HC Deb 09 July 1990 vol 176 cc99-121

". In section 20(12)(h) of the 1986 Act, at the end there shall be inserted the words "provided that no person shall be so treated solely on the ground that he is a full-time student.""

9 pm

Mr. Scott

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 8 and 9 and the Government motions to disagree. The three amemdments involve privilege.

Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have said that these amendments involve privilege. Can you explain that?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is because they have financial implications. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, perhaps more than any other hon. Member, knows as well as I do what we mean by privilege in a Lords amendment.

Mr. Rhodes James

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If they involve privilege, why have they been selected?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is for the House to judge whether to allow their Lordships' amendments to prevail.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North West)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What you have said is valid. However, when we had exactly the same proposals from the Lords on the Education (Student Loans) Bill, they were ruled out of order by Mr. Speaker and were not even allowed to come before the House. Now those proposals, which we thought were in order because they are in the Social Security Bill rather than the Education (Student Loans) Bill, are suddenly victims of privilege. What is the point of the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I would not dream, retrospectively or in any other way, of commenting on the ruling by Mr. Speaker. I am sure that his ruling was right. The hon. Members for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) and for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) know that a battle was fought 300 years ago about the rights and privileges of the House.

Mr. Scott

After that short digression, I remind the House that I am asking it to disagree with the Lords in these amendments. I do not think that anybody will be surprised by that advice, because, if these amendments were not overturned, they would strike at the core of our policy on social security benefits for students, and they are intended to deal it a lethal blow. I understand that some hon. Members disagree with the underlying policy. Nevertheless, it has been clear Government policy to change the system.

In practice, the amendments would prevent the Government from withdrawing students' entitlement to housing benefit from the next academic year. That means that students would not only have access to grant, a top-up loan, access funds and any parental assistance, but continue to have access to housing benefit. The Government believe that it would be both undesirable and unnecessary for students to fall back on the benefit system under the new funding arrangements coming into force in September.

Mr. Frank Field

The Minister recites to the House the sources of income for which students might be eligible, and then says that the Government wish to put a block on them. Surely the test is whether their income is above the level of eligibility for housing benefit. By trying to reject the Lords amendment, the Government are attempting to create a special category of people who, irrespective of their level of income, will not be eligible for housing benefit.

Mr. Scott

We are making it clear that, unless students are members of vulnerable groups, responsibility for their maintenance will be a matter for the education authorities and the education system, not the social security system. I believe that, as a whole, the House is perfectly well aware that there has been a long-standing commitment to remove the majority of full-time students from that system.

It would not benefit the House for me to rehearse again all the arguments that led the Government to that decision; suffice it to say that the educational maintenance system has been designed for that purpose, and that from the next academic year the system of student support is being enhanced to provide students with an income for the full year, including the long vacation. Overall, it will provide an additional 25 per cent. in total student support. In that context, we propose to withdraw students' entitlement to housing benefit. It makes no sense to duplicate the financial support arrangements for students; to do so would not be a sensible use of resources, and it would not liberate local authorities from the disproportionate administrative burden of claims that so often result in either no benefit or only small amounts being paid.

Mr. Field

Surely the Minister accepts that, if students' income was over the housing benefit level, they would be ineligible in the first place. The Government are only introducing the regulations to penalise those who would be eligible for housing benefit if they were not students. Their income from all the sources from which the Minister has told the House that they may gain help does not take them above the eligibility level for housing benefit.

Mr. Scott

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman was preparing that intervention rather than listening to my remarks. Quite often, because total income will be either above that level—in which case they will receive nothing—or just below it—in which case they may receive a tiny amount—we believe that it is better to separate the whole thing, and relieve local authorities of the administrative burden.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

Can the Minister tell the House how many local authorities have complained about the administrative burden of providing benefit in those circumstances?

Mr. Scott

If the hon. Gentleman has any knowledge of the administration of housing benefit, he will know that it is complicated, and that not all local authorities perform to a high standard in that regard. As he knows, they are under a duty to pay it within 14 days of a claim being made. That is not always met by local authorities, especially where students are involved, and it can take a considerable time before benefit is paid. The measure would contribute in no small part to the administrative burden on local authorities.

Our statistics show that fewer than one fifth of students claim housing benefit during term time. Other survey data reveal that only a small proportion of those claim it during the summer vacation, and that the average benefit received across all benefits is £315 a year among students who do claim. That amount is well below the amount of student loan available.

Dr. Hampson

If the amount is so small, why does the Minister not accept the proposal from the vice-chancellors and from some hon. Members that the withdrawal should be phased out? I gather that the loss is about £560; the loan is £420. There will be hardship. How much of the take-up that he has announced is by postgraduates who have family and debt commitments? We should encourage them, not discourage them.

Mr. Scott

I shall return to that point about the position of graduates when I wind up. I should like first to make the basic case. I make no apology for this. I know that my hon. Friend feels strongly about the matter, and he has argued about it in a number of forums since the Government announced their plans. There is no question of the Government resiling from their commitment to separate students, unless they are in vulnerable groups, from the social security system and to make them dependent on the educational maintenance system.

The average amount of benefit received is £315 a year, among those students who claim. This amount is well below the amount of student loan available. The access funds have been set up, and increased, to assist students with additional needs. Furthermore, those students who have special financial needs, because of disability or lone parenthood for example, will continue to be eligible for housing benefit and income support.

I accept that the access funds will play a crucial role under the new arrangements, and our policy is predicated on provisions being introduced in the education system to meet the challenge. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has undertaken to monitor the operation of the access funds. I hope that hon. Members will accept the Government's assurances on this issue and support our policy, which—

Mr. Andrew Smith (Oxford, East)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Scott

I am in the middle of a sentence. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be courteous enough to allow me to complete it.

I hope that hon. Members will accept the Government's assurances on this issue and support our policy, which has been accepted by a majority on the Social Security Advisory Committee, that housing benefit should no longer be available to students.

