This House of Commons Library briefing paper provides information on amendments made to the Higher Education and Research Bill 2016-17during its Committee, Report and Third Reading stages in the House of Lords.Jump to full report >>
Following its passage through the Commons, the Higher Education and Research Bill 2016-17 was presented in the House of Lords on 22 November 2016 and had its Second Reading on 6 December 2016. The Bill was considered in committee in the House of Lords over six days between 9 January and 30 January 2017, and was considered on Report over four days from 6 March to 15 March 2017. Third Reading took place on 4 April 2017.
This briefing paper provides information on amendments made to the Bill during its progress through the House of Lords. It covers the more substantive changes made, but is not intended to provide exhaustive coverage of every agreed amendment. Unless otherwise stated, references in the briefing to clauses of the Bill refer to HL Bill 76 (as introduced to the Lords).
The Government has also published a document setting out the Lords amendments and giving details: Higher Education and Research Bill Explanatory Notes.
The Bill implements the legislative proposals in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills White Paper, Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching, Social Mobility and Student Choice and in Sir Paul Nurse’s report, Ensuring a successful UK research endeavour: A Review of the UK Research Councils by Paul Nurse, November 2015.
It seeks to bring forward a range of measures to increase competition and choice in the higher education sector, raise standards, and strengthen capabilities in UK research and innovation.
Full background on the Bill, and its provisions as originally presented, can be found in Library Briefing Paper 7609, Higher Education and Research Bill [Bill No 004 of 2016-17]. Information on amendments made to the Bill during its progress through the Commons is provided in Library Briefings 7768, Higher Education and Research Bill: Committee Stage Report, and 7859, Higher Education and Research Bill: Report Stage and Third Reading.
Over 500 amendments were tabled for the Bill’s Committee Stage in the Lords. On the first day of Committee, Lord Stevenson stated that the Public Bill Office had said that this was “the most amendments for any Bill in recent memory”.
All but one of the amendments accepted during Committee Stage were Government or Government supported amendments and most were of a minor and/or technical nature. The more substantive Government amendments included:
The one non-Government amendment accepted in Committee was highly significant and arguably demonstrated the strength of the Lords’ concerns about the changes to the higher education sector that the Bill could bring about. The amendment, moved by Lord Stevenson (Labour) places a definition of a university on the face of the Bill; this would be the first time that such a definition was included in legislation. The definition provides, among other things, that universities must provide “an extensive range of high quality academic subjects” and must “make a contribution to society through the pursuit, dissemination, and application of knowledge…”.
Over 200 further amendments were tabled for the Report Stage. A large number of substantive Government or Government-supported amendments were agreed, many of which had either originally been proposed by non-Government Members during the Bill’s Committee Stage in the House of Commons, or were the fulfilment of commitments given by the Government at that time. A number of sector bodies and commentators, including Guild HE and Universities UK, welcomed the amendments.
The Government amendments included:
Further information on the amendments was published by the Government ahead of the Report Stage: Higher Education and Research Bill Amendments Tabled Ahead of Lords.
Seven non-Government supported amendments were also agreed at Report Stage:
A group of nine minor and technical Government amendments were agreed at Third Reading. The Government spokesperson, Viscount Younger, stated that the amendments were simply to clarify the drafting of the Bill and to ensure that it is consistent across the board. All the amendments were agreed without division and with no debate. Two non-Government amendments were also debated but both were withdrawn.
The date has not yet been announced for the Commons consideration of the Lords amendments.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-7880
Authors: Susan Hubble; David Foster