Will the Secretary of State make a particular effort to get from the CVCP the numbers of students admitted in 1980–81—which I am sure they will be willing to provide—so that we can see the real baseline for the severe cuts that he has imposed on the universities? If those figures show that the real cuts include, for example, a 44 per cent. reduction at Salford and such a figure at other universities, will he reconsider his decision earlier this afternoon and give them a supplementary grant?
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that rationalisation of university courses is long overdue and will be accepted by most fair-minded and sensible people?
I entirely agree with what my hon. Friend says. We spend £1,300 million a year in current expenditure on the universities. The purpose is to get a reduction of up to 13 per cent. to 15 per cent. in expenditure, which will make a difference of only 3 per cent. to 5 per cent. in total student numbers.
Will the Secretary of State consider seriously the proposal of the vice-chancellor of Aston that a supplementary grant should be given to the UGC and that an inquiry into educational priorities should be instigated so that universities such as Salford and Aston do not serve their sentences in advance of a trial?
I must make it clear to the hon. Gentleman that there can be no possibility of my giving a supplementary grant to the University Grants Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: Why not?] I am saying that there is no possibility. I know that the chairman of the University Grants Committee has offered to see the vice-chancellors of the various universities which are particularly affected.