asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals she has for ensuring that no students are obliged to contribute to student union funds out of their own or their families' resources, or to belong to the National Union of Students, against their wishes, during the next academic year.
The proposals in the con- sultative document would enable students to opt out of local union membership on conscience grounds, or, under an alternative possibility, would make membership wholly voluntary. Any changes in present arrangements for financing the unions will not come into effect until the academic year 1973–74.
That is rather what I thought. Is not it a worrying situation? Does my hon. Friend agree that, particularly in the light of the Industrial Relations Act, it is indefensible that any student should be obliged, as a condition of obtaining a degree, to belong to the National Union of Students against his wishes, or that any student should be obliged to contribute to the financing of a student union out of his own resources. although he may not wish to do so?
These matters are all part of the general consultations. It would hardly seem wise to extract this item, upon which I well understand there are strong feelings, from the much wider matters under discussion and in respect of which my right hon. Friend, I think with general approval, acceded to the representations made widely to her that she should delay the changes coming into effect until the academic year I have mentioned.