Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill Debate

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Department: Leader of the House
Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB)
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I will pause for a moment to allow noble Lords to leave the Chamber.

My Lords, there are two amendments in this group to which I will speak, and two government amendments in the same group on which I will comment. Before I go further, I express my appreciation to the Ministers, the noble Earl and the noble Baroness, for their very kind co-operation and discussions with me and others in trying to resolve the points I am raising in this group. I appreciated it very much and, for reasons I will explain later, those discussions were extremely fruitful.

My first amendment is in exactly the same terms as an amendment that I tabled in Committee. It simply asks that a provision be included in the Bill to explain what is meant by the expression “freedom of speech” in this context. The problem arises because those of us who are familiar with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights are used to the expression “freedom of expression”, which is what the article talks about. I was concerned that, by some mischance, the Bill was seeking to create a different freedom from that which Article 10 is talking about. By simply putting in the definition in the fairly stark terms that I proposed in my amendment, I thought I could achieve some degree of certainty. I am glad that there was a certain amount of support in Committee for what I proposed, and the noble Lord, Lord Collins, has very kindly added his name to my amendment; I appreciate his support.

My other amendment in this group is Amendment 10, in which I have the support of not only the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, but the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, with whom I discussed this issue in some detail. It seemed to me and I think to the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, that more needed to be said about the checks and balances which surround the whole concept of freedom of speech or freedom of expression, whichever terminology you choose to use. The convention makes this very clear, because Article 10 sets out the basic right in paragraph 1 and then in paragraph 2 makes a number of qualifications, which make comparatively good sense, to explain that the freedom is not unqualified.

In discussion with the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, I proposed to put forward an amendment which did not come before the Committee to explain what the phrase “within the law” means. I should explain that the way the Bill expresses the idea of freedom of speech is to encompass it as freedom of speech within the law. It seemed to me that the words “within the law” beg the question of what exactly that expression means. A simple way of doing it is to put in a definition, which is what Amendment 10 does. It states:

“‘within the law’ means that the exercise of this freedom is subject to the duty to respect the rights of others and not to do or say anything that is prohibited by any enactment or rule of law.”

I suggest that this simple terminology encompasses what “within the law” means, because the phrase suggests that there is some qualification on the idea of freedom of speech, and this amendment is trying to explain exactly what that qualification is.

Those are my amendments, and I do not think I need to say much more about them. I have discussed them both in some detail with the Minister—the noble Baroness, Lady Barran.

As for the government amendments, I am delighted to see that, as a result of discussions, the Government have brought forward amendments which recognise the place which Article 10 of the convention has in our overall understanding of what the freedoms we are talking about really mean. For that reason, I am happy to see these amendments, and if they are to be moved I shall not press my first amendment. However, I remain of the position that my second amendment, which has been supported by the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, has real force. When we come to the point, I suggest that it requires considerable thought and support because it is essential that we understand what the words “within the law” really mean. Either they are there for a purpose, and if the purpose is there it should be explained, or they have no purpose at all, in which case those words should not be in the Bill. I hope I have explained my position as shortly as I can. With that introduction, I beg to move.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, it is a great privilege to speak after the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead. I have the impression—perhaps I am making it more explicit than he was willing to—that the Government have slightly misconceived the issue: it is not a definition of freedom of speech but rather a definition of the legal framework within which freedom of speech is to be understood. That is, the meaning of the words “within the law” is at issue slightly more than that of the words “freedom of speech”.

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Lord Macdonald of River Glaven Portrait Lord Macdonald of River Glaven (CB)
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My Lords, the noble Lord may be being rather kind to the Prussian police. I have no doubt that in the early 19th century the Prussian police were extremely interested in what was said in colleges and on street corners.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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I am happy to take the historical dispute offline, as they say, and discuss it with the noble Lord afterwards.

Our concept of freedom of speech in traditional English law is broader. It concerns not merely things that are said in the press but what you might say at Speakers’ Corner, among your friends or in colleges and universities. Amendment 10 seeks to root the notion of the legal framework in which we are considering freedom of speech in that broader English common-law tradition. I see a relatively clear contrast between the two, which is why I had no hesitation in supporting Amendment 10. I am happy to acknowledge the discussions I had with the noble and learned Lord about it before he tabled it.

