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Orders of the Day — Education (Fees and Awards) (Scotland)

– in the House of Commons at 9:38 pm on 15th November 1983.

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Motion made, and Question proposed,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Education (Fees and Awards) (Scotland) Regulations 1983 (S.I., 1983, No. 1215), dated 26th July 1983, a copy of which was laid before this House on 11th August, be annulled.—[Mr. Norman Hogg.]

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan 10:06 pm, 15th November 1983

The motion standing in the names of my right hon. and hon. Friends relates to regulations that have arisen as a result of the Education (Fees and Awards) Bill that was passed at the end of the last Parliament. I was not involved in that piece of education legislation because I was engaged in a similar exercise with the Mental Health (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 1983, though in many respects the procedures that were entered into for the speedy passage of both measures were similar.

The undertakings that were given by the Minister at that time, the present Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, on the Mental Health (Amendment) (Scotland) Act, were of a rather different nature from the undertakings that were then given by the present Under-Secretary for the Environment. I choose my words carefully when I say that the latter Minister has had his undertakings reneged upon by his successors. Indeed, in response to a question from the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), the Leader of the House said that the hon. Gentleman was right in suggesting that these regulations do not carry out a commitment given during the passage of the parent Bill before the dissolution. —[Official Report, 1 November 1983, Vol 47, c. 829.] That, basically, is the complaint that my hon. Friends and I have about the regulations—that the undertakings given by the Government during the passage of the parent legislation have not been carried out in the way that we were led to expect. In particular we had a promise that a group of overseas students would be given special consideration in that their case would be considered by the authorities in respect of their ability to remain as students and enjoy the benefits and privileges that are associated with residency of the United Kingdom.

As the result of a judgment made on 16 December last by Lord Scarman and others, there was a change in the definition of what we have come to regard as normal residency. The change came as something of a surprise to all who took an interest in these matters and it was agreed on both sides that the gap in the law which resulted from that change had to be filled. Consequently, the parent legislation was not in essence a matter of contention among the parties in the House; the Liberal spokesman, the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, was as active on the subject as my former colleague, Mr. Phillip Whitehead, who unfortunately is no longer with us in the House and who at that time represented Derby, North.

The point made at the time was that there should be included in the legislation an amendment to take account of the situation of persons taking refuge in the United Kingdom in pursuance of a decision by Her Majesty's Government. That meant people who had been forced to leave their country of origin or to stay away from it as a result of internal political changes. The peoples who had been considered in this category were Poles, Afghans, Ugandans and Iranians. Now, as well these four national groups there are the Tamils, who suffer from the difficulties in Sri Lanka. It was assumed that these individuals would be able to enjoy the privileges which normal residence would afford and that that facility would be given under the exceptional rule category.

The position of these groups has been changed by the regulations, while it is true that they may still be accorded certain benefits in the form of reduced fees or enhanced awards such as grants. When the regulations are applied in Scotland, it will be at the discretion of the colleges concerned, without any likelihood of central Government financial support. The position is slightly different from that prevailing in England and Wales as the majority of colleges in Scotland are what are known as central institutions, which are directly funded by the Secretary of State and the Scottish education department. Therefore, it would be possible for the Secretary of State to make available the funds, if he so desired. The position that prevails in England and Wales and in respect of that part of Scotland covered by the other humble Address that we debated some two weeks ago, will be different from that in the rest of Scotland. In Scotland, apart from one or two of the local authority further education colleges offering, in the main, advanced courses, we are considering what I have already referred to as central institution, which come under the direct control of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

We are concerned about the reneging on the undertakings given in Committee before the Bill was passed. This changed attitude will force the burden of resonsibility on to institutions that at present are being starved of funds and that in many instances do not have the counselling services that many of the universities about which we debated in the previous humble Address have at their disposal. For local authorities, the burden of responsibility will fall on the education committees. With the best will in the world, most of the local authority education committees in Scotland will consider as a relatively low priority the protection of the interests of these individuals.

