HL Deb 13 June 1988 vol 498 cc3-4

2.41 p.m.

Lord St. John of Fawsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they expect to be in a position to make recommendations within the foreseeable future for the Regius Chairs of Modern History and Greek in the University of Oxford.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science (Baroness Hooper)

My Lords, these Chairs are expected to fall vacant within the next two years. It is for the university to decide when to make appointments. The Government will become involved in making recommendations only when that decision is made by the university.

Lord St. John of Fawsley

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer. Is she aware that there is widespread anxiety in the university world about the reduction in public funding? Is she further aware that in Oxford 112 posts have been abolished and 72 academic posts have been suspended? Can she hold out any hope of an improvement in the future?

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I understand that the university has decided to fill the Regius Chair of Greek in 1990. In the case of the Chair of Modern History, the university has given a higher priority to filling two other prestigious Chairs in history. I understand that at Oxford there are a total of 10 Chairs in history, of which three are vacant. Of these, one is being filled, one has been advertised and the third has been left vacant for the time being. We believe that universities need to bring their income and expenditure into line in ways which are academically sound.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, is the Minister aware that in intervening I find it more difficult to strike the correct balance between interlocutor and respondent than on any Question I have asked or answered in either House over 40 years? May I interrogatively assure her that the—

Noble Lords


Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether she is aware—if that is the more acceptable form—that the University of Oxford looks forward to being able, by its own efforts, to overcome the austerity imposed upon it by the Government in time for the Prime Minister, if she is so minded (I hope, after consultation with the university) to appoint even the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Fawsley, to one of those high posts?

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I think I must reply by saying that it is right that decisions concerning priorities within a university are for the university itself to take.