28 Jan 2015 : Column 193

House of Lords

Wednesday, 28 January 2015.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Leicester.

Schools: Faith Schools and Free Schools


3.06 pm

Asked by Baroness Massey of Darwen

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the conditions which must be met before a new state-funded faith school or free school is allowed to be established; who sets and agrees the conditions; and how the conditions must guarantee a broad and balanced curriculum for pupils.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, the department sets out clear conditions in guidance and application guides for the establishment of all schools. All state-funded schools, whether faith-designated or not, must deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. This is a requirement of education legislation or of their academy funding agreement. Ofsted inspections place a clear emphasis on assessing whether schools are providing a broad and balanced education.

Baroness Massey of Darwen (Lab): I thank the Minister for that response, but is he aware that a recent Ofsted report described a free school as follows:

“any teaching or learning going on at the school is purely incidental … Student achievement is weak … Standards are low …one of the worst schools”,

that they have inspected, and criticised bullying and discrimination? It seems evident that there must have been some lack of organisation in setting up that school. Is it worth risking children’s achievement and well-being for an educational whim?

Lord Nash: My Lords, we have a rigorous approach to setting up new schools. They will not all work. We have closed a couple of free schools, with a total number of 200 pupils. Although that is very serious for those pupils and their parents, that compares with getting on for a quarter of a million new free school places that we will introduce under the free school UTC and studio school programme. Of the 87 pre-warning notices that this Government have issued to academies, more than 60% have been to sponsors approved by the previous Government, so it is clear that setting up new schools is not entirely straightforward.

Lord Storey (LD): My Lords, my noble friend has been a great proponent of British values. Does he agree that respecting and understanding other religions might find a route in ensuring that faith schools had a percentage of pupils from other faiths?

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Lord Nash: All free schools have oversubscription criteria of 50%. All schools must be inclusive and respect the rights and needs of other faiths or people with no faith.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB): My Lords, I declare an interest as the director of the network of Sikh organisations responsible for the inspection of Sikh faith schools. The teaching of gender equality and respect for other faiths is obligatory in Sikh faith schools. Does the Minister agree that any school that fails to do that should be treated as a failing school?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the noble Lord. I have visited a number of Sikh schools and have been extremely impressed with the education that they provide, which is not surprising given the ethics and ethos of community and service in Sikhism.

Lord Tebbit (Con): My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Massey of Darwen, spoke of the dangers of reacting to an educational whim. Will my noble friend assure me that he will not react to the educational whims of that extraordinary group of people who my right honourable friend Michael Gove rightly described as “the Blob”? They are an obstruction to education.

Lord Nash: I entirely agree that in our approach to the education of our children we should not act on whims from any source.

Lord Harrison (Lab): Is the Minister aware that much of the recurring criticism of these schools is about the failure to deliver education on religion which encompasses all religions and those people who have none at all?

Lord Nash: I entirely agree that all schools should prepare their pupils for modern life by teaching them about the basics of all the main religions practised in this country.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, given the concerns recently raised by some free faith schools which have cropped up in recent years, is it not time to have a bit of an evaluation of faith schools and their place in our society rather than rolling out even more?

Lord Nash: Faith schools and church schools are an essential part of our school landscape. Church schools represent 34% of all schools and 25% of all pupils are educated in them. Church schools consistently outperform other schools and have a superb record of community cohesion. We want to provide parents with diversity and choice.

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, does the Minister agree that “faith school” covers a variety of different kinds of institution? Church of England schools are not faith schools in the narrow sense of providing an education for people of just one faith. In places such as Leicester they provide a rounded

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education for the whole community, including many of other faiths who value highly what they have to offer.

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the right reverend Prelate. Many church schools are highly inclusive. A study by the University of York undertaken in 2009 praised the record of church schools on community cohesion.

Baroness King of Bow (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the only way to establish a faith school—like any new school—is via the free schools programme? Some of the problems that we have seen with faith schools are therefore evident more widely—namely, lack of oversight and lack of qualified teachers. As with the Al-Madinah free school and others, that lack of oversight and the presence of unqualified teachers have damaged the education of children in communities in Derby, Durham and Crawley, where free schools have had to close. I know that the Minister will say that many free schools are excellent, and he is right: free schools, like state schools, can be outstanding or inadequate. However, I hope he will agree that that is not the point. The point is that, unlike state schools, free schools can employ unqualified teachers and avoid robust scrutiny. When will the Government better protect and scrutinise the education of children in free schools?

Lord Nash: I point out to the noble Baroness that a faith school can be set up through the VA route, although very few are established in this way. I think I have already pointed out that our record of failure in establishing new schools is rather better than that of the previous Government. I am delighted that we are back on unqualified teachers because, if that is all we have to argue about, it clearly shows cross-party support for our education reforms. In fact, there are fewer unqualified teachers under this Government—only around 3% are unqualified. I am surprised that the Labour Party wants to restrict people from RADA or the Royal College of Music who may be able to teach for only a few hours a week in a primary school. I find it particularly surprising that the shadow Secretary of State for Education—it should be borne in mind that he is himself an unqualified teacher, went to a school which has many unqualified teachers, and failed to answer Jeremy’s Paxman’s question nine times—is quite prepared to send his own children to a school with unqualified teachers.

Asylum Seekers: Women


3.15 pm

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to consult Asylum Aid about ways to improve protection and fairness for women asylum applicants and support provided for those who have suffered gender-based harm.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, the UK has a proud history of offering protection to those who need it, male or female. Home Office officials regularly meet with Asylum Aid and recently discussed Asylum Aid’s Protection Gap campaign and other practical steps that can be taken to further improve the management of asylum claims from women.

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I welcome the positive points in the noble Lord’s brief reply. Will the Government extend childcare to all women’s interviews, especially in London and Liverpool, where it is not available? Will they provide training on gender violence to interviewers and interpreters, as is already done for the police? Finally, will they explain to women applicants why choosing a woman interviewer or counsellor can be of benefit to them?

Lord Bates: I am grateful to the noble Lord for his question and respect his long interest in this area and his work with female refugees. On his first point, we are very much open to reasonable suggestions as to how childcare could be improved. There are some practical difficulties on some of the sites, particularly in central London. As for having female interviewers, that is a very good step and we want to make progress on that. There is some practical difficulty over interpreters. I will get back to the noble Lord on his other points, if I may.

Lord Morris of Handsworth (Lab): My Lords, what steps are being taken to ensure that the children of detained asylum seekers have access to a rounded education, including attending the local schools?

Lord Bates: There was a change in policy as a result of legislation that went through your Lordships’ House, which said that children cannot be detained in immigration centres. Where they are in centres because their parents are there, they are more likely to be put into places such as the Cedars, which is a family-based centre where education is available on-site.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, Women for Refugee Women’s recent report highlighted how women held in Yarl’s Wood detention centre were continually humiliated by male staff while they were dressing, showering and using the toilet. Given the ongoing reports of unacceptable treatment of women for some years in this establishment, is it not time to put a stop to women in these circumstances—female asylum seekers who have been raped, trafficked, tortured and subjected to FGM—being held in detention centres?

Lord Bates: We are very clear that all female asylum seekers should be treated with dignity and respect. It is also true that when the Chief Inspector of Prisons visited Yarl’s Wood and produced his report, he found that it was a safe and respectful place. We have seen the report that was prepared. It contained some very disturbing accusations and we have asked its authors to share the sources of that information with us so that it can be properly investigated.

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Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord has tried to be positive in his response but these allegations are extremely serious. As the noble Baroness said, they often concern women who are fleeing sexual violence. The Government’s response to the allegations was to expect contractors, in this case Serco, to maintain the highest standards. Will the Minister accept that saying it does not make it happen? When the UN investigators are not permitted to go into Yarl’s Wood to see for themselves, that is something of a disgrace. Will the Government commit to a thorough, fully independent investigation into the circumstances at Yarl’s Wood as a matter of the utmost urgency?

Lord Bates: Certainly, as we have said, if the information is supplied to us, it will be investigated very thoroughly indeed. The circumstances there have been subject to regular investigations by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons. In relation to the UN rapporteur who asked to visit, that was a very last-minute request. We had set up a very detailed programme, including meetings with the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Home Secretary, and had offered other meetings. We are open to further approaches in due course in the future.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, is it not the case that in a number of instances the women who made these very serious complaints have been deported before they can speak properly to the investigators? Surely, that is not something that the Government condone.

Lord Bates: No, it is not, and that is why we want the information to be brought to our attention as soon as possible. We cannot act if it is not shared with us.

Care: Budget


3.20 pm

Asked by Lord Clinton-Davis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to cut the care budget and, if so, by how much.

Baroness Jolly (LD): My Lords, social care budgets are set by each individual local authority. This allows councils to work with their residents to decide how best to make their spending decisions, based on local priorities and needs. In 2015-16, the better care fund will provide £5.4 billion of investment into better integrated care, from 1 April 2015, based on joint plans that have been developed locally.

Lord Clinton-Davis (Lab): Does not the policy which the Government have declared in the past hit, in particular, the old and the vulnerable? Is it not a fact that £1 billion is being removed from the care budget, revealing that the Government are determined at all costs, whatever the price paid by poorer people, to

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reduce the role of the state and to punish those who cannot hit back? Why instead do the Government not deal with the bankers in the same way? Are they not primarily responsible for the position we are now in?

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, I can speak for local authorities but not, regrettably, for bankers. The Government have made care a priority, which is why we have given an extra £1.1 billion to help protect social care services this year, on top of the additional funding in recent years.

Baroness Pitkeathley (Lab): My Lords, whatever the size of the care budget, I think everybody would agree that the majority of caring responsibilities fall on the caring families. Over the course of the next Parliament, some 10.5 million people will start being carers. Is the Minister confident that the budget will be sufficient to provide them with the information and support they so desperately need?

Baroness Jolly: A lot of work has gone on in preparing local authorities to give assessments to carers for their needs and support, in exactly the same way as they assess the people they care for. The cost currently being factored in for that is £104.6 million—£31.3 million on assessments and £73.3 million on the provision of support.

Baroness Greengross (CB): My Lords, a couple of days ago, Age UK published its scorecard, which shows that, despite rising numbers of older people and rising demand for services, the amount spent has fallen dramatically over the past few years. In fact, it has gone down by over 40%. There are some shocking figures, for example that half of the people who struggle to get into a bath or to wash do not get any help, and that one in three of those who cannot go to the toilet without help are not getting any help, and preventive services are going down. In the light of that, does the noble Baroness not think that, nationally, it is time for the Government to come in with some direction?

Baroness Jolly: The Government have been trying very hard to give direction. One issue that we have been trying to direct is integrated care, joining up care services. However, public finances are in a precarious position. The deficit is still projected to be over £100 billion. The report from Age UK is a very good and interesting read, but I discussed it with officials this morning and we could not follow some of the figures and ways of working from its results.

Baroness Barker (LD): My Lords, will the Government extend the better care fund into future years in order to transfer resources from the NHS to social care, so that the number of people having to go into hospital can be reduced?

Baroness Jolly: Certainly, that is the Government’s aim, and we legislated to establish the better care fund, providing £5.4 billion from this year through to next year. Quite what happens thereafter will depend on the result of the election in May.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, is the noble Baroness seriously saying that the Government are not responsible for the funding cuts to local government and the consequent impact of a reduction in social care services? On the better care fund that she referred to for the next financial year, I refer her back to the King’s Fund quarterly monitoring report, which we discussed yesterday, which showed that 83% of NHS trust finance directors were not confident that the fund will be able to reduce pressure on A&E services. The better care fund is destined to fail.

Baroness Jolly: I think the noble Lord will expect me to disagree with him on that issue. A lot of work has gone in with local authorities, with the CCGs and with NHS trusts to try to ensure that that work succeeds.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, the noble Baroness will know that local authorities and health services that have already combined their services are still struggling. Indeed, on the radio today they said that they are doing their best but they cannot give the kind of service they want. I give only that example, but the noble Baroness will know of many others. Yesterday I asked her—and I ask again—how she can hold local government services to account on quality when they are all saying that, without proper funding, quality will fail. Can the noble Baroness answer that question today?

Baroness Jolly: I am sorry that I failed to respond to the question yesterday. Quality, of course, is monitored by the CQC. Certainly, it looks at all local authority and other care providers and, indeed, the NHS. As I said earlier, the Government make decisions about how much funding to put into community local government, the whole pot then goes down to local authorities and it is local decision-makers who decide how much money goes into which budget.

