My Lords, I rise simply to make two brief points. In doing so, I hope I will be forgiven for taking the opportunity to pay the warmest tribute to, and to express my admiration for, my noble friends Lord Stevenson and Lord Watson for the sterling work they have put in on the Bill on behalf of this side.
There is a great deal of feeling in the research community about the points covered by these amendments. I am sure there is a recognition that a tremendous amount of work has gone into trying to find an acceptable formula of words. It should be put on record that many of those who are involved in the most outstanding research in our universities remain mystified about why the phrase,
“(such as a peer review process)” should be in brackets. They believe it should, if anything, be in capital letters because they see peer review as essential to the process.
There is some feeling that the word “excellent” should not have disappeared. Quality is, of course, important, but what ultimately matters in the research record of our universities and in its contribution to Britain’s noble standing in the world community for the quality of our research is its emphasis on excellence. As this goes forward it will be essential to keep those two important concerns of the research community in mind. In saying that, I should emphasise that I am involved with three universities and that I was a governor of the LSE for many years and am now an emeritus governor.