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Higher Education and Research Bill - Committee (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 9:00 pm, 25th January 2017

Unhelpful is certainly not the same as dangerous but I think the word “dangerous” was used—we will check the record for it. I do not regard it as dangerous to discuss these issues because they raise very important matters about freedom of speech and the ability to discuss and debate issues across a range of topics, not necessarily all concerned with terrorism. Therefore, in that sense, I resist that—but obviously not to the point that I would resile from the fact that this is really a tricky area and it is very hard to approach it without raising emotional and other issues that get in the way of the debate.

Maybe a review is required—maybe that would be the way forward. Maybe the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be able to take its work further. It was helpful to know that this work is still being considered, and maybe that is a way forward. The main achievement of this amendment was to get us into this whole debate and ensure that we understood and recognised the opportunities but also the threats that there are in trying to debate that. Maybe we can return to a more detailed discussion of this when we get to the group of amendments which raises the two particular issues about freedom of speech and preventing unlawful speech that are at the heart of the debate. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 466 withdrawn.