HC Deb 10 March 1947 vol 434 cc139-40W
Sir E. Graham Little

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now make a statement regarding the grant to universities which he proposes to make in the forthcoming Budget.

Mr. Dalton

I have received and considered a report from the University Grants Committee on the financial needs of the universities for the five years 1947–52 Before the war Exchequer grants to the universities were settled for periods of five years. I propose to resume this practice in order that universities may plan development with knowledge of the resources they may expect. They will need Exchequer grants on an increasing scale for some time to come, both in order to effect improvements which were due even before the war, and to increase the number of students.

As their needs will be on a rising scale, propose that Parliament should be asked to provide recurrent grants rising from £9,000,000 for the academic year 1947–8 to £9,970,000 for 1948–9 and thence by annual increments of £650,000 to £11,920,000 for 1951–2. The recurrent grants for the present academic year will amount to between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000. These figures exclude the grants of £500,000 now made to teaching hospitals, which will continue during the financial year 1947–8 and the amount of which for future years has not yet been determined. They also exclude grants for agricultural education, responsibility for which will pass to the University Grants Committee after the current year.

The University Grants Committee estimate that the universities' programmes of development will necessitate during the quinquennium non-recurrent grants amounting to £50,000,000, of which £40,000,000 would be for new buildings and £10,000,000 for acquiring sites, existing buildings and new equipment. I accept this estimate of the need and will do my best to meet it. I am advised, however, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works that, even after allowing for a high degree of priority, the best forecast at present possible does not justify the expectation that Universities will be able to undertake more than £20,000,000 worth of new building during the quinquennium. I appreciate that such a restriction of the building programme must retard to some extent the expansion which the universities have in view and which, in the public interest, the Government most earnestly desire to see. I am afraid that for the present it would be only prudent to plan on the basis that not more than £20,000.000 worth of new building will be possible during the quinquennium, but I propose to review the position from year to year.

The sum which Parliament will be asked to vote for the financial year 1947–8 is £11,875, 000. This figure includes the grants to the teaching hospitals, provision for agricultural education after the present academic year, and £3,500,000 for capital grants.