The consequences of the inadequacy of the funds, of the difficulties with the counselling of overseas students in smaller colleges and the likelihood of a low priority being given to this by education committees because of financial constraints mean that the prospects for the students concerned will be uncertain. It is likely that there will be inactivity in that the students will not be able to pursue their studies. Instead of receiving funds to pursue their studies, we shall have the ridiculous circumstances in which they will receive supplementary benefit, which will probably be adequate to cover their basic needs but insufficient to enable them to continue with their studies.

Photo of Mr Donald Stewart Mr Donald Stewart , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

The hon. Gentleman is making a point about the low priority that this will have for local authorities. In fairness to the local authorities, does he not agree that this will come about because the authorities' budgets are already severely cut, that there will be a further reduction in the applied funds, and that they will be in a position that is even more difficult than their already bad one?

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making that point. I thought that I had made it already. I appreciate what he meant. The local authorities are already encumbered by a variety of commitments. With the best will in the world, the education sub-committees will put this item at the end of their agendas when a determination must be made. This will probably occur after the available funds have been expended.

During the discussions on the order for English, Welsh and Scottish universities, the Minister put forward a case which, to say the least, did not impress the House. I hope that his colleague in the Scottish Office has had an opportunity to reflect on the scheme's inadequacy, to improve upon it and to change his mind. Hope springs eternal in the House.

We are looking for a change. We are not impressed by the excuses that were advanced by the hon. Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke), who is the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, when he said that the amendment had not been clear when it was discussed in Standing Committee because it had been tabled on Friday 6 May and debated on Tuesday 10 May. The departmental officials had only had four days in which to consider the amendment. The Bill passed through the House in three or four days, and one would have imagined that the Department's attentions could have been extended at least to subparagraph (c) of this fairly insubstantial amendment. On that occasion, we heard the somewhat convoluted words that were presented as the defence: Persons who are taking refuge in the United Kingdom in pursuance of a decision by Her Majesty's Government."—[Official Report, I November 1983; Vol. 47, c. 829.] According to the Under-Secretary and the Department of Education and Science, these words have no precise meaning in law. Confusion may be caused by the problems that arose when dealing with the status of Vietnamese refugees. There appears to be some confusion in the minds of officers of the Department of Education and Science on the difference between those seeking political asylum and those seeking refugee status. It has been argued that refugee status cannot be taken but can only be granted. Therefore, the use of the word "taking" in subparagraph (c) has no meaning.

There is something sadly wrong with Ministers if they seek to defend their inability to implement what they regard as bad law because they do not like the amendments that they accepted when they were in Opposition. I hope that the Minister can come up with something better than the feeble excuses advanced by his colleague.

The Government have had months to reflect, and they could have accepted the responsibility which this perhaps ill-drawn amendment imposes. We believe that there is a strong moral and legal responsibility on the Government within these regulations care for a group of people who, through no fault of their own, have come to this country and who are dependent on its largesse and generosity for their studies and welfare. We hope that at some stage many of these groups can return to their countries and enjoy the same freedoms that they enjoy here. They will return to their countries with a healthy respect for this legislature and the British system of government. For them to do that, it is necessary for the Government to meet their responsibilities.

I make no apology for raising this matter a second time, but we believe that the Scottish higher and further education system has a long and distinguished record of support for students from disadvantaged parts of the world. There is a long and distinguished record of contact through the missionary work of the Church of Scotland and other organisations to bring such students to this country. Scotland has an educational centre which affords an opportunity to people from all over the world to come here, occasionally as political refugees. We feel these regulations are a feeble effort by the Government to provide such people with this country's help and support when they are in severe difficulties and when their education should not be interfered with and interrupted.

For those reasons, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will join in rejecting the regulations and suggesting to the Government that they try again to get it right and to do the right thing by the rest of the world which looks to them for support on such issues.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire 10:20 pm, 15th November 1983

I am grateful for the opportunity to explain the purpose of these regulations, although, as the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neil) said. the policy underlying them was debated by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen during the passage of the Education (Fees and Awards) Bill in May and in two prayers against statutory instruments since then—one on 1 November, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and one in Committee in July, in which we both took part.

As hon. Members will realise, these regulations and others in the awards field are necessary if the position is to be returned to that which was understood by successive Governments. The hon. Gentleman confirmed that there is no difference of principle on that point between the Government and the Opposition.