Lord Lexden (Con): In this week that marks the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death and state funeral, would we not do well to reflect for a moment on a few simple, eloquent words of his on this subject? In 1951, he wrote:

“The care and comfort of the elderly is a sacred trust”.

Must we not do all that we can in our time to meet that great man’s standard?

Baroness Jolly: I think that is highly laudable. However, the situation that we find ourselves in is that over the past five years we have had over 1 million more over-65s, and unfortunately that adds hugely to the care bill. So, I regret that we may not be able to meet some of Winston Churchill’s demands.

The Countess of Mar (CB): My Lords, at the beginning of last month, I led a debate on the lack of a governance framework for social and health care. Has the noble Baroness taken time to think about what I said? She offered me a meeting but that has not transpired.

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Baroness Jolly: I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Howe is not here because he and I discussed that issue together when he returned from his trip, and it was on his list of things to do, so I will contact his office about it. As regards governance, where local authorities and NHS trusts work together, one of the first things that they put down, if you like, is how the governance should operate between the two organisations.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton (Lab): One of the complaints that the Minister must have heard is that her Government—who apparently are not responsible for bankers—are micromanaging what happens at local level, because they determine not only the size of the grant but spending targets. There is a terrible mismatch between those areas of the country which need to spend more than other areas and the targets and grant that those authorities are given. I cite my own city of Preston, and Lancashire, which are losing money and are areas of deprivation. Does the Minister agree that it is no good the Government saying that it is up to local authorities when they are controlling everything from the centre and that they should not wash their hands of it in public?

Baroness Jolly: My Lords, for as long we have had money distributed among local authorities and the NHS, there have been debates about the fairness of how it has happened. I live in a poor rural area and certainly we say much the same sort of thing.

Chilcot Inquiry


3.31 pm

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what lessons they have taken from the conduct of the Chilcot Inquiry to inform the conduct of future inquiries.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the Government are committed to learning lessons from the conduct of all public inquiries, including the Chilcot inquiry. Under the Inquiries Act 2005, each statutory inquiry is required to summarise lessons learnt for its successors; others are strongly encouraged to do so.

Lord Truscott (Non-Afl): I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that the Chilcot inquiry has proven itself wholly incapable of completing its work in a timely manner? Does he further agree that in future public inquiries should be judge led and time limited?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There is no necessary relationship between those inquiries which are judge led and those which are time limited. The noble Lord will recall that the Saville inquiry took 12 years. The question of timeliness is very difficult. I think that part of the problem for the Chilcot inquiry has been that the number of documents to be examined, then considered, then declassified and then in some cases to

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be negotiated on over access with an allied Government was much larger than was originally anticipated. It would probably have helped if a larger staff had assisted at that stage in the inquiry.

Lord Butler of Brockwell (CB): My Lords, the terms of reference of the Chilcot inquiry covered everything that happened both politically and militarily between 2001 and 2009. Is not one of the lessons to be learnt that more consideration should be given to the breadth of terms of reference of future inquiries?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I entirely agree with that. It is a huge inquiry, which is one reason why it has taken so long. Perhaps the noble Lord has seen Sir John Chilcot’s letter of 20 January in which he said that they had served longer on the inquiry than any of them had anticipated. It has been longer than they expected. One of the issues for the inquiry on historical child abuse currently being set up is that the number of cases over a very large number of years that it is being asked to cover is almost daunting for an inquiry of that sort.

Lord Hurd of Westwell (Con): Can my noble friend give the House an assurance that when the report is finally published it will contain an adequate section explaining precisely what have been the difficulties and obstacles in the way of producing the report earlier?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, it is an independent inquiry, but I will ensure that that gets back to the inquiry itself.

Lord Morris of Aberavon (Lab): My Lords, we are told that one of the reasons for the delay in publication is the issue of the Maxwellisation letters. Last week, the Government in their reply washed their hands of all responsibility and said that this was a matter for Chilcot. If it is correct that, after all these years, some of those letters have been sent out only in the past month or so, it would be utterly disgraceful. Is the committee still sitting, on how many days a week, and are the costs rising by the day?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Maxwellisation process is unavoidably a lengthy one. Noble Lords who served on the post-legislative scrutiny committee on the Inquiries Act last year—a particular special committee—raised the question of the length of time it took to carry through this process. There are issues of fairness and equity in making sure that those who may well be sharply criticised by a report should have the right to see those criticisms and comment on them before publication. That is the process that is now under way and, unfortunately, it does take some time.

Lord Trimble (Con): My Lords—

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Trimble; he may not be, but I am. Will the Minister reassure the House that the Government understand that the delays

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in publishing Chilcot—whether justified or not—are eroding public confidence in the report and in the inquiry process itself? Even allowing for the fact that this is an independent report, is there really nothing that the Government can do to impart some urgency and immediacy to this matter?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I have no doubt that the members of the inquiry are fully aware of the urgency. If I had been advising them, I would have put a limit on the amount of time to be taken to respond to these Maxwellisation letters. That is one of the issues that remains. But certainly one of the lessons learnt will be that we need to ensure that inquiries do not take as long as a number of inquiries—not just this one—have taken in recent years.

Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab): My Lords, is not the reality of the matter that public confidence in the report and its outcomes is being undermined, not by the delay in publishing the report, as the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, claimed, but by the unfounded, unsubstantiated allegations that people are making?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the purpose of inquiries is to restore public confidence, but it would be highly desirable if this report had been completed and published by now. There have been a number of reasons for the delay, and this is not the first time that an inquiry has taken, sadly, a lot longer than was originally hoped.

Lord Trimble: My Lords, in reply to an earlier question, the Minister referred to the numerous documents that had to be sifted and I am sure that he was absolutely right. Does he not agree with me that this is where having a good-quality counsel for an inquiry is essential? Am I right in thinking that Chilcot decided that he could do without such a person?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am not so sure that the quality of the counsel in this case was important. As I understand it, it was the sheer volume of documents that had to be sifted, a number of which were discovered to be relevant at a later stage of the inquiry, and then the whole question of what could be released. This is a very new kind of inquiry in terms of the amount of highly classified material—much of it relating to discussions with other Governments—that will be released.

NHS England: Major Incidents


3.37 pm

Baroness Jolly (LD): My Lords, I shall now repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer given by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health to an Urgent Question in another place. The Statement is as follows.

“Mr Speaker, as you know, I am always happy to come to the House to discuss the NHS. However, today I feel that we have been brought here to discuss

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a local operational issue which, regrettably, the Opposition have tried to spin as part of their policy to ‘weaponise the NHS’.

As I said to the House earlier this month, a major incident is part of the established escalation process for the NHS, and has been since 2005. It enables trusts to deal with significant demands, putting in place a command and control structure to allow them to bring in additional staff and increase capacity. It is a temporary measure taken to ensure that the most urgent and serious cases get the safe, high-quality care they need.

The decision to declare a major incident is taken locally, and there is no national definition. We must trust the managers and clinicians in our local NHS to make these decisions and support them in doing so by ensuring that there is sufficient financial support available to help deal with additional pressures. The document that has been questioned this morning by the Opposition health spokesman was issued by the local NHS in the West Midlands. That was done to help their CCGs work with local NHS organisations to deal with the unprecedented pressures they have been facing this winter. As the chief operating officer of NHS England, Dame Barbara Hakin, said this morning, this was a local decision and neither the responsibility of Ministers nor the result of pressure by Ministers.

Let me finish by praising the NHS for coping well with the unprecedented pressures. Performance against the A&E standard improved to 92.4% last week, which is testament to hard-working staff, and this Government will support them, not try to turn their efforts into a political football”.

3.40 pm

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating that Statement, and I echo her thanks to the staff of the NHS and other agencies who are coping with such pressure at the moment. The noble Baroness said that there is no definition of a major incident. Can she tell me why there is no national definition of a major incident, given that the NHS is a national service and that we need comparators between different areas of the country? Can she also tell me why a head of operations at a major trust who received the NHS England guidance said it was designed,

“to effectively stop trusts from calling a major incident”,

and that consultants’,

“hands will be tied in most cases if they wish to call a major incident for capacity reasons”?

That sounds rather like news management by NHS England. Finally, can she confirm that, when the previous Government left office, the 98% target was being met?

Baroness Jolly: I shall take the noble Lord’s questions in reverse order. The 98% target was being met—up until probably the middle of November, we were hitting our target—but, from the middle of November through the cold Christmas and New Year season, demand

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was really very high. In 2013, NHS England produced guidance on such issues that would, clearly, have gone to all CCGs, trusts and interested organisations. It is up to local trusts, following the guidance, to make their own decisions about how appropriate it is to call an emergency. The noble Lord has an advantage over me; I have not seen the West Midlands document, so I am not sure exactly how that trust interpreted the guidance. I have not seen the document, so I cannot follow the trust’s interpretation, but from the Secretary of State’s Statement, he probably finds it difficult to follow.

3.42 pm

Baroness Barker (LD): My Lords, does the 2013 guidance that was issued to all trusts still stand? Is the purpose of that guidance not only to enable individual hospitals to signal to their CCGs that they are having a problem coping but to alert other hospitals in the surrounding area that there is a capacity issue which has to be dealt with on an emergency basis?

Baroness Jolly: I think that is right. The document produced in the West Midlands is the only one of its kind. Other areas have not done the same, so they would be relying on that document. Decisions like this affect the whole health economy, so not only would CCGs be involved but directors of public health, any other acute trusts within the area, community trusts, partnerships trusts, ambulance trusts and primary care organisations. It is an effort on behalf of them all to support a hospital or an A&E department that is in trouble.

Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB): My Lords, is the pending ambulance strike a major incident? What information is being given to the public?

Baroness Jolly: I think that the last ambulance strike was dealt with quite effectively with the support of the military, who were driving and operating ambulances. My understanding is that the strike has been called off.

Lord Christopher (Lab): The noble Baroness said she has not seen the document, but are the Government happy that such guidance should be given? I would have thought that declaring a major incident was a matter of judgment and common sense in the locality. To be issuing guidance seems a very risky thing to do. My second question bears upon the other side of the coin. Can the noble Baroness explain the logic of minor injuries clinics being open only in the afternoon? It is difficult to arrange to be injured only in the afternoon.

Baroness Jolly: No, I am afraid that I cannot explain the logic of that, but it does sound really rather bizarre, so I guess that you need to talk to the trust concerned. As to the guidance, that is of a very high level—it is just to give pointers to trusts about how to proceed.

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Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, can the Minister give us an assurance that Ministers did not express the view that it was too easy to call a state of emergency for NHS trusts. Can she give us an absolute assurance that special advisers did not convey such a message to those who might make those decisions?

Baroness Jolly: I was not party to any of the conversations in the department at that time. However, the safety of patients is absolutely paramount. Although emergencies like this one were called, they lasted only for hours rather than for days and days and effectively they allowed the local trust, which was in difficulties, to call in staff and talk to surrounding trusts to ask for their support to deal with what was a fairly time-limited situation.

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister help the House: is it right that one of the matters to be considered is the possibility of reputational damage to the trust if it declares an emergency? That is nothing to do with clinical decision-making locally. Consulting the duty officer of NHS England before declaring an emergency is nothing to do with local clinical decision-making either. Perhaps the Minister can help the House.

Baroness Jolly: As I have said, patient safety and quality of care have to be absolutely paramount. Certainly, under the old system, if an NHS trust decided that it needed in effect to blow the whistle, I imagine that one would have informed somebody in the old strategic health authority that that was happening. I imagine that a trust would out of courtesy inform the person with whom they normally work in their local branch of NHS England.

Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

5th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights8th Report from the Constitution Committee14th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Committee (3rd Day)

3.47 pm

Relevant documents: 5th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, 8th Report from the Constitution Committee, 14th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Clause 21: General duty on specified authorities

Amendment 103A

Moved by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

103A: Clause 21, page 13, line 34, after “into” insert “activities which may lead to”

Baroness Sharp of Guildford (LD): Amendment 103A is the first in a series of amendments relating to Part 5 of the Bill, which relate also to the Prevent strategy and its partner, the Channel programme. Part 5 seeks to make statutory for participants in these two programmes actions and duties that have until now been voluntary. That switch from co-operation to co-option raises a whole range of issues for those

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involved. The universities in particular are very unhappy, about both the threat to their autonomy and the conflict that this creates with their duties under other legislation to promote debate and safeguard freedom of speech.