Mr. Smith

Does the Minister accept the unanimous judgment of the Social Security Advisory Committee that some students could be left destitute as a result of this scheme? Why does he not cover that possibility, as the committee unanimously recommended, by providing for a safety net below which no student should be allowed to fall? If he does not accept that, is he not admitting the possibility that some poor students will be left destitute?

Mr. Scott

The committee said that, during the long vacation, some students might be particularly hard hit, and that they should have recourse to a safety net. There is already a safety net—the power for local education authorities to pay hardship payments. That is a better way, and more educationally attuned to the needs of the student rather than to the generality of the population, than turning to the social security system, which is designed for an entirely different purpose.

Lords amendment No. 9 would impose a provision in the housing benefit scheme that already exists in practice. It would require local or regional rent levels to be taken into account in the calculation of maximum housing benefit. The House will be aware that housing benefit is calculated to take account of three key factors. The first is that the level of a claimant's needs should be taken into account in the assessment—the applicable amount—the second is the amount of the claimant's resources, and the third is the amount of rent that the claimant has to pay, less any ineligible costs.

Because the calculation is based on the individual claimant's rent liability, by definition it must reflect variations in local and regional housing costs. This arrangement does not differ for students now, and will not differ for those students who retain entitlement to housing benefit from September. In other words, the amendment is unnecessary, as it is already reflected in the system. I cannot advise the House to accept it.

9.15 pm
Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

The Opposition strongly repudiate the Government's attempt, at this late stage in the Bill's proceedings, to remove students from housing benefit entitlement. The Minister's talk of administrative difficulties for local authorities and the other excuses that he gave are unacceptable. It is particularly obnoxious that this is being done when the proposal was not contained in the original Bill, has not been debated and is being inserted even before the Government's student loans scheme is in place. It has been roundly condemned by senior independent academic opinion, including the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. It was the subject of not one, but three, Government defeats in the Lords.

The Government's proposals are ill-founded both in concept and in practical application. In concept, the justification given regularly by the Minister for disentitling students from social security benefits is that they have voluntarily withdrawn from the labour market. The vice-chancellors' committee, in its letter of 16 March to the Social Security Advisory Committee, called that a fundamental misconception. It said: This ignores the fact that a large number of students are not only available for work for approximately four months a year, but rely on the income which that work provides when they are studying during the rest of the year. In future, therefore, a large number of students will continue to be active in seeking work during the summer vacation, but if they fail to gain employment they will be unable to claim benefits and will, therefore, face further financial hardship. I do not think that a condemnation of the basic rationale could be clearer than that.

The proposal to withdraw housing benefit is also flawed in its practical application. The Minister stated again tonight, as he did in a recent parliamentary answer, that an average of £315 a year would have been paid in benefits to those students making a claim in this year, while a student loan would be £420 on average, and that the average student would be better off. There is no more credibility in his figures on student costs than there is in the Government's figures on unemployment or on levels of poverty.

Ministers appear to be admitting that. On 26 March, I asked the Secretary of State for Social Security what is (a) the total value and average weekly payment of housing benefit currently being claimed by claimants aged 18 to 24 years, (b) the total value of housing benefit paid to students in the academic year 1988–89 in each region of the country"? The Under-Secretary of State replied: Information is not available in the detail requested … Similar information for claimants receiving both income support and housing benefit is not held. Housing benefit spending on claimants who are aged 18 to 24 is not identifiable within total expenditure. Information on housing benefit paid to students is not available in the form requested".—[Official Report, 26 March 1990; Vol. 170, c. 81.] She could not have more clearly shown her lack of knowledge of the issue.

The National Union of Students, which has more reason to know the facts than anyone—[ Laughter.] I know why the hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) is laughing, but he is a little premature. In its submission the Social Security Advisory Committee, the NUS cited a survey that suggested that, at present, the sum total of financial resources available to a student outside London is £3,260, while under the new system of loans it will be about £2,685—about £580 less.

There are those, such as the hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding, who think that the conclusion of the NUS is one of vested interest by those who have a good reason to up the figures. However, that conclusion is almost identical to the conclusion of the vice-chancellors' committee. The hon. Gentleman might be interested to know that it said that, in the south-east in 1988–89, housing benefit could be claimed on rents in excess of £14 per week. The average rent for privately-rented accommodation in this area, cited by a number of universities, has risen to £37.50 a week"— the point has already been made by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson)— so that a student stands to lose £560 in housing benefit during the academic year.

Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that is the most inappropriate comparison, because average rents take account of the whole range of housing available? Students are not expected, at such a stage in their careers, to be living in the higher range of accommodation available, so the average figure for rent is irrelevant when considering the basis of student costs.

Mr. Meacher

The hon. Gentleman falls into exactly the same trap as the Government, in quoting average figures. The Government quote average figures of £420 and £315, but we know that there are substantial variations and that averages are inappropriate. However, because the Government used average figures, I quoted the arguments made on the same basis by the vice-chancellors.

It is not only the Opposition who think that the Government are all over the shop. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-West will surely not mind if I quote his apposite article in The Times Higher Education Supplement: Recent Parliamentary Questions show that the Government does not seem to know exactly how much goes to students in various forms of welfare benefit. Clearly some benefits will be offset by a student loan, but some will not because of the difference in regional and urban housing costs. That is exactly true. It can be said with certainty that housing benefit is something dear to the heart of the Government—a targeted benefit. It takes into account differences in income and in regional housing costs, and it is the only benefit that does so.

Because the variations in regional housing costs are now so large, if that benefit is replaced by a loans scheme, it is certain that many students would find themselves below—in some cases substantially below—the income support level or official poverty line. That runs wholly contrary to the Government's declared intention not to deter students from low-income backgrounds from pursuing courses of higher and further education.

The White Paper refers to access funds, which the Minister also mentioned, to provide discretionary support, in individual cases of financial need, for students losing entitlement to benefits. However, the £5 million to be made available for that purpose to those within the scope of the student loans scheme is derisory. The vice-chancellors estimate that it will provide less than £7 per university student per year. Frankly, that is useless.

Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie)

Figures just released in Scotland on the amount to be made available under the access scheme show that, last year, Edinburgh university students received more in housing benefit than students attending 17 institutions controlled by the Secretary of State for Scotland. That puts the figures into perspective.

Mr. Meacher

That is an effective statistic, and I hope that the Minister will reply to that point when he winds up. My hon. Friend makes the case very forcibly.

There is one further aspect of disentitlement to housing benefit that is particularly scandalous. It relates to postgraduate students, who are the subject of amendment No. 8, and number 50,000. Not only will they be ineligible for student loans, but disqualified from claiming housing benefit. By any standard that is totally unjust. It is also an absurdly short-sighted economy measure, as it will deter many from pursuing postgraduate studies. Because we feel strongly about that aspect, we will, if we have time, put amendment No. 8 to a Division.

It is difficult to exaggerate the impact of the amendments on further and higher education. A study of the student rented sector in Manchester that was published last month by Rowntree found that housing costs after housing benefit represented 28 per cent. of students' notional income. In the current year, after including the full loan of £420 a year, it is estimated that that figure will rise to 36 per cent. to 40 per cent., depending on the rate of rent increases. Taken together with the 23 per cent. real decline in the value of student awards since 1979, that can only narrow the basis of recruitment for higher education in the next generation.

In their White Paper "Top-up Loans for Students" the Government say: The Government is committed to increasing the opportunity for people from all backgrounds to participate in higher education. Because we passionately believe in that objective and because the motion shows that the Government do not, we intend to divide the House.

Mr. Rhodes James

If these Lords amendments were taken in isolation from the other Government proposals relating to student finance, the Government would have a good case. I am particularly strengthened by my right hon. Friend's response to the previous Lords amendments, which we greatly appreciated. I wish that it were possible to remove students entirely from the need to depend on social security benefits of any kind. The matter cannot, however, be viewed in isolation. It has to be seen in the context of the effects of the Government's full proposals and the regulations that we shall debate later.

I am grateful to Jesus college, Cambridge, for a detailed, factual and objective analysis of student expenditure and income in that college. It is particularly constructive, because it demonstrates how difficult life has become, even for Cambridge undergraduates who enjoy advantages that students elsewhere do not. The figure will be of interest to hon. Members and, perhaps, to the Minister.

If an undergraduate is living in Jesus college, the cost of accommodation varies from £900 to £500 a year, depending on the amenities. However, a large and an increasing number of undergraduates and graduates have to live outside college. They face a market rate for a room of, on average, £40 a week. Normally, it also has to be paid in the short vacations. This, on the basis of a 38-week year, amounts to £1,520, to which must be added £86.70 for the community charge. Unfortunately, we have a Labour council in Cambridge. That has to be found out of a total income in 1990–91 of £2,575: a grant of £2,155 and a loan of £420, if the regulations are approved. Thus, for a Cambridge student living out of college, allowing for a notional £334 for essential expenditure, there is £421 left, or £11.08 a week for 38 weeks, after accommodation costs. For the favoured undergraduate living in college, the position is better; he is left with £22.62 a week for 38 weeks.

The figures demonstrate the huge proportion of grant and loan that has to be spent on accommodation and why the removal of housing benefit will have such a disproportionate impact on student finances. I am talking about students who have a full grant. Many do not. They depend on parental contributions that some parents will not or cannot provide.

There is another point of deeper significance that relates not just to money. One of the great and unique strengths of the British university system as it has evolved is that it is not home-based. I know of some university systems that are home based. Their weakness, as real universities, lies in that fact; it applies to many of the state universities in the United States.

I had the privilege of going to university on a scholarship, before grants were available. One of the factors that made it such a unique experience for me, apart from leaving home, which was a happy one, was that I met people from entirely different backgrounds and from entirely different parts of the country and the world. That was a major part of my education. It was then that I appeciated the value of, for example, the Rhodes scholarships and of the arrangements for overseas students. That mixture of young adults from very different backgrounds, who are given the opportunity of coming together in a different place rather than in their home base, gives the British universities and polytechnics their special quality.

Ministers have not sufficiently realised that the abolition of eligibility for housing benefit, combined with the regulations that will be debated later this evening, will make British universities more home based. That will destroy not only the lives and the incomes of students and their parents, but something much more profound. I hope that Ministers will bear in mind those deplorable consequences, because we are talking not simply about housing benefit and the problems that affect this year's or next year's students, but about the whole future of higher education.

9.30 pm
Mr. Frank Field

I am particularly pleased to follow the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) because, as a modern historian, he, more than most in the House, can locate that certain point in a Government's life—the point at which the Administration begin to unwind. The events surrounding that point are often not dramatic, but they are telling. Tonight there are two examples of that in one measure.

First, if the Government press their will on the House and win—they have a large majority and may well win—we shall have an example of the Government spitting in the wind. They will win the vote but lose the argument, and the argument here is whether the Administration understand how the real world works. In the 11 years that I have been in the House, that is a badge that the Government have proudly worn, labelling Opposition Members as people who have no real idea of what goes on in the world outside. It is proper to say that we do not want students to have to rely on social security benefits to survive. Few hon. Members will go to the stake or anywhere else on that point. But we are dealing with the real world and our constituents who are students have to deal with the real world, and the plain and unalterable fact is that social security benefits are crucial for students' survival.

In the light of the information that the hon. Member for Cambridge and my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith) have given, and if we are to prevent destitution and homelessness, it is important that we should not agree with the Government tonight but should stand by the amendment that the Lords have made. That is the first telling point—the Government are willingly spitting in the wind despite all the evidence presented to them.

