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Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Have you noticed that we have not been able to obtain an answer from the Labour Front Bench on the question whether a Labour Government would do away with loans?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris) : Order. The House must quieten down a little this evening.

Mr. Davies : Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was referring to the Minister's astonishing statement that he though there was little wrong with circumstances in which only 43 per cent. of students entitled to take out the loan facility do so. I will tell him why such a small proportion take out a loan. It is not because they are awash with personal resources. If the Minister thinks that, it is about time that he met a few students and talked to their teachers ; then he would recognise the fallacy of that position.

The reason why such a large percentage of students are not prepared to take out even the small amount of loan at present available to them is that they are, rightly, properly, judiciously and intelligently, scared of debt. They share that fear with the vast majority of our people who, once burnt, are twice shy. The Tory party must recognise that the Lawson boom of 1988, the subsequent collapse and the

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development of negative equity in the housing of many of our countryment have produced in our nation a desperate concern about debt. Students come from families who are anxious about that.

Mr. Anthony Coombs (Wyre Forest) : The hon. Gentleman is too craven to say what Labour party policy might be on future loans. He was about to commend the comments of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) who, in a paper last October, which was suppressed by the Labour party, argued that people who benefit from higher education should make some contribution towards it.

Does the hon. Gentleman also agree with his hon. Friend? On 8 November 1993, he wrote in The Times that Labour is in danger "of becoming a professional Opposition"

in that it

"never risks upsetting the vested interests",

and that the world of education has a right to expect politicians, particularly in the Labour party,

"to show some awareness of changing realities. A responsible political party"--

which obviously the Labour party is not--

"cannot hide its head in the sand."

Mr. Davies : It is a forlorn proposition for the hon. Gentleman to try to drive a wedge between my hon. Friend and me. As my hon. Friend will show in the Division Lobby tonight, he utterly detests the Government's policy and this loan system. If Tory Members will be satisfied this evening and otherwise will rest uncomfortably in their beds only by listening to a little bit of Labour party policy, let me give them some.

The Labour party--I quote no less an authority than the leader of the party --is opposed to student loans because we believe

"Students should not be forced to live in poverty whilst they are studying and then carry a heavy burden of debt with them for years afterwards.

The student loans policy is clearly failing and damaging students' ability to study in the process."

Every member of the Labour party shares that belief. None of tonight's interventions and the gloss that the Minister put on student loans will convince us otherwise.

Mr. Ian Bruce : Is the hon. Gentleman telling the House that the Labour party would do away with student loans but not give any additional grant?

Mr. Davies : I apologise to the hon. Gentleman, but unless I am greatly mistaken, I gave way to him earlier in my all too short speech. I therefore did not consider that I would be regarded as behaving excessively discourteous if, on this occasion, I did not give way to him again.

Tonight, the House has had the opportunity--

It being half-past Eleven o'clock Mr. Deputy Speaker-- put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Prayers against statutory instruments, &c. (negative procedure)) :--

The House divided : Ayes 276, Noes 305.

Division No. 84] [11.30 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainger, Nick

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Column 1007

Battle, John

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Beggs, Roy

Beith, Rt Hon A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F.

Benton, Joe

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Dr. Roger

Betts, Clive

Blair, Tony

Blunkett, David

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)

Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Cann, Jamie

Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)

Chisholm, Malcolm

Clapham, Michael

Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Coffey, Ann

Cohen, Harry

Connarty, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Dafis, Cynog

Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Donohoe, Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eastham, Ken

Enright, Derek

Etherington, Bill

Fatchett, Derek

Faulds, Andrew

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fisher, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Foster, Don (Bath)

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Gapes, Mike

Garrett, John

George, Bruce

Gerrard, Neil

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Godsiff, Roger

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Gould, Bryan

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Gunnell, John

Hain, Peter

Hall, Mike

Hanson, David

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Harvey, Nick

Henderson, Doug

Heppell, John

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hinchliffe, David

Hoey, Kate

Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)

Home Robertson, John

Hood, Jimmy

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hutton, John

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jamieson, David

Johnston, Sir Russell

Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)

Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)

Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)

Jowell, Tessa

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)

Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)

Khabra, Piara S.

Kilfoyle, Peter

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)

Kirkwood, Archy

Leighton, Ron

Lestor, Joan (Eccles)

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Llwyd, Elfyn

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

McCartney, Ian

McCrea, Rev William

Macdonald, Calum

McFall, John

McGrady, Eddie

McKelvey, William

Mackinlay, Andrew

McLeish, Henry

Maclennan, Robert

McMaster, Gordon

McNamara, Kevin

McWilliam, John

Madden, Max

Maddock, Mrs Diana

Mahon, Alice

Mallon, Seamus

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