New Clause 13 - Unfair dismissal in violation of academic freedom

Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 22nd September 2021.

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“(1) A member of academic staff of a higher education provider who is dismissed shall be regarded for the purposes of Part X of the Employment Rights Act 1996 as unfairly dismissed

(2) For the purposes of dismissals under subsection (1), Section 108(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (Qualifying period of employment) shall not apply.

(3) Notwithstanding Section 124 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (Limit of compensatory award etc.), there shall be no limit on the level of compensation that can be awarded in cases of unfair dismissal in violation of academic freedom.

(4) Section 128 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (Interim relief pending determination of complaint) shall apply in cases of dismissals under subsection (1).”—

This new clause would render a violation of clause 1 in employment practice as unfair dismissal, regardless of the period of employment at a higher education provider, with no cap on the level of compensation. Interim relief would be available to complainants in such cases.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division number 31 Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill — New Clause 13 - Unfair dismissal in violation of academic freedom

Aye: 6 MPs

No: 8 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 8.

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Department for Education) (Higher and Further Education)

On a point of order, Mrs Cummins. I will take this opportunity to thank you and our other Chair for your excellent chairing of this Committee. I also thank all the Clerks, who have facilitated our Committee, and all hon. Members for the very productive and extensive debate on each of the measures in the Bill.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Shadow Minister (Education)

Further to that point of order, Mrs Cummins. I will just add my thanks to you and to Sir Christopher Chope for your sterling work as Chairs of this Committee.

I also express thanks to both the Clerks for their great assistance in assembling the amendments; it was the first time I had to do that, so I greatly appreciated the support and direction that they gave me. I thank the Whips for putting all the work of the Committee together, and I thank all members of the Committee for the spirit of engagement that we have had.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

Further to that point of order, Mrs Cummins. The right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington proposed me earlier as the spokesman of the ordinary members of this Committee, or something like that, so I thank the Minister and the shadow Minister for the way that they have performed in this Committee. It is always a challenge for both Ministers and shadow Ministers to maintain the attention of those of us who do not hold those great offices, but they have done so with style and aplomb.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose.

Written evidence reported to the House

HEFSB23 Professor John Heathershaw (Professor of International Relations, University of Exeter); Dr Tena Prelec (Research Fellow, Department of Politics and International Relations at University of Oxford); Professor Alex Cooley (Professor of Political Science, Barnard College/Columbia University); Aleksandra Stankova (Project Manager, University of Exeter)

HEFSB24 Birkbeck Students’ Union

HEFSB25 Durham Students’ Union

HEFSB26 Association of Colleges

HEFSB27 HOPE not hate