Secondly, if the Government win the vote tonight, they will damage themselves in another equally fundamental way. They have based much of their social policy on what they like to call targeting but which hon. Members on both sides of the House call means-testing. There could not be a more perfect example of the market system at work. If one is above the line, one does not get help, but if one is below the line, help is targeted towards one. But now the Government are saying to the House, "Never mind how that market system works. Never mind if students can prove that their income is below the level of eligibility for housing benefit. We will step in. We will interfere and take actions that prevent that part of the market system from working." We are asked to approve that argument, and that is what will happen if the Government win the day.

We are debating an issue that concerns students which, sadly, does not command the respect in the country that it should. But we are also debating something that is perhaps much more important: that point in the Government's long life at which the whole of their policy begins to unwind. We are seeing that in two important respects. In the first place, they are denying what we all know to be true—that students need that help—and, secondly, they are setting aside 11 years of targeting policy because they know in their heart that it does not work.

Sir George Young (Ealing, Acton)

I have the deepest respect for both the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), whose independent views on social issues are so often echoed on the Conservative Benches, and for my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James), whose views on social issues broadly mirror my own. However, on this issue I cannot agree with them and I hope that the House will agree with the Government and reject the amendments.

The debate so far has revolved around two key issues: the proposed new structure for student support and the level of provision. The new structure for supporting students embodies the principle that students should no longer look to the Department of Social Security for help. Instead, they should look to the Department of Education and Science, which, after all, already funds the bulk of their living costs. I find no difficulty with that principle. I see some merit in having one Department instead of two concerned with the financial viability of students. I also see an advantage in educational institutions managing the access funds instead of students looking to housing benefit. I honestly believe that the new structure has much to commend it. It is tidier.

Part of the DES grant already goes on housing. Students who do not receive housing benefit already spend part of their grant on housing. I see nothing wrong in extending the principle by saying that instead of looking for just part of their housing costs from the DES, they should look for the whole of their costs from the DES. I see nothing offensive about the principle that students in future should no longer look to two Government Departments, but should look to one for the support to which they are entitled from the Government as they pass through university or higher education. I see nothing to go to the stake for on that.

The second issue has been the level of support. The proposed access funds have already been increased in response to representations. I am sure that they have been designed to be adequate for the purpose for which they are intended. If it turns out that they are inadequate, Conservative Members who follow such issues will be the first to press for more funds. However, housing benefit has not been immune from cuts. There have been several changes to housing benefit which have reduced its appeal. When there have been reductions in housing benefit, it is not particularly logical to say that we should stick with the housing benefit scheme because that is what is of most benefit to students. There are positive advantages in encouraging students to look to the access funds that are designed for students, as they are likely to be far more targeted to their needs.

Overall, the new regime will cost much more. It will involve £178 million in the loan scheme and £25 million in the access fund, making about £200 million in all. However, there will be only a £68 million saving in benefits.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

My hon. Friend has campaigned more eloquently and more persistently than most against the community charge. Does he realise that to bring this new change in at precisely the same moment that students are being caned by the community charge will create real prolblems?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend refers in flattering terms to the doubts that I had about the community charge. However, I see no particular logic in trying to relate what has happened in respect of the community charge to this debate. The structure for student support that we are now proposing is perfectly logical. The resources being devoted to that new structure are more generous than under the present structure.

Dr. Hampson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Sir George Young

No, I must conclude and if I do so, perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) will have an opportunity to address the House.

Neither on the structure of the proposal nor on the level of provision do I believe that there need be doubts on the Conservative Benches about the matter and I propose to support the Government.

Mr. Kirkwood

I must take issue with one half of the proposition of the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young). His case for the system of payment from one source and one Government Department is perfectly reasonable. I have no quarrel with the Government's long-stated social security view that students should not have to rely on social security payments. No hon. Member would dissent from that view. However, page 6 of the Social Security Advisory Committee's report states that, if the value of the grant is allowed to depreciate and wither over a period, it will not be possible for students to exist under the educational system of support. The hon. Gentleman seemed to accept that point.

Hon. Members who examine the way in which the level of grant in real terms has been eroded, and who consider their own constituency cases, must conclude that there are students below the income levels that we use as definitions, unofficial or otherwise, of the poverty line. The hon. Member for Action cannot have both parts of his proposition. Of course the structure should be unified. Of course we should all like the DES to provide the money, but if the DES is not to provide the money, there must be a safety net somewhere. The safety net has been the social security system.

The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) has made the key point in the debate. If the Government's scheme is approved, we shall discriminate against students, who will be the only group in society who will knowingly be asked to subsist on levels of income that, for other social security purposes, are judged to be inadequate. I do not think that that is acceptable.

Mr. Mike Watson (Glasgow, Central)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of a survey that was carried out by welfare officers in Edinburgh, which is near his constituency? It was found that the average housing benefit claim during the academic year was £290 and, during the summer vacation, £209, giving a total of about £500, which was well in excess of the student loan available. Is not that bound to lead to a situation in which students are much worse off and are dissuaded from taking up full-time higher education?

Mr. Kirkwood

Absolutely. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I am aware, of that survey. No doubt, if he had had time, the hon. Gentleman would have made the point that it will have a disproportionate effect on low-income families and their access to higher education. That point has not been mentioned, and I do not think that the Government have properly addressed it.

I should like the Minister to address some of the questions that the Social Security Advisory Committee has raised, particularly about the long vacation and postgraduate students. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) rightly mentioned that point and said that about 50,000 postgraduate students are not eligible for loans but will be disqualified for housing benefit. Amendment No. 8 is a particularly objectionable proposition. The Government are putting postgraduate students into an indefensible position.

The intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) deserves further attention. As far as I am aware, there have been no great complaints by local authorities about the administrations of the housing benefit system as it affects students. Of course there are difficulties in the complexity of the scheme that the Government ask local authorities to administer, but I have heard no complaints in relation to students.

It is not good enough for the Minister to say that it is only bawbees in any case, that they are not deriving a tremendous amount of benefit, and, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West rightly pointed out, that the Government do not have cast-iron statistics or figures relating to the amounts of money that we are talking about; if they have, we have not seen them and they did not come to light in the important debates in the other place. The Government are taking a great leap into the dark and playing ducks and drakes with the future of a vulnerable and valuable group of people in our society. I do not think that the amount of money will be enough. Some students will struggle.

