However, this has not stopped some speakers from being howled down. Again, I have not the time to give examples, but I can assure noble Lords that visiting ambassadors sometimes get howled down; that other speakers get hassled and jostled; that there are meetings where cries go up of “Kill the Jews” and that sort of thing, when the Middle East is debated. It is not a happy situation. I wish it were better, but it is not. Basically, I am saying that this will not make much difference. We should also recall that some 30% of those convicted of offence—

6 pm

Lord Butler of Brockwell (CB): I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. Will she accept that this Bill does make a difference, even with these provisions in it? Universities will now be under a legal obligation to follow directions imposed by the Government, which goes beyond the legislation to which she has already referred.

Baroness Deech: It is the amendments which I do not think will make any difference. Whether the noble Lord’s dire predictions will be the case remains to be seen but I am very worried about the situation that already exists with interference. I have a list—again I will not trouble your Lordships with it. There are lists of convicted terrorists who sadly went through our universities—the underpants bomber on the plane, the man who drove his car into Glasgow airport, and so on. I only wish it were as some noble Lords remember in their youth, but it is not. Because of the umpteen laws that we already have about circumscribing freedom of speech, whether or not we pass these amendments will not, in my view, make any difference, sadly.

Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, we ought to realise that we are talking not just about the problems of terrorism but about something which has been much

4 Feb 2015 : Column 690

wider than that. I am very concerned about the situation in which we now find ourselves.

It is 55 years since my right honourable friend Kenneth Clarke and I debated with Sir Oswald Mosley in front of 2,000 students at Cambridge University. There were many who wanted him banned, but we said that if there was to be a new generation of students who understood the threat of fascism, they had to hear the arguments and we had to respond to them. We had the response because the Jewish Society went to huge trouble to give us all the evidence from Sir Oswald Mosley’s activities before the war. Noble Lords may remember that that would have been a time when we were a generation who knew nothing of this, but I venture to say that a whole group of people went away from university knowing how to argue the case and understanding what this very emollient, brilliant speaker was really like. It was from that moment that I became an even more enthusiastic supporter of the concept of the freedom of speech as a mechanism against extremism.

I want to say to my noble friend that we are at this moment in a very dangerous position. A close friend of mine, an Anglican priest—a man whom I would vouch for in any circumstances—has just been sacked as the episcopal chaplain to Yale because he dared to write a letter in response to others in the New York Times. It was a very moderate and reasonable letter in which he talked about the activities in Gaza of Prime Minister Netanyahu. No one in this House would have thought that an unsuitable letter to write, but he was sacked.

In the past few years, there have been many occasions in universities when people who hold unpopular views have been unplatformed in one way or another—for example, people who want to argue the case against abortion. I think that is an argument that it is proper to have on whatever side you stand. However, there are universities where it is almost impossible to have that debate.

One of the problems that we are faced with is that my noble friend has a real difficulty. We have a terrorist threat which is greater than we have had certainly in our lifetimes. It is a threat which is particularly difficult because it is associated not only in the popular mind but, because of certain facts, with a section of the community. Therefore, those of us who seek racial integration have to be extremely careful in the way in which we handle this threat, but we also have to recognise that it is a threat. It is not acceptable just to say, “Well, you know, we will just have to put up with it”. That is not where we are today.

I understand my noble friend’s problem, but I remind him that down the ages the threat of terrorism has been used to restrict the freedoms which the terrorists wish to remove. That is the fundamental problem. I worry immediately when we ask universities to inform upon and to investigate, and to assess what is a proper debate and what is not a proper debate, because I happen to believe that there are no improper debates in universities. There are improper actions as a result of debates; there are improper actions during debates; but to put a case and to argue the case is an essential part of university education.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 691

I thank my noble friend for his amendment. If he had not tabled this amendment, I think I would have found myself very hard put to support any of this part of the Bill. However, I hope that he will have listened carefully to what others have said. I do not want universities to be able to use this as an excuse for interfering not only in these subjects but in others. That is my worry. It is not the worry as put forward in the excellent speech of the introducer of the lead amendment. My worry is that, by analogy, people will say, “Just as we have to think about terrorism in this way, so we have to think about this or that unpopular view”, whether it is an issue of left or right, an issue of morality or an issue of politics. I hope that my noble friend will give me an assurance that, if he feels that he cannot say that his amendment covers that, he will go away and think again to ensure that the narrowness which he hoped to apply to this matter is sufficiently safeguarded. I do not want to have a world in which today’s version of those students cannot have that debate with today’s Sir Oswald Mosley—with today’s fascists, communists, or extremists of any kind. If that were true, we would have sold out on a central British value.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Deben may remember that the subsection in the 1986 Act was embedded in that Act precisely to combat the no-platform developments that had taken place in the 1980s. Like others, I hope that the Minister will have listened to this debate and may be able to give us greater clarification than there is in the amendment he has brought forward. We had a debate in the first group about the hierarchy of regard—due regard and particular regard—which perhaps has relevance to this. It would be good if one could feel that that was embedded.

Amendment 14C is in my name and those of my noble friends Lady Hamwee, Lady Brinton and Lady Williams of Crosby. So far in this debate, as we did very largely in the debate in Committee, we have talked about universities, and I was very pleased to see that the Minister’s amendment makes express reference to further education colleges. Many noble Lords may not realise that there are some 850,000 young people, aged 16 to 18 studying in further education colleges compared to 441,000 in schools. A very large number of young people in further education colleges—something like 100,000—are studying for higher education qualifications. So further education colleges are a very important part of the hierarchy.

I have a specific question for the Minister: where do sixth form colleges fall? There is explicit mention of further education colleges but there is no mention of sixth form colleges, which were in fact, under recent legislation, made into a separate category of college. Perhaps I can leave that thought with the Minister, and he and his Bill team can ponder on it and see whether it is perhaps necessary to make some minor further amendment.

Amendment 14C, which I want to speak to, is a very different amendment from the ones to date. It is a fairly straightforward amendment, which asks that the guidance, when issued,

4 Feb 2015 : Column 692

“shall recognise the respective duties of specified authorities in the education sector … to secure freedom of speech … to promote tolerance and encourage respect for democracy and … participation in it … to offer a broad and balanced curriculum promoting spiritual, moral and cultural development”.

As I say, it is less specific, but in some ways a lot broader, than the other amendments that are being considered in this group.

Schools are already subject to a fair number of statutory duties which embody these issues. The Education and Skills Act 2008 requires schools to promote British values and respect for the civil and criminal law, to further tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions, and to encourage respect for democracy and support for participation in it. The Education Act 2002, which is referred to in the Academies Act 2010, requires schools to offer,

“a balanced and broadly based curriculum which … promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of … the school and of society, and … prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life”.

The Education Act 1996 includes duties not to express,

“partisan political views in the teaching of any subject”,

or to allow pupils to pursue “partisan political activities”.

We have rather deliberately widened the framework in the amendment we have put forward. It is important to recognise that very many young people of the ages of 15, 16 and 17 who are in schools or colleges are very susceptible to the propaganda of extremism. They are active users of Facebook and other social media and, as adolescents, are keen to challenge authority. Throughout their lives, they have often lived, through television, with violence and horror. Our education institutions, as a whole, have a very important role to balance these influences and, as we say in this amendment,

“to promote tolerance and … respect for democracy”.

We talk about British values, but surely at the heart of British values is freedom of speech.

6.15 pm

Lord Judd: My Lords, not for the first time in my political life, I applauded every word of the noble Lord, Lord Deben. I hope that that does not embarrass him. Thank God for what he said, and I hope his noble friend the Minister listened, because it was a very powerful argument. In talking about his noble friend listening, I want to put on the record that I believe that the Minister we have leading for the Government on this debate does listen. What he has put forward today is an indication of how he listens and how he is prepared to argue in government for what he has heard. I beg him to accept that those of us who want to encourage him to persuade his friends to go still further are not doing this with any sense of hostility but are trying to support him in the pathway he has now chosen to take towards the position that the rest of us find ourselves in.

I hope that I will be forgiven if, just for a moment, I introduce an international perspective of a different kind in this debate. I am sure that I was not alone this morning as I heard and studied the reports of the latest depravity by ISIS. I almost despaired—if humankind is capable of this, what can happen? But then I found myself turning back very strongly to the conviction

4 Feb 2015 : Column 693

which I have had, probably tentatively, from a young age that peace, understanding, stability and decency are built in the minds of men and women. It is not therefore a cliché to say that we are in a battle for hearts and minds—we are. Central to that battle for hearts and minds—the powerhouse of it—is higher education and the universities. That is why the arguments that we have been hearing from all sides today have been so important.

I sometimes allow a little element of cynicism to creep into my mind and think that some of the proposals that come forward, not least what originally came forward from the Government here, might almost have been scripted by the highly intelligent, ruthless leaders of movements such as ISIS. This was almost beginning to do exactly what they want us to do in beginning to undermine and limit those things which are central to the fabric of everything that we say we believe in.

From that standpoint, I hope that the Government will see the profound dangers of a gigantic own goal and of a victory for the ruthless extremists. This is the time when we have to make absolutely clear that we stand for something totally different. The central powerhouse of that is thought, analysis and creative intelligence, and the workplace for that is the universities of our society. It is not just what course should be done, what is acceptable or what lecture is not acceptable; it is the whole atmosphere and ethos of the place. Anything that undermines that destroys something that is an absolute lodestar of the things we say we believe in.

Lord Pannick (CB): My Lords, I added my name to Amendment 14A, to which the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, spoke. I very much welcome Amendment 15D, tabled by the Minister, which goes a very long way to addressing the concerns that were expressed around the House in Committee and have been expressed again here today. It puts on the face of the Bill that these new Prevent duties for universities are to be read and understood alongside their duties to protect freedom of speech—and, indeed, that particular regard must be given to free speech.

Some noble Lords have expressed concern today about a lack of clarity, but free speech is not absolute, even in universities. It has to be balanced against other considerations; the balance must depend on the particular circumstances, and the guidance will be of particular importance in this regard. All the more welcome, therefore, is the amendment that we will discuss in a later group that ensures that the guidance must be approved by a positive resolution of both Houses.

I most respectfully do not agree with my former tutor, the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, that Amendment 15D will make no difference to the law of the land. I would expect the courts to say, reading the new clause as part of the Bill, that the Part 5 duties must not unreasonably or unnecessarily restrict or impede the performance of the universities’ core function, which is and remains to promote academic inquiry.

I have two questions for the Minister concerning his Amendment 15D. The first arises out of the fact that the amendment tabled by the noble Lord,

4 Feb 2015 : Column 694

Lord Macdonald, and me refers both to freedom of expression and academic freedom. The Minister’s amendment does not mention academic freedom. Can the Minister confirm—I hope he can give a positive response to this—that it is unnecessary expressly to mention academic freedom in his amendment, because in the context of a university, academic freedom is implicit in the very notion of securing freedom of expression? That would be my understanding, but I would very much welcome his reassurance on that.

Secondly, there are limits to the scope of the Minister’s Amendment 15D, because it incorporates the duty of freedom of expression in relation to three aspects of Part 5 of the Bill. New subsection (2) applies freedom of expression to the duty of universities under Clause 25(1). New subsection (3) applies this freedom of expression duty to the role of the Secretary of the State in issuing guidance under Clause 28 and the role of the Secretary of State when considering whether to issue directions under Clause 29.

However, there are two important aspects of the Part 5 scheme to which this new clause on freedom of expression does not appear to apply. One is the duty of universities under Clause 28(2) to “have regard” to the guidance, and the other concerns the duties of monitoring authorities under Clause 30. The freedom of expression duty applies to neither of those important matters, and I am concerned about that. So this is my second question. Will the Minister tell us—he might be unable or unwilling to answer today, but I would very much welcome an answer before Third Reading on Monday—whether there is a reason why his new freedom of expression clause, which I welcome, does not apply to Clause 28(2), the duty of universities to have regard to the guidance, or Clause 30, the duty of monitoring authorities? Would he please look at the matter before Third Reading to consider whether it might be better to include those matters also within this new provision?

Baroness Brinton: I have attached my name to Amendment 14C, and rather than repeat the points made by my noble friend Lady Sharp of Guildford, I will say just that I endorse them. I will make a comment and then ask my noble friend the Minister a question on his Amendment 15D—which, as many other noble Lords have said this evening, takes us some way forward. I am grateful to the Minister and his civil servants for coming back with a proposal that means that we can actually discuss some of the boundaries—and therein lies my question. This relates to guidance: in particular, we discussed in Committee the revisions of the guidance to some of the very specific duties about checking presentations and making sure that people had been trained in specified authorities.

I have a more fundamental question about paragraph 50 in the current guidance, which I do not believe was proposed to be amended. It says that,

“universities must take seriously their responsibility to exclude those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism”.

It is the phrase, “their responsibility to exclude”, that I want to focus on.

I am not sure that the qualifying statement,

“that support or are conducive to terrorism”,

4 Feb 2015 : Column 695

is sufficiently clear as to provide reassurance. It is already illegal to directly or indirectly encourage others to commit terrorist acts, and universities are obliged to exclude those who do so. Beyond this, it is not clear which views should be understood to be conducive to terrorism. Non-violent extremism is not generally unlawful, and the Prevent strategy defines extremism as,

“vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”.

These values and concepts include those that are rightly the subject of debate and consideration in universities. It is not appropriate for universities to be required to exclude those who lawfully oppose them.

