the needs of our society, given the resources that are made available to them. He had nothing to say about the growing evidence of skill shortages in high technology subjects, or about the shortage of well over 1,000 physics teachers in our schools. He did not say that mathematics and science in our schools are all too often taught by teachers who have no proper qualifications in those subjects.

The right hon. Gentleman was far too complacent about the impact of the lack of resources on the universities' ability to teach and continue their research. The lack of resources might lead to cuts in books and periodicals, for example. There is growing and serious evidence of attacks on funds for such purposes and for equipment. These are the tools of the trade. University teachers cannot work properly without adequate books and periodicals for them and their students, and it is nonsense to suppose that they can.

I should like to put in a special plea for Birkbeck college and to enter a personal note. Although I was a postgraduate student at Kings college in London, I attended postgraduate seminars at Birkbeck college when I was doing my masters degree while a full-time school teacher and again while I was researching full time for my PhD. It is one of the most valuable and important institutions in the country. It sets a pattern which, when I was a university teacher, I felt more universities should follow. It provides part-time education leading to first and higher degrees.

It is disgraceful that that institution now faces the possibility of a £2 million cut in grant. It is disingenuous of the Secretary of State to pretend that that is a decision for the University Grants Committee and that it has nothing whetever to do with the squeeze that his decisions and those of his predecessor have put on the university of' London.

The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor used to come to the Dispatch Box, look agonised and cut funds to universities. The present Secretary of State comes to the Dispatch Box, smiles and still cuts funds to universities. It reminds me all too clearly of Hamlet's words: one may smile, and smile, and be a villain".

9.31 pm
Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside)

The equipment and the fabric of our universities needs urgent repair or replacement and acedemic staff morale is low and declining. The system is in crisis yet employers are demanding more graduates and more research. So says the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.

My hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Thorne) spoke passionately for the Open university, for which he has been a tutor. He has been a champion of continuing education and what he has said must be listened to and acted upon. My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) emphasised the skills shortages and pleaded urgently, briefly but eloquently for Birkbeck. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) put her speech in the context of the appalling unemployment which is to be found in and around her constituency. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) described in detail the problems of the Scottish universities and called, effectively, I thought, for more working-class entrants to the university system.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) denounced student loans and depicted with his usual fervour a serious situation in the university of Hull. It is clear that the Hull deficit is mountainous. The Government should assist in that area, as in others.

I listened to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) who, as a member of the court of Brunel university, knows that it has real problems of finance which stem from the policies of the Government that he supports.

Likewise, I heard the sharp speech made by the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell). He made a telling statement regarding extraordinary vandalism. He spoke against a closure of a college of art and design. I heard the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) speak as a Robbins child and for Liverpool. He made substantial criticisms. I also heard a very cogent speech from the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James), who said that the brain drain was a reality.

The Secretary of State made some welcome remarks. I refer, for example, to the need for the UGC to be more open about its assessment procedure, and to the increase in the number of women students entering the public sector of education. But ultimately he stood by the cuts. He told us nothing about the 1987–88 funding plans and he gave no hope to universities and institutions of higher education despite the predicament in which they have been placed by the Government and the previous Secretary of State.

I turn briefly to the difficulties experienced in Wales. The university has been hard hit by constant underfunding on the part of the Government. Between 1980–81 and 1986–87 the individual colleges of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea, as well as the institute of science and technology, have suffered major cuts in real terms. At the last general election the Prime Minister promised to hold funding steady in real terms after 1984–85. She did not keep that promise. It is in that context that we must judge the recently announced recurrent grant for the Welsh colleges.

The figures for this year in Wales are portrayed as minimal. That is misleading. They are very serious indeed. The UGC has calculated that the true rate of inflation in universities is about 5.25 per cent. It is with sadness that I say that the universities of Bangor and Swansea have suffered the severest blows. The average cut in Wales is even greater than the average for Scotland and is much higher than that for England. There appears to be a bias towards the comfortable south, and against Scotland, Wales and parts of the north of England. University staff in Wales, as well as the general public, are bitter about that, because Wales has had a raw deal.

The UGC did not publish its research criteria, but well-informed leaks suggest that an important factor in the assessment of research was the amount of money received from research councils and charitable bodies. The departments in the Welsh colleges are generally small, and the emphasis on quantity inevitably militates against the university of Wales. The university lecturers whom I have met say that research council funding seems to be biased towards the south-east of England.

