§ 2.45 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government why they are permitting the building of one of the two new Business Schools in London, thus adding to the overcrowded South yet another focus of attraction; and why it is not possible to direct this School to the North or East, from where it could serve that area and Scotland, as well as the rest of the country, more effectively.]
MINISTER STATE EDUCATION SCIENCE
My Lords, in July, 1963, a group of leading industrialists invited the noble Lord, Lord Franks, to advise where the two Business Schools should be situated. After consulting a large number of individuals and organisations concerned with academic and industrial life, he recommended that the two schools should be established in London and Manchester, which in his view provided the best possible conditions for 1130 a fruitful partnership between business and a great university. This advice was endorsed by the University Grants Committee and acted upon last year by the previous Government.
My Lords, while thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask whether it is not clear to Her Majesty's Government that this advice was given with relevance to only the Business Schools themselves; and is it not advisable that the positioning of these schools should take into account Her Majesty's Government's policy to take out of London so far as possible these foci of activities so that we may help to stop the overcrowding of the South?
My Lords, the problem of siting a Business School is a difficult one to resolve. It is essential that it should be near the main centres of business, for perfectly obvious reasons; and it is essential, furthermore, that it should be near a great university. The Business Schools will have to draw both on business and on the university for their staff. The students will often be people who have come temporarily from local business establishments, and it is therefore essential, as the noble Lord, Lord Franks, himself decided, that the schools should be sited both near to a main conurbation and near to a great university. That being the case, the choice of the two cities seemed almost inevitable.
My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether it would not have been a better idea if one of these Business Schools had been placed in Cardiff, where there is a great university. There it would serve Bristol and the West of England as well. Perhaps the noble Lord would tell me whether the Secretary of State for Wales was consulted about this matter before it was decided where these schools were to be sited?
My Lords, the only thing I can add to my last statement is that Manchester and London are both large conurbations and both have great universities. There are other places which may equally take title. The choice had to be arbitrary, and in my view it was the best choice that could have been made in the circumstances.
My Lords, would it not be better to try to build up the population of Wales, which is what the Secretary of State is trying to do, and even the West of England? Surely it is quite easy. It is only two hours' journey from Paddington to Cardiff. It is no distance at all; it is much nearer.
My Lords, would Her Majesty's Government seriously give consideration to the reasons why these schools should be in the centre of a large city? Would they investigate whether the reason given is a really cogent reason?
My Lords, I think that we did the right thing in taking the advice of Lord Franks. I personally believe quite passionately that a great city is incomplete if it does not offer such amenities as museums and art galleries and so on as well as a great university. It is quite wrong to try to insist that a city should be deprived of those very institutions which make it into a city rather than a mere agglomeration of offices. Any university in a city plays an essential part in the work of the city.
In this particular case we are proposing to add to the University of London another entity, a Business School, which was deliberately put there primarily so that it would be able to draw particularly on the Imperial College and on the London School of Economics; just as in Manchester the Business School was sited so that it could draw on the Faculty of Economics of the University and on the College of Technology. In each case it would draw on the two institutions and on the business community as well. I do not believe it would be possible to site a business school away from the centres of industry, away from the centres of university development and away from business itself.
My Lords, would the noble Lord answer the last part of my question—namely, whether the Secretary of State for Wales has been consulted, and whether he has agreed with what the Government have proposed?
I feel that the noble Lord is in a better position than I am, if I may say so, to answer this question, 1132 since he was a member of the Government which in the first instance accepted the Franks Committee Report.
Is the Secretary of State now overlooking the whole of education and Board of Trade business in Wales? It has been said that he is consulted on all these matters. We did not say that.