University Campuses: Freedom of Speech

Education – in the House of Commons on 6th September 2021.

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Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North

What steps his Department is taking to protect freedom of speech on university campuses.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

We are working to ensure that lawful freedom of speech is supported to the fullest extent, which is why the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill was introduced on 12 May. The Bill will strengthen existing freedom of speech duties and introduce clear consequences for breaches of the new duties.

Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North

Labour and the Lib Dems have described the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill as a distraction. Does my hon. Friend agree that the politicising of education, the tearing down of statues and the censorship of speakers who do not fit left-wing woke narratives are all completely indefensible, and that the protection of academic freedoms and freedom of speech in education settings should be a priority for us all?

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

This Government believe that freedom of speech and academic freedom are a fundamental pillar of our higher education system and that protecting those principles should be a priority for our universities and never a distraction. That is why this Government have introduced a Bill to strengthen protections for free speech and academic freedom.