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Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 35 and 36:

Page 9, line 16, after ("section") insert--
("(a) any reference to persons employed as teachers shall be construed in accordance with section 218(13) of the Education Reform Act 1988, and
Page 9, leave out line 17 and insert ("subsection (12) of that section.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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Clause 14 [Inspection of institutions training teachers for schools]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 9, line 37, after ("Council") insert ("for England").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Inspection of institutions training teachers for schools: Scotland]:

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 38

Page 11, line 31, leave out ("of") and insert ("wholly or mainly for").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 38 brings forward in relation to inspection of teacher education in Scotland a similar clarification to that which was provided in relation to Clause 14 by the provision already debated on Report. My noble friend and I undertook to bring forward this similar amendment relating to Scotland and we are today fulfilling that undertaking.

As I explained at the time, it was always the intention that HM Inspectorate would look only at courses in Scotland provided wholly or mainly for teacher education purposes. But we recognise concerns raised that the clause as drafted might have permitted inspection of other courses, because some students attending lectures might have been trainee teachers. We are therefore happy to make the position clear through this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 16 [New arrangements for giving financial support to students]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 12, line 25, after ("fees") insert ("payable in connection with attendance on courses").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendments in this grouping are minor technical amendments. They do not alter the substance of Clause 16(2)(h) or 16(8) or of Clause 18(4) or 18(5). They simply bring the references to fees in those four subsections into line with the definition of fees in Clause 20(1) as amended on Report. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 13, line 39, at end insert--
("( ) Notwithstanding the provisions in other subsections of this section, the Secretary of State shall not introduce a scheme to require students to pay tuition fees until a date on or after 1st June 2002.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we had a good and useful debate on tuition fees on Report. We now return to the subject. I have said at every stage of the Bill thus far that the Liberal Democrats remain opposed to the student payment of tuition fees. That remains our view. It is unchanged. But I have to recognise that in your Lordships' House that issue was decided on Report. On that occasion, we had voting for the amendment against tuition fees the largest ever number of Liberal Democrat Peers. We had over 30 Conservative Back-Bench Peers, to whom I am grateful for their support, as well as a

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number of Cross-Benchers, Labour Peers and Members of the Bishops' Bench. I am grateful for that considerable show of concern that I am aware exists in your Lordships' House on the issue of tuition fees.

I recognise that, sadly from our point of view, the Conservative Front Bench did not feel able to support that amendment. I know that that was because it did not accord with its policy on tuition fees. Later in the evening, the Conservatives succeeded with their own amendment.

This amendment is a little different. I hope that the Conservative Front Bench, as well as its Back Benches will feel able to support it. We are saying now, as indeed the Conservative Front Bench has said on other occasions--and the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, made the point forcefully on Report--that the Government have no mandate to introduce tuition fees. It did not feature in their election manifesto. The noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, told us that it did not feature at the Labour Party conference. Indeed, it is contrary to the impression given during the general election, and, some will argue, in the statements made during the general election.

Therefore we feel that any action to be taken with regard to the introduction of tuition fees should stand the test of a general election, and that whichever government or prospective government may wish to take such action, they should have the mandate to do so. For that reason, the amendment requires delay in the implementation of tuition fees until after the latest date for the next general election.

I know, as I said, that the Conservative Party has a different view on the issue of tuition fees, but I believe that it shares the view on the issue of the mandate. I hope that on this occasion therefore it will be able to support us. We have debated at some length in your Lordships' House the principle of tuition fees. I therefore do not intend to repeat that today.

This is an important issue. If the amendment is passed, it will be the only reference in the Bill to tuition fees. We have all of us made much of the general opaqueness of this part of the Bill, the difficulty in getting to grips with it, recognising exactly what it is about, and where the power lies. The amendment, which may not be technically perfect, is at least clear in its intention, and is one which I believe will command much support outside the House. I hope that it will command much support within the House. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, we have already had several full debates on students' contributions towards fees and on conditions to control top-up fees. The noble Lord, Lord Tope, and his noble friends even pressed Divisions on both these matters on Report. They lost those Divisions, and yet even now--on Third Reading--they are seeking other means of achieving the same effects. I do not believe that that is an appropriate way to proceed on Third Reading. Nevertheless, I shall address the substance of the amendment.

Through Amendment No. 40, the noble Lord would seek a funding scheme which would not require students to pay any contribution towards tuition fees until after

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1st June 2002. It is, of course, the universities, rather than the Secretary of State, which charge students tuition fees. Students are already required to pay tuition fees, though some students receive grants which meet those fees on their behalf from public funds. So the only way that the Secretary of State could meet the terms of this amendment would be to provide grants that would meet tuition fees on behalf of students.

The implication is that the Secretary of State should provide grants to meet all tuition fees on behalf of all students in further and higher education--that is, including many who already meet their own fees. The Government would be expected to meet fees not only for home full-time undergraduate students, but also for FE students over 19, part-time higher education students, and even postgraduates. Nor would the noble Lord stop there; he would have the British taxpayer meet the tuition fees for overseas students as well. Indeed, the noble Lord is seeking, through this amendment, comprehensive financial assistance from the Government that will ensure that no student at all in any institution of further or higher education shall have to pay tuition fees. And students would receive free tuition, no matter what their own or their family's private means and no matter what financial advantages higher education would bestow on students themselves.

Once again, let me remind the House of the guiding principle underlying the Dearing Report, a principle which this Government have endorsed; namely, that the costs of higher education should be shared between those who benefit. Graduates earn on average 20 per cent. more than those without degrees. It is only fair that individuals who stand to benefit so much from higher education should also share some of the costs, even though we accept that the state should continue to bear most of the costs.

This amendment, however, would require the state and the taxpayers to bear the full costs of higher education at all levels, including the higher education of those who will stand to earn the highest salaries. It would also amount to a licence for those who were so inclined to become perpetual students, taking one course of higher education after another, never having to pay any fees and borrowing money for living expenses which they might never have to pay back. The noble Lord has yet to answer convincingly the question of how this can be fair, when many of the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill may not have benefited from higher education themselves and may earn far lower salaries than those who do benefit.

The noble Lord accuses us of not having an electoral mandate to require students to contribute to their own tuition fees. We made it clear in our pre-election document on lifelong learning that we opposed top-up fees, but we did not rule out requiring students or their families to contribute towards the costs of their tuition--

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. With the leave of the House, will she confirm that on 14th April, two weeks before the general election, no less a person than the Prime Minister stated, "We have no plans to introduce tuition

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fees"? That statement was confirmed by his right honourable friend Robin Cook on 24th April, who said, "There are no plans to introduce tuition fees". That does not lie well with what the Minister is now saying.

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