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Summary

  1. Committee takes evidence on NHS
  2. Justice questions first item on Commons agenda
  3. Urgent question on responsibility for rail track and infrastructure
  4. Urgent question on Casey report
  5. MPs then examine Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill
  6. Lords meet at 2.30pm for questions
  7. Then debate Higher Education and Research Bill

Live Reporting

By Patrick Cowling, Kate Whannel and Julia Butler

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night

House of Lords

Parliament

House of Lords clock
BBC

Viscount Younger concludes his response, the debate comes to an end and the House of Lords is adjourned for the day.

Peers will be back tomorrow at 3:00pm for oral questions.

Lord Younger responds to peers' concerns

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Viscount Younger of Leckie
BBC

Higher Education Spokesperson Viscount Younger of Leckie seeks to allay concerns about the teaching excellence framework.

He says that "for the first time" funding for teaching will be linked to "quality rather than quantity". He argues that this will enhance the UK's academic reputation.

On allowing new providers to offer degrees, he says "tough quality controls" will be put in place.

He notes that many peers raised the issue of institutional autonomy. He insists that this principle is "the cornerstone of higher education success" and that the bill seeks to preserve it.

Peers must gird their loins for battles ahead says Labour spokesperson

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Watson of Invergowrie
BBC

Shadow education spokesperson Lord Watson of Invergowrie says the bill is "enthral to the markets" and proposes an "open door" approach to new institutions.

He lays out a number of other concerns from a lack of proposals on technical education to a failure to protect university independence. 

In conclusion he says the bill has many flaws and will require significant amendments.

He tells the House that they will use the Christmas holiday to "gird our loins for the battles ahead".

Lib Dems will challenge 'extraordinary' Office for Student powers

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Garden of Frognal
BBC

Lib Dem spokesperson Baroness Garden of Frognal echoes other peers' concerns about the undermining of universities' autonomy.

She tells peers that the Lib Dems will challenge the "extraordinary" powers of the OfS to disband universities.

She adds that she would like to see the bill contain better provisions for adult and part time learners as well as disadvantaged students.

Lisvane: New powers are concerning

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Lisvane
BBC

Former Clerk of the House of Commons Lord Lisvane raises concern about the proposals to delegate powers to the Office for Students (OfS). 

He notes that the OfS will be given "extensive powers" with no parliamentary checks. It is, he says, concerning "to say the least". 

He describes these delegated powers as "extraordinary" and expresses surprise that they remained unamended in the House of Commons.

This, in his view, is part of an "insidious and unwelcome change in the character of law making" that has come about in recent months.

Universities receive 'very little scrutiny'

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Vere
BBC

Conservative Baroness Vere of Norbiton welcomes the establishment of the teaching excellence framework.

She says it is "quite astonishing" that this hasn't been introduced before.

Seats of learning, she argues, receive "very little scrutiny" whilst at the same time "billions of taxpayers' funds are poured in".

It is time for greater accountability she says. 

Jury is still out says Lord Kerslake

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Former head of the civil service and Crossbench peer Lord Kerslake sets out the two tests of good legislation - it is necessary and it does good rather than harm. On these two principles the jury is "very much still out" for him.

Although he welcomes the creation of a single regulator (the Office for Students) he believes the overall bill is pointing in "conflicting directions".

He characterises the bill as seeking to improve quality of teaching while speeding up the entry of new providers. He argues that "these two work against each other".

He praises the Universities Minister Jo Johnson, who has been watching the whole debate, as a "responsible minister". Lord Kerslake adds a hope that he is also "a responsive minister".

What is the Teaching Excellence Framework?

Students in a lecture
Science

The teaching excellence framework will allow governments to measure the quality of teaching in universities as well as student retention and satisfaction.

The government has also proposed that universities will be assessed on their ability to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds and BME students to access higher education. 

Prospective students will be able to find out if an institution has been awarded a TEF rating of bronze, silver or gold.

Those universities with a high TEF rating will be able to raise the cap on their tuition fees. 

Baroness Neville-Jones offers 'tentative support'

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Neville-Jones
BBC

Conservative Baroness Neville-Jones offers her "tentative support" to the bill.

She welcomes the establishment of the Teaching Excellence Frameworks but says there is too little detail about how teaching will be measured.

She also supports opening the sector up to new providers but asks for more information on how the Office for Students will approve these new providers.

