§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) if he will estimate the cost to public funds of contributions on the students' behalf to compulsory membership of student unions;
(2) if he will consider introducing legislation to provide for the voluntary membership of student unions;
(3) if he will estimate the savings to his Department if membership of student unions were made voluntary.
§ Mr. Brooke
[pursuant to his reply, 13 December 1984, c. 594]: Student union funds are allocated from the total resources available to the institution of which the union is a constituent part. The total amount of such funds is not known, but they are substantially used for the provision of welfare, sports and social services within the institutions.
The Government believe that these services need to be provided by one means or another. Thus, any possible saving to public funds resulting from a change to voluntary membership of student unions would be small. Membership of student unions could only be made voluntary through the removal of the existing provisions of charters and statutes, and articles of government, under which such membership is automatic. My right hon. Friend has no intention at present of legislating to amend the status of student unions.