§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Report received.
§ Clause 1 [Loans for students]:
§ Baroness Young moved Amendment No. 1:
§ Page 1, line 5, after ("may") insert ("by Order under subsection (7) below").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the procedure on this series of amendments may be slightly complex. I should like to move Amendment No. 1 and speak to Amendments Nos. 15, 17 and 38. I assume that my noble friend Lord Caithness will move and speak to Amendment No. 16, which is clearly linked to the others.
§ On the first day of Committee stage two weeks ago I moved a similar series of amendments. My noble friend helpfully undertook to consider my amendments and either to accept them or redraft them to obtain the correct wording. I therefore withdrew them and was very grateful for what he said.581
§ I make it absolutely clear from the outset that I am grateful for his support on Amendment No. 15, to which he has attached his name, and for his Amendment No. 16 which meets the undertakings. The amendments go a long way towards making plain that all the regulations under the Bill will be subject to affirmative resolution instead of negative resolution. That is what I asked for and I am grateful for acceptance of those points.
§ Arising from my noble friend's amendment it is now clear that two other matters were not covered. It is on those points that I hope very much my noble friend will be able to give me the assurances I seek. The first point concerns Clause 1 (1) which refers to the arrangements under the Bill. My understanding is that the arrangements mean, in effect, the establishment of the Student Loans Company. During the past few days I have discovered what the Government intend with this procedure, but it would be helpful to have confirmation from my noble friend.
§ The Student Loans Company is to be established effectively as a company under the Companies Act. That being the case, it would not be suitable to write it either into primary legislation or into regulations under the Bill. I understand that, and those who are concerned with this matter also understand the point. However, there are a number of aspects about the Student Loans Company which are of concern because of a change from the original proposal that the scheme was to be run by the banks. It would be helpful if my noble friend could say, for example, what is to happen if at some time in the future the Student Loans Company were to be privatised.
§ My assumption— of course, I do not know— is that such an event would be unusual because the Student Loans Company is not going to make a profit. It is not that kind of an organisation. Therefore, the circumstances we are talking about are clearly very different. However, it would be helpful to have the Government's view on certain aspects. It would act as an assurance on those matters. We are entering new territory and people asking; these questions are not doing so in any sense of going against the principle of the Bill. They wish simply to clarify points that have not yet been explained. To have answers would be of great assistance.
§ The second point I hope my noble friend can clarify arises under Clause 1 (4). I note that the noble Baroness, Lady David, has tabled Amendment No. 13 which I assume meets the point she raised in Committee and to which my noble friend said he would agree. I am sure the noble Baroness agrees, as I do, that the amendment is helpful because, as I understand it, there will be consultation in regard to Schedule 1. If I may say so to my noble friend, the amendment is extremely helpful and certainly goes a long way towards meeting my own anxieties.
§ I realise that there is a technical reason why Clause 1 (4) is not covered. It is not a regulation but an order; therefore it cannot come under the affirmative procedure. I have also discovered that Schedule 1 is, to a large extent, taken from the Education Reform Act 1988 which itself is subject to negative resolution. That being the case, perhaps my noble 582 friend can go one step further and say that for one year only it could be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. He has already gone a very long way. We know that there will be consultations. I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, will wish to comment from the legal point of view. Perhaps my noble friend can give us some added assurance on the matter. Everyone has accepted that the affirmative resolution procedure would apply for only one year and thereafter that the negative resolution procedure would apply.
§ My understanding is that my noble friend has already accepted the proposal put forward in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady David, and we are not, therefore, going very much further. However, perhaps my noble friend would set out fully his views on the matter because it would be of assistance to have a full explanation. I recognise that we are asking for a change in something under the Education Reform Act which is currently by negative resolution to something similar under the affirmative resolution, but it is for one year only. Thereafter it will be under the negative resolution procedure.
§ In view of the concern expressed in all parts of the Chamber I hope very much that my noble friend will be able to give a positive response. I am conscious that we are on Report. I hope that I have set out fully how grateful I am for what my noble friend has done to give effect to his undertakings given in Committee to make changes so that regulations in the Bill currently subject to the negative resolution procedure will be under the affirmative resolution procedure. I should be grateful if he could set out fully his understanding of how the Student Loans Company is to work because that is a separate issue. I should also be grateful to have his view on my final point relating to Clause 1 (4). I beg to move.
§ Lord Simon of Glaisdale
My Lords, the noble Baroness has set out clearly what is involved. It is singularly unfortunate that there was a misunderstanding that persisted right up to the end of last week. It supervenes on the discussion that your Lordships had earlier this afternoon. In my view, the trouble orginates from the great speed at which we are endeavouring to legislate. That is almost a certain recipe for misunderstanding.
I refer to Amendments Nos. 16 and 17. I presume that the black scoring on Amendment No. 17 as it appears on the Marshalled List obliterates the name of the noble Earl. Amendment No. 16 is a starred amendment. When I went into the Printed Paper Office on Friday no such amendment had been tabled. I do not know when it was tabled, but it should be starred. The position is unsatisfactory.
Two points were raised in Committee in regard to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness. The first was that your Lordships should be able to see the whole of the scheme when it is initially brought into being during the first year. I refer to Clause 1 and Schedules 1 and 2— the whole lot.
The noble Baroness was good enough to leave the second point to me; namely, that the Henry VIII 583 provision in Clause 1 (4) should specifically always be by affirmative resolution. At the moment it is subject to the negative resolution procedure. That is a fundamental and constitutional point. The Executive is taking power to amend primary legislation: indeed, the very Act in which this power is taken. That should at least be subject to affirmative resolution. The point was conceded by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor during discussion of the Courts and Legal Services Bill. I certainly understood the noble Earl to be conceding both points in Committee; namely, that your Lordships will able able to see the initial scheme in its entirety and to see it as explained by the Minister.
I also believe that it was conceded that Clause 1 (4) should be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. The noble Earl said at the beginning of his speech that, having listened to the debate, if he had been on the Back Benches he would have supported his noble friend Lady Young but being on the Front Bench he felt that he should take no different attitude. At the end of the speech, I understood him to say that he would either accept the amendment as it stood or have it redrafted to carry out what it was intended to do. It was on that basis that the noble Baroness withdrew our amendment.
I wish to say a few words about the position of the noble Earl the Paymaster General. During a number of Sessions he has been acting very much as a legislative trouble-shooter. He has had to pilot a number of different Acts through your Lordships' House; many were complicated and some were highly technical. Your Lordships willl agree that he has done that to general admiration. He is in a difficult position. He is a Treasury Minister and not a Minister of the department which has sponsored this Bill. He has a heavy duty as a Treasury Minister, not least at this time of the year. It is essential that the department should not put him in a false position. I cannot help feeling that he is in somewhat of a false position because, as the noble Baroness has said, his starred amendment does not fully carry out what the noble Baroness and I understood he was undertaking to do.
I ask the noble Earl this question: can he assure us that the whole of the scheme, whether by rule or by regulation, will be laid before your Lordships by the affirmative resolution procedure for the first year? Can he also assure us that the arrangements will be explained at the same time so that your Lordships can view the whole matter as a complete scheme and judge it as such? Fortunately, we have amendments tabled for Third Reading to be discussed. I hope that the noble Earl will undertake that Clause 1 (4) will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure throughout. As I read it at the moment, it is not subject to that procedure because the subsection refers to orders. The noble Earl's amendments refer to regulations. The point may be crucial. Unless the noble Earl can assure your Lordships that the intention and the result are that Clause 1 (4) will be throughout— not merely for the first year— subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, I ask that 584 he give an undertaking that that will be put right at Third Reading.
That being so, I agree with the noble Baroness. It is better at this stage that our amendments should be withdrawn and that we should proceed on the noble Earl's amendments, but recognising that something still remains to be done on them. If the amendments are to be withdrawn, that is always subject to the approval of your Lordships. For my part I support the attitude of the noble Baroness.
§ 3.45 p.m.
The Paymaster General (The Earl of Caithness)
My Lords, it might be helpful if I say a few words at this stage before I comment on the amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady Young. I wish to make some general remarks about the Bill which might be helpful to your Lordships. As noble Lords will be fully aware, there were a number of agreements and concessions made at Committee stage which I hope that your Lordships found helpful. There were also a number of points which my noble friend Lady Blatch and I agreed that we should take away for consultation with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education, Mr. MacGregor. I hope that your Lordships will not be disappointed by what happens today.
We have before us an agreement in the form of an amendment. It was the first amendment we discussed at Committee stage. I know that your Lordships will look forward anxiously to hearing what I have to say concerning Amendments Nos. 2, 6, 13, 27, 35 and 51, all of which concern points that were raised at Committee stage. We have consulted on all of them and all of them bring your Lordships good news.
I turn now specifically to the amendments before the House. This is an important group of amendments dealing with parliamentary scrutiny of the details of the loans scheme. It may be for the convenience of the House if I say something first about the amendments in my name to which my noble friend Lady Young has already referred— namely, Amendments Nos. 15 and 16— which apply the affirmative procedure to the regulations establishing the loans scheme. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, is right because my name is not down to Amendment No. 17.
The amendment in my name discharges the commitment I gave in our first Committee debate on the Bill. I spelt out very fairly what the Government will do. I can only blame myself entirely if there was a misunderstanding with the noble and learned Lord and my noble friends. I hope that that misunderstanding is now clarified. That is the reason why Amendment No. 16 is starred. I was in discussion with my noble friend Lady Young concerning the wording of that amendment late into Thursday. Though the amendment was drafted and was ready to be tabled in my name, because of the discussion we thought it appropriate to wait and see if we could resolve the problem. I hope I am able to convince your Lordships that the position is now 585 pretty clear. The amendment was tabled on Friday and it is starred.
I apologise to the House if your Lordships felt that that was a little late, but we thought it was the right way to proceed. As the House knows, the Bill as drafted provides for orders and regulations to be made by the negative resolution procedure. The amendments apply the affirmative procedure to the regulations made to establish the scheme, with negative resolution applying thereafter.
The regulations that would thus be subject to affirmative resolution cover the three principal aspects of the scheme. First, they include the regulations to be made under Clause 1 establishing conditions of eligibility. As the House knows, we intend these to reflect the residence and other conditions of the mandatory awards scheme. Secondly, the regulations will cover the terms of the loan in accordance with paragraph 1 of Schedule 2. These in particular will specify that the loan is to be indexed to inflation and provide deferment for graduates with low incomes. Thirdly, the regulations will cover the requirement to be placed on the higher education institutions to certify their students' status as eligible for the loan. All these matters will be subject to affirmative resolution when the scheme is introduced. We have debated these key features of the leans scheme extensively, but concern has been expressed here and in another place about Parliament's opportunity to scrutinise the key features further when they are settled in the regulations. These amendments meet those concerns.
The amendments in the names of my noble friends Lady Young and Lord Rippon of Hexham and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, would have a similar effect, but with two important differences. These amendments would make any amendment to Schedule 1 subject to affirmative procedure if it was made for the 1990–91 academic year; for later years, negative procedure would apply. Schedule 1 lists the types of course for which loans are to be available. In fact the list amounts to a definition of higher education. It reflects the definition of higher education established in the Education Reform Act 1988, though the wording is different as it has to include Scottish courses in this Bill and post-graduate courses are excluded.
The definition of what constitutes higher education does not change fast or frequently. But when it does change we need to be able to keep the legislation up to date. We shall consult the relevant parties before doing so. That is the subject of Amendment No. 13, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady David. The definition in the Education Reform Act can be amended by order, subject to negative resolution, and a parallel power is proposed for this Bill in Clause 1 (4). But it is not, as I have indicated, a power that we expect to need to use in 1990–91. For that reason, the amendment on this point is not needed for establishing the loans scheme.
These amendments also differ from the government amendment in requiring the arrangements for the loans scheme to be expressed as a statutory instrument and making that, too, 586 subject to affirmative resolution. I put it to the House that that would be quite inappropriate.
The Bill provides for all the terms of the scheme as they affect students and graduates to be spelt out in regulations. The eligibility conditions, the size of the loan, indexation, the arrangements for repayment, deferment and cancellation are all subject to parliamentary scrutiny as they must be in the regulations, and those regulations this year will be subject to the affirmative procedure. It is right that the terms as they affect individuals should be subject to such thorough scrutiny.
The administrative detail— which is what the term "arrangement" covers— will also be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, through a different route. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is responsible for ensuring that the administration of the scheme is carried out cost-effectively. He has to secure Parliament's approval for administrative expenditure on the scheme through the Estimates, and is accountable for the use made of the money voted. The Public Accounts Committee will be able to inquire into the administrative efficiency of the scheme, and the company's annual report and accounts will be published. There will be no lack of parliamentary scrutiny.
The Bill deliberately makes the terms of the scheme as they affect individuals subject to one form of parliamentary scrutiny, and leaves the administration subject to existing mechanisms. I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, will now agree that there is no need to make the administrative arrangements subject to a further layer of scrutiny or regulation.
It is worth dwelling on the status of the company. It is a company limited by shares, and a Companies Act company. It was initially owned by the banks, but the shares are now all owned by the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Scotland. Its directors are presently civil servants. After Royal Assent we have it in mind to add other kinds of expertise to the board, though with no change in ownership. If at a later stage it were to become clear that the most cost-effective administration could be secured by a change of ownership, it would be open to the shareholders of a Companies Act company to effect the change. But such a change is not our present policy.
There will be nothing secretive about the company. It will observe all the requirements of the Companies Act, submitting accounts to Companies House. In that way its affairs will be governed by the appropriate primary legislation. It will also submit its annual report and accounts to the Secretary of State and through him to Parliament. It will follow the best commercial practice and will seek at all times to operate with the utmost probity. It will not wish to operate in the shadows but rather will wish to demonstrate to all concerned that it is discharging its functions to the benefit of both students and taxpayers.
In the circumstances, to require that the relations between the Government— who own the company— and the Student Loans Company itself should be subject to an order itself subject to 587 parliamentary scrutiny is not only unnecessary but inappropriate.
Moreover, I remind your Lordships that I have already made available a wealth of information about how the scheme will work. That has been published in the rules and procedures documents. They have formed the basis of many of our debates. We are not hiding our administrative plans from the House: on the contrary. But we do not think it right to make the supply of this service subject to scrutiny beyond the normal accountability requirements.
