BUSINESS QUESTION – BRISTOL UNIVERSITY & FREEDOM OF SPEECH – 28 March 2019
Julian Lewis: May we have an urgent statement from the Universities Minister about the disgraceful situation at Bristol University, where the free speech society has been told it cannot have a speaker – the person who drew up the extreme speakers’ league table in which Bristol University came 10th – unless it has an independent chairperson and another speaker to balance up the views of the person who lists extremism in universities in league table order. This is from a university which is said to have hosted no fewer than nine extremist speakers on its campus. It is a disgrace and we need to have an urgent statement about it.
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Andrea Leadsom): My right hon. Friend raises a very important issue. I know all of us across the House support the idea of freedom of speech at all times, but nevertheless within the law. That is a very important balance to be struck. In particular, we all believe that freedom of speech in universities, to enable young people to learn about and be exposed to different views, is absolutely vital. My right hon. Friend might well like to seek an Adjournment debate so that he can discuss this matter directly with Ministers.]