It seems that the Government are not taking either of those clear choices. They have come up with a third option, which frankly I regard as a little bit of a muddle. In the first place, it seeks to root the legal framework within which we are to understand freedom of speech in Article 10, but it refers specifically to Article 10(1).

As the noble and learned Lord said, Article 10(1) is perhaps the positive part of Article 10. It is the part that goes out and says, “Freedom of expression is very important and has to be protected”. It is paragraph 2 of Article 10 that goes on:

“The exercise of these freedoms”

and so forth

“may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties”

for various purposes, which it then lists. I will not detain the House by reading them out, but it is the restrictive part.

There is no mention of the second part of Article 10 in the Government’s amendment. Ministers with whom I have had the benefit of discussions about this, for which I am grateful, have said to me that it is clear they intend this to be a freedom which is consistent with what I have described as the English common-law tradition of freedom of speech. That brings me to the question: if that is what they mean but they still wish to root it in Article 10, what has happened to its paragraph 2? Does the Government’s amendment mean that paragraph 2 is disapplied in relation to the understanding of freedom of speech as it is to sit in the Bill, following their amendment? As drafted, the amendment is pregnant with paragraph 2, but we do not know whether the birth is going to take place. What is the role of that part of Article 10 in this?

My own view is that the Government have a lot of explaining to do on this late amendment to try to make clear to your Lordships what is being achieved. If this is the right means of achieving it and their intention is to have a broad understanding of freedom of speech, why are they rooting it in Article 10 in the first place and what has happened to the second part of that? Would it not be much better if my noble friends on the Front Bench simply opted for one of two amendments tabled by the noble and learned Lord, ideally Amendment 10?

Baroness Garden of Frognal Portrait Baroness Garden of Frognal (LD)
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My Lords, from these Benches we very much welcome the government amendments in this group. We consider that “opinions” is a much safer term than “beliefs or views”. We also welcome Amendment 7, which aligns freedom of speech more closely to other conventions. I am afraid that I do not have the legal knowledge to discuss the views of the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, on whether paragraph 2 should be there.

However, we support the other amendments in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. We are also very pleased that the Minister has signed Amendment 6, which should help to protect freedom of speech and well-being on our campuses. We realise it is unlikely that the other amendments in this group will go any further; meanwhile, we thank the Ministers very much for listening.

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Lastly, I remind the Minister that when we come to the later stages, she may well find herself arguing that the process of appointing the free speech champion is undisturbed by any outside considerations whatever, or any outside consultation on who should be involved in the appointing process. That seems to me to be in direct contradiction to the argument here.
Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, I do not think I have said this before in your Lordships’ House, but I stand in almost constant awe of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, because many years ago when I left university and joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, his book, The Foreign Policy Process in Britain, was, if not quite mandatory for those of us joining, then certainly highly recommended. I read it with great attention and I hope I learned much from it, both theoretically and to practical effect. I have been here in your Lordships’ House for over two years and I have never actually had the chance to say that I am slightly in awe of the fact that the very William Wallace who wrote that book is here and makes such a huge contribution to your Lordships’ House and, indeed, to my life.

I have not risen to speak predominantly to the amendment standing in the noble Lord’s name, but rather to the earlier amendment. However, I shall just say that the rosy picture he paints of academics happily getting on together, disagreeing on theoretical matters of physics and generally not hindering each other’s promotion, advancement or job prospects in any way is, I am sure, in many ways an ideal and one we should fight for, but is difficult to recognise in an age when we have seen professors effectively forced out of their jobs because they have views that are not sufficiently pro-trans or whatever. It is hard to imagine, even in a science department, how somebody could question or advance research that challenged some of the bases of climate science. In saying that, I am not suggesting that I have any reason for bringing forward such science, or that there is such scientific evidence, but, theoretically, were it to come forward, how would that affect somebody’s job prospects or their chance of securing academic grants and so forth? It is those realities, and I do regard them as realities, that the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, seeks to address.

