On the missing list

November 26, 1999

I am surprised by Baroness Blackstone's claim (Letters, THES, November 19) that the Department for Education's February 1998 research on mature students' reaction to tuition fees ("Ministers accused of cover-up", THES, November 12) was not suppressed but made public through the publication of an annual list of departmental opinion and market research in January 1999. My colleague, Don Foster MP, was told that such lists were drawn up and placed annually in the House of Commons library in a parliamentary written answer only in July 1999.

But even by November 9 1999 no such list - for any year - had been deposited in the library. On November 10, I finally obtained from the DFEE, via the library, two annual lists, including one for April 1997-March 1998 that refers to the research on mature students and tuition fees. Unfortunately for Baroness Blackstone's credibility, it is not dated January 1999 but November 10 1999 and it arrived in the House of Commons library for the first time on that day.

Bring on a proper Freedom of Information Act.

Evan Harris MP, Oxford West and Abingdon

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