The other major factor in the assessment is the unit cost. It was a deliberate policy of the university to evolve in a number of separate colleges, in order to provide higher education throughout Wales. That is an essential feature of our university. The university is large in terms of numbers, but the constituent colleges are small. They provide close-knit academic and cultural communities. The geographical spread of the university of Wales is a response, in part, to the very difficult geographic factors in Wales. We do not believe that they have been sufficiently taken into account by the UGC. We believe that the Government have neglected to consider the very special factors applying to the colleges of the university.

One specific factor that seems not to have been fully considered is the university's commitment to the Welsh language and culture. Given the extent of the cuts, the provision must have been minimal. I do not think that the Government realise the severity of the cuts imposed, or the consequences in Wales at a time of high unemployment.

The university is a major employer, and is arguably the largest employer in Wales after local government and the Health Service. Some 6,000 people are on the payroll, and there are probably 30,000 other dependent jobs. In Aberystwyth, 30 per cent. of the town depends on the university for its livelihood. In Bangor, 23 per cent. do so. In 1985–86, Swansea university paid over £ 1 million in rates. These universities create wealth, but the Government are dragging them down, and our communities will suffer.

The universities are striking out promisingly to create a new economy for Wales, because we have a good record of collaboration with industry. Aberystwyth has opened a science park in collaboration with Mid-Wales Development. The university college of Bangor has formed a company whose principal function is the production of high technology products. The university of Cardiff has set up an industry liaison unit and has recently created 60 new real jobs. Lampeter co-ordinates closely on housing, public transport and water quality with Mid-Wales Development.

The medical school is pre-eminent in renal medicine and next month at Swansea, the innovation centre, which is already active in microprocessing, will be opened In the institute of science and technology, the staff liaise with a series of suitable entrepreneurs. It is folly for the Government to subject these university colleges to annual cuts, to threaten the creation of jobs, to slow down high-tech development, stifle initiative and bring about redundancies. These colleges deserve praise, not harassment. They need encouragement and their record is worthy of that. They have been subject to severe cuts. I have to put into context those cuts and the difficult future that the universities face.

The Government have already cut regional aid and withdrawn hundreds of millions of pounds of rate support grant. The HMI has published a disturbing report on unsatisfactory conditions in primary and secondary schools. Our Health Service is desperately underfunded. Our unemployment has increased since 1979 by some 130 per cent., and we have lost 110,000 manufacturing jobs since the Government took office. Our universities are trying to create a new economy, trying to prepare the economy for the next century against a background of harrowing unemployment, but the Government still cut funding for our universities, which deserve a special consideration that they have not had.

In Wales, the universities represent hope to our people and a better future. The people of Wales see the Government working against that future and attacking it. I urge Ministers, even at this late stage, to think about the consequences of what they are proposing in the Principality. We want the Government to halt the cuts, and introduce level funding. The damage to the system must be repaired, and the quality of research must be enhanced. Extra resources should be channelled into the system for improved access to higher education and for part-time and continued education.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Preston said, millions of people are waiting for their opportunity, and that opportunity goes if the Government continue with cuts. I hope that the Under-Secretary will say that small institutions deserve special consideration because of the cuts. I want him to ensure that the commitment to the Welsh language and culture is taken fully into account by the UGC. The feeling is abroad in Wales that the Secretary of State has not sufficiently defended the interests of Welsh universities in the face of the cuts.

In its early years, the university of Wales was founded upon the pennies of the Welsh poor. Before 1883, 100,000 people — quarrymen, steel workers, coal miners, farm labourers, shepherds, foresters and housewives — gave less than half-a-crown each to help establish the university of Wales. When the university of Bangor was opened, 3,000 quarrymen marched in lines of four to celebrate the opening of their university. The great W. E. Gladstone said that the Welsh people were "deeply enamoured of knowledge". That was certainly true in the last century.

The people of Wales fought hard to create a university in Wales. Their descendants will fight hard to protect it from this Government's wanton destruction.

9.45 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

We have had an interesting debate and some interesting comments and suggestions have been made. If I am unable to answer all of them, I am sure that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, who has special responsibility for higher education, will have noted them and may contact hon. Members.

I must reiterate some of the main points made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State at the beginning of the debate because it is clear that some Opposition Members appear not to have heard them.

First, there are record numbers of students in higher education and participation rates for both young and mature entrants are at an all time high. I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) that new projections for future student numbers will be published in the next few months, and that we shall be aiming at a further increase in the proportion of young people entering higher education.

Secondly, there has been a significant shift in the balance of higher education towards science and technology. Our policies should ensure that that continues so that industry's needs for qualified manpower can be more fully met; but we have no intention of underrating the importance of rigorously taught arts and humanities courses.