The wording of the noble Baroness’s amendment is, as I am sure noble Lords recognise, taken directly from various findings of case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Strasbourg court. Case law in the Strasbourg court undoubtedly defends strongly the principle that, in a university, those who are employed by it, especially those in an academic role, have an absolute right to criticise the university, the university authorities, its conduct and its policies. So, the only objection, in my view, that can be raised to the noble Baroness’s amendment is that it is otiose—we do not need it because the right is already there and can be appealed to, so why do we need it in the Bill? The argument for putting it in the Bill, in many ways, is really to demonstrate to university authorities that these rights must be taken seriously.

I have to say that the cases in which these rights have been enunciated and vindicated by the European Court have difficult, and in some cases almost barbarous names. They tend to come from parts of Europe and Turkey. They are cases such as Erdoğan, Sorguç, Aksu, Kula, Kharlamov, which the noble Baroness referred to, and Ayuso Torres. They are not names or cases that trip easily off the tongues of the lawyers engaged by the majority of British universities to advise them on how to conduct the issues of free speech. Whereas the Equality Act, the Prevent duty and the Public Order Act are pieces of legislation with which those lawyers are very familiar indeed, and much more accessible to them. So, in defending free speech, there is a natural bias—the tension, if you like, that was at the heart of the debate on the earlier group—among those giving legal advice to universities and those receiving that advice, to pay attention to the legislation that has a tendency to restrict freedom of speech, rather than the European convention case law that defends and vindicates it.

The argument for the amendment from the noble Baroness is that it is not otiose to include it; these rights exist already but they need to be referred to and universities need to be reminded of their importance. Therefore, the amendment should stand. It is hard to know what I want to hear from the Front Bench in response, but I very much hope that my noble friend can say that the rights expressed by the noble Baroness are crucial and will be defended, and that the Government intend to ensure that the Office for Students does so. However difficult of access they may be, they none the less form a proper basis for the conduct of universities, by contrast to and in tension with the legislation, which restricts free speech.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Portrait Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab)
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My Lords, I remind noble Lords of my interests in the register. I celebrate the fact that the European convention and the Human Rights Act are being cited all over the Chamber today. That is wonderful.

I noted what the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, said about the music faculty at Oxford University. I do not recognise the aspersions that she was casting and will ensure that noble Lords are aware in due course of the situation as it stands. I certainly do not recognise that the university sought to stifle criticism of whatever the music faculty did. I will seek to clarify that with the Minister in due course.

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Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 21, standing in my name. It dawned on me, as I said in Committee, that the purpose of some noble Lords was not to improve this legislation that has been passed by the Commons but to eviscerate it. The speech just given by the noble Lord, Lord Grabiner, seems to illustrate exactly that.

One of the few things on which I agreed with my noble friend Lord Willetts in Committee was when he said that there were two powerful elements in this Bill that made a real change, one of which was Clause 4. That is why it is a crying shame that the Government have conceded so much in relation to Clause 4; they have effectively turned it into a shrivelled sausage when it could have been something that actually made a real difference. But even with that concession from the Front Bench, it does not seem to be enough for my noble friend Lord Willetts or the noble Lord, Lord Grabiner, who are insisting that even that pathetic thing be removed and crushed altogether.

A principal argument in favour of Amendment 20, tabled by my noble friend on the Front Bench, is that the Government intend thereby to give the universities an opportunity to resolve the problem through mediation and a complaints system. The difficulty is that, in terms, university authorities have expressed repeatedly the fact that they do not consider that there is a problem: they consider it to be an invented problem, or a problem which, if it exists at all, is rare and egregious and can be handled by the universities. Plainly, there are those of us who feel that the universities have failed to handle it, and need to be brought to book.

If the universities genuinely want to give mediation a chance, Amendment 21, standing in my name, gives them the opportunity to demonstrate that. A similar amendment was tabled in Committee by my noble friend Lord Sandhurst, and it is retabled here—I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, and my noble friend Lord Strathcarron for adding their names to it. Amendment 21 would retain the substance of Clause 4 as originally proposed by the Government and approved by the other place, but would give to universities the opportunity in each case to ask the court to stay proceedings so as to allow mediation to take place. It would be at the discretion of the court whether to agree to that. I am sure that, if the court thought that there was a prospect of success in the mediations, it would agree.