There is a long-standing policy of treating overseas students differently from home students. The key test for a student was whether he was ordinarily resident in this country, and successive Governments applied what was, in fact, a "real home" test. Last December's House of Lords judgment, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, widened the interpretation of "ordinary residence" to an extent inconsistent with the Government's intentions. The consequences were serious and would have been costly if no action had been taken.

The position of the Scottish Education Department's awards scheme was restored by amendments to existing regulations, but for fees and those awards not covered by amendments to regulations, the Education (Fees and Awards) Act 1983 was necessary, as the hon. Gentleman acknowledged. I am happy to acknowledge that it was passed with the co-operation of all parties just before the Dissolution and received the Royal Assent on 13 May. I acknowledge the support received by hon. Members on both sides of the House for what was recognised as a most necessary piece of correcting legislation.

The Education (Fees and Awards) (Scotland) Regulations 1983 permits the charging of higher fees to overseas students by educational establishments in Scotland other than universities. Scottish universities, as hon. Members are aware, are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

They are covered by fees and awards regulations made by him, which were the subject of debate on 1 November.

The Scottish regulations have otherwise in their fees provisions the same effects as the English regulations. If the regulations had not been made the charging of fees to overseas students at levels higher than those charged to home students could have put institutions at risk of legal action for discrimination under the Race Relations Act 1976.

Under previous rules higher fees for overseas students were permitted in pursuance of arrangements approved by Minister of Crown in accordance with section 41 (2) of that Act. With the "ordinary residence" judgment the previous legal framework was reviewed, and it was decided that regulations made under a separate fees and awards Act provided a more appropriate statutory basis.

The Scottish regulations differ from the English regulations in their coverage of student awards. Awards for advanced courses are, in Scotland, as hon. Members will be aware, administered centrally by the Scottish Education Department under discretionary powers exercised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Amendments to deal with the question of "ordinary residence" were made earlier this year in separate regulations and were debated on 21 July. Further minor amendments, including provisions to deal with access by European Community migrant workers to awards at vocational training establishments, are contained in regulations which, hon. Members will be interested to know, were laid before the House on 31 October.

Awards for non-advanced courses are administered in Scotland by the regional authorities on a discretionary basis within a framework of regulations made by my right hon. Friend. Amendments to these regulations which deal with ordinary residence and certain other related matters were also laid before the House on 31 October.

The awards provisions in the Education (Fees and Awards) (Scotland) Regulations 1983 therefore refer to a very minor postgraduate studentship scheme administered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and covering no more than a handful of awards annually. They are included in these regulations because they are not covered by the powers under which the main scheme of student awards is drafted.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

I do not think that the explanation about part III was as full as some hon. Members would have wished. Can the Minister expand on that? I am not clear about the specific provision which seeks to discriminate against English, Welsh, Northern Irish and overseas students—[Interruption.] That is my reading of it. I hope that the Minister will explain it in more detail.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I confirm to the hon. Gentleman that the reason that these awards are in this regulation is because they are made under paragraphs contained in the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911.

I have already stated that the provisions on fees reflect provisions made in respect of England and Wales.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

I wish to assist the Minister, as my hon. Friend has referred to part III and amendments to section 4 of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911. I have taken the precaution of arming myself with section 4 of the Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911. Section 4 refers to the constitution of the board of agriculture for Scotland, which so far as I know no longer exists.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

The postgraduate awards to which we refer are given under the provisions of that Act and not under the education Acts under which the other awards are given. They are covered in the previous regulations which were discussed by the Standing Committee.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

They are not—that is the problem.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

Can the Minister say how many times, in the intervening period since the original discretionary awards regulations were passed in the summer, he has used his discretion in respect of such individuals? The Secretary of State has the opportunity to exercise his discretion in respect of awards for people who fall into this category. On how many occasions has he done so since then?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

No particular case has been brought to my attention since the regulations were passed.

As I have said, the provisions on fees reflect provisions made in respect of England and Wales which cover the Scottish universities. It may be helpful, however, if I explain them in a little detail. Needless to say, I regard it as important that there should be no policy divergence between Scotland and England in the matter of overseas students.