The provisions in the Bill and its accompanying guidance also pose problems for other educational institutions: schools, further education colleges and sixth-form colleges, which provide for the younger—and arguably more impressionable—adolescent age group. Generally, there is considerable concern that these provisions may backfire and, far from helping to improve the present position, may well serve to make matters worse. To date, all these educational institutions have co-operated voluntarily and willingly with the Prevent strategy, accepting and developing it to suit their specific circumstances within the framework of their safeguarding policies. They worry that making these duties obligatory and pushing through this legislation with relatively little consultation will not only leave teachers and administrators with a considerable bureaucratic burden, but will also alienate those on whom those burdens fall as well as those whose activities it seeks to monitor.

In this context, Amendment 103A is a probing amendment; I am not suggesting that this wording is in any way appropriate. Essentially, it seeks to draw attention to the lack of clarity in the terminology used in the Bill and, in particular, in the draft guidance, which was issued alongside the Bill. The Bill itself is very careful to use the term “terrorism” and the duty specified in Clause 21(1) is,

“to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

Clause 33 states that,

“‘terrorism’ has the same meaning as in the Terrorism Act 2000”,

which is a definition that has been around for some 15 years, so presumably the courts are reasonably happy with it. The definition of “terrorism” in the Terrorism Act 2000 relates to the “threat of action”, which involves violence against people and property, endangers lives, constitutes a serious risk to health or safety, or seriously disrupts an electronic system. It is less clear, and more subjective, what “being drawn into terrorism” —the words used in the Bill—means. The difficulty arises from the draft guidance that was issued.

The guidance makes it clear that the purpose of the legislation is,

“to exclude those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism”.

In turn, paragraph 5 of that guidance defines terrorism as,

“vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

Further, those caught by Clause 21(1) are required to assess how far their students or pupils are at risk of being drawn, not only into violent extremism, but,

“non-violent extremism, which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism”.

An article in Times Higher Education suggested that that could apply to those using non-violent techniques such as sitting in a road to block the passage of equipment to be used for exploring fracking. As the

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Joint Committee on Human Rights pointed out, the terminology is so vague as to leave much discretion in the hands of the police and other members of the local panels being set up under Chapter 2 of this part of the Bill, whose task it is to decide whether those reported as being drawn into terrorism, or vulnerable to being so drawn, should be put on a support programme. I have a great deal of sympathy with the Association of School and College Leaders, whose briefing to us pointed out that the lack of legal certainty over definitions of terms such as “extremism” will make it extremely difficult for schools and colleges to know whether they risk being in breach of this new duty. The association remarks:

“A number of members had received the Prevent training in their schools and colleges, and while some found it helpful, others found that it was so vague in respect of what to look for that they felt even less confident about the duty after going through the training”.

It seems very difficult for us to impose these duties on such a wide body of institutions if there is such uncertainty over what this duty involves. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee (LD): My Lords, Amendment 103B in this group is in my name. Widespread concerns have been expressed about Prevent becoming a statutory duty, and it has been suggested that Clause 21 be left out of the Bill. My preference would be for it not to become statutory, but I recognise that the Government have thought about that carefully and come to a view. I declare an interest as one of three joint presidents of London Councils, the umbrella organisation for the London boroughs. Like others, it is concerned.

I have two main, and rather different, points to make about the amendment. It would mean that the duty would not apply to any of the specified authorities—those listed in Schedule 3, and any more that are added,

“unless the Secretary of State has laid before Parliament a report regarding the operation of the duty”.

I shall come back to the term “operation” in a moment.

My first point is to ask whether imposing the duty is appropriate to all specified authorities, and for all the functions of those authorities. My second point is about funding, particularly in the case of local authorities. As my noble friend has said, authorities will have a statutory duty, as set out in Clause 21, to “have due regard”—and in talking about activities leading to terrorism, she has identified an important issue. My amendment would require each authority to be considered separately. The authorities are different, and they operate differently. That is why I have used the term,

“the operation of the duty”.

The scheduled authorities range from local authorities through a great variety of educational institutions, the police, prisons, health services and health service providers. Even if the duty is appropriate for a higher education institution—we will be paying a good deal of attention to that aspect today—is it appropriate for a primary school or a nursery school?

Of course, preventing people being drawn into terrorist activities is immensely important. However, I wonder whether our great arts institutions, which get a lot of public funding—although not as much as most of

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them would like—have more opportunity than a nursery school does to deal with this issue. A nursery school may have a responsibility, but it is a responsibility to make kids aware of the difference between violence and talking about things. That is much more important than closing off the issues.

I do not think it is enough to say, as I suspect the Minister may suggest, that there will be a proportionate light touch, because having the duty creates work and bureaucracy, and requires record-keeping. The Secretary of State will have the power to issue directions and, in the case of educational institutions, Ofsted will apply them. As has been suggested to me by some of those concerned—especially by those from the Muslim community, although my concerns are not limited to that—the records may then show that there is disproportionate criticism of schools in areas with a large Muslim population. That will give the alienating message—I believe “alienating” was the term my noble friend used—that we are concerned about.

I suspect that others will talk about the principle of applying a statutory duty to local authorities, as distinct from a function and a power, as has been the case, and would be the case. I want to ask my noble friend about services that are contracted out by local authorities, as many services are. If an authority is in the middle of a contract, it cannot change it; it certainly cannot change it unilaterally. How should it deal with that? New and renewed contracts would have to tie organisations into the new duty. That is in part why I have used the term “operations”, because I am unclear how this will work in practice.

4 pm

My noble friend has an amendment concerned with contracting out in another group. However, as I read it, it deals only with the education aspects of this issue. It took a little bit of tracking down. I could not find the schedule referred to; I had to google it and the Google result took me straight back to that amendment, which was not very helpful. Therefore, if my noble friend could explain how this measure would work in practice in the local government world, which has changed a great deal since I was directly involved in it, that would be very helpful.

My second issue is about funding. I am grateful to London Councils for its briefing on this. Noble Lords will not be surprised to hear that it raised the need to have sufficient funding for the new duty, as it put it,

“in accordance with the new burdens doctrine”.

In other words, if a new burden is to be imposed, one should ensure that money is provided to implement it.

The Home Office currently funds dedicated Prevent activity, including Prevent co-ordinators in specific areas. I understand that there are currently 17 Prevent priority areas in London. The new guidance will cover all principal local authorities in England and Wales— 353 of them, I think. However, as the briefing explains, the impact in London will be more keenly felt by the boroughs which are not currently funded as Prevent priority areas.

The impact assessment estimates that the total cost of the measures for England and Wales will be around £14 million, although within that the cost of placing

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Channel panels—the subject of the second chapter of this part of the Bill—on a statutory footing has been estimated as nil. However, local authorities are understandably concerned that the estimates are inadequate, and are keen for them to be kept under review and revised as necessary. They believe that there needs to be an urgent upscaling of the projected costs. London Councils believes that addressing radicalisation in London effectively could require an extra £6 million of new investment. In short, reviewing the mechanism of how Prevent activity is funded is a very keen concern in their minds and, indeed, in mine.

I return to the formal status of Prevent. I have to say that it feels like a very top-down approach, and alienating in the ways which have been referred to, to which I am sure we will return. Two very different programmes have been established in other countries: the Aarhus model in Denmark, which is quite formal and structured, and the Hayat programme in Germany, which is very much a grass-roots approach and is very nuanced and sensitive. Both programmes are regarded as successful and both are publicly funded, but I think that neither is a creature of statute, unless my research is inaccurate. We could learn lessons from those.

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, I am sure that a great many of your Lordships are involved in higher education and universities. I am a very committed member of court at Lancaster and Newcastle universities and an emeritus governor of LSE, having been a governor for 30 years.

This amendment obviously relates very closely to the next group. Therefore some of the things that I will say on this amendment will have application to the next group.

I beg the Minister and his colleagues to treat this matter very sensitively and not to come to any absolute conclusions before they have heard the existing reservations. The concept of the autonomy and freedom of the university is fundamental to our concept of higher education, and to the model of our university lives which is held out to the world and makes it so attractive to students, including postgraduate students, from all over the world. Whatever the Government’s intentions, they must be very careful that what is proposed will not be widely perceived as formalising matters to the point of turning the university into an agent of government. How can we have statutory responsibilities of this kind without beginning to suggest that universities must act for the Government in this respect?

Of course we want the co-operation and good will of the universities in this matter and of course there is a desperately dangerous situation in which we live, and I accept that those dangers are not diminishing. However, this makes the battle for hearts and minds more important than ever. It makes the winning of a real commitment to freedom and to the things that we stand for and are trying to defend in our society more important to leaders, not only in this country but across the world. Within a university, that is best achieved in the context of free discussion and debate. That is the whole point. This matters because unacceptable extremist ideas can be approached face on and argued out. Sensitive potential

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recruits for extremism can see that there is a better way. Do we feel that we are engaged in a battle for hearts and minds or do we not? If we see that that is the only lasting hope to win this battle, everything else that we do is just putting fingers in the dyke. The fundamental issue is to win the good will and the conviction of people across the world to a better way. That can happen very much—I will not say best, as that is a big claim—within our universities. This is a tremendously important issue that concerns the whole fundamental concept of the university, how it is seen and the atmosphere in which it operates.

When the noble Baroness introduced the amendment, she referred to the rush and to the failure to have proper consultation. I forget which American statesman said that the difference between an academic and a politician is that an academic argues for a conclusion while a politician has to argue for a decision. I see the potential hazards of this business of consultation in this sphere. However, if there are anxieties—they do seem widespread—there has not been adequate consultation, and that is a serious matter. Whatever is proposed, it will be strongest if it has the good will of the universities rather than all the reservations and anxieties that have been expressed by them.

For all these reasons, I commend the amendment of the noble Baroness and ask the Minister—I do not want to embarrass him but he is a thoughtful and considerate man, and I have great regard for him—to think very carefully with his colleagues before insisting upon their proposals exactly as they are.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, I am slightly bemused by this grouping because it contains two very different amendments. Both seek clarity but the second amendment, spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raises the issue of whether the operation of the various duties can be delivered, given the resources that have been made available.

The material produced by London Councils highlights my concern that the Government are underfunding what they want to do regarding counterterrorism. The concerns of London Councils are simply that, given the duties being placed on those councils—which will be magnified across the country in other local authorities—the sums of money that the Government propose to put aside for counterterrorism are inadequate. I am also aware that the money being made available to the police service is considered by many to be inadequate.

In a Written Answer sent to me today, the Minister tells me that it would be completely inappropriate to say what sum of money has been made available for the counterterrorism police network. That is a slightly puzzling Answer because the reality is that the sums of money flowing to the counterterrorism network, in practice, go though the Metropolitan Police accounts and end up in papers put before the London Assembly. The figures are ultimately in the public domain, although they might take a while before they emerge.

My understanding is that the counterterrorism police network has suggested that implementing what the Government expected would—given the current stage of threat—require something like an additional £30 million

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a year. Again, my understanding is that the sum of money being made available—although I appreciate that the Minister can neither confirm nor deny this because of the position he has taken—is rather less than that. In fact, my understanding is that it is less than one-third of the sum required. Therefore, clarity about whether it is practicable to operate and bring these matters to fruition is important, which is presumably the purpose of the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, also seeks clarity on what people are trying to prevent. I have a feeling that she is widening the definition of what authorities are required to prevent. Asking them to prevent people being drawn into terrorism is one thing; asking them to prevent people being drawn into,

“activities which may lead to”,

terrorism broadens the definition beyond all recognition.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I should point out to the noble Lord that I said that it was merely a probing amendment and that the wording was not appropriate.

Lord Harris of Haringey: I am not criticising the noble Baroness and I appreciate that all Liberal Democrat amendments are probing amendments, because that is the nature of their position.

The point that I am trying to make—it would be helpful if the Government could clarify this—is that although there is a definition of terrorism, I suspect that the definition of activities “leading to” terrorism is much broader. That could draw some things into the definition because people then have to make a subjective judgment as to whether something is an activity that under certain circumstances, not necessarily present, might lead to terrorism. Some clarity from the Minister on that would be useful.

However, that does not alter the general point that the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, highlighted, which is the importance of public authorities having a clear understanding of what they are required to do and what they are supposed to be preventing.

4.15 pm

Baroness Warsi (Con): My Lords, I will speak to both these amendments, although it may well be that much of what I have to say relates to amendments that will follow. However, I have some general points that will also relate to the debates we are going to have later today.