We have accepted that the terms of the scheme as they affect students and graduates should require the approval of this House and another place. We do not believe that it would be right to go further. I believe that the amendments in my name fully meet the proper concern for parliamentary scrutiny of the implementation of the scheme. I commend those amendments to the House.
Perhaps I may summarise. My noble friend Lady Young and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, raised three points in Committee. We have met the great bulk of those points. One point concerned the minor detail of the scheme, what I call the administrative detail. That is already covered by the Companies Act and so is already there in primary legislation and is already there through my right honourable friend the Secretary of State's accountability to Parliament. The second point is that specifically mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. It concerns Clause 1 (4) under which the Secretary of State may by order amend Schedule 1 to the Act. As noble Lords will know, Schedule 1 to the Act does not need any resolution to bring it into effect. It is there in front of us but might be amended at some date in the future. I should like to hear if noble Lords have any further thoughts on whether the matter should be left as it is— in line with the Education Reform Act 1988— or whether we should look at the point again.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister would be good enough to enlighten me a little further on the company's responsibilities to the Secretary of State and to Parliament. I have noticed since joining your Lordships' House that a rather wider view is taken here of the questions which Ministers will answer. Am I right in thinking that as this is an independent limited company the Minister in another place will not answer for it? He will say that he is not responsible for the company's day-to-day proceedings. Therefore a student who has a grievance about his treatment will not be able to go to his Member of Parliament and have the matter raised in Parliament.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I am not proficient in the ways of another place. Before I continue perhaps I may say that it is nice to see the noble Lord back in his place. I hope that he was fit enough to watch the great occasion at Murrayfield which so many of us enjoyed. If not, he was certainly there in spirit, I am sure.
§ I am not an expert in the procedures of another place. The company will be a Companies Act company, but my right honourable friend will of course have responsibility for the finances of the company. The Public Accounts Committee will observe the scrutiny, but we should like to keep the day-to-day running at arm's length. That will be the most cost-effective and appropriate way of doing it, in line with a Companies Act company.
§ Baroness Phillips
My Lords, I have a straightforward question. Is this a precedent for a government to establish a company which is said to be a private company and to operate it with civil servants and a Minister? I cannot recall this happening before. It seems a dangerous principle to introduce.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, I am not sure whether it is a precedent. It was orginally a private company. The Government then took it over. We will bring in outside directors; and the question of the shareholding is a matter in the future.
§ Lord Flowers
My Lords, I also have a question about the company. It has been set up in order to give loans to students at a zero real rate of interest. That is all well and good. It is set up under the Companies Act to do that. The only shareholders are the Government, so the shareholders can insist upon that. But if, as the noble Baroness suggested, it is privatised at some time in the future, and if the Government agreed on that course because they wanted to for some reason, I presume that the company would be free to do what it liked about the rate of interest and could charge real interest at real rates. Would that not run somewhat counter to the whole idea of the student loans scheme? It seems to me that, in the event of privatisation, the whole concept of student loans as introduced into this House, with all the assurances we have received from the Minister, could be totally frustrated.
§ 4 p.m.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, I fully understand the noble Lord's concern. However, I do not think that his concern is valid on this occasion. If he would care to look at Schedule 2 (2), he will see that it reads:Loans shall bear interest at such rates as may from time to time be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State but so that"—and this is the important point—(a) the interest (which shall accrue from day to day) shall be added to the outstanding amount of the loan; and(b) the rates shall be such as appear to the Secretary of State to be requisite for maintaining the value of that amount in real terms".That section covers the noble Lord's concern and I am sure that the provision would be taken forward by whoever owned the company. I hope that that explanation will satisfy the noble Lord.
§ Lord Flowers
My Lords, would not the company be governed by the Companies Act and not by this legislation if it were privatised?
The Earl of Caithness
Yes, my Lords; it will be governed by the Companies Act but it will also be covered by primary legislation and this legislation in particular.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, as I understand the situation, it would not require primary legislation because the Companies Act does not require legislation in order to transfer the ownership of a company.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, in the wording of Schedule 2 (2) (b) it says,The rates shall be such as appear to the Secretary of State to be requisite for maintaining the value of that amount in real terms".However, it does not say that the amount could not be more. It says that is has to be as much as would maintain it in real terms. But that could be interpreted to mean that that is the minimum, because there is nothing in the wording of the subparagraph, as I see it, to prevent the rate being put above that amount. It may have been the intention that that should be the maximum, but it does not say so. Can the noble Earl comment on the matter?
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, I am not a lawyer but as I understand it the Bill limits the amount to the rate of inflation, the principle being that the undergraduate who receives a loan repays to the taxpayer via the Government the same amount in real terms as he borrowed. However, perhaps the noble Baroness will allow me to look further into the matter.
§ Lord Havers
My Lords, in my opinion the noble Earl's view is right; it should be the Secretary of State who decides the amount.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, the noble Earl has said much for which we can be grateful, and indeed I am grateful to him. However, I share the misgivings of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, about Clause 1 (4). That is the clause which gives the Minister power to amend primary legislation. This is not a particularly heinous case in that respect. However, I believe that this is not something which should be undertaken lightly.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I trust that the noble Earl will forgive my intervention at this point. Having; risen to my feet on many occasions today, I feel slightly hesitant in doing so again. However, a short while ago we were a little out of order, but now we are totally out of order. The rules for the Report stage are quite clear: no one may speak— save for the mover of the amendment— after the Minister has replied, except in the case of questions for elucidation or when the Minister has spoke early in order to assist the House. The Minister has not 590 spoken early in order to assist the House, but he has been answering many questions for elucidation. If the noble Earl now embarks upon a speech, we shall be totally and completely out of order.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I hope that what I have to say will not count as my speech on this particular matter. I am terribly worried now about the rules. I have been sitting here quietly because I thought the noble Earl was introducing his own amendments and that he was not replying. I certainly have a great deal to say on this issue and I intend to do so. We ought to get the position straight. I have no desire on this occasion, or indeed on any other, to break the rules. I am currently on my feet in regard to a point of order.
I understood that the noble Earl was introducing his amendments. I have been waiting for him to finish doing so before rising to begin my speech. Moreover, for all I know, that is also what the noble Earl, Lord Russell, is trying to do. As someone who is not an expert on rules, it would certainly help me if someone were to outline just what are the rules so that I shall know on future occasions when I may speak. I have been waiting my turn to speak in my normal courteous way, as I am sure has the noble Earl.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, we are currently dealing with Amendment No. 1, with which other amendments are grouped, and therefore the rules flow from that situation. However, perhaps I may make a suggestion which I made only the other day. I think that it would be for the convenience of the House if the two Front Bench spokesmen of the Opposition parties were to make their interventions. On this occasion I think that we should proceed in that way. Of course that means that other noble Lords will be able to break the rules which apply to the Report stage of a Bill. However, when we have finished with this particular group of amendments, I ask your Lordships to revert to normal Report stage procedure.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I would hate to be thought of as a nuisance but would the noble Lord the Leader of the House at least tell me exactly what are the rules in this connection? Do the rules state that the moment the noble Earl rises to speak the rest of us would be out of order if were we to do so? If that is the case, could the noble Earl in future kindly look over to this side of the House before he rises to his feet to see whether any noble Lord is about to rise to speak? I have no desire whatever on this, or indeed on any other occasion, to be out of order.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, we travelled around this course only a week and a half ago. On that occasion my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor was dealing with a Bill and it was suggested that he might look around to see if any noble Lord wished to speak before he replied to the debate. The Report stage rules in the Companion to the Standing Orders are quite clear: if the Minister dealing with the amendment wishes to speak early in order to assist the House, that is one matter and noble Lords are entitled to speak thereafter because clearly that is a 591 particular situation. However, if the Minister rises to answer the debate in the normal way then no noble Lord is permitted to speak afterwards.
I think that I am right in saying that in this particular case my noble friend was by no means the second speaker; indeed, he followed a fairly full speech made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. Moreover, I think that my noble friend on the Front Bench quickly looked to see whether other noble Lords were rising in order to speak. Therefore, I believe that we should deal with this amendment by allowing all noble Lords to speak. In my view we should be foolish not to bend the rules on this occasion. However, after that— and this is the second time in only 10 days that I have had to do this— I appeal to your Lordships to have cognizance of the rules which apply to Report stage amendments. They are pretty simple. We do not have very many rules as regards the Report stage.
§ Baroness White
My Lords, the situation is made more difficult when the Minister has tabled an amendment which is grouped with others, one of which has been moved by another Member of your Lordships' House. I was under the same impression as my noble friend on the Front Bench. I thought that we were really listening to the noble Earl introducing his own amendments, as opposed to the precise line taken by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It puts the House in a very difficult position when the Minister is trying to introduce his amendment and, at the same time, referring to another.
If we did not wait for the Minister to say something about his own amendment that would make the situation difficult and unsatisfactory. However, if he does so and then we are not allowed to speak, that too is unsatisfactory.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, in order to accommodate the House I think that we should proceed as I suggested. It seemed to me that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, was suggesting that all this procedure came as a great surprise. I do not think that the rules pertaining to the Report stage of a Bill should come as a great surprise to anyone. One must try to be ready for them.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord the Leader of the House will forgive me for saying that this has come as something of a surprise to me. I thought that I heard the noble Earl say very courteously that he was deliberately speaking earlier with a view to assisting the House. I understood that the rule in such a case is that other people are permitted to speak after him.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, has bowled me out. I have just consulted my noble friend Lord Caithness and he has told me that he did just that. Therefore I must apologise to the House because if the noble Lord is correct— and I gather that he is— then that is indeed the case. Nonetheless, let us proceed as before. We shall be in order if we do so. Your Lordships have every reason to berate me.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I think that I made clear my basic point. I shall not pursue it any further.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, would it help the noble Earl if I made my speech? Then he could reply on behalf of the Government. There are only a couple of points that I wish to underline. I preface them with the remark that it is already obvious that I am totally incompetent when it comes to procedure at any time.
There are two or three matters on which I should like clarification. First, the noble Earl is quite right, Schedule 1 is a kind of extensive definition of higher education. Does the noble Earl agree that this is precisely where the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, applies? I have no major concerns at the moment over Schedule 1 but obviously if the Government extend the loans scheme or were interested in extending what came under the general heading of higher education, I should like a reassurance that it would be done in such a way that noble Lords could make a proper contribution. The Government would respond to that contribution, or set of contributions, by saying, "Yes, we shall take it away and think further about it". That is what we are looking for— not ways of defeating the Government on regulations or amendments, but of making our impact felt.
I take it that in saying that he felt that the affirmative procedure ought to apply indefinitely the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, was trying to get over the problem in practice. As a tyro, I do not care about the precise practice so long as I have the assurance from the noble Earl that if something happens here, noble Lords will be given the chance to participate in an important matter; namely, the definition of higher education.
I am not clear how my second question is affected by the affirmative versus the negative procedure problem. It refers to the Student Loans Company. As the noble Earl is aware, we labour under the difficulty that the Student Loans Company does not appear on the face of the Bill. However, every time we meet, the noble Earl tells us a little more that is useful about the Student Loans Company. To anticipate a remark I shall make later, if we were to spend longer on this we should eventually learn even more about the Student Loans Company. Although our knowledge has led us to a better understanding of the position with respect to the Companies Act, two other matters have become rather confused.
The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, asked whether questions about the behaviour of the Student Loans Company would be ruled out of order both in your Lordships' House and in the other place due to the manner in which we are dealing with the Bill. I then asked whether that problem would be solved if we had the affirmative versus the negative resolution procedure. I do not know the answer, but it is important.
More significant was the point made by one or two noble Lords, notably my noble friend Lord Jay, about how privatisation would proceed if it were to take place. To say the least, that is a little worrying. As I read the Bill— and I ask the noble Earl to confirm this— if the company were privatised, surely 593 all that would happen is that the Minister would make the Statement that he was privatising it. Our only method of discussing it would be to debate the Statement. That is worth thinking about.
Lastly, I can perhaps help the noble Earl. He may recall that I raised with him in Committee the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, about the real value of the loan. I could have sworn that he reassured me, and we agreed, that the Bill as drafted means— as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Havers, said— that the real value will be maintained and no more. I think I used those exact words myself. The noble Earl may have forgotten, but I think that he said yes, that was correct. I am not certain that he necessarily needs any further briefing; he answered the question a week or two ago. I remind him of that in case he has forgotten. I read the Bill to mean precisely what he has just suggested.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may say a word. I am still of the opinion that that is the meaning. The noble Baroness raised the matter and I was trying to be helpful when I said that I would look at it. Now that my noble and learned friend has given full support to my understanding of the Bill, I have even more confidence that I am right.
I turn to the two points on which we differ. As concerns administrative detail, I do not think, with respect, that I can help your Lordships any more. The matter is already covered by other legislation and other means.
I should like to discuss Clause 1 (4) further with my right honourable friend. I sense that the mood of the House is that your Lordships would like me to examine the point. I can assure your Lordships that I shall do so. I am not sure what the result will be. I have had one discussion with my right honourable friend. I know that he would like to read what your Lordships have said this afternoon.
§ Baroness Young
My Lords, I wish to thank my noble friend very much for his helpfulness. No one knows better than I how much work he himself has put into the Bill. As one who in your Lordships' House has from time to time had to take through legislation for a department in which I was not a Minister, I know how difficult it is to pick up the detail of a Bill in your Lordships' House when there are so many experts sitting around. I wish to place on record my gratitude to my noble friend for his helpfulness and for the immense amount of work he has put into the Bill. I also thank his colleagues who have been helpful. I am grateful for what my noble friend has said.
There are two points which worry, me. The first concerns arrangements. I concluded over the weekend, after I had considered the matter further and had learnt a little more, that this was something which could be difficult to put on to the face of the Bill. Everyone would acknowledge that it is extremely helpful to have obtained more information about the Students Loans Company. It will be useful to read in Hansard what has been said.
