Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Quirk: This group includes an amendment in my name, No. 95, concerning the place in London of educational and training institutions. I must obviously justify my perception of the need to add yet another interest to those the authority will be obliged to consult before exercising the power conferred by Clause 25(1). And, since the educational and training bodies of my amendment include colleges and universities in which I continue to have an interested involvement, I should preface my words by declaring a professional interest; professional in that it is an interest directed solely at the advancement of education.

In the GLA Bill, both here in Part II and again in Part V, where the terms for setting up the London Development Agency are presented, it is insisted that various bodies and interests be consulted. Very properly so. It would be absurd if decisions could be made out of the blue that adversely affected, for example, the interests of the finance sector in the Square Mile, or which ignored the wealth-producing industries and businesses, large and small, which are located throughout the length and breadth of Greater London.

My amendment adds a sector of comparable importance. The field of adult education and training in London is vast; its assets are vast; its wealth-production is vast, its value-added component is vast. And vast too is the range of institution making up the totality; a range that embraces Imperial College (large, public and world-class) as it embraces RADA (small, private and world-class).

All this has a long and quite logical history for a capital city. Apprentice doctors were already learning their trade at Bart's Hospital a thousand years ago. The Inns of Court are not very much younger, attracting to London, as capital city, Oxford's and Cambridge's ambitious young men and turning them into ambitious middle-aged men. The city's mediaeval guilds ensured that physicians and lawyers were joined by apprentices in all manner of other crafts no one would dream of relating to the adjective "crafty".

And as the population increased in this centre of power and affluence, more facilities such as hospitals were needed and with them (staying just with the medical illustration) came the need for more medical schools to train more doctors. But such simple linear historical logic must then give way to other factors: critical mass, for instance, the phenomenon of momentum, and the urge of craftsfolk of excellence to co-locate with other craftsfolk of excellence. Still staying with the medical paradigm, London at the present time has a quantity and quality of medical expertise that cannot be explained in terms of population or wealth or political power. In this very year, 1999, of all the new dental surgeons due to qualify in the whole of England, one-third (32.4 per cent to be precise) will qualify at a London dental school. And of all the new doctors qualifying in the whole of England this year, well over one-third (37 per cent) will qualify at one or other of London's medical schools.

21 Jun 1999 : Column 743

There are several other measures of how London's education and training clearly punch above London's size and population weight. And this figure of one third of the national total keeps recurring. The London institutions attract about one third of all the overseas students who come to the UK. These London institutions comprise likewise about one third of the whole country's blue skies research capacity. And London institutions provide far, far more than one third of what one might call "specialist expertise"--whether one is thinking of ophthalmology, human fertility or tropical diseases; or whether one is thinking of the advanced study of Slavonic, oriental or other exotic languages. Our concert halls help to explain the presence of our world-class music academies; our theatres, the peerless drama schools. A wit once asked where else could the LSE have conceivably been located than snuggling behind the roads connecting the Law Courts, Fleet Street and the Stock Exchange. Well, where else, one might similarly ask, should Beerbohm Tree and Bernard Shaw have located the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, now approaching its centenary under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Attenborough?

But it is not only for the great specialised professions that London acts as an irresistible education and training magnet. Leaving regretfully aside (purely through pressure from the clock at this time of the evening) the scores and scores of further education colleges which supply the needs of students in their hundreds of thousands, and which include the Camberwell College of Arts and the London College of Fashion.

Let me end with a few words about private-sector adult education in London. This is voluminous; it is especially attractive to overseas students; and it is of immense economic value to London and Londoners. One interesting example is Richmond College, a small private-sector university providing both a basic liberal arts education and also some more specialised degrees such as an MBA. Virtually the entire student body comes from abroad, and of course as well as being attracted by what Richmond teaches, and how, students are crucially attracted by where Richmond teaches it. This college is located in London because of our galleries, our theatres, our finance industry, our libraries. Our whole array of cultural opportunity is focused on London.