The provisions on fees are contained in part II and schedule 1. The key points are regulations 6 and 7. The regulations are necessary because of the House of Lords judgment which meant that the legal protection afforded by successive Secretaries of State to institutions charging fees under section 41(2) of the Race Relations Act was not adequate. The regulations ensure that students cannot become eligible for home fee status when they have been here wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education. That is the meaning of regulation 6 which establishes the criterion of "relevant connection" with the United Kingdom. Students affected by these provisions are those attending full-time or sandwich courses provided by a central institution, a college of education or other further education establishment.

Home fee status is not, however, restricted to students whose "relevant connection" with the United Kingdom is established under regulation 6. Various categories of excepted student are defined in schedule 1. Nationals of member states of the European Community and their children have home fee status if they satisfy ordinary residence requirements in relation to the European Community similar to those laid down in regulation 6.

Refugees, their children and spouses are also excepted students. I remind hon. Members that in their treatment of refugees the regulations are the same as those debated earlier this month. The hon. Member for Clackmannan will recognise that the matter was fully debated in the House on 1 November when my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science explained the position in relation to the commitment given when the Education (Fees and Awards) Bill was debated in Committee. There is little to add to what he said as there is no particular Scottish dimension to the question. The Government's policy on immigration and refugees is administered on a United Kingdom basis and regulations which impinge on that policy must reflect that. As my hon. Friend told the House, and as the hon. Member for Clackmannan repeated today, when the Bill was debated in Committee an undertaking was given to extend home fee status to a category described as persons taking refuge in the United Kingdom in pursuance of a decision by Her Majesty's Government". That commitment was given in good faith, but it was not clear at the time that it was meant to extend home fee status to all those allowed to remain in this country outside the immigration rules. As my hon. Friend explained, and as I believe the hon. Member for Clackmannan accepted, the form of words used has no precise meaning in law. Even if it had, it remains very difficult to prescribe in regulations for every circumstance that might arise. That is a familiar problem with regulations of this kind. The circumstances of individuals given what is described as exceptional leave to remain in the United Kingdom—the amendment did not specify that category—are often very different. When the implications were fully understood it was concluded that the issues involved were too complex and varied to be resolved in time for the 1983–84 academic year and the need for the regulations was urgent. Nor does the lack of specific provision mean that nobody in that category can benefit from a lower level of fees.

Institutions continue to have power to remit fees under regulation 3. The hon. Member for Clackmannan asked about financial resources. The short answer in relation to central institutions and colleges of education is that finance will effectively be provided by the Scottish Education Council because a college's grant takes account of its income estimates. They should include overseas student fee income. I hope that that is helpful to the hon. Gentleman.

As to local authorities, the hon. Member for Clackmannan is aware that rate support grant is given as a global sum. The hon. Member spoke at some length on that point, but in another important respect—the treatment of newly arrived immigrants—the regulations go further than the undertaking that was given during the passage of the Bill. That is the answer to some of the generalised points that the hon. Gentleman made about my hon. Friend's undertaking.

I do not doubt that hon. Members will appreciate that the concession is not limited to the children of such immigrants, as originally intended. It now benefits wives and spouses. I am glad to acknowledge that there is a Scottish dimension to that concession in that it was initiated by my Department following discussions with the Scottish Council for Racial Equality, which raised the issue of newly arrived immigrant wives who would, without the concession, have had to pay overseas student charges to pursue English language courses. I hope that the House will welcome that.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

I welcome the concession that the Minister has just announced. On his earlier point, however, will he confirm that no student at a Scottish central institution will be denied a reduction in fees if he or she applies, given that the funding is along the lines which the Minister suggested earlier?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

That is not the case as the hon. Gentleman is referring to circumstances in which the central institution or college of education has discretion and can exercise its own judgment.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I have already given way about six times, but as the hon. Gentleman is the shadow Secretary of State I shall give way. However, it must be the last time that I do so.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I am grateful to the Minister. Of course discretion lies with the local authority but the Minister appeared to say that if a central institution exercises that discretion in favour of a student and gives him home fee status, no financial penalty will be imposed on the institution. Is that so?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I notice that the hon. Gentleman is not a believer in devolution when it comes to Front Bench responsibility. As to his question, as I have said, a college's grant takes account of its income estimates. They should include overseas student fee income estimates.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

Another exception to the rule that home fee status can be granted only to those who satisfy the ordinary residence regulations is students who fail the test only because of their temporary employment abroad or that of their parents or spouse. That and the other exceptions that I have described are fair and defensible. I trust that hon. Members will recognise that. Although the regulations provide that institutions shall be able to charge higher fees to students who are not eligible for home fee status, the scale of fees which should be charged is not laid down.