In a letter to the Times on Monday, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills stated that the Bill,

“addresses terrorism and not extremism”,

which he described as, “a highly subjective concept”. I hope that the Minister will be able to confirm that the Secretary of State’s comments will be fully reflected in future versions of the guidance; and that universities will not be required to exclude from campuses those who, while acting within the law, advocate views that are classed as extreme.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I will briefly remark on the labyrinthine complexity of the law in relation to education and universities as it is already. I have a terrible anxiety that this Bill—well intentioned as it may be—along with the guidance, will add a dimension of further complexity that will be counterproductive to a quite significant degree. It is going to make the task of the authorities in schools and universities—and I should declare an interest as a former chancellor of the University of Essex—burdensome to a remarkable degree. I support this group of amendments, but very much hope that the Minister, who has a gargantuan task in shepherding through this Bill, will tell us whether there is any prospect at all that this side of the finalisation of our deliberations, anything could be done to cast light and clarity on what I believe is a forest fit only for lawyers.

Finally, I echo what many others have said, most recently the noble Lord, Lord Deben: that it is so easy to contrive a situation in legislation that is counterproductive. I have a fear bordering on a certainty that the good intentions of the Bill will prove to be just that: because what I believe the Government have not taken nearly enough into account is that universities are engines of enlightenment, truth, fact and tolerance. However, what is being imposed upon them will have a chilling and bureaucratic effect, particularly—I repeat—via the guidance that, we must not forget, as the Joint Committee on Human Rights put it, will expose universities to being found,

“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”.

I fear that it will end up undermining the unique virtues of the university sector. Of course, that would be the ultimate farce because the Bill is designed to uphold the values of which universities are exemplars.

6.30 pm

Baroness Afshar: My Lords, I speak as a teacher of courses on Islam and the Middle East, in both the UK

4 Feb 2015 : Column 696

and Strasbourg. I support the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, as I am beginning to feel that it will be impossible to teach a course that explains what Muslims think, what their ideas are or the way they think without at one point or another being accused of promoting terrorism. My courses are controversial. Particularly, Muslims object to what I say. Parents of Muslim women object to what I say, as do many British people. I would like to feel that universities remain places where people such as myself can teach courses that are controversial but can be enlightening and prevent future terrorists from finding that they have no refuge anywhere.

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Bates has done an amazing job in inching this legislation slowly towards becoming a bearable and acceptable piece of law. However, we are not there yet. I put on record my thanks for my noble friend’s two amendments. One of them still awaits greater clarification. I am still not clear what the hierarchy is of, in particular, “due” and other kinds of regard. It is important that that is made clear. In doing so, I hope that my noble friend will recognise—as I am sure he will—that the heart of university education lies in academic freedom. Therefore, it is not one of a number of considerations but at the very centre of what it is to have a free system of tertiary education. My noble friend can get there but we need another little heave before he does.

The second thing I thank my noble friend for is the movement towards making sure that the so-called guidance is subjected to parliamentary consideration. We all appreciate that very much, not just because it helps to make the guidance itself clearer and reflect the experience of Parliament but because it is essential in dealing with terrorism that we bring into the pattern the greatest possible commitment by Parliament and all parts of university, not least including students. I will talk a little further about that later. At this point, I simply contribute the thought that it is critical that Parliament should be a significant part of the whole of this legislation so that it can exercise its wisdom, experience and commitment. Secondly, as we discussed, I hope my noble friend, for whom I have a great deal of respect, will recognise that academic freedom is not one of a number of priorities but the central one.

Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve (CB): My Lords, I add my voice to these questions about the guidance that may be issued. I very much welcome the fact that such guidance would have to be approved by both Houses before it came into force but we have heard about one sort of guidance which raises particular fears for anybody who cares about freedom of speech or academic freedom.

I must declare an interest. Yesterday evening, I was a visiting lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, speaking on an extremely dangerous topic: freedom of expression. I distinguished different conceptions of freedom of expression and had a very engaged audience who had a great deal to say and came from many directions. Now, I said the other day in our debate that I am not one of those lecturers who always has her full text available in advance. I give too many visiting

4 Feb 2015 : Column 697

lectures in the course of a year—probably about 40—for that. At that rate, as this is an ancillary, unpaid activity, I cannot be held responsible for producing text at some defined moment such as a fortnight ahead. I would simply have to give it up. I hope the Minister realises how much of the intellectual life of our country flows through visiting occasions—seminars, lectures, panel discussions and the like—in and also beyond universities for which providing prior texts is just not feasible.

I have a definite point to make here. The first arguments about freedom of expression—which we then called freedom of speech or freedom of the press in this country—opposed the idea of prior restraint. The former Member of Parliament for Hull, Mr John Milton, put this argument admirably in the mid-17th century in his great work, Areopagitica. Prior restraint is what he called “licensing” and “misdoubt”. Can the Minister give the House an undertaking that we will not get into prior restraint, thereby taking British values back to where they were in the middle of the 17th century, if not further? Without prior restraint, some things can go on. It is not enough but I think the House would probably welcome an undertaking from the Minister when he winds up that prior restraint will not be one of the methods by which guidance is imposed.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick: My Lords, I will be extremely brief but I support the very powerful speech made by my noble friend Lord Deben. I was actually in the audience when he and Kenneth Clarke debated with Sir Oswald Mosley. I remember shouting out some rather abrasive heckles at Sir Oswald Mosley and getting a rather rude reply. My noble friend was absolutely right in what he said: the meeting demonstrated very much the shortcomings of the arguments put forward by Sir Oswald Mosley, and the British movement before the war as well.

I have one or two points about the guidelines. I know we will come to an amendment on them later, but given the way that this House works I suspect a lot of future debates will get collapsed into this particular amendment. As I said earlier when I intervened rather rudely on the Minister, what particularly bothers me is this whole concept of non-violent extremism. I listened to his answer but, to be honest, did not really feel that it really met the point—I will study it very carefully in the Official Report tomorrow in case I missed something.

The point I addressed particularly was about this meeting where I spoke, along with the editor of the Sunday Telegraph, at Queen Mary college in London. The meeting consisted entirely of Muslim students, a large number of whom made it very clear that they did not support terrorism or violence but wished to dispute the basis of western democracy and elections. They preferred a more consultative process—shura—rather than western democracy, and I and the editor of the Sunday Telegraph argued with them. I believe that it was a good thing to hold that meeting openly, on the campus, and have that thoroughly aired. At the end of the meeting, some expressed some sympathy with what was said and some did not. However, I do not believe for one minute that it would have been right to

4 Feb 2015 : Column 698

ban such a meeting. That seems to be an example of exactly this phrase, “non-violent extremism”. We should be careful here. As the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, said, so many things restrict freedom of speech in this country already.

There are many things in the guidelines that I think are open to argument. The noble Lord, Lord Morgan, highlighted the talk of “pathways”. That struck a chord with me, because there is a sentence about,

“intervening to stop people moving from extremist (albeit legal) groups into terrorist-related activity”.

How, precisely, is one to stop people moving from a legal group into something that is illegal? There is also the sentence:

“Islamic extremists specifically attack the principles of civic participation”.

That relates directly to the meeting that I attended at Queen Mary college in London—and I would say it was a very good thing that we discussed whether to participate or not to participate.

Various people have commented on the guidance for speakers at universities, and stressed the point—I shall not make it again—that it is most unlikely that speakers will have a full text. I gave a lecture at a university last week, and I shall not disclose, for fear of offending the university, how late I left the preparation of my remarks.

The guidance also mentions:

“A system for assessing and rating risks”.

If ever I heard of a box-ticking exercise, it is “rating risks”. Are people going to give someone seven out of 10 because he is more dangerous than someone who only gets five out of 10? This, I am afraid, reminds me of the FSA—or the FCA, as it now is—which thinks that it will somehow prevent a financial disaster if risks are rated on a scale of one to 10.

Lastly, there is the point that my noble friend Lord Renfrew raised last week in an intervention on the Minister, when he asked, “What about societies at universities, as opposed to universities themselves?”. If my recollection is right, and if I heard the Minister correctly, I think he said that there would be no problem with societies. However, the guidance document contains a whole section on “Student unions and societies”, in which we are told that they must have regard to who comes to speak to them, what the speaker’s platform is, what supervision there is to see that people can be allowed to challenge them, and so on. There are even phrases about “managing prayer … facilities”. Why should prayers be managed by some sort of authority? This all seems to me far too intrusive, and I would be grateful if the Minister gave the assurance that a lot of these things will be looked at—and, I hope, dropped.

Baroness Warsi (Con): My Lords, I support the comments made by my noble friends Lord Deben and Lord Lamont. It may give my noble friends some comfort—or perhaps some concern—when I say that I have many a grey hair from having held these very conversations over a period of four years. Conversations have gone on within government over and over again about what the definitions of “extremism” and “non-violent extremism” are and about where legitimate debate ends and concerns about terrorism and extremism

4 Feb 2015 : Column 699

start. Fortunately, the Government did move to a position of providing further definition, but that now has consequences that affect what we are trying to do with the Bill.

I want to raise two specific practical issues in relation to the amendments. The first is about Islamic societies. There is no doubt that there is a battle of ideas within Islam. Certainly there are conversations going on among British Muslims about the flexibility within Islam and the parameters of how Islam should be interpreted, especially within a state where it exists in a minority form, as opposed to a country where Islam is in the majority. These are very real discussions, which need to be had. They will determine what Islam looks like in Britain in a decade’s time and how Britain can feel at ease with a religion that is more comfortable within that environment.

Those debates need to be had, and they are being had, and one of the places where they need to take place is within universities. Specifically, they need to take place in Islamic societies within universities. We have all heard of individual incidents of Islamic societies in universities having had speakers, or having said something, or having configured their meeting, in a way that could be considered unacceptable. Many British Muslim parents who send their children to universities have, in the past, sat down and had “the talk”. That talk does not relate to drugs, sex or anything else that may be more freely available at university. It relates to Islamic societies, and it goes something like this: “When you go there, you need to be careful about some of the ideas you’ll hear. You may want to stay away from those ideas, because you could get in with a group who may have very extreme ideas, and those are not the people we want you to get involved with”.

However, the talk in my household goes further. It says, “Yes, you will meet people who don’t have great ideas, and have ideas you may not agree with. That’s why you’re going to university, because part of your job is to challenge those ideas. So make sure you turn up at Islamic societies. Don’t let people with extreme views take over those societies just because the majority of you want to stay away because they have views you don’t agree with”. But if the provisions in the Bill are enacted without these amendments, the talk from parents like me will become, “Stay away completely, because you could be caught up in something that would label you as an extremist”. That would not be encouraging debate—that very real debate that needs to happen within Islam about the battle of ideas and about what British Islam will look like in a decade. We must not stifle that debate.

6.45 pm

The second very practical issue is one that I have now been raising for a number of weeks, both in this Chamber and in the media. That is the Government’s position on engagement. There has been a debate within government about whether we should engage with the Federation of Student Islamic Societies—FOSIS. Some within government consider that organisation beyond the pale. It is the umbrella organisation for Islamic societies throughout the country, and it is an important organisation, as it represents a large number of Muslim students on campus.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 700

There has been no official indication or evidence to show that this is an extremist group that should not be engaged with, but because the Government have taken that view, and because of the climate and culture that has been created, FOSIS is not formally engaged with. Indeed, I was criticised for engaging with FOSIS when there was a meeting right here in Parliament, which many parliamentarians attended. My concern about the duty in relation to universities is that if the message goes out from government that FOSIS is not an organisation that we engage with, it will therefore, by default, be seen as an extremist organisation. It will therefore, also by default, be an organisation that can no longer operate on university campuses. Therefore Islamic societies, too, will be organisations that can no longer operate on university campuses, because universities will have a Prevent duty to stop potential terrorism, which it is thought could be caused by this extremism that the Government believe is on a linear journey towards terrorism.

Universities, of course, in protecting themselves, will go for the position that makes them most secure. That will have a chilling effect, and will ultimately lead to a stifling of the very conversations that need to take place. There will be a chilling effect in the very communities that can, in the end, be the biggest answer to dealing with the issues of radicalisation and terrorism and those discussions will not be allowed to happen.

Lord Armstrong of Ilminster (CB): My Lords, I declare an interest as a former Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office and as a former chancellor of the University of Hull. I have therefore listened to this debate with great interest and concern. I find myself in a situation that was described in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. I agreed with everything he said then, although I shall not repeat it.

The debate has swayed around the issue, and it seems very difficult for us to try to assign primacy between the duties under the Bill and the duties towards freedom of speech. The duty of preserving freedom of speech is, as so many speakers have said, of fundamental importance. However, we have seen that it is possible for people who wish to do so to be rather successful in radicalisation within the restrictions on freedom of speech within the law, so I have sympathy with what the Government are trying to achieve.

The merit of Amendment 14A proposed by the noble Lords, Lord Macdonald and Lord Pannick, and Amendment 15D proposed by the Government is that while the duties obviously conflict, the ultimate choice of what to do is left to the universities. No primacy on one or the other duty is expressed. The decision is left, presumably case by case, to the universities. That seems to be almost the only position possible if we are to retain some kind of inhibition on radicalisation in places of higher education.

Lord Scott of Foscote (CB): My Lords, there have been some memorable speeches this evening. I want to add just a word or two. I have an interest: I have four children, two of whom are Muslims, and 12 grandchildren, seven of whom are Muslims. They are as indignant as anybody else about the outrages that are committed

4 Feb 2015 : Column 701

from time to time by members of their religion. They would be wholly supportive of everything that has been said in this debate.

