Amendments to anti-terror bill aim to protect academic freedom

THE House of Lords passed new amendments to the Government’s anti-terror bill in order to protect academic freedom on Monday.

Changes made include ensuring institutions “have particular regard to the duty to ensure freedom of speech”, and “have particular regard to the importance of academic freedom”.

The Bill, which was launched in Autumn as part of Theresa May’s ‘Prevent’ strategy, proposes that universities have a duty to ban extremist speakers on campus.

Universities would be forced to implement policies with regard to extremist speakers. Prevent vaguely defines extremist views as those which show “vocal or active opposition to British values”.

However, there has been nationwide concern surrounding its implications for freedom of speech on campus.

Lord Bates told the House that the new changes “should provide unequivocal reassurance that the Prevent duty is not designed to undermine the principle of academic freedom”.

“We need to protect the very freedoms which the people who would seek to attack us want to take away,” he said.

Ex-Chancellor Lord Lamont raised further concerns with the Bill, that “recently a degree of intolerance has sometimes been shown, with people trying to ban meetings in universities”.

It’s the third time the Bill had been through the House of Lords, and will now go back to the House of Commons.