Benjamin: Higher Education must be value for money

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Benjmain
BBC

Lib Dem Baroness Benjamin calls for teaching in higher education institutions to receive equal recognition alongside research.

She asks why those universities which fail to offer good teaching should be able to raise tuition fees. 

She argues that the cost of education is high and therefore must be value for money.

Poets over plumbers

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Hennessy
BBC

Crossbencher and Professor of Contemporary British History Lord Hennessy tells peers that scholars go into academia "for the poetry of university life" not for the bureaucracy or "plumbing".

He has no criticism of the motives behind the bill but worries it "almost absentmindedly" contains "a worrying degree of latent state power" which, he argues, could lead to the loss of "rightly cherished university autonomy".

This bill, he says, is about "our greatest assets" - brain power, ingenuity and "holy curiosity". He urges the government to do "nothing to diminish" these assets and concludes - "it is time for the poets to prevail over the plumbers".

Research funding should not be subject to government direction says peer

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Kakkar
BBC

Crossbencher Lord Kakkar tells peers that research is "a remarkable success story for our country".

However he fears this will be undermined if research funding decisions start requiring the approval of the government.

The bill creates UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) - a new public body replacing the seven Research Councils which coordinate and fund research.

Lord Kakkar says there is "clear consensus" that UKRI should not be subject to the direction of the Secretary of State.

Chakrabarti: Bill combines authoritarianism and dangerous deregulation

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Chakrabarti
BBC

Labour's Baroness Chakrabarti begins her speech by praising Jo Johnson for attending the debate but wonders if a chair could be found for him. 

She says he looks like a man in the dock, but adds that she hopes he doesn't feel like one.

Turning to the bill, she accuses it of combining "unnecessary authoritarianism with dangerous degrees of deregulation." Quite a feat she says. 

She adds that at some point during the passage of the bill peers should add an amendment ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers are be treated as home students.

Cameron's former Head of Operations makes her maiden speech

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Sugg
BBC

Baroness Sugg rises to make her maiden speech.

She was nominated for a life peerage in the 2016 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours having served as Head of Operations at 10 Downing Street, under the premiership of David Cameron. 

"I am proud to have played a part in a government that did so much to improve people's life chances," she says.

Of the bill, this is an example of how the House of Lords "can help people achieve their full potential", she says.

Lord Lingfield: Govt need to support students with special needs

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Lingfield
BBC

Conservative peer Lord Lingfield says he welcomes the "general thrust" of the bill.

References to students with special educational needs appears to be "absent" from the bill, he adds.

The Chairman of the Institute for the Further Education emphasises the importance of support for students with special educational needs in the instance of a transition from secondary to higher education.  

Such a transition needs to be "smooth as possible", he tells peers. 

Baroness Kennedy: Bill 'bad deal' for students

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws
BBC

The former Chancellor of SOAS, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, tells peers this legislation is "seriously mistimed". 

The Labour peer cites the combination of Brexit and the rhetoric surrounding international students. She tells peers that this will have an effect on our intake of international, and non-international students. 

Our higher education system is one of "our great national assets" and this bill is a "bad deal for students", she insists.

Labour, Brexit and a government concession

Wednesday's Opposition Day debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Tomorrow, Labour has an Opposition Day debate, and the party has chosen to debate the government's plan for Brexit.

The motion calls on the government to publish a plan for Brexit, ahead of triggering Article 50.

The government has now agreed to those Labour demands to publish a plan for Brexit before the mechanism for withdrawal from the European Union is triggered. 

The move is seen as an attempt to head off a possible government defeat in the Commons, after some Conservative MPs threatened to vote with the opposition. 

The government has added an amendment of its own, on the triggering of Article 50.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Leading Leave campaigner Steve Baker published the government amendment on Twitter.

Interestingly, one Conservative MP already has a private member's bill - Withdrawal from the European Union (Article 50) Bill - which would require the government to start the formal process by 31 March 2017.

Find out more about the background to Peter Bone's private member's bill here.

View more on twitter

Reaction to the bill

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Oxford graduates
BBC

Guild HE offered "two and a half cheers" to the government. The representative body for UK higher education, along with Universities UK, welcomed parts of the bill arguing that the current regulations need to be updated to keep up with the impact of fee changes, increased competition and the growth of alternative providers.