Amendment 15D, as proposed by the Minister, seems to deal satisfactorily—with some exceptions which I propose to mention—with the main issue in this debate; that is, to reconcile the conflict between, on the one hand, the duty on universities to encourage and allow freedom of expression, and, on the other, the Clause 25(1) duty to protect people from being influenced into terrorism. Amendment 15D seems to deal with that, subject to some grammatical points on its second subsection where it refers to the two relevant duties.

One of the duties, imposed by Clause 25(1), is to protect people against terrorism; the other, under the Education Act (No. 2) 1986, is to allow and encourage freedom of speech. Those two duties are often in conflict, and the reconciliation between them is sought to be done with subsection (2) of the proposed new clause in Amendment 15D. It says:

“When carrying out the duty imposed by section 25(1)”—

which is the protection against terrorism, “a specified authority”, such as a university,

“to which this section applies must, if subject to the duty imposed by section 43(1) of”,

the Education Act,

“have particular regard to it”.

I read that several times as I was quite uncertain which of the two duties the “it” referred to. I hope it was referring to the freedom of speech duty but, as a reading of the subsection shows, it is grammatically perfectly capable of referring to the Clause 25(1) duty. That really ought to be sorted out before this amendment becomes final. It could be dealt with perfectly easily by ending subsection (2) with the words: “having particular regard to the freedom of speech duty”.

In subsection (3) of the proposed new clause, there is again this ambiguity as to what “that duty” refers to. There are two duties and it might be referring to either. I think that the duty being referred to in subsection (3) is probably the Clause 25(1) duty. These might be described as pedantic points, but they are the sorts of points that a chancery barrister, as I was when I began my legal career, would love to make in taking up the time of a judge in court. Goodness knows what answer the judge would give: different judges might give different answers, and that would mean that the legislation had a flaw in it. It is an ambiguity that needs to be corrected.

Lord Wilson of Dinton (CB): My Lords, I apologise that I have not intervened before on any stages of the Bill. I come from Cambridge, where the Government have succeeded in something that, in my experience, has never happened before in my 12 years there: they have united the Cambridge colleges, in deep concern about the impact of this provision on the universities. I declare an interest in that I am a fellow of Emmanuel College. I was a master for 10 years and still deliver a couple of lectures for the university and interview for admission.

I was also, for a period, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. As such, I cannot speak to the Minister in private, so I will have to do it in public. I have a real

4 Feb 2015 : Column 702

concern. I understand absolutely the awful nature of the problem that he has. I have some experience of terrorism; I know what it is like from the inside. I know how—if it is not too bad a word—frightening it can be when you have a problem like this. However, if I were speaking truth unto power, I would say that I do not think that this is going to work. That is my real worry, Minister.

There are a number of reasons why it will not work. One of them is that the Government need the universities and their challenge, analysis and intellect—the Minister has heard that said eloquently around the Chamber. But the Government are setting themselves up against that. In fact, in a parody, they are almost protecting radicalism from challenge. This needs the fresh air of challenge. Perversely, the Minister is protecting terrorism and radicalism by protecting them from debate and from challenge. Young people—students—are most open to debate and to understanding new ideas when they are young adults of 18, 19 and 20. It is extraordinary, but I am the third Member who was at the Oswald Mosley debate. This is becoming a declaration made round the Chamber. As a good civil servant, however, I was observing my future masters—and I was not heckling.

It is absolutely fundamental to the success of the Government’s policies that they have the universities on side. They should be working with them rather than doing what this legislation will do, which is to generate huge amounts of paper—just like the FCA and the FSA—and laboured analysis to no good purpose. It will generate heat. It may generate conscientious objection. It will lose the universities. The Minister should read the protest that Cambridge colleges have sent him. He needs them on side and working for him—preventing. He is discouraging them from preventing. He is moving the focus from his task to the Government and their obstruction of academic freedom and freedom of speech. That is not the way to have a successful policy. So what I would say to you as a Minister is, “Minister, think again”.

The Minister has got so far with the Bill that Amendment 15D might be the best he can do. But when it comes to the guidance and the guidelines, please think again. Unless the Minister gets that right and works with the universities, he will have a failed policy that will not look after the national interest. It will protect radicalism and non-violent extremism. That is not what this House or the nation wants.

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, this is the second long debate that we have held on a similar amendment, and there have been some reflections of the debate that we had last week. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, who said that it was a shame that the Minister was not able to speak beforehand. Some of our debate—with notable exceptions, of course—has been on what was in the coalition Government’s original Bill and not the amendment that the Minister has brought forward to us this evening.

The comments made tonight about freedom of speech and academic freedom were well made at Second Reading. The importance of both those aspects has been well expressed this evening. The Minister deserves enormous credit for the way he listened to the debate

4 Feb 2015 : Column 703

on Second Reading and again last week. Taking into account the comments made today, he responded not just with Amendment 15D but by saying last week that parts of the Prevent guidance would be removed. Perhaps noble Lords were not aware of this, but the Minister said last week that paragraph 66—the part which refers to having to give an outline of topics and discussions—would not be in the guidance. We have had some discussion around that, which makes it, in a sense, superfluous. I must admit, at the time, to feeling relieved that your Lordships’ House was not a specified body. I do not think that any of us would have had 14 days’ notice of the comments we were going to make today. Perhaps it is just as well that we are exempt and that he is going to withdraw paragraph 66 in the Prevent guidance.

7 pm

I thank the Minister for recognising and taking on board the concerns raised about academic freedom and freedom of speech. When we have a semi-fast-tracked Bill, where the intervals between stages are so much shorter, it makes it difficult to have the kinds of discussion that we would like to have and could have, with all noble Lords taking part. I am grateful for the amendment that the Minister has tabled. I am sure he does not think it perfect, any more than anybody else does. I think it is an excellent amendment given the time that has been available. He must be reassured by what noble Lords with considerable legal expertise had to say. The noble and learned Lords, Lord Scott of Foscote and Lord Hope of Craighead, and the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Macdonald, were all of the view that what was in the amendment sought to do what the Minister would want it to do.

I would like to probe further on a couple of points, including one raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. It relates to an amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Lister in the fifth group of amendments, which we shall consider later. We have already had a wide-ranging discussion that has gone beyond just the amendments we are considering now. The point was about freedom of speech under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 and academic freedom under the Education Reform Act 1988. I think the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, understood it. I did when I read it but, not being a lawyer, I defer to lawyers. Can the Minister clarify whether that would be encompassed or is intended to be encompassed in this amendment?

There are two lessons to be learned. One is how we regard as precious the opportunity for debate and the space for students to explore and debate views within universities and other institutions. The other is that we should try to avoid fast-tracking legislation such as this. I am not complaining about the time that has been available in your Lordships’ House for this debate—that is entirely reasonable, and I understand why. However, this House is used to scrutinising legislation in detail; so it would have been helpful to all noble Lords, including the Minister, to have had longer. This is not a criticism of the usual channels that make such arrangements. They did so with the best of intentions, but it would have been helpful to have a little more time. I congratulate the Minister on bringing forward this amendment in the time he had.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 704

The noble Lord, Lord Lamont, spoke at length on the subject of guidance. We shall have a debate on this later. It will, of course, also be subject to affirmative resolution. Amendment 14C looks at the guidance. It covers some issues that I am sure the Minister has reiterated numerous times in debates we have had on this. Perhaps what has been said in your Lordships’ House could be fed into the consultation. It would be a useful process.

Everything that could be said has probably been said. I will listen with interest to the Minister’s comments, particularly about his own amendments and about Amendment 14C.

Lord Bates: My Lords, this has been an excellent debate. I often say that it has been a good debate when I stand up at the end of a group of amendments, but this has been a truly outstanding discussion. We have been talking in an academic context; I think this debate should almost be required reading in many institutions, although I would not wish to encroach on academic freedom by suggesting it so blatantly.

It has evoked such strong passions because there are so many Members of your Lordships’ House who have held and hold positions in our great British universities and who have benefited from the freedoms of speech and academic research which exist there. These are strengths and the envy of the world. We have all had the opportunity and privilege of benefitting from them. When I look at the warden of Wadham College I always have particular regard to what he has to say—whether it is telling me about legislation or taking the short cut across the quad. It evokes a deep passion in us all and we are right to feel very proud of our institutions and the freedom of speech which takes place within them.

I want to put how we arrived at this situation into some sort of context. The Prevent strategy was introduced in 2007. As the noble Baroness will recall, in 2005 we had the outrage of the terrorist attack on the London Underground; 54 people were killed and several hundred people were injured. There were two Terrorism Acts—one in 2000, when the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, was Cabinet Secretary, and a subsequent one in 2006. I want to echo the points made by my noble friend Lady Warsi. There was a view which said, “Listen, there is something more afoot here. We need not just to tighten the law, to tighten the surveillance and prosecution element of it. We need somehow to prevent and to get ahead of the poisonous ideology which is pervading these people’s minds to actually think that they would consider blowing themselves up on a crowded subway train. We need somehow to engage with that”. So the previous Government, to their credit, came up with the concept of Prevent. Right from the outset the Prevent programme went across all bodies and organisations. All public bodies were encouraged to think about how they could prevent people from being drawn into terrorist activities.

One of the dangers of listening to my noble friend Lord Deben is that I get so carried away by his arguments and powers of persuasion that sometimes I forget that I am not sitting on the Back Benches and I nod vigorously towards him. Then I remember that I have a responsibility on the Front Bench and am

4 Feb 2015 : Column 705

jolted to focus on Clause 25, which says that the general duty to which we ask people to have due regard is that:

“A specified authority must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

That is what it says. We can get drawn into its implications, but that is the principle that is on the face on the Bill.

So we had the Prevent strategy, which applied across all organisations and which was reviewed and refreshed in 2011. After the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich, there was an assessment of the Prevent strategy and the conclusion went something like this. “Listen, there are some wonderful things going on. We have regional co-ordinators. They are working very well with the universities in looking at who is on campus, making sure that they have preparations in place and that views which are potentially dangerous and leading people into extremism and terrorism are noted. However, it is very patchy. There are some universities that are extremely good and there are some which, to be honest, just do not want to play ball. Invariably, as is often the case, the ones that are very good are in the low-risk areas and the ones that are very poor are in the high-risk areas”. The extremism task force which was considering this came forward and said, “We need to put this on a statutory footing, so that we get some consistency of delivery across the piece—across all organisations—and we bring the ones which are not taking their responsibility seriously up to the standard of what the others are doing already”. So we arrived more or less at where we are.

Then, because the guidance to be put out was going to be specific—and noble Lords have had some great fun at its expense—this was something that we put out to consultation. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, referred to differences with the Scottish consultation. I think I said in Committee that in relation to the particular, narrow elements, the requirements such as giving advance notice on speeches are very limited compared with the much more extensive Universities UK guidance for external speakers, which requests,

“a script or précis from the speaker outlining what they intend to say and requiring them to sign an undertaking acknowledging that their speech will be terminated if they deviate from it”.

This is from Universities UK’s current guidelines on having speakers on campus, which also talks about:

“Briefing the chair in advance of the event, making clear that they have a responsibility to ensure that no speaker or other person present at the event infringes the law; this briefing could highlight the circumstances under which they must stop the event, issue warnings to participants on their conduct or request the withdrawal or removal by stewards (or the police if necessary) of the person(s) concerned”.

I do not recall a hue and cry from the collective colleges of our great universities to say that this was outrageous and should not be happening; people just kind of said, “Listen”—

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws: The reason why there was no hue and cry from the colleges and universities is that they just ignore it. It is a shame on Universities UK that it produced guidelines that are so ridiculous

4 Feb 2015 : Column 706

that people cast them to one side. I am afraid that this has led to a diminution of respect for the organisation, and that has been a problem across the board.

Baroness Brinton: Does my noble friend not agree that the difference between the UUK guidance and the Bill is that the Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to act against the university whereas at the moment the UUK guidance merely advises universities to think about something? I hope that the Minister will recognise that.

Lord Bates: I am grateful for both those interventions. However, I think they make my point: the fact that the guidance is there to put in place in universities for speakers but it is just brushed aside and ignored seems to give some veracity to the arguments put forward by the extremism task force, which reviewed our counterterrorism strategy and arrived at the conclusion that there is something to be said for having a more statutory footing.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am sorry to interrupt the Minister. Could it not be that the universities simply thought that the guidance was—I will not use too strong a word—hopeless and misguided?

Lord Bates: It could be. I do not know what was in their minds.

The pressure and stipulation that are contained even in the consultation document issued in December, which we went out to consultation on—sadly, I have then gone and pre-empted the consultation by assuring your Lordships that certain sections of it would not apply—are a much lighter touch. There is no question, none at all, of the Government telling people who to have on their campus, in their university or in their college to speak. All we ask is that they have systems and procedures in place by which they ensure that the people who come on to their campus—

Baroness O'Loan: I thank the Minister for giving way. Surely it is not the case that all the Government are asking is that they have some procedures; surely it is the case that under the Bill the Secretary of State will have the power to direct universities as to what they do, and therefore it is that power that makes a difference.

