HL Deb 23 June 1998 vol 591 cc168-93

64C That this House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 64 but propose the following amendment in lieu—

64D Page 14, line 31, leave out subsections (6) and (7) and insert— ("( ) Regulations under this section shall ensure that any arrangements for the payment of grant in respect of tuition fees for the fourth or any subsequent year of study at a higher education institution in England or Wales apply equally to a student whose parental home or normal place of residence for purposes other than attendance at that institution is in Scotland or Northern Ireland as they do to a student whose parental home or normal place of residence for purposes other than attendance at that institution is in England or Wales.").

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish rose to move, That the House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 64, but do propose Amendment No. 64D in lieu thereof.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 64D I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 123A standing in my name and Amendments Nos. 123B and 123C which stand in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth.

Here we return to the question of English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students at Scottish universities. Your Lordships will recall that in Scotland the honours degree in both the arts and the sciences lasts for four years, whereas in England the degree lasts for three years. Therefore, when the Government decided, quite surprisingly, to impose tuition fees, the position became that Scottish students would pay £4,000 for their honours course whereas English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students would pay only £3,000 at their universities. That was obviously unfair. It was also an interesting contrast to the remarks made by Tony Blair in the Evening Standard in March 1997 before the election when he said that Labour had no plans to introduce tuition fees. Never mind. I suppose we can leave that aside. We have rewritten history in that regard. The idea was certainly not to introduce tuition fees in a way that was discriminatory against Scottish students and Scottish universities.

The Scottish Office quickly realised that there was something wrong. Its policy changed to a position whereby the fourth year of a Scottish honours degree would not be charged and, therefore, Scottish students would pay only £3,000 like their fellow students going to universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the good sense of the Scottish Office did not seem to transmit itself to the Department for Education in the South and to the Northern Ireland Office, which insisted that students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland attending a Scottish university should pay £4,000.

It is that discrimination that we are examining. It is discrimination against the Scottish universities and their traditional four-year honours degree. It is also discrimination against youngsters from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, many of whom wish to attend Scottish universities. Clearly, that flow from England, Wales and Northern Ireland is important for Scottish universities, and is more important for some than for others. For example, Dundee, St. Andrews and Edinburgh have a higher proportion of students from the three other parts of this still united kingdom than other universities, including my old university in Glasgow. So it is a particular problem for some of the universities, and a problem in part for all of them. It is therefore a Scottish problem, but it is also an English, Welsh and Northern Irish problem.

That is why I am disappointed that, yet again, the Government have fielded the Scottish Office Minister, when the Scottish Office has in fact solved the problem, realised the injustice and done something about Scottish students who would be asked to pay £4,000 as opposed to £3,000 elsewhere. I am sorry that once again it is the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, who has to take the brunt of these arguments. The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, has once again ducked out of the argument altogether.

When the Bill came before this House it contained that iniquity. Noble Lords agreed with me and amended the Bill to be sent back to the House of Commons. Our amendment was removed in Committee in the other place. We shall no doubt be told that we should not undo what the House of Commons has done.

However, I have in front of me an interesting letter from Mr. David Bleiman of the Association of University Teachers. He tells me: Although in general it may be said that the House of Commons has greater democratic legitimacy than the Lords"— but we never tire of hearing that from the Government— on this occasion there was not a single Scottish MP on the Standing Committee". The Government did not put one single Scottish Member of Parliament on the Standing Committee. That is quite hard to do, considering the number of Labour MPs in the other place from my country. But the Government managed to do it.

At Report stage an attempt was made to insert a new clause into the Bill to do what I am now asking your Lordships to do. When the vote was called in the other place, there was a significant number of Scottish Labour MPs who suddenly had things to do other than vote. I noted that the names of Mr. Dennis Canavan, Mr. Michael Connarty, Mr. McAllion, and even Mr. Jim Murphy, a former president of the NUS, were absent from the Division List. It is interesting that retribution has been visited on poor Mr. Canavan, who had the temerity to speak. He is not even being allowed on to the list of those who have a chance of going to the Scottish parliament, such is the control opposite.

When we discussed these matters previously at one Question Time, when I managed slightly to sidestep a question on another subject and move it into this field, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, argued that students outside Scotland could enter at the second year because there were differences between Scotland and the rest of the kingdom in the way school education was conducted.

In fact, not many students do enter at the second year. I have the statistics before me. They were given last year in a Parliamentary Answer. The figures are 6 per cent. from England; 7 per cent. from Wales; and 7 per cent. from Northern Ireland. This year there has been an increase. I almost said a considerable number, but the percentage has just about doubled. The vast majority of students from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland still enter at the first year.

There is a total misunderstanding—and I am surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, subscribes to it—that somehow or other as long as someone has some A-levels, he or she can enter university at the second year. It is simply not true. It may be true in a very limited number of cases if someone's A-levels are extremely good; but it is certainly not true in the generality of cases.

My noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour, who is unfortunately not able to be present, has done a lot of work for the Scottish universities. I am indebted to her for a letter that we have received from the Association of University Teachers. In answering the question that will no doubt be put to the House later by the Minister regarding entry at the second year, I can do no better than read out some of the contents of the letter about the whole issue of Scottish student fees. It refers to, the Scottish Minister of State for Education's recent intervention stating that more 'A' level students should apply for, and gain access to, the second year in Scottish institutions", which was echoed by the Minister last time round, and will no doubt be echoed again. The letter continues: The number of students who presently enter directly into the second year is only 8% for all nationalities. Even at this manageable level, there is anecdotal evidence from our members and student associations that many students find the transition too difficult and either drop down into the first year or have to retake the second year". Indeed, just a few hours ago I spoke to a young student from Heriot-Watt university. He said that the view in the student association there was that roughly half of the students entering in the second year fall back within a few weeks of the start of the session and restart the first year. He tells me that that is the position; and it is the position referred to by the Association of University Teachers.

There was one time when a word from the Association of University Teachers meant that the Labour Party simply did what it was told. The world has changed significantly. I even find them on my side, so it has changed quite a lot. Frankly, the letter makes compelling reading.

Even more compelling is the simple fact that the Minister will be unable to give the House any statistics in relation to the outcomes for those students who enter at the second year—how many drop back to the first, how many achieve a poorer degree than they ought to, or how many drop out of university altogether. That information is simply not held.