Thirdly, my right hon. Friend reiterated the Government's willingness to increase financial provision for universities if they demonstrate a commitment to the pursuit of better management, improved standards of teaching, selectivity in research funding and the rationalisation of small departments.

Fourthly, we applaud the major contribution now being made by the public sector to higher education. From my experience in the Principality, I know just how vital that is.

Fifthly, we acknowledge the outstanding issues on pay. From the Government's view, progress depends crucially on the introduction of new pay structures which are flexible and responsive to current and prospective needs.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) mentioned the university of Wales and its colleges. I thought that he would. They have not come out of the University Grants Committee exercise as well as they had hoped. The same might be said of many of the universities mentioned in the debate. The criteria applied by the UGC to the university of Wales were no different from those applied to universities and colleges elsewhere. I am glad that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) acknowledged that. The same criteria were applied to Scotland.

The reduction in the allocation for Wales should not be exaggerated. The safety net arrangements have ensured that no college's allocation is more than 0.5 per cent. lower than it was this year. Some of the university's colleges will receive more grant than this year — for example, the institute of science and technicology, St. David's, Lampeter, the college of medicine and the university registry. We did not hear about those from the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside. There is no justification for the eschatological view that he expressed.

The hon. Gentleman pressed the case of funds for the Welsh language. The UGC has made a special allocation for that, recognising the special needs of the university in that respect. Unlike the hon. Gentleman, I do not think that the grant allocations for next year are a threat to the future of the university's colleges. On the contrary, they represent a signal for the university and its constituent colleges that urgent action is needed to find ways to rationalise the present pattern of provision.

The new approach should be seen as an incentive to build on existing strengths and to improve the management of the resources available to the colleges. If that is done, I do not doubt that the colleges will be in a stronger position to attract higher levels of funding from the UGC in future—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside is interested in having answers to his questions, he should listen. The UGC and I welcome the decision of the university of Wales to set up a rationalisation committee. I very much hope that the constituent colleges will participate actively in its work.

The hon. Gentleman knows only too well that direct responsibility for the university lies with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales to have discussions with the university or its colleges about the grant allocations. However, that does not imply a lack of concern. On the contrary, we both take a close interest in the affairs of the university—

Mr. Hind


Mr. Roberts

We keep in close touch with the UGC to ensure that Welsh needs are fully taken into account—

Mr. Hind

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Roberts

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I met the chairman of the UGC recently to discuss next year's allocation—

Mr. Hind

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Roberts

We have taken every opportunity to emphasise the importance—

Mr. Hind


Mr. Speaker

Order. If the Minister does not wish to give way, the hon. Gentleman must not persist. This has been a good-natured debate and hon. Members have been given a fair hearing.

Mr. Roberts

We have taken every opportunity to emphasise the importance that we attach to the role of the university in assisting industry in Wales and in attracting new high technology firms to the Principality. The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside may rest assured that we will continue to take a close interest in the university's programme and support the university in any way that we can.

The Opposition have entirely overlooked the spectacular growth in public sector higher education in Wales. Between 1979 and 1984, the number of students grew by 46.3 per cent.

Mr. Barry Jones


Mr. Roberts

There has been a massive increase since 1979—

Mr. Barry Jones


Mr. Speaker

Order. One hon. Member at a time, please.

Mr. Roberts

I know that Opposition Members do not like to hear these figures. Between 1979–80 and 1984–85, expenditure by local authorities on advanced and further education in Wales increased by 25 per cent. in real terms while student numbers increased by 46 per cent. There has been a tremendous shift towards science and technology, which we all welcome. Engineering and technology enrolments have increased by 49 per cent. over the same period. Science enrolments have increased by 67 per cent. over the same period.

Mr. Barry Jones


Mr. Roberts

No, I shall not give way. I must answer the questions that have been raised during the debate. A number of issues have been raised and I am seeking to respond to them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) made a series of valuable suggestions about the involvement of industry and small businesses on campuses. He referred also to academic staff tenure. There can be no doubt that tenure in the form in which it is enjoyed by many academics is a major barrier to management flexibility and efficiency in the university system. The Government intend to go ahead, as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows, with legislation to limit the nature of the tenure which can be granted in future.

A number of hon. Members have referred to the Open university, including the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Thorne). The OU is a large enterprise already, with over 60,000 undergraduates and a further 55,000 students using its continuing education PICKUP type courses and materials. It has more students now than ever before. Its achievements are especially impressive in subjects that are regarded by many as difficult to teach, such as mathematics, science and technology. It responded last year to the Government's programme for more high technology students with proposals that earned it substantial extra funding. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State believes that the OU has not reached its full potential to expand provision in these areas.