When the Government bring forward something on a statutory basis, there are two very clear questions that we need to ask: is it absolutely needed, and are we sure that what we are implementing works? The concern that I have in relation to the former of those questions—and I am sure that it will be dealt with in future amendments—is whether we are absolutely clear that it is necessary to introduce Prevent on a statutory basis into the various statutory bodies that we are speaking of in this Bill, including nurseries, schools and universities.

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However, I want to focus more on whether we are sure that what we are implementing is working at present. There have been concerns about the Prevent and counter-radicalisation programme for a number of years. There has been a view that it is being done badly, and reports going back as far as five or six years, from 2009 onwards, have consistently argued that the quality of Prevent work is questionable. Indeed, in some cases it has been said that the Prevent work itself has further alienated communities rather than deradicalised them. In those circumstances, it is important for a full review of Prevent to be done before we place it on a statutory footing.

The second concern in relation to Prevent is that, up to now, it has been ideologically rather than evidence based, and the basis on which Prevent work is done has been much questioned. There have been reports from the intelligence service’s behavioural science unit as to whether the linear theory of ideology leading to extremism and then violent extremism can actually be supported. It is a shame that the noble Lord, Lord Evans, is not in his seat today, because I think he would have been able to shed more light on that.

The third issue is definition, which has already been referred to today. What definition of extremism are we working to? A definition has now been provided in the guidance, which has been labelled the Prevent definition, but noble Lords may be aware that there are a number of definitions of extremism currently in government working documents. For example, the definition in the extremism task force paper after the tragic killing of Drummer Lee Rigby is different to that in the Prevent guidelines. It is incredibly dangerous to be stepping into the realms of a statutory basis for a Prevent programme that is going to rely on a definition of extremism that is not entirely defined and clear within all government departments, considering that many of the these statutory bodies will be accountable to different government departments.

My final point is that one of the challenges in relation to Prevent, and indeed in relation to what we are trying to do through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, is how far British Muslim communities are on board. How far are they taking ownership of this work and how far do they feel that this work is genuinely being done to tackle radical violent extremists? Noble Lords may be aware that there was a sliding scale within government to define how far somebody was beyond the pale. If you were so extremist, we would not speak to you; if you were slightly more extremist, we would not take you as partners; if you were slightly more extremist than that, we would not fund your organisations. Nowhere is that made public. Nowhere are we aware what that would look like. Now we are talking not just about groups, organisations and individuals whom we do not engage with or take as partners or fund, but individuals who are not going to be allowed to speak, for example, on any university campus. It is important that we make sure that a proper consultation takes place with the British Muslim communities as to how this will work in practice.

The reason why I raise this is that, as noble Lords may be aware, at the weekend I wrote an opinion piece about what I described as a policy of disengagement— not just by this Government but by the previous

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Government—with British Muslim communities. More and more individuals and organisations have been defined as beyond the pale and are no longer engaged with. My concern is that a programme, which clearly requires the support of the communities within which it will mainly be operating, is being put in place without clear engagement or consultation with those very communities. The programme will be working in an ever closing space and without a very clear evidence base. For that reason, I have concerns.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, first, I apologise to the Committee that I have not spoken before. However, I was present at Second Reading for the majority of the opening speeches, and I was present in the Chamber for much of the Committee stage on Monday, as I am today. I should like to speak briefly in support of the two amendments in the names of my noble friends, and I very much support what my noble friend Lady Warsi has just said.

I wonder whether, when he responds, the Minister could shed some light on why early years education has been included at all. I do not think that anyone has mentioned it yet, but I find the inclusion of early years education here very puzzling. Are we really looking for signs of radicalisation among nursery school children? I do not think that we have had a proper explanation of this and I would welcome one from the Minister.

There is a danger of alienating British Muslims in what is being proposed in relation to further education and university establishments. British Muslims are very well represented in universities, with some 50% now attending higher education. Is targeting universities and placing Prevent in the setting of a statutory duty really the right way to go about supporting the education and aspirations of young British Muslims who are keen to move on in their lives and careers and to integrate, or does it risk alienating whole communities, as has been mentioned by noble Lords around the Chamber? I have real concerns about that. There is also a danger in drawing conclusions about things that are said in universities. We all know that things are said in all sorts of wild situations—there can be debates on all sorts of subjects—but can that be equated automatically with radicalisation? Are we clear what we mean by that?

It is worth going back to something that I consider to be very important. The Minister has said on a number of occasions that the best way of tackling radicalisation and potential terrorism is by engaging with the British Muslim communities and other communities, working with them on an equal footing at the grass-roots level and not by employing a top-down approach. I fear that some of what is being proposed risks alienating people and driving them away, rather than encouraging them to engage in the way that we would want. To date, we have not had any evidence of any consultation or of how Prevent has worked historically. Those of us who have been involved in working with communities in the UK know how much in previous years—under this Government and the previous Government—the Prevent agenda polarised communities. It became a byword for the state spying on communities, not engaging with them, as my noble friend Lady Warsi has just said. It could be counterproductive. We need

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more evidence of engagement and consultation. We need to know how these so-called panels are going to work and whether they will be inclusive—not top-down and government led but community-led panels that will produce results.

I would appreciate it if my noble friend could respond to some of these points because they are at the heart of what we are trying to get to. If we cannot and will not engage but we go for the top-down approach—which may look very good in the headlines—will it work in practice? Will it achieve what we want it to achieve in terms of preventing terrorism?

Baroness Uddin (Non-Afl): I, too, hesitate to speak, not having been able to take part in the Second Reading debate, but I have taken considerable interest and have listened to much of the debate today. Today I am rather inspired and I hope that the Committee will forgive me for making a few comments, particularly about Prevent. I am inspired by the noble Baronesses, Lady Hussein-Ece and Lady Warsi, and would like to comment as someone who was involved in some of the Prevent work post-9/11 with Tony Blair’s Administration.

It is interesting and insightful to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, talk about her experience of how community organisations have been dissected into what, who and where it is acceptable to speak and consult. The Labour Government had a good track record in beginning the debate and consultation with the community—widely, not just within the confines of discussing radicalisation with the Muslim community but making sure that they worked across all the different communities, including the churches, synagogues and Gurdwaras. They worked with all the communities to ensure that Prevent was being discussed as something that was of mutual interest for everyone. Of course that was a long time ago, and the Labour Party lost its way particularly after—I do not know if I dare to mention her name—the right honourable Hazel Blears took responsibility for Prevent. We slightly lost our way in terms of consulting the communities.

I want to say something about the work that was done on Prevent because of the kind of discussion that we are having now about whether there should be statutory duties to report young children, and then moving on to those of a greater height, age and experience at university. I was with about 20 university students at the weekend. They were asking what the Government were suggesting. It is becoming difficult to even be allowed to think; they were saying, “Think now before it becomes illegal”. You can imagine the kind of discussion and concern that has erupted, particularly among university students. I worry about what we do in terms of preventing radicalisation and taking that to such an extent that free discussion and free thinking are completely against the law. I urge the Minister to rethink, as was suggested.

Right across our land, some extremely good work has been done over the past 10 to 15 years to prevent so-called radicalisation. That kind of work has been completely ignored by the current coalition Government, which is disappointing. Now we have very little dialogue with any of the big organisations that not only represent the Muslim community but work across it. I urge the

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Government to rethink before we embed Prevent, which is dreaded and hated with equal measure. To say that it will become the law of our country is unbearable and unthinkable. There is an enormous place for discussions with the community.

I have also read the article written over the weekend by the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, in which she commends some of the points made in the letter sent by Eric Pickles to Muslim organisations. Overall the principle of the letter and the comments made in it are probably okay, but the context is not: it was targeted at 1,000 mosques, which I do not think is exactly appropriate. To the best of my knowledge, mosques are not where many of the radicalised movements have erupted. Also, the letter ignored many of the good organisations that are working in this country; their comments and contributions are not being taken on board, and they are not being consulted. That does not bode well for this important legislation, which will impact on a very specific, targeted community. We have to be very cautious about digging in our heels in our response. It has already been said that we should not jump into passing hasty legislation just because of one or two incidents. This is the time for reflection.

4.30 pm

I regret very much the positioning of some of our major leaders after the Paris incident. We could have stood proud in light of some of the work that has been done within the Muslim community on the issue of radicalisation. We could simply have said that we are building a better Britain. We have an understanding of multiculturalism, and not only do we have multifaith policies, we speak for a multifaith Britain. We might have said that France could learn a lesson from us, rather than panicking and condemning everything that we have here. We should celebrate every ounce of success that we enjoy as a multifaith and multicultural Britain.

Perhaps the Minister will not listen to me because I may have not have put forward a cohesive argument, but it is one that comes from my heart and which I am passionate about. It also comes a little from my experience of being involved with the Prevent agenda in government and then at a later stage completely disassociating myself from those discussions. I did that because it was so far beyond the reach of the community. I hope that the Government will take stock and consider all this before jumping into any further legislation.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, I want to make a couple of brief comments on Amendment 103A. I echo my noble friend Lady Warsi’s comments about a review of the Prevent strategy, for all the reasons that others have spoken about. We also need to look at where different approaches have been taken. I think I spoke at Second Reading about Watford, but what I did not say is that Watford took only the community money; it did not take the surveillance money. Actually, Watford was the one place in which, on the Sunday after the Paris shootings, the traditional march in honour of the birth of the Prophet became a march in honour of those who had died. Members of the community other than those of the Muslim faith

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joined in that march. That is where community work through Prevent is at its best. My worry is that we have not seen a proper survey of Prevent, although it has been in operation for the best part of a decade.

I return briefly to Amendment 103A. My noble friend Lady Sharp said that the reasoning behind this probing amendment might seem slightly contradictory, but it seeks to get to some word definitions. There is a further problem around definition: the Bill itself talks mainly about “terrorism” while the statutory guidance talks about “extremism”, but the balance between the duty on extremism versus terrorism is quite distinct. I certainly cannot marry up the clauses in the Bill with some of what is set out in the guidance. I would be grateful if my noble friend could help with this as well.

Lord Scriven (LD): My Lords, I apologise to the Committee for not having taken part in the Second Reading of the Bill, but I was out of the country. I wish to speak to this amendment because I was the leader of Sheffield City Council at the time when the Prevent strategy came in. I think that we may be going down the road of repeating past mistakes. When Prevent was brought in, it was not statutory but it was driven by a lot of central guidelines. It became clear to me and many council leaders that these central guidelines were not appropriate to our communities. The community of Sheffield is very different to the community of Bradford just down the road. The complexity of dealing with something like radicalisation requires a deep and thorough understanding of the community and context within which people work. Statutory guidance will mean that flexibility will go and straitjackets will come in because someone at a top-down level will decide that they know, from Whitehall, what is best for every community in this country

The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, made a very strong point. Until we know what actually works, how can anyone write evidence-based statutory guidance? Work has been done on this internationally. Rik Coolsaet, an expert at the University of Ghent, who used to be the adviser to the European Commission on Radicalisation, said very clearly that we do not yet know internationally what does or does not work on a deradicalisation strategy. Exactly what is going to be evidence-based in the statutory guidance? I asked a Written Question, which was responded to on 26 January:

“how many public bodies as defined in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill do not meet the provisions of the Prevent duty guidance consultation document, according to each category of public body”,

but the Minister was not able to answer. The Government do not know. This is a really important point: if we do not know exactly what is happening out there already, if we do not have an evidence base for what works, how can we say to public bodies, which understand the context of their locality far better than anybody else, “You have to do this to prevent people from radicalisation or extremism”?

Furthermore, it is important to understand that where the best international examples exist—noble Lords have already given two examples, particularly that of Hayat—it is not on a statutory basis nor via a statutory body but it is a community, bottom-up approach that is dealing with this, in not just a sensitive but an

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effective way. While I do not for one minute doubt the genuine and important reasons why the Government have started on this road, I believe that it will have unintended consequences that will not help the problem but could mean that statutory bodies at local level will have to deal with a greater and more difficult problem. I therefore ask the Minister: what evidence base will go into the statutory guidance which will help, and can he guarantee that it will be contextualised for the different and varied communities around this country?

Baroness Brinton: I would like to add to that last point and ask the Minister for an evidence base post-2009, because much has happened in the university and college sector since that date. It would be helpful to know this, given that his letter to those of us interested in this issue referred only to incidents before 2009.

Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab): My Lords, I will speak briefly to these amendments, because the main debate on guidance will take place under the fourth group, where we have nine amendments relating to guidance and direction on Prevent. I noted the comment of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, that she did not intend it to be a perfect amendment. What she highlights—and what has come out of this debate—is the lack of clarity. I think that will come out through a number of debates today on the groups looking at the specified duties that the Government have placed on Prevent. There is a lack of clarity in how it works in practice and what the full implications are; that is where some of the confusion will lie. I think the Minister will respond to some comments now, but I think similar issues will be raised when we have the debate on guidance in the fourth group. I know it is difficult to arrange groupings, but I was sorry in many ways that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, degrouped her amendment from that main one. I can understand that, because of the specifics of what is in effect a sunrise clause, although we have not perhaps discussed the reason for that in quite the same way.

I will make a brief comment on Prevent rather than speak in detail, because I want to speak about it in the later group, as I said. Criticisms have been raised of Prevent, but we need to be positive, see what works and ensure that we can make it better in the future. As the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, said, in the point that I did agree with her on, it was a Labour Government who set up Prevent and we are committed to it. However, we are committed to making it successful and effective; there is no point in something that causes alienation in communities when the whole purpose of it is to have engagement with communities and cohesion across communities. I look forward to what the Minister has to say on these specific amendments. I am sure that our debate today, on a range of issues, will tease out a lot of the detail that is missing from the legislation and the Government’s explanations so far.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, I begin by apologising to my noble friend Lady Sharp for not being in my place for the first minute or two of her remarks.

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I am grateful also to my noble friend Lord Ashton for briefing me on the remarks that she made, which I will try to address. I will put some general comments on the record in relation to these amendments. As the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, has mentioned, I dare say we will return to this in subsequent groups, but there are some particular issues here which I take it are about trying to get definitions and workings on the record. I will then deal with some of the specific issues which have been raised.

I will outline the broad objectives of the Government’s Prevent programme. Prevent aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism, and deals with all kinds of terrorism. It targets not just violent extremism but non-violent extremism, which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and popularise views which terrorists exploit. Prevent activity in local areas relies on the co-operation of many organisations to be effective, but currently co-operation is not consistent across the country. We have seen people being radicalised sufficiently to want to travel to Syria and Iraq from many places which did not realise that radicalisation was an issue for them. New threats can also emerge quickly, and the steps which authorities take to comply with this duty will enable them to be spotted, and acted on, quickly. The new duty created by Chapter 1 of Part 5 will improve the standard of work on the Prevent programme across the country. This is particularly important where terrorism is a concern, but all areas need to understand the local threat and take action to address it. We will issue guidance setting out the type of activity that specified authorities should consider in fulfilling this duty.

I turn now to the individual amendments. Amendment 103A is a probing amendment that seeks to focus the scope of the duty on preventing people from being drawn into “activities which may lead” to terrorism, rather than simply “into terrorism”. The process of radicalisation is complex, as a number of noble Lords have mentioned; it is not simply a case of taking part in certain activities. There will be background factors, such as an individual’s failure to integrate, disrupted childhoods or growing up in an extreme subculture. There could be influences which push an individual towards a terrorist group such as family, friends, extremist ideological material et cetera. Individuals need to be receptive to the terrorists’ messages: for example, they may be disillusioned with previous beliefs or be naive and lack ideological knowledge to counter the terrorist ideology that they are being exposed to.

The effect of the amendment would be to apply the duty only to activities which may lead people into terrorism. The duty, as currently drafted, includes these activities in its scope, but this amendment would limit it to cover only these activities. These activities would need to be defined, but this will be difficult, if not impossible, to do, because the activities themselves may not draw people into terrorism—as I have said, it is a combination of factors which draw people into terrorism. The Government are determined to make the implications of the Prevent duty as clear as possible for those affected. This includes being clear about what is expected of specific authorities under the duty, so comprehensive guidance, on which we are currently consulting, will set out how we expect authorities to

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comply with the duty. Amendment 103B would prevent the duty applying to specified authorities until a report on the operation of the duty had been laid before Parliament.

4.45 pm

I am grateful to my noble friends for explaining what this amendment is seeking to achieve. We consider that the guidance to be issued under Clause 24 is the proper place to set out the types of activity that specified authorities should consider when complying with the duty. The draft guidance, which we are consulting on, will set out how we expect key specified authorities to comply with the duty.

The starting point for all specified authorities will be an assessment of the risk in their area, institution or body. I acknowledge the point made by my noble friend Lord Scriven in relation to Sheffield: that there are particular local factors that we need to recognise and the people best placed to tackle them are the people on the ground. Where a risk has been identified, they should develop an action plan in order to address it. All we are asking is that people actually undertake that process of developing a local action plan. If it is specific to their university because of exceptional circumstances, in many ways the argument would be: all the better.

I was asked how this might work, so I will give some illustrations. Local authorities should ensure that publicly owned premises are not used to disseminate extremist views—it seems obvious but that is part of putting these things on the record. Further education providers should have policies in place relating to the use of IT on their premises. Schools, including governors, should make sure that they have training, to give them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of radicalisation and know where and how to refer children and young people to get the help they need. The health sector should ensure that training is provided to front-line staff to ensure that, where there are signs that someone has been or is being drawn into terrorism, the healthcare worker can interpret those signs correctly and is aware of and can locate support for them. Prisons should offer support to an individual vulnerable to radicalisation or move them away from an individual of concern. Those who are at risk of radicalising others should face the removal of privileges and segregation from others. The police should support individuals vulnerable to radicalisation—for example, through the Channel programme—and support partner organisations in Prevent work.

The public consultation has provided ample opportunity for interested parties to scrutinise and influence the guidance. The final guidance will have benefited from the extensive consultations and expert input—including, of course, significant contributions to these debates in your Lordships’ House. Specified authorities have been consulted on the guidance, which will set out what they must do to comply with the duty. Therefore, we believe that it is not necessary at this point for a report on the operation of the duty to be laid before Parliament before the duty applies to specific authorities.

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Having dealt with the amendments that have been presented, I will try to deal with some of the issues raised in the course of what has been a very good debate. First, on the point about whether this is evidence-based, this is something that we have tried to build on. In BIS—the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills—there are regional co-ordinators who have been visiting universities routinely since 2012 and working with them to make sure that they have a Prevent programme in place for dealing with matters. In fact, having spoken to the head of that programme, I understand more about how they work. They have a very good working relationship with many universities, but not all. Some universities are very co-operative and some are not. The regional co-ordinators have visited all 150 universities, and in many ways it is their experiences that we are building on in trying effectively to bring the standards of the rest up to the standards of the best. What we have in the consultation—in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Judd—is not drawn from empirical evidence in terms of those interviews and work.

Baroness Brinton: If universities are already implementing much of what the Government rightly think needs to happen and even if some of us are not stepping fully up to the plate, where does that place the absolute need that the Government identify for a duty on universities, which is much harder on every single institution and every member of staff, not just in universities but in colleges and schools? Would it not be better to arrange for it to be one of the things that HEFCE or OFFA looked at as part of a universities contribution each year?

Lord Bates: The point that the noble Baroness makes about HEFCE is a very good one. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, it may well be the body which reviews this matter. It is important at this point that we get the terminology correct. It is a duty to have regard to the guidance available. That is quite distinct from being as prescriptive as some people have suggested we are being.

The noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, to whose work on the Prevent programme I pay tribute, and my noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece talked about the lack of work with local communities to target radicalisation. Challenging and tackling extremism is a shared effort. The Government have a role in leading this and ensuring that communities where extremists operate and organisations working against extremists have the capability to confront it themselves. Through Prevent, we are supporting community-based projects in 30 local authority priority areas where we fund a dedicated Prevent co-ordinator, alongside work with communities and partners in a further 14 supported areas where we support projects only. More than 180 projects have been approved since 2011, reaching more than 55,000 people. This year, we are supporting more than 80 projects. That is an example of what we are doing at the moment.

A number of noble Lords have referred to nurseries, which I acknowledge is an issue. My noble friend Lady Hussein-Ece and others were concerned about the message being sent. I understand that the Government have a job to do in getting the message across in a

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balanced way. Nurseries, schools, universities, FE colleges and prisons all have guidance in place to safeguard those in their care—that is a given. Such protection might be from child sexual exploitation; for example, in a nursery, something may give rise to a belief that some abuse is happening. Most people will have in place some system of guidance and say, “What do we actually do with that bit of information when it comes to our attention. Who do we pass it on to and how do we act upon it?”.

Baroness Uddin: Does the Minister agree that social services’ statutory guidance on responding to child sexual abuse or exploitation has evolved over decades, and that, even then, there has been malpractice or things that have gone drastically wrong and we have not always been able to protect children? How does the Minister envisage this new phenomenon of identifying those who may give some indication of predisposal to radicalisation? How does guidance take on board the identification of someone in a nursery or a school? If somebody said, “Actually, I hate Muslims”, is that person prone to radicalisation? If they were to say, “I hate Christians”, is that being prone to radicalisation? At what point is an investigation triggered? I speak as a former social worker in a child protection office. I know the trigger mechanism when someone is said to be vulnerable and what happens: a whole series—a whole plethora—of professionals are called in. We know that that is not an established practice at the moment, so how does he envisage managing this?

Lord Bates: In many ways, that is demonstrating what the Government are seeking to do in putting this on a statutory footing. We are saying that, at the moment, all that is being done is on a patchy basis. It is not formally and independently evaluated, a point that was made to the effect of, “How do we actually see how this is working? Which part of the Prevent budget is actually well spent?”. Of course, we do not know the answer to that at present. It is hoped that, if it is on a statutory footing, we are saying to all universities, “Listen, we want you to raise your game to the standards of the best, and where there is some evaluation of how institutions are performing against that criteria we will be able to measure the effectiveness of it”.

I am conscious of the time that I have been speaking; we are going to be returning to these issues in subsequent amendments, but let me deal with some of the issues of definition, because that was particularly what we wanted to focus on here. When we talk about extremism, we are talking about,

“vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

Calls for the deaths of members of the British Armed Forces are also included. My noble friend Lady Warsi was no doubt part of the process that actually generated these definitions. With due deference to her, I appreciate that they are terribly difficult to arrive at, but that is the basis on which we are working.

When we talk about terrorism, we are talking about an action that endangers or causes serious violence, damage or disruption and is intended,

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“to influence the Government or to intimidate the public and is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”.

Again, definitions will always be a matter of argument and dispute, but those are the definitions of extremism and terrorism by which we are working.

On radicalisation, we are talking about,

“the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism”.

Safeguarding is,

“the process of protecting vulnerable people, whether from crime, other forms of abuse or being drawn into terrorism-related activity”.

To complete the definitions, which I want to put on the record, vulnerability,

“describes factors and characteristics associated with being susceptible to radicalisation”.

Baroness Warsi: I can perhaps help my noble friend. I do not dispute the definition of terrorism, the definition of radicalisation or the definition of vulnerability. I completely agree with him that those are the definitions that—certainly the one on terrorism—have been tested for many years. The definition that matters in this debate is the definition of extremism. There are many definitions of extremism that currently exist within government. If somebody were to stand up and say, “I am going to blow myself up and cause you harm,” it would be pretty obvious that they were a terrorist, and not the kind of person whom we would want speaking at a university. The grey area is the area around extremism, which is the one that needs to be properly defined with a single definition and some clarity as to what that means. At the moment, the definition as it stands in terms of British values, for example, includes opposition to the British value of democracy. There are many people who oppose democracy; there are people who have alternative views on that: does that mean that they are never allowed to express those views in universities, as part of an open discussion on these issues? That is where the grey area is.

Lord Bates: I accept that, and there will be ongoing work, but I wanted to put on record the current working definitions. They have to be kept under review. When we are talking about extremism, of course, we recognise that at present Universities UK—which covers 75% of higher education institutions—actually has an extensive document, running to some 50 or 60 pages, that provides guidance to universities on how they should deal with people with extremist views, particularly extremist views from right-wing, racist ideologies that need to be tackled. For example, the National Union of Students has a “no platform” policy for extreme right-wing organisations on campus and has a system of guidance by which that policy is implemented.

5 pm

These are tremendously difficult areas, which I am sure we will keep returning to over the next four groups, but on this group I want to put on record what the working definitions are and some of the evidence that has led us to believe that this needs to be put on a statutory footing so that it can be applied consistently across the country, and so that the effectiveness of

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Prevent can be evaluated independently of government so we know how it is working towards the aims that we all seek.

Lord Judd: I am sure the Minister will agree—this is not either/or—that it is a matter of winning the war and not just the battles, although the battles are crucial to winning the war. That is the point about the university context. It is the whole environment, the whole perception and the whole atmosphere that matter. Will the Minister accept that some of us are genuinely afraid that if this is got wrong and it is perceived as too heavy-handed, to say the least, it could press people towards extreme views?

