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Higher Education and Research Bill - Committee (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Labour 4:00 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, I support that final point, because we have to get at the principle of whether it is appropriate for a regulator to participate in the market it is regulating. That is the key issue. Based on the very effective arguments put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, I urge the Government to think very carefully about this. There was an enormous amount of consultation on the Bill prior to it coming to the Commons and to this House, and yet, although there are lots of other areas where there could have been conflict rather than simple disagreement with the sector, this is the one area where the whole of the sector seems to have come together to suggest that the Government really need to think again.

As the former chair of a regulator, and having worked with other regulators, I cannot think of any regulator which is empowered to act in this way. This seems the key issue that the Government need to address. The current validation process seems to have worked pretty well, but if private providers are having problems, we should address those problems and, if necessary, have an independent validator—possibly more than one if we are going to give the range of processes that might be needed, as described by other speakers, for different courses, for example. We really need to think very carefully about that principle and address it.