Lord Bates: On that element, the noble Baroness is correct; there is a power there. If you make it a statutory duty, there needs to be some element of saying, “Well, so what if they brush aside their statutory duty?”. What if they brushed aside their statutory duty on a whole range of things? We have talked about that: the Public Order Act 1986; the Protection from Harassment Act 1997; the Terrorism Act 2006, which talks about inviting support for a proscribed organisation or punishing statements encouraging terrorism or disseminating terrorist material; and the Public Order Act 1988, or “breach of the peace” law—these are all Acts that contain a duty. What if organisations fail to observe the health and safety Act, and an inspector comes and says—I realise that I have tested the House.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 707

7.15 pm

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB): I am most grateful to the Minister for giving way, but I think that he really is fighting the last war. It is perfectly clear that the Bill is going to enter into force and that it is going to make certain new statutory obligations. Many of us have argued the case against that and for a voluntary approach, and I still believe that that would have been better, but it is not what is going to happen. So although he can have a lot of fun at the expense of UUK, there are other lessons that could be drawn from it—one of which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said, is that no one actually paid any attention to it. So if really unwise guidance is given, as was given then, that is what will happen.

We are talking now about a statutory obligation, though, and that is something completely different. Let us simply work on the basis that something like Amendment 14D is going to come into force. I ask the Minister to address in his winding-up speech one or two modest ways, which have been suggested around the Chamber, in which it could be improved before Third Reading, drawing on some of the excellent language in Amendments 14 and 14A. That is what would enable the Home Secretary of the day. In the next lot but one of amendments we will get on to the guidance, but that is the heart of the whole matter. I do not think that we should dilly-dally much longer on whether or not there is going to be a statutory obligation.

Lord Bates: I certainly take the noble Lord’s point but perhaps I may address some of the key points in the amendments that have been put forward.

I just want to put this in some kind of context. I admit to having had a bit of fun at Universities UK’s expense, but I think that quite a few noble Lords have had a bit of fun at the expense of the consultation document. Given that my noble friend Lord Deben has exhorted us to be in favour of all debate, one should not necessarily try to close off one part of it. However, I accept that perhaps I have pushed far enough, and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has got me on track. I shall address some of the particular points that have arisen.

I shall turn to the amendments themselves, but I think it would be helpful to address first the general principle that many noble Lords have spoken about, today and in Committee: the inclusion of universities and further education institutions within the scope of the Prevent duty in Clause 25. In Committee I outlined specific case studies, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, of students and graduates who had gone on to commit terrorist atrocities. For the avoidance of doubt, in all the case studies I mentioned, including the 2010 Stockholm attack and the 2009 Detroit aircraft attack, the perpetrators had studied in UK institutions.

Young people accounted for around 31% of terrorist-related convictions between 2001 and June 2014. Within that date, the figure for at least two years is even higher, at 35%. The Prevent duty is designed to apply to sectors that can most effectively protect vulnerable people from radicalisation and from being drawn into terrorism.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 708

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, who have previously asked for evidence—I went back and said, “What evidence do we have from the regional co-ordinators at BIS that there is a level of non-compliance?”, and I have already referred to part of it—in the year up to 25 January 2015, at least 62 events were held on campuses that featured an extremist speaker or speakers. We know of another eight events that were publicised but later cancelled. Speakers at these events have, for example, called for apostates of Islam to be beheaded and have stated that a man who beats his wife should not be questioned as it is solely a matter between them.

I do not mention all this to suggest that these speakers should necessarily be banned—that is not what our guidance says is required under the Clause 25 duty—but to demonstrate the point that extremist views are propagated on campuses, that students are at risk of being drawn into terrorism and that a disproportionately high number of young people go on to become involved in it.

Since we last debated these issues, the consultation on the draft guidance has finished. Officials are still working through the responses, but an early indication shows that 42 higher education institutions emailed a response to the Home Office and, out of those, only eight stated that universities should not be subject to the duty. Furthermore, Universities UK—I qualify, of course, praying that organisation in aid of my position—which represents 133 vice-chancellors and principals, has not called for universities to be excluded from the Prevent duty. It reiterated its support for the duty when it met my honourable friend the Minister for Immigration and Security and my right honourable friend the Minister for Universities and Science earlier this week.

All this is not to say that universities have not raised issues with the current draft guidance. Almost all of them have done so, in a constructive fashion, and we thank them for their responses. That is the point of this form of public consultation and we will be making a number of changes to the guidance before it is published in its final form. I have already mentioned in Committee two changes that we propose to make: amending the reference to all speakers having to give prior sight of presentations; and making clear that not all staff need to receive Prevent training. We will be working through other changes and of course, as has been said, all that guidance, which will be issued to chancellors, will now be the subject, in a later group of amendments, of an affirmative resolution in both Houses of Parliament.

I now turn to the issue of freedom of speech, which has been heavily focused upon. It was mentioned that placing the duty on universities could have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and academic freedom, which would be contrary to the core function of our universities—a function which, as I have already said, makes universities one of our most important arenas for challenging extremist views and ideologies. As my noble friends Lord Deben and Lady Warsi said, I drew your Lordships’ attention in Committee to existing guidance referring to how speakers are treated. That is why I have tabled Amendment 15D.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 709

This amendment would require further and higher education institutions, when carrying out the Prevent duty, to have particular regard to the duty to secure freedom of speech contained in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. This will require higher and further education institutions, when considering all the factors that they need to consider when complying with the Prevent duty, to place particular emphasis on the duty to secure freedom of speech. I am sorry that I caused my noble friend Lady Hamwee so much confusion earlier with the difference between having due regard and having particular regard. The reason we put that in is that we want to have a higher test to differentiate between having due regard to the guidance and having particular regard to freedom of speech under the 1986 Act. That was not accidental; it was absolutely intentional and, had I been a little sharper, I might have mentioned that to noble Lords earlier.

The noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord Macdonald, have tabled an amendment along similar lines, Amendment 14A, although we would argue that the Government’s amendment goes further. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, has tabled Amendments 14 and 15 with a view to ensuring that, to the extent that Scottish higher and further education institutions are subject to the Prevent duty, their compliance with that duty is also subject to their need to ensure freedom of speech. This is quite clearly a logical approach, given that those bodies are not covered by the duty in the 1986 Act, and we are not in disagreement with the general principle of the noble and learned Lord’s amendments.

Given, however, that no Scottish bodies are currently listed in Schedule 6, these amendments are unnecessary. If and when Scottish institutions are added to Schedule 6 by order, the Government can use the power in Clause 26(3) to make consequential amendments to this chapter. We would at that point seek to ensure that Scottish institutions had the same requirement as those in England and Wales to pay particular regard to the need to secure freedom of speech, as contemplated by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I hope that that goes some way to reassure the noble and learned Lord on this point.

My noble friend Lady Hamwee spoke to her Amendment 14C, which would require that guidance to the education sector must recognise the duties of that sector to secure freedom of speech, to promote tolerance and respect for democracy and to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. The guidance already makes these points in the relevant sections. I refer my noble friend to paragraph 105 of the draft guidance in particular. There were a number of points, but I am conscious of the time I have taken to respond.

Baroness Lister of Burtersett: The Minister, in talking about Amendment 14, seemed to imply that it related only to Scotland. He said that he agreed with this amendment, but Amendment 14 incorporates an amendment from the Joint Committee on Human Rights which makes very clear that the Prevent duty should be subject to the duty in Section 43(1) of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. Is he now saying that he agrees with that?

4 Feb 2015 : Column 710

Lord Bates: I take that point and will come to it as I go through my notes. I will go through them in no particular order but will start with my noble friend Lady Brinton, who asked about paragraph 50 in the guidance. We will reflect on my noble friend’s points about the language in the paragraph and look to clarify this in future. We will also reflect on the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill, about prior restraint. I hope that I have reassured the noble Baroness that there is nothing here which would take us back to the times of prior restraint.

The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, asked why academic freedom is not specifically covered. He is quite right in his interpretation that freedom of expression, as secured by the duty in Section 43(1) of the 1986 Act, includes academic freedom, which is articulated in Section 202 of the 1988 Act, as was said by the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan. The freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions is therefore legislated for.

Lord Elystan-Morgan: There is no specific reference, of course, in the new clause, Clause 29, to Section 202 of the 1988 Act. The Minister is, no doubt, well aware that the Joint Committee’s report speaks of the necessity for a specific reference to Section 43 and Section 202 in the very same breath. In other words, my submission is that one is the obverse of the other. Section 43 of the 1986 Act guarantees freedom of speech and academic freedom, as it refers to students, employees and so on. Section 202 of the 1988 Act is the obverse of that in that it refers to the freedom of a person to do those things and yet retain employment. The two are inseparable, in my respectful submission.

Lord Bates: I will reflect again on the point about Section 202 of the 1988 Act and will see whether it is there, or whether it is, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, suggested, implicit in our wording.

My noble friend Lord Deben talked about the importance of debate. I hope that I have gone some way to reassure him that that is entirely consistent with our view. The guidance stipulates that and it is now stipulated in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Butler, asked about the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary can issue directions to universities and this makes a real difference. The power to issue directions will be subject to multiple layers of protection, including judicial oversight and that of the Prevent oversight board, on which my noble friend Lord Carlile provides independent representation. We agreed, following a discussion in Committee, to look again at this, and a direction will be issued only as a last resort.

7.30 pm

A point was raised about the position of the Oxford Union and the Cambridge Union. My noble friend Lord Renfrew asked about this in Committee. They exist separately from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and as such they are not covered by the duty.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, asked why the Bill refers only to the 1986 and 1988 Acts. I have covered that point by saying that they are implicit.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 711

I have a number of other points to respond to, particularly that made by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. We need Clauses 28(2) and 30 to ensure that those subject to the duties have particular regard to freedom of speech. The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, asked for clarification about why the duty in Clause 28(2) requiring specified authorities to have regard to the guidance, and the duty on monitoring bodies provided for in Clause 30, are not also subject to a requirement to pay particular regard to freedom of speech. I will write to him, as suggested, but I confirm that we are satisfied that the provisions in Amendment 15D do enough to ensure that higher education and further education institutions and monitoring bodies will pay sufficient regard to the protection of freedom of speech.

My noble friend Lady Sharp asked why education for under-16s, including some sixth form colleges, is not covered in the amendment. It has been the case for many years that FE and HE institutions are bound by the duty in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. Schools are not subject to the same duty. They are what we are debating here.

The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, just intervened. To be clear, the treatment of Amendment 15D does not make the Prevent duty subject to the freedom of speech duty. Instead, it provides that particular regard should be given to the freedom of speech duty. The Government are clear that this is the correct position. As the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, pointed out, it is for universities to balance each case depending on its circumstances.

I am aware that there have been many points that I have not covered in the time, but I hope that I have gone some way to reassure noble Lords on the importance of how we share the commitment to preserve free speech while at the same time being resolute in wanting to do all we can to avoid people being drawn into terrorism. In that regard, I ask the noble Lord to consider withdrawing his amendment.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, he has not really addressed the issue of whether between now and Third Reading he will have another look at his draft of Amendment 15D. It has been broadly welcomed across the House, but imperfections in it have been noted, mostly notably by my noble and learned friend Lord Scott, which the Minister has not addressed. It would be helpful if he would now reflect a little on whether the new clause inserted by Amendment 15D could be improved by some very modest clarification. At the moment, it reads like a piece of parliamentary draftsmanship: that is, totally incomprehensible to most members of the human race.

Some of the amendments, such as Amendments 14 and 14A, are much clearer to a normal reader in their meaning. This clarity is rather important because the concerns that have been expressed about freedom of speech and academic freedom are not going to be settled simply by cross-references to some article in some other piece of legislation. I hope that the Minister will look at that between now and Third Reading. I believe that it will not change one iota the thrust of what he is trying to achieve, which I am sure he will succeed in doing by this article.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 712

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): My Lords, I have a fairly simple question. I have various connections with universities, but I shall not bother with that just now in order to save time. Subsection (2) in the new clause inserted by Amendment 15D refers to,

“carrying out the duty imposed by section 25(1)”,

and goes on to state that “it” must have particular regard to the freedom of speech. “It” definitely refers to the freedom of speech part. I have no difficulty with that. I do not share the difficulty of my noble and learned friend Lord Scott, which is obviously a Chancery difficulty, but my difficulty is fundamental. When carrying out the duty imposed by Section 25(1) may lead you in one direction, the freedom of speech duty may lead you in the opposite direction. In that case, which wins? That is why it is so important that the amendment states that we should,

“have particular regard to it”.

The noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, suggested that it should be the top priority where there is a conflict. I do not know what quite what the intention is in that respect, but it is quite obvious that there can be a conflict, and if there is a conflict, what is to happen? With great respect, the Government’s new clause does not so far conclusively answer that question.

Lord Bates: I am grateful to my noble and learned friend for that intervention. He hit upon a real issue, and we are going to have to write on that point. When exploring how to indicate that the commitment to free speech is to be taken seriously and nothing should take away from that, we did not want effectively to phrase the amendment in such a way as to say, a bit like Universities UK, “You can now just disregard it because you can claim everything is free speech and therefore do not need all the rest of it”. This is a serious thing that the Government are saying. We believe that there is a particular risk and that universities ought to have due regard to it. We would like that to be done consistently. That was the reason that we landed upon to,

“have particular regard to it”.

This answers the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and with this I will sit down. You cannot have a debate of this quality, with such incredibly perceptive points being raised, and not be open to it. As I hope I have demonstrated throughout this process since we began our journey at Second Reading, I have tried to listen and have due regard to the views expressed in your Lordships’ House—and nothing will change on that. We will reflect very carefully on the particular points raised. Of course, if there are ways in which we can tighten the language that we use and points to take on board, we still have time to do that, but we feel that in putting forward Amendment 15D, we have something that can give real reassurance to universities in this regard.

