Higher Education and Research Bill - Report (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 15th March 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) 7:00 pm, 15th March 2017

My Lords, I confirm that we are signed up to Amendment 166 and support the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Brown. It is important to get the balance right. There is probably another Goldilocks pun there but I am sure the Minister will pick it up and we will get a response to that.

We have also signed up to government Amendments 173 and 183, which are at the heart of the debate we had earlier. Again, this plays to the argument made by the Minister that there are ways of improving the Bill. We have been able to explore them in Committee and now on Report, and it is good to see that there are movements here that have support right round the House, which we are pleased to be part of.

We also feel that more constraints may emerge from the business consideration than have perhaps been allowed to emerge so far. As my noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya pointed out, given the genesis of all this through the Technology Strategy Board, and now through Innovate UK, it is important that institutions learn from their history and gain from their experience over time. The formation of UKRI and the involvement of Innovate UK in that was not recommended by Sir Paul Nurse, who just felt that the issue should be looked at. But the Government decided to move forward and it is therefore their responsibility to make sure that we get the most out of it.

My noble friend Lord Bhattacharyya was also at pains to point out that we are talking about the creation not of a bank here but of a ginger group. It is an opportunity to create incentives and a ginger group that moves forward with the support of industry will be much better than one which tries to do it on its own. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about that.