HC Deb 17 May 1988 vol 133 cc792-4
7. Mrs. Mahon

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has any plans to meet the National Union of Students to discuss the arrangements for the introduction of the community charge; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Robert Jackson)

No. My right hon. Friend is aware of the views of the National Union of Students on the community charge. Arrangements for the introduction of the community charge are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mrs. Mahon

Does the Minister accept that there are often good security reasons why women and overseas students do not want their addresses made public? What guarantee will he give as to their safety when the new system is introduced?

Mr. Jackson

This matter will, of course, have to be considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I believe that he has made it clear that it will not be necessary to publish the names of certain categories of people, including those to which the hon. Lady referred, in the published list of those who are to pay the community charge.

Mr. Cormack

How does my hon. Friend defend the imposition of the community charge for students? How will he ensure that they all pay?

Mr. Jackson

All students have a vote. They have a vote in local elections. They benefit from the services provided by local authorities. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Government are introducing their proposals. More than 60 per cent. of students already contribute to the domestic rates. We discovered from our recent survey that they contribute some £70 to £80 per head.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Does the Minister understand the position of students from Northern Ireland, whose parents will pay the full rate, while those studying in Great Britain will be liable for the community charge?

Mr. Jackson

Whether and to what extent students will be further compensated for their obligation to pay the community charge are matters being considered in the Department's review of student support. No decisions have yet been made.

Mr. Rhodes James

Will my hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State consider discussing with the Royal College of Nursing the particular position of student nurses under the new provisions?

Mr. Jackson

I repeat that the eligibility of all students, including nurses, will be considered in the context of the review.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

I am sure the House understands why the Minister wants to put the blame and responsibility on the Department of the Environment for the implementation of the poll tax for students. The reason is that it will cause many problems. Will the student have a vote at home and pay the poll tax where his college is situated, so that there is not a link for students between the vote and the poll tax?

Mr. Jackson

It is a matter of electoral law as to where students cast their vote. This is a matter for the Home Office. Students have a choice as to where they register to vote and where they vote. I shall come back to the hon. Gentleman on that point.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

Reverting to the original question, is my hon. Friend aware of the number of students registered with phoney colleges who are illegally in this country? If this system identifies those people, that will be right and proper.

Mr. Jackson

The Department has recently tabled amendments against bogus degrees in the House of Lords. We hope that this will be a way of tackling this problem.

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