Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy (a) that the costs of any court action against (i) educational establishments and (ii) student unions which are found to have failed to protect freedom of speech are borne by the Government and not the individual; and (b) to permit withdrawal, under his direction, of public funding from such establishments. 
[Due for Answer on 28 October]
The Minister of State for Universities (Michelle Donelan): The new Office for Students (OfS) complaints scheme to be established by the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will provide an accessible, cost-free route for individuals to complain against a registered higher education provider or students’ union, where they have suffered adverse consequences as a result of a breach of the new freedom of speech and academic freedom duties. The government expects that the vast majority of complainants will choose this route before considering going to court, as there are no costs involved in bringing a complaint.
Individuals will also have the right to seek damages in the courts. If a provider or students’ union is found by the courts to have breached their duties, the court may order that they pay the costs of the claimant.
The OfS will have the power to issue sanctions to higher education providers where there has been a breach of the new freedom of speech registration conditions (which require compliance with the new duties). These include financial penalties, as well as suspension and the ultimate sanction of de-registration, effectively depriving the provider of access to public funds. The OfS will also be able to issue monetary penalties against students’ unions found to be in breach of their freedom of speech duties.