Motion A

Part of Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill - Commons Amendment – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 10 May 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 6:00, 10 May 2023

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his introduction of the government amendment in lieu and Amendment 10F.

When the Bill left this House with the amendments, led by the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, which was supported from these Benches, it was the Government’s own amendment at an earlier stage, aiming to mitigate the risk of legal action, and that civil proceedings should be the last resort, upon which we all agreed. Since then, the Government have amended the clause in question. The Minister explained why the Government have felt that it was necessary to do that. However, the amendment may create a perverse incentive for claimants to bypass the schemes created in the Bill in search of an injunction, including in anticipation of a breach, and it cannot possibly be the intention for this additional amendment, added in the Commons, to open doors to unintended consequences. I would like the Minister’s clarification on this because it seems that this amendment at best muddies the waters, and it might be dangerous. I would like his reassurance on that matter.