The access funds are totally inadequate. The hon. Member for Acton was quite wrong to talk about £5 million for the further education sector, £14 million for those who are undertaking first degree courses, and £6 million for postgraduates. It is totally inadequate, according to the evidence from Cambridge and Edinburgh and all other available survey evidence. The Government have not paid enough attention to that matter. The administration of the scheme will prove an even bigger bureaucratic nightmare than the administration of housing benefit by local authorities.

For all those reasons, I believe that the Government's proposals will be fraught with difficulties and will cause increasing hardship. The House will be forced to return to this issue at an early stage. The Government will have to come back, cap in hand, and Opposition Members will take great pleasure in saying, "We told you so."

9.45 pm
Dr. Hampson

If I may, I shall address my remarks directly and immediately to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young). I must advise him that there is a valid parallel with the community charge. When Conservative Members told the Government that there would be immediate hardship because the scale of the increase in the business rate would be too acute, the Government responded and phased in the implementation. Why, therefore, are they not prepared to phase out housing benefit when there is hardship, especially for postgraduates?

I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Acton to consider the community charge bill for a postgraduate student couple, who might have a house and a mortgage, hire purchase payments on a car and television, and perhaps even a family. Postgraduate students make a sacrifice—they are not eligible for loans—but the Government are withdrawing housing benefit. Furthermore, the access fund is so small that in London, even if he was eligible for access funds, a postgraduate student would have to find an extra £500 because of the withdrawal of housing benefit.

Postgraduate students are at a premium. In the next 10 years there will be a shrinking pool of talent, especially in science and engineering. However, the amount of money that is currently available to help postgraduate social science students is also shrinking. The Economic and Social Research Council currently has only 220 graduate scholarships at its disposal, whereas 10 years ago it had 2,000. We are squeezing the amount of help to postgraduates. The access funds are inadequate and scholarships and loans are not available.

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson), who is responsible for higher education, is on the Treasury Bench, because I believe that it is no coincidence that only a week ago, with great panache, the Department of Education and Science announced increases in postgraduate award rates. The fact that that happened just a week before this debate is meant to say, "Yes, we believe that there is a problem and we—the DES—recognise that postgraduates will suffer because of what another Department is insisting on doing."

I do not object to the principle of what is being done. The principle is to try to ensure that students are not dependent on welfare benefits. That must be right. I am sure that no Conservative Member would question that, but some of us believe that, by withdrawing housing benefit in such a rigid and determined way, the Government are causing hardship. Because the DES knows that, it has tried to claim that it will increase postgraduate awards by £400 a year. However, that increase of £400 will not come in until next April. Awards increases have always been granted in October. If, this October, postgraduate students automatically received the increase that they have received every year, more or less in line with inflation, they would be getting £370. However, they will not automatically receive £370 this October; they will receive £400 next April.

Without any question, postgraduates will suffer at every level. Financially, they will not be as well off as they have been. Housing benefit was a targeted benefit that helped especially those postgraduates in real hardship because of their family or other circumstances. No Minister has shown tonight that the Government even know how much money is currently given to postgraduate students through that benefit. I suggest that it is a relatively small amount. It is a shame that the Government, of whom we are all a part, are not prepared in this instance as they have been in so many instances—I refer particularly to business men and the community charge—to show sensitivity, to recognise hardship and at least to try not to create further disincentives to postgraduate education, which will affect the future development of the country.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

Like other hon. Members on both sides of the House I accept the principle that students should be paid for out of the education budget. There is widespread agreement on that. I am not particularly worried by amendment No. 7, but we should think hard about amendment No. 8.

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Minister did not speak on amendment No. 8 in his opening remarks. The point behind it is not entirely new. It has been raised on other amendments. What my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) said carries a strong ring of conviction. When my right hon. Friend the Minister replies, he must give accurate figures on how far he believes that the access grants will alleviate the problems of post graduates. He must also fill out the position on their grants. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West made those points eloquently.

I, like other hon. Members on both sides of the House, believe deeply that it is crucial to this country that we produce research scholars of the highest possible standard. Anything that prevents that must be contrary to the national interest. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will either come up with good arguments or, better still, think again.

Mr. Cormack

I can do little more than echo what has been said by my right hon. Friend for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson), and most of all by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James). The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge showed what Cambridge will lose. He is a splendid Member of Parliament, who knows the universities well. We heard what he said in his short speech. I for one am extremely sorry that he has announced that he will not seek re-election at the next general election.

It is a great pity that the Government are so obdurate on this matter. It is sad that the people who will be hit are the very people on whom the Government have relied for their support. The measure will hit at the middle of middle England.

Mr. Kirkwood

And Scotland.

Mr. Cormack

As the hon. Gentleman says, it will hit Scotland too. If only because they want to maintain their bedrock support, the Government must think again. After all, the creation of an access fund shows that the Government recognise that there is a need. The access funds are woefully inadequate to meet that need, yet we are cutting out a whole category of people and treating them uniquely in the process.

The people who will be hit include constituents of mine who have been hit—I make no apology for returning to the subject—by the community charge. Suddenly they have found that their student sons and daughters face the prospect of entering their earning life substantially in debt. Because of their increased burden, they cannot give their student son or daughter as much as they would like. Now their children are not eligible for housing benefit. Their sons and daughters will also have the community charge to find—albeit only 20 per cent.

What do such people do? In some cases they seek to dissuade their sons and daughters from going to university or following any higher education course. I do not wish to speak disparagingly of an institution, but in other cases parents encourage their children to go to the local polytechnic rather than to go away to university. That point was made eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge. Such a trend could distort the social balance of the country and the pattern of where people seek higher education. That would be a great pity.