A far more important point concerns Clause 1 (4) and Schedule 1. I am grateful to my noble friend for 594 saying that he will take this away and examine it. It is a matter of great concern to all parts of the House. Although my noble friend has done so much, it would be helpful if he could do that as well. With the assurances that I have received, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 2:
§ Page 1, line 6, after ("loans") insert ("amounting to no more than 50 per cent. of public support").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we had some discussion of this amendment on the second day of the Committee stage. There was a great deal of support from all sides of the Chamber for the amendment. At the end of the debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, reassured us that she would be able to go back to her right honourable friend and let him know how much concern there was on the matter and how much support existed for the amendment. I am therefore a little disappointed not to see a government amendment on the Marshalled List. However, I have put my own amendment down a second time in the hope that there will be no difficulty for the Government in accepting it following the discussions that I assume have taken place with the Secretary of State for Education.
§ The reason so many people feel strongly about the amendment is that, were we to go above the 50 per cent.— and the Government have said quite clearly that they have no intention of doing so— we should undermine the very nature of the Bill. The legislation is based on the principle of top-up loans. The White Paper was entitled Top-up Loans for Students. All the consultation that took place in relation to the White Paper was based on that principle
§ To go above that amount would be undesirable because it would start to have an effect on access. As I said in Committee, in countries like the United States where a loans system is in place and has been for some years the vast majority of loans form a proportion lower than half of the total student maintenance. Further, because the debt would be so much larger, we would have far more cases of default. It seems right that we should have written on the face of the Bill that the proportion of total student maintenance made up of loans should be no higher than 50 per cent. That is what the Government say they intend. If that is their intention, it can be written on the face of the Bill without any difficulty. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, I wish to support the principle underlying this amendment. It was an undertaking given by the Government in the White Paper that at the end of the day the maximum top-up loan would be equivalent to 50 per cent. of the grant. There has obviously been a great deal of concern among students and academics as regards the way the top-up loans will work. In view of the fact that this measure is declared government policy, it would be a great advantage to have it written into the Bill so that it becomes part of the statute.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, I wish to add my support and that of these Benches to the amendment. If we are to have top-up loans, it is only right that we should say that they will reach a finite level, as was originally set out in the White Paper. We are still discussing the ideas in the White Paper, or at least we are under that impression, so it is only reasonable that this measure should be written into the Bill.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, we debated a similar amendment a week ago. I have, as I promised, reported the views expressed then to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. I ought first to say that limiting the eventual value of the loan, in the way proposed in the amendment, is not as straightforward as noble Lords have suggested. In particular, we intend the loan to be available more widely than the mandatory grant. Therefore, if a student receives no grant, and we are to limit his or her loan to the 50 per cent. of public support referred to in the amendment, such a student would receive no loan at all. It is a statement of the obvious that 50 per cent. of nothing is nothing.
Nevertheless, let me assure your Lordships that we have no hidden agenda. We have said that we intend to increase progressively the amount of student support provided as a loan until it is in general terms equal to the grant. When that point is reached, probably early in the next century, our present intention is to keep that proportion constant, with the grant and loan each being uprated in parallel. But what should be done at that point will be a matter to be decided by the government of the day.
I therefore undertake to bring forward for Third Reading an amendment which will write our present intentions, as I have described them, into the Bill while providing also a mechanism for a successor government to bring some variation, should they so wish, before both Houses of Parliament. In the light of those remarks, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness who is speaking for the Government for that reply. I am particularly glad to hear that there is no hidden agenda. I had hoped she would tell us today that this amendment was acceptable. I was also interested to hear her say that the 50 per cent. point would be reached early in the next century. The noble Baroness was a little more precise in Committee, when the year 2007 was mentioned. A number of estimates have been made which suggest that the loan portion will be equal to the grant by about 1999 to 2000. Perhaps the Government too have reached a similar conclusion. If we are to reach that point considerably earlier, the need to have statutory control over the loan portion is all the more important.
However, in the light of the promise of the noble Baroness to table an amendment on Third Reading, I am willing not to press this amendment any further today. On the other hand, I wish to make it absolutely clear that, unless a satisfactory amendment is tabled with respect to the principle that lies behind the amendment that I have moved today, I shall have 596 no hesitation in pressing the point on Third Reading and shall probably wish to divide the House on it. In the circumstances, however, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 3 not moved.]
§ Baroness David moved Amendment No. 4:
§ Page 1, line 7, at end insert ("and shall within twelve months of the making of such arrangements, and annually thereafter, lay before Parliament the information specified in section (Monitoring of scheme: participation in higher education) below.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 53. Amendment No. 4 is a paving amendment for the new clause contained in Amendment No. 53 which I moved in the early hours of 20th March last week. This is a very important pair of amendments because, although we have received constant assurances that the scheme will be monitored, there is nothing in the Bill to say that that will be so. These amendments therefore seek to ensure that there will be full and proper monitoring of the loans scheme and its effects, particularly on participation and particularly as regards the groups which seem most threatened by the student loan scheme.
Ministers in both Houses have stated that there will be monitoring, both of financial costs and of participation. The Secretary of State stated on Report in the House of Commons:
I assure my honourable Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) that we shall be monitoring the scheme".— [Official Report, Commons, 15.2.90; col. 448.)
§ Unfortunately, the mechanisms cited as examples for such monitoring present no new initiatives specific to the loans scheme, particularly concerning its effects on participation. Answers to parliamentary Questions on the current situation and likely effects on disabled students have shown a gap in knowledge within the DES. Similarly, parliamentary Answers to Questions concerning the withdrawal of benefits from students have shown that the information available is too limited for such policies to be confidently implemented.
§ The Secretary of State has said that the Select Committee on Education and Science may consider such information, but that is not the function of that committee. Reference is also made to the possibility of income and expenditure surveys. Again those are vague references and will only provide limited ad hoc information. Annual reports and accounts of the Student Loans Company Limited have been promised although the level of scrutiny to be undertaken in Parliament is minimal.
In several debates on the final day of the Committee stage in this Chamber the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, gave assurances that the effects of the scheme on various groups such as people with dependants, women and certain other kinds of students, would be carefully monitored. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, stated in a similar response on behalf of the Government,
I return to the basic assumption that we make and repeat the caveat that the scheme will be monitored".
§ However, the Government have still not specified how the monitoring will take place, especially in relation to participation. The loans scheme is controversial and new and it deserves to have full and proper monitoring. The experience of loans schemes abroad shows that, regardless of overall rates of participation, any problems resulting from participation are felt most acutely by certain groups of the population, as identified in the list in Amendment No. 53. While no one can know the precise likely effect of the scheme until it is in operation, clear mechanisms must be set up to ensure that information that is needed to make a meaningful assessment of the positive or negative effects of the scheme will be collated.
The noble Baroness stated on 19th March:
It appears to me that throughout the first day of the Committee stage and, indeed, today I have given a number of assurances that monitoring of the scheme will take place. We regard monitoring as extremely important. The details of the scheme are not set in stone, and the Bill is designed to permit a swift response through regulations if changes are required. The effect of loans on participation is one of the major areas in which the monitoring effort will be concentrated". — [Official Report, 19.3.90; col. 180]
§ The noble Baroness then proceeded to talk about general monitoring on participation, which is supposedly to be undertaken by the Government. However, what she had to say had little to do with the amendment and gave no details about how the monitoring of the loans scheme will take place. Research on schemes abroad and on the intentions of people considering entering higher education in Britain suggests that, regardless of overall rates of participation, any problems with the scheme are felt most acutely by certain groups in the population, as identified in the amendment. I hope that after all those promises about monitoring the Minister will be able to accept that the new clause should go into the Bill so that there is a provision on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, this seems to me to be an important amendment and I think that the noble Baroness has made an almost overwhelming case for it. There are two bodies of opinion about this Bill. There is the opinion of the Government, who bold that the scheme which they are proposing will not impede greater access or deter wider participation in higher education. There is another equally well-informed— some would perhaps say better-informed— body of opinion which harbours severe doubts about this and feels that there is likely to be a deterrent effect upon the expansion of higher education.
However, in relation to both these views at the moment we are simply in the realm of assertion; in the realm of opinion. We do not know. As the Government profess exactly the same ambition as the rest of us— namely, to increase participation in higher education— surely we need to know exactly how the scheme is working, what effect it is having, what new types of student are coming forward and details; of that sort which are specified in this new clause, and no doubt others could be added. This information would be forthcoming and on the table for everybody to see if the new clause were accepted.
598 Answering the noble Baroness, Lady David, in Committee when she proposed almost the identical amendment, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, made some extremely interesting observations on the Companies Acts. The noble Earl has also referred to these matters and to company law this afternoon. Naturally the Student Loans Company will have to observe company law but the information to be filed with Companies House is not remotely comparable to the information sought in this amendment. I happen to be the secretary and director of a small company. I have to file information with Companies House and it certainly does not embrace any of the types of information that are specified here. It is to do with entirely different matters which are required for the observation of company law.
Even if the annual report and accounts are sent by the Student Loans Company to the Secretary of State, as the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, said they would be, the Secretary of State will in fact be none the wiser about the matters mentioned in this new clause. This means that, as the Bill is written, those of us who are interested in this information will have to tease it out through a whole series of Parliamentary Questions for Written Answer which the department's civil servants will have to answer.
As this information will have to be provided for that purpose and as the noble Baroness acknowledged at col. 180 of the Official Report in Committee that monitoring would take place, and the noble Baroness, Lady David, has already referred to this, I can see no reason why the fruits of such monitoring should not be made available openly to Parliament. It would not even require any more work because the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has told us that it is already going to take place; but it would be an earnest of the Government's genuine concern with widening access and increasing participation.
It amazes me that there should be— perhaps there will not be— any objection to the acceptance of this amendment. I can see absolutely no reason why the Government should not accept it. I think it would be thoroughly in the spirit of what they say they want to do— which is to widen access and to increase numbers in higher education— to put this information annually on the table, which they will be collecting in any case so there will be no additional public expense involved. I should be amazed to hear that the Government are not going to accept the amendment.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, I accept the desirability of monitoring such a scheme but I wonder whether I could speak against both the first amendment and the one setting out the detailed form of monitoring. Where there is government money involved over a period of time, where there are going to be loans coming from the Treasury, it is automatic that there will be monitoring of what expenditure the Government are going to have to face in the form of loans over the coming year. It therefore seems to me that it is a work of supererogation to put into a Bill of this kind, where public money is involved, that the Government should monitor the future 599 expenditure. It seem to me totally unreasonable and unnecessary. Clearly it will be done, and I am sure that we shall be able to hear my noble friend Lady Blatch or my noble friend Lord Caithness spelling out what kind of monitoring they intend to do.
Secondly, with regard to the details which are laid down in Amendment No. 53, I must say that my heart failed me when I saw once again that only under paragraph (e) are there "women students". What we always heard in the European Parliament was "handicapped, disabled, young" and "women" at the end. It became a sort of litany that I tried to stop. Clearly women can be from any socio-economic background, they can belong to an ethnic minority, regrettably they can have disabilities, and many of us, alas, can be over 25 years of age. It therefore seems to me that his kind of list is again a work of supererogation.
The Government will be monitoring the type of students who will be going and the type of people who will be able to benefit from the new opportunities in higher education, and they should not be classified in paragraphs labelled (a) to (0, with, if I may say so specifically, "women students" as paragraph (e). Although my noble friends will no doubt take on board the kind of information that will be required and obviously the necessity of monitoring the process of the top-up student loans, I hope that they will not accept these specific amendments.
§ Lord Dormand of Easington
My Lords, I intervene briefly because I am puzzled and I wish genuinely to seek information about the question of monitoring. I remember very well the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, saying the words quoted by my noble friend Lady David. I was under the impression that monitoring was to take a specific form that we would all know about. I have to say that I do not get that impression from what has been said in this debate so far.
If I may refer to two specific categories of person, if I can so describe them, perhaps it will illustrate my ignorance on the situation. I do so because I hope that I can get the information that I requested at first. If we look at the position concerning disabled people— presuming that the Government are as concerned about disabled people as they always say they are in other legislation that we have in your Lordships' House— I understand that the surveys (if surveys have taken place) concerning attitudes to loans have not been specifically directed to disabled people.
I think all of your Lordships know that those with disabilities have greater difficulties in finding full-time work. I happen to know— I am sure that all your Lordships do— that it is a matter raised frequently in another place, and some of us think with very unsatisfactory replies from the Government. Those who have earnings receive on average up to 19 per cent. less than their able-bodied counterparts.
I am associated with organisations for the disabled in my area. I know that they approach these matters with great trepidation. I spoke to one group recently about the Bill before your Lordships' House today, and I found a considerable fear— I put it as strongly 600 as that— not only among disabled people but among parents who have disabled families who perhaps would have no choice but to take the provisions of this Bill. That is one group, but one could go on beyond that.
I turn now to the other group of mature students, and I do so because, if I may so describe it, during the second part of my education I was a mature student. It is something I maintain a great interest in, and there is no doubt whatever that for older students finance is a crucial factor in deciding whether to study. May I just inject a personal note. I said that I was a mature student at one period of my life. I found that to complete my course I had to borrow money from my brother. There is perhaps nothing startling about that except that he was a coalminer and I was much better qualified than he was; he did not exactly have money to throw away. Had it not been for that I should not have been able to complete what was generally considered to be an important university course.
I know that there have been studies in other countries— I hope that the Government have looked at these— concerning mature students. On other Bills that have come before this House we have discussed the need for mature students in education— if I may say so, in almost any form of education these days— where the benefit of their experience, maturity and so on is more necessary now than ever, particularly having regard to what is said in your Lordships' House about the value of education and training, whether for business, industry and so on or for its own sake, and all the inadequacies at the moment. I hope that we shall hear something more specific about how the monitoring is to be carried out and that the Government will give specific example as to how it is to be done.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, perhaps I may make one brief point with regard to Amendment No. 53. It refers to gathering,information relating to the effects of the loans system on the participation of students".Throughout subsection (2) there are references to students. That might be all right so far as it goes, but the important statistic about the loans system will be to find out how many people are deterred from becoming students by the prospect of having to take out loans. I wonder whether, if we accept the amendment, we can be assured that information will also be gathered from school-leavers and others who do not become students to find out whether the imposition of loans was a serious factor in their decision.
