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Earl Russell: My Lords, I shall not attempt to match the noble Baroness for length. She has invited me to explain to my students. I have done so. I shall tell her what I tell them. First and foremost must be a concern for quality; and Government are no judge of quality. If quality is not preserved it does not matter who has access. Once quality is preserved, then we would like to see access as far as possible independent of parental income or social conditions. Thirdly, we would like to continue to see diversity.

The noble Baroness talked about conditions. We understand that he who pays the piper can call the tune. But he is unwise to exercise that prerogative if he happens to be tone deaf. I ask the House to imagine somebody running a restaurant. He is making a loss; he cannot get any more people in--there is no room for any more tables; he cannot reduce the quality of his meals without falling foul of the Health and Safety Executive; and he cannot lower his prices because they are capped. What does he do? He closes down. I do not want to do that, and that is why I ask the opinion of the House.

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1067

10.35 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 63) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 63; Not-Contents, 73.

Division No. 4

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Avebury, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Beloff, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Brookeborough, V.
Butterfield, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chesham, L.
Cross, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dundee, E.
Goodhart, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Inglewood, L.
James of Holland Park, B.
Lichfield, Bp.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lucas, L.
Ludford, B.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Northesk, E.
Ogmore, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rawlings, B.
Redesdale, L. [Teller.]
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E. [Teller.]
Russell-Johnston, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Warnock, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Wise, L.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, 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.
Fitt, L.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grenfell, L.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mallalieu, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Northfield, 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.]
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1068

10.44 p.m.

[Amendment No. 64 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 65:


After Clause 18, insert the following new clause--

Receipt and disposal of fees

(" .--(1) The governing body of a relevant higher education institution shall be entitled to receive, and to dispose of as it sees fit, the full amount of any fees or grants in respect of fees payable to it in respect of tuition by or on behalf of any student.
This subsection is without prejudice to any arrangements under which the governing body proposes, with the consent of the Higher Education Funding Council, to pay the whole or part of any fees or grants in respect of fees to any connected institution, as defined in section 65(3B) of the 1992 Act.
(2) In this section, "relevant higher education institution" means an institution providing courses of higher education, where "higher education" has the same meaning as in the Education Reform Act 1988.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 65 is grouped with Amendment No. 66. It concerns the money which goes to universities which is derived from income from tuition fees. I was fascinated to hear the noble Baroness's one-word answer to the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, who is not in his place at the moment, when he asked whether it was right that higher education would benefit from the money generated from income fees. The noble Baroness's answer was, "Yes". In speaking to this amendment, I wish to explore that answer.

Let me say, first, that Amendment No. 66, standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope, has the same aim as my amendment. I believe that the noble Lord has produced a more effective form of words than I have. I shall therefore seek to withdraw my amendment and throw my support behind that of the noble Lord, which I believe achieves more concisely what we are both looking to achieve.

Whether higher education will benefit from income generated from savings made as a result of these proposals is something we wish to explore. If the noble Baroness is correct, then it must be the case that for the purposes of funding higher education institutions, this money, this newly-generated money and income, must be disregarded in order that it is genuinely, in its entirety, additional funding. That should not only apply to this year. We have had promises this year that the money will go into higher education, although we know that not every penny of it will, because some will be spent in other places.

2 Mar 1998 : Column 1069

What we do not know from the noble Baroness and what we ask for a specific answer on is this: will this money, pound for pound, go in and remain within higher education? Can we have an absolute assurance that it will not displace other moneys that would normally come from the higher education funding council? In other words, can we have an assurance that this money is pure pound-for-pound additionality into the higher education sector, enjoyed institution by institution?

If the answer is not unequivocal and should any part of this money that is generated from higher education students and their families be used anywhere else in the system, for example, in further education--and no one is arguing that further education could not use more money--or in any other part of government expenditure or, worse, should it end up in Treasury coffers, then the tuition fee is not a tuition fee; it is a tax.

I look forward to hearing from the noble Lord, Lord Tope on Amendment No. 66 because, as I said, I believe that that amendment has rather more effective wording. I beg to move.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Tope: My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch said, we are trying to achieve exactly the same object here. I am very grateful to her for acknowledging so graciously that the amendment in my name and that of my noble friend achieves that object more succinctly and more exactly.

The case has been made by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and was made previously in Committee that we are concerned that all the money raised should go to higher education. I suspect that the Minister may tell us in a moment that the amendment is unnecessary. However, I believe that it is necessary, if for no other reason than to reassure those in higher education at all levels who have doubts on the issue.

Much earlier today the Minister asked me to justify how this could be a student poll tax. I do not particularly wish to pursue that now, especially at this time of night, but I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. If it should be otherwise, then it is a tax; it is a tax on students. That is analogous to a student poll tax.

I shall not press my amendment tonight, but I shall be seeking the same assurances that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch has sought, and I shall certainly be considering, perhaps with her, what we will do in the light of those assurances.


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