James Sunderland questions Government on tackling cancel culture in higher education

Speaking in a debate on the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, James Sunderland asks the Government whether this Bill will tackle the odious rise in cancel culture.

James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con)

In recent weeks, we have seen a rather unedifying situation whereby Members from both sides of the House have been no-platformed by universities across the UK. In addition, Berkshire has several Facebook groups which purport to be in the public interest, but are actually used mainly by Labour activists to attack the Government. Comments made by Conservative councillors or those who disagree with the sites’ administrators are deleted, with some users even banned from the sites.

Cancel culture is odious, and I believe it exists because the Opposition do not want to hear the truth—they cannot face the truth. Will this Bill go any way towards dealing with cancel culture?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Claire Coutinho)

I thank my hon. Friend, who has had his own experience of that in recent weeks. This Bill will not only strengthen the duty of our universities to ensure that they are protecting freedom of speech on campus, but create a new director of free speech, who will champion the cause, and strengthen the powers of the OfS to deal with those who breach that duty. I believe it will speak to my hon. Friend’s real concerns.