Lord Hope of Craighead: My Lords, in view of the hour which we have reached, I am sure that all noble Lords would like me to bring this debate to an end as soon as possible. First, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken. This has been a debate of very high quality, and many interesting points have been raised. I am most grateful for the answer the Minister gave on

4 Feb 2015 : Column 713

Scotland, which satisfies me. We can no doubt return to that by order, if necessary.

As for the rest, I think that it is a search for clarity. I ask the Minister to bear in mind the contribution of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, and the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, when she was complimenting the Minister on Amendment 15D. I think she said, “We are not there yet”. In a way, that sums up the essence of the debate. Many points have been made in various ways and many questions have been asked which the Minister clearly has not been able to answer. I think we are reassured by the open mind which he expressed in his concluding words. In view of that, the proper thing for me to do is to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 14 withdrawn.

Amendment 14A not moved.

Consideration on Report adjourned until not before 8.40 pm.

Universal Credit

Question for Short Debate

7.39 pm

Asked by Lord German

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the results of the review into the setting of universal credit conditionality when children are in distress.

Lord German (LD): My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who are going to speak in this debate, as this is an issue of great importance to the well-being of many children in our country, and I am grateful for the interest shown. This matter came to its head in your Lordships’ House during the passage of the Pensions Act 2014. The issue being debated then was the universal credit regime covering those who are bereaved. Changes to the benefits system for widowed parents means that those with ongoing income support needs, with the conditionality requirements it brings, would claim universal credit.

On Report, my noble friend the Minister announced that he was to conduct a wider review of the impact of universal credit in circumstances where children could be in considerable distress. I am most grateful for the time my noble friend has spent in undertaking the review, and for the way in which he has engaged with myself and other noble Lords in progressing the terms of reference and in discussing the outcome.

Since the debate in your Lordships’ House on 24 February 2014, the review has concluded and the relevant regulations were laid before the House in November 2014. This review came about because of the concerns of Members of your Lordships’ House. It was a review made in the House of Lords and delivered in the House of Lords. It was personally entrusted to my noble friend the Minister, and I am sure that noble Lords on all Benches recognise his efforts in bringing this to a conclusion.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 714

I put down this Question for Short Debate because it provides a first opportunity for this House to deliberate on the findings of the review and its implementation. While I have some concerns, which I will come to later, there is much in the structure of the outcome of the review which is to be welcomed. Claiming universal credit brings work-related conditionality requirements. Following the review the Government have created a carve-out from these requirements for a group of circumstances all related to children in distress. The Government intend to switch off these conditionality requirements for up to six months in circumstances where a child is in distress because of bereavement or domestic violence and abuse. This switch-off is mandatory, not discretionary. After that period, those caring for a child affected by distress can ask for the conditions attached to universal credit to be suspended for a further three occasions, one month at a time, but only once in every six-month period. For other circumstances of distress—witnessing violence and abuse—the setting aside of conditionality is for one month in every six for up to two years.

I turn to the matters which I welcome in these Government actions. First, there is the recognition of a need for exemptions and a different approach for those who care for children in distress. The scope of the exemptions currently applies to children in distress as a result of bereavement, fleeing from violence, or experiencing or witnessing violence and abuse. I hope that my noble friend would also consider adding to that list children who are made homeless. There may be others to be added at a later date, but it is particularly important and welcome that there is no required definition of distress, simply the circumstances in which distress can occur.

Secondly, the solution provides a light-touch requirement on the evidence to establish distress. I understand that a wide range of acceptable evidence of the impact on the child is acceptable. It could be as straightforward as a description by a carer or a parent, a note from the child’s school or a local charity.

Thirdly the focus on the needs of the child is at the heart of this solution. The issue of the needs of the parent or carer is an obvious concern but this new structure is rightly focused on the absolute concerns of the child. But the distress or unavailability of the parent or carer can be transmitted to the child and become a source of distress for them. The new structure is wide in the evidence it requires of distress, but clearly understanding the complexity of the relationship between the carer or parent and their distress, and distress transmitted and experienced by the child, requires a sensitive understanding by work coaches who conduct the interviews. I would be grateful if my noble friend could explain that relationship between these easements in conditionality and easements for the parent or carer under the already existing domestic emergency or temporary circumstances provisions.

I also welcome having a structure which can grow to accommodate additional circumstances. Encompassing two additional areas which can lead to distress is welcome, but there may be more, and as I said earlier the obvious one which comes to mind is that of a child being made homeless.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 715

The key question, therefore, which I wish to ask my noble friend is this: is the six-month easement sufficient for children in bereavement circumstances? Perhaps more importantly, are the one month every six months easements of the correct length or timing? We need to understand the evidence behind the policy to be able to establish whether it covers the widest possible range of circumstances, to ensure that there is adequate protection for children whose needs possibly still require close parental or carer engagement, and this may go beyond the seven-month maximum consecutive time period allowed. Research evidence in this area appears to be somewhat incomplete, and some of the main sources were published some considerable time ago. But common experience will tell you that the way in which children respond to bereavement will vary from child to child.

In the current regime—pre-universal credit—York University research showed that most bereaved partners retain work or enter work within 18 months of bereavement. Is it appropriate to try and compress what is already happening as a normal state of affairs? So the question remains: are the six-month and then the three one-month easements adequate and proportional? A secondary question is that of the revolving-door nature of the requests. Despite the light touch on evidence the continual requirement for producing evidence each time a request is made for an easement can be a tough challenge for a parent caring for a distressed child.

It will come as no surprise to my noble friend if I ask him about the interaction between widowed parents allowance and universal credit for those who would claim both. For the purposes of universal credit, widowed parents allowance will be treated as “income other than earnings”. This means that it will be deducted at a pound-for-pound rate from the claimant’s universal credit entitlement. That means, in turn, that the actual value for a widowed parent with no other income will be £0 per week. However, widowed parents allowance will also continue to be treated as taxable income. For this reason, working claimants may not only have their WPA deducted in full from their universal credit entitlement, but also pay tax on it. The outcome is that working widowed parents in receipt of both universal credit and the widowed parents allowance could end up overall paying £7.90 per week on account of their receipt of the widowed parents allowance.

I understand that those who are moved on to universal credit will get transitional protection, but this will only be until the first change in their circumstances. Will an application for a further one-month easement under the new regime be classified as a change in circumstances? If that is the case, as soon as the new system is applied, the parent could end up paying an extra £7.90 a week.

I appreciate that this is a complex issue but I wonder if my noble friend could give consideration to four possible solutions: first, removing widowed parents allowance from the list of benefits treated as income other than earnings; secondly, partially disregarding WPA for the purposes of UC entitlement; thirdly, treating WPA as earnings rather than income for the purposes of universal credit; or fourthly, continuing to treat WPA as income other than earnings, but introduce

4 Feb 2015 : Column 716

a “widowed parents element” as an additional component within universal credit. A similar approach is seen in the interaction of carers’ allowance and the carer element in universal credit.

In conclusion, there is much to be welcomed in the outcome of this review, but there are also some large questions, and beyond that, the experience of the system in action. I would be grateful if my noble friend could give us an assurance to give us confidence that the Government are monitoring this carve-out as it happens, and are willing to make changes as appropriate in the light of experience.

I am grateful for the Minister’s close interest and commitment to these matters, and I very much look forward to his response.

7.49 pm

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord German, for prompting this debate about the review of universal credit when children are in distress. I speak this evening particularly about the distressing and challenging circumstances of the death of a parent, carer or sibling. I speak not only because I have experience as a priest alongside parents in such situations, as do so many of my clergy colleagues, and because I now support clergy in my diocese of Portsmouth ministering to those facing such deaths, but because of personal experience in my family.

The Minister’s departmental review shows welcome easing of existing regulations, but I suggest that that easing does not truly take account of the depth and extent of the challenge facing a parent or carer bereaved of a partner or child. Bluntly, she or he must support their grieving child while coping with their own grief. The grief of each family member is hugely affected by how others in the family are doing. That challenge is exacerbated if the demand of work-related requirements is added.

In my case, the death of my wife Julia left me the sole parent of two teenaged children. I had the advantage of being in a secure post, an officeholder with understanding colleagues—not even an employee—and under no pressure to fulfil specific requirements to maintain my income. Nevertheless, your Lordships will understand the range of everyday reactions—sadness, guilt, sleep difficulties and anger, for instance—which may sound modest or even trivial but have significant consequences in combination between you and dependent children.

To those, we might add the clinical range of emotional and behavioural difficulties that arise in children, particularly in the two or three years following the death. Those are potentially debilitating in themselves and inhibit development. I also raise the likelihood, as various studies show, of depression, clinical anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning underachievement and even suicide—all with significant costs to society.

I know how quickly a surviving parent must try to adjust to a new role. Even for those of us in fortunate and supportive circumstances, this is a big ask. I say that not with the flippancy of a sports commentator but from personal experience. The surviving parent must be able to respond flexibly and quickly, which often includes being physically present.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 717

I recognise, of course, that every situation is different, but I doubt if the proposal to be relieved of obligations for only six months and then for intermittent periods of one month in, at best, every six months for two years is realistic. I welcome the implicit understanding that the impact of bereavement on a parent, carer or sibling may unpredictably arise over a two-year period or longer. That is a helpful acknowledgement for which I thank the Minister. I suggest, however, that the six-month respite may be an impediment to a bereaved family’s recovery and healing. It could hang like a threat for the parent, particularly if he or she is home-based, non-earning for some time, or had withdrawn from work to care for a sick or dying partner or child. I recognise that in many—perhaps most—instances, parents will seek to return to work and to “normality”, as it is sometimes unhelpfully put.

I hope that the Minister will at the very least consider more generosity in the initial suspension of conditionality and flexibility in the ad hoc easements proposed. To monitor that and offer support—and I hope that it is not too much in those circumstances to expect a pastoral touch rather than a rigorous adherence to rules—I suggest that periodic interviews giving advice, supportive rather than coercing, would be entirely right. To expect that every widower or widow will be ready after six months to return to work or to an active monitored search for work with up to four further months, one by one, might suggest a punitive approach to those who have suffered through no action of their own.

I know the sadness and disorientation of bereavement, and I hope that the Government will acknowledge that more generously. In this of all circumstances, surely encouragement is more appropriate than compulsion. I enjoyed that, and benefited from it with my children, and I believe that others should as well.

7.56 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD): My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord German this evening not because I am at all qualified in the intricacies of the working of the current benefit system or any of the proposals. I speak because I know a little bit about children’s grief and the distress following the death of a family member. In my case, one daughter was killed and her younger sister and I lived through the ensuing years and the aftershocks of extreme grief. I was lucky to be married to an extremely supportive second husband, who had himself suffered the death of his beloved elder brother at a similar age to my surviving daughter, so he was able to empathise more than most people.

During earlier debates on this issue, I note that noble Lords who are speaking today, including the Minister, referred to the many effects of extreme grief, and I do not need to reiterate them now. However, one thing that I would add to this evening’s debate is that a child in distress may learn very adequately to disguise that distress because they want to make the burden less on the surviving parent. That is a danger: if one of the measures is whether the child is in distress, the answer may be apparently no. My noble friend said:

“The point I am trying to make is that it is far better to recognise that individual responses to grief vary. As a number of

4 Feb 2015 : Column 718

noble Lords have said, grief often does not manifest in behavioural and emotional challenges until months or even years down the line”.—[

Official Report

, 27/2/14; col. 744.]

I appreciate his deep understanding of the issue.

This evening, I want to share a few points about the causes of bereavement and what effect they can have on the grieving process. Those come not as a direct result of my personal experience but because I was, as a result, asked to become patron of the Compassionate Friends, which is an international bereavement support network. Through that organisation, I have learnt of the many and varied circumstances in which parents can find themselves. The death could be suicide, accident, murder or illness. It can be sudden, shocking and numbing or it can be lengthy and drawn out, so that by the actual death the survivors are already exhausted.

This is particularly pertinent to this evening’s discussion because in the case of suicide or murder there would of course have to be an inquest, which might well not begin for over six months. I am glad to see that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, is in her place, because she and I debated the issue of timeliness at length during the passage of the Coroners Act. This has improved, but the inquest could still not take place for several months, and might then continue for several weeks. This is likely to be at a time which is at least as stressful as the actual death and often more so, given the forensic examination of details. In the case of a death resulting from a crime there would be a court case. Again, this may continue for some time and be very stressful. In those cases it would be impossible to apply the formula which my noble friend raised this evening, because periods of one month every so often would not cover those sorts of scenarios.

I will briefly make a point that has been raised by the organisation I mentioned, the Compassionate Friends. Of course family and friends generally rally round at first to help. However, as time passes they might not be able to continue that support, or they may feel that it is time someone got over it, and so the situation may become more stressful after six months.

Returning to work is often welcome, because a return to any sort of normality is helpful. I must say that in my own case, while I would not say that returning to the House of Lords was life-saving, it brought me back to a state of normality. Even when someone is back at work, there will of course be the dreaded Christmas or other festive occasions such as birthdays, and there will be anniversaries of the death. In addition, for the child or children there will be things that trigger an enormous need for extra support from their surviving parent—for example, very predictable things such as exams or parents’ evenings. Holidays can be very stressful. There might be things that are not even foreseen. A teenage child might suffer from the break-up of their first or second relationship, which would also trigger all sorts of unforeseen issues.