However, it has also expressed concern about proposals that would allow “untested organisations” to award degrees without “robust, independent scrutiny”.

The University and College Union (UCU) has objected to the the bill on the grounds that it will “create a taxpayer funded system that encourages profit-making providers to award degrees despite having little or no track record of delivering higher education”.

The Russell Group said it was not opposed to new providers "so long as the growth does not increase pressure" on available funding. 

Minister listens in

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Jo Johnson
BBC
Universities Minister Jo Johnson (top right) can be seen listening to the debate

Commons adjourn

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs are having an early bath today as they have stormed through their tabled business and finish a full two and a half hours ahead of schedule.

They return at 11.30am tomorrow for Northern Ireland Office questions, PMQs and an opposition day debate on the UK's decision to leave the European Union in the June referendum.

Transport minister praises C2C rail franchise

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Paul Maynard
BBC

Paul Maynard concludes by saying that the C2C train franchise, which runs the services in question, are delivering "more seats, more services and an improved journey experience to their passengers".

He also urges them to make the "necessary changes" to address the overcrowding they face. 

Mr Maynard finishes by saying that there is an "absolute commitment" by the operator and department that the passenger is at the forefront of decision making process around these changes.  

This, he says, will help improve "one of our best performing rail networks so that it works even better". 

Ministerial praise for the 'Duracell bunny' MP

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Transport Minister Paul Maynard says that despite the urging of Sir David Amess, he thinks that a "shock and awe strategy" is not what his railway needs, but compliments him on his campaigning spirit.

The minister calls Sir David "the Duracell bunny" of campaigning MPs.

Paul Maynard says that the line in question is one of the best performing franchises in the UK - citing figures that 95% of trains arrive on time and that there is an 81% approval rate of passenger satisfaction.

The icing on the cake

Labour Lords tweet

Mandelson: Accountability not the same as doing what you are told

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Mandelson
BBC

Lord Mandelson tells peers that he had ministerial responsibility for universities in the last Labour government. 

I assume that won't actually be the last Labour government, he adds.

As a minister, he says he tried to ensure that students now paying tuition fees would be entitled to value for money and believes it would be "churlish" not to acknowledge that this bill has "similar aims".

However, like Lord Willetts before him he expresses concern about autonomy - "Accountability is not the same as doing what you are told."

Decisions to be made

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Europol HQ
PA

The UK could lose access to vital intelligence unless it signs up to new powers for EU crime-fighting agency Europol, it has been warned.

The National Crime Agency's David Armond said an "immediate", "urgent" decision is needed or the UK would be forced out of the organisation.

He added that the issue was a "priority" and represented the "alligators nearest the boat".

The Home Office said a decision would be made in "due course".

Read more about this issue here.

Lord Willetts expresses concern over university autonomy

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

David Willetts
BBC

Conservative peer and former universities minister Lord Willetts welcomes the bill but sounds a note of caution, identifying the loss of university autonomy as "the biggest concern".

Critics of the bill have argued that the bill erodes institutional independence by allowing the government-appointed Office for Students to determine whether universities can operate.  

He suggests that some government documents gave the impression that universities were "poorly performing" and needed "doing over".

That is not the right approach he says, and adds that he doesn't believe that was the government's intention. He hopes that the bill can be amended to reflect this.

What is an adjournment debate?

House of Commons

Parliament

An adjournment debate is a short debate - normally lasting half an hour - that is introduced by a backbencher at the end of each day's business in the House of Commons.

The technical procedure of debating a motion that the House should adjourn gives backbench members the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to them, and to have a minister respond to the points they raise.

But the wording of the motion means that MPs can only come to a decision on whether to adjourn for the night - and not on the substance of the debate.

The Speaker decides the subject of the adjournment debate on Thursdays. On the other days the subject is decided by ballot.

Backbenchers normally use this as an opportunity to debate issues related to their constituency.

An adjournment debate may last longer than 30 minutes if the day's main business concludes early.

An all-day adjournment debate is normally held on the final day before each parliamentary recess begins.

On these occasions, MPs do not have to give advance notice of the subjects which they intend to raise.

In addition, all debates held in the side chamber of Westminster Hall are formally called adjournment debates.

There is no exact equivalent to the adjournment debate in the House of Lords.