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury, I am especially worried about postgraduate students. Such students have often taken on family commitments. We are supposed to be the party that believes in the family. I do not suggest that other parties do not believe in the family, but the Prime Minister has rightly made great play of the family in recent months. We are the party that believes in the family and in encouraging the integrity of the family. Yet the Government make it difficult for families which include one or perhaps two postgraduate students to benefit not only themselves but the whole community by following a postgraduate course.

I urge my right hon. Friend the Minister and other Ministers on the Treasury Bench to think again. The sums involved are small. We are dealing with flexibility as opposed to inflexibility. There is virtual unanimity about the desirability of the Government's general aim. We do not want students to depend on social security benefits. None of us, or hardly any of us, wherever we sit in the House, wants that. Why cannot we for once listen carefully to what the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has said? We should phase in the scheme, bring it in gently, adjust, respond and consider. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) can groan, but she has a university in her constituency—

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

A very good one.

Mr. Cormack

—and a very good one. Many of the students who attend it will suffer as a result of the insensitivity of this proposal.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

My students seek employment in the long vacation, and the vast majority of them find it. The right way to bring up children is to show them how to be independent and to seek employment if they can possibly find it.

Mr. Cormack

My hon. Friend makes the case for me in her intervention. The vast majority of her students and mine find employment. I encourage that, just as she does. Nevertheless, there are exceptions who, through no fault of their own, cannot do so. That is particularly true of postgraduate students.

I have great respect for my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench, particularly my right hon. Friend who will reply. He has an extremely good record as a listening Minister and a man who is genuinely concerned. I ask them, for goodness' sake, to think again, and not to become so inflexible as to create the problems to which the vice-chancellors rightly pointed.

Mr. Quentin Davies

I am surprised that the Labour party has decided to take up so much of the limited time for this debate to press this Lords amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about all the Tory Members?"] It is the Labour party, not my party. In mitigation, Labour Members have not turned up in large numbers. Perhaps the strength and extent of feeling is not as widespread as some Labour spokesmen have been inclined to make out. I am surprised, because our welfare state, to which I am enormously committed, has been built up—as you Mr. Speaker, will be the first to acknowledge—by the contributions of statesmen from all three parties over many generations. All those statesmen, Conservative, Liberal and Labour, would have been horrified to imagine that the welfare state would be used as a form of student support. William Beveridge, Clement Attlee, Ernie Bevin and Herbert Morrison would be spinning in their graves if they heard some of the remarks of their successors.

I cannot think of a more inappropriate use of the social security system or of anything more demoralising for students than to start life on the benefit system and, indeed, to be encouraged to play that system for all it is worth even before they have taken any paid employment. I cannot think of anything more damaging to the credibility of social security among the general public as a whole. The Government are to be greatly congratulated on removing this impardonable anomaly, which has lasted for too long.

The Government could not simply withdraw the benefits of the social security system from students without ensuring an effective alternative means of support. They have done that. They have taken advantage of the introduction of top-up loans to increase by about 25 per cent. the resources available to students in the forthcoming academic year. That is a substantial increase by any standards.

It has been said on both sides of the House, by my hon. Friends as well as Opposition Members, that in some cases those new resources will be insufficient. The Government have gone even further and provided access funds that are infinitely preferable, as a way of supporting students who run into financial difficulties, to the social security system. That is not merely because of the psychological and moral reasons to which I have referred, but because the access funds provide an opportunity for that support to be decided by educationists and educational institutions, taking into account the student's individual circumstances. The funds will not be allocated according to some anonymous rule book by a large army of bureaucrats—which, unfortunately, is inevitably how any social security system works. It is an enormous improvement.

It has been hinted on both sides of the House that access funds will be insufficient. I wish that Opposition Members who take that line would have the intellectual honesty to say that they want the access funds to be increased. That is simple, and if that is what they had in mind, they should say it. I congratulate the Government on a humane and timely measure.

10 pm

Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)

This debate has shown the price of the guillotine. An enormously important change that will damage the lives and opportunities of many individuals, our education system and the country's future prosperity has to be squeezed into a small space of time. Nevertheless, there have been a number of significant contributions, much criticism from Government Members, and even more from Opposition Members. Some of my hon. Friends who wished to speak have held back so that Conservative Members would have a chance to do so.

Britain has become, and is increasingly becoming, a backward educational country compared with other countries in Europe and even the world. In South Korea, of all countries, there are more students, as a proportion of population, in higher education than in Britain. That is a disgrace, and, it will damage the prospects of our country. It is a measure of our backwardness and continuing slide and decline, particularly during the 11 years of this Government.

There have been measures with bad effects on nurseries, standards in schools, quality of books for school children and buildings. Our staying-on rates are appalling, and tonight we are considering a measure that will make matters considerably worse. It will make significant numbers of students gravely poorer. It will affect those with the greatest difficulty in entering higher education—groups with the lowest participation rates, people from low-income backgrounds and working-class and black students. There is no doubt, and everyone who has considered the matter seriously predicts, that those under-represented groups which we need to get into higher education if we are to compete with other countries will be put off by the measure.

During the past 11 years, the Government have cut the value of student grants by 27 per cent. in real terms. As in so many other sectors, there have been repeated cuts in social security benefits to bring the system into disrepute—as the Government are currently doing with child benefit—and push students on to loans. The Government pretend that it is all right if they cut grants further and introduce a national loans system to cut the cost of young people going into full-time education.

There is no disagreement between the two sides of the House that the principle that the education system should provide for the maintenance of students is a good one, and they should not be funded from the social security system. It is disgraceful hypocrisy to use that sort of logic as an excuse for cutting students' income and driving many of our talented young people from low-income backgrounds out of higher education.

The whole principle of student loans is ridiculous. They should be provided according to need and then, when people did well and found better jobs as a result of having been students, they could pay them back through the tax and national insurance systems. That is the fairest, most universal and most sensible system.

