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Mr. Green: The Minister rightly says that £23,000 is the gross figure, and in doing so he is admitting that families with a gross income above that figure are the fat cats at whom he has sneered throughout the debate. Many families in Britain will find that interesting.

Mr. Wilson: I am sorry, but I shall have to help the hon. Gentleman again, because he intervened too quickly. I was about to point out that anyone with that minimum financial level for contributions would contribute not £1,000, as the hon. Gentleman implies, but £50. If even in all the dishonesty and bogus--I use the word advisedly--indignation of this debate, Opposition Members are suggesting that any student from the rest of the United Kingdom who has decided to follow a four-year course in Scotland would be deterred from doing so by the prospect of paying £50 over four years, the synthetic nature of their indignation becomes even more apparent.

I was very pleased to hear the hon. Member for Ashford welcoming, and singing a paean of praise to, the advertisement by the National Union of Students in The Guardian tomorrow. He will of course be awarethat, under Tory higher education legislation, that advertisement would not have appeared because it would have been illegal. Perhaps the House can unite tonight at least in celebrating the freedom of speech granted by the Government against the will of the Tories.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross): While the Minister is on the issue of the law, would he be good enough to answer the question put to him by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)? It is the Government's policy that, in the next Session of Parliament, after the Human Rights Bill has been enacted, the Minister responsible for a Bill will make declarations as to its compatibility with the European convention on

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human rights. Has the Minister or the Secretary of State taken advice on that? In the Minister's opinion, is the proposal compatible with the convention?

Mr. Wilson: One of the endearing features of our mutual friend, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), is that he asks the same questions at each succeeding debate, even though he was given the answer at the previous one. The answer at the previous debate is the same as the answer at this debate: yes, of course the Government have taken advice, and the very firm advice is that what takes place within the jurisdiction is not a matter for the European courts, which are intent on achieving equity between member states. I find it extraordinary that the Liberal Democrats, of all people, and other pro-Europeans who preach the doctrine of subsidiarity and devolution, have such difficulty when it comes to practising subsidiarity and devolution.

One of the remarkable statements tonight came from the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts). In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Ms Hodge), who gave a constituency example, the hon. Gentleman leaped to his feet and said, "But there are two different systems in Scotland and in England." That was a belated flash of enlightenment. This whole issue is about matching within one state two distinct systems--the Scottish and English education systems.

Tory Members are all, by definition, from English constituencies. There are none from Scotland or Wales.

Mr. Ian Bruce: That is outrageous.

12 midnight

Mr. Wilson: It might be outrageous, but it is true. If it is outrageous--

Mr. Bruce: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you confirm that the usual channels have asked three colleagues to sit down to give that hon. Gentleman time to slander us?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Wilson: If the hon. Gentleman will tell me later how I slandered him, I shall try to develop the theme.

All the Tory Members who have spoken represent English constituents, yet none them has spoken up for his or her own constituents. I hope that their constituents have noted that. The irony is that, a fortnight ago, Tory Members were here speaking and voting in support of a diametrically different Lords' amendment, which would have given that concession not only to students from England attending Scottish universities, but to students from England doing four-year degree courses at all universities within the United Kingdom.

The plot has now changed completely. The Tories now say that English students attending English universities do not matter at all; the only ones who matter are those attending Scottish universities. We know that, on average, all the Tory Members who have spoken have 10 times

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more constituents attending English universities on four-year degree courses than Scottish universities, so why do not they speak for their constituents?

Mr. Dalyell rose--

Hon. Members: Give way.

Mr. Wilson: I shall give way to my hon. Friend in due course, not when Tory Members tell me to give way to him.

Thus, we have a remarkable discovery from the hon. Member for Havant that there are two different systems.

Several hon. Members rose--

Mr. Wilson: We then had an equally remarkable statement from--[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. It would help considerably if the Minister would say whether he intends to give way when people seek to intervene.

Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the Minister to mislead the House by confusing Master of Arts four-year degrees in England with Bachelor of Arts four-year degrees in Scotland?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That, I think, is a matter for debate.

Mr. Wilson: I do not think it was much a point of order as a point of ignorance.

The second notable statement tonight was made by the hon. Member for Angus (Mr. Welsh). He gave us a real, live spending commitment on behalf of the Scottish National party. Those of us who follow the Scottish press know that, within the past week, it has been revealed that every previous spending commitment by the SNP has been wiped from its internet site, because it has realised that someone might start adding them up. Now a new internet site is being opened, and the hon. Member for Angus has made the first spending commitment.

Does the hon. Member for Angus, or any Opposition Member, know how much of the Scottish block goes towards subsidising, supporting, the presence of students from other parts of the United Kingdom at Scottish universities--something to which I have no objection? Does the hon. Gentleman know how much it is? Let me tell him. I assume that he has no idea that the net figure from the Scottish Office block spent on supporting students in the rest of the United Kingdom at Scottish universities is £65 million. That is not enough for the hon. Gentleman, so tonight the first spending commitment by the SNP is to commit it to spending, not £65 million, but £67 million, on supporting students from the rest of the UK at Scottish universities.

Mr. Dalyell: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Wilson: In due course.

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The third remarkable statement tonight was made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirling.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East): Falkirk, West.

Mr. Wilson: I thought that I would never hear my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) say, to support his argument, that "only 32 per cent." of students coming from England and the rest of the UK to Scotland come from independent schools. I believe that 32 per cent. is quite a high percentage. I would not mind--I say this to my hon. Friend in good spirit--if that figure, in my view a remarkable one, were a little lower. If there were a few more students from Bannockburn high school or St. Modan's academy, I would not regard that as the end of the world. However, that is a matter of judgment for my hon. Friend.

Perhaps most remarkable--

Mr. Wallace: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Wilson: No.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, we heard the Liberal Democrat spokesman, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), pray in aid Lord Shore of Stepney in support of his argument--Lord Shore of Stepney, who finds a passing anti-European bandwagon, jumps aboard it and then finds, extraordinarily, that his views are being quoted with approval by the hon. Member for Bath.

Mr. Dalyell: Lord Shore of Stepney was my good colleague for more than 30 years.

Returning to the constructive suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, may I ask what is the time scale for the review, and what are the terms of reference? If there is a test case, as undoubtedly there will be, might we wait until we have the result of the test case in law before any action is taken?

Mr. Wilson: I need hardly say that we intended answering, because my hon. Friend had already asked those questions, so of course I intended answering him. Let me turn to the subject of the proposed review. Let us be clear about this: the Government have always said that they would monitor the effects of the changes that are proposed--[Hon. Members: "Ah."] Hang on. We are very pleased--from a position of strength and from confidence in our views, we are very pleased--


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