§ Baroness Phillips
My Lords, I should like to make a slightly different point. Bearing in mind our earlier discussion, whichever way the government reply one has the impression that they are forcing the legislation through the House. There is a new habit, introduced by the Government, of tabling important amendments on Report. It has even happened once or twice on Third Reading. Knowing the rules of the House, the Government then try to resist any discussion. I do not have to tell the Government that they are in a vulnerable position. People are discovering all kinds of strange anomalies in the 601 operation of the community charge which were not on the face of the Bill and which we questioned. All sorts of strange things are now coming up with which we shall deal on another occasion.
The idea of a company operated by a government is an important new idea. The company will have 170 staff who must be adequately paid. Offices must be provided. Presumably the cost will have to be met by the interest imposed on students. My noble friends on the Front Bench tell me that that is not so. In that case it will be a cost to the Government. The statement in the Bill that there will be no increased cost is therefore wrong. The Government cannot have it both ways.
I appeal to the Government: this important proposal should be included in the Bill. If it is resisted and pushed to the vote, the Government will once again rightly be held up as forcing through legislation which has not been thought out. I do not think that that is a good idea. They are in a vulnerable position.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, I should like to support these two amendments. I was rather disappointed at the intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, who opposed the amendment. In our discussion in Committee, there was nothing to indicate that the Government would automatically monitor the scheme. As I read the amendments, they are not concerned with accounts and the auditing of accounts. They refer to the participation of students in higher education. We must therefore monitor the trends.
The trends about which we are concerned are those involving the groups mentioned in subsection (2) of Amendment No. 53. Those groups of students will be particularly at risk under the students loan scheme. They are the groups from which we must recruit more students if we are to maintain and increase the total output of graduates in years to come.
In defence of subsection (2) (e), which concerns women students, I must point out to the noble Baroness that although we find women mentioned in the other categories, their work patterns are still vastly different from those of men whom we find in all the groups. It is because of that difference that we are particularly concerned about women. If they retire from the labour market for a few years shortly after taking their degrees they will retire with a loan on their hands. We know that on average women do not earn as much as men. So the problem of repaying the loan will be a greater deterrent to women than it is to men. We have still not achieved the goal of equal participation of women in higher education even before the introduction of the students loans scheme. That group must be monitored and assisted in every way. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a much more positive response to the amendment than she did to the amendment proposed in Committee.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Young
My Lords, I am not anticipating what my noble friend Lady Blatch will say in response to the amendment. Like everyone else, I have reread what was said in Committee. Perhaps 602 I may take the House back to the White Paper which stated:The Department of Education and Science will monitor the introduction of the new regime, so as to measure its effects on such matters as participation by social class or gender".I shall not quote the rest of the paragraph: what I have read sets out the intention clearly.
It would be helpful if my noble friend could tell the House whether we have any further news on the statement that,preparations [are in hand] for a further survey of students' income and expenditure to be undertaken before the introduction of the new regime, so as to provide a base-line".That seems to answer the point clearly, although I agree entirely with my noble friend Lady Elles when she says that the Government will monitor the scheme, will have an agreed base line from which to monitor it and will take into account the points raised in the amendment.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
My Lords, perhaps I may offer a brief but warm word of support for the amendments. Predictably, it is the mention of students with disabilities which has drawn me into the discussion. As the noble Baroness, Lady David, said, there is little information available on the problems and circumstances faced by students with disabilities. It is important to have specific information. It is particularly important that we should know exactly what will be the impact of the loans scheme on people who, as the noble Lord, Lord Dormand of Easington said, might well have difficulty finding jobs, might be in lower paid jobs and, especially relevant, might have less disposable income to pay off what might be slightly larger loans than their able-bodied peers.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, I hope that the House will forgive me if my response is somewhat repetitious of the answer I gave in Committee.
The substantive amendment has been tabled and discussed twice before, once in this House and once in another place. I recognise the concern which prompted the amendments and I want to emphasise that we regard monitoring as vitally important. As I said, the details of the scheme are not set in stone and the Bill is designed to permit a swift response through regulations if our monitoring shows that changes are required. The effect of loans on participation is one of the major areas in which the monitoring effort will be concentrated.
As my noble friend, Lady Young said, the White Paper said that the Department of Education and Science would monitor the scheme,so as to measure its effects on such matters as participation by social class or gender".The monitoring strategy is being developed in parallel with the detailed definition of the operational methods of the scheme which are outlined in the rules and procedures documents published before Second Reading and today. We shall no doubt need to include further income and expenditure surveys. In reply to my noble friend Lady Young, I must point out that a further survey of income and expenditure of students has been undertaken since the publication of the White Paper. I believe that the results have been published.
603 I can assure noble Lords that, in considering the development of student support— by that I mean annual upratings and revisions as well as the long-term direction— we shall consider information on participation overall and by specific groups such as those identified in the amendment and in particular the disabled.
As we indicated at Committee stage, monitoring will take place alongside our more general monitoring and evaluation of higher education policies, including the promotion of improved participation and access for groups which are traditionally under-represented.
If changes to the scheme prove necessary, the Government will seek to implement them through the regulations. We expect to make available to Parliament information arising from DES monitoring, such as future income and expenditure surveys. I can assure noble Lords that Parliament will have no lack of information. My right honourable friend is accountable to Parliament for all education policy and the other place and its select committee will be able to probe in the usual way.
There is no need for an elaborate statutory framework for monitoring. The Government are alive to the importance of monitoring the effects of the loans scheme and in particular the effect on participation by under-represented groups.
I cannot emphasise enough that a major objective of the loans scheme is to increase access. In reply to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond who was concerned about those young people who do not come into the system, if the survey shows that access is not increasing, looking at specific groups in particular, one will want to know why. In looking to see why, one must identify those young people who do not make decisions to come in. If the loans scheme is a deterrent, clearly modifications will have to be made.
With regard to particular groups, I note what my noble friend Baroness Elles said about women. At the moment considerable monitoring takes place and we know that many women are taking out loans at a very high cost to themselves. One hopes that the loans scheme will at least provide some access to cheaper money for those who require it in order to complete their courses.
The noble Baroness, Lady David, made her case very well. It is an important point and I hope that I have emphasised sufficiently that the Government take very seriously the issue of monitoring. Given that assurance and those I previously gave, I hope that she will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, first, I should like to thank all those who supported the amendment. I was glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, quoted the passage from the White Paper on monitoring and that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, responded to the very good point made by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond. However, I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, objected to women coming in in fifth position.
604 I should like to say a few more words about women. In his Lancaster speech, Kenneth Baker predicted that in 25 years' time women would be in a majority in higher education. But surveys still show that women have objections to taking out loans to pay for their higher education. I have received a copy of a letter which the principal of my old college, Newnham in Cambridge (which is a college entirely for women), wrote to the Secretary of State after its governing body had expressed a great deal of misgiving about the scheme. She speaks for the governing body and writes:our experience tells us that the inevitability of indebtedness after graduation … and the size of the debt will, at least in the short term, deter some women from entering higher education.There is still a surprising reluctance in some families right across the social structure to support daughters in higher education or even in aspiring to it. The idea of being in debt, even for the best of purposes, is still seen as less acceptable for women than for men; and the unhelpful notion of 'negative dowry' is still alive and well in the minds of both men and women, parents and their children. Perhaps even more important, the understanding that higher education is a good and necessary thing is not yet widespread or strong enough to overcome the attraction of immediate earning power, let alone incur debt to acquire it".I believe that there is a problem about women and the other groups mentioned in the amendment. As there are such strong intentions regarding monitoring, I am very disappointed that we cannot have it on the face of the Bill. This is very important. With the support that I have had for the amendment, I feel that I should test the opinion of the House.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 111.605
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Addington, L.||Grimond, L.|
|Adrian, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Hanworth, V.|
|Alport, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Hirshfield, L.|
|Birk, B.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Blease, L.||Hunt, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Bonham-Carter, L.||Jay, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Jenkins of Hillhead, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||John-Mackie, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Kearton, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Kilmarnock, L. [Teller.]|
|Dacre of Glanton, L.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Kirkwood, L.|
|David, B.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Ennals, L.||Longford, E.|
|Falkland, V.||Mackie of Benshie, L.|
|Flowers, L.||Mais, L.|
|Gallacher, L. [Teller.]||Mayhew, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Gregson, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Grey, E.||Ogmore, L.|
|Peston, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Phillips, B.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Porritt, L.||Tonypandy, V.|
|Rea, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Ritchie of Dundee, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Robson of Kiddington, B.||Underhill, L.|
|Rochester, L.||Wallace of Coslany. L.|
|Russell, E.||Walston, L.|
|Russell of Liverpool, L.||Warnock, B.|
|Sainsbury, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Seear B.||White, B.|
|Seebohm, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Serota, B.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Shaughnessy, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Simon of Glaisdale, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Allerton, L.||Layton, L.|
|Annaly, L.||Liverpool, E.|
|Balfour, E.||Long, V.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Lyell, L.|
|Belstead, L.||McColl of Dulwich, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Manton, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Marshall of Leeds. L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Mersey, V.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mountgarret, V.|
|Carnock, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Munster, E.|
|Clanwilliam, E.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Nelson, E.|
|Colnbrook, L.||Newall, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Norrie, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Cox, B.||O'Brien of Lothbury, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Oppenheim-Barnes. B.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Orkney, E.|
|Derwent, L.||Prior, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Reay, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Renton, L.|
|Elles, B.||Renwick, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||St. Davids, V.|
|Ferrers. E.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Fraser of Carmyllie, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Gainford, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Strange, B.|
|Geddes, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Gibson Watt, L.||Strathcona and Mount|
|Goold, L.||Royal, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.|
|Haddington, E.||Swansea, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Harris of High Cross, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Havers, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Henley, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Hives, L.||Ullswater, V.|
|Holderness, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Westbury, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Wise, L.|
|Joseph, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Killearn, L.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.606
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 5:
§ Page 1, line 15, at end insert ("and such conditions may include a provision that only students commencing their courses in or after the academic year 1990–91 shall be eligible students."
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have debated this matter already. I would not normally come back to your Lordships with such an amendment again except that I have been reflecting on the matter since we last debated it. I believe that it is an amendment of such seriousness that we ought at least to have one more chance to consider whether we are doing the right thing.
§ As noble Lords will recall, when we debated the amendment as to whether the scheme should apply to all students currently in higher education plus the new students who will be coming up in 1990–91— assuming that the Bill becomes an Act— noble Lords from all sides of the House admitted that there was at least a genuine question of whether it would be equitable for the Bill to apply to those who are already students.
§ In referring this matter yet again for your Lordships' consideration, I have this point in mind. If the loans scheme did not apply to students who are already there, any enhancement of their awards would be solely in the form of an increase in maintenance grant corresponding precisely to the uprating that the Government are bringing in plus the loan. The loans scheme would apply only to new students.
§ Let me remind noble Lords of the arguments. There are two aspects to the case. I shall deal with them as briefly as I can. It is solely because I believe that we need one last chance on this aspect that I bring it before your Lordships. On the equity argument, it seems wrong to say that students who went to university one year or two years ago did so in the knowledge that a loans scheme would be coming into existence in time to affect them. My view is that that is not the case. I have asked my students about it. I do not think that they are particularly backward but some of them do not seem to believe that the loans scheme will apply to them next year. I have made that plain to them. They assure me that they were totally unaware that the scheme would affect them.
§ If one looks at the further evidence gathered by the National Union of Students, I believe that it fairly reflects the position of students. The union feels that the scheme is inequitable. It did not expect the scheme to apply to those students. There remains the residual element of uncertainty. The Bill may not yet become an Act of Parliament in time for the coming academic year. However, I leave that issue to one side. The union feels that on the grounds of equity your Lordships ought at least to consider the matter yet again.
§ On the practical argument, I have no intention of crowing over the consequences of the poll tax or community charge legislation on which the Government have impaled themselves. However, there is no doubt that all governments might learn from that that there are good, practical reasons for proceeding rather cautiously when one enters into such new areas.607
§ If the Government wish to go ahead (and I have certainly learnt by now that the Government are very keen to go ahead; it is not apparent to me why) one of the roles of your Lordships' House is to suggest to the Government on this virtually last occasion that perhaps they ought to go ahead more slowly. I do not refer to delaying the Bill. We have discussed that matter. I cannot remember whether we were defeated or withdrew the amendment, but we could not persuade the Government on such an amendment. I refer to limiting the Bill to those who will be students in the coming year. I repeat the point and apologise for going in part over old ground again. The matter is serious enough to warrant a few moments yet again of your Lordships' time. If enough noble Lords on reflection change their minds, perhaps between us we can persuade the Government to change their mind.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, I should like to add my own support and the support of these Benches for the measure. The noble Lord has given a fair summing up of the reasons why I feel that students who are attending an institution of higher education under the grant system— and this scheme will predominantly affect those who are on full grants or in receipt of the higher proportion of grant— should continue to receive their funding in that way as those are the terms on which they entered their course.
The equity case cannot be too heavily emphasised. The average 18 year-old who is worried about going to university is not worried about legislation in Parliament. He is not concerned. Most parents are not concerned about it either. Those are the terms on which the students enter the course. Surely they should be allowed to finish the course on those terms.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Peston, has reminded us, the amendment is similar to an amendment that we debated in Committee. It seeks to give the Secretary of State the option of making ineligible for loans all students beginning their courses before the academic year 1990–91. The amendment therefore drives a coach and horses through what the Government intend.
The amendment is unnecessary. The Bill as drafted would allow the Secretary of State to exclude students part-way through their courses if he saw fit. However, as your Lordships know, we do not intend to exclude the majority of students from the increase in resources from this autumn. It is our intention that loans should be available to all eligible students in the autumn of 1990, not just new entrants in that year. That is a much more forceful argument than the one put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Peston, on the grounds of equity.
As the noble Lord will know, the grant is means-tested. It is not available to all students. If one happens to be a student at the moment and does not qualify for grant, the noble Lord says that one cannot have a loan, either. I do not believe that it is fair to deny existing undergraduates top-up loans. Those who have grants would also like to benefit from the increased resources which the Government 608 are providing. To deny them that would be very wrong.
