HL Deb 25 January 1961 vol 227 cc1191-2

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question, was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will be in a position to announce precise plans for university expansion in this country; the number of university places to be provided within the next ten years; and the funds to be made available to the University Grants Committee.]


My Lords, my right honourable and learned friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making a statement in a Written Answer in another place to-day. He has authorised the University Grants Committee to increase the Government-financed university building programmes, in the calendar years 1962 and 1963, from the present figure of £15 million each year to £25 million each year. For the calendar years 1964 and 1965 he has authorised the Committee to invite the universities to make plans on a basis of £30 million in each year.

This very large addition to the resources made available to the universities should be of material help to them in their immediate practical task of accommodating the increased numbers of students who will be coming forward in the second half of this decade; and it will be compatible with further development after 1965 to expand the university population, if this proves desirable, to about 170,000 by the early 1970's.


My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will agree that this announcement will be received with great satisfaction.


My Lords, does the noble Earl realise that there is a feeling among university teachers, and particularly in the Council of the Association of University Teachers, which represents the large majority of university teachers, that the Government should take a rather more firm stand about the need for a substantial increase in the number of students entering the universities. If I may say so, the noble Earl's answer is a little "wishy-washy" on this particular point. A substantial increase is essential in the national interest, and I hope that the Government realise that.


My Lords, we discussed this point fully in our debate last May, and I told your Lordships then that it was the policy of Her Majesty's Government to increase the number of students at the highest possible rate consistent with the required high standard of teaching. I do not think that there is anything particularly "wishy-washy" about the figures which I have just given to your Lordships.


My Lords, I am sure we shall all study with great interest the more detailed information promised by the noble Earl. I hope that it will be fairly detailed in relation to the newer universities, and also those now in process of being brought to birth. I hope that they will receive great help in their early years. We should like to be as fully informed as possible, in particular, about the new institutions decided upon and proposed. I am aware of the dramatic results of the efforts made by the Committee headed by the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, to raise funds for one of our newest universities, the University College of Cardiff, and this illustrates—


Order, Order!


The point I wish to make is that this illustrates that not only is the taxpayer required to contribute towards helping this extension but that civic pride also has a place.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord.

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