The Association of University Teachers goes on to say: This line of policy threatens the very existence of the Scottish four-year honours degree as Scots with 'A' levels, and in the future advanced highers, will wish to have the same treatment as English students". The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, said previously that most Scottish students go to university at the age of 17 because they do only five years at school. That is simply not true. Although it was 20 years ago, I speak as someone who taught in a Scottish school. The great majority, indeed almost all, of our students who went to university did a sixth year at school. So the idea that they were fifth-year students and 17 year-olds is not completely true. By the end of their sixth year some students are still just 17. Some Scottish Office statistics pointed out to me by the AUT indicate that only 7.4 per cent. of higher education students were 17 on 31st December 1995, when the survey was taken.

Interestingly, the association goes on to point out that, the number and proportion of direct second year entrants has decreased over the last three years, hence this politically enforced increase", which is the Government's intention, would buck the academic trend and require institutions to radically rethink their admissions policy. It also raises a purely academic problem in that degree courses will have students with differing academic backgrounds in the first 3 years of honours programmes where traditionally the first year has been used to harmonise the academic standards of the students. This may well increase the workloads incurred by a minority of students".

There is more to it than that. For many degrees the students will not have comparable A-levels. Let us say that a student is good at languages, has A-levels in the traditional languages taught in an English school and decides to go to university in Scotland to study Russian. He will have to start at year one. If he goes to study engineering at, for example, Strathclyde or Heriot-Watt university, he will have to start at year one. He will not have done the width of courses at A-level that are necessary to skip that first year.

The same is true of students who decide that they would like to study, say, geology, not having done it at school. They will have to start at year one. I could go on and mention a range of subjects for which there will be no option but to start at year one. The only people who will have any degree of certainty of being able to start in year two will be those with very good A-levels, not just ordinary, run-of-the-mill A-levels.

Your Lordships will be interested to hear about the cost of the change I propose. As the National Union of Students said in a letter from Andrew Pakes, the national president elect: The amount of money involved is negligible and it is hard to understand how the Government has allowed this situation to develop".

In England it would cost £1.5 million to do the sensible thing that the Scottish Office has done; in Wales it would cost £45,000; and in Northern Ireland, because of the large number of Northern Irish students who go to Scottish universities, it would cost £550,000. We are talking about a couple of million pounds in order to right a great wrong which I believe the Government are doing to students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who choose to go to Scottish universities.

But that is not the end of the oddities that occur. Here I quote from a letter from Richard Baker, the president elect of the National Union of Students in Scotland: An added irony exists in that students who are nationals of other European Member States will be treated as Scottish domiciled purely for the purposes of the final year fee waiver and will also be excused the final year tuition fee charge. It would seem that the Government recognise that to practise such discrimination against European Union citizens studying in the UK is in breach of the Maastricht Treaty, and would constitute racial discrimination. Although European law does not protect UK citizens under these circumstances this discrimination is wholly unjustifiable".

Your Lordships will remember that I told you about the exchange with Mr. Brian Wilson on the "World at One" programme. The "World at One" presenter said to Mr. Brian Wilson: "So the youngster from France going to Scotland will pay £3,000; a youngster from England will pay £4,000. Why is that?" "Ah", said Brian Wilson, "France is in the European Union", to which the interviewer said, "Isn't England?" I thought that that said it all. As the NUS letter concludes, It remains absurd that students from Birmingham and Belfast should be expected to pay £1000 more for that choice than students from Munich or Motherwell".

I hate to bring this to your Lordships' attention, but I have two grandchildren. I would not like to disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Sewel! One lives in Kent, and her parents pay their taxes to the UK. The other lives in Italy, and her parents pay their taxes to the Italian government. In the fullness of time, if they decide to follow their parents and grandparents to Glasgow University, the one in Italy will be charged £3,000 for tuition fees; the one in Kent, in the United Kingdom—the same country, supposedly—will be charged £4,000. That is simply not fair.

There is a combination of people who think that that is not fair. The Association of University Teachers and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom think that it is totally unfair; the Liberal Democrats think that it is totally unfair; my noble friends think that it is totally unfair; I trust that many members on the Cross-Benches think that it is totally unfair; and I suspect that not a few members on the Government Back-Benches think that it is pretty unfair as well.

I invite your Lordships to join me today in asking the Commons to think again on this issue and to give it serious consideration. Two million pounds is not a lot of money to sort out an internal anomaly in the United Kingdom and an anomaly as far as the European Union is concerned.

Moved, That this House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 64, but do propose Amendment No. 64D in lieu thereof.—(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.)

6 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel)

My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I say a few words about the grouping of the amendments now before us. The noble Lords, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and Lord Thomson of Monifieth, have rightly grouped their amendments for the convenience of the House so that the issues raised can be discussed in a single debate. The amendments proposed to Clause 25 appear, however, to be alternative ways of making a similar point. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, proposes to disagree with the Commons amendment, while the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, offers an amendment in lieu.

I should indicate to the House that, should the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, press his Motion No. 64C to a vote and win, we on these Benches will accept that decision as binding on Amendment No. 64D and on Motion No. 123A, both of which also stand in the name of the noble Lord. If the noble Lord's Motion No. 64C is carried, I shall therefore accept Amendment No. 64D and Motion No. 123A without a further vote.

The Government believe, however, that the House should have an opportunity to form a separate view on the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, given that this provides an alternative approach to the same question. Accordingly, if the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, chooses to move his Motion No. 123B when it is called at its place in the Marshalled List, the Government will oppose that Motion, although I hope that the House will, having already debated the issues in the grouping now before it, proceed swiftly to a Division if the noble Lord presses his Motion at that point.

I hope that this clarification will allow the House to proceed to an orderly debate on these questions. I shall, of course, seek the leave of the House to speak again at the end of the debate and will save my substantive remarks until then.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth

My Lords, I am sure I speak for the whole House in thanking the Minister for that clarification—if such it was, because I am not myself a great deal clearer than I was before. What I proposed to say—and I hope that it is consistent with the advice we have heard from the noble Lord—was that I was rising primarily to speak to the amendment proposed by the Liberal Democrat group in this House and that in this case the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, would not be making an error if, in replying to the debate, which we would have welcomed, she were to talk about the Opposition in a more collective way than happened in the previous case. I am content, generally speaking, to support the arguments that were put with such force by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.

I am aware that the amendment standing in my name is a flawed amendment, though not through any fault of ours. It does not, for example, refer to Northern Ireland, which is a very necessary part of the issues we are discussing in terms of tuition fees.

I shall not at this stage seek to repeat the powerful arguments put by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, on this issue. I shall confine myself to saying that in principle the Liberal Democrats have always been against student fees in general, and that position has been made clear during the long debates on the Bill. We take the view that, if we have to have student fees, it is doubly unacceptable for them to discriminate against those whose parents reside in one geographical part of the United Kingdom rather than another. I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, that the Government's policy in their Amendment No. 64 destroys the principle of equal treatment and will do great damage to Scottish universities.

