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Earl Russell: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for tabling these amendments. I believe that it is very good for us to have England riding on the back of Scotland. One hopes that someone will remember to mention England as well. I congratulate the noble Baroness on putting the matter that way round. We learn from it.

The question of what is intended by "fees" has given rise to a good deal of confusion and doubt. Field trips are an academic necessity for some subjects. I think in particular of geology. These matters cost money and it must come from somewhere, sometimes from fees. A lot of courses simply cannot be done without field trips. I hope that there will be further clarification on the subject. The Minister seems to be eager to give it and I look forward to hearing him.

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11.15 p.m.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I fully appreciate the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, and the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I make it clear from the outset that there is no difference between my noble friend Lady Blackstone and myself in terms of the policy objectives in England and Wales, on the one hand, and Scotland, on the other.

A difficulty arises because the Scottish legislation that is amended is structured differently from the English legislation. The Education (Scotland) Act 1980, which provides the basic legislative framework for the substantive issues discussed and put forward in the amendment, is different from the provisions in England and Wales. As I made clear, the policy objectives are the same; we seek to arrive via a slightly different route compatible with the 1980 Act.

We intend to have a period of full consultation during which regulations will be evolved. It is our intention that institutions will not be prevented from making reasonable charges for the services they provide. We will be issuing draft regulations. At that stage, my colleague from the Scottish Office and I will be interested to hear the reaction of the representatives of the institutions of higher education in Scotland and will take them fully into account. No issue of principle is involved, and I do not believe that there is an issue of practice between us.

There is a difficulty with Amendment No. 73 as drafted. If agreed, it would require the Secretary of State to authorise every single change in bench and field-trip fees. Even the Secretary of State, who works very long hours, would find that difficult to encompass. However, I assure the House that we intend to reach the same policy objective as that achieved by my noble friend in her amendment to the Bill. It is just that, in order to keep the matter all square with the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, we will arrive via the different route of regulation and I give an assurance that there will be full consultation with the higher education institutions.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his support and I thank the Minister for his reply. I am glad to note that there is no policy difference. However, it is extremely disappointing that the Scottish Office is not up to speed and able to produce an amendment when the English department can do so. There is no reason why that has not been done and I do not know why we should have to go to the lengths of inventing an amendment when the Government intend to do so. That is disappointing and one wonders what will happen in the Scottish parliament if things move so slowly. I hope that everything will brisk up a little.

Having said those few crisp words, I accept the Minister's assurance. I hope that the draft regulations will be available soon so that everyone can look at them properly. That is important because a great deal of money is at stake for the institutions in Scotland. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 71 not moved.]

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Clause 22 [Imposition of conditions as to fees at further and higher education institutions in Scotland]:

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 18, line 31, at end insert--
("( ) Where the functions of the Secretary of State under section 4 of this Act are exercised by the Funding Council, the prohibition contained in subsection (3) of that section shall not apply in relation to conditions imposed under subsection (2B) above."").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should start by saying that these amendments introduce into Scotland the corresponding provision in Clause 18(9) which applies to England and Wales. I hope that will be a convincing argument for the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy.

These are technical amendments to make clear that certain existing provisions in the legislation governing the funding of higher education and further education in Scotland do not impinge on the new fee regime for further education and higher education institutions which we are introducing in the Bill. The equivalent legislation has been provided in the English provisions in the Bill in Clause 18(9), as I said, although drafted in a slightly different way, but that is understandable. Originally it was thought that such provisions were not necessary but, on reflection, we believe that it is advisable that the matter should be put beyond doubt. I hope that that is agreeable to the House. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 73 not moved.]

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 74:

Page 19, line 7, at end insert--
("( ) The Secretary of State shall not exercise the power to prescribe descriptions of courses under subsection (3B) above in such a way as to discriminate--
(a) in relation to courses for the training of persons preparing to be teachers which are open only to persons holding a degree, between different courses on the basis of the subject in which such training is given; or
(b) in relation to other courses, between courses at the same or a comparable level on the basis of the particular areas of study or research to which they relate.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 74 brings forward for Scotland provisions equivalent to those already debated for England and Wales as Amendment No. 60. Subsection (2) of Clause 22 makes provision for courses of prescribed description provided by higher education institutions to be covered by conditions on grant controlling top-up fees. It is for the Secretary of State to prescribe the courses in regulations. This amendment prevents the Secretary of State, when he draws up the regulations, from singling out courses at any particular level by area of study or research.

This makes absolutely plain that the Secretary of State cannot--through conditions controlling top-up fees--affect the freedom of universities to decide which courses to offer, which subjects to teach or which areas of research to pursue. He can thus prescribe first-degree courses or courses leading to a diploma as those that can be covered by conditions on grant controlling top-up fees. But he cannot name in those conditions particular

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areas of study or research--whether any branch of medicine, science, technology, social science, arts or humanities. I believe that that goes all the way that can reasonably be expected to defend the whole principle of academic freedom. I beg to move.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I wonder whether I may ask the Minister the question I asked his English colleagues. Why do these amendments make no reference to the other term of Amendment No. 61--the academic conditions for the selection of staff or the admission of students?

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I am sorry. I did not hear that.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I beg the Minister's pardon. I wanted to ask why these amendments that he is offering do not include the term which was included in the 1992 Act, which is also included in Amendment No. 61, of not imposing conditions on the academic conditions for the selection of staff or the admission of students. That is a gap in the amendment and I want to know why it has not been filled.

The Minister, I think, is not quite clear what we are talking about here. This Bill replaces the Beloff amendment which was in the 1992 Act which made it impossible to impose conditions, as conditions of grant, on the terms for selection of staff or admission of students as well as conditions on the academic content of particular courses.

This Bill of course supersedes the earlier legislation. The conditions in the Beloff amendment do not apply to this Bill. Therefore, that concession, which is welcome as far as it goes, covers some of what was in the 1992 Act but not all of it. I want to understand why the part that has been left out has been left out. It is a question of considerable importance to a number of people as well as to me. It is a question which we hope will not require too lengthy a consideration because a lot of us are rather anxious to hear the answer to it. The answer we hear may make a considerable difference to what we decide to do when we return to the Bill on Third Reading. Therefore, I hope the Minister is in a position to answer.

Lord Sewel: I believe that I understand what the noble Earl is saying. I should make it clear that we have no intention of imposing the type of conditions which the noble Earl envisages. I make it clear that this amendment relates only to top-up fees. It is certainly not the Government's view that anything in relation to the approval of top-up fees should in any way be conditional on matters relating to the selection of staff or admission of students. I can give the noble Earl the assurance that I will look at this further. If there is a matter of substance between us, I shall so inform him.

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