This is modelled on legal practice in certain other areas where I understand, for example, that the provision and possibility exist—although noble Lords know that I make no claim to be a legal expert on pensions entitlements and so on. So the principle is a workable one: the university can say, “Please will you stay the proceedings while we exercise mediation”. It preserves the substance of the tort in Clause 4 and gives academics, in particular, an opportunity to make their representations in the way that the Government originally envisaged.

I will address the Government’s proposal, because the proposal being advanced by my noble friend Lord Willetts—who I understand may speak shortly—and endorsed by the noble Lord, Lord Grabiner, is to delete the clause altogether. The Government’s proposal would allow those administering the complaints system to indulge in indefinite delay. There is no time limit by which a decision has to be reached in this amendment. My noble friend Lord Howe said something vague about how he thought that 12 months might be something that already existed and might therefore be applied or extended to this activity, but there is actually no time limit by which a complaint has to be resolved which would allow the complainant to trigger the tort. It would remove the possibility of seeking urgent injunctive relief, which is something that could be obtained through the courts. It would push complainants back to a choice between a financially ruinous application for judicial review—because it is financially ruinous for the individual —or continuing with a possibly endless complaints process in which, as has been said by others in this context, the punishment is the process. You are an academic with a career to pursue and you are probably not even in a properly tenured post, but to vindicate your rights you have to undertake a process, extending potentially over many months, which comes to consume your life and, ultimately, to damage your career. It is an unenviable choice, and the tort gave people some other option to allow, potentially, for more rapid relief.

Most of all, the Government’s amendment sends a signal to academics who feel oppressed, feel that they cannot express themselves and feel that they are required to conform to an ideology which they know in their heart they do not endorse that a Government who had said that they were on their side and were taking steps to protect them are no longer interested. That is a very bad signal indeed to be sending. I am sorry to say this, but I think that the Government are being feeble.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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Now that was a heckle of some value.

To conclude, it might be nice if the Front Bench, which has shown itself capable of endorsing enthusiastically the very laudable Amendment 6, tabled by the Labour Front Bench, could reciprocate by accepting one from its supportive Back-Benchers. If so, I strongly recommend Amendment 21 in my name.

Lord Willetts Portrait Lord Willetts (Con)
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My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 22 in my name and those of other Members of this House. I begin by thanking Ministers for their engagement with the tricky issues around Clause 4 and, as we have heard, the wide range of views in this House about it.

I make it clear that I completely back the principle of the Bill, which is the need for the right to freedom of speech to be backed with clearer and more enforceable rights than we currently enjoy. However, another point that the Minister has made on several occasions is that we should not overlook the protections that employment law already provides. It looks as though some of the most egregious cases, such as the terrible treatment of Professor Kathleen Stock, are in clear breach of employment law. It is quite a good principle that we should start by properly using the legal protections and rights that already exist.

As we have heard, there is also the framework of criminal law. Nevertheless, there really are problems in our universities, and most of us in this House are not denying it. I have been shouted down at universities, but I have also had a different type of experience, which reminds us of the good features of universities, which we should not forget. I remember a group of protesters with a megaphone denouncing my proposals on student fees. I went up to them to try to persuade them and they could not hear what I was saying, so they lent me their megaphone. I made my point and handed it back to them, and they got on with their megaphone, and we ended up—in the unpromising circumstances of a student demo outside a university—having a proper engagement and disagreement. We should remember that that still happens in our universities up and down the country.

Nevertheless, the framework of employment law and criminal law is not enough and the Government are, in this legislation, bringing forward a very significant further power for the regulator that already exists, the Office for Students, but giving it a clear responsibility in this area. One thing that surprises me about the sceptics—I have had debates with very concerned academics who back the Bill, and we have just heard from my noble friend Lord Moylan—is that they talk about a vague complaints procedure going on interminably, as if this is some kind of feeble option and we really need litigation as the guts of the Bill. In reality, the Office for Students, created in legislation steered through by my noble friend Lord Johnson of Marylebone, is a very powerful body and its powers are being increased in this legislation. It has considerable understanding of and expertise in universities and will gain extra powers in this legislation.

