Education secretary Gavin Williamson has rejected suggestions that Holocaust deniers will be allowed to speak at universities and elsewhere under new free speech legislation.
Labour is seeking to block the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill at second reading, arguing it could provide “legal protection and financial recompense” to those seeking to engage in “harmful and dangerous speech” on university campuses, such as Holocaust denial, racism and anti-vaccination messages.
Williamson told the Commons: “It’s absolutely clear that this Bill will not and never will create a platform for Holocaust deniers.
“The 1986 Public Order Act, the 2010 Equality Act, introduced by Labour, as well as the Prevent duties in 2015 – this Bill if made an act will not create the space to tolerate Holocaust deniers and never shall.”
Williamson earlier told MPs: “Our universities must not become spaces where ideas are debated within a narrow consensus with those who challenge majority views subject to censorship themselves.”
He said some vice-chancellors have acted on Government warnings to take action but ministers “cannot sit by” given some vice-chancellors had not.