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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, so everything is all right then and students can go away happy because, frankly, this will not affect them--in fact, it will increase their participation in higher education?

Perhaps I may refer briefly to one or two points. I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham--this is not a personal remark--that I find it deeply disturbing that a chairman of a funding council who has a very political profile in this House should speak on these matters. It is not the first time--

Noble Lords: Oh!

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I know--indeed, the noble Lord knows--that this is not the first time that such a comment has been made, but the fact that he has spoken today has let all those students out there know exactly whose side he is on--and, given what he said, it is not the students' side.

I speak with some diffidence in the presence of the noble Earl, Lord Russell. My understanding of everything that the Minister has said on a number of occasions is that it is expected that the £1,000 tuition fee in part or in whole must be met by the student. In order to convince us that no more money must be found by the families, it has been said that the £1,000 must be deemed to be paid by the student, albeit a loan facility will be available for that.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Dean, that it was precisely that package that I took into account when I considered Dearing. Dearing said that even though, under the Government's proposals, there would be some exemptions from and means-testing of the £1,000 fee, when £1,000 was weighed against £5,000--which is the figure if maintenance is included--the burden would be considerable. The committee said that the tuition fee could be a flat rate fee to be paid some time in the future when the student was able to do so but that the maintenance fee would have a disproportionate impact on a lower income family.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. Recommendation No. 79 of the Dearing Report states clearly that a contribution of about 25 per cent. will be made by students to tuition fees. The Dearing Committee had no idea that the government of the day would means test so that some students should make no contribution at all. They had no idea that a means test would be applied and that students would pay only a proportion of the loan. Taken one with the other, how could the Dearing Committee have recommended maintenance grants? The Dearing Committee looked at a situation in which it felt that, in requiring each student to make a flat contribution irrespective of his or her financial position or that of his or her family,

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1011

consideration should be given to maintenance rates as well. What has happened is that the Government have now made it subject to means testing.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes my point for me. It is a great irony that the student who qualifies for full exemption from the tuition fees is the very one who has to borrow £4,000 a year, whereas the student who pays the tuition fees has to borrow only half the maintenance costs. A student who is exempt from tuition fees will owe up to £12,000 at the end of a three-year degree course. That results in a disproportionate impact on poorer students. I beg to move.

6.42 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 50) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 143; Not-Contents, 102.

Division No. 2


Ackner, L.
Ailsa, M.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Beloff, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brigstocke, B.
Brookeborough, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Butterfield, L.
Butterworth, L.
Byford, B.
Cadman, L.
Caithness, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Coleraine, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Crickhowell, L.
Davidson, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denman, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Feldman, L.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Harlech, L.
Harmsworth, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hesketh, L.
Higgins, L.
Holderness, L.
Home, E.
Hood, V.
Hope of Craighead, L.
Howe, E.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Inchcape, E.
James of Holland Park, B.
Jeffreys, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Leigh, L.
Lichfield, Bp.
Liverpool, E.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Malmesbury, E.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Mottistone, L.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
Naseby, L.
Newall, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Norrie, L.
Northesk, E.
Onslow, E.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pike, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Prentice, L.
Prior, L.
Pym, L.
Quinton, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Reading, M.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rennell, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowallan, L.
St. John of Fawsley, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Sudeley, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trenchard, V.
Trumpington, B.
Tugendhat, L.
Ullswater, V.
Waddington, L.
Warnock, B.
Wilberforce, L.
Windlesham, L.
Wise, L.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Blyth, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Chandos, V.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwyn, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Greene of Harrow Weald, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollick, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kilmarnock, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Northfield, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thurlow, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitty, L. [Teller.]
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Wright of Richmond, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1013

6.54 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 51:

Page 12, line 30, at end 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.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 51, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 76 and 77. It is a small amendment about one of the unfairnesses which the Government left behind when deciding to charge £1,000 a year for university fees. In Scotland, an honours degree takes four years to complete. In England, by and large, an honours degree takes three years to complete. Therefore, it is clear that at £1,000 a year a Scottish honours degree will cost £4,000 and an English one only £3,000.

The Garrick Committee, which met in Scotland in parallel with the Dearing Committee, recommended that graduates of a four-year degree course should not be burdened unduly by comparison with the shorter degree courses in England and Wales. After a bit of a fuss, the Scottish Office announced that, in line with the Garrick Report, it would cover the cost to Scottish domicile students of the fourth year of the degree course. Therefore, a student resident in Scotland attending a Scottish university will pay £3,000, as will a student resident in England attending an English university.

