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Lord Henley: I am sure that the noble Baroness will not expect me or the officials of my department to go into the negotiating chamber having announced exactly what the subsidy is to be. That would not be right. The private sector would not expect that and might well think that there was something wrong if we did so.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: I must confess to being disappointed by the Minister's reply. The amendment came first because we see the issue of subsidy as being absolutely at the heart of the Bill. Indeed, it is difficult to table any of the amendments without mentioning the word "subsidy" because you have to fight your way through the Long Title to make sure that everything that is said or suggested or disagreed with comes in some way under that heading.

My noble friend Lord Desai is a distinguished economist. I believe that most of us would agree with him when he says that there is no economic case for subsidy in any event for such an activity based on the Beloff principle with which we are now all becoming familiar; namely, that the fishmonger sells fish because that is his business. We have heard that once or twice before. I do not apologise for using it again because it has remained true and neither the Government nor anybody else has been able to refute it.

The Minister talked about the difficulties of selling something like this. I hesitate to remind the noble Lord, but the Government have a remarkably effective and

12 Mar 1996 : Column 745

long history of selling off state assets to the private sector for a number of years. There is nothing new about it. If they have not yet learnt how to do it, it is high time that they did or that they stopped.

This has not been a very satisfactory reply from the Minister about something which is at the absolute centre of the Bill. As he said, he did not address the amendment itself; he has told us nothing; he has given us nothing. I have no alternative but to ask the Committee to express an opinion on this matter.

3.24 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1 ) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 153.

Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Addington, L. [Teller.]
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Avebury, L.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Birk, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
David, B.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Glasgow, E.
Glenamara, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]
Grey, E.
Hanworth, V.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Kirkwood, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Ogmore, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Ellesmere, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rochester, L.
Sainsbury, L.
Samuel, V.
Seear, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Shannon, E.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Soper, L.
Stallard, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Whaddon, L.
White, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Aberdare, L.
Abinger, L.
Acton, L.
Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alport, L.
Ampthill, L.
Annan, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Balfour of Burleigh, L.
Bathurst, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Blake, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Brookes, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Butterfield, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Cayzer, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clanwilliam, E.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cockfield, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Cooke of Islandreagh, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cuckney, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Davidson, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donegall, M.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elibank, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Fairhaven, L.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L.
Ferrers, E.
Finsberg, L.
Flather, B.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Gainford, L.
Geddes, L.
Gisborough, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Hampden, V.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L.
Harlech, L.
Harvington, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hayter, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L.
Henley, L.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Hothfield, L.
Howe, E.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Inglewood, L.
Ironside, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Killearn, L.
Kintore, E.
Knollys, V.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Mottistone, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Norrie, L.
Northbourne, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Oliver of Aylmerton, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Orkney, E.
Orr-Ewing, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pike, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Pym, L.
Quinton, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Roskill, L.
St. Davids, V.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Swinfen, L.
Terrington, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Westbury, L.
Wilcox, B.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12 Mar 1996 : Column 747

3.30 p.m.

Lord Addington moved Amendment No. 2:


Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

Implementation

(". The Secretary of State shall not put in place any arrangements under this Act to implement the making of private sector student loans until he has demonstrated that more than one person by whom private sector student loans would be made is committed to making such loans and is so committed for a period of at least two years.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment is very straightforward in its construction. Basically, it says that the whole scheme--that is, the Bill--should not effectively be enacted until the Government have an institution to guarantee that it will take on the scheme. We have a scheme here which does not have any great burden of support from the financial institutions or from the people who are supposed to be providing support for it. We believe that the Government should be able to find at least one institution which is prepared to guarantee for a nominal period of time, at least two years, that it will back the scheme and become involved in it before it comes into being.

Our proposition is very simple. Unless there is that degree of support from the banks or institutions, there is absolutely no point in having the scheme. If the scheme cannot provide that degree of support, there is absolutely no point in it being there. In effect, the legislation is a dead duck anyway. Surely having such a provision in the Bill will guarantee that we will not be bothered with the scheme unless it has the support from those institutions right from the beginning. I beg to move.


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