Labour MP asks about Europol effectiveness

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Labour MP David Winnick
BBC

Labour MP David Winnick raises the recent terrorist atrocities in Europe. He asks whether the fact that perpetrators in the Brussels attacks were known to the authorities places a "question mark" on the role and effectiveness of Europol. 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin of the National Police Chiefs’ Council tells the committee that Europol is a platform to ensure "close cooperation" and failures "can't be laid at their door". 

Headquartered in The Hague, in the Netherlands, Europol assists the 28 EU member states in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism. 

Find out more about Europol here.

Rail services in Southend

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Sir David Amess
BBC

MPs are being extremely time efficient today as they have reached the last business - the adjournment debate - three hours ahead of schedule.

The Conservative MP for Southend West Sir David Amess is now leading this debate which is on the topic of rail services in Southend. 

"Christmas seems to have come somewhat early for my good self," he says, speaking about the early arrival of the adjournment debate. 

Sir David says the privatisation of his local railway line transformed it from "the misery line to the happy line" but says that there is now a "very, very disappointing train service" currently offered by the operators.

"The misery line has now returned," he says.

He says that he does not blame the staff of the line, but that he does blame the management and the senior management.

Return of the zombies?

BBC Parliamentary Correspondent tweets

Labour opposes 'main thrust' of the bill

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's education spokesperson accuses the government of relying on a "neo-liberal ideology" which places "faith in an unregulated free market as the most efficient allocator of resources".

He tells peers that Labour does not welcome "the main thrust" of the bill.

Their key concern, he says, is that the bill is less concerned with "encouraging scholarship" and more interested in "turning the UK higher education sector into a market driven one at the expense of quality and the public interest."

He notes with interest that the minister highlighted that the measures in the bill were part of the Conservative manifesto. 

Under the Salisbury Convention peers refrain from rejecting manifesto commitments on the grounds that such pledges were approved by the electorate. 

Committee meeting on EU policing and security begins

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Police tape
PA

The Home Affairs Committee is holding an evidence session on EU policing and security cooperation. 

The committee is hearing from experts on the UK's options for future security and policing cooperation with the EU, and the possible effect of Brexit on future arrangements.

The UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum held on 23 June 2016.

Change is 'long overdue' says minister

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Viscount Younger of Leckie
BBC

Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie tells peers that the regulatory framework for higher education was "fit for purpose" two decades ago. However, reform is now "long overdue" he argues.

He summarises the bill's aims as giving students more choice, strengthening research capabilities and enhancing the competitiveness of the economy.   

He tells peers that he welcomes the scrutiny they will give the bill.

Michel Barnier

A Brexit deal will need to be reached by October 2018, EU negotiator Michel Barnier says.

Read more

Bill stops 'disgraceful' exploitation of loopholes

Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Justin Madders
BBC

Shadow health minister Justin Madders says there is much in the bill to be welcomed in stopping companies who have been "disgracefully exploiting the loopholes in the system".

The Labour MP says he has had a number of concerns about what is missing from the bill and on the government's broader policies on this issue, saying that the bill follows "six years of historic underinvestment by normal standards".

He thanks the minister for engaging constructively with concerns raised by MPs during the bill's progress through Parliament.

Clock ticking on Brexit amendment

Sky News Chief Political Correspondent tweets

Bill reaches final stage

Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs agree to withdraw their amendments to the bill after the assurances given by the minister.

That brings to an end report stage of the bill and we move on to third reading - the bill's final legislative stage in the Commons before it begins passage through the House of Lords.

Philip Dunne thanks MPs for a "wide degree of consensus" across the House and for engaging in a "very constructive" debate.

He says that the government has sought to take on board their comments and will address some of these topics in the House of Lords.

Peers begin debate of the Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Mortar Boards
Getty Images

The second reading of the bill now begins. The second reading gives peers their first chance to debate the general principles of the bill.

The bill:

  • Seeks to make it easier for organisations to obtain degree awarding powers and subsequently secure university status
  • Creates The Office for Students – a new industry regulator in a similar mould to Ofcom, Ofsted and Ofgem. The OfS would implement a “Teaching Excellence Framework” (TEF)
  • Allows universities achieving good TEF ratings to increase tuition fees.
  • Implements “risk-based regulation” for higher education institutions
  • Establishes a single research funding body – United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Spot the cat

Political photographer tweets