asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will increase the funds available to the UGC in the light of the effect of inflation on research by the universities.
I announced in the House last December that universities would receive an additional £15 million for recurrent expenditure in the present academic year on account of increasing costs, which include research costs.
Is not the shortage of funds yet another reason why it would be ludicrous to hive off the Scottish universities and research in Scotland from the UGC at this time—and for no better reason than that it would give the Assembly something to do?
The Government still have to decide what proposals to make to the House about the exact powers of the Scottish Assembly. The views which I have received from the Vice-Chancellors' Committee, from the UGC and from many representatives of university opinion in Scotland support the view strongly that the Scottish universities' link with the UGC should be continued.
Would it not be better both for the universities and for parliamentary control of expenditure if the universities were funded on, say, a rolling three-year programme rather than the present quinquennial system?
That alternative has been discussed very often by successive Governments and the UGC. The balance of view has always been that the present system is a better one.