However, a problem remained relating to those students not domiciled in Scotland, but attending Scottish universities. The first group are students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Currently, approximately 5,000 students apply each year from the rest of the United Kingdom to Scottish higher education institutions. Indeed, 22,000 students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently studying at Scottish universities. Forty-seven per cent. of the students at St. Andrews University come from England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 45 per cent. of students at Edinburgh University are from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Therefore, we are not talking about small numbers of students. Currently, students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who go to the universities of Aberdeen, St. Andrews, Glasgow or wherever, will be asked to pay £4,000, whereas students resident in Scotland will pay only £3,000.

That anomaly might be bad enough when we are trying to maintain the fact that the United Kingdom is one country, but it is made a thousand times worse by

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1014

the discovery that, in order to obey European Union legislation, students from EU countries must be treated in the same way as Scottish students. They must pay only £3,000 and not £4,000.

Perhaps I may give an example in order to explain the consequence of that. I have two granddaughters, one living in Italy and one living in Kent. If both decide to follow their grandfather and their parents to the University of Glasgow, the one who lives in Milan will have to find £3,000, but the one who lives in Kent, where her father and mother pay into the British Exchequer, will have to find £,4000. That is simply daft! It cannot be right that students from Paris and Paisley pay £3,000 while students from Coventry and Cardiff pay £4,000.

The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, on the Liberal Democrat Benches, unfortunately cannot be here today but we spoke last week about the matter. He made the telling point that the anomaly is even sillier in terms of the island of Ireland where students from Limerick will be asked to pay £3,000, but students from Limavady will be asked to pay £4,000. A considerable number of students from Northern Ireland have opted to study elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and in particular in Scotland. I hope that the Liberal Democrats will follow the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, the last time we discussed the matter and if I press the amendment will vote with me in order to make the position fairer.

The last time we discussed the matter in your Lordships' House I asked the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, how much the proposal would cost and he kindly wrote to me about that. It is not a cost on the Scottish Office, which stated that it will fund the cost of its domiciled Scottish students. It is a cost on the Department for Education and Employment in England and Wales and the Northern Ireland Office. Once again, I am amazed that the poor old noble Lord, Lord Sewel, is being put up to answer for a policy which he and his department have decided they do not approve of. They believe that students in Scotland attending Scottish universities should pay only £3,000.

I would have been greatly impressed, therefore, if the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, had been prepared to come and argue in defence of the decision of her department, instead of sending the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, whose colleagues decided some time ago that it would be unfair to charge Scottish students £4,000 and are prepared to pay the additional cost in order to reduce it to £3,000. But the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, it must be. However, it is interesting that two or three weeks ago, on the radio, I heard his colleague, Mr. Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, saying that it is nothing to do with the Scottish Office and that one should attack the Department for Education and Employment. Would that I could do so, but its representatives will not come here to deal with this issue.

Let us look at the vast amounts of money that it will cost. The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, said that in England--I am not sure whether that means England and Wales or only England--it would cost in the region of £1.5 million per year and for Northern Ireland about £0.3 million per year. The money still comes from the same government, despite the fact that we are about to go down the

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1015

devolutionary road. It will cost the Government about £2 million per year. That is all it would cost to put right what is an absolutely appalling anomaly.

It is a disgrace for the unity of the United Kingdom that students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland should be treated so unfairly, not just compared with students in Scotland but also compared with students coming to the Scottish universities from any other European Union country. I beg to move.

7 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, earlier the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said that in responding to Dearing the Government had been decisive. I do not believe that the Scottish Office has been very decisive about this matter. There was an anomaly which was cured by another anomaly and a third anomaly has now been added. We really are in rather a muddle. It is very unjust to English students, very bad for the image of the Union and it creates a very bad outlook for the future of the Scottish Parliament. I am extremely sorry that it has happened.

I am grateful to the Government for one thing. After a discussion with Heriot-Watt University, I asked who would fund the fourth year and as my noble friend has just said, we now know that the Government are to fund the fourth year in Scotland. That is confirmed in their response to the Garrick Report where I am happy to see it in black and white. That will be a great comfort to everybody.

I hope that the Government are going to do something about this. If my noble friend's amendment were to be accepted, the position would be fairer in all directions. Students would appreciate that and those of us who want Scotland to hold together with the United Kingdom in the future in the work of the Scottish parliament would also greatly appreciate it. Therefore, I support the amendment.

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