This is a departure from previous practice and responds to one of the proposals in the report "A Policy for Overseas Students" drawn up by the Overseas Students' Trust in May 1982. The trust recommended that there should be more flexibility in the level of fees charged by institutions, so that the differences in the costs incurred by individual establishments or classes of establishment would be reflected in the fees that a student had to pay. The Government accepted that suggestion, and no minimum level of fee will be prescribed. Within the overall policy framework, institutions will therefore be able to charge economic fees which reflect their own cost levels.

Part III and schedule 2 relate to the scheme for a limited number of agricultural postgraduate studentships. The background to that scheme was discussed earlier in the debate.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

The hon. Gentleman has no idea what it is all about.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I hope that hon. Members will have found my explanation helpful.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

We understand it better than the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

The regulations are less complicated than their English equivalent, even though they reflect the same policy, because their awards coverage is much less. They are, in the Government's view, necessary measures. That being so, I commend the regulations to the House and ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to resist the Opposition's prayer.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce , Gordon 11:43 pm, 15th November 1983

The Minister has given an interesting explanation of the regulations, which I believe that he would rather not have had to defend in the House. There is no doubt that the Government have reneged on a commitment. There are people in this country whom, before the election, the Government were prepared to support in education, and whom they are now not prepared to support. As the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) has said, an undertaking was given to my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) and others before the election, and the regulations are now taking something away. On my calculation of the number of applicants with whom the Minister might have to deal in a full year, based on a World University Service estimate, the sum involved would have been less than £50,000. That is the amount at issue in Scotland. To pursue such a vindictive line for such a small amount of money is not worthy of the Government. The sum is not worth the breaking of the pledge given before the election.

Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , North East Cambridgeshire

The Government's pledges are not worth much.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce , Gordon

No, and this one is worth less than most.

The Minister says that the institutions have discretion and can decide that they will allow domestic student status. He knows, however, that the financial constraints under which most of the institutions operate would not allow them easily to make such a concession. He knows that if that discretion was used, there could be considerable anomalies. As was suggested last week, if a brother and sister applied to two institutions, one might qualify and the other might not.

The Government claim that we need national policies—that is why local government must not be allowed discretion—yet the educational institutions are to have discretion. I suggest that the Minister is prepared to make that concession only in order to get himself off an embarrassing hook.

It is Government policy to allow some people to enter the country. They are dispossessed people who have had to leave countries such as Iran and Palestine and to seek refuge here. It is absurd that they can be allowed, or forced, to live off social security benefit, but be denied the right to pursue the education that they will need to find their way in the world and—if they are to stay in the country for any length of time—to contribute to the economy. The Government are apparently prepared to allow the people to stay here but to deny them the education that would allow them to be more useful to the country, and which would also be an asset to them. They are prepared to do that all for the sake of a maximum of £50,000 per annum in Scotland. This legislation is very petty minded indeed.

The legislation is in furtherance of a policy that the Government started four and a half, or five, years ago, which involved cutting our tradition of educating overseas students. We were once proud of that tradition, but we should now be thoroughly ashamed of it after five years of Conservative rule. Institutions whose overseas students once accounted for 15 per cent. are now down to 4 or 5 per cent. Only the rich can afford to pay the fees that the Government require.

The Government are now picking on a small category of people whom they previously insisted that they would provide for. Not even those few people will be able to benefit from domestic student status. I think that when asked the Minister told the hon. Member for Clackmannan that he had not had an application for such an award since the election. However, I have a constituent who might have fallen into that category had he not had the good fortune to be granted citizenship. He would have been denied eligibility but for his good fortune to obtain that citizenship. However, although he has been resident in the country for seven years, has citizenship, and has been married to a British subject for two and half years, he has been told that he is not eligible for a grant to pursue his studies. That is applying the anomaly one step further back. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether the regulations apply to grants as well as to overseas students' fees.