As the Compassionate Friends say, individuals grieve differently and there is no timetable for grief. I hope that, within the constraints of needing some guidance, the discretion given to the easement months can be considerably more flexible. I am very grateful to my noble friend for raising this issue.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 719

8.02 pm

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (CB): I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord German, for having secured this very important debate. About a year ago we debated at length the difficulties of children who are in distress. I give credit to the Minister for having listened and taken seriously the issues that were raised, and for having consulted widely and tried hard to come up with a solution. Of course, everybody knows that no solution will ever be perfect, but in the last year we have become better than we were a year ago. That is a tribute to all noble Lords in this House who have argued long and hard.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, have laid out very clearly how incredibly difficult it is to be bereaved. There is no formula and no straightforward way ahead. Indeed, life will never be the same again. Nothing will ever feel normal again. It is a different life, and you carry that with you always, as do the children. Of course, the children’s grief will manifest itself in all sorts of different ways. As has already been said, children who are very distressed often appear at first to behave very well, and their grief explodes at different times and in different ways, because they really do not want to cause more distress to others. I have even come across family members who have said, “How can you go out and play? Your mum’s just died”. That child is trying desperately to find something normal left in their life—and that is going out to play with other kids in the playground at school and so on, and not feeling as excluded as they usually do.

I also pay tribute briefly to the organisation The Compassionate Friends, with which many years ago I carried out a study of bereaved parents with a bereaved mum. It was published in the British Medical Journal, and we called it “Your Child is Dead”. That was how people had been told that their child was dead. It is the only paper I have ever published that was translated into French and published in a French journal. We managed to raise awareness in medicine at that time, when people were really not taking much notice of children’s needs facing bereavement.

There are of course voluntary sector bodies which now provide guidance to organisations. Employers receive guidance; ACAS has produced some very good guidance on dealing with a bereaved employee. The National Council for Palliative Care has produced a range of booklets and support materials for people supporting others in bereavement. Hopefully, the world is slightly better than it was those years ago when we actually had to flag up the fact that there were bereaved children and bereaved parents out there, and people should not run away from that.

The issue of timing is of course difficult. From having meetings with the Minister I know that the timing and the right cut-off point have been difficult to determine. I appreciate the time the Minister has given to those of us who have really wanted to bend his ear on this issue. I do not have the anxieties that some others have about the fixed time of one month. This is because I am glad that it is non-negotiable, so that whoever is bereaved does not have

4 Feb 2015 : Column 720

to justify that they need a few more days or another week. They get their block of a month, with no questions asked.

I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that the work coaches will be appropriately trained to have a light touch. They should be instructed that the first time round their request for evidence should be very, very light. Possibly the second time they can prompt someone and say, “Look, I will need something to justify this—a little bit more than you provided last time.” But it should not be punitive. The bereaved person should not have difficulty making appointments. Work coaches should know that bereaved parents should be able to jump the queue to get an appointment if they need it. They should not have to wait and go through some slow process, as others might have to.

I also hope that the voluntary sector organisations will wake up to the need to be rapidly responsive. I fear that some of them have waiting lists for bereavement support or children’s bereavement support, and they need to speed up as well. When you are distressed you cannot wait, and you need somebody to acknowledge that distress there and then and provide you with the support that you need. So it behoves those of us who work with voluntary sector organisations to be aware of this.

I declare that I work with these organisations—and there are a lot of them—which help people who are facing death and bereavement. I have also carried out work with the Childhood Bereavement Network, which provided information to the Minister. All of these organisations need to step up to the plate and become rapidly responsive, because if they do not and there is no joined-up system, people’s distress will be greater. We have to provide support within society and not have people locked away in aliquots of grief. That is a danger whenever you put down something with timeframes around it.

There have also been concerns that for a bereaved parent, getting the evidence that they need for the work coach might feel difficult and stigmatising. Again, I hope that the work coaches will be specifically instructed that they must not ask questions that the person is embarrassed to answer. They might appear to be embarrassed, but it may be that it is just too painful for them to utter what is going on—or perhaps they have not yet come to terms themselves with the behavioural difficulties and internal turmoil of the child that they are left supporting.

I also hope that the work coaches will be taught—because they may need to have it spelt out to them—that the bereaved parent may have never worked previously. They may have been a stay-at-home parent or somebody who has left work to provide care for their relative during the dying phase or because their employer was unhelpful in supporting them and they took a decision to do that. Then they suddenly feel that they have nothing left, and they have lost their job and career opportunities.

There are also those who feel forced to not carry on with their job because of problems with childcare, and because what has happened to the child has meant that they feel mistrustful of others and of strangers, so they make the choice that they have to stop working to provide support to the distressed child. The work

4 Feb 2015 : Column 721

coaches may well not have the life experiences that others have had. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide us with that reassurance.

In closing, I thank the Minister, who has shown humanity, compassion and the ability to listen. He has really tried to make the review better and to understand the difficulties for children in distress and for the bereaved parent—or the guardian who is left trying to support them, if both parents have died.

8.12 pm

Baroness Sherlock (Lab): My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord German, for giving us the opportunity to debate this issue again and to all noble Lords who have contributed tonight. I am particularly grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth for sharing his experience. It was a brave thing to do, and we benefited greatly from it—and to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for the same thing. To come to the House and share things from one’s knowledge is one thing, but to share it from one’s experience is quite another. I really appreciate that.

I, too, have some experience, but from rather longer ago. My mother died when I was eight, and my father had to cope. He did go out to work, but that had consequences as well. It may have been unrelated—and I did not realise it until some time later—but I went on to run a charity that worked with single parents, so I met a number of single parents who had become so involuntarily, because their partner or spouse had died. I am very conscious of the consequences of that, so I am grateful to have the opportunity to talk about this today.

We heard evidence during previous stages of the Bill, when many of us were assembled—and particularly from the noble Lord, Lord German, who talked about the longitudinal study, to which he referred again tonight, and about the importance of the capacity and availability of the other parent. So we know quite a lot about what it is that makes a difference. I absolutely take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, that the impact on the children is often hard to detect from their initial behaviour. They can be told to be brave because mummy or daddy is struggling—so they can often end up behaving in ways that may seem not to be distressed when, actually, they are.

I am very grateful to the Minister for having agreed during the passage of the Pensions Bill to take this issue away. When he comes to reply, I would be very grateful if he could take the House through what happened in the review, as the noble Lord, Lord German, suggested. What advice was he given and what brought him to make the decisions that he or the Government did in its wake?

As I understand it, the Government’s intention is that bereaved parents should not have conditionality applied for the first six months of universal credit after bereavement. I confess that, when I was trying to go through all the repeatedly amended regulations, I struggled to find the section where that is set out. I would be grateful for my own ease in my future work if the Minister would share that with us. The Government

4 Feb 2015 : Column 722

then brought forward the Universal Credit and Miscellaneous Amendments (No. 2) Regulations 2014, which amended the universal credit regulations. Regulation 8 seems to have the effect that work search or availability requirements may not be imposed on a parent or responsible carer claiming universal credit in the event of the death of the child’s other parent or carer or a sibling or another adult living in the family, or if the child has suffered or witnessed violence or abuse.

The bit that I am not clear about is that, from my reading of the regulations, the suspension of conditionality seems to be available not if the parent can demonstrate the distress of the child but if they can show that their childcare arrangements have been significantly disrupted as a result of the events that have happened. Could the Minister clarify that? When the Minister for Employment, Esther McVey, made a ministerial Statement in another place on 23 October 2014, she said:

“We do not intend to seek evidence of the child’s distress, but rather on how the situation has impacted the day-to-day functioning of the parent/family”.—[Official Report, Commons, 23/11/14; col. 82WS.]

She gave the example of having to go to statutory appointments. Is that the intention, and could the Minister elaborate on that?

I would like also to understand a few other questions. First, is anyone currently affected by these provisions? The answer may not be known because of timing, but perhaps the Minister could advise us on that. Could he give us a sense of how many parents he thinks might be eligible when it is rolled out fully, and what sort of take-up he expects? Furthermore, what steps have the Government taken or will they take to make sure that any parent who is eligible is aware of these provisions, particularly the extra one-month provisions?

When we debated the Pensions Bill in Committee, my noble friend Lady Hollis expressed a lot of concern about the level of discretion being awarded to young staff. The question of the training of work coaches has been raised by various noble Lords. In addition, what work has been done with decision-makers? He may be able to explain this to us, but my understanding is that, if a bereaved parent does not fulfil the work requirements because, for example, they have not been able to demonstrate what is needed to get the extra month, or maybe they need more than a month, presumably the work coach would refer them to a decision-maker in the department, who would sanction their benefit—in other words, stop or reduce their universal credit. Is that the case? Could the Minister confirm that? If so, what steps have been taken to train the decision-makers to understand the consequences of these provisions? If that is the case, if the person then wished to challenge a decision, would they have to go through the process as with other benefits of first seeking mandatory reconsideration from the department before being allowed to appeal a decision? If so, how long could that take? We are getting reports of delays of many months with regard to other benefits—but I hope that that will not apply here.

The Childhood Bereavement Network was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. I am sure that we have all had briefings from that organisation, and the Minister will be aware that it remains very concerned about the provisions. What plans do the Government

4 Feb 2015 : Column 723

have for evaluating those provisions, and at what stage? Would the Minister be willing to commit to sitting down again with key stakeholders at a certain period, perhaps after a year or two, to discuss with them the evidence and see whether it has worked as they hoped it would?

On the childcare point, if it is the case that the parent would have to demonstrate that their childcare arrangements had been significantly disrupted, what would happen in the case raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, of a teenager who manifests some behaviour—for example, by developing an eating disorder or getting into trouble at school? A teenager would not necessarily have childcare and a parent of a teenager would be expected to go to work full-time. So there may be no disruption to childcare in that case, but the parent might then feel that the right thing would be to be at home every day when that teenager came home from school to make sure that the new problems that had manifested themselves were dealt with. How would that work?

Finally, how will in-work conditionality be applied for this group? If a bereaved parent of a teenager takes a job below the target for a single earner—in other words, less than the equivalent of a full-time job at the minimum wage—as I understand it, the in-work conditionality rules for universal credit would mean that they would be called and then required to go out and increase their hours. What steps will be taken to make sure that they may need to work only school hours or fewer hours in that circumstance? Could the Minister explain that?

I want to say how much I appreciate the fact that he has taken the issue away and taken the time and trouble, as with so many aspects of universal credit, to supervise it personally. I know that he cares very much about how it works in practice. Therefore, I look forward to what he has to say.

8.19 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord German for bringing this Question to the House. As noble Lords have said, I promised to come back with the findings of the review that I committed to undertake as we went through the Pensions Act 2014. Noble Lords have referred to my Written Statement on 23 October. The regulations for the measures were brought into force last November.

Let me remind noble Lords of the context. Concerns were raised by Peers, particularly by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and my noble friend Lord German about the universal credit requirements placed on the parents of bereaved children. I have to say that the noble Baroness’s speech during the Committee stage of the Pensions Bill really resonated with me personally. She highlighted the fact that difficult circumstances can cause a substantial and varying amount of distress for children, and that parents and carers need time to provide them with additional care, support and stability. We have built a clearer, more demanding welfare system which places robust requirements on claimants. But placing robust expectations also means recognising that we should suspend these requirements at certain

4 Feb 2015 : Column 724

times, providing temporary relief from conditionality to deal with the situation without moving claimants too far away from the world of work.

I should like to mention that I have been ably supported in my considerations of the review findings by two external expert advisers—which is one up from the number recommended by my noble friend Lord German. They are Dr Jane Callaghan from the British Psychological Society and Karina Dancza from the College of Occupational Therapists. I am very grateful to them for their invaluable support. I should add that I also gained enormously from the insights from our own people on the front line, in particular Colin Cottingham and Graham Sandilands, who know what it is to help parents in this situation.

The review concluded that there are particular situations—bereavement or a child witnessing or being a victim of violence or abuse—where there is compelling evidence that children were very likely to experience a period of acute distress following such an event and where additional support would be required from the parent. These situations cover a wide range of circumstances where child distress can occur. There will be other circumstances that are not covered where we would expect our work coaches to use the current tailoring and discretion available in exactly the same way.

I decided to make these policy changes through regulations, as recommended by the review, as opposed to doing so purely in guidance. These regulations establish a clear and consistent framework for work coaches, which is so important when exploring such sensitive topics. More circumstances, such as homelessness, as my noble friend mentioned, could be included in regulations at a future time if evidence suggests that that is appropriate.

The review found that a six-month suspension of requirements for parents of children in cases of bereavement and domestic violence would normally be appropriate. We have therefore extended, from the previous three months to the current six months, the suspension of conditionality requirements for victims fleeing domestic violence where they are responsible for caring for their child. As the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, noted, child distress is not a linear process and families may experience late effects of dealing with grief. To help support their children in these circumstances the parent will be able to access a new one-month suspension of requirements once in every six-month period for a period of up to two years following the death or incident of violence or abuse.