When I read the Official Report, I noted the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone. She suggested that she could accept more easily that students already in higher education should receive loans if the access funds were higher. As noble Lords know, we have been looking at the question of the access funds. Your Lordships will be delighted to know that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has this afternoon announced that there will be a doubling (from £ 10 million to £ 20 million) of the access funds for higher education. We shall be going into that matter in a great deal more detail.
My noble friend Lady Blatch has also answered a Question in this House, but I thought that your Lordships would like to have that information at an early opportunity. It will go a long way towards meeting the anxieties behind the amendment and some other amendments such as that concerning housing which the noble Lord, Lord Addington, has pursued with vigour and which no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Peston, will pursue later this evening.
I remind the House that eligibility for the loan will be governed by regulations to be made under Clause 1 (2) (b). When they are first made they will now be subject to an affirmative resolution. Therefore your Lordships will have an opportunity to debate them.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his answer. I am delighted to hear what he had to say about the access funds. I look forward to hearing more details when we have an opportunity to discuss the matter. All of us who are concerned with higher education, whether or not we like the Bill, will regard as highly desirable any measure to provide more funds to help students.
I am not clear whether or not the access fund meets my problem with respect to students who are already in situ. I shall have to reflect on that matter. We shall have ample opportunity later this afternoon or this evening to consider how the access funds relate to housing benefit.
Perhaps I may also thank the noble Earl for yet again clarifying the Bill. The Secretary of State, when he makes the regulations, could meet my amendment by excluding second and third-year students. I take it that the Secretary of State reads every word that we say in your Lordships' House, and he might regard our contribution as suggesting that that would be a more appropriate set of regulations.
Although I had given some thought to dividing the House, in the circumstances I do not believe that it would be appropriate at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Addington moved Amendment No. 6:
§ Page 1, line 15, at end insert ("and such conditions may include a provision in respect of students attending courses of higher education of longer than three academic years' duration that they shall incur no liability in respect of any loan given for a fourth year or subsequent period").609
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment deals with the problem of students who are taking courses longer than the standard three-year course with which the White Paper was solely concerned. As the noble Earl said, I have been ploughing this furrow for a considerable time. I am becoming rather tired of doing so because it is a problem which has not been addressed so far.
§ I have raised the issue on behalf of students in Scotland. Virtually every Scottish institution appears to have raised the point. Their students on honours courses are taking four-year courses. That means one extra year of debt as a result of requiring funds for that additional year. It means an additional year in which interest accrues on that debt at the rate of inflation becuse students do not earn and so cannot pay back the loan
§ Dozens of other groups of students are affected. Those taking B. Ed. courses are affected for the same reason. Many medical practitioners— doctors and dentists— are affected. So are architectural students who study for five years. Although that includes two years, of vocational work outwith the course, that is generally for very low salaries. Therefore there are many groups of students who are affected by the general approach of the White Paper and of the Bill.
§ Many noble Lords have raised the point. Three amendments were tabled in Committee, including those in the names of the noble Earl, Lord Haig, and the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn. The Minister made many helpful sounding remarks. However, I should very much like to hear what he proposes to do. There is obviously a very big hole in the Bill. Unless we plug it, we shall effectively exclude certain people from certain courses. Scottish students will be encouraged to attend courses in England. However, as I have pointed out during the passage of the Bill, Scottish students who have taken Highers are not well equipped to take courses in England because those courses are designed for students who have taken A-levels. It is also the case that Scottish institutions which offer four-year courses and take 25 per cent. of their students from outwith Scotland will probably lose those students. That is especially so if the students are dependent on state funding and come from the lower income bracket, for the simple reason that it will cost them more money.
§ In view of all those factors, which seem to roll around like a ball in a pinball machine, I hope that the Government will say exactly what they propose and how they intend to deal with the problem of those students who do not come within the scope of the three-year course. I beg to move.
§ Lord Adrian
My Lords, I support the amendment particularly from the point of view of medical students, of whom I was one a good many years ago. It is my understanding that a principle behind the Bill is that a university education gives a greater chance of earning a reasonable salary in later life. However, are doctors or dentists, or others whose courses are longer than the standard three-year course, conspicuously higher earners than those on three-year courses?
In about 10 years' time, if inflation continues at its present rate— I hope it will not but it may do so, or even be higher— a doctor will qualify with a debt 610 of about £ 14,000. That is a considerable sum of money. It appears to be a substantially higher debt in proportion to the greater earnings of a doctor in comparison with, for example, a banker who has taken only a three-year degree. I therefore have a great deal of sympathy for the amendment, which would limit the liability of students on courses of longer than three years to the three-year debt of the student on the normal course. I support the amendment.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, I also support the amendment, both from the point of view of students such as medical students, who not only have a longer period of training but are put to some considerable extra expense, and from the point of view of Scottish students.
My noble friend and others have argued their case very cogently. I should like to emphasise the question of inflation which has just been mentioned. The loans are said to be interest-free but they are repayable with real money. That might be a very large and open-ended liability. Students may be well advised to take out a loan at a fixed rate of 5 per cent. I only mention that, however, to show that the loans are not quite the splendid gift which they are sometimes made out to be.
As regards the Scottish students, the Scottish system of education is different from that in England. One way in which it differs is that some of the matters— and I must tread rather delicately because this is a generalisation and is not always true— which are dealt with in England in the higher forms at school are dealt with in Scotland at the universities. No doubt they are better dealt with, but to some extent the same ground may be covered. That means that very often Scottish students go earlier to university and look upon their first year as part of their general education.
On Second Reading I argued that there is a great public interest in sending students to universities, apart from their private gain. It is a great advantage to the country as a whole that students should gain what they can from universities as citizens quite apart from increasing their earning capacity.
In my view, Scottish students have a right to look forward to the same amount of public support up to the time that they go on to their honours courses— that is, the second, third and fourth years. I do not believe that it would be contrary to the spirit of the Bill— whether or not noble Lords agree with that— that the Scottish students should be supported by grant during their first year at university or, at any rate, some provision should be made so that they do not have to take on repayment of a loan the consequences of which, as previous speakers have said, may be extremely serious. As I say, there is clearly a similar case for those in the professions who require more than three years to qualify.
Therefore, I hope that the Government have listened to the arguments and will give them further consideration. I hope that they can assure the Scottish universities, which are very worried about this matter, that their position is understood and that the Government have some proposals for meeting their anxieties.
§ Baroness Elliot of Harwood
My Lords, I support what the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, said. On returning to the House this morning I found a very moving letter from the president of the students' union at Glasgow University. That laid out very clearly what this Bill will mean to them since so many Glasgow students study for four years, and if they are on a professional course— for example, a medical course— they may stay on for five or six years. It will make an enormous difference to them if they can have some relief for at least one year whether it is the first or fourth year, so that they do not have to pay so much. That it is extremely important. I hope that the Government— because they do consider Scotland on these occasions— will think again and make some gesture towards the Scottish students.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, I do not believe that the Government are likely to forget Scotland on any subject at present. I regard this as a rather difficult problem. I have discussed it with a group of students whom I happened to meet. Some were just leaving Aberdeen University, and some were still studying there. We tried to sort out the justice in all this. They recognise that if they are on a four-year course— and I am sure that students on four-year courses elsewhere recognise this— they are receiving from the public their fees and their proportion of maintenance for four years instead of three. Therefore, they are receiving more from the taxpayer than those students on a three-year course.
Those students said that they practically all leave with some debt, and because they are on a four year course they often take out quite a large loan from the bank. Those students are extremely interested in this scheme. In trying to sort out whether they should have one year of grant paid, one point which arose was that in England students are at school during the equivalent of the first year at university in Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, who knows a great deal about this, mentioned that point. They said that English students are supported by the public while at school, but if you leave school earlier and go to a university such as Aberdeen, then you are not so supported. Therefore, the question of the loan arises.
This aspect is extremely difficult. It would be a great help if something could be done. However, I do not believe that the argument that a student should have a loan for only three years instead of four holds water. I do not know what my noble friend has in mind— or if he has anything in mind. However, he is writing away on his brief, and I hope that he is writing something helpful.
If something helpful can be done on this matter, that will be greatly welcomed. I do not believe that Scottish students see the problem as being straightforward. They recognise that they are receiving more public support on a four-year course than is the case on a three year course.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, I support this amendment. It echoes some of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Butterfield, on Second Reading, by other noble Lords during the Committee stage and by the 612 noble Lord, Lord Adrian, a few moments ago. It particularly applies to medical students but is not exclusive to them.
This relates to my experience while I was a co-opted Member of your Lordships' Select Committee on Science and Technology. In 1987 I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the United States to look at the medical research situation. There medical students are often in considerable debt by the time they qualify. Therefore, they are under very great pressure to join the most lucrative branches of the profession so as to service and repay the debt as quickly as possible. The result of that is that the less well paid branches of the profession suffer in recruitment, and those may well be the most useful in terms of the health and well-being of the community. I am talking particularly about doctors who consider going into medical research who, even if they eventually make a break-through and take out a patent and earn some money— and that will be the minority in medical research— they will spend at least 10 years in a fairly low paid job. The same applies to people who go into public health specialties or epidemiology. Those people never become rich although their work may have the greatest effect in reducing death rates and sickness in the community.
Another point which was drawn to our attention on that committee is the need for what is called the intercalated year to become standard in British medical education. That is where all students will get a B.Sc. degree before going on to the clinical part of their training in a hospital. It was thought that that would not only make a good source of recruits for medical science, but would also improve the standard of all medical practice in this country. I am aware that that would add another year to the training. If people have to borrow the money for that, that will be a disincentive to them. I am also aware that initially in this country debts will not reach the same astronomical height as those of students in the United States. However, there are branches of the profession in this country which people might well choose not to enter if it means a big debt hanging over their head. Any measure to decrease— that is a nasty way of putting it— this disincentive is very welcome, and therefore I support the amendment.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I assume that this is a probing amendment because, quite frankly, it adds nothing to the Bill. The Government already have power to decide on other conditions that they may prescribe by regulations. However sympathetic one may feel, one should bear in mind that whether or not the amendment is accepted, the Government have power to enact the provisions anyway. They also have power to ignore the provision in the amendment if they so choose.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
My Lords, I rise briefly to support my noble friend. The anxieties of the Scottish case are quite clear, but there is a general principle— touched on by many noble Lords— that the harder one works and the longer one trains, then the bigger disadvantage one starts with. There is no shadow of doubt that at the present time too many 613 people are entering the City of London— to do I know not what, but whether or not it is valuable is doubtful— and not enough people are entering the hard professions, be it medicine, engineering, physics or chemistry. This particular enactment of the idea that the longer one trains, the more one must borrow must be harmful to industry and to the country as a whole.
If, as was suggested, the Minister already has power to do something, I trust that he will tell us that he intends to do something about it.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, from these Benches I should like to support the amendment. There are a number of courses of undergraduate study which entail students studying for longer than three years. We heard a great deal about medicine, and at Committee stage I supported an amendment with particular reference to both dentistry and medicine.
I should like to add a small point on the subject of medical students. I do not want to be alarmist, but an interesting letter appeared in the current issue of the British Medical Journal, which suggests that medical students sometimes take part in drugs trials. There is concern that this will become an increasingly important source of tax-free income with very undesirable effects. Far too many students may take part in far too many drugs trials, which could be damaging to their health and their studies.
There are a number of other areas which have perhaps received rather less attention; for example, modern languages. Many students studying modern languages now take a four-year course; enhanced engineering courses also involve a four-year course of study. Where teacher education is undertaken as a Bachelor of Education it involves four years of study. Then there are paramedical areas such as speech therapy. My noble friend Baroness David wants to contribute to the debate on that subject. As a number of noble Lords said, virtually all honours degree courses in Scotland fall into these categories.
It is essential that by introducing the loans system these students are not deterred from studying longer courses. I shall give an example of why I believe they may be deterred. If we compare a student in Scotland and a student in England starting a course at the next academic year, and assuming an annual rate of inflation of 6 per cent. per annum, the loan differentials very quickly become quite large. Calculations suggest that the effect of extending a course by one year considerably increases the size of the debt, possibly by as much as 60 per cent. That could have a devastating effect on recruitment to longer courses. The consequences of having fewer language graduates in the years beyond 1992, or fewer teachers or paramedics, are quite incalculable.
I do not normally speak on Scottish matters. The noble Earl might like to know that I was supporting the losing side at Murrayfield the week before last and was very upset by the result. However, on this occasion I should like to say that the effect of the loan scheme on the Scottish university system could be carastrophic. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, shakes her head. She made reference to the feelings of Scottish students on this matter. Perhaps 614 I may say that in response to the White Paper on top-up loans there was an extremely broad array of not only Scottish universities, but also Scottish colleges which said that they opposed the scheme because of the damage it could do to Scottish institutions of higher education. I do not believe there was a single Scottish university that did not criticise the scheme on those grounds. Many of the centrally funded colleges were also very critical.
We must also not forget that around 25 per cent. of Scottish university students are from outside Scotland. Something we should welcome is that students from the north or the south of England choose to study in Scotland. However, faced with the prospect of higher debt levels, an English student may not consider taking a Scottish degree. Even more undesirable is that students from Scotland may start drifting south in order to avoid paying back higher loans. If either or both of those effects were to take place, we should have the prospect of spare places, lower prestige, declining funding and possibly eventual closure of some Scottish higher education institutions. We are not only talking of universities, but also of centrally-funded colleges.
This amendment seeks to protect both the Scottish higher education system and preserve the number of applicants to longer courses. I very much hope that it will be accepted.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I should like to add one more name to the list of those who support these amendments, but I shall be brief. The amendments concern a considerable number of people. I noted the point made in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, regarding Oxford chemists. However, there is a general theme here. The Government have introduced a differential price tag for different courses. If the Government believe in their own principles, they must believe that by making some courses more expensive than others they are creating a market in which there is an incentive to choose some courses rather than others.
I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, that somebody has to pay anyway, and the longer course has the higher price. I shall listen to an argument which says that students should be made aware of that fact; but the Government should also consider the effect on other policies that may be in hand.
I have not yet heard anything to indicate that the Government have thought through the social consequences of this differential price tag. This Government have never been particularly strong on what the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, used to call his "half-back line". There does not seem to be anyone who thinks through the effect of one policy on another.
