§ 5. Dr. Hywel Francis (Aberavon)
What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister of the National Assembly on education in Wales. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)
My right hon. Friend has met the First Minister on a number of occasions recently to discuss education in Wales.
My right hon. Friend and I have also had meetings and discussions with the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning in Wales to discuss the forthcoming Education Bill.
§ Dr. Francis
I warmly welcome the National Assembly's discussion document, "The Learning Country". Does my hon. Friend agree that the foundations for such a learning country are being achieved by many schools in Wales, particularly Cymer Afan and Sandfields comprehensive schools in my constituency? Does he agree that our learning country will be achieved only if we base it on the principles of equity, lifelong learning and citizenship?
§ Mr. Touhig
I congratulate Cymer Afan and Sandfields schools on their achievements. It shows what can be done with resources, commitment and the vision of good teachers. The opportunities for all our citizens afforded by a programme of lifelong learning is obvious to us all, and I believe that the publication of "The Learning Country", to which my hon. Friend referred, as well as that of the White Paper, "Schools Achieving Success" contributes to the continuing debate on improving the standards of education that we all want to see.
§ Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)
The Rees report on student finance, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly, clearly recommended the abolition of student tuition fees in the interests of widening access to higher education. Would the Minister be willing to promote the abolition of student tuition fees to the Department of Education and Skills in its review of student finance if called upon to do so by the Welsh Assembly?
§ Mr. Touhig
Our core objective is to get more people into higher education. The review of student support was announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on 4 October. The Government recognise that the fear of debt can act as a barrier to those wanting to go into higher education—that is why we are having a review.
I am aware of the Rees report, which I think is very constructive. It contains 54 recommendations, which the Assembly is considering. The report does not recommend that students make no contribution to their higher education. However, I believe that that report and the 1158 Assembly's response will undoubtedly form part of the consultation announced by my right hon. Friend on 4 October.