Professor Kathleen Stock: Resignation Debate

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Department: Department for Education

Professor Kathleen Stock: Resignation

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Tuesday 16th November 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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Universities have long-standing duties in relation to freedom of speech in law. They have to balance those with their duties under the Equality Act and other bits of legislation. They will be expected to take all reasonable, practicable steps to address any constraints on freedom of speech and uphold it in future.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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What happened to Professor Kathleen Stock was deeply dismaying and worrying for our society. Universities should be both a safeguard and a focus of rational debate about contentious issues. I was glad to hear from the Minister that the Office for Students is setting up an inquiry. As this is not just a local difficulty but something fundamental to the future of a civilised society, will she bring its recommendations to Parliament so that we can see that there will be adequate action in strengthening the role of academics in free debate?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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The noble and right reverend Lord makes a good point. I am sure that he will have seen the letter written by over 200 academics that was published in the Sunday Times last month, making the point that, actually, junior academics face the most chilling impacts of what is going on. Of course, he will know that the Office for Students is independent, and how it presents its report is therefore up to it, but I would be happy to answer questions on it, should they arise.