Here, then, is a thumbnail sketch of the educational and training sector glimpsed professionally, educationally, culturally and socially. Let me just add a word about the sector economically. The sector is a major landowner, with a major stake in property development and urban planning. It is a major employer, providing around 60,000 jobs directly, not counting the many jobs indirectly provided, for example, by firms servicing the sector. It serves around 800,000 student clients, many of them not Londoners but drawn to London by the sector's existence and excellence. The sector has a gross annual income of around £3 billion which, irrespective of its source, is virtually all spent in London. In consequence, the gross benefit to the London economy is huge. Indeed, it has been calculated that the university part alone of this whole education and

21 Jun 1999 : Column 744

training sector contributes £4 billion per year to the London economy. That is no less than 4 per cent of London's GDP.

No mayor of London in her right mind is going to ignore a segment of London's economic life of such staggering dimensions. No member elected to a Greater London Authority, no member joining a London Development Agency can fail to be aware of its significance. So is this amendment perhaps unnecessary? That is not so because precisely the same could be said of the other vital interests which are already listed on the face of the Bill as requiring to be consulted. My amendment just puts the education and training sector on precisely the same footing.

And the Government may be assured that the mechanisms by which this sector can conveniently and efficiently be consulted are already in place. There are well structured representative bodies comprising the London Higher and Further Education Partnership, with data at their fingertips and relevant ties to the London First Centre, which of course enjoys DTI support. So I look forward to the Minister's response to these arguments which I have ventured to put.

Lord Renton: I wish to support Amendment No. 94, which has already been moved, briefly but convincingly, by my noble friend Lord Swinfen. Before I go any further, I should declare that I am a patron of the Greater London Association for the Disabled, of which my late wife, until she died in 1986, was the president. That is a body which has done very great work for disabled people in London. As London is the largest city in the United Kingdom, there are inevitably a large number of disabled people there.

It should be one of the concerns--indeed, a major concern--of the new authority for Greater London that the disabled should be a specific responsibility. Indeed, when the words,


    "organisation of disabled and older people", are used, one could very well insert the words,


    "the Greater London Association for the Disabled, shortly known as GLAD".

Be that as it may, I believe that within the responsibilities of the new authority there should be a responsibility for the disabled. Therefore, I warmly support my noble friend's amendment.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: Perhaps I may add a few words of support to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Swinfen, to which my name has been added. We are considering those who should be consulted by the authority in the exercise of its general powers. Unfortunately, a list of those people appears on the face of the Bill, as currently written. I say "unfortunately" because we all know what happens to such lists; people wish to continue adding to them. That is precisely what the noble Lords, Lord Swinfen and Lord Quirk, quite justifiably want to do because we have the curious situation where representatives of different racial, ethnic and national groups should be consulted; representatives of different religious groups should also be consulted; bodies which represent

21 Jun 1999 : Column 745

business interests should be consulted, but not bodies which represent organisations of disabled or older people.

It is not enough to say that such bodies could be included under voluntary bodies some or all of whose activities benefit the whole or part of Greater London. The same could be said of all the other bodies which have been separately listed. Are the Government saying that elderly and disabled people, who, taken together, are more numerous than any of the groups given separate mention, are less important, or is their non-appearance in the list simply a manifestation of their lack of clout in the political process?

9.15 p.m.

Lord Tope: Perhaps I may again speak briefly in support of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Quirk. One of the difficulties is that once one begins to list specific groups or categories of people who should be consulted, inevitably the list becomes endless and with very good justification one could add more and more groups. I am aware of that.

The Government started on that process in listing various groups and categories in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Quirk, has made the case extremely well as to why education and training interests should be listed among those which are required to be consulted. Only for reasons of time he passed very briefly over his reference to colleges of education. Later this evening I shall be moving an amendment which tries to give effect to the view that I expressed at Second Reading and that is shared by my colleagues, that the GLA should have strategic responsibility for further education. That fits very properly within the role of the GLA and more particularly the LDA, as regards all matters of further education and training.

Therefore, if we are to list bodies which are to be consulted, the interests which are very important not only to London but particularly to the GLA itself and its functions should also be included. For those reasons I support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Quirk.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page