Clause 12 - Qualifying complaints

Part of Higher Education Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 12th February 2004.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Skills and Vocational Education) 10:45 am, 12th February 2004

Hon. Members will be pleased to know that I am not going to get into a long debate the definition of a complaint—[Interruption.] Some are disappointed, and I am sorry about that.

The problem with amendment No. 210 is the principle. When defining a complaint or a grievance, it is sometimes better not to be too prescriptive. Otherwise, we may end up trying to achieve something that is simply not possible. The hon. Gentleman says that the amendment would capture

''dissatisfaction with services provided or actions taken.''

That is perfectly reasonable, but it would rule out other matters that might form the basis of a valid complaint. To take just one example, the amendment would not capture an institution's failure to take action. We would, therefore, find ourselves in great difficulties if we sought to prescribe the definition of a complaint too clearly, too closely and too narrowly. We would also give lawyers yet more excuses to make lots of money, although I am very fond of some of the lawyers on the Committee.