Perhaps I can ask the Government to consider, as an interim measure, deferring the introduction of the extra loan charge for the fourth year until they have considered the sort of damage it will do either to Scotland, medicine, architecture or any of the other things which the Government want to encourage. Are the Government perhaps not letting their left hand know what their right hand is doing?
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I should like to say a word about speech therapists, who have hardly been mentioned. They are very necessary and are in very short supply; they are also low paid. The courses run to four years. The starting pay has just gone up to £ 9,487.
I received a letter from a senior speech therapist in Newcastle from which I should like to quote. It reads:There is big demand for places e.g. approx. 250 for 20 places at Newcastle University. Only those with the highest academic standards are accepted. Under the loan scheme we will not be able to recruit these students either at undergraduate level or after qualifying because they will be attracted to courses which guarantee a good income (e.g. medicine, dentistry, law, etc.).The existing problems of retention will be greatly exacerbated. More experienced speech therapists will leave to enter better paid jobs … if there is the additional burden of loan repayment. (Current retention problems are due to low status, difficult conditions, excessive case loads making it almost impossible to apply skills and knowledge effectively).In summary, the effect of the loan scheme would be to greatly exacerbate existing problems of retention and add problems of recruitment. Students of the calibre needed to do the job will not enter long courses for low paid jobs".I feel strongly about speech therapists. They are a necessary part of training. We are already short of them. To accept this amendment to the Bill does not force the Government to do anything but I hope it at least shows that this House feels strongly about the difficulties of those going into low paid jobs such as teachers and nurses. There is a real problem and I hope that we shall hear a satisfactory reply from the Minister.
§ Lord Kearton
My Lords, I also add my voice in support of the amendment. I very much agree with the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, in regard to medical students and also the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. With the noble Lord, Lord Rea, I was a member of your Lordships' Select Committee which visited America during its inquiry into medical research. In company with the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, I am currently on the committee dealing with the future of heart research in this country.
One point that has emerged clearly is that post-graduates, whom we want to encourage into research, are incredibly badly paid. In fact, unless something is done about their pay we run a serious risk of having no advanced medical research in this country at all in the next few years. To compound the difficulties by adding loan repayments over several years, as the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, said, would make it absolutely impossible in future to recruit people into advanced medical research. For that reason, I support the amendment.
§ 5.45 p.m.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, first, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, who has persisted in bringing this matter to the attention of the House. He has done the House a service by doing so. The noble Lord and the Government are at one in recognising that students on longer courses will have built up larger loan liabilities on completing their courses than will students on the shorter three-year courses. As I have said before, we intend 616 that annual repayments should be kept manageable for students on all courses. The House knows that we have been considering just how to do that.
I am pleased to tell the House that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has announced today in answer to a Written Question— as has my noble friend Baroness Blatch— what we now propose. We now propose that students who borrow under the scheme for more than four years will be expected to repay their loans initially over seven years rather than the standard five years. I hope that will be welcomed by the whole House, not least the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, who referred to medical students. That will significantly reduce the size of the annual repayments that graduates will be expected to make if their income is above the 85 per cent. threshold.
The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, referred to the cost of the loan if inflation continues at its present level. I agree that the value of the loan will rise, but so too will the value of wages if inflation remains at its present level, so one will be balanced by the other.
The terms of this provision will be set out in regulations which your Lordships will have the opportunity to debate. I also assure the House that as the scheme develops and the maximum loan increases in real terms, the standard five-year repayment period will be increased so that repayments remain manageable. The extended repayment period for students on courses longer than four years will be similarly increased.
I can assure my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour that I never forget the Scots. With my noble friend Lord Sanderson of Bowden sitting beside me I am not allowed to. Nor, indeed would my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science who benefited from the advantage of having a Scottish education. The issue of four-year courses in Scotland was specifically referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, from his own experience. It was also referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood. We have considered, as I said we would, the whole matter of the Scottish four-year courses.
We have concluded, as I have told the House, that a top-up loan facility for each year of a course, irrespective of length or subject, is the right approach. The popularity of some longer courses— at present 25 per cent. of students come from outside Scotland— is evidence of their value in students' eyes. I do not believe there is any reason why that should change. An additional debt of about £ 400, rising eventually to about £ 1,500 in current prices, repayable over several years at nil real interest out of a graduate's salary, is hardly going to be a deterrent to an extra year's study. There is no doubt that the student's own perception of the nature and the content of the course, together with the value of the final qualification, will continue to be the most influential factors in the choice of institution and course.
Some noble Lords raised what is obviously a serious concern— whether this would deter the people who wish to go on longer courses. Students 617 undertaking longer courses already take account of the cost of the extra year of study in terms of the earnings that they forgo. The extra year's loans are much smaller by comparison. In addition, the extended repayment period will reduce the size of the annual repayments for those with courses longer than four years. My noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour was absolutely right to remind the House that students on longer courses already receive more assistance by way of maintenance and tuition fees than their counterparts on three-year courses.
The noble Lord, Lord Rea, was concerned about the intercalated year for medical students. It is true that the intercalated year is not always supported by grants, but the loan will be available in every case and that can only be helpful to those undertaking such courses.
The noble Baroness, Lady David, refered to speech therapists. I too pay tribute to their work. The noble Baroness mentioned the starting salary for speech therapists, but I am sure she realises that that salary is well below the repayment criteria of 85 per cent. of the national average wage which we are introducing.
The noble Lord, Lord Kearton, referred to medical researchers. I hope he will be reassured by what I have said today which I believe has gone a long way towards meeting his concerns.
I conclude by saying that of course we will monitor the scheme. We are particularly anxious to make sure that students on four-year courses are not disadvantaged. If we feel that there is a need to alter the repayment period in addition to the major alterations announced today by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, we can do so under the Bill as it stands, as my noble friend Lord Renton reminded the House.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, I am glad to note that I have not been wasting my breath and that noble Lords have been listening to me. I can only welcome the extended repayment period, though the fact remains that the money still has to be repaid.
The noble Earl said that the access funds are to be increased. I take it that the £ 20 million to which he referred is to cover the same broad spectrum; that is, housing benefit and so on for the rest of the country. Does this come into the same concoction? Are the Scottish students on their four-year courses and students on other four-year courses which do not have an extended period, as opposed to the courses of over four years, all to be receiving help from the access funds? If so this extra funding will be stretched extremely thinly.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, as I said, the access funds for higher education will be doubled as a result of the announcement by my right honourable friend. They will cover Scottish students.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, the funds, therefore, will cover other funding that has been previously mentioned such as housing benefit. The same funding will also be covering Scotland.
I am reaching the conclusion that the increased figure, though totally welcome, seems to be spread 618 extremely thin. I find myself in difficulty here. The noble Earl has gone as far as he can and I wonder whether it is far enough. Once again there will be some funding for everything but not quite enough. The Scottish four-year course was a very good example of the basic flaw because there are other four-year courses. The noble Earl has dealt to a very large degree with the problem of medical training and he has also considered the position of people such as architects. At least we can now guarantee that we shall have enough people being trained to construct buildings properly and, even if they do fall down, there will be doctors available to patch the people up again.
We have not dealt with the problem of students on a four-year course such as teachers. I do not know how thinly spread we shall find ourselves with the level of funding. I cannot remember the exact figures for the number of students in Scotland. Can the noble Earl tell us exactly how many people will be seeking assistance, at least initially, from this extra funding?
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I must say to the noble Lord that I cannot give him the answer because I do not have the figures. The answer as to who will benefit from the access funds is very tricky to work out. It depends on the students who are receiving housing benefit at the moment. Not all students are receiving it, as the noble Lord knows. The grants are being uprated for the forthcoming year. Those students who have been taking four-year courses in Scotland, which the noble Lord has assured us are still popular, will be aware that the value of the grant has declined ever since 1962. That is one of the problems that we are seeking to rectify as regards the loan.
I have been able to announce today two major concessions, both of which have been asked for by your Lordships. I fully understand the concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that every extra bit of money we are able to give is never enough to meet the ultimate concerns. That is an argument that can always be made. However, I am sure the House will recognise that the Government have responded very favourably to the concerns expressed by your Lordships both as regards the size of the access funds and for those students on longer courses.
As I said to the noble Lord, we shall continue to monitor students on four-year courses. We can make alterations if they are needed. I can assure the noble Lord that we considered most carefully the situation of Scottish students. On this occasion we thought it right that the students on longer courses merited the change, but we shall continue to monitor the whole scheme.
§ Lord Addington
My Lords, as always, the noble Earl has been most courteous and very precise. I appreciate that the Scottish students taking the standard four-year course will not be under anywhere near as much financial pressure as those on longer courses. I do not believe anyone would argue that. The answer given by the noble Earl is probably as good as it can be. I have been reassured by the fact 619 that he said the scheme will be kept under review. He has dealt with some of the arguments I have raised and he has gone as far as we are likely to proceed at present. In answering my question, the noble Earl has raised more questions for later on today. However, I am prepared to withdraw this amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 1, line 15, at end insert:
(" (2A) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) above as to eligibility, the Secretary of State shall by regulations made under Schedule 2 below secure that no person who has one or more dependants during a period of not less than five years at any time after the date for the commencement of repayments and who does not in any one of those years receive a personal disposable income above the level of any threshold for repayment applicable by virtue of regulations under paragraph 1 (1) (i) of that Schedule, shall continue to be liable for interest outstanding at the end of that period and for interest that would otherwise accrue thereafter.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall also speak to Amendment No. 8 with which it is grouped. These two amendments concern students with dependants. Inevitably some of them, but by no means all, come into the category of single parents who for a period of five years do not earn enough money to reach the repayment threshold.
§ The first amendment provides for the pardoning of interest; the second allows for the cancellation of debt. I believe it is generally agreed that single parents are liable to find themselves under a good deal of financial pressure. It might also be agreed that some effort to repay a loan could take place at the expense of the children, which would be to the discomfort of the parent and not necessarily in the interests of the public.
§ It is also relevant to these amendments that as yet there is not any child care disregard for social security benefits. If those concerned attempt to get full-time employment which would bring them within the repayment threshold, they would be facing both the loss of benefit and also the loan repayment. That might create a double disincentive effect to work. The noble Earl has taken me to task once for using the phrase "poverty trap" in this context. To a degree it was perhaps a figure of speech. Nevertheless, the point it was getting at was a perfectly valid one which I hope will receive some attention. I beg to move.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, these two amendments present a dilemma. On the one hand, as the noble Earl has said, we want to legislate in a way which avoids family hardship. In that connection we have to bear in mind that there are various allowances under the social security system. On the other hand, each of the amendments will have the effect of providing an incentive to young people to marry in haste and to have a child as soon as possible or even to do so without marrying. On balance, the Government should not accept these amendments because they present real difficulties.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, these amendments were tabled at Committee stage. As I 620 recall it, Amendment No. 7 was not moved and, after discussion, Amendment No. 8 was withdrawn. I understand the concern that motivates them. They seek to provide more favourable loan terms for graduates with families. But I have two objections. First, the loan terms will be favourable for graduates in any case and I do not believe that they need to be made more favourable for graduates with families. Secondly, if experience shows that special terms are needed, they should be provided in the regulations and not in the Bill. Then we shall be able to look at what is the right and best thing to do.
I think noble Lords are by now aware that repayments will not be required from graduates whose income is below 85 per cent. of national average earnings at the time. If the scheme were in operation now, that would mean deferment on incomes below £ 11,500. The repayments will be of the order of £ 400 a year in current prices. I do not accept that repayments on that scale are unmanageable out of that kind of income, even if the graduate takes on family responsibilities.
Here I believe that my noble friend Lord Renton was absolutely right to remind us all of the enormous responsibilities people have when they marry and have a family. We would not wish to encourage people to rush into it for the sake of an amendment here. We want to support families and to encourage the family way of life. However, to encourage people to rush into marriage would be folly.
I accept that some of your Lordships see the future rather differently. If your Lordships are right— which I do not believe— the opportunity to make adjustments is there. We shall monitor the scheme's effect, as the House knows. If necessary, we can make amendments to the regulations, subject of course to parliamentary scrutiny, so as to adjust the terms of the loan for this and any other group. On this matter the noble Earl took my attention forward to Amendment No. 10 when he mentioned child care. Perhaps we can deal with that matter separately.
It would be quite wrong to fix now in the Bill special provision for one group before there is any basis for knowing that it is needed or whether the particular arrangements proposed would meet the hypothetical case.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down and before I reply, can he clarify one matter? Does the expression "average earnings" mean £ 10,000 as shown in the Department of Education and Science leaflet or £ 11,500 as he has just said? Is the discrepancy between these figures caused by an uprating from one year to another or by something else?
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, I should like to look carefully at what the noble Earl's figures have revealed. My latest information is that 85 per cent. of national average earnings amounts to £ 11,500. Those are the latest available figures. The figures were revised upwards as a result of the work we undertook in order to give your Lordships the most up-to-date figures available.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that helpful reply. We have here a clash of opinions which we have met a good many times since the beginning of our discussions on the Bill. The Minister is perfectly convinced that above 85 per cent. of average earnings the disincentive effect of repaying the loan does not operate. A good many nobis Lords think that there could be a considerable disincentive effect of having to repay the loan in the area between 85 per cent. and 100 per cent. It seems to be an area on which there is not a meeting of minds. I do not think it is worth pursuing the point on this amendment. For the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 8 not moved.]
§ 6 p.m.
§ Baroness David moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 1, line 15, at end insert:
(" (2A) The Secretary of State shall by regulations made under subsection (2) (b) above secure that any scheme operable under arrangements made in accordance with this section and Schedule 2 below shall make such provision for the maintenance support of mature students as appears to him to be necessary to promote access by such persons to higher education.
(2B) In this section, "mature student" means a person otherwise eligible for a loan who is at or above the age of 25 years.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 9 I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 11. The first amendment requires the Secretary of State to monitor and regularly review maintenance support for mature students in the interests of safeguarding and encouraging access to higher education. The second amendment allows all mature students to be eligible for a loan regardless of age. At the moment the limit is 50. With numbers in the 18 age group declining mature students will be a large and important element in higher education. They already form 25 per cent. of students. It is essential both to attract and to keep them.
