Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.7

by Ben D-T

This edition of Bernard Jenkin weekly is, like the last one, late. Again, just busy with Uni stuff.

Week 21 November – 27 November

In a week when the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first autumn statement, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech to the Confederation of British Industry, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies said workers would face a decade without real-terms wage increases, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin made one contribution this week during a debate on the impacts of Brexit on higher education. He gave a speech of considerable length in the debate

The MP started by cautioning against the use of negative language when talking about Brexit and higher education and said that in his experience universities were keen to make the best of leaving the EU.

He stated that there were three main issues facing the government in regard to higher education post-Brexit. Firstly there’s the issue of foreign students from the EU. Mr Jenkin said that outside the EU universities  could finally charge EU students full fees rather than the reduced ones they are currently obligated to charge, “It is actually going to be an advantage to the universities sector if we can charge EU students full fees. At the moment, the British taxpayer helps to fund those students.”

Second the MP for Harwich and North Essex said the issue of EU funds for universities would not be as much of an issue as many are making it out to be. He suggested that having left the EU the government would no longer have to subsidise European universities, “We should be able to afford to pay more into our universities to fund more research and support our universities more effectively as a result of leaving the European Union, because we will no longer be forced to pay to subsidise universities elsewhere in the European Union.”

The final issue Mr Jenkin raised the issue of collaboration between EU and UK universities. He dismissed the idea that collaboration would end as “potty”, adding “If I am correct, we have four universities in the world rankings top 10. We have 10 of the top 50 universities in the world—more than any other country outside the US. Two are in London—the same number as are in the entirety of the rest of the EU.” He asserted that it would not be in EU univerities’ interests to sever ties with UK institutions.

He finished in his speech in typical pro-Brexit fashion by claiming that “Outside the EU, our universities have as great a future, if not a greater future, than they would if we remained in the EU.”

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted nine times this week on a few issues but mainly on aspects on the Higher Education Bill.

On 21 November he voted seven times on the Higher Education and Research Bill. He voted: against a proposed opposition amendment that would have restricted how repayment terms for student loans could be modified after the loan was agreed; against a proposed amendment that would have reversed the change made last year that changed student grants into loans; against a proposed amendment that would have required UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to commission research on the effects of the absence of arrangements for post study work visas and assess how such arrangements could operate in the UK and their effect on the higher education sector and the UK economy; against a proposed amendment that would ensure Teacher Excellence Framework measures, a scheme to asses the quality of higher education, were subject to scrutiny by, and approval of, both Houses of Parliament; against a proposed amendment that would require the Office for Students to be assured about the maintenance of standards and about students’ and the public interest before issuing authorisation to grant degrees; against a proposed amendment that would place a duty on the Secretary of State such that before giving directions to the UKRI in regards to research priorities, the Secretary of State must consult the devolved administrations; and for moving the Bill onto a third reading.

On 22 November Mr Jenkin voted only twice. He voted: against an opposition motion that would call on the government to abandon its plans to bring in additional selective education and concentrate on providing the best education possible for all children; and against an opposition motion that would call on the Government to use the Autumn Statement to address the underfunding of the NHS and guarantee sustainable financing of the NHS.

Mr Jenkin voted with the majority and was loyal to the government on all nine voted this week.

Select committees

None of the committees Mr Jenkin sits on carried out any oral evidence sessions this week.

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