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Student support: restricted modification of repayment terms

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 21st November 2016.

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Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Education) 6:45 pm, 21st November 2016

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, as he is to make that point about the situation for students in Northern Ireland. When we discussed this matter in the Opposition day debate and again in Committee, we made the point that students in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland—the students of all of the devolved Administrations—would be affected by this process. It is nonsense for the Government to say that this will not make any difference. The Minister said to my hon. Friend Paul Blomfield that the RAB charge was now okay, but as my hon. Friend said, it is only okay because this Government—the Minister and the rest of his colleagues—have created a Frankenstein’s monster that is going to cause problems for so many thousands of students.

I cannot better the powerful speech that Martin Lewis made when he came to give evidence to the Committee. The Minister may feel that new clause 6 is unnecessary because his Government would never renege on their promises to students or retrospectively change the terms of a loan agreement. Unfortunately, they have already done so once. We would prefer both Houses of Parliament to look at this when such changes are made by the Government. We therefore want the Government to respond on new clause 6, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North pushes new clause 2 to a vote, we will support him. We give the Government fair warning that, whatever the result of the vote in the House tonight, I am sure this subject will get a very strong airing in the House of Lords, because it is economically, morally and socially indefensible.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided:

Ayes 180, Noes 278.