Clause 30 - General duties of relevant authority

Part of Higher Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 4th March 2004.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere 10:45 am, 4th March 2004

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but he has not grasped the fact that I am talking about merit. I am asking what it is. I have not employed the argument that is sometimes used by people to attack what the Government are doing because it is not necessary to do so. The problem is that they are not taking merit into account at all. They are overriding it by requiring universities to have a broadly based intake. If he searches through the statutory guidance and the Bill, he will find no mention of admissions on merit.

The hon. Gentleman makes a convincing case, to which I hope the Minister will listen, for accepting amendment No. 24, which seeks to

''ensure full access to higher education based upon academic ability and potential''.

The Minister would also address the problem that the hon. Gentleman raises were he to accept amendment No. 235, which states:

''A plan under this section relating to any institution may not include any provisions relating to admissions to that institution.''

Admissions should not be affected. If the Minister is prepared to be as good as his word, he will accept that amendment.

Does the hon. Member for Bury, North agree with the interpretation of the hon. Member for Cambridge, that the measure applies to admissions as well as applications? I give way to him. [Interruption.] I must have reached a lacuna in the Committee's proceedings.