I speak with, I hope, appropriate diffidence since I have not previously intervened in the prolonged debates on this piece of legislation, although I hope I have reasonably conscientiously and enthusiastically trudged through the voting lobbies on this issue. However, I thought that perhaps, after 14 years as the chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, I might be entitled to say something on this matter at this final stage. Heriot-Watt University is an intensely Scottish institution, but I think it is fair to say that it is a technological university of international standing. Thirty per cent. of our students come from England, so we are typical of the problem.

The other university with which I have a modest connection—many years ago I was an evening student there when it was a different institution—is the University of Abertay in Dundee. Its principal, Professor Bernard King, spoke to the Scottish Council (Development & Industry) the other day and warned about the Government's proposals in relation to student fees. He believed that in the long run it would have a devastating effect on Scottish student numbers, on the Scottish university system, on the funding of Scottish universities and even perhaps on the number of Scottish universities.

The Government's argument that English students or students from Wales and Northern Ireland should try to join the second year of Scottish courses—an argument dealt with by the noble Lord—would have a disruptive and destabilising effect in the Scottish universities. If that process was persisted in, it would set up a momentum which would end the four-year course altogether.

There is some misunderstanding about that rather glib solution of trying to reconcile the different Scottish tradition to the different English tradition of people joining in the second year. The Scottish four-year course is an integral and coherent programme. The first year is not a disposable bit of bolt-on do-gooding. The Government's cavalier encouragement to English students to join Scottish degree courses in year two is driven by cost cutting and certainly not by academic considerations. The four-year degree course is part of a long and honourable tradition in Scotland of broadly-based education. In fact, 70 per cent. of Scottish university courses are four-year courses.

I am conscious that in joining with the Official Opposition in this House on this matter, we come under the criticism of "flying in the face" (as we were told by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone) of the Salisbury convention. I believe I have a proper regard for the legitimacy of the other place—the elected Chamber. But coming to this matter at this stage with suitable diffidence I hope, though late in the day, I am baffled by the way in which the Government persist in their obstinate refusal to change their position. All those who have been in government in the past go through this process. Proposals are made, often initially because of Treasury aspects, and that may be the case here. They are then debated. They are shown to be ludicrous, absurd and anomalous. But the more that they are shown to be ludicrous, absurd and anomalous, the more the Government stick to them. I begin to feel that that is the state of the present Government on these proposals.

I conclude with this remark. I believe that there are wider than educational implications for the consequences of the Government's stubbornness in this matter. There are implications for the unity of the United Kingdom at the very time that the Government are embarking on the brave policy of devolution. Large numbers of English students at Scottish universities and a smaller number of Scottish students at English universities are an important part of the cement of the United Kingdom. If I may say to the noble Lord who will have the thankless task of replying to the debate, he is a splendid example. I believe I am right in saying that he is an English academic with a distinguished academic record in Scotland and is now a Minister in the Scottish administration within the present Government.

I recall a year or two ago a vigorous correspondence in the letter pages of the Scotsman where the narrower nationalists in Scotland—there are a few of them around—were complaining about the numbers of English students in Edinburgh and some other Scottish universities. They were seeking to make the point that it was turning the Edinburgh University "un-Scottish". There may be a longer-term consequence of the Government's stubbornness over this. The narrower English nationalists who are beginning to raise their heads—we heard something of them in our debate on the Scotland Bill the other day—may begin to mutter as well and there may be an English backlash.

University education should be something that binds the nations of the United Kingdom together instead of dividing them, just as it should bind the nations of the European Union together. Educationally, it is totally absurd that for a saving of around £2 million the Government should treat students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland differently from those from the rest of the European Union, of which we are members. But seriously, constitutionally, to save £2 million will seem a high price in terms of the United Kingdom's sense of unity and that precious aspect of the unity which is provided by our educational system and is so necessary to make a success of devolution.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I support the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, for a variety of reasons—touched upon, to some extent, by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, I have a granddaughter who has just successfully completed four years at the University of St. Andrews on the basis of English A-levels. There is nothing I know about that university, of which I am an honorary professor, which would lead me to think that she or anyone else would have done better by joining that course at the beginning of the second year.

The argument advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, is far more important. The Scottish universities are among Scotland's main contributors to the history of the United Kingdom. Indeed, their history precedes the creation of the United Kingdom. The ancient Scottish universities were there before the Scottish Parliament and may indeed survive the parliament that we are apparently about to set up. One reason has been that they have been part of an international flow of study and learning. From the 18th century—one must not always look at things in terms of the past few years—to achieve a Scottish university education was one of the objectives of anyone preparing himself for a number of major professional or public service fields in England. The noble Lord, Lord Thomson, reminded us that there has been a flow in another direction as well and they have all contributed to the common culture of the United Kingdom.

I know that governments are, by their nature, obstinate. But this is a curious case where obstinacy is combined with self-contradiction. It was only a few days ago that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, emphasised to this House that nothing in the devolution measures should be thought to diminish the unity of the United Kingdom. Anyone who suggested that it was part of a primrose path to Scottish separatism was out of his mind. Yet the same noble Lord, Lord Sewel, is apparently prepared, for the sake of £2 million—one could obtain a couple of nude statues of Mr. Peter Mandelson and erect them in the Dome for that price—to damage one of the most important and obvious facets of the common culture of our United Kingdom. How he can live with himself in the face of that self-contradiction I find extremely difficult to understand.

Lord McConnell

My Lords, I am against discrimination and I find it hard to think of any other word to describe a proposal whereby full fees are paid to Scottish students and to students from all the countries of the European Union but are denied to other students in the United Kingdom from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Over many years there has been a strong connection between Northern Ireland and the Scottish universities. As has already been explained, many students go from Northern Ireland to the Scottish universities. That should not be harmed by a proposal of this nature.

When it is said that other European Union countries will get the full grant, does that include the Irish Republic? Will students from the Irish Republic get the full grant whereas students from Northern Ireland or from England or Wales will not? I think it is time that the Government thought this matter through and decided to act in a fair and equitable way.

Lord Dearing

My Lords, in speaking in support of the Conservative amendment in the previous debate, I described myself as the villain of this show. I think I am the excoriated villain of this issue.

When the committee was considering what principles it should work from, one of those it chose was to seek greater equity between all the citizens of the United Kingdom. In its recommendations it sought to gain greater equity between students going to further education and higher education—that was one of the justifications for introducing tuition fees, as there are in further education—and greater equity between part-time and full-time students. Part-timers are often paid; full-timers are not.

