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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:30 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Hannay of Chiswick Lord Hannay of Chiswick Crossbench 8:30 pm, 25th January 2017

My Lords, I have listened carefully to what the Minister said—although I was fairly appalled by some of the script that he had been given to present to the House. The answer to his question about what would happen if the Government wanted to make the provisions for the amount of work students could do during their study here less generous, but also wanted to increase the amount of time for which they could stay on in the labour market afterwards, is perfectly simple. You can do the second any day you like; as for the first—no, you cannot do it. It is not very difficult to answer that question.

As for setting things in concrete, of course that would not be happening. The amendments would allow the Government to make the rules more liberal any day they liked. It is just that they could not make them more restrictive. That is all. It is not a huge thing because of course the Government, as the Minister himself recognised, can any day they like come down with a piece of primary legislation saying, “An appalling loophole has appeared. Here are all the statistics and evidence for it and, despite this provision in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, this will override it”. They can do that, if they have the evidence. At the moment, they have no evidence whatever. Such evidence as there is is that some 1% of students overstay. I will not place the whole weight on that because I know that the figures are based on fairly small samples, but the Government do not have any figures at all.

Of course I will withdraw the amendment now, but I am afraid to say that I do not do so because of the arguments that have been advanced in favour of withdrawing it. I say very clearly that we will return on Report and I hope that the Government, instead of polishing yet another series of unconvincing reasons to not accept them, will find some way of accepting them. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 463 withdrawn.

Amendments 464 and 465 not moved.

Clause 84 agreed.