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Breakfast with Frost
Charles Clarke MP, education secretary
Charles Clarke MP, education secretary
On Sunday 19 January 2003 Sir David Frost talked to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, the Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, and David Yelland, who resigned as editor of The Sun earlier this week.

He was also joined by the Bishop of Birmingham, the Reverend John Sentamu and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The jazz singer, Stacey Kent, will also join Sir David following the outstanding success of her new album, "Collection".

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On "Breakfast with Frost" this week, the Education Secretary Charles Clarke confirmed that in future, students could leave university with debts of up to 21,000. Mr Clarke will publish details of his plans to allow universities to charge "top up" fees in the next few days. Graduates will repay the charges for their course once they start a job - with the amount payable per month determined by their salary.

"The paybacks I don't think are unreasonable. But there will be a debt there which is serious," Mr Clarke told Sir David Frost. He admitted the proposals had been the subject of a political battle within the Cabinet.

"We have had a lot of debate in Government because this has been a very tough question," Mr Clarke said. "Not all of my colleagues, or myself, are backward in coming forward with our argument. We are all passionate about education. We have all got strong views. So there has been a lot of debate and, I think, rightly and necessarily so."

Mr Clarke also confirmed that universities will be expected to increase their intake of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, in return for being allowed to charge increased fees. This will be monitored by an "access regulator" - although Mr Clarke insisted that "no regulator will be a political commissar".

Mr Clarke denied reports that he is planning to scrap Britain's 164 remaining grammar schools. However, asked if these schools were safe in his hands, he replied: "I never use that phrase. I don't think anything is safe in anybody's hands, ever." He went on: "I do think it is right to say let's look at the impact of selective education on standards. The guarantee I can give is there will be no ideological attack on grammar schools."

Click on the highlighted links to read the full transcripts.

Also on this week's show, the Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy accused the government of sending out "mixed messages" about the prospects of war with Iraq - and he warned that this could hamper the UN weapons inspection teams.

"Whilst they are doing their job it is not helped by confused rhetoric from either Washington or London which is trying to prejudge the issue one way or the other," he said. He also criticised the handling of preparations for a possible war, telling Sir David: "We are deploying British troops into the region at the moment and they are not being given a clear idea - are they liable to be engaged in conflict or are they not?"

The programme also included interviews with the Right Reverend John Sentamu, Bishop of Birmingham;

the recently departed editor of the Sun - David Yelland;

and the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani.

The newspapers were reviewed by the jazz singer Stacey Kent and the former director of communications for the Labour Party, David Hill.

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