Labour's avenues of liaison

April 21, 1995

I was entertained to read in "Meeting of minds off MPs' agenda" (THES, April 7) a suggestion that I did not meet regularly with my local university. In fact, I meet regularly with both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.

I happen to have visited them both in the past six weeks and have further meetings arranged for later this year. I meet with those in a leadership role and specific departments relating to particular areas of interest and concern. I do not believe that any of your readers should be misled into believing that those pedling consultative processes and charging for the arrangement for formalised meetings, are genuinely opening up avenues of liaison or contact with the Labour frontbench.

We have - and always will -agreed to meet people on a regular basis to discuss matters of mutual concern. However, we will do so in a way which helps to develop policy as part of our consultation process on the future of higher education and its funding rather than going through the motions of formalised meetings which merely repeat the opportunity that is regularly available to those with something to offer.

Bryan Davies, Labour's frontbench further and higher education spokesman, has been doing this over the past year and has good contacts with those willing to contribute to the process of policymaking and to the contribution which higher education can make to the economic renewal of Britain and to the opening up of learning opportunities for everyone able to take advantage of them.

DAVID BLUNKETT

Shadow Education Secretary

House of Commons

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