§ The needs of mature students were partly recognised in Committee in another place. It can be seen that, in principle at least, the Government recognise that mature students are a group requiring special attention. The main evidence of this is the maintenance of the mature student allowance— a special allowance for certain students over 26 at the beginning of their course. The Minister gave reassurances that this allowance will be continued and uprated as are other allowances. However, despite several pleas from Members on all sides of the House there seems to be no recognition of the existing problems of mature students and of the possible disincentive loans would have on them or of the exclusion of students over 50 from the loans scheme.
The Equal Opportunities Commission in an otherwise neutral response to the White Paper stated:
Whilst we consider that the proposed scheme will treat women and men equally in respect of availability, access and repayment, we are nevertheless concerned that people over 50 will be excluded. Our experience of the financial needs of mature women returning to education after a period of domesticity or seeking a new direction leads us to doubt the White Paper's assumption
that people over 50 will be better able to rely on other resources during their studies. We would therefore welcome the removal of this age related eligibility criterion, so reflecting the new regime's ultimate aim of widening access to higher education".
§ At an earlier stage, the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, rejected the need for these amendments. He argued that those with families would not in general lose access to benefit and that for them the loan would be a net increase in resources. He said that in many cases mature students already incur substantial debts at commercial rates and that for them the opportunity to substitute borrowing under the very favourable terms of the scheme would be a major help. He said that for all the 25 per cent. increase in the new package compared with this year's grant would be welcome. However, the noble Earl failed to point out the fact that, as students with dependants have access to a loan (irrespective of whether they actually make use of it) it will be classified as income when assessing their entitlement to benefits from September-October 1990. Thus any benefit due will be reduced by the available loan facility for that academic year. It is therefore misleading for the Government to refer to this as a net increase in resources.
§ As a consequence of this there will be little opportunity for mature students to substitute borrowing at commercial rates with a government loan. Instead mature students, like younger students, will have two debts— one to the bank and one to the Government. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, and the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, both argued that it would be inappropriate for mature students over 50 to take on a repayment obligation when their remaining years of earnings will be limited. However, this is not necessarily true given that many people continue to work until they are 65 and even longer. As I pointed out, women too are staying in work longer and so will not have great problems in repaying the loan before they are 65. As evidence of this I showed that the retiring age for men has gone down but for women has risen: 51 per cent. aged 55 to 59 were economically active in 1971. That figure increased to 53 per cent. in 1988. Therefore there will not be real problems with repayment.
§ The Government seem to think— and the leaflet Top-Up Loans for Students published in February put this point— that most mature students will have savings which they can spend on their courses. As there are proportionately fewer mature students from social classes 1 or 2 than in the rest of the student population, this is highly unlikely.
§ Will the Minister give guarantees to the House that the mature student allowance will be continued and will be uprated? Will he also give a guarantee that the two homes allowance will be maintained and uprated annually? I hope very much that the Government can be more sympathetic to the cause of mature students than they were when I moved similar amendments in Committee. I beg to move.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I have reflected on this matter since the Committee stage and I am glad that the noble Baroness has raised it again through these amendments. I am reminded of the case of my own father who had a most unfortunate illness between the ages of 15 and 17. His entry to university was 623 delayed although he eventually did very well there. There were no loans of this kind in those days. I do not know how he managed. He was one out of six children who all managed to have a university education. Their parents did not have much money.
We need to think of those who are over 25. This is a serious matter for them. I am not quite sure what the age limit should be but there should be such a limit. I question the value of the contribution that can be made to society by those who obtain university degrees in middle age. I am very unwilling that the Government should be tied down to anything definite about students of any age being able to benefit from the scheme. Those who are a few years over 25 may need special consideration. But I think it is far better that the scheme should be kept flexible. A good deal of public money will be involved. We need a scheme which commends itself to the public who are providing that money, and which does justice.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, the first amendment is concerned with maintenance. My noble friend made a strong point when she said that maintenance available to mature students for dependants would be affected by the amount of the student loan. These two matters should be separated. I hope that the noble Earl can give an assurance that student loans will be discounted when assessments are made for maintenance.
The point in the second amendment is quite different. I have some reservations about the difficulties which may be involved in students taking out loans. I am thinking especially of women. In my view the majority of students over the age of 50 who embark upon a degree are likely to be women. As I said before in regard to another amendment, I accept that women will experience more difficulty than men in meeting the repayment of student loans. Nevertheless, I feel that if the Government are to introduce a system of student loans it should be available to all students and it should be up to the individual student to decide whether or not he or she can take on the responsibility of repayment. Therefore I hope that the exclusion of students above the age of 50 which has been put forward in the Bill can be amended and that the Minister will take note of my noble friend's amendment.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, this is a most important issue. Almost every speaker has stressed the value of having mature students in the system and, more particularly, women mature students.
When these amendments were moved in Committee, I argued that mature students have everything to gain from the loans scheme. I pointed out that mature students with families will not in general lose access to benefits: for them the loan will be a net increase in resources.
The noble Baroness, Lady David, pointed out that mature students already in many cases incur debt, and asked how the prospect of more borrowing could be attractive to them. The fact is that mature students in many cases take on substantial debt on 624 commercial terms. The top-up loans will offer them the opportunity to substitute borrowing— not to increase borrowing— under the very favourable terms of this scheme: loan indexed to inflation, a generous repayment period and deferment for those on low income. The debt that mature students incur now is commonly at a commercial interest rate, repayable in a short term, and allows no deferment or cancellation.
Since 1979 the increase in participation in higher education by mature students has been very encouraging. Up to 1988— the last year for which figures are available— there was a 30 per cent. increase at universities and more than a 60 per cent. increase at polytechnics and colleges, in the number of mature students entering full-time education. This was during a period when the grant decreased in real terms.
With the loan added to the grant next year there will be a 25 per cent. increase in students' resources generally. This will restore student support to its level of 10 years ago. In addition, mature students will be eligible for the older students allowance, the level of which is presently under review. Increasing resources in this way will hardly act as a deterrent to enter higher education: on the contrary, I think that the converse will be true.
The second amendment would prevent an age limit being placed on students eligible for loans in the regulations. As noble Lords are aware, we are proposing that the loan should not be available to students aged 50 or more at the start of their course. As I have already said, this age limit is generous compared to other countries which operate loan schemes, where the age limit is commonly 30 years of age.
The age restriction would be imposed as a condition of eligibility by regulations made under Clause 1 (2) (b), which, as we now intend, will be debated by your Lordships under the affirmative resolution procedure. It is also important to note that students over the age of 50 years excluded from the loan will still have access to the grant.
Your Lordships will have heard how we intend to monitor the effect of the introduction of the scheme. Monitoring the scheme on this particular issue will be very important. If it becomes clear that some adjustment is needed to its terms for mature students, the Government will be able, as I pointed out previously, to seek to amend the regulations and, because of the way in which the system is set up, we can respond very quickly. I believe that that is the right approach. It would be quite wrong to fix now on the face of the Bill special arrangements for one group, which are based at this stage upon speculation.
The noble Baroness, Lady David, was concerned about the two homes allowance and about uprating. The former is one of a range of additional allowances. We have already made clear that these allowances will continue. Their value will continue to be considered year by year; indeed, we have just announced substantial uprating of the disabled students allowance for 1990–91. I think that it would be a brave government— or, indeed, a brave government in opposition— who guaranteed 625 upratings. However, I can promise that these will be considered for uprating annually in the normal way.
I assure the House that we shall keep the position of mature students very much in mind as we monitor the scheme. Moreover, if Parliament agrees, we shall be able to adjust the regulations on the basis of that assurance. I hope that with that assurance the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I should like to thank those noble Lords who supported my amendment. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, decided to think again about his attitude towards mature students. I am also grateful for his concern for students over the age of 25 years. Of course, the Government's response is not as satisfactory as I would have hoped. However, I am glad for the reassurance about the uprating of the allowance and about the two homes allowance. I believe I understood the noble Baroness correctly on that point?
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness.
The noble Lord, Lord Renton, asked for flexibility. That is what the amendment seeks to achieve. However, I am not so happy about the attitude towards mature students over the age of 50 years. There seems to be no give in that direction. In my view that group of people should be given special consideration. I should point out that many of us in this House over the age of 50— not all of us, but many of us— think that we are quite capable of doing a decent job. Therefore, I had hoped for more support in that respect.
We should also remember that the over 50s are those who missed out on the post-war improvements in educational opportunities. I think that it was one in 10 of that group who stayed on at school after the age of 1.6; these days the figure is one in two. In my view these people deserve rather special treatment.
As regards the value of a degree to the person qualifying over the age of 50 years, such people may be able to obtain a better job as a result and improve their take-home pay. I also think that there is a value in the degree itself. I am thinking especially of the satisfaction and the quality of life which it gives. I do not see why these people should be deprived of that opportunity. Admittedly such people could obtain a grant if they have not had one before, but as the giant is not as large as it used to be they would probably need the extra money provided by a loan. However, in the circumstances I shall withdraw Amendment No. 9 but I shall most likely divide the House on Amendment No. 11. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 2, line 10, at end insert:
(" (3A) The Secretary of State shall in respect of any eligible student who is a parent at the date on which a loan will be payable
in any year make available adequate additional provision to such a person in respect of child care costs.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I should like to offer apologies to the House on behalf of my noble friend Lady Seear for her absence. She has been summoned to an emergency meeting which she was unable to avoid— something which happens to all of us from time to time. The purpose of the amendment is to enable the Secretary of State to provide additional funds to those with dependants for purposes of child care.
§ The first reason for the amendment is that child care costs a considerable amount of money. Such sums of money are not normally very easy to find within the limits of student finances. Let us take, for example, some of the figures which are available. The very excellent University of London Union Nursery has a minimum charge for students of £ 20 a week; Imperial College charges £ 52 a week; and, the London School of Economics, just about splitting the difference between the other two, imposes a minimum charge for students of £ 40.35 a week.
§ Your Lordships have heard a little about the kind of sums of money which are available to live on in London. However, those sums of money do not allow for such additional costs as are incurred for child care facilities. The possibility that the costs of child care may deter people from entering a university education is a real one. Therefore we must consider whether that is in the public interest and whether it is in the long-term interests of the Treasury.
§ I recall a most excellent debate in this House initiated by the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, on 21st June last year about the case for encouraging more married women to enter the labour force if they should wish to do so. It was pretty well the unanimous sense of the House that it is important in the interests of the national economy not to put obstacles in the way of married women who wish to work and to acquire qualifications for work better commensurate with their abilities.
§ However, this is not only a question of married women but also of single parents who are not all women. It needs repeating from time to time that 9 per cent. of single parents are men. They are entitled to the same consideration as all other single parents. There the question of benefit arises. I shall not repeat what I said about the absence of a child care disregard for benefits. However, it goes some way to refute the claim that all money made available in the form of a loan is new money. In these cases it is not.
§ It is not in the public interest to obstruct routes out from dependency on benefit if by way of a qualification it is possible to escape and to obtain a more highly paid job with better qualifications. In the end the Treasury will benefit as much as everbody else because the people concerned will pay taxes. They will pay National Insurance; they will pay VAT. The country should also benefit from the effects of their labour. The Minister might possibly consider whether accepting this amendment would not only be a humanitarian act but also a worthwhile investment. I beg to move.627
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down I think he would wish to be accurate, as he always is. He stated at the start of his speech that the amendment would enable the Secretary of State to do what is suggested. However, the word "shall" is used so that he would be required to do it.
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, we debated this amendment at Committee stage. It is one of those that would insert into the Bill special provision for a particular group— in this case students with children. We understand the concern of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, that family responsibilities should be no bar to studying. That is why we make special provision for students with dependants in the existing student support arrangements. But we do not think it appropriate to write further special terms into this Bill.
I explained last week that the mandatory award is accompanied by a range of additional allowances payable to students with dependants. The House also knows that when the main rates of grant are frozen, the additional allowances will not automatically cease to be uprated. That uprating has been carried out year by year hitherto, and we expect to continue to consider annually the need to uprate the additional allowances in the future. As with all decisions involving public expenditure, that consideration will have to take account both of students' needs and of what the taxpayer can afford.
The uprating of the allowances has been carried out without there being any requirement in the 1962 Act to undertake it. There is no need for a statute to require the Government— and that is the point which my noble friend Lord Renton made on this amendment— to take particular account of one kind of cost that some students face. We review annually the public support provided for students in the light of all the circumstances.
The level of the allowances for students' dependants is an instance of what is becoming a familiar point. It is not appropriate to write into this Bill detailed provision for particular circumstances, any more than such provisions are written into the 1962 Act. It is the regulations under the 1962 Act which cover the special position of students with dependants. The regulations to be made under this Bill are similarly the right place to make any special arrangements in the loan scheme for this particular group.
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, expressed a concern about additional allowances and child care in particular. I have said that in addition to the dependants' allowance, eligible students will continue to receive the mature students' allowance, worth up to £ 840 in 1989–90, for students aged 26 or over. The level of the 1990–91 alowances will be announced shortly. On top of the allowances, both single parents and students' dependants will retain their entitlement to social security benefits. For single parents, the entire top-up loan will be an additional resource. Student parents will also be candidates for assistance from the access funds.
628 At the risk of repeating myself, I should emphasise that child care provision is not just a matter of giving resources to the individual. The need to provide child care facilities such as creches for working mothers and single parents is now high on the agenda and it will impinge on the higher education institutions. Students will demand such facilities and will vote with their feet if they are not available. I am sure that institutions anxious to recruit mature women students in particular will recognise this as a priority. But this is a matter for the institutions and is again outside the scope of the Bill.
We intend to retain for the foreseeable future a system of supplementary allowances for defined purposes in addition to the basic rates of mandatory student grants. The way in which particular allowances are handled after 1990–91, when the basic grant rates will be frozen at that year's levels as loans are introduced, will be considered in the light of all the circumstances, including the availability of resources prevailing at the time.
Although the rates of dependants' allowance are determined in part on an assessment of need, individual circumstances vary widely and it would be impossible to ensure that in each case the allowance exactly reflects the cost of looking after a child. In practice, students may use money from any or all of the sources available to them to meet child care costs. The combination of resources available is generous and should not be a barrier to participation. Under our proposals the access funds will also be available to assist those in difficulties.