I want to be clear: we will not seek to assess the child’s distress. Instead, we will look to identify the situation that has occurred and the impact it is having on the family unit. In terms of evidence, I do not want to introduce an overly bureaucratic system. When a claimant first accesses the one-month easement for the reasons set out in the regulations, if the work coach is satisfied that the situation is having an impact on the claimant’s ability to fulfil their conditionality requirements they will allow the easement. The work coach will at the same time ask the claimant to provide appropriate evidence. But unless work coaches think that it is necessary, we will not delay this first one-month easement because of waiting for evidence.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 725

The form of that evidence is not set in stone. We do not expect evidence to detail the child’s distress but it should provide work coaches with information on the additional caring responsibilities that the claimant is undertaking. The types of acceptable evidence are varied and could include appointments at the child’s school, social services, healthcare professionals in connection with the child, additional childcare responsibilities or support arrangements. To help provide subsequent and ongoing support to families where longer than a month is needed to get them back on track, work coaches will make use of the discretionary tailoring available to personalise requirements in the light of individual circumstances. This helps to ensure that claimants can move on in a way that is appropriate to those circumstances.

When a parent has had a previous easement, this makes it easier for work coaches to identify the need for ongoing support and, as a result, to apply discretionary conditionality easements. I hope that that will provide the flexibility that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth and my noble friend Lady Miller were looking for. I echo the words of admiration of the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, for those deeply personal contributions and experience in this area.

We have strong evidence that shows that work has a positive impact on individuals and their families. Focusing on bereavement, the review found that the existing six-month conditionality easement is appropriate. It did not find evidence that extending the six-month period would benefit the majority of those who have been bereaved. My experts advised me that this, combined with very clear and supportive tailored conditionality, should help parents to cope. I am not saying, by any means, that the grieving process is over by six months. But the evidence shows that usually by this time, a person’s grief is no longer a barrier to their continued life, although it may not be normality as they used to experience it. Many parents facing difficult circumstances want to return to work, for themselves and for their children.

I recognise the concerns that noble Lords have expressed about the level of work coach capability in this whole area, which is why, as part of this review, my officials worked with experts in the field to develop guidance for jobcentre staff. The stakeholders we worked with include the Childhood Bereavement Network, WAY, Gingerbread, Child Poverty Action Group, Grandparents Plus and Refuge, to name but a few.

The universal credit learning programme ensures that work coaches have up-to-date skills to deal with any claimant interaction and support them in making relevant and appropriate decisions on an individual basis. The training focuses on providing a personalised, flexible service to claimants and treating them as individuals, building strong relationships with them. To ensure that work coaches adhere to standards, we have put in place a quality assurance framework which managers use to monitor the service and to ensure a high-quality level of support. I hope that that gives some reassurance to the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, in this area.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 726

Let me now pick up on a few of the questions that have been asked in the short time we have had for this debate. In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, the six-month bereavement provisions can be found in regulation 99(3)(d). As to my noble friend’s concern about transitional protection in UC, this would be not affected by invoking this particular relief. In numbers terms, we expect that no more than 10,000 claimants a year will take up the easement when universal credit is fully rolled out. We do not have information on the numbers currently affected but they are likely to be extremely small. People subject to in-work conditionality will be able to access the same conditionality easements. However, I emphasise that in-work conditionality is at the beginning of its exploratory phase for getting it right. It is therefore currently not a policy with hard edges.

I think that I have dealt with all of the issues. I shall look through the debate and if there are one or two questions that I have not had time to deal with, I shall write to noble Lords.

We are building a new welfare system at the moment, which is a major endeavour. We cannot do so without talking and listening to people. I am extraordinarily grateful for all the help that I have had in this House over the past few years to get to a positive result in this and other areas. In this particular case, I thank again the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay—she made her point so effectively that it convinced me that action was needed—and I thank my noble friend for showing such tenacity in pushing for the process to be taken forward at speed. It has meant that the changes were introduced at the same time as we are now rolling out universal credit to families in the north-west. We are now up to 26 jobcentres where families are part of the process.

I am grateful to the House for trusting me to do this exercise without all the normal paraphernalia. It has meant that we have been able to do it quickly and I hope that noble Lords are satisfied with the outcome.

8.32 pm

Sitting suspended.

Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

8.40 pm

Clause 28: Power to issue guidance

Amendment 14B

Moved by Lord Phillips of Sudbury

14B: Clause 28, page 18, line 39, at end insert—

“( ) The Secretary of State shall not issue guidance to specified authorities which are qualifying institutions within the meaning given in section 11 of the Higher Education Act 2004 (qualifying institutions) until at least one calendar month after laying a report before both House of Parliament which includes estimates of the potential direct and indirect impact of implementation of such guidance with regard to—

(a) the culture of such authorities, particularly as regards academic freedom and mutual trust within the same, and

(b) the cost and bureaucracy arising within the same pursuant to this Part.”

4 Feb 2015 : Column 727

Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LD): My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 14B, and my learned—not my learned—

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD): My brilliant friend—

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My—admirable and brilliant—noble friend Lady Williams is a co-signatory to that amendment and is going to speak to Amendment 14D. My noble friend Lord Norton of Louth, who unfortunately cannot be here, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, who is indeed here, also have their names to these amendments.

First, I thank the Minister again for the way in which he has tried to deal with the very many comments and complaints about the Bill. Major advances have been made. The most important, on which this amendment touches but does not major, is the agreement that there must be an affirmative resolution by both Houses before the guidance can take effect. That is a very important concession.

Amendment 14B deals with the preparatory work for the debate which will ensue when the resolution is put to this House and to the other House to bring the guidance into effect. What we say and what Amendment 14B provides is that there cannot be the debate on the affirmative resolution to bring the guidance into effect until at least 28 days after the Government have laid a report before both Houses containing what we would say is essential information in order for both Houses to be fully prepared to debate to best effect the guidance and whether to bring it into effect. We call this a common-sense measure.

The first thing to say is that it is abundantly clear that Part 5 has had very little coverage beyond this place. We heard earlier from the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, that the Cambridge colleges have only just woken up to Part 5 and the potential impact on them, and how they are all now riding very high horses, but very late in the day. Indeed, I have discovered exactly the same position in other parts of the university fraternity. There has been extraordinarily little media coverage of this extraordinarily important set of provisions. As a result, there is not, as one would have expected, the head of steam behind the reforms proposed from all round the House and intended to impact on the effect of Part 5 of the Bill.

8.45 pm

We heard earlier from the Minister about the consultation. However, that has been extraordinarily inadequate. It was launched before Christmas and, as a result, had no publicity and very few seemed to have been even aware of its existence. The fact that there were only 160 responses, as I think the Minister said, tells the tale. That is a derisory figure when one considers the breadth of this set of provisions. One should also not forget that this is not just about universities but that this guidance covers a whole range of institutions and organisations in different parts of our civic life, not to mention thousands of schools and so on. I repeat: 160 respondents.

The other thing is that the facts elicited in the course of these debates have been sparse, to be generous.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 728

At Second Reading, my noble friend the Minister gave no facts or indeed argument on the representations made across the House with regard to Part 5 beyond saying that there was going to be a meeting the following Thursday. We heard about the 2011 review of Chapter 2 of Part 5 but have had nothing since, even though the world has changed dramatically since then. We heard about the 2014 consultation, which I have already referred to. We heard from the Minister about the 2013 report of the terrorism task force, but that was not specific to universities. It covered the entire range of our national life and did not get near the issues covered in Part 5—in particular, the enforceable guidance.

We have heard, including this evening, about student terrorists. I think the statistic was that 31% of those convicted here of terrorist offences had been students. That seems to me to be an utterly useless statistic. Were they terrorists before they went to university, were they terrorists as a result of going to university or were they terrorists as a result of what happened to them after university? We have not the very slightest idea. Nevertheless, I would be so bold as to suggest that going to university in this country, far from making terrorists, unmakes them. Universities are engines of moderation, truth, objective inquiry, tolerance and so on. The odds are—if one could ever measure this, and I am quite sure one cannot—that the statistics would show a radical effect on people going to university against their becoming terrorists. However, this statistic is trotted out as if it had any significance at all or gave any justification whatever to the extraordinary imposition in Part 5, with this guidance which has the force of law.

I am glad to see that I was mistaken in thinking that the good noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, had departed to his university—he is here among us, happily. Those of us who tabled this amendment are all convinced about this, and it is fair to say that more and more people are becoming convinced of it. Indeed, almost everybody who learns about Part 5, and the impact on universities in particular, says, “What? Are you serious?”. We are being rather modest in putting forward Amendment 14B because it simply requires the Secretary of State to produce a report to both Houses, 28 days or more in advance of the debates on the affirmative resolution to bring the guidance into effect, in order that all of us here and in the other place can at least understand better the background and information which are relevant to this very contentious and difficult set of issues. We say in the amendment, as your Lordships will have seen, that the report must include an estimate of,

“the potential direct and indirect impact of implementation of such guidance with regard to … the culture of such authorities”—

meaning universities—

“particularly as regards academic freedom and mutual trust … and … the cost and bureaucracy arising within the same pursuant to this Part”.

We had very eloquent statements from noble Lords in this debate and in the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord King, on the cultural impact of Part 5 and, in particular, the guidance: the effect on the relationships within a university, the impact on the trust that is the essential underpinning of a creative university and so on. While it is not possible to gauge

4 Feb 2015 : Column 729

with scientific precision what the direct cultural impact is likely to be, one can make a sensible and intelligent attempt at estimating the impact by methods well known to social science. Similarly, and more easily, the cost of the bureaucracy that will be spawned by Part 5 can be much more easily ascertained. The impact report referred to by the Minister does not deal with that at all: it is the cost to government that it deals with. Many universities are beginning to realise that the cost to them of complying with the guidance could be very considerable indeed. Some are talking about employing in a university two full-time people to police all this. Then there is the bureaucracy and all the effects of that.

We view this as a basic provision to help ensure that the debates, when they come, are able to be well informed and of the calibre that we know we can expect from this House and the other place. The information that would be brought forth by the report that is required by this amendment would be the oxygen of an enlightened and wise debate, and of the decision arising from it. I beg to move.

Viscount Hanworth (Lab): My Lords, I had an opportunity earlier this afternoon to read the letter from the noble Lord, Lord Bates, to those who intended to participate in today’s Report stage. I express my appreciation of his consideration in writing, but I must observe that the fast-track schedule of the Bill is severely impeding its proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Government have not given themselves enough time to think.

The letter points to the Government’s amendments of Monday that represented their response to the widely expressed anxieties about the way in which the statutory Prevent strategy was liable to conflict with the duty of freedom of speech enjoined by the Act of 1986. The Government also tabled an amendment two days ago that is ostensibly intended to ensure that the guidance issued in connection with the Prevent strategy will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. In the judgment of the proposers of the current amendments, the Government’s concessions are inadequate. They are therefore calling for something more extensive and secure.

The letter of the noble Lord, Lord Bates, observes that, between 1999 and 2009, a full 30% of persons convicted of terrorist offences associated with al-Qaeda had attended a higher education institution. It is difficult to place this figure in an appropriate context, but given the extent of participation in higher education of the relevant age group, this seems a strikingly low figure. It might be interpreted as an indication of the efficacy of higher education institutions in diminishing the threat of terrorism.

The effect of higher education is typically to stimulate individualistic freedom of thought—the very antithesis of the dogmatic nostrums of the radical Islamists, which differ so markedly from the religious injunctions of Islam. A liberal higher education is undoubtedly a most effective means of combating ideological extremism. The success of British institutions of higher education as effective agents of counterterrorism ought to be widely recognised. Instead, the Government’s statutory

4 Feb 2015 : Column 730

Prevent strategy, which promises to be clumsy and intrusive, threatens to subvert the role of higher education in countering Islamic radicalisation.

Another aspect of the statutory Prevent strategy disturbs me. It concerns the cost and bureaucracy that will be imposed on the designated institutions. As I observed in a previous debate, there has been a hypertrophy of bureaucracy in British universities for which the interventions of central government have been largely responsible. Nowadays, in almost every institution, the numbers of administrative staff exceed those of teaching staff—and by a significant margin in many cases. The Prevent strategy, with its specially appointed officers, mandated staff training courses, obligation to report compliance with its nostrums and duty to inform the police and others of any suspicions and anxieties, is a bureaucratic nightmare. Finally, I have to wonder whose opinions have been elicited by the consultation on the draft guidance. If, as I strongly suspect, those few opinions have come predominantly from the administrative faculties of universities, then I suggest they should be treated with due caution.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for moving this amendment and giving the opportunity to put one or two additional points on record. This amendment would not permit guidance to be issued to universities until a report had been laid before Parliament setting out the impact of—

Baroness Williams of Crosby: I apologise to the Minister but I was not aware that he was going to respond to the amendment now, which would rule out Amendment 14D to which I wished to speak. I turn to that amendment briefly to explain the point of it. It looks a very small amendment but it is a rather serious one.

Amendment 14D relates to those with whom the Secretary of State would consult in advance of putting out the various kinds of guidance, which has already been dealt with to some extent by the Minister in his very helpful amendment requiring an affirmative procedure by Parliament. That meets one of my major concerns, which is the involvement of Parliament in every way and at every stage of the Bill. That is absolutely crucial, especially given the scale of the challenge that the Minister on more than one occasion told us we must meet. The solidarity of Parliament in dealing with these issues is crucial.

Let me explain why I put down this amendment. It was for the very simple reason that absolutely nowhere in the Bill that I can find is there any requirement of any kind to consult the age group that we are most concerned about. There is absolutely none. There are no references to student organisations, youth organisations or for that matter young people at all. Yet I think many of us recognise—I will in just a moment give an example of this—that the most effective force to persuade young people to abandon any thoughts of terrorism is other young people. Statements by senior officials, however senior they may be, cut nothing like the ice and have nothing like the persuasive power as other young people who see the devastating effects of terrorism and bring those to the attention of their friends and colleagues.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 731

One of the things I regret is that the statutory requirement that students should be represented on university bodies which we brought in with the Education (No. 2) Act 1968 was abandoned by the then Government in 1987, so there is no requirement of that kind any more in law. One of the great advantages of requiring that students be represented on, for example, university courts and academic panels was precisely that they were then brought into the operation of the university itself, and into its responsibilities and its authority. That became an important and significant factor in dealing with what one might call young extremism.

