To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next expects to meet representatives of regional authorities to discuss the funding of further education.
My right hon. and learned Friend meets representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities regularly to discuss local authority expenditure. The most recent meeting was on 4 December, when the rate support grant settlement for 1988–89 was discussed.
Will the Minister advise the House whether he intends to meet representatives from Grampian regional council in view of the urgent need to assure that area of Scotland that there is a long-term future for the college of commerce, which was recently closed because of structural problems? Does he accept that the 8,000 students, most of whom are represented by hon. Members from the Grampian region, want to be assured that there is a long-term future for them? Will he advise us whether he is considering a special grant to ensure that the college of commerce is rebuilt speedily?
The question of the Aberdeen college of commerce is a matter for the Grampian region. Students are able to continue to attend their classes in different locations, and for those students who are taking advanced courses I have ensured that grants continue to be paid from the Scottish Education Department. It is for local authorities to determine their own priorities within the capital programme. [Interruption] If the hon. Gentleman will be patient, my right hon. and learned Friend will take account of the special problems that have occurred in the Grampian region when deciding upon allocations. It is not possible at this stage to anticipate them.