Motion A1 (as an amendment to Motion A)

Part of Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill - Commons Reason – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 21 March 2023.

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Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative 4:30, 21 March 2023

My Lords, what the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, has just said emphasises the main point I wish to make: that this applies to students just as much as to academics. The whole idea of freedom of thought is really important. We are bringing up our children to think that they must curtail their thought. I have a daughter at university at the moment and that is certainly her experience. The atmosphere of not being allowed to discuss and talk about things is prevalent. The Bill is really important in making a difference to that. I will be very interested to see what Members in the other place think of the amendments we send down to them.

We should not think that this is happening just in universities. On 8 March I received, as other noble Lords might have, an email from the parliamentary security vetting department asking us to fill in and sign a form. It said that we must not share passwords, override or undermine security measures and sensible things like that. But it then went on to say that we must not be offensive or put the reputation of Parliament at risk. I do not know how to survive in this place without doing both those things; I imagine that applies to other noble Lords too. Our freedom of speech is now to be curtailed by a directive from parliamentary security vetting without—so far as I can see; I have contacted the authorities without getting any reply—any way in which noble Lords can be involved in that process. I am not sure who will take me to task for being offensive in this place, but I find offensive the idea that I should be asked to sign saying that I will not be.