The Minister has not convinced us that there is any justification in introducing petty-minded, vindictive, regulations that involve only a paltry sum of money. If the Government's honour is worth only £50,000 in Scotland, they must be pretty shameless. If you are going to put your honour on the line, I would have thought that £50,000 was a rather cheap price to pay. Perhaps that is your own choice—

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I have no choice in this matter.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce , Gordon

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should have said that, if the Government want to put their honour on the line, one would have thought that they would have attached a higher price to it than less than £50,000. In the circumstances, I hope that hon. Members will vote against the regulations.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian 10:47 pm, 15th November 1983

I shall be brief. I simply want to refer to a point that has been drawn to the attention of the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton). I refer to part III of the regulations, which is singularly obscure. As far as I can judge from the regulations and the Act that they seek to amend, they will amend the powers of a board that is no longer in existence. The Minister should tell us a little more about the effect of that part of the regulations.

If the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) will excuse me for saying so, this legislation is nationalism at its worst. These regulations seem to say that no grant will be paid from the Secretary of State's funds towards the expenses of a postgraduate course at a Scottish university that are incurred by an English or Welsh student, even after he or she has done three years at a Scottish university. Where are such people to find funds? Will they obtain grants from the Department of Education and Science? What about retaliation? Many Scottish students of agriculture take postgraduate courses in English universities. What on earth is wrong with that? Will the Department of Education and Science operate a retaliatory scheme, or will the Minister pay grants to cover the costs of Scottish students who go to university in England and Wales, if the Secretary of State for Education and Science were to retaliate? I have the distinct impression that the Minister does not understand that part of what he is doing. That came across when he introduced the regulations.

The regulations are unnecessarily narrow, restrictive and unfair. They invite retaliation and could cause genuine problems for postgraduate students of agriculture.

Photo of Mr Barry Henderson Mr Barry Henderson , North East Fife 10:51 pm, 15th November 1983

I was surprised to see the Prayer on the Order Paper. It would be churlish not to recognise the way in which Her Majesty's loyal Opposition helped the passage of the primary legislation.

The regulations are entirely in the spirit of that legislation. I could understand it if the Government had introduced regulations that provided for. matters that were not handled in the primary legislation. It seems that the only thing that the re-creation of the Lib Lab pact has done tonight is to complain that the Government have not put in the regulations matters that were not put in the primary legislation. That is a ridiculous basis on which to found a Prayer.

I was astounded to hear, at the end of a long speech to make a small point, the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) inviting his right hon. and hon. Friends, and those in the Liberal party, to vote in support of the Prayer. The Government have behaved entirely honourably and rationally. All the matters provided for in the primary legislation had no other purpose than to recreate the conditions after a legal judgment that everyone understood existed before.

The speech by my hon. Friend the Minister was the one good spot in the debate. He clearly and succinctly explained what the regulations are to some Opposition Members who do not seem to understand them.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire 10:53 pm, 15th November 1983

With the leave of the House, I shall speak again briefly.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson), who said that the justification for the Prayer is only a tiny point. Hon. Members who spoke, including the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), did not deal with the simple fact that the phraseology in the amendment under question has no legal basis. That is a key question. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science has said that he will keep the matter under review. He told the House of his meeting with the British Refugee Council on that point. His position is perfectly understandable and acceptable.

I do not know where the hon. Member for Gordon got his estimate of £50,000. I note it. If it has any basis in fact, perhaps the hon. Member will let me know his source. The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) —

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I shall not give way.

The hon. Member for East Lothian asked about postgraduate agricultural studentships and whether there was discrimination. The regulations deal with Scotland in the same way as the English regulations deal with England. English students get their grants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 84, Noes 173.

