Results 61–80 of 2756 for speaker:Fiona Bruce

Written Answers — Treasury: Bank Services: Charities (9 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to help ensure that banks continue to provide banking facilities for charities and community groups without imposing unaffordable charges.

Tigray — [Geraint Davies in the Chair] (8 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Thank you for calling me, Mr Davies. I declare my interest as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Eritrea. I thank the hon. Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) not only for securing the debate today and her graphic speech, but for chairing the pre-briefing, which the APPG on Eritrea co-hosted yesterday. We must do all that we can to fulfil our international obligations to...

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q Good afternoon, Dr Harris. Do you think the duty to take reasonably practicable steps to secure free speech is adequate—the duty in clause 1 and elsewhere in the Bill?

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q The word “reasonable” qualifies it, so that for example if security costs were a quarter of a million pounds those steps probably would not come within the clause, but if security costs are modest to ensure that an event goes ahead then the university should take those steps.

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q In your evidence, you say that you “believe Parliament should decide, in this Bill, how this conflict is to be resolved”— the conflict being that between whether provocative speech is free within the law or conduct having the effect of harassment. Can you clarify that, because this is a really complex but very important issue in our deliberations on the Bill?

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Good afternoon, and thank you for coming to speak to us, Mr Simpson. You have written extensively on this issue, including a substantial paper you co-wrote in 2020 entitled “Academic freedom in the UK”. You wrote that you were focusing largely on improving oversight of academic freedom to ensure compliance with existing laws. I would be interested to know whether you feel that the Bill...

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q May I look at the subsection after the one you have quoted from. Subsection (2) states that the “objective is securing freedom of speech within the law”. Is there some merit in considering an amendment so that it reads, “the objective is securing freedom of speech without unlawful interference”? That would focus the minds of those who are assessing the situation on whether the...

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q Thank you. That is a very relevant point. In fact, I will turn to proposed new part A3 of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, which is the “Duty to promote the importance of freedom of speech and academic freedom.” It talks about promoting academic freedom for academic staff, and what you call affiliated academics could probably be included. What about academic freedom for students?

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: That was my next question, so thank you for answering it in advance.

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Good afternoon. Can I take you to the very first clause and the wording “reasonably practicable”? Do you think the duty to take Q “reasonably practicable” steps to secure freedom of speech is adequate? That phrase is used both for the governing bodies of an institution and for student unions, particularly bearing in mind that it is the same phrase that was used over three decades...

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q Thank you. Can I just probe you a little further? What is the distinction between “reasonably practicable” and “reasonably necessary”?

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of witness (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: I think the Committee would be very interested—I certainly would be—in any further thoughts you have on that, because I do have a concern that we are not raising the bar sufficiently high, bearing in mind that we have had 30 years of the same bar and we have some major problems that appear to have been escalating over that period. Your thoughts on that would be much appreciated.

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q Thank you very much, Sir Christopher. It might be very helpful if we could continue this discussion, because I wanted to draw out from you, Professor Biggar, two points where you say that the Bill could be improved. Could you perhaps give us a little more information about your thoughts on this comment: “In its current form, the Bill would still allow discussion in an academic context to...

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q I wonder whether you could consider whether the words “within the law” at the very start of the Bill, which is such an important clause, could perhaps be replaced by the words “without unlawful interference”. Would that help to address the problem of the, very often, broad interpretation of harassment, which effectively appears to bring speech that is within the law outside it?

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q The problem that you are raising is that there is quite a broad range of statements that could be not protected by the Bill because they are considered harassing. That is an issue that perhaps needs to be looked at.

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q Thank you. The second point that I want to draw out is that you say that the Bill does not give academic staff access to affordable justice via an employment tribunal in the case of failure to be appointed. Do you think that the legal remedies proposed in the Bill are sufficient? Perhaps you could again talk about where the right to go to an employment tribunal might help in certain situations.

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q Very briefly, in your experience, you believe that there is a real issue to be addressed in terms of freedom of speech and loss of employment or tenure.

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Dr Ahmed, in your evidence you say that there are several threats to free speech in higher education. You talk about two: self-censorship and regulation. Could you unpack those a little more, and tell us how widespread those problems are and what evidence you have of themQ ?

Public Bill Committee: Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Examination of Witnesses (7 Sep 2021)

Fiona Bruce: Q You say that the Bill, although plainly not enough in itself, could be a first step “towards recreating a culture of robust and completely open debate without which a university education loses much of its point.” How effective will the Bill be in achieving that, and what more do you think needs to be done?


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