I always have in mind a conversation I had with a police officer working on the front line of this issue. He said that this battle is crucial among militants with street credibility who may even have toyed with nasty things, but have not done them. Those are the people we have to win back, and if we are pushing them away from us so that there is no communication and no possibility for dialogue and winning back, how are we helping our war?

Lord Bates:Of course, many of us subscribe to the view that one of the greatest forces against extremism is the freedom of speech that exists within universities so that people’s radical views can be challenged, and should be challenged, in an open way. Nothing being brought forward today says that the Government are going to tell any university who it should invite to speak. Nothing is going to tell any university who it should have on its faculty or in its student body. That is for the university to decide. All we ask is that at a time of national alert on issues of terrorism universities have due regard to their responsibility to the challenges and vulnerabilities of their institutions and the students who are in their care. That is where we are coming from on this. On the great sweep of what the noble Lord said, I fully endorse it.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LD): The Minister just, for the second time during his winding up, referred to the phrase “having due regard” in Clause 21 of Part 5 as if to placate those who are concerned by the directions which are still out for consultation. Is the reality not that Clause 25 gives the Secretary of State power to make directions with regard to any of these matters and then to follow that up by a mandatory order? If that mandatory order is breached there are serious punitive consequences, so is it not a trifle inadvertently misleading to refer again and again to this merely having “due regard to”?

Lord Bates: My noble friend has great legal expertise in the terms being used here. We are saying that, clearly, if you put anything on a statutory footing—even to “have due regard to” the guidance—then there must be a consequence should you fail to have due regard or are found not to have due regard; and that that must be specified in the legislation. That is all we are doing here. I am sure we are all of the view that such a measure would be used only in extreme circumstances. We fully expect that all universities will do what the best universities are doing already, which is to have their systems and procedures in place for this. As I

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have said, I am very conscious that we will be returning to this in further groups; but in the mean time I would be grateful if my noble friend might consider withdrawing the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before my noble friend responds, I had degrouped that amendment from my, rather than from anybody else’s, amendments. In replying, my noble friend the Minister has relied a great deal on Clause 24 on guidance. However, that does not seem to me to justify the ability of Parliament to consider, authority by authority and function by function, the application of this duty, which is a much more significant duty—on that I am very much with my noble friend Lord Phillips—than the words “due regard” in everyday speech might suggest. If I were to see Hansard by the time we reach Clause 24 today I might think that my noble friend had given me quite a lot of material to press my amendments to that clause, because he has said an awful lot that supports what I am arguing should go on to the statute book. We will come to that, but I wanted to make it clear that my point is about Parliament’s role in this; it is not about consultation on guidance.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I thank the Minister for his response to my amendment and other noble Lords who have participated in this very interesting debate. It was supposed to be a relatively minor probing amendment to clarify the definitions and to make the point, which I think still needs to be made, that where there is not clarity in definition, it leaves a great deal to the judgment of those expected to implement these duties. That in itself poses problems, both for those in the process of implementing them and those who, perhaps further down the line or on the panel, will have to make assessments about those seen to be vulnerable to terrorism. And what does “being drawn into terrorism” mean? There are problems here for those who need to interpret the legislation.

We have had a much wider debate than just about definitions. It has been a very interesting debate about, as I said in my introduction, whether the Prevent strategy should be statutory. I am very much of the view taken by my noble friends Lord Phillips and Lady Hamwee, that in fact the subsequent clauses—24, 28 and 30—make the whole business of being statutory fairly rigorous.

The effectiveness of the Prevent programme, whether we need to review it, whether it is sensible that the programme should be statutory, or whether we should not continue to rely on the voluntary participation of the institutions are all questions that we will undoubtedly come back to, both later today and on Report. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 103A withdrawn.

Amendment 103B not moved.

Amendment 104

Moved by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

104: Clause 21, page 14, line 7, at end insert—

“(f) an academic function of a university or other further and higher education institution”

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Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): My Lords, in moving this amendment I will speak also to Amendments 105, 107, 109 and 115 on behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am a member. The amendments give effect to the recommendations made in our pre-legislative scrutiny report. Amendments 107 and 109 would exclude higher education institutions from the new statutory duty to,

“have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”,

although I suspect that the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, would do so rather better. Amendment 104 excludes,

“an academic function of a university or other further and higher education institution”,

from that duty. Amendment 105 makes it clear that the Prevent duty is subject to the duty contained in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to uphold freedom of speech, covering staff, students and visiting speakers. Amendment 115 requires that when issuing guidance and giving directions, the Secretary of State should have regard to the principle of academic freedom as contained in the Education Reform Act 1988, which includes a duty,

“to ensure that academic staff have freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions”.

These amendments may be technically deficient, but as they are for now probing amendments, I trust that the Minister will bear with me.

Recommendations stem from the JCHR’s conclusion that,

“because of the importance of freedom of speech and academic freedom in the context of university education, the entire legal framework which rests on the new ‘prevent’ duty is not appropriate for application to universities”,

and from our observation that its relationship to universities’ existing duties with regard to freedom of speech is not clear. I have some sympathy with concerns about other parts of the educational sector, but following the JCHR report I will confine my remarks to HE institutions and will focus in particular on the question of academic freedom, therefore inevitably touching on some of the points already made. In doing so I declare my interest as an emeritus professor at Loughborough University.

Ministers have emphasised their commitment to academic freedom of freedom of speech, which I welcome. In a letter of 20 January to the JCHR, the Minister, James Brokenshire, pointed out that this freedom comes with a duty to ensure that it is within the law. Exactly. Given that, it is not clear why the Prevent duty has to be put on a statutory footing—moving from co-operation to co-option, as the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, so pithily put it. Universities are already required to operate within any law that circumscribes freedom of speech. At last week’s packed meeting, addressed by the Minister and Mr Brokenshire—I thank the Minister for arranging that—we did not receive a convincing explanation. I suspect that the purpose of the meeting was to reassure noble Lords; my impression was that it had the opposite effect.

Since then, the JCHR has received the Minister’s letter, in which he set out why the Government believe that the application of the duty to universities is a

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matter of enormous importance. He cited the proportion of people convicted of al-Qaeda-associated terrorist offences who had attended an HE institution—the implication, presumably, being that their HE experience helped to lead them there. He acknowledged that some students arrived already radicalised or are radicalised by external influences, while suggesting that others can become influenced by non-violent extremism at university but later move on to violence. That seems to reflect the kind of linear, conveyor-belt theory of the journey to terrorism, which is challenged by many experts in the area and which was questioned earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi.

There are two main areas of concern, which have sometimes been conflated: visiting speakers policies, and the free exchange of ideas that lies at the heart of the relationship between lecturers and students. With regard to visiting speakers, it is unclear how the new duties sit alongside the duty in the 1986 Act not to use beliefs or views as grounds to refuse access to premises. We shall look later at the draft guidance, so I will not go into that now, apart from coming back, in a moment, to the question of definitions.

5.15 pm

In his letter the Minister acknowledged that many universities already have adequate policies in place, and explained that it was precisely because most universities,

“take their responsibilities in this area very seriously, that it would be extraordinary if the … sector were to be removed from the scope of the duty”.

He asserted that,

“equally, many could do more”.

How many? When questioned on this at the meeting, Ministers were unable to provide any evidence of the number of universities that are failing in this regard. Surely it is premature to rush to legislate in this sensitive area without knowing the scale of the problem. If most universities have been performing so well on a voluntary basis, why not build on that and encourage the minority that are not? That point has already been made by more than one noble Lord.

Returning to the question of language and definitions, as the Minister predicted we would, Universities UK, UCU, million+ and others are worried by some of the language in the draft guidance, such as “non-violent extremism” and responsibility to exclude,

“those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism”,

a vague formulation that could all too easily be interpreted in a way that conflates terrorism and extremist views.

As UUK points out, non-violent extremism is not generally unlawful, and it is not appropriate for universities to exclude such views. The JCHR warned that such terms,

“are not capable of being defined with sufficient precision to enable universities to know with sufficient certainty whether they risk being found to be in breach of the new duty and therefore subject to direction by the Secretary of State and, ultimately, a mandatory court order backed by criminal sanctions for contempt of court … This legal uncertainty will have a seriously inhibiting effect on bona fide academic debate in universities”.

When we pressed the Minister, in his oral evidence to the committee, on where the lines were to be drawn, he left us none the wiser.

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Universities tend to be pretty risk-averse institutions, and the fear is that they will err on the side of caution in drawing their own lines. Academics are rightly alarmed at the prospect. For example, Martin Hall, former vice-chancellor of the University of Salford, in Times Higher Education, has expressed fears that the new statutory obligations could be used against,

“any radical opposition to the status quo”.

Professor Peter Scott of the Institute of Education has warned that, “Mission drift is … inevitable”.

Let me illustrate my worries with an e- mail sent to all staff and students in my school at Loughborough University, inviting us to a discussion the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. Among the questions to be posed was, “Were the attackers provoked by senseless Islamophobia? Is it clearly an act of terrorism?”. Some might consider such questions provocative, and they might well have provoked reactions from some students that might be interpreted as indicating the early stages of some path towards terrorism. The lecturer, in an e-mail exchange with me, mused, “With some of our interests in anarchism as a school of political thought and populism, could we be seen to have indirectly drawn some people to ideas which might end up potentially leading them to perpetrate violence? This is inevitable with HE in many ways since the idea is to get people to think more deeply and critically about issues, and when thoughts start shifting it is difficult to predict or control where they end up”.

I am sure that the Minister will once again assure us, in his soothing, calm way, that debate of that kind will not be affected, but there is a real danger that academics will feel inhibited from initiating such discussion, thereby chilling academic freedom. Even if they do not, there is a danger that some students will feel they have to conceal their views for fear of being reported to what would be seen as the Prevent—or thought—police. That means that their views cannot then be challenged. As UCU and others have warned, the trust that is so important in the relationship between lecturer and student could be destroyed. Muslim bodies fear that that will create resentment and alienation. All in all, the effects could well be counterproductive. My primary concern is that the new Prevent duty should not have a chilling effect on the academic freedom in higher education that we all cherish.

I sum up the case by quoting a letter in today’s Times signed by more than 20 universities. It states:

“Universities are at their most effective in preventing radicalisation by ensuring that academics and students are free to question and test received wisdom within the law. The bill is not the best means of maximising the contribution universities can make, and may indeed be counterproductive, causing mistrust and alienation. The government does not appear to have considered how the bill will relate to universities’ existing duties and codes of practice concerning freedom of speech and academic freedom.

To be truly effective in countering terrorism and radicalisation, universities must continue to be independent from government. The new statutory duty should not apply to universities and they should be exempt … This would safeguard the unique status of universities as places where lawful ideas can be voiced and debated without fear of reprisal”.

Amendments 104, 107, 109, 110 and 112 would provide that safeguard. Echoing the very powerful plea made by my noble friend Lord Judd, I hope that,

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despite the fact that the Government have made clear their disagreement, they will take seriously the concerns that have already been expressed, and which I am sure will be expressed again, and that, at the very least, the Minister will consider Amendments 105 and 115, which clarify the relationship between the new Prevent duty and existing duties to uphold freedom of speech and the principle of academic freedom. Acceptance of these two amendments, or something like them, would go a long way to meet the anxieties raised by many both inside and outside your Lordships’ House. Indeed, given all the assurances about not impinging on academic freedom, I cannot see any argument against doing so. I beg to move.

Baroness O'Loan (CB): My Lords, I have put my name to Amendments 104, 105 and 115, which seek to protect universities and other further and higher education institutions from being bound by this part of the Bill in the context of an academic function and protection of freedom of speech, and to Amendments 107 and 109, which seek to exclude from Schedule 3 to the Bill certain universities and other colleges in England, Wales and Scotland. I do not think that this provision applies to Northern Ireland. I hope that the Minister will correct me if that is not the case.

The Bill seeks to put the Prevent programme on a statutory footing and I suspect has a greater impact than the Minister is willing to recognise. I have read carefully the letter which the Minister wrote to Members on making universities subject to the duty, which included a lot of statistics in relation to the number of people convicted of al-Qaeda-associated terrorist offences. I make one observation in relation to those figures. They do not necessarily indicate that the students were radicalised at university. There is evidence of terrorist organisations using universities to develop young people to be significant terrorist leaders because terrorism requires not just snipers and bombers but leaders, managers, logistics, procurement and all sorts of things, and that is the kind of skill you can pick up at university, so I think the issue is much more complex than is suggested.

