MPs debate higher education regulations

13 September 2017

MPs debated Higher Education Regulations and revoking statutory instruments related to them on 13 September in the House of Commons. The debate was the second of two on subjects chosen by the Opposition. The first debate was on NHS pay.

The debate was moved by Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner. Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, responded on behalf of the Government. .

Related Information

Statutory Instruments

The opposition motion is on revoking two statutory instruments, these are:

These statutory instruments relate to the amount students pay in tuition fees. The specifics of these instruments are laid out in the links above, in particular, the explanatory notes which can be found at the bottom of both instruments.

Statutory instruments do not pass through the House in the same way as other types of legislation. They primarily go through on of two ways, known as affirmation and negative procedure.

Affirmative resolution procedure

These SIs must be approved by Parliament either before they become law or within a specified timeframe (28 or 40 days) after they become law.

Affirmative resolution SIs are normally debated by each House, in committee or in the Chamber, before being agreed to. SIs cannot be amended: they must be accepted or rejected in their entirety.

SIs dealing with purely financial matters require approval by the Commons only.

Negative resolution procedure

Negative resolution SIs do not require approval by Parliament. They are available to each House and automatically come into force on a fixed date unless an objection is raised within 40 days.

A negative resolution SI is debated in the Commons only if there is sufficient opposition to it. Debates on negative SIs in the Lords occur more frequently. It is very rare for an SI to be annulled by either House. The House of Commons last annulled a statutory instrument in October 1979, while the House of Lords last annulled one in February 2000.

About Opposition day debates

Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons in each session for the discussion of subjects chosen by the Opposition.

Seventeen days are at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the largest opposition party, to decide which matters are debated. Three days are usually divided between the other opposition parties.

The Opposition generally use them to raise questions of policy and administration. Frequently, two separate subjects are debated on an opposition day.

Watching Opposition day debates from the public gallery

UK residents and overseas visitors can watch proceedings in the House of Commons by visiting the public gallery.

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