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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Willetts Lord Willetts Conservative 6:15 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, having launched that original consultation document I am delighted that we now have these provisions in this Bill. It is welcome progress and the lack of legal framework to do it was the main reason for the delays. I very much hope that the new scheme can be brought in as quickly as possible. Although it is a familiar excuse, there are IT issues to be resolved and the noble Lord is right to press for rapid progress on that.

My one qualification to the noble Lord’s otherwise excellent speech was that we have to be careful not to assume that all Muslims take the view that the current arrangements are not acceptable within Islamic law. The good news is that there are many Islamic students whose religious advice is that they can use the current framework. There is a small number who do not believe that that is satisfactory and that is why we need this provision, but it is very important that this Committee does not give the impression that Muslims cannot use the current scheme. Many of them do and their imams say that they can.