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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 8:00 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, this has been a terrific debate. It must rank as one of the better ones on this topic that have taken place over the years. It has lacked only one thing. We normally like to have the comfort of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, making an orotund statement to sum up our feelings and allow us to drift off into the night in a comfortable way. The noble Lord is present but he is not going to speak and I am saddened by this. There is nothing more that needs to be said—the points have been put across so well.

Perception is always at the heart of this. We send messages that we are unwelcoming. We do not live up to the best that could happen in UK plc and we are missing huge opportunities in soft power and the development of our own arrangements. It may be a step too far to take back control from the United Nations. Even the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, when he comes to his senses—if ever—will realise that it may not be the best argument we have heard tonight. The arguments are almost irresistible. I cannot believe that the Minister will not want to endorse them in every respect.