Friday 03-02-2017 - 09:58
Your weekly round-up of NUS' work in parliament.
Westminster this week:
Brexit in Parliament:
The House of Commons began debating the short Bill that the Government has produced to enact the Supreme Court’s judgement on parliament’s right to vote on triggering Article 50. After two days of debate, the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has passed its first parliamentary hurdle by 498 votes to 114. It has been widely covered that the SNP, Lib Dems and 47 Labour MPs voted to block Article 50 – but with all but 1 Conservative voting in favour and Labour frontbench support, the Bill’s safe passage is almost a foregone conclusion.
The impact of Brexit on students was mentioned throughout the debates, including: Anna Soubry (Conservative) appealing for international students to be taken out of net migration figures; Tania Mathias (Conservative) and Meg Hillier (Labour) both naming students as one of the primary reasons why EU citizens currently in the UK need their status confirmed; and, Neil Coyle MP (Labour) raising concerns about the impact on the number of overseas students.
You can read the full debates here.
The Government has now also published its White Paper – essentially a government policy road map – on its approach to the Brexit negotiations. You can read this here.
The Technical and Further Education Bill:
The House of Lords began debating the Technical and Further Education Bill this week. This Bill will expand the remit of the Institute for Apprenticeships to cover technical education as well as creating a legal protection framework for students at colleges that become insolvent. Peers discussed how poorly the FE sector is funded, how apprenticeships need to be quality and accessible and – drawing on NUS comments that you can find here – the total absence of careers education from the Bill. You can read the full debate here.
The Higher Education and Research Bill:
The House of Lords finally reached the end of its Committee stage for the HE Bill on Monday. This final day exclusively looked at the Bill’s provisions for research. You can find the debate here.
This Bill still has two stages left in the Lords – Report stage and Third reading – before it will be subject to quick-fire debates about any amendments made between both the House of Commons and House of Lords, known in parliament as ‘ping pong’.
Government announcement on employment: “Fuller Working Lives”
The Department for Work and Pensions has updated and published its strategy relating to the UK’s aging workforce, with a paper called Fuller Working Lives. Amongst its policies, the document puts a focus on retraining and lifelong learning. It explores policies to promote apprenticeships to older workers and to ensure adult education is effective. It also promises to review the State Pension age and introduce legislation to remove the Default Retirement age.
NUS in Parliament:
Public parliamentary engagements this week, included:
During the House of Lords debate on the Technical and Further Education Bill, Lord Aberdare (Crossbencher) cited NUS’s briefing on the Bill and concerns about the Government’s failure to mention careers information, advice and guidance in the Bill.
During a ‘Westminster Hall debate’ (not in the main Commons chamber), Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott cited NUS’s concerns about the Prevent duty. The debate had been brought forward with appeals for review of the Strategy by Lucy Allan, Conservative MP for Telford.
NUS representatives attended an event in Parliament for the launch of a new ‘Quality Mark’ by the Advice Services Alliance. The event was led by Yvonne Fovargue (Labour MP for Wigan) and Lord Low of Dalston (Crossbencher). The Quality Mark is used as a kite mark for non-profit advice service organisations, including students’ unions, Citizens Advice Bureaux and housing charities.
What’s coming up?
- On Wednesday 8 February, NUS Vice President (Society & Citizenship) Robbiie Young will give evidence to an All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry on the barriers to blood donation.
- The EU Withdrawal Bill will have its final week in the House of Commons next week. It will begin being debated in the Lords in w/c 20 February.
- The House of Commons and House of Lords will both have a week of recess from 10 February to 17 February.