On 22nd February 2016 Baroness Deech asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure freedom of lawful speech at universities, in the light of recent disruptions to speeches.” She made reference in her follow up question to “incidents of intolerance and violence” on campuses, including “the silencing of a female Muslim reformer at Goldsmiths; smashed glass, fire alarms set off and the police called at King’s College London to stop an Israeli peace activist from speaking; Peter Tatchell at Canterbury and other examples”. She asked the Minister to speak to vice-chancellors “to ensure that the law on freedom of speech is upheld”. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, now is not the time for confessions but I would observe that as an undergraduate, I saw things in very black and white terms. I do not now, despite what might be suggested by my attire. I would have loved to have been rebuked by Parliament as an undergraduate. Does the Minister agree that in intervening in situations such as these, we run the risk of being counterproductive? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester warns of risk of counterproductive responses to freedom of speech concerns at universities”
“If we allow the dominant agenda to become the refusal to be exposed to being offended, we deny ourselves the rich opportunity to be agents of the transformation of conflict through positive engagement.”– Bishop of Ely, 26/11/5
On 26th November 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Deech: “That this House takes note of the protection of freedom of speech in universities.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Ely: I, too, take the opportunity to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, for bringing this debate about. I would be very glad to engage in metaphysical conversation with the noble Lord, Lord Patten, about the soul of the university sometime outside the Chamber. I am more concerned for us to promote and understand the importance of religious literacy in the defence of free speech, and the Church’s engagement with a number of institutions in seeking to make the most of the Prevent agenda without throwing aside openness and readiness to engage in full debate. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely defends freedom of speech in universities”
On 28th January 2015, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the debate on amendments to the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, during its Committee Stage. Speaking during the debate on the duties of higher education institutions under the Bill, the Bishop raised the point that places of religious instruction and education did not appear to fall under the remit of the Bill. Following the debate, the amendments were withdrawn.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: I will speak very briefly as we come to the end of this debate. As I was listening to it, I realised that there is a whole area to which we have not referred but which is entirely relevant; that is, religious institutions and places of religious instruction and education. Those are missing from the Bill. The application of the Bill to universities will have very uncertain benefits and be extremely impractical to apply in as much as universities are independent institutions. They do not always appear so to the heads of those institutions when they deal with Governments but they are independent institutions. That is a really important feature. Most of the authorities listed here are not independent in that way, although other educational establishments are included. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester takes part in debate on Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill”
On 9th April 2014 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, gave his maiden speech in a House of Lords debate to take note of Higher Education in the UK.
Bishop Christopher focused his remarks on his diocese, the important role of Portsmouth University, access for international students and on local economic disadvantage. His speech in full is below: Continue reading “Maiden speech by the Bishop of Portsmouth – Higher Education”
“There is need for public investment in universities, otherwise what is currently a public good will again become a private good, affordable to a few.” – Bishop of Winchester, 9/4/14
On 9th April 2014 the House of Lords debated a Government motion to take note of Higher Education in the UK. The Bishop of Winchester, lead bishop for HE, spoke about the work of the Church of England in the field through its Cathedrals Group of universities, as well as the ethos and purpose of Higher Education. Continue reading “Higher Education: a public good for the common good – speech by Bishop of Winchester”
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what action they propose to take over the potential impact on university funding arising from lower than expected repayment of student loans?’ The Bishop of Chester asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I share the Government’s view that the higher education sector is in remarkably good health given the recession. However, does not setting fees at £9,000, which is far higher than fees in any other European country, imply a loans system that has its own element of generosity, including a repayment starting point of £21,000, rather than the original £16,000?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate raises an important point. I am sure he is aware that the Government have ensured that those universities that have chosen to raise their fees to the £9,000 limit have suitable access agreements so that those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the opportunity to go to university. The Government’s policy remains that access to a university education should be based not on someone’s ability to pay but on their ability.