HL Deb 08 May 1985 vol 463 cc654-5

2.45 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to take following the decision of the Nigerian authorities to suspend foreign exchange approval for students attending a number of independent colleges in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

My Lords, we understand from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education that the notice published by the Central Bank stating that certain educational establishments in the United Kingdom are not recognised by the Nigerian Government is not an official Government list. It was published without consultation with, or the consent of, the ministry. We understand that an official list is being prepared by the Nigerian Ministry of Education.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. I should like to ask whether representations have been made by the West Central African Department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (to which her honourable friend the Joint Minister of State referred in his letter to me) to the Nigerian High Commission pointing out that, if any Nigerian student in this country is debarred from having the foreign exchange approval which all the students have been assured they would receive, it would be most discreditable behaviour by the Nigerian Government.

Baroness Young

Yes, my Lords, we do appreciate the difficulties which would be caused to individuals were that to happen. In the first instance, it would be appropriate for the institution itself, as a private institution, to approach the Nigerian authorities. However, as has been indicated, my department has raised this matter.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, does the Minister of State not realise that none of these educational establishments would have admitted these students if it had not been assured by the Nigerian High Commission in London that foreign exchange approval would be given? In that situation, could she not take this matter up most vigorously because the honour of the Nigerian High Commission in London is involved?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I entirely appreciate the point that the noble Lord is making on this matter. As I indicated in my original Answer, the list which was published by the Central Bank was not produced with the authority of the Nigerian Ministry of Education.

Baroness David

My Lords, will the Minister give wide publicity to the British Accreditation Council for Independent, Further and Higher Education Establishments, which has been in being for about six months and which is doing the work that was previously done by the Department of Education and Science? It produces lists of establishments which are accredited, and that would be a great help to everybody concerned both in this country and abroad.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for the point that she makes. It is a valuable one, in that it would give good advice to students intending to study at independent institutions in this country.