The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice)—

Mr. Barry Jones


Mr. Roberts

—has a certain hectoring—

Mr. Barry Jones

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Roberts

No. I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman.

I must repeat the undoubted fact that the Government's record on higher education is good. We are grateful to the Opposition for giving us the opportunity to advertise this. Indeed, we are doubly grateful because their record of falling student numbers and participation rates between 1975 and 1979 provides a telling contrast with the substantial increases—

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not customary for a Minister who is replying to a debate to allow an Opposition spokesman to intervene to ask a question? The Minister knows that my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) wishes to ask him some questions about Bangor university. The Minister has no answers to the questions that my hon. Friend is likely to put to him, and that is why he will not allow him to intervene.

Mr. Speaker

The more that points of order are raised, the less chance the Minister will have of responding to the debate.

Mr. Roberts

The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) has not been present, for the debate.

The country is benefiting already from the increased output of graduates, and especially from the 30 per cent. increase in science and technology places. However, we are not complacent. The switch towards science needs to go a little further yet. Above all, we need continuing increases in participation rates for both 18 to 19-year-olds and mature entrants to higher education. The quantity and quality of research in our higher education institutions, especially our universities, has long been recognised as a national asset. Since 1979 research councils' funding has been increased by 8 per cent. in real terms as my right hon. Friend said earlier.

Our record shows the effective use of resources and a massive increase in opportunities. That is our record in higher education. We are proud of it. Our policies will continue to build on those successes well into the 1990s. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject the Opposition's motion and to support the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Ray Powell

The Minister, in replying to the debate, would not allow—

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

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

The House divided: Ayes 196, Noes 267.

