Amendment 22

Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 7 December 2022.

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Votes in this debate

Lord Willetts:

Moved by Lord Willetts

22: Clause 4, leave out Clause 4

Photo of Lord Willetts Lord Willetts Conservative

I would like to seek the opinion of the House on this amendment. It has been a really valuable and important debate, and I recognise the enormous contribution the Minister has made to our deliberations. However, the OfS is a very powerful mechanism. It is not some patsy that is in the pockets of vice-chancellors; it is a very effective regulatory mechanism which is further strengthened in this Bill.

The people I most worry about are those young people wrestling with arranging events at their universities. It looks as if freedom of speech is some absolute and complete right—who could possibly challenge any freedom of speech? However, they are wrestling with practical questions. What if you discover that the invitation is for the same week as exam week, and a controversial speaker is coming just as the university is holding exams? What if the fundamentalist speaker, as part of his right to speak, is going to insist on gender segregation of the people attending the event? How do you judge those types of difficult questions?

It is hard enough at the moment for the young people who do it, some of whom, I suspect, may end up as Members of this House or another place. They do not need the threat of litigation hanging over them when they are reaching those decisions, so I beg to move my amendment.

Ayes 213, Noes 172.

Division number 1 Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill - Report — Amendment 22

Aye: 216 Members of the House of Lords

No: 173 Members of the House of Lords

Aye: A-Z by last name

Tellers

No: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Amendment 22 agreed.

The Tellers for the Contents reported 213 votes; the Clerks recorded 218 names.

The Tellers for the Not-Contents reported 172 votes; the Clerks recorded 175 names.

See col. 240 for explanation of mistake in voting figures.