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Lords debates Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill

29 June 2022

A university lecture hall

Members of the Lords discussed the main principles and purpose of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill during second reading, on Tuesday 28 June.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill seeks to strengthen freedom of speech in higher education (HE) providers registered with the Office for Students by promoting academic freedom among students and staff, creating a complaints system and enabling legal redress for breaches of freedom of speech rules.

Debate on the draft law

Members discussed the main issues in the bill during second reading and drew attention to specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed.Topics covered during the debate included:

  • wider issues the higher education sector and students are facing
  • the scale of the issue of free speech in higher education
  • overseas funding of universities
  • the administrative burden on universities created by the bill, including financial reporting requirements
  • how new complaint schemes fit with existing routes
  • alignment of the draft law with the Online Safety Bill and Bill of Rights Bill
  • the new role of ‘Director of Freedom of Speech’ and its appointment process.

Members speaking

Earl Howe (Conservative), Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government. 

Members speaking in the debate included: 

Get involved

Watch and read the debate

Catch up on Parliament TV or read a transcript inLords Hansard.  

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill briefing.

Next steps

Committee stage, the first chance for line by line examination of the bill, is yet to be scheduled.

Image: Adobe Stock