HC Deb 05 November 1997 vol 300 cc304-5
7. Mr. Keith Simpson

What meetings he has had with students to discuss higher education in Wales. [12381]

Mr. Hain

I am due to meet the president of the National Union of Students, Wales at the beginning of December. I recently met a deputation of students in my constituency.

Mr. Simpson

I am sure that, in addition to many hon. Members, many students in Wales will be interested by the Minister's answer to Question 2, in which he admitted that a large portion of the money that was to be allocated to universities in Wales would come from raising tuition fees for students. Is that not absolute hypocrisy, given that, during the general election campaign, the Prime Minister said categorically that student fees in higher education would not be raised?

Mr. Hain

The Prime Minister did not say that. It is a bit rich for Conservatives to complain about the situation in higher education. They reduced many of our universities in Wales to near bankruptcy. Under the previous financial regime, they saddled students with huge debts. We are introducing a new system that is fair to students, to parents, to universities and to our country. It will establish higher education on a sound basis and give our students the opportunities that they deserve.

Mr. Touhig

I believe that my hon. Friend is aware of a letter from the Department for Education and Employment to his office in Cardiff alleging serious irregularities in the use of European social fund moneys at Gwent tertiary college. Will he investigate those allegations and make a statement to the House?

Mr. Hain

I am aware of the allegations. My officials are keeping me informed about the progress of the investigation.