Higher Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:10 pm on 14th September 2004.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Labour, Southampton, Test 3:10 pm, 14th September 2004

I am paying a straightforward compliment to the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough, not a barbed one. I imagine that it was precisely because of that thoughtfulness and commitment that he circulated a memo to members of his party last year, pointing out that there was a hole of between £1.5 billion and £2 billion in the Liberal Democrats' commitments that would need to be filled.

The Liberal Democrats also seem to suggest not just that a number of students would study near their homes, but that, in the words of their leader, normally students would study at universities near their homes. That runs contrary to the idea that access means students have access to all courses on the basis of their qualifications, wherever those courses are. In an economy where the elite universities attracted the movement of students, most universities did not. A state college system would cut directly across the idea of access, which we consider important.