In expanding that principle we came to perhaps a very simple view that all students—wherever they were, whatever the course was and whatever the course cost—should make the same contribution. Whether it was a one-year course, a two-year course, a three-year course or a four-year course, it should be a straight, flat £1,000. One could say that was unfair to those taking a one-year course because they would not get government subsidies like other citizens for three or four-year courses. But it seemed a simple principle and one which was equitable. Therefore, we said that that should be the principle.

However, in the case of Scotland we recognised that a number of students had not had the advantage of an extra two years after compulsory schooling at public expense. So we recommended to the Government that Scottish students who had only one year's education after statutory schooling, many of whom under current arrangements would choose to take a four-year honours degree, should not make a tuition contribution for one of their years in higher education. That was fair do's. Then we said that beyond that it would be a matter for consideration for the Secretary of State for Scotland. He exercises his discretion in relation to the funding of the universities and in relation to participation. We thought that this would be another occasion. Perhaps we had in mind that if he exercised his discretion it should be more widely than he has chosen to do it. But I would say this to the House. If the House were minded to the view that if a course is for four years the student should be let off one year, I would point out that there are many programmes in England, in Wales and in Northern Ireland that last for four years. The cost would not be £2 million. I do not know what the cost would be, but it might be 10 times £2 million.

Therefore, in debating this issue we have to consider that the extension of that principle might widen programmes throughout the United Kingdom and that we would be breaking the very simple and equitable principle that for every year you make a contribution.

Lord Addington

My Lords, I have an interest to declare. I was an English student who went to a Scottish university. I left just over a decade ago. When I reached Scotland I discovered just how different the Scottish system is. People talk about taking out the first year. After I was halfway through the first year I was told that I could have done that. The reason it is there is that it is a four-year course. It is unit constructed and has the option of becoming an ordinary degree after three years and goes into honours at the end of the second year. It is a very different beast to the English degree. One of its strengths is that students do not have to specialise straight away. They can find out the subjects they are good at under university conditions. Students do not have to go straight in and decide the minute they arrive. I transferred, quite ironically, from politics to history.

The system is so different. It is designed to fulfil different educational functions. Furthermore, the system is not dependent on the very narrow A-level examination. I have heard much in this House and beyond as to just how limiting A-levels can be. If you fail those exams or you change around you suddenly find yourself in a strait-jacket. The Scottish system allows broader entrance. It is a system which answers many of the questions which we are asking about our own higher education system.

The idea of fairness has been dealt with very well by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. Why should someone who comes from outside the Scottish system but from inside the United Kingdom be treated differently from someone who comes from outside the Scottish system but from inside the European Union? That is ridiculous. The Scottish system has many supportive features and thus creates better educational opportunities. The universities are very much the property of their communities—that was certainly true at Aberdeen University—in a way that has not been achieved in England. In England there is the idea that you bus in your students. In Scotland they are predominantly for locals. When a university is expanded to take in students from outside, I have a nagging suspicion that you end up damaging a local community and a local resource. We can always bandy around statistics, but there is always that danger.

The more one looks at this the more it becomes apparent that, for what is effectively about a quarter of what the National Lottery gives away every weekend, the Government are prepared to damage opportunities for people from England to experience a different type of education system that allows them greater variation in their choice of subjects and the chance to get the right course. I support the Motion.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead

My Lords, I shall be very brief. I declare an interest because I am an unofficial guardian of two orphans who attend Edinburgh University. Those of the friends of the family who can afford to make some contribution are finding it fairly difficult to do so. For that and many other reasons, I support the Motion.

Lord Rowallan

My Lords, I rise with great diffidence to support my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. I have voted only once before in all the proceedings on the Bill. That was on this very issue first time round. I feel it is a total travesty and a complete nonsense to discriminate in the way that the Government propose. Twenty-two thousand students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently study in Scotland. I gather that the latest figures show that in the Scottish institutions entries are down by 4.5 per cent., while the number of English students entering the second year is up by 99 per cent. At a time when we are trying to promote a Scottish parliament, there is something seriously wrong if we are discriminating against Scottish universities and discriminating against students from within the United Kingdom. I sincerely hope that the House strongly supports my noble friend.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Davies of Oldham

My Lords, I begin by declaring an interest. I am chair of the Further Education Funding Council (England), although I believe that that position has nothing at all to do with my contribution to this debate. Far from regarding the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, as the villain of the piece, I regard him as the hero of the exercise in identifying proper, fair and equitable support and funding for each student.

Let us get the position clear as regards Scotland and the case which has been deployed from the Opposition Benches. I feel a great deal more secure when the Opposition are debating this issue now rather than something like the previous amendment when it was suggested that their concern was overwhelmingly for those from poorer backgrounds. That is an issue which scarcely categorised the past 18 years of the previous administration. But now we are clear that the Opposition are talking about the defence of a middle-class perk. After all, those from poorer backgrounds are not affected by this issue because the Government have taken the position adopted by the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, with a guarantee that no tuition fees will be charged for those who come from poorer backgrounds. So the issue does not obtain as regards that category of student.

Therefore, we are talking about students who come from homes which are in a position to make some kind of contribution. Let us be clear, for example, about the kind of contribution that can be made by the parents of the grand-daughter of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. They are already indicating that they are prepared to support the young person for four years instead of three. There will be additional costs involved from forgone earnings.

Noble Lords will recognise that a very high percentage of students who attend Scottish universities from England come from the southern counties and the more prosperous parts of southern England. Is that entirely surprising? Inevitably over a four-year period extra costs are involved in regular travel from and to their homes and the Scottish universities. That cannot be a marginal cost when one considers, for example, the journey to St. Andrews.

We are talking about a proposition which states that the Government should be supporting students who come from backgrounds in which the additional costs involved in going to Scottish higher education have been, or will be, absorbed. It is maintained that it would be quite unfair, if not catastrophic, if the Government withdrew their subsidy in that regard.

This issue cannot be calamitous for Scottish universities. Either the numbers are so limited at present that the potential loss of support is no great matter, or if there are significant numbers, it is quite clear that extra subsidy has been going from the state to support the students. But there is no subsidy the other way. I understand the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, about the advantages of cross-fertilisation by people from different parts of the United Kingdom, but I have not heard of a proposal in recent years suggesting that a very significant subsidy should be given to Scottish students to encourage them to attend English universities. That has always been regarded as a matter of choice on their part and not for society, the government and the taxpayer to subsidise. Therefore, why should it be suggested that subsidy should be considered the other way round?

