§ Mr. Dobson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to the NHS of meeting tuition fees for nursing students arising from the Higher Education Bill. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 2 February 2004]: Existing contracts between strategic health authorities and higher education institutions for nursing, midwifery and allied health professional training, cover the full cost of that training, including tuition. The consultation document, "Funding Learning and Development for the Healthcare Workforce", sets out our proposal for a national model contract. It is intended that this contract for national health service-funded pre-registration courses, to be introduced from 1 April 2004, will continue to cover the full cost of training and will specifically prohibit the charging of variable fees to NHS students arising from the Higher Education Bill. There will, therefore, be no additional cost to the NHS for meeting tuition fees arising from the Higher Education Bill.