Division No. 68][10 pm
AYES
Alton, DavidBeith, A. J.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Barron, KevinBermingham, Gerald
Beckett, Mrs MargaretBlair, Anthony
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Marek, Dr John
Bruce, MalcolmMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Campbell, IanMartin, Michael
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Maxton, John
Clay, RobertMeadowcroft, Michael
Cohen, HarryMichie, William
Conlan, BernardMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Corbyn, JeremyNellist, David
Cowans, HarryO'Brien, William
Craigen, J. M.O'Neill, Martin
Dalyell, TamParry, Robert
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Pike, Peter
Dewar, DonaldPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Dixon, DonaldPrescott, John
Dormand, JackRandall, Stuart
Douglas, DickRedmond, M.
Eadie, AlexRobertson, George
Eastham, KenRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Ewing, HarryRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Fisher, MarkSkinner, Dennis
Forrester, JohnSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Foster, DerekSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Freud, ClementSnape, Peter
Gould, BryanSoley, Clive
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Steel, Rt Hon David
Hardy, PeterStewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Home Robertson, JohnStott, Roger
Howells, GeraintStrang, Gavin
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)Wallace, James
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Loyden, EdwardWareing, Robert
McCartney, HughWelsh, Michael
McDonald, Dr OonaghWhite, James
McKay, Allen (Penistone)
McTaggart, RobertTellers for the Ayes:
McWilliam, JohnMr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Norman Hogg.
Madden, Max
NOES
Ancram, MichaelHawksley, Warren
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Hayes, J.
Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley)Hayward, Robert
Batiste, SpencerHeathcoat-Amory, David
Bellingham, HenryHeddle, John
Bevan, David GilroyHenderson, Barry
Boscawen, Hon RobertHickmet, Richard
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHicks, Robert
Burt, AlistairHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Butcher, JohnHolland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Holt, Richard
Colvin, MichaelHoward, Michael
Conway, DerekHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Cope, JohnHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Crouch, DavidHubbard-Miles, Peter
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHunt, David (Wirral)
Dorrell, StephenHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Hunter, Andrew
Dover, DenshoreJessel, Toby
Dykes, HughJohnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Fallon, MichaelJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Farr, JohnKey, Robert
Favell, AnthonyKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Fenner, Mrs PeggyKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Finsberg, GeoffreyKnowles, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Knox, David
Franks, CecilLang, Ian
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Lawler, Geoffrey
Freeman, RogerLee, John (Pendle)
Gale, RogerLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Galley, RoyLightbown, David
Goodlad, AlastairLilley, Peter
Gorst, JohnLloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Gregory, ConalLord, Michael
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Luce, Richard
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Lyell, Nicholas
Hargreaves, KennethMcCurley, Mrs Anna
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Maclean, David John.Shelton, William (Streatham)
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Major, JohnSilvester, Fred
Malins, HumfreySkeet, T. H. H.
Malone, GeraldSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maples, JohnSoames, Hon Nicholas
Marland, PaulSpeed, Keith
Marlow, AntonySpeller, Tony
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Spencer, D.
Mates, MichaelSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mather, CarolStanbrook, Ivor
Maude, FrancisSteen, Anthony
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinStern, Michael
Mayhew, Sir PatrickStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Mellor, DavidStevens, Martin (Fulham)
Merchant, PiersStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Sumberg, David
Mills, lain (Meriden)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Temple-Morris, Peter
Monro, Sir HectorTerlezki, Stefan
Moore, JohnThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Moynihan, Hon C.Thorne, Neil (Word S)
Murphy, ChristopherThornton, Malcolm
Needham, RichardThurnham, Peter
Newton, TonyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Onslow, CranleyTracey, Richard
Oppenheim, PhilipTwinn, Dr Ian
Ottaway, RichardViggers, Peter
Page, John (Harrow W)Waddington, David
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Walden, George
Pollock, AlexanderWaller, Gary
Porter, BarryWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Powell, William (Corby)Watts, John
Powley, JohnWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Prentice, Rt Hon RegWells, John (Maidstone)
Proctor, K. HarveyWhitfield, John
Raffan, KeithWinterton, Mrs Ann
Rathbone, TimWinterton, Nicholas
Rhodes James, RobertWolfson, Mark
Ridsdale, Sir JulianWood, Timothy
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Yeo, Tim
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rowe, Andrew
Ryder, RichardTellers for the Noes:
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyMr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Sayeed, JonathanMr. Michael Neubert.
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)

Question accordingly negatived.