One of the arguments we heard in Committee about the need for litigation was that we need to have financial redress. It is clear that, within the Bill, there are powers for the OfS to require financial redress and to fine universities. These are very substantial provisions. What is very unusual about the Bill, unlike many other circumstances and many other policy debates I have been involved in over the years, is that the Government are not just empowering a regulator, they are, in parallel, adding a new proposal for a right of tort and civil litigation alongside. That is a very odd way of trying to tackle the problem. The Government should have confidence in the powers of their own regulator, reinforced by the proper enforcement of rights under employment law.

The Minister, whose engagement in this I respect and appreciate, said that we should not worry because, with the amendments he is bringing forward, civil litigation would be a backstop. I do not understand what a backstop is in these circumstances. We all know that a student union—and I worry about student unions at least as much as about university administrations—if one of these controversies flares up, will receive a lawyer’s letter in the first 24 hours. The lawyers will not say, “Let’s wait and see how the OfS proceeds, because we are the backstop”; the legal letters will arrive. When I think, therefore, about the real test of whether there should be this provision for tort, the real test that, surely, all of us in this House can share is: will the net effect of this provision be to increase and enhance freedom of speech in our universities, or will the effect of this power of tort be a further chilling, a further reduction in freedom of speech in our universities?

I think of people who try to organise events painstakingly to promote freedom of speech in their university. They try to find a neutral chair who will chair two highly controversial and disputing views. When one person turns up, they try to arrange for there to be an alternative. They try to find the right place for these meetings and sometimes they are already traduced in the media as if they are somehow part of the problem, when they are actually trying, very decently, to be part of the solution. Will the prospect of a legal challenge to what they are doing give them the confidence to carry on organising those events and promoting freedom of speech in our universities? I fear it will have the opposite effect. I think of a 19 year-old who sets up a student society in his or her university, thinking, “Will I find myself facing a legal letter if I get bogged down in trying to arrange an event?”

We already face a very worrying trend of a decline in the number of external speakers going to universities because people think it is just more trouble, too risky and too dangerous. The risk with these provisions is that they make that trend worse: more people will do exactly what we all fear. They shut up, they keep their heads down, they do not invite controversial speakers, they do not invite any speakers at all; they lie low and stay out of trouble. That would be terrible for freedom of speech in our universities and I fear that is the risk if people expect to face legal challenge for events they organise.

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Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, for their support for this amendment. I raised the subject of academic integrity and freedom to disseminate research findings at Second Reading and in Committee. Several important issues were raised, and this amendment has been extensively rewritten in light of that. I believe that it now complies with Article 10 of the ECHR.

The revised amendment prevents the gagging of academics by research funders who do not like the findings. However, the right to publish research is also constrained by my amendment’s proposed new subsection (3), which basically states that, if the research findings would

“threaten national security, public safety, or health”,

they need not be published. They also would not if

“the contracting parties to a research funding arrangement agree confidentiality of results in advance.”

Major issues were raised during the last debate, and I will address them.

In Committee, I provided examples of how the Government themselves suppressed Covid-related research findings, for which we are yet to receive a full explanation. The research was funded by public money and did not threaten national security or public safety, but it was still suppressed. The publication of that research could have provided insights into the cost of Covid tests and of controlling the pandemic, and possibly have helped to frame more effective public policies.

I also cited examples of the tobacco and food industries censoring or preventing the dissemination of research. The unhindered publication of academic research would have created greater awareness of the dangers of smoking and the ill effects of processed food, and, again, this may well have enabled the development of more informed public policies.

Research showing that generic drugs are just as effective as branded drugs would have reduced the cost of medical treatments, as well as the cost to the NHS. In Committee, it was suggested that my amendment was somehow not appropriate for the Bill, and that transparency was a key issue. I will tackle that head on because I am happy to respond to these points. The amendment is about academic freedoms, and the clue is in the title of the Bill, which includes the words “Freedom of Speech”. Advancing and protecting the academic freedom to publish uncensored research is directly relevant to it; there is no other Bill where these kinds of issues can go at the moment. The point about transparency is important, but the unhindered publication and dissemination of research is the best form of transparency.