These three amendments deal with the abolition of the right to housing benefit. I apologise to Conservative Members who have spoken about postgraduate students; we share their concern, but because of the guillotine we have the opportunity to vote on only one amendment, so we must vote on the one that restores the right to housing benefit for all students. It affects the largest number. We wholly agree with what has been said about the needs of postgraduates, but the guillotine has meant that we have had no chance—there was already no chance when I rose to speak—to vote on the amendment related to them.

The Minister of State was at his least eloquent this evening. I have paid him this compliment before, but when the right hon. Gentleman does not believe in something, he speaks badly. Tonight he spoke worse than I have ever heard him speak.

Mr. Scott

There has been a certain amount of gloom and doom from various quarters in the debate. I see no need for that when I look at higher education in this country. This year there were more applications to get into higher education than ever before, and it looks as though that number will be exceeded in the coming academic year. If the whole country were petrified by the idea of student loans, that would not be so.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) queried the basis for the estimates that we make in this area. The average of £315 which I announced earlier as the total benefit is based on an independent survey carried out by Research Services Ltd. during the academic year 1988–89 and adjusted to 1991 levels. The average loan of £420 is greater than that, and those who cannot receive more will have access to the funds that have been specially established.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West derided us for having access funds for undergraduates of £5 million—but the correct figure is £14 million. These funds will be monitored once they are in operation to determine whether they are adequate for the needs for which they have been set up. That is the right way to tackle the matter.

The hon. Gentleman said that there was unanimous opposition to the proposal to remove housing benefit entitlement. He omitted to mention that a majority on the Social Security Advisory Committee accepted the Government's proposal to withdraw housing benefit from full-time students. The committee also shares our view that student support should come from the educational system rather than from social security benefits, and several of my hon. Friends backed up the Government by supporting the basic principle that we are implementing.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West then returned to a question that he had asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and said that we did not know what was happening in this area. I confess that the statistics that we have do not differentiate between different sorts of students. However, they clearly show that fewer than 20 per cent. of students claim housing benefit during term time, and for those who receive it, of whom some will retain entitlement, the average amount claimed is under £10 a week.

We heard a great deal from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) and others about postgraduate students. Of course it is true that, if the postgraduate's spouse is not herself a student, the couple will still be entitled to housing benefit. Secondly, a postgraduate student pays only 20 per cent. of the community charge—not the full whack. The uprating of the grant for postgraduates is for this autumn, not for next April. The couple that the hon. Gentleman exemplified were paying a mortgage, in which case they would not be entitled to housing benefit.

Dr. Hampson

This is important, because the official press release from the Department of Education and Science said that the uprating of the postgraduate award is from April. Of course, postgraduates are not entitled to student loans if they have access to housing benefit.

Mr. Scott

One increase has already been announced and there will be another in April. My right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department of Education and Science are well aware of the need for support in this area and are honouring their obligations.

Postgraduate students may also qualify for education maintenance grants that are intended to cover all their financial needs for the year, including long vacations falling within the course. An access fund of £6 million is being established specifically to provide additional support for postgraduates who face special difficulties.

The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) accused the Government of setting aside their normal policy of targeting. The new student support arrangements through the education system are not intended to replicate the benefit system. It was never intended that students should fall back on the benefits system and the fact that they do is a totally unplanned by-product of changes in the benefit system in recent years. Education maintenance is designed to meet the particular financial needs and expenditure patterns of students. The benefit system is not. We firmly believe that students should be supported by the education system and we are putting in more than £100 million of extra resources to achieve that.

The House is being asked to decide whether the Department of Social Secrity or the Department of Education and Science knows more about the needs of students and the need for educational maintenance. I have no doubt that the Department of Education and Science will be more in touch with student's state of life and will be better able to run a system suitable to their needs.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Order [this day] relating to the Social Security Bill (Allocation of Time) MR. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the said Order, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question agreed to.

Mr. Speaker

then proceeded to designate Lords amendments Nos. 8, 9, 11, 24, 25, 28, 42, 59, 70, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 83, 84, 86, 87, 88, 89 and 91 as appearing to him to involve questions of privilege.

Mr. Speaker

then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions on motions moved by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in a Lords amendment.

Lords amendment No. 8 disagreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 9, before clause 6, to insert the following new Clause— . In section 21(6) of the 1986 Act, at the end there shall be inserted the words "and may provide for the regional or local level of housing costs and any payment for the purpose of meeting such costs to be taken into account in determining the maximum housing benefit where the claimant is a full-time student."

Question put,That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.:

The House divided: Ayes 306, Noes 218.