9 pm

Probably very few people in this House remember that there was an earlier occasion in this country when we faced quite acute violence and even terrorism. It was in the late 1960s, when—people may recall, dimly at least—among other things, the London School of Economics was closed down, the University of Birmingham’s vice-chancellor was besieged in his office, and the University of Southampton saw huge demonstrations of hundreds of students up and down its campus, sometimes using moderate forms of violence. The University of Edinburgh challenged its own vice-chancellor, who then came out and stood on a mound in Edinburgh shouting through a bull-horn at his students. I could go on and on.

Looking abroad, the level of violence in American universities, in opposition to the war in Vietnam, was so high that students were shot to death in Kent State University, students took over the whole of the university administration in Columbia University, and engaged in fisticuffs with the police in the University of California. And as if all that was not enough, at the same time there was a fully fledged terrorism campaign in Germany. Some people will remember the name—Baader-Meinhof.

What we are looking at is not new. It is new in the sense that we now tend to regard the Islamic community as responsible for most of the reasons why we are so worried—but we have conveniently forgotten that we ourselves confronted a major student revolution in the 1960s, and so did other countries in Europe.

I mention this for two important reasons. One is that we should not drive ourselves into conceding to the fear of terrorism what we keep saying we would not concede to terrorism itself. That is a very dangerous road to go down, and I think we are getting quite close to it, as more and more fear and suspicion is built up, on the basis of what is at the moment—thank God—a relatively thin evidential base. I am not saying that that could not change, but we are beginning to get things almost totally out of proportion, and to be driven by fear, amounting in some cases to panic.

In 1968 we dealt with the revolution—and it was a real one—by including students in the structure of universities. They served on the main bodies in universities, including many administrative bodies, although we would not allow them any voice in standards, examinations or other things of that crucial kind. But in the administrative universe, yes, they were consulted and involved. They took part, and in the end most of them gave their full support to the effort to ensure that universities were independent, autonomous and free.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 732

I am therefore very worried now. I recognise that the Government have a real problem. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, put it well when he said that they were facing a double problem, one confronting the other. There is no reference to young voices, student voices or student organisations in this quite long Bill. That is a grave mistake. To put it bluntly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, implied in her passionate speech, we cannot avoid the struggle. We can make the struggle an intellectual struggle, and a struggle of conviction and commitment, but we cannot avoid it simply by saying, “We’re not going to have discussions of this kind”, because they will only go underground and become secretive and much more dangerous.

The point of my amendment is that, in consulting about the advice to be given to universities, the Secretary of State should consult, first, the university administrations, but also, where there are proper student structures, the leaders of those structures. Any other decision will go down the route that is most dangerous of all with young people: it will divorce them from the older generation and make them feel that the only position they can take is one of contention with that generation. They will therefore not recognise that there is a crucial common ground of interest between the generations—the need to save the autonomy and the freedom of the universities, and the freedom of speech in universities. This may seem on the face of it a very minor amendment but because it would involve the Home Secretary, or her successor, in a discussion with not only universities but students we would have much more sensible guidance. It would reflect, as my noble friend Lord Scriven pointed out in describing his own council, things which are much closer to everyday reality for students and their parents.

I want to concentrate for a moment on the Muslim community; I discussed this briefly with the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi. The parents of many Muslim children come from very traditional backgrounds. They can therefore get quite easily frightened at the idea of going to university at all. If the university is seen as the source of wild radicalism, it becomes more and more frightening to the parents. So when I speak about involving the students I also mean that we should involve ourselves in a very large cultural gulf—the gulf between traditional, obedient and patriarchal cultures and the new culture that is still being absorbed by their sons and daughters, of this country’s liberalism and its freedom of thought and discussion. We have to talk to the parents as well and find out what they feel, and therefore begin to bring in the whole community.

We cannot avoid the struggle. That struggle involves all of us, who may or may not be Muslim, in learning enough about these other cultures—not least their religious beliefs—to be able to engage in real and serious argument. Nobody in this country is more capable of and willing to do that than our university faculties, many of which are already heavily engaged in studying these cultural relationships. The worst thing we could do would be to put them under a form of control that would be resented by the young, and either disregarded or much disliked by the seniors.

4 Feb 2015 : Column 733

Baroness Smith of Newnham (LD): My Lords, perhaps I may briefly follow my noble friend Lady Williams. I declare an interest as a Cambridge academic and a fellow of Robinson College, where I am a graduate tutor and director of studies. I am also, across the university, senior treasurer of the European Society. We do not really expect a great deal of extremism in that society; it is probably a relatively straightforward society to be involved with. However, the person who was key to setting it up was a visiting French student. She was 22, dynamic and really wanted to get something going. She had far more bright ideas than I had at twice her age. I still think that I am young; as an academic, I am probably seen as middle-aged by my students and as relatively young by some of my colleagues. But this young woman came with a set of bright ideas and established an organisation. To impose duties on that organisation without any consultation is not necessarily helpful.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said earlier, we need to engage in discussion and debate. If it is about Europe, it may be in some ways uncontroversial and not lead to extremism—but in a whole range of other societies, the debates might be controversial or difficult. However, the people who will best be able to say how they can deal with that are not academics, far less administrators, telling students what to do. It will be the students themselves coming up with ideas as to how to engage. I ask that we think through how to engage young people.

The noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, asked who responded to the guidance consultation. Of the 160 people who responded, probably none was young. If we can bring those people in and engage them, partly through university structures but partly directly, we will get better decisions and ideas—and, ideally, a better way of implementing the Prevent duty in a way that engages young people and takes them with us, rather than a top-down approach which preaches to them in an unhelpful way.

Lord Bates: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this brief debate. There have been some excellent contributions. First, I want to clarify something I said earlier which might have sent people down the wrong track. I talked about 42 responses which my noble friend Lord Phillips rightly pulled me up on as being a paltry number. That was the number of academic institutions which responded. In fact, the consultation produced 1,792 responses. Five consultation events were held—in Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, London and Edinburgh—that reached a further 300 delegates from specified authorities, including representatives of higher education. So there have been some additional responses. Of course, it would be excellent to see more contributions.

The point that was made eloquently by the noble Baronesses, Lady Williams and Lady Smith of Newnham, on the importance of engaging young people is absolutely right. It would seem perfectly within the spirit and letter of both the guidance and of what we are putting forward here for academic institutions to engage with student bodies and societies; in fact, they should. They should ask, “What is the best way of implementing this within our institution?”. This would be entirely in

4 Feb 2015 : Column 734

keeping with the type of approach that we want. We are not talking about the European Society at Cambridge—unless there are instances there in which people could possibly be drawn into acts of terrorism. That would be unexpected and a surprise. We are talking about how to prevent people being drawn into terrorism—so a wider debate, crucially one involving young people, is very important.

Another element, which relates to what my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury had to say in moving his amendment, is the impact of this. We have produced an impact statement on the Bill. My noble friend said that he does not accept what it says on page 7, but it does make some estimates as to the cost of implementing this across 2,000 higher and further education institutions in the UK. This is standard practice. For illustrative purposes, we assume that each institution requires one week of a junior officer’s time—a BIS liaison officer, working with the university—at a cost of £573. Also, it is not—

Lord Scriven (LD): The Minister has given those figures, but it also says clearly in the impact assessment that there are some areas where the risk has not been assessed for Prevent requirement purposes. It is not possible to estimate accurately how much will be required for additional Prevent activities. So the figures in the impact assessment are completely irrelevant because, in many areas, the assessment as to what Prevent activity will be needed has not been done.

Lord Bates: That is a fair observation. We are in unknown territory, but in order to have an impact assessment, some basic assumptions have to be made. Those are the assumptions we are using to understand how this guidance would be implemented on the ground. Academic institutions might be able to undertake particular research about its effect.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: The concern we have is that an assessment of their costs has not been made. As I said in moving the amendment, the more that the universities and colleges have thought about this—and many of them have still not got the draft guidance—the more they realise that this is imposing a very considerable bureaucratic burden which they will have to pay for.

9.15 pm

Lord Bates: I am conscious that we are rehearsing arguments from the previous debate. Our argument, in fairness, is that they have not seen the guidance because people have not actually seen the guidance, which has not been published following the consultation. It will be informed by the debate that we have had.

Our hope and desire, though, is that this is very light-touch. It deals with what most, or many, academic institutions are already doing; it links in with their existing programmes for how computers are used on campus or in the library. It builds on that rather than trying to build some new bureaucratic edifice, which in our view is not necessary.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: I am a little worried because the argument is moving towards the costs of bureaucratic reviews and so forth, and away from the

4 Feb 2015 : Column 735

central point that I believe to be critical for any chance of success in what the Government are trying to do: the formal involvement of young people. At the moment, and I hope my noble friend will forgive me for putting it this way, there is nothing in the Bill requiring universities to formally discuss with their own students how they handle the requests and guidance from the Government.

Lord Bates: Of course there is nothing in the Bill to say, stipulate or prescribe that, but there is nothing to stop it. I would have expected, although I am happy to reflect further on this—perhaps we should reflect further on these comments in the guidance when it comes forward—most higher and further education institutions to engage with the student body, particularly student associations, about how this should be implemented on their campuses in order for it to be effective, and not to be onerous but to be very targeted. That would be a very good thing to do.

I am conscious also that I was drifting in the direction of Amendment 14B from the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, rather than the noble Baroness’s Amendment 14D. Still, this has been a helpful debate to have; it has elucidated some important principles about the engagement of young people, and about ensuring that the costs and the impact of the duty and the guidance—when it is produced—should be evaluated and should be in the spirit of what is intended, which is to be light-touch, not onerous, and to be focused on what Clause 25(1) says about avoiding people being drawn into terrorism specifically. With that, I ask my noble friend to consider withdrawing his amendment at this stage.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I thank the Minister. I have to be honest with him and say that he has not addressed at all the nub of Amendment 14B, which requires the report first of all to concentrate on the cultural impact on universities, particularly the academic freedom and mutual trust within them between staff, students and so on. He did not say a single word about that, which leaves me concerned, because either he thinks it is insignificant or he has no answer to our request for a report. Since everyone tonight—

Lord Bates: My noble friend rightly chides us to say that we do not want to be overly bureaucratic or impose too many costs. To undertake qualitative and quantitative research on the scale that he proposes in the amendment would add a huge cost, if not to the Government then to the institutions themselves. We are simply saying here that we will set out some guidance and then leave it to the institutions for it to be evaluated. There will be a process—through HEFCE, should that be something that the consultation decides—for progress and how it is implemented to be evaluated. I would have thought that that would be more in keeping with the light-touch, focused approach that we are talking about, rather than avoiding getting drawn into a very bureaucratic approach, which he would rightly reprimand us for.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I have to disagree with the Minister. It seems to me extraordinary to argue that we cannot afford to do our homework, so let us just make this law and see what happens. Because that is

4 Feb 2015 : Column 736

what he is saying. Also, it is no good talking about guidance without realising that, once it is brought into force, it has the effect of law; it becomes enforceable, even unto the point—the Joint Committee made this point—of somebody going to prison. A vice-chancellor could end up in prison if he or she flagrantly refused to comply with what he or she thought was a serious incursion on academic freedom.

I remain confused as to how the Government can say, “Well, it will all come out in the wash”; we do not know what the academic consequences are, whether cultural or in any other way, but you can make a complaint later if it does not work. That is not good enough. This House should not be imposing a regime of this nature without the facts and without due research having been undertaken. We may be the only country in the developed world that will have a statutory regime of this nature. That alone should give serious pause for thought.

Lord Bates: I want to clarify a remark that I made earlier. The impact assessment, referring to the higher education sector itself, higher and further education co-ordinators, actually refers to our assessment of the burden on university staff, rather than on the BIS co-ordinators, as I may have led my noble friend to believe.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am grateful for that, but I want to say a word on the second amendment. Most of the debate has been around the need to inquire of the students themselves how they view the consequences of the guidance becoming law. The Minister did not make reference to that. Does he agree in principle that universities, including the students, should be consultees prior to the guidance being finalised and brought into effect? This extends the duty of the consultation to universities under the provisions of Clause 28. I am bound to say that I cannot see, in view of all that the Minister has said, why the universities should not be consulted, along with the other two bodies named in the Bill. They are the people most affected and surely, therefore, the Government could at least say that they will be consulted before the guidance is finalised.

I hope that the Minister will respond to that and then I will consider withdrawing the amendment.

Lord Bates: I am not sure that I can add a great deal more to what I have already said on this point, but I am happy to reflect further on my noble friend’s last point and I shall write to him ahead of Third Reading to clarify the position.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: That is a very fair way of wrapping this up, but just to make this clear, the Minister did not refer, in responding to the amendment, to the universities as such. All that he said was concentrated on the young people at the university. However, on the basis that he will have an open mind when looking at this—because it will cost the Government nothing to make the universities consultees, and I believe that it will go some considerable way towards assuaging the concerns that are behind both these amendments—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 14B withdrawn.

Amendment 14C not moved.