Over the years, I have been on many academic journal editorial boards, so I am well aware of the politics of publishing and commissioning research and so on. All reputable peer-reviewed journals require authors to disclose sources of research funding and to make the relevant data, wherever possible, available to other scholars. However, that point can be reached only when a scholar submits a paper for publication. If research funders supress the findings, a submission to a journal does not take place, and the data cannot be provided easily to other scholars—you need not necessarily disclose who the funders are, because that point is not reached. If research findings are diluted by the funder, the researcher has the option whether to accept the diluted paper and proceed to publication or not. If the researcher chooses not to proceed to publication, there will be no transparency about funding at all. If the researcher succumbs to pressure from the funder and accepts the dilution of research outcomes, he or she is unlikely to be permitted to say that the funder rewrote or took out large chunks of the paper. So there is no transparency about the pressures which prevent the publication of the paper, which is what I am really concerned about.

Of course, there are numerous research registers which list the grants obtained by scholars, but a mere listing of the source does not amount to transparency because it does not tell us anything about the gagging of those researchers or prevention of their publication. Just naming the funders does not tell us about the contents of the research, research methods, research methodology, analysis, discussion or possible public implications.

Full transparency, which is what I am concerned with, covers all those things, and that can be provided only by publication of the research, not permitting funders to say that you cannot publish it because, somehow, they now feel that it would damage their reputation or reduce the revenues arising from the sale of tobacco-related products or processed food. Gagging comes in many guises; it is not simply somebody saying that they will not let you publish—they behave in all kinds of interesting or strange ways.

I shall give a personal example. For a long time, I have taken an interest in auditor regulation. Under the Companies Acts, a resigning auditor is required to issue a statement addressed to shareholders and creditors stating whether there are circumstances in connection with that resignation that shareholders and creditors need to be aware of, then to list them, or to say that there are no circumstances and leave it at that. What do the auditors actually do? I conducted the only piece of research on that over the past 100 years, and I looked into it. I learned that Companies House does not publish the data, but on inquiry it said that it could write a piece of software for me, interrogate its database and tell me which company auditors had resigned. This was in relation to public limited companies. In those days you had to buy microfiches, so I would have had to buy the microfiches and track down whether there was a letter of resignation from the auditor.

I got the data and approached the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and asked whether it would help to fund the cost of writing the software and buying microfiches. I got the grant, and I looked at all 800 auditor resignations relating to public limited companies. What did I find? Only 2.5% of the resigning auditors complied with the law. The other 97.5% were silent; they did not say anything. But roll forward a few months and I started looking—and what do I find? In many instances, the auditors got out quietly but there was a scandal, with major frauds and other kinds of corporate collapses, which suggested that the auditors had basically abdicated their duty. They did not want to say anything or get a bad name for being troublesome, which is not very helpful for getting new audits or consultancy work.

I submitted my report to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, which said that it would get back to me. That is what is required—you submit a report. Would it say that I could go ahead to publish or say that I could not? It said neither yes nor no, and meanwhile the research was getting stale, and I had to make a decision. Was it important enough for people to know what auditors were up to, or should I just be quiet? I decided that I would publish the research, and it was published as a research monograph. Needless to say, I never got a research grant from the ICAEW again. The public suffers.

That is just one example of how people are gagged. Not everybody wants to follow their conscience and just publish. What I am trying to do through this amendment is to empower academics so they can publish research that is vitally important. There is nothing in the Bill that prevents gagging of scholars through subtle or not so subtle forms of silencing. We all see the world by standing on the shoulders of intellectuals. The barriers to publication of research prevent us seeing things, and this amendment would lower those barriers. I beg to move.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 23 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Sikka. I said at Second Reading that there was a lacuna in this Bill, in that it did not deal with finance and money. Finance, of course, is what makes the world go round, and the scope for using money to limit freedom of expression and academic freedom is obvious. It hardly needs to be explained. So why would a Bill that addressed academic freedom not deal with this question of money and its potential abuse?

Quite independently of the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, in Committee I tabled three amendments trying to cover such aspects as the use of donations, the use of research grants and a couple of other matters which I thought were worthy of debate. Independently, the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, tabled an amendment much along the lines of the one he has just spoken to. As we proceed to Report, I have dropped mine, but the noble Lord has refined the drafting of his amendment considerably, and it is now a very good amendment and one that I think deserves a response. Sadly, in Committee, I do not feel it had quite the response or the engagement from either Front Bench that this important topic deserves.