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Power to make alternative payments

Part of Higher Education and Research Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 13th October 2016.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 3:15 pm, 13th October 2016

I think we can apply every approach. [Interruption.] I have got three more. Where were we? Emily Reed wrote:

“During my time as an undergraduate at Sheffield University, I volunteered with local young people who were considering university as an option. As many were from less privileged backgrounds, money was obviously a huge concern for them. These young people will be the worst affected by the proposed plans.”

And she makes the point that this is on top of the scrapping of maintenance grants. It makes me feel immense guilt for having potentially encouraged young people who trusted in university advice and Government dependability to aim beyond their means. James Dawkins made the point echoed this afternoon by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne, that

“Neither banks nor lending companies would be allowed to get away with such a modification to their terms and conditions after a contract had already been signed, so how can the Government expect to do the same?”

This is the nub of the issue. In any other walk of life, this would be considered to be what it is: fraudulent behaviour that undermines confidence in a funding system, in Government and in our democracy at a time when we need to encourage that confidence among young people. I wholly endorse new clauses 13, 14 and 15 and hope that the Government will give them serious consideration.