The answer for the Scottish universities is quite clear. All the figures we have at the moment show that there is no reduction in applications to Scottish universities in the light of the new proposals. The argument put forward in the last debate is surely right. Of all the issues which condition whether people go into higher education and where they choose to go, the marginal costs that we are talking about are not at stake when students make a decision. If such decisions, however marginal, prove to be somewhat damaging to Scottish universities I oblige them to widen their appeal to students from poorer backgrounds in England who would be able to go to the universities without the extra impost. I suggest that would be a development that we would all welcome.

Baroness Park of Monmouth

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Davies, has overlooked one or two points. I would not describe Northern Ireland as full of rich people. It is filled with rather poor people who at this particular moment more than any other need reassurance that we support them. They are bound to be thinking that it is strange, to say the least, that students from Eire will be getting an advantage and that they will not. That is the first point.

Except for the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth,—incidentally, I strongly support his feeling about the importance of the Union—no one has spoken enough about the anxieties felt in Scotland both among students and their teachers about the future of the four-year course. On the advice of the Government, the influx of students into the second year is distorting it and can only continue to do so. That is bad for education. According to the Association of University Teachers and others, they are anxious that this measure may bring universities to consider a three-year course. In turn, that will have an impact on what is taught at the top level in secondary schools in Scotland. There will be a complete educational upheaval, which is nonsense when we are talking about a relatively small sum of money. That is the second point.

I come back to the general matter of fairness. It is difficult for any student to understand how it can be fair that someone from Portugal who lives in this country will gain advantage while someone from England, Northern Ireland or Wales will not. It is not an issue of rich and poor but a question of fairness. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, told an excellent story about questions on the radio. It is very curious indeed that, having just put the Treaty of Amsterdam through this House, when we talked about everyone being a citizen of the Union—including us, I suppose—suddenly for the purposes of this Bill we are not citizens of the Union. We do not have the advantages of any other member of the European Union. That is very strange.

Earl Russell

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, will in future desist from using the Orwellian argument, "Mr. Jones will come back". It is not for me to defend the record of the party physically on my left, and the noble Lord knows that it has not been my habit to do so. But it is not relevant to the debate on this amendment. If the noble Lord wants to challenge me or my Benches to a contest on concern for people from poorer backgrounds, I will take him up on that any time. We do not have to keep the House waiting to listen to it.

I was grateful to be able to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, describing the good intentions which paved the road to where we have now arrived. I believe we heard a classic description of the dangers of excessive addiction to formula funding. It is like taking a wildlife site and carefully planting it. One tends to iron out all the idiosyncrasies and all the vital individualities which are there because they have grown there. Scottish education is good because it has been allowed to grow that way. It has not been pulled up by the roots to see how it is growing.

I am glad that my noble friend said what he did about the danger of national separation in universities. When I went across the water to Yale I found one of the world's great universities. I will never say otherwise. But it did disconcert me deeply to find a national flag carried in front at a degree ceremony. We do not want to get that in what we believe should remain the United Kingdom.

I have one further point. We have here discrimination by national origin within the European Union. That bears a prima facie appearance of contravening Article 7 of the Treaty of Rome. I raised this point in Committee and the Minister replied that the Government were "confident". I have heard that before. When the Minister replies, I hope that he can give me better reasons than that for believing that what the Government are now doing will not result in our ending up in court.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish because I am on the councils of both Dundee and St. Andrews universities. I studied at Dundee and graduated from St. Andrews because at the time they were one and the same university. I should like to advise noble Lords opposite who have been going on about paying fees that I paid my own fees, which were £25 a year. I paid them by working at picking soft fruit and potatoes. I lived at home and I hitchhiked in because I could not afford the bus fare.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, oh to be in St. Etienne now that Scotland is there! I think that I share a certain fellow feeling with Mr. Jim Leighton this evening, but I hope that he has more success than I am likely to have. We have had this debate several times previously and it is not surprising that a number of the arguments and, indeed, a number of the personalities and characters involved have reappeared, even down to what is now the standing army of relatives of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.

Perhaps I may deal first with a point raised by the "diagonal Opposition" and in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth. The Government are not in any sense relying on the Salisbury convention in the context of this debate. That simply does not arise in any way, shape or form.

Although we have been around this track a number of times in this House and in another place, it is clear that there is still much misunderstanding over why the Secretary of State for Scotland decided to introduce a concession on fees for Scottish students in the fourth or additional year of the generally longer honours degree courses offered in Scotland.

It has to be remembered that Scottish universities and colleges are not the only institutions in the United Kingdom which provide four-year honours degree courses. There are institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which also provide such courses. The concession made for Scottish students is not intended to be a subsidy for Scottish institutions at the expense of those institutions elsewhere in the United Kingdom which provide four-year honours degree courses; rather, it is intended to compensate Scottish students who may enter university after having received only one year's education after the statutory school leaving age, often at the age of only 17.

To some extent, I accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, that an increasing number of Scottish students are going to university a year later, at 18, not, however, following an integrated two-year course, as is the case in England, but having taken two separate lots of Highers. The degree of intellectual development involved in adding up the number of Highers that one has gained is very different from the intellectual development involved in the two-year integrated A-level course. That is why it has always been recognised that because of the earlier starting point—in the past "earlier" meant in terms of chronological age but is now taken in the sense of the student's intellectual development—a four-year course is more appropriate for Scottish students than is a three-year course. Those studying in Scotland and those studying in the rest of the UK finish at the same point in terms of intellectual development. That is why, in line with the recommendation in both the Dearing and Garrick reports, most Scottish students will not be required to pay tuition fees in the additional year, which is, typically, the fourth year.

The other point that can be made about Scottish students' intellectual development at the start of their university degree can be seen from the low proportion of Scottish school students who attend English universities. It is a very restricted and narrow flow. It is difficult to make the transition across the two very different systems in that direction. It is much easier to make the transition from south to north.

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland spend longer in school education before entering university. Indeed, not only do they spend longer at school, but they go further in their school education. They spend two years studying an integrated A-level course or its equivalent. There is no reason why, having had that extra year's school education, they too should have one year's tuition fees paid for them regardless of their family's income just because they attend Scottish universities rather than universities in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. If we are concerned about poor students from Northern Ireland—and I am concerned—I must point out that such students will not pay that amount because they will be covered by the income factor.

Scottish higher education rightly has a high reputation. I have been proud to be a member of the Scottish higher education system for nearly 30 years. I have a commitment—the Government have a commitment—to maintaining that high standard. We recognise that many students in the rest of the United Kingdom can, and wish to, benefit from studying at a Scottish university—perhaps in particular those who, like the children of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, have family ties with Scotland. I quite understand that they may wish to make use of the high quality education provided by the University of Glasgow, following in the footsteps of their parents or even grandparents. However, no student will be prevented under our proposals from benefiting from Scottish higher education because they cannot afford the fees for a fourth year. Students from low-income families—wherever they may happen to be living in the UK—will in any case have their fees paid for them while those from middle-income families will receive help, depending on the level of their income.