Division No. 234] [10 pm
Abse, Leo Bell, Stuart
Alton, David Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Ashdown, Paddy Bermingham, Gerald
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Bidwell, Sydney
Ashton, Joe Blair, Anthony
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Boyes, Roland
Barnett, Guy Bray, Dr Jeremy
Barron, Kevin Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Beith, A. J. Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Kirkwood, Archy
Bruce, Malcolm Leadbitter, Ted
Buchan, Norman Leighton, Ronald
Caborn, Richard Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Litherland, Robert
Campbell, Ian Livsey, Richard
Campbell-Savours, Dale Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Carter-Jones, Lewis Loyden, Edward
Cartwright, John McCartney, Hugh
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Clarke, Thomas McGuire, Michael
Clay, Robert McKelvey, William
Clelland, David Gordon MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McNamara, Kevin
Cohen, Harry McTaggart, Robert
Conlan, Bernard McWilliam, John
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Madden, Max
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Marek, Dr John
Corbett, Robin Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Corbyn, Jeremy Martin, Michael
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Craigen, J. M. Maxton, John
Crowther, Stan Maynard, Miss Joan
Cunliffe, Lawrence Meacher, Michael
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Meadowcroft, Michael
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Michie, William
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Mikardo, Ian
Deakins, Eric Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dewar, Donald Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Dixon, Donald Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dormand, Jack Nellist, David
Douglas, Dick Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Dubs, Alfred O'Brien, William
Duffy, A. E. P. O'Neill, Martin
Eadie, Alex Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Eastham, Ken Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE) Park, George
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Parry, Robert
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Patchett, Terry
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Pavitt, Laurie
Fisher, Mark Penhaligon, David
Flannery, Martin Pike, Peter
Forrester, John Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Foster, Derek Prescott, John
Foulkes, George Radice, Giles
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Randall, Stuart
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Raynsford, Nick
Freud, Clement Redmond, Martin
Garrett, W. E. Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
George, Bruce Richardson, Ms Jo
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Godman, Dr Norman Robertson, George
Gould, Bryan Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Gourlay, Harry Rogers, Allan
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Hancock, Michael Rowlands, Ted
Hardy, Peter Ryman, John
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Sedgemore, Brian
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Sheerman, Barry
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Heffer, Eric S. Shields, Mrs Elizabeth
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Home Robertson, John Short, Mrs B.(W'hampfn NE)
Howells, Geraint Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Hoyle, Douglas Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Snape, Peter
Hume, John Soley, Clive
Janner, Hon Greville Spearing, Nigel
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Steel, Rt Hon David
John, Brynmor Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Johnston, Sir Russell Stott, Roger
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Strang, Gavin
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Straw, Jack
Kennedy, Charles Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Thorne, Stan (Preston) Winnick, David
Torney, Tom Woodall, Alec
Wallace, James Wrigglesworth, Ian
Wareing, Robert Young, David (Bolton SE)
Welsh, Michael
White, James Tellers for the Ayes:
Wigley, Dafydd Mr. Derek Fatchett and
Williams, Rt Hon A. Mr. Allen Adams.
Wilson, Gordon
Adley, Robert Dunn, Robert
Aitken, Jonathan Durant, Tony
Alexander, Richard Dykes, Hugh
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Amess, David Eggar, Tim
Ancram, Michael Emery, Sir Peter
Arnold, Tom Evennett, David
Ashby, David Eyre, Sir Reginald
Aspinwall, Jack Fairbairn, Nicholas
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Fallon, Michael
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Farr, Sir John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Favell, Anthony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Baldry, Tony Fletcher, Alexander
Batiste, Spencer Fookes, Miss Janet
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Forman, Nigel
Bellingham, Henry Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bendall, Vivian Forth, Eric
Benyon, William Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fox, Sir Marcus
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Franks, Cecil
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Freeman, Roger
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fry, Peter
Bottomley, Peter Galley, Roy
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Glyn, Dr Alan
Bright, Graham Goodhart, Sir Philip
Brinton, Tim Goodlad, Alastair
Brooke, Hon Peter Gow, Ian
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gower, Sir Raymond
Browne, John Grant, Sir Anthony
Bruinvels, Peter Greenway, Harry
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gregory, Conal
Buck, Sir Antony Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Bulmer, Esmond Ground, Patrick
Burt, Alistair Grylls, Michael
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hanley, Jeremy
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hannam, John
Carttiss, Michael Hargreaves, Kenneth
Cash, William Harvey, Robert
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Chapman, Sydney Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Chope, Christopher Hawksley, Warren
Churchill, W. S. Hayes, J.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochtord) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hayward, Robert
Clegg, Sir Walter Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cockeram, Eric Heddle, John
Colvin, Michael Henderson, Barry
Conway, Derek Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Simon Hickmet, Richard
Cope, John Hicks, Robert
Cormack, Patrick Hill, James
Corrie, John Hind, Kenneth
Couchman, James Hirst, Michael
Cranborne, Viscount Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Critchley, Julian Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Holt, Richard
Dickens, Geoffrey Hordern, Sir Peter
Dicks, Terry Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Dorrell, Stephen Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hunter, Andrew Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Jackson, Robert Mellor, David
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Merchant, Piers
Jessel, Toby Meyer, Sir Anthony
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Miscampbell, Norman
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Moate, Roger
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Monro, Sir Hector
Key, Robert Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Moore, Rt Hon John
Knowles, Michael Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Knox, David Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Lang, Ian Moynihan, Hon C.
Lawler, Geoffrey Murphy, Christopher
Lee, John (Pendle) Neale, Gerrard
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Nelson, Anthony
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Neubert, Michael
Lester, Jim Newton, Tony
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Nicholls, Patrick
Lightbown, David Norris, Steven
Lilley, Peter Onslow, Cranley
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Oppenheim, Phillip
Lord, Michael Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Lyell, Nicholas Osborn, Sir John
McCurley, Mrs Anna Ottaway, Richard
Macfarlane, Neil Page. Richard (Herts SW)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Pattie, Geoffrey
McLoughlin, Patrick Pawsey, James
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Madel, David Portillo, Michael
Major, John Powell, William (Corby)
Malins, Humfrey Powley, John
Malone, Gerald Price, Sir David
Maples, John Proctor, K. Harvey
Marland, Paul Rciffan, Keith
Marlow, Antony Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Mates, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Maude, Hon Francis Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Ridiey, Rt Hon Nicholas Thorne, Neil (llford S)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Thornton, Malcolm
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Thurnham, Peter
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Tracey, Richard
Roe, Mrs Marion Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rossi, Sir Hugh Viggers, Peter
Sackville, Hon Thomas Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walden, George
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Walker, Bill (Tside N)
Shersby, Michael Walker, Rt Hon P. (Wcester)
Silvester, Fred Watts, John
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wheeler, John
Speed, Keith Wiggin, Jerry
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wilkinson, John
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Winterton, Nicholas
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wood, Timothy
Stokes, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Tellers for the Noes:
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Mr. Tim Sainsbury and
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

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

Resolved, That this House notes the importance of higher education for the future of the country; commends the Governmen.t on the increase of 17 per cent. in full time home student numbers since 1979, on the 8 per cent. increase in the science budget for the research councils as measured against average inflation, and on the substantially increased opportunities for adult and continuing education; and applauds the Government's intention to build on these successes, particularly through further increases in participation rates for both young and mature entrants.