Looking at Prevent on its own, the definition of terrorism includes non-violent terrorism, as the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, said. I am a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the problem as I see it is that these amendments are designed to address a threat to freedom of speech and all the consequences that would follow from that. I will speak of those consequences, in part from my experiences as a chair at a university, albeit an Irish university, and as a former university academic. I taught for 20 years in a university. During that period, we had several terrorist bombs. We lived daily with the terrorist armed threat, particularly in relation to our students who were members of the security forces and the police. It is profoundly important, as we contemplate the unintended consequences that might result from this clause, that we do not politicise our universities in a way which would make them the target of attacks such as that on Lee Rigby and other attacks, such as bombings and suicide attacks. I do not say that to be scaremongering, but because it is profoundly important that we recognise

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that the war that is being fought against democracy is a war which is changing its tactics. There is a lot of evidence that it will move much further on to our territory.

The function of a university in educating its students includes the provision of safe space in which students can debate and discuss very sensitive issues. My experience has been that, very often where issues are particularly sensitive, students can almost be afraid to engage with them. They need that space and the recognition that it is right to engage with these issues. I think of my experience in trying to teach constitutional law to students in Northern Ireland. One half of the class sat on one side of the room and the other half sat on the other side of the room and there was to be no meeting of minds about what I was trying to teach them. There was a terror of articulating any views lest that be taken back to somebody and consequences might follow. It is vital that students develop the confidence to address and to challenge issues, to test propositions, so that they can take a greater part in the debate within and without the university and, when they leave university, in constitutional governance.

That is where we are now in England, Wales and Scotland. We need people who have been exposed to challenging argument and have the capacity and the confidence to think and to articulate views which are the product of reasoned judgment rather than bias and prejudice. Although we may think we know what we are talking about when we speak of terrorism, some of yesterday’s terrorists are today’s world leaders. What does that mean for our understanding and what does it mean for those in universities who contemplate non-violent political action against democracies or systems of law in other countries which they are articulating in their own university? Are they to be regulated by the universities because they may be perceived as possibly supporting terrorism? How will the universities know the answer to that?

We have to ensure space in our universities for debates. The JCHR says in its report that,

“universities are precisely the places where there should be open and inclusive discussion of ideas. Broad terms such as ‘extremist’ or ‘radical’ are not capable of being defined with sufficient precision to enable universities to know … whether they … risk … being found to be in breach of the new duty”.

The JCHR talks of the inhibiting effect of the Bill as,

“lecturers and students worry about whether critical discussion of fundamentalist arguments, or of the circumstances in which resort to political violence might be justified, could fall foul of the new duty”.

The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, spoke very articulately on the definition of extremism. It is not an exclusive definition. It refers to opposition to British values, including democracy and the rule of law, but it is not exclusive. Universities will have to work out what other values are included in this definition. Even the chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, has expressed concern that this will leave too much discretion to the police when they are trying to deal with very difficult situations. In effect, the Bill will force them to make decisions when they are conducting policing operations which are more political policy decisions than operational policing decisions. That analogy also applies to universities.

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The National Union of Students, echoing calls by Universities UK and others, notes that any statutory guidance applying to universities needs to appreciate the particular freedoms of speech appropriate to an academic context, including allowing students and staff to speak freely on controversial issues. That needs to be retained in order to prevent the chilling effect on university campuses whereby people become wary of discussing difficult issues. Ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and unfounded fears can be the unintended products of restricting freedom of speech. Paradoxically, they can play their part in encouraging individuals to the cause of fundamentalism and even violence. We have seen that across the world.

5.30 pm

As the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, said, universities are required under Section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to,

“take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”.

The JCHR report states that that duty includes the duty,

“to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with the beliefs or views of that individual or any member of that body, or the policy or objectives of the body”.

Some 18 university vice-chancellors and others have today written to the Times, articulating the fact that universities are already supporting the Government’s Prevent strategy. They say:

“Universities are at their most effective in preventing radicalisation by ensuring that academics and students are free to question and test received wisdom within the law”.

They rightly ask, as does the JCHR, how the Bill will relate to their existing duties and codes of practice concerning freedom of speech and academic freedom. How will the two provisions be interpreted together? It seems to me that this measure has not been thought through properly. The Minister, Mr James Brokenshire, was unable to reassure the committee that this new duty was not about restricting freedom of speech.

I know that the Minister here has written to noble Lords giving an assurance of change to the draft guidance that was issued. I want to say a brief word about that draft guidance. I speak regularly in universities, colleges and other places. Such is the pressure on my time and such is the pressure on the time of most of those who go into universities to do these kinds of things that one does not have time to prepare in advance and very often the context is one in which things are moving rapidly. I do a lot of work on conflict resolution and things can change rapidly in certain areas. Asking people to produce papers in advance to be scrutinised in order to determine whether those people can come is not consistent with the principle of freedom of speech. Anyway, an outline provided at whatever stage by a university might not reflect the lecture that is actually delivered and it might be conducive to terrorism. That would leave universities in a very difficult position because if they became aware of it, and they are required to monitor, they would then have to ask themselves, “Do we stop

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this?”. Alternatively, you get the creation of blacklists of people who are not allowed to speak in universities. The situation becomes profoundly difficult, particularly regarding people from countries where there has been serious terrorism, who have worked through different stages of their lives. You ask them to come to our country where freedom of speech is upheld and yet you impose these kinds of conditions.

What about those who are asked to speak? I think particularly of victims of terrorism who come not to produce speeches but to tell their story. Very often there is a risk that those meetings will be hijacked by those who seek to promote terrorism. Nothing is simple. Are groups going to be driven off campus if the university becomes risk averse because of the new law, leaving those students who participate in a much less safe place because the existing university practices and protections will no longer apply? It is not as if universities are not under a duty at present. They are, they recognise it and they give effect to it.

I want to finish with a few words from the National Union of Students. It says that freedom of speech needs to be retained in order to avoid the chilling effect that would prevent difficult or controversial issues from being discussed because of perceptions about the requirements on staff. Staff are supposed in law to have protections that will not put them at risk of losing their job or at risk of disciplinary action if their lecture material takes them into areas that could be perceived as possibly being conducive to the promotion of terrorism. They need to put things before students which students need to discuss. There is an art and a science in how you present material to students in those situations. Lecturers, and young lecturers in particular, must be able to develop their techniques.

This new statutory duty should not be made applicable to universities. The Bill should be amended to remove universities from the list of specified authorities and to exempt the exercise of academic functions from the application of the duty.

Baroness Buscombe (Con): My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 104, 105, 107, 109 and 115, to which my name has been added. I also speak as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Much of what I feel about these amendments has already been articulated by Members opposite who are also on that committee. I also thank the Minister and his colleague from another place, the Home Office Minister James Brokenshire MP, for the meeting on 15 January. It was clear when we met to discuss this very issue that there were serious concerns, particularly among the academic community. In the letter in today’s Timesthat has already been referred to this afternoon, there is reference to a concern that the proposed measures could be counterproductive, leading to mistrust and alienation. The difficulty is that a considerable degree of alienation already exists among some young people well before they attend higher education. This alienation is too often caused by separation by their parents at a very young age from fully, or in some circumstances even partially, socialising with their peer group of other faiths and cultures. The truth lies, I believe, in what different people perceive to be the meaning of integration

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and until we make much more effort in that regard, such that young boys and girls are allowed to grow up fully and freely socialising in our towns and cities whatever their faith, we will continue to have a serious problem—a problem we have been largely in denial about for years for fear of upsetting people in the faint hope that integration will just happen. This is also one reason why I am vehemently against faith-based schools which may allow and even encourage separation rather than integration.

Universities create for many the first opportunity for a natural separation from home, giving young people the freedom to socialise beyond their comfort zone. University life provides a catalyst for encouraging free speech and strong, open debate away from cultural and religious restraints. All that said, I understand that the Government are genuinely trying to find practical ways of countering terrorism and extremism because, as the Minister in a letter dated 27 January informed us, a significant number of individuals who become radicalised at some point attend university. This therefore provides a window of opportunity to prevent those vulnerable to extremism from that pathway during their time at university.

Part of the difficulty here lies in what is in the Bill. It appears too restrictive and prescriptive and does not take account of some of the practical difficulties of implementing these measures without attacking academic freedom, together with certain legal obligations. The Prevent duty guidance offers some help although, as my noble friend has already stated, these measures are very much in draft form and we all await the imminent outcome of the consultation. It is difficult to debate this subject fully without reference to that outcome but I agree with the Minister, who refers to some aspects of the duty guidance in his recent letter. For example, in paragraph 66 there is a suggestion that those who are going to make a speech or give a talk at a university should give:

“Sufficient notice of booking (generally at least 14 days) to allow for checks to be made and cancellation to take place … Advance notice of the content of the event”,

and so on. It is very prescriptive.

If noble Lords will bear with me, I shall give an example of a different subject to illustrate why such prescription just does not work. Four or five years ago, I chaired an Oxford Union debate regarding animal rights—a very different subject. I well recall approaching all the speakers an hour or so before the debate was due to commence to get a feel of what they intended to say to make sure that I could manage the debate, given that it is a controversial subject. One of the speakers, Heather Mills, was due to speak, alone, for the motion. She had in the past been known for making quite controversial statements. Heather did not give much away, and certainly not the fact that part-way through her speech her sister would leap forward on to the stage and produce from under her large woolly jumper a laptop showing a short, very violent film of an animal cull. A mini riot ensued among speakers for and against the motion, together with some of the audience, in spite of my best and extremely vocal efforts as the chairman. It became apparent that some members of the audience were not

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students of Oxford University at all; they were seasoned animal rights campaigners and activists, and absolutely content and keen to make trouble.

I make that point as a good example of where freedom of speech and freedom to offend were such a positive, as they produced a lively exchange of views among the audience, many of whom, having listened and watched and been genuinely appalled by the behaviour of those on one side of the debate, were almost all entirely turned off the animal rights movement.

However, there is another side to this issue and it is why I reference that experience. I must admit that, as an outside guest at the university, I was rather amazed, particularly given the subject matter, that there was nowhere to turn and no one to turn to when the situation became uproarious and extremely unpleasant. Therefore, I believe it is right to ensure that there is a mechanism for managing incidents and to recognise that universities, while allowing academic freedom, have a strong, albeit subtle—that is the important point—role to play in managing these events. Indeed, as proposed in the draft Prevent duty guidance, I could have done with a mechanism for managing incidents, even though the debate was very much on campus.

My message to my noble friend the Minister is that he should do all he can to reassure all those concerned that nothing in the Prevent duty guidance will restrict legitimate debate or academic research, that the Government are genuine in their view that universities’ commitment to freedom of speech represents one of the most important arenas for challenging extremist views and ideologies, and that therefore the Government support the existing duty in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 on universities to promote freedom of speech. Will my noble friend also take note of the work of the National Union of Students in encouraging dialogue between different faith and belief groups? As the NUS states in its briefing on the Bill, which it has sent out today, it helps student unions to understand their responsibilities under charity law and ensure that they have strong procedures in place so that the risk from extreme and external speakers is mitigated.

I say that in particular to emphasise that there is a general acceptance that work has to continue. How that work is done is the challenge. I hope that, following consultation on the Prevent duty guidance, the “how” will become clearer and go some considerable way to allay genuine concerns. Therefore, I encourage the Minister to seriously consider accepting Amendments 104 and 105, which would give reassurance on the face of the Bill in support of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

5.45 pm

Lord Macdonald of River Glaven (LD): My Lords, I put my name to Amendments 110 and 112, along with the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and I declare an interest as the warden of Wadham College, Oxford.

Under the terms of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, universities are under a statutory duty to,

“take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”.

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The Act goes on to say that this includes the duty,

“to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of any premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body of persons on any ground connected with … the beliefs or views of that individual or of any member of that body; or … the policy or objectives of that body”.

Universities are required under this statute to have a code of practice in place to facilitate the discharge of these important duties. We might contrast the terms of that statute with the relevant clauses of the Bill and the proposed guidance associated with it.

It is very easy to understand why Parliament should have passed those parts of the Education Act. It was to underline not just the importance of free speech as a public good in itself, but to highlight its particular relevance—its inescapable importance—to institutions of higher learning. That is to say, you cannot have one without the other. Noble Lords will remember the context in which that legislation was passed. Speakers were being howled down in some of our universities, to the shame of those institutions. Some were being refused facilities to speak—the so-called “no platform policies” that some institutions adopted, again, to their shame. An institution that shouts down a speaker with unpopular views or bans arguments that cause offence is not really a university at all: it is an intellectual closed shop. That is something very different and much less attractive.

