asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to meet the Council for Tertiary Education in Scotland to discuss his response to its report on the structure of tertiary education.
My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to meet the council. The views received from the large number of bodies which have been consulted on the report are at present being considered.
Will the Minister concede that any further delay in meeting the council will prevent it convening at all, because it is the expressed opinion of its chairman that nothing further should be done by the council until a response is made? Given the problems that face tertiary education in Scotland, is it not a disgrace that this issue has been allowed to linger on in the way that it has over the past few months?
Many of the questions involving tertiary education are being dealt with by the Scottish Office and by the local authorities in Scotland. Many steps have been taken during the past three and a half years on the specific points of the report to which the hon. Gentleman refers. More than 80 organisations have been consulted and their replies are now being considered. My right hon. Friend hopes to make a statement early next year.
As the present structure is a dog's breakfast which is causing much confusion among prospective applicants, when exactly does the Secretary of State propose to make the statement, because there is a degree of urgency about the matter?
We have recently received the final documents giving the views of the various organisations concerned. My right hon. Friend hopes to make a statement early next year.
With regard to tertiary education, does my hon. Friend agree that we have to acknowledge that we are living in a rapidly changing world, which includes the introduction of the new vocational training scheme? Does he agree that all these matters must be integrated to meet the requirements of the youngsters? That is our main interest.
My hon. Friend is correct. A great deal of thought has gone into these matters. Considerable improvements have been made in adapting our education system in Scotland to meet the demands of our young people and the market generally. That is what we are doing.
Does the Minister remember that the Council for Tertiary Education was established to advise a Scottish Assembly? Would it not be better if it were fulfilling the role for which it was established?