The Motions tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, will benefit only those who can well afford to pay fees for a fourth year. It amounts to a subsidy for the better off and runs counter to the Dearing principle that those who benefit from higher education should share the costs.

In any case, in choosing to undertake a four-year course at a Scottish institution, UK students not ordinarily resident in Scotland have already made a decision to forgo potential earnings and to take on extra maintenance costs by choosing to study for an extra year.

Taken together, the additional costs of doing an extra year in a Scottish university amount to approximately £20,000, taking forgone earnings into account. The additional fee of £1,000 is 5 per cent. of the total cost which is the product of the decision to attend a Scottish, as opposed to an English, university and to take a four-year degree there.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackay, may say that it is not the 5 per cent. that counts, but the principle. That principle is equality of treatment across the United Kingdom for Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students alike. That is superficially an attractive argument but it does not bear that much scrutiny. It was the Dearing inquiry, in the light of representations from its Scottish Standing Committee (the Garrick Committee), that recommended that Scottish students at Scottish institutions should not have to pay for one of the four years that they must normally spend to acquire an honours degree. The reasoning behind this was clearly concerned with equity. It was to compensate Scottish students who had had one fewer year's education at public expense before entering university. On that reasoning there are no grounds for giving English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students the same concession of a free year's tuition.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas

My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. Is he aware that his argument carries considerably less weight as far more students are staying a year longer in Scottish schools?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I believe that I dealt with that point earlier in my speech. I accepted that an increasing number of Scottish students stayed on at school, but that in terms of intellectual development they were not following the same integrated two-year A-level course as in England. They were staying on and, for the most part, just adding to a number of Highers. Therefore, they do not reach the same stage by the time that they leave school as English students. That degree of development rightly and properly takes place in the first year of a four-year honours degree.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth

My Lords, I would have had greater respect for the Minister's argument had he said that the Scottish school system in the fifth and sixth forms was different from the English system, which is much more selective. The idea that somehow or other the Scottish secondary school system in the fifth and sixth years is intellectually inferior to the English system is very curious, coming as it does from a Scottish Minister.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord has made that point. I do not say that it is intellectually inferior but that it is fundamentally different. In Scotland the main qualification that students take at the end of their school life is the Higher. That course is studied over a period of just over two terms in most cases. I believe that the noble Lord will agree with that. That is a matter of fact. In England one has the two-year A-level. I do not say that the A-level is superior to the Higher or anything of that kind. The Scottish system under which students take more subjects than under the A-level system has a lot to be said for it. However, one does not get as far down the road in a particular area of study or intellectual development in Scotland as in England by the time one gets to university. The four-year Scottish degree has always recognised that by incorporating that work in the context of university study.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I was impressed by the argument of the Minister that the better-off in England should pay. What about better-off Scots? I know a good number of Scottish students who come from well-off homes. Why should they not pay?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, we have ways and means of making sure that the rich Scots pay, but we do not say that there are many of them. As far as concerns Scottish students, one must look at the bundle as a whole. Here and there is a contribution that the graduate will be expected to make.

I return to my argument. I maintain that there are no grounds for giving English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students the same concession in order to provide a free year's tuition at university level when it is recognised that that year is spent within the school system. I believe that we shall be here for a considerable time.

Earl Russell

My Lords, if there is no case for making this concession to English, Welsh and Northern Irish students, why is there a case for making it to French, German, Italian and Finnish students?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, if the noble Earl will allow me to get on I shall deal with that point later. That may be an incentive to others. The arguments and reasons for equity provide much stronger grounds for resisting rather than supporting the amendment of the noble Lord. It would lead to inequality between English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students in the fourth year at Scottish institutions where all tuition-fee support would be paid without means-testing, and students at English, Welsh and Northern Ireland institutions where tuition-fee support would depend on means-testing. One comes back to the argument that there are institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which already have four-year degree courses.

I see no reason why a student from Northumberland should have his fees paid in the fourth year regardless of income if he attends St. Andrews but not if he studies at Durham or Newcastle. Similarly, why should a student from Northern Ireland automatically have his fourth-year fees paid at Glasgow but not at Queen's University, Belfast? That is where the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, falls down. It does not deal with the students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who attend institutions in those countries that provide four-year degree courses. They will still be in the position of having to pay.

We have yet to hear from the noble Lord how he would justify exempting students from fees in the fourth year of courses at Scottish institutions but not those in the fourth year of courses at institutions in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Why is it right that a four-year course at an English institution should cost an English student up to £4,000 when a four-year course at a Scottish institution would cost that same student only up to £3,000? So much for that appeal for equity. That breaks down. Our proposals would ensure that all students across the UK could if they so chose get an honours degree for up to £3,000 in fees. That is the test of equity which these proposals pass.

The stance that is taken by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and his noble friends on the Front Bench directly opposite is curious. I remind them of their much-vaunted endorsement of the Dearing Report lock, stock and barrel at the time of its publication. They have encouraged the Government to stick closely to it and then criticise them when they do so. They claim to be the party of Dearing and in favour of tuition fees, yet they speak against the Dearing Committee's very own Recommendation 81 and in support of exempting all students from tuition fees in the fourth year of Scottish courses, however wealthy their background. Perhaps the noble Lord can explain how he reconciles his party's support of Dearing with such disregard for that committee's Recommendation 81.

We have heard arguments that the Government are treating Scottish institutions unfairly. On the contrary, the Government have already made a significant concession to Scottish institutions which benefits them. To go further than that and provide non-means-tested grants for all English, Welsh and Northern Ireland students in the fourth year of courses at Scottish institutions would give Scottish institutions an unfair advantage over English, Welsh and Northern Ireland institutions. What the noble Lord appears to argue for is a subsidy for Scottish institutions. But given the high reputation of Scottish universities I do not believe that that is necessary or right.

The noble Lord referred to Scottish institutions suffering from the loss of applicants from other parts of the UK. Application figures for 1998–99 do not bear out the argument that the geographical diversity of the Scottish student base has been damaged by our arrangements. By mid-May the drop in the number of English applicants was, at some 4.1 per cent., less than the 4.5 per cent. drop in the total number of applicants to Scottish institutions while the number of Welsh applicants had risen by 4.5 per cent.

It is also worth remembering that the number of applicants from within the UK but from outside Scotland—at about 33,000—easily outnumbers the 27,000 or so Scottish applicants. There is not the slightest evidence that these proposals are having a deleterious effect or consequence on the number of non-Scottish UK students applying to Scottish universities. There is not a shred of evidence to support that claim.