I hope that in the light of what I have said the noble Earl, on behalf of the noble Baroness, will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I wish to thank the noble Baroness for that long and careful reply. It makes a number of points of substance for which I am grateful. I do not feel that it goes all the way to meet the situation. I take, for example, the point about social security benefits continuing to be available to single parents. Without the child care disregard this concession is not of as much value as perhaps otherwise it might have been.
I also take the point about the need for universities to do something of this themselves, and they are very well aware of the need. However, I am continually amazed that the Government seem to be entirely unaware quite how hard up universities are. This is the kind of activity for which one requires additional premises. University space is under tight pressure and acquiring additional premises is quite expensive. If universities are expected to undertake these projects themselves, as in a better world would have happened already, it would mean a level of basic provision very different from that with which we live at the moment. While we live with that level of basic provision, we shall continue to come back and ask the Government for things which under other circumstances we might have been happy to do ourselves.
Nevertheless, many of the issues here will be better addressed under the general heading of child care when we come to the Social Security Bill after the 629 Recess. Under those circumstances, for the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Baroness David moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 2, line 10, at end insert:
(" (3A) NO scheme made under arrangements in accordance with this section or regulations made under Schedule 2 below shall exclude any person from eligibility for a loan on grounds of age.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we have already discussed this amendment. I beg to move it and I wish to test the opinion of the House.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 11) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 69; Not-Contents, 91.630
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Addington, L.||Macaulay of Bragar, L.|
|Adrian, L.||McCarthy, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Mais, L.|
|Birk, B.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Blease, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Crook, L.||Peston, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|David, B.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||[Teller.]|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Russell, E. [Teller.]|
|Flowers, L.||Seear, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Galpern. L.||Serota, B.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Grey, E.||Simon of Glaisdale, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Hacking. L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Thurlow, L.|
|Jay, L.||Tonypandy, V.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Kagan, L,||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Kilbracken, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Kirkwood, L.||White, B.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Wilberforce, L.|
|Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Constantine of Stanmore, L|
|Allerton, L.||Cox, B.|
|Balfour, E.||Craigavon, V.|
|Bellwin, L.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Davidson, V. [Teller.]|
|Blatch, B.||Denham, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Eccles, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Eden of Winton, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Elles, B.|
|Caithness, E.||Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Erroll, E.|
|Carnock, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Clanwilliam, E.||Fraser of Carmyllie, L.|
|Coleraine. L.||Gibson-Watt, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Goold, L.||Munster, E.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Nelson, E.|
|Haddington, E.||Newall, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Norrie, L.|
|Henley, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Hives, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Reay, L.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Kenilworth, L.||Rees, L.|
|Killearn, L.||Renton, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Renwick, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Rodney, L.|
|Layton, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Long, V. [Teller.]||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.|
|McColl of Dulwich, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Mackay of Clashfern, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Ullswater, V.|
|Merrivale, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Monson, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Mottistone, L.||Wise, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Mountgarret, V.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 12 not moved.]
§ Baroness David moved Amendment No. 13:
§ Page 2, line 11, at end insert ("but before doing so shall consult any persons with whom consultation appears to him to be desirable").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in Committee I moved an amendment which would have made Clause 1 (4) read, "The Secretary of State may, after consultation with such persons as appear to him to be concerned, by order amend Schedule 1 to the Act". The Minister said that he accepted the spirit of the amendment and that he would rewrite it and table a similar amendment on Report. He has done that. I daresay the language is slightly tidier than my original amendment. I am grateful for that. The Minister suggested that I should table the amendment and I am pleased to do so. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Baroness David moved Amendment No. 14:
§ Page 2, line 11, at end insert ("and shall within one year of the passing of this Act give consideration to the inclusion by Order within that Schedule of similar courses undertaken on a part-time basis").
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to extend the availability of loans to part-time students. Extending the loans scheme to part-time students is clearly possible within the terms of the Bill. In reply to the debate in the Standing Committee, the Minister, Mr. Jackson, said:
The Bill will allow loans to be provided to part-time students later, if the Government so decide using the regulation-making power".
§ On Second Reading in this Chamber there was a great deal of support for part-time students. The noble Baronesses, Lady Young, Lady Cox and Lady Carnegy, as well as myself, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, and I believe the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, all supported the principle of treating part-time students better than at present. Part-time students are not mentioned in the Bill at all.
It is clear that there is the ability and the desire to include part-time students in the loans scheme within the existing Bill. However, that needs to be specified on the face of the Bill due to the ambiguity over whether part-time students will ever become eligible for loans, and, if so, when this may occur. During the debate on 12th March on including part-time students within the provisions of the Bill, a number of noble Lords, again from both sides of the House, expressed concern about the issue. The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, stated (at col. 1358 of Hansard):
On the whole, however, this country has neglected its part-time students and is paying a heavy price for it. This is now an opportunity to redress that situation and for the Government to get an extremely good bargain if they will consider applying this Bill pro rata as suggested in these two amendments to the part-time and mature students".
The contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley, included the following (at col. 1363 of Hansard]:
I feel that it would be a great disaster if we put it to bed without the power in it to enable the Government to help part-time students even if they could not do so immediately".
This amendment does not ask the Government to do that immediately. It says:
and shall within one year of the passing of this Act give consideration to the inclusion by Order within that Schedule of similar courses undertaken on a part-time basis.
§ I think that I have said enough. There has been great enthusiasm for part-time students being included on the face of the Bill. This does not ask the Government to do anything immediately. I hope that the Minister will agree. I beg to move.
§ Viscount Eccles
My Lords, I am in favour of part-time students, as I said at Committee stage. I should like the Minister to tell me one thing. Are the Government against them because they cost money, or because they do not think much of part-time courses?
§ Baroness Young
My Lords, I raised the question of part-time students at Second Reading because I thought that was important. I am sure that everyone who has taken part in this debate recognises the importance of part-time students, and I do not intend to rehearse all the arguments this evening because they have been gone over so clearly.
In Committee, I did not speak to the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady David, because it was couched in rather different terms from this. When my noble friend comes to reply, I think he will tell us what the cost would be of including part-time students. I think I am right in saying that this would be between some £ 70 million and £ 80 million. Speaking as someone who has been a former Leader of your Lordships' House, one has to consider 632 carefully the constitutional point about your Lordships' House committing the Government to an enormous increase in expenditure. This was the point made slightly differently over the graduate tax.
I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady David, that this is a different amendment. It is a permissive power. When we discussed this matter at Committee, my recollection of it was that my noble friend said that by no means were the Government unsympathetic to part-time students, but that they hoped that at a later stage they could be included. Of course it almost certainly means a commitment of money, and I suspect that this is what is preventing something being written into the Bill now. It would be helpful to the House to have this point clarified.
I quite take the point about putting something in which would add considerably to the cost. What I am not sure about is how much further the noble Baroness's amendment would go from what my noble friend said at Committee stage. It would be helpful if he could clarify this point.
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, I wonder whether my noble friend can also clarify how far part-time students can fit into this particular Bill. It is obvious that everybody in your Lordships' Chamber will be in favour of supporting those who follow part-time courses. It is clearly for their own personal benefit, for the good of the country, and indeed in general it is good. Anybody who wants to pursue a part-time course should of course be encouraged, whatever age and whatever stage of career they are in.
However, I wonder about the structure of this Bill. It seems to me first that it has to be based on grants from local authorities, and I was not aware that part-time students received grants. Perhaps this point can be clarified. Secondly, since the top-up loan is for maintenance, and maintenance only, how far are part-time students eligible for maintenance in this form at all? Do they now get any maintenance from colleges where they follow part-time courses?
I am in ignorance of the kind of financial resources available to part-time students. It will be helpful if my noble friend can clarify this particular point, and whether this is the right Bill for this kind of amendment to be included.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene. However, there are a couple of points that I should like to make in the light of comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. Perhaps I can help clarify the question raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Elles. I agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said: that this does not commit the Government to anything. On the contrary, it is designed to help those Members of the Government who believe that it would be desirable to consider bringing in part-time students at some later date, and to do it relatively soon.
There is quite a lot of support on the Government Benches for including part-time students, and indeed in the Government itself; but because there is additional expenditure required, it may well be that Treasury Ministers may be less enthusiastic than some other Members of the Government. This is 633 really designed to be helpful to spending Ministers in the Department of Education.
The £ 70 million sum, which sounds about right to me, could not be better spent than on part-time students. Part-time students are a growing proportion of students in higher education. They are the most highly motivated and highly committed of all students because they combine their studies with a job, give up a great deal to do so, and make many sacrifices. Many of them find it extremely hard to cover the costs of their higher education, and we should find some way of helping them and supporting them. We have not done so in the past, and more is the pity.
To come back to what the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, said, she is quite right that at the moment students who study part-time are not eligible for maintenance grants, yet at the same time they have additional costs which are incurred as a result of taking a decision to study, whether it be travel costs, child care costs, the cost of field courses, the cost of purchasing books, and possibly some income forgone because they do not take on extra work or overtime, over and above their basic wages or salaries.
Therefore, it seems to me that the fact that they are not currently part of the maintenance grant system ought to be no reason for excluding them from the provisions of this Bill. I hope that the noble Earl is; able to respond positively to this amendment.
§ Lord Dormand of Easington
My Lords, when the Minister replies, would he make it clear that a sandwich course, whatever form it might take, is not a part-time course?
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady David, in support of her argument quoted from my noble friend Lord Carr of Hadley with words to the effect that it would be sad to put this Bill to bed without there being the power to be able to extend the Bill to part-time students. Let me make it clear to the House that the Bill, as it stands, provides for students in higher education generally to have access to loans. There is no need to amend it to bring part-time students into the scope of the loan scheme. The argument that the noble Baroness used in support of her amendment is already catered for because in the Bill as it stands part-time students can be taken into account.
I would say to my noble friend Lady Elles that all students who obtain a mandatory award and therefore a grant will be eligible for a loan, but the loan will go further than that as well, so there will be people who do not get grants who will be able to benefit from the loan. However, we made it clear in the White Paper that part-time students will be excluded at this stage.
The Bill empowers the Secretary of State to set eligibility conditions. One condition that my right honourable friend intends to make when the scheme is introduced is that the loan will be available only to full-time students. The exclusion of part-time students is to be effected by regulation. In later years if part-time students were to be included it would be a matter of amending the regulations. There would be no need to amend Schedule 1.
634 The intention of the amendment is clear, and that is to ask the Secretary of State next year to consider bringing part-time students into the scope of loans. Let me assure the noble Baroness, Lady David, that the Secretary of State will be looking at this issue most carefully. My noble friend Lord Eccles wanted clarification on that point. Let me give it unhesitatingly. We recognise the extremely valuable role that part-time education plays in higher education in the United Kingdom. Our priority is to introduce loans for full-time students, but, as I said, there is nothing in the Bill to exclude part-time students. If we were to decide to extend the loans scheme to part-time students, new regulations would have to be made subject to parliamentary approval, but there would be no need for primary legislation.
The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, reminded the House of the rapid growth in the numbers of part-time students, even though they do not have access to mandatory awards. That point confirms that extending loans to them should not be our first priority at the moment when we are in the process of establishing the loans scheme. I fully understand and sympathise with the arguments for thinking about them at a later stage, but, when one is establishing a new scheme such as this, one must have one's priorities right, and out first priority is to full-time students.
Let me reassure the House that we shall consider the position of part-time students most carefully once the loans scheme is established. My noble friend Lady Young was right to remind the House of the cost which will be between £ 70 million and £ 80 million on current estimates. Perhaps I may also answer the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dormand of Easington. He was quite correct; a sandwich course is not considered to be a part-time course.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, the questions asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, have been answered by my noble friend Lady Blackstone and by the Minister to the effect that it is all right to have part-time students in the Bill. There is no commitment to expenditure in my amendment. It simply asks that part-time students be mentioned in the Bill and that consideration be given to them in a year's time. The Minister said that there is nothing to stop consideration being given, but we should like it to be a positive demand that part-time students should be considered in a year's time. A figure of between £ 70 million and £ 80 million was mentioned as the amount that would be needed if a loan of £ 300 was given, but it does not seem to be such a colossal sum when one considers some government expenditure. In view of the support for part-time students, I believe that I should test the opinion of the House.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 14) shall be agreed to:
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 57; Not-Contents, 90.635
|DIVISION NO. 3|
|Addington, L. [Teller.]||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Ardwick, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Barnett, L.||Macaulay of Bragar, L.|
|Beloff, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Mais, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Dacre of Glanton, L.||Monson, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Northfield,. L.|
|David, B.||Ogmore, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Peston, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Flowers, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Foot, L.||Russell, E.|
|Gallacher, L.||Seear, B.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]||Serota, B.|
|Grey, E.||Simon of Glaisdale, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Hampton, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Jay, L.||Underhill, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Walston, L.|
|Kagan, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Kilbracken, L.||White, B.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Kirkwood, L.||Young of Dartington, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Long, V.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Lyell, L.|
|Balfour, E.||McColl of Dulwich, L.|
|Bellwin, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Margadale, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Marshall of Leeds, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Caithness, E.||Mottistone, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mountevans, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Mountgarret, V.|
|Clanwilliam, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Munster, E.|
|Cox, B.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Nelson, E.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Newall, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Orkney, E.|
|Eccles, V.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Elles, B.||Reay, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Redesdale, L.|
|Elton, L.||Renton, L.|
|Erroll, E.||Renwick, L.|
|Fraser of Carmyllie, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Gibson-Watt, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Goold, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Strange, B.|
|Hacking, L.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Henley, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Hesketh, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Hives, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Trumpington, B.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Ullswater, V.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Joseph, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Wise, L.|
|Kenilworth, L.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ The Earl of Caithness moved Amendments Nos. 15 and 16:
§ Page 2, line 16, after ("instrument") insert ("which, subject to subsection (7) below, shall be")
Page 2, line 18, at end insert—
(" (7) A draft of the first regulations to be made under this section or Schedule 2 to this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament and those regulations shall not be made unless the draft has been approved by a resolution of each House.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to move Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 together. Both of them have been discussed already. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 17 not moved.]
§ Baroness Blatch
My Lords, I think that this might be an appropriate moment to break for dinner. I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. I suggest that we do not reconvene before 8 o'clock.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.