Division No. 287] [10.13 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Bendall, Vivian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Allason, Rupert Benyon, W.
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Biffen, Rt Hon John
Amess, David Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Amos, Alan Body, Sir Richard
Arbuthnot, James Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Boscawen, Hon Robert
Arnold, Sir Thomas Boswell, Tim
Ashby, David Bottomley, Peter
Atkins, Robert Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Atkinson, David Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bowis, John
Baldry, Tony Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Batiste, Spencer Brazier, Julian
Bellingham, Henry Bright, Graham
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Browne, John (Winchester) Hanley, Jeremy
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hannam, John
Buck, Sir Antony Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Budgen, Nicholas Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Burns, Simon Harris, David
Butcher, John Hayes, Jerry
Butler, Chris Hayward, Robert
Butterfill, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carrington, Matthew Hill, James
Carttiss, Michael Hind, Kenneth
Cash, William Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Holt, Richard
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hordern, Sir Peter
Chapman, Sydney Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Chope, Christopher Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Churchill, Mr Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Colvin, Michael Hunter, Andrew
Conway, Derek Irvine, Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Jack, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jackson, Robert
Cope, Rt Hon John Janman, Tim
Couchman, James Jessel, Toby
Cran, James Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Curry, David Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Day, Stephen Key, Robert
Devlin, Tim King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dorrell, Stephen Kirkhope, Timothy
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knapman, Roger
Dover, Den Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dunn, Bob Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Dykes, Hugh Knowles, Michael
Eggar, Tim Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Emery, Sir Peter Lang, Ian
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Latham, Michael
Evennett, David Lawrence, Ivan
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Favell, Tony Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fishburn, John Dudley Lightbown, David
Fookes, Dame Janet Lilley, Peter
Forman, Nigel Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lord, Michael
Forth, Eric Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Fox, Sir Marcus MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Franks, Cecil Maclean, David
Freeman, Roger McLoughlin, Patrick
French, Douglas McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gale, Roger Malins, Humfrey
Gardiner, George Mans, Keith
Garel-Jones, Tristan Maples, John
Gill, Christopher Marland, Paul
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Marlow, Tony
Goodhart, Sir Philip Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gorst, John Mates, Michael
Gow, Ian Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mellor, David
Gregory, Conal Meyer, Sir Anthony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Miller, Sir Hal
Grist, Ian Mills, Iain
Ground, Patrick Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mitchell, Sir David
Hague, William Moate, Roger
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Moore, Rt Hon John Squire, Robin
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Stanbrook, Ivor
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Moss, Malcolm Steen, Anthony
Moynihan, Hon Colin Stern, Michael
Neale, Gerrard Stevens, Lewis
Needham, Richard Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Nelson, Anthony Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Nicholls, Patrick Stokes, Sir John
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Sumberg, David
Norris, Steve Summerson, Hugo
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Tapsell, Sir Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Page, Richard Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Paice, James Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Patnick, Irvine Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Temple-Morris, Peter
Patten, Rt Hon John Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Pawsey, James Thorne, Neil
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thornton, Malcolm
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Thurnham, Peter
Porter, David (Waveney) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Portillo, Michael Tracey, Richard
Powell, William (Corby) Tredinnick, David
Price, Sir David Trippier, David
Raffan, Keith Twinn, Dr Ian
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Viggers, Peter
Redwood, John Waddington, Rt Hon David
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Riddick, Graham Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Walden, George
Roberts, Sir Wyn (Conwy) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Roe, Mrs Marion Waller, Gary
Rossi, Sir Hugh Ward, John
Rost, Peter Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Rowe, Andrew Warren, Kenneth
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Watts, John
Ryder, Richard Wells, Bowen
Sackville, Hon Tom Wheeler, Sir John
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Whitney, Ray
Sayeed, Jonathan Widdecombe, Ann
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Wiggin, Jerry
Shaw, David (Dover) Wilshire, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shelton, Sir William Winterton, Nicholas
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wolfson, Mark
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wood, Timothy
Shersby, Michael Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Sims, Roger Yeo, Tim
Skeet, Sir Trevor Young, Sir George (Acton)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Younger, Rt Hon George
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Speed, Keith Tellers for the Ayes:
Speller, Tony Mr. Tony Durant and
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Mr. Alastair Goodlad.
Abbott, Ms Diane Blair, Tony
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Blunkett, David
Allen, Graham Boateng, Paul
Alton, David Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Anderson, Donald Boyes, Roland
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bradley, Keith
Armstrong, Hilary Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Ashton, Joe Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Caborn, Richard
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Beckett, Margaret Canavan, Dennis
Beggs, Roy Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Beith, A. J. Carr, Michael
Bell, Stuart Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Clay, Bob
Bermingham, Gerald Clelland, David
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Livingstone, Ken
Coleman, Donald Livsey, Richard
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Corbyn, Jeremy Loyden, Eddie
Cousins, Jim McAllion, John
Cox, Tom McAvoy, Thomas
Crowther, Stan McCartney, Ian
Cryer, Bob Macdonald, Calum A.
Cunliffe, Lawrence McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dalyell, Tam McKelvey, William
Darling, Alistair McLeish, Henry
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Maclennan, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) McNamara, Kevin
Dewar, Donald Madden, Max
Dixon, Don Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dobson, Frank Marek, Dr John
Doran, Frank Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Douglas, Dick Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Duffy, A. E. P. Martlew, Eric
Dunnachie, Jimmy Meacher, Michael
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Meale, Alan
Eastham, Ken Michael, Alun
Evans, John (St Helens N) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Fatchett, Derek Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Faulds, Andrew Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Fearn, Ronald Moonie, Dr Lewis
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Morgan, Rhodri
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Morley, Elliot
Fisher, Mark Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Mowlam, Marjorie
Foster, Derek Mullin, Chris
Foulkes, George Murphy, Paul
Fraser, John Nellist, Dave
Fyfe, Maria Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Galloway, George O'Brien, William
Garrett, John (Norwich South) O'Neill, Martin
George, Bruce Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Godman, Dr Norman A. Parry, Robert
Golding, Mrs Llin Pendry, Tom
Gould, Bryan Pike, Peter L.
Graham, Thomas Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Prescott, John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Primarolo, Dawn
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Quin, Ms Joyce
Grocott, Bruce Radice, Giles
Hardy, Peter Randall, Stuart
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Redmond, Martin
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Henderson, Doug Reid, Dr John
Hinchliffe, David Rhodes James, Robert
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Richardson, Jo
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Robertson, George
Home Robertson, John Robinson, Geoffrey
Hood, Jimmy Rogers, Allan
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rooker, Jeff
Howells, Geraint Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Hoyle, Doug Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Salmond, Alex
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Sheerman, Barry
Illsley, Eric Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Ingram, Adam Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Short, Clare
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Skinner, Dennis
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Kilfedder, James Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Kirkwood, Archy Snape, Peter
Lambie, David Soley, Clive
Lamond, James Spearing, Nigel
Leadbitter, Ted Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Leighton, Ron Steinberg, Gerry
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Stott, Roger
Lewis, Terry Straw, Jack
Litherland, Robert Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis Wilson, Brian
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Winnick, David
Turner, Dennis Wise, Mrs Audrey
Vaz, Keith Worthington, Tony
Wallace, James Wray, Jimmy
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Tellers for the Noes:
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Mr. Frank Haynes and
Williams, Rt Hon Alan Mr. John McFall.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 11, 29, 31, 33 and 40 to 42 disagreed to.

MR. SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions on amendments moved by a Minister of the Crown relevant to Lords amendment No. 42 disagreed to.

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