HC Deb 19 December 1989 vol 164 cc190-1
11. Mr. Janner

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received concerning the Government's proposal to set up a system of top-up loans for students.

Mr. Jackson

Since the publication of the White Paper on top-up loans for students we have received about 4,700 letters, including 63 petitions. Of those, about 350 have been received since publication of the Education (Student Loans) Bill.

Mr. Janner

Does the Minister not understand from the reception that his proposals have received that the system of top-up loans is universally recognised as unfair and unwarranted? Does he accept what students at Leicester polytechnic told me this morning—that combined with the removal of housing and social security benefits during vacations, many students will be left worse off than people on the dole? Should students not have the means to have the peace of mind to study?

Mr. Jackson

Top-up loans will represent a substantial addition to the resources that are available to most students and the hon. and learned Gentleman should recognise that. We had a substantial majority for the Bill on Second Reading and I am pleased to report that we are making good progress in Committee.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Does my hon. Friend not consider it wholly misleading for a students' union to write to inform hon. Members that the majority of students are against these proposals? When one looks at the table attached to that communication, one sees that only 6 per cent. are against these proposals and that 94 per cent. did not respond in the survey from Edinburgh students' union.

Mr. Jackson

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is a great deal of misrepresentation and some degree of genuine misunderstanding. As we make progress with the legislation, our proposals will he better understood and widely welcomed.