Westminster Weekly (3 - 7 April 2017)

Friday 07-04-2017 - 16:34

Your weekly round-up of NUS' work in parliament.

Westminster this week:

With the Commons in recess, this week all eyes have been on the Lords…

Higher Education and Research Bill leaves the Lords

After months of debates, a record-breaking number of amendments being tabled and a number of significant Government defeats, the HE Bill left the Lords this week following its ‘third reading’. It now begins the ‘ping pong’ process, where it will return to the Commons for negotiation over the Lords’ amendments.

This week’s debate featured final clarifications around the publication of the age of applicants under new ‘transparency’ data requirements and around the powers the Office for Students will have to search university campuses. You can read the full debate here.

Technical and Further Education Bill enters final throws

This week, the TFE Bill also left the Lords. It similarly now returns to the House of Commons for a debate on the (much smaller number of) amendments made in the House of Lords. The ‘third reading’ of this Bill in the Lords was brief – with no last minute amendments debated and peers simply taking the opportunity to urge the Government to consider their changes and to highlight a recent parliamentary report on apprenticeships. You can find the full debate here.

Lords deliver another symbolic HE defeat

In a debate that became a testimonial for Labour HE spokesperson, Lord Stevenson, after he announced he was standing down, the Lords voted on a ‘motion to regret’ this year’s inflationary rise in tuition fees and condemn retrospective changes to student loan repayment terms. Whilst the vote will not stop any of these flagship Government HE policies, they again demonstrate the level of opposition in the upper chamber to ongoing student finance changes. Read more here.

Private Members Bill on preventing domestic violence

There was a rare sight in the Lords this week as a new law proposed by a non-Government MP passed its final hurdle in the Lords before becoming official legislation. The “Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017”, championed by the SNP’s Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, was passed at third reading in the Lords without debate, meaning it now awaits final approval from the Commons and ‘Royal Assent’. The Bill requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – which puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect women and prosecute perpetrators. It becomes the first ‘Private Member’s Bill’ ever to be passed by an SNP MP.

NUS in Parliament:

NUS was mentioned during Wednesday’s debate on tuition fees in the Lords. Baroness Garden quoted NUS’ position on the lack of impact of increasing fees on improving quality.

Discussions and conversations with MPs, Peers and their offices have continued regarding the passage of the HE Bill and TFE Bill.

What’s coming up?

The House of Commons is now in recess until Tuesday 18 April and the House of Lords has gone into recess until Monday 24 April.



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