Under the proposed guidance accompanying this Bill, which universities will be under a duty to have regard to in discharging their new policing obligations—for that is what they are—academics must devise processes to exclude from those universities people who intend to speak or give presentations in a way that may be guilty in some way of exhibiting traits of what the guidance terms “non-violent extremism”. The definition of non-violent extremism has already been drawn to the attention of the Committee. I suppose in the sense of non-violent extremism, it must, if we extract it from the proposed guidance accurately, be,

“vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

It is those things that must be banished from British universities.

The patent lack of understanding in this Bill about how universities work—and some noble Lords have already alluded to this—becomes very clear when one considers the processes that the guidance mandates our universities to follow in order to discharge their new speech-policing obligations under the Bill. They are to be found in the guidance. The proposed guidance states that, in order to comply with the duty,

“all universities should have policies and procedures in place for the management of events on campus and use of all university premises”.

The guidance goes on:

“We would expect the policies and procedures on speakers and events to include at least the following … Sufficient notice of booking (generally at least 14 days) to allow for checks to be made and cancellation to take place if necessary … Advance notice of the content of the event, including an outline of the topics to be discussed and sight of any presentations, footage to be broadcast etc … A system for assessing and rating risks

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associated with any planned events, providing evidence to suggest whether an event should proceed, be cancelled or whether mitigating action is”,

to be contemplated or required.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend. I was under the impression that the noble Lord, Lord Bates, indicated in his letter dated 27 January that the Government would now withdraw paragraph 66 from the proposed guidance. It might save an awful lot of consideration in this Chamber if that is indeed the case.

Lord Macdonald of River Glaven: If that is the case, no doubt my noble friend the Minister will make that clear.

The greater point is that universities are not places of surveillance in the sense intended in this Bill, and they cannot become so without fracturing what is best about them. As far as I can tell, no concern at all appears to be expressed in the legislation or in the guidance that what is being proposed is a form of institutionalised censorship with academics at its heart.

If the guidance means what it says, and we must assume that it does, it calls into question a situation in which people in British universities would not be allowed to argue, with Plato perhaps, that democracy is flawed. It is not a crime to argue that democracy is flawed. No one in a British university could deliver a lecture that evinced a lack of respect for someone else’s religion. It is not, thank goodness, a crime in this country to demonstrate a lack of respect for someone else’s religion. Perhaps no one in a British university would be allowed to decry individual liberty in favour of, say, collective empowerment—a notion with a long intellectual pedigree. Again, it is not a crime to express that view in the United Kingdom. Obviously, the point is not whether noble Lords agree or disagree with any of these propositions, or whether any noble Lord would wish to advance any of them—for my part, I would not particularly. The question is rather whether we have really reached a state of affairs in this country in which it is now necessary for a senior politician, even a politician as senior as the Home Secretary, to be granted the power to influence, by power of direction if necessary, what can and what cannot be said in a university in the absence of any crime being committed. That is the point. This legislation seeks to control not only violent extremism but also speech in universities even where that speech is not otherwise a crime. This is its central failing and it is the reason I have put my name to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick.

The role of surveillance and control is one that is entirely inimical to the purpose of a university as we have understood it, which is to analyse, to explain and to discover. In that sense, open debate is the lifeblood of an institution of higher learning. Of course, as noble Lords have recognised, universities do not have immunity in the face of the criminal law—and they should not be immune to it. Indeed, like everyone else and every other body, they have existing obligations under anti-terrorism legislation, including the obligation

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to disclose to the authorities information they have about terrorism activities. But no one is suggesting that they are failing to discharge those obligations, and this Bill neither defines nor seeks to address any such failing. That is because there is none.

Let me conclude by pointing out one striking omission from the proposed guidance that is to accompany the Bill. Nowhere within it is there any attempt to explain how its terms are consistent with the entirely appropriate and laudable legal obligation placed upon universities to secure freedom of speech. There is no attempt to square that circle. This may be because no one in the Home Office considered the Education Act properly before deciding to legislate for our universities in this way, or it may be because it is simply obvious that the freedom of speech duty mandated in the Education Act is in conflict with the Bill, so any attempt to argue that they can coexist is doomed to failure.

These proposals may spring from the best of intentions. They doubtless spring from a desire to do something, perhaps anything, about the real problems we face around radicalisation. However, in practice they will inevitably undermine the place of freedom of speech in our universities. They are wrong in principle and they are unworkable in practice.

Baroness Brinton: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendments 112A, 112B and 112D. I shall start by speaking to those amendments and then to the others in the group. It is a matter of serendipity that I follow my noble friend Lord Macdonald because Amendments 112A, 112B and 112D try to address the exact points that he has raised and insist that the two duties must be examined together in order to balance the right to freedom of speech. I defy officers of universities and colleges to achieve that and I think that it would be a tall task for civil servants. One of the reasons I have been keen to table these amendments is that, as a senior university administrator, I have sat with two codes of practice and two different sets of statutory guidance which are completely in conflict with one another. We have to make it clear to those who will try to deliver the legislation on the front line exactly how it would happen. That is why the first part of the amendment talks about the recognition of the duty on free speech and the second part makes it clear that any guidance must be produced in the form of a single document so that staff do not have to trawl through parallel sets of guidance and codes of practice to try to find out which trumps the other.

I hope that the amendment is straightforward and simple, but it is included in a group which seeks to tackle the absolute, fundamental problems around the duty and how it conflicts with the duty on freedom of speech. I want to make two points. The first goes back to the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, which many noble Lords have quoted. Clause 43(4) states,

“(including where appropriate the initiation of disciplinary measures) to secure”,

those rights, but that is a two-way right, and universities have certainly used it where there might be either radicalisation or something close to the infringement of personal liberties or, worse than that, the possible incitement of a crime. On 20 September 2013, the Guardian reported that a number of our universities

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and students unions across the UK had banned the song “Blurred Lines”, a song that is degrading to women and which encourages rape. That demonstrates that the current boundaries for freedom of speech are well understood in our universities and are applied by them and by the student bodies. I come back to this. I do not understand why we need a duty when it is absolutely evident that this is already working in practice. I repeat my request for specific recent examples of where this has not succeeded and has not been followed through.

The other point I want to make on academic freedom moves away from the purist freedom-of-speech argument. Much of our debate has been about societies, students and academies talking outside the normal framework. Recently I was talking to a postgraduate student who is working on Middle East peace studies. He and his colleagues have just completed a module in a Masters course on suicide bombers. How free will they be to access information on that issue and thus actually help this country and the wider world to understand what motivates these people to become so radicalised that they are prepared to give up their lives? Would accessing videos online to try and understand the linguistic and pedagogic emotions behind those decisions be caught as radicalisation, would it require a special exemption in order to have that debate, or would it just be banned completely? We need to understand how the pure academic freedom to research would be affected by this duty.

6 pm

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab): My Lords, I shall start by mentioning that I, too, serve on the Joint Committee on Human Rights—I am afraid that a whole flurry of us are getting involved in this debate. There certainly was a real consensus within the Joint Committee that applying this duty to universities would be detrimental to freedom of speech. We have been most concerned about it. One of the things that I think we have all now acknowledged is that freedom of speech is an absolute value to higher education. To interfere with that or to create a chilling effect is something that we should step back from. I endorse entirely all that has been said by others on this subject and want to add one or two things.

I have acted for a number of people involved in failure to fulfil their responsibilities in the criminal field, where they have not informed on those who seemed to be involved in terrorist activity. The duty to inform is real. The universities are very conscious of it, as are the student bodies. The concern that seems to be at the base of this—and which the public would want to see being at the base of this—is that, if you were to hear that people are planning and plotting things, there is a responsibility to do something about it. That already exists in law. It is the further steps that are involved in this that worry people.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, and the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, and others, I am involved in higher education, and I have been for some time. I too am the head of an Oxford college. Oxford University senior administrators have written to heads of house, such as Lord Macdonald and me, expressing their concern about this part of the legislation. This is

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partly because, as the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, has said, it is almost impossible for us to oversee it sensibly. For example, in Oxford it would be hard to count the number of meetings that take place in any one week across the college structure and the whole of the university. I cannot imagine what the numbers might be. The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, and I talked about the possibility of doing a review to see what the number was. We are certainly talking about hundreds. The same would be true in Cambridge and in universities around the country. The autonomy of student unions to invite their speakers quite independently of the governance of the university must not be forgotten.

I speak from my experience as a lawyer who has acted in the criminal courts in this field during the Irish Troubles, but most particularly in recent years around the recent phase of terrorism. I acted in the case that came to be known as the Crevice trial; the fertiliser bomb plot. I acted in the transatlantic bomb plot where seven young men were put on trial for trying to blow up aeroplanes. I have acted for a number of the different wives of men involved in terrorism in relation to their duty to report. I have acted for a boy who was groomed while he was on the internet in his bedroom in his parents’ house. I have acted for those who were involved in trying to dispose of evidence in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in relation to 27 July 2005. So I have acted in a whole series of these cases and I can honestly say that my experience is that these are not people who were radicalised in universities.

Radicalisation does not go on in universities. By and large I am talking about young men and it is about friendships and networks of friendship where people learn from each other and pass books and material to each other. It is not about closing down what happens in universities. It is really about what happens in our communities. So the work that is already going on in communities is probably the stuff that needs to be strengthened. All I urge is take a look at the real evidence of this. It is not enough to tick a box and say, “Some of these boys went to university, some of them were on access courses”. Many of our young around the country are going to university, but these boys were not radicalised because they were university students, in the way in which we think of university students. I see noble Lords nodding. That really has not been the case.

I go back to my concern about the chilling effect, which has been described by others. There is also the deterioration of trust effect, which is very important in the relationships between those who teach and those who learn. The other thing is that I spend time with the students in my college. I have them in regularly to gatherings. I do a regular meeting with sets of 12 at a time. We have discussions; they talk about all these things that are being described, some of them by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald. They debate things such as, “Is democracy so wonderful, when it is bought wholesale by donations to political parties and where the small people do not get a voice? Is it right that religion can be denigrated?”. They want to debate things such as, “What is the point at which people are entitled to take up arms?”. I remember when I was president of SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, there would be incredibly vital debates and

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arguments about the circumstances in which someone was entitled, as Mandela was in his time, to take up arms against the state. When is it appropriate? That is how young people learn about the nature of our society. It is where they learn and hear the counter arguments to some of the things that they feel seem so obvious to them.

This is not, by and large, where your radicalised young person is giving voice to his views. That is happening in the café down the road. It is happening in the kebab shop. It is happening in people’s rooms, but it is not happening in the universities in the way that somehow is imagined by this part of the legislation. I urge against it and ask that the bit about universities is taken out, because we are interfering with one of the most important freedoms that should be protected in our society.

Lord Pannick (CB): My Lords, Oxford is well represented today. I declare an interest as a fellow of All Souls College. I find this a genuinely difficult issue. I am supportive of the Government’s general objectives in Part 5; far more supportive, I think, than some of the speakers who have addressed noble Lords this afternoon, particularly in the earlier debate.

It seems to me that the starting point has to be that there is a disturbingly large number of people out there who are prepared to take violent action for ideological and religious reasons. There is an even more disturbingly large number of people who are prepared to encourage or to condone such violence. For me, the most shocking part of the appalling events in Paris were not the attacks on the journalists and the kosher supermarket by deranged Islamists, it was that a minute’s silence for the victims was unenforceable in many French schools, because of sympathy for the murderers and their supposed cause from students and, presumably, their families. This demonstrates, I think, that in France there is an alarming failure to understand the basic principles of a liberal democracy; a democracy which protects the freedom of religion—rightly so—of those who refuse to recognise the basic rights of others.

My starting point is that the Government are rightly determined to prevent such developments here; developments which breed religion-inspired violence. Having said that, I share the concerns which have been expressed this afternoon about the impact of these provisions on freedom of expression and academic freedom in universities. My concern is very similar to that of the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy. It is that the duty which the Bill will impose is very difficult to reconcile with the very idea of a university whose primary role is to encourage academic debate and dissent. I think that a code which can be enforced by legally binding directions is far too blunt an instrument in the context of a lecture hall or a seminar room. If you try to wear a policeman’s hat and an academic gown at the same time, you are unlikely, I think, to perform either task adequately.