It is of course open to Scottish universities to admit more students into the second year of their courses from the rest of the UK. That is a point that I have made a number of times before. That is up to them. They must exercise their judgment. I taught at a university where a relatively small proportion of students did that. They did it without any great disruption. The time is now right for various universities in Scotland to look at the way in which they structure their courses. The straightforward, rigid, conventional four-year degree structure, and perhaps the rigid three-year structure—although it is not for me to pronounce upon it—may not be universally appropriate for all students. A greater degree of flexibility, of entry at different stages, at different levels, perhaps exiting at different stages and different levels might be more appropriate to meet the needs of an increasingly large undergraduate population. It is up to the universities themselves to decide that. We will not decide it for them. I am convinced that entry at different levels recognising prior qualification, is a sound academic route for the universities to go down.

There is a further argument against the Motions set down in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. Students are currently required to have been ordinarily resident in a particular area on a certain date prior to the start of their higher education course in order to qualify for an award from the body responsible for awards in that area. We intend to maintain ordinary residence as a criterion for eligibility for financial assistance with fees. It would thus be ordinary residence which would determine whether a student would be eligible for assistance from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland, or from the Department of Education for Northern Ireland, or from the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. It is those students who are eligible for assistance from the Scottish Student Awards Agency who would receive the concession announced for Scottish students studying in Scotland.

The amendments tabled by the noble Lord would in effect circumscribe the use of ordinary residence as a criterion for financial support for student fees. They would require the Secretary of State for Education and Employment to extend any arrangements for financial support for fees made under English and Welsh legislation to students ordinarily resident in Scotland in their fourth year at English or Welsh institutions. Is everyone happy with that? This would apply for the fourth year of courses only, not for the preceding three years. So, a student ordinarily resident in Scotland could apply to an English local education authority for means-tested support for the fourth year but not for the preceding three years, when the student would have to apply to the Scottish Student Awards Agency for support.

Likewise, any arrangements made available under the Scottish provisions for financial support with fees would have to be extended to students ordinarily resident in England, Wales or Northern Ireland in their fourth year at Scottish universities. Again, this would apply for the fourth year of courses only, not for the preceding three years. So, under the present administrative arrangements, a student ordinarily resident in England could apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland for non-means-tested support for the fourth year, but not for the preceding three years, when the student would have to apply to an English local education authority for means-tested support.

This would lead to considerable confusion, not least for students. It would be a thoroughly unsatisfactory piece of legislation, which would undermine the current use of ordinary residence as a criterion for eligibility for financial support with higher education.

For practical considerations but more importantly for reasons of principle, I urge the House to resist the noble Lord's Motion. As I explained earlier, the proposals do not accord with the principles of the Dearing Committee. Our proposals protect the diversity of the higher education system in the UK, without giving an unfair advantage to Scottish institutions over other institutions in the UK. They promote equality by ensuring that, across the school and higher education systems as a whole, students in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK can receive the same number of years of education at public expense. And they provide all students in the UK with the opportunity to study for an honours degree for the same maximum contribution towards tuition costs, while ensuring that those from lower income families, from all parts of the UK, will receive free tuition.

This Motion is inappropriate and misguided. For practical considerations—but more importantly for the reasons of principle—I urge the House to resist the noble Lord's Motion.

My Lords, I turn now to the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth. In his Motion the noble Lord argues that our policy will result in unfairness and inequality. On the contrary, our proposals mean that all students in the UK will have the opportunity to study for an honours degree for a maximum contribution of £3,000 towards tuition costs. Our policy thus recognises and preserves the diversity of the UK higher education system, which we value, while also offering equality of opportunity.

Let us also be clear that no student, from any part of the United Kingdom, will be prevented from attending a Scottish university or college because he or she cannot afford a fourth year of tuition fees. Students from outside Scotland who come from low-income families will in any case be entitled to free tuition. Many more from middle income families will receive financial assistance with fees. To extend free tuition to all UK students in the fourth year of honours courses at Scottish institutions, regardless of financial circumstances, would help only those from better off families.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth

My Lords, it might be for the convenience of the House and might help the Minister were I to say that in the light of the procedural situation described initially I shall not move my Motion in due course.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. That will help me to abbreviate my comments. I regret that I am detaining the House, but I had a number of lengthy and detailed interventions at the beginning of my speech. I am sure that the House would wish me to cover in full the points that have been made.

I want now to turn to the problem of cost. It would cost approaching £2 million a year to meet the fees of all fourth year students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Scottish courses. But, as I have said, that in itself would create an anomaly and would no doubt lead to mounting pressure on the Government to meet the fees for all UK students on the fourth year of degree courses at institutions throughout the UK, because once one makes the point that the fourth year is covered automatically for all students in Scotland, regardless of where they have come from or what they have done before, it is, in all fairness, impossible to say that we will not do the same for students attending courses at English universities. That seems to follow inevitably. Throughout the course of the Bill, I have heard no argument that those who support the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, will draw the line there and will not argue for that extension.

If that extension takes place, which I believe is inevitable, it will cost 10 times as much—in the region of £27 million a year, and possibly quite a lot more. Such an exemption would benefit the well off since only they would be required to contribute towards tuition fees. I repeat that it would do nothing to benefit those most in need of assistance. In practice, a subsidy of £20 million or so for better off families would mean £27 million less in public funding for universities and colleges.

I accept that there are Members opposite who started to go down that path for understandable reasons of equity. I believe that when noble Lords properly understand the situation—students come to Scottish universities from different school environments and traditions, having reached different stages—it is clear the Government's proposals answer the test of equity. The Opposition's proposals raise the anomaly as regards people attending four year courses in English, Welsh and Northern Irish universities. If they propose that the new anomaly they have created should be resolved, an extra £27 million will be taken out of the resources of the universities and colleges. Is that what they want? I think not; I hope not.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his first intervention. The noble Lord indicated that if Amendment No. 64D were carried by your Lordships, Amendment No. 123A would be accepted by the Government. I am grateful for that.

As regards his second intervention, I hope that Scotland do a good deal better in a few minutes than the noble Lord has done in defending the Scottish goals. He seemed to spend most of his time passing the ball back which, as some noble Lords will know, is a dangerous occupation in football.

I do not wish to take too long, but I shall make a few points. I find it far from the reality of Scottish education when I hear that in Scottish schools there is only one year after the statutory leaving date. The noble Lord, Lord Dearing, repeated that. I do not know where the Minister and noble Lord get their information. It is 20 years since I taught at Oban High School as principal teacher of mathematics. The vast majority of my pupils stayed on for two years after the statutory leaving date. They gained Highers and the certificate of six years study which was every bit as good as A-levels. They went into the first year of universities. I worry that our education policy has been based on a totally fallacious view of Scottish school education.

