William Stephen Goulden Bach Esquire, having been created Baron Bach, of Lutterworth in the County of Leicestershire, for life--Was, in his robes, introduced between the Lord Janner of Braunstone and the Lord Hattersley.
Lord Chesham: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. However, there was no suggestion in the manifesto that there should be discrimination against any students in this country. Discrimination apparently now exists in law, but a review is being appointed. Does this mean that the manifesto is negotiable?
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, can the Minister confirm whether a migrant worker from the European Economic Area who lives in England for a year before applying to a Scottish university will pay fees for one year less than his English neighbour who has lived there all his life?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, no, I can confirm that there are residence requirements for students who are from overseas but who live in the UK. However, a European Union student from a European Union country rather than from another overseas country would have to be treated under EU law in exactly the same way as British nationals.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, in the run-up to the election, the Labour Party gave support to the Dearing Inquiry set up by the previous government. We made it clear that we were concerned about the funding crisis in higher education created by the last government and that we were prepared to consider various options which did not rule out seeking a contribution towards fees from those who benefit from higher education.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, no. The Government accepted the recommendations made by the Dearing Committee that those who benefit from higher education should make a contribution towards the cost of their tuition. That has been widely accepted as fair and reasonable. Indeed, an opinion poll survey carried out last year revealed that just under 70 per cent. of parents think it reasonable that they should make a contribution towards tuition fees.
Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, is it right that membership of the European Union allows students from all other parts of Europe to attend cut-price? Why does not England, as a member of the European Union, have a cut price, too?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, while the EC treaty requires member states not to discriminate on grounds of nationality against nationals of other member states on matters within the scope of the treaty, EC law does not intervene on internal matters. It does not require
Lord Burnham: My Lords, the Minister quoted the opinion poll figure of 70 per cent. of parents being in favour of contributing towards fees. Will she accept the same figure when it is used with regard to clauses of the Crime and Disorder Bill?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I cannot answer questions about the Crime and Disorder Bill. I am not sure that a survey has been conducted similar to that in relation to parents making a contribution when they can afford it to the costs of their children's higher education.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the issue has absolutely nothing to do with nationality. There is no discrimination on the grounds of nationality. It is a matter of two different education systems, one north of the Border and one south of the Border, which is why the Dearing Committee recommended that a concession should be made to students educated in Scotland. Students educated in England will have had a different educational background before they go to university.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, yes, of course I have heard of equal treatment. But the purpose of the concession which the Dearing Committee recommended was to allow those students from Scotland who had had only one year of education at the sixth-form level to gain a degree for the cost of £3,000, which is the same as for students south of the Border.
Lord Chesham: My Lords, in relation to the Minister's remark about wealthy parents being able to pay, is she aware that at the Labour Party Conference last year the Prime Minister stated: "No parent will have to pay more"?
The Chief Scientific Adviser issued guidelines last year on the use of scientific advice in policy-making. These advocate obtaining the best available scientific advice from a sufficiently wide range of sources.
As a demonstration of our commitment to communication and to these guidelines, we have re-established the Council for Science and Technology, which is chaired by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and has three additional independent members.
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the last part of his Answer must be wholly welcome? We will await the results. Is he also aware that some of the Answers given in your Lordships' House have about them a wooden and repetitive quality which suggests that a little fresh air let in before they are drafted would be rather a good thing? Can I take it from his Answer that the Government accept that in a fast moving age they cannot be other than right in taking every measure to inform themselves fully about the perils and the opportunities which come from scientific sources?
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