The Minister did not answer the other point. What about the Republic of Ireland, Italy or France? Do all those pupils leave at 17? Do they only have five years of schooling? Of course not. They leave at 18-plus. The noble Lord failed to mention Europe. I am not surprised. He made no attempt, for example, to reply to the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I am not surprised. The noble Earl asked me many questions in my time and sometimes they were difficult. The question tonight was clearly so difficult that the Minister did not even try to convince the noble Earl that government policy is not contradictory to European law.

The essential unfairness is lost, it would appear, on the noble Lord, Lord Davies. It would be bad enough if it involved only England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it involves the Republic of Ireland with students from Northern Ireland. I gave the example of Italy, and the rest of the European Union. That is the other anomaly that the Government have not addressed.

The Minister referred to students in Northern Ireland: no one is having his or her fourth year paid at Queen's University, Belfast. That is the point: no one is. I should complain if Northern Irish students were having their fourth year paid and no one else was. That is the point: the Minister seems to have lost it altogether.

I do not believe that the Government have made their case. I believe that noble Lords would be reasonable and correct, and defending not only the Scottish tradition but also the interests of those students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who wish to go to Scotland for their education, if they voted with me this evening.

I can do no better than to leave your Lordships with the words of Mr. Dennis Canavan—a man who will not find it easy to be bracketed in the same group as your Lordships, both life and hereditary, and especially the latter. Mr. Canavan said that he appealed to the Government to see reason; it is a plea for justice. That is the plea I make. I ask the House to agree to Amendment No. 64D in lieu of Commons Amendment No. 64.

7.15 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 64D) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 212; Not-Contents, 89.

Division No. 2
Aberdare, L. Cross, V.
Ackner, L. Cumberlege, B.
Addington, L. Darcy de Knayth, B.
Ailsa, M. Dartmouth, E.
Aldington, L. Davidson, V.
Ampthill, L. Dean of Harptree, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B. Denham, L.
Ashbourne, L. Denton of Wakefield, B.
Attlee, E. Dholakia, L.
Baker of Dorking, L. Eden of Winton, L.
Balfour, E. Ellenborough, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Elles, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Beloff, L. Elton, L.
Berners, B. Falkland, V.
Bethell, L. Fookes, B.
Biddulph, L. Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Biffen, L. Gardner of Parkes, B.
Birdwood, L. Gisborough, L.
Blackburn, Bp. Glenarthur, L.
Blackwell, L. Glentoran, L.
Blaker, L. Goodhart, L.
Blatch, B. Gray of Contin, L.
Blyth, L. Greenway, L.
Bowness, L. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hamilton of Dalzell, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L. Hampton, L.
Bramall, L. Hamwee, B.
Brentford, V. Harding of Petherton, L.
Bridgeman, V. Hardwicke, E.
Broadbridge, L. Harmsworth, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Bruntisfield, L. Hayhoe, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller.] Hereford, Bp.
Butterworth, L. Higgins, L.
Byford, B. Holderness, L.
Cadman, L. HolmPatrick, L.
Calverley, L. Home, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Hooper, B.
Carlisle, E. Hope of Craighead, L.
Carnarvon, E. Howe, E.
Carr of Hadley, L. Howe of Aberavon, L.
Chesham, L. Hunt of Wirral, L.
Clancarty, E. Hurd of Westwell, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Inchyra, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Inglewood, L.
Colwyn, L. Jacobs, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. Jopling, L.
Courtown, E. Kenyon, L.
Cox, B. Killearn, L.
Cranborne, V. Kingsland, L.
Crathorne, L. Kinloss, Ly.
Kinnoull, E. Razzall, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B. Redesdale, L.
Lane of Horsell, L. Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Lauderdale, E. Rennell, L.
Lawrence, L. Renton, L.
Leigh, L. Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Limerick, E. Renwick, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B. Roberts of Conwy, L.
Long, V. Rochester, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Ludford, B. Rotherwick, L.
Luke, L. Rowallan, L.
Lyell, L. Russell, E.
McColl of Dulwich, L. Ryder of Wensum, L.
McConnell, L. St. John of Bletso, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
MacLaurin of Knebworth, L. Seccombe, B.
Macleod of Borve, B. Selborne, E.
McNair, L. Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Maddock, B. Sharples, B.
Mar and Kellie, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Marlesford, L. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Masham of Ilton, B. Stair, E.
Massereene and Ferrard, V. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Meston, L. Strange, B.
Middleton, L. Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Miller of Hendon, B. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L. Swinton, E.
Monro of Langholm, L. Teviot, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L. Thomas of Gresford, L.
Mountevans, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Moynihan, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Munster, E. Thurso, V.
Napier and Ettrick, L. Tope, L.
Newby, L. Tordoff, L.
Newton of Braintree, L. Trefgarne, L.
Norrie, L. Trenchard, V.
Northesk, E. Trumpington, B.
Norton, L. Tugendhat, L.
Ogmore, L. Vestey, L.
Onslow of Woking, L. Vivian, L.
Oxfuird, V. Waddington, L.
Palmer, L. Wade of Chorlton, L.
Park of Monmouth, B. Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Pender, L. Westbury, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L. Williams of Crosby, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L. Wilson of Tillyorn, L.
Prior, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Rankeillour, L. Wise, L.
Rawlings, B. Wynford, L.
Acton, L. Dixon, L.
Amos, B. Dormand of Easington, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Dubs, L.
Berkeley, L. Evans of Parkside, L.
Blackstone, B. Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Blease, L. Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Borrie, L. Gallacher, L.
Burlison, L. Gilbert, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Gladwin of Clee, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.] Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L. Gregson, L.
David, B. Hanworth, V.
Davies of Oldham, L. Hardy of Wath, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Haskel, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Hayman, B.
Dearing, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Desai, L. Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Orme, L.
Hoyle, L. Peston, L.
Hughes, L. Pitkeathley, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.] Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Islwyn, L. Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Janner of Braunstone, L. Sewel, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Shepherd, L.
Jeger, B. Simon, V.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Simon of Highbury, L.
Kirkhill, L. Simpson of Dunkeld, L.
Levy, L. Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Lockwood, B. Stone of Blackheath, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L. Strabolgi, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.] Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Mallalieu, B. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L. Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Milner of Leeds, L. Walker of Doncaster, L.
Monkswell, L. Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Montague of Oxford, L. Weatherill, L.
Morris of Manchester, L. Whitty, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Nicol, B. Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

7.27 p.m.