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Point of Order

Volume 695: debated on Thursday 13 May 2021

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I would appreciate your guidance. As you may be aware, yesterday the Minister for Universities, speaking on Radio 4, said that it is the Government’s policy to protect and promote the free speech of controversial and offensive advocates at universities. She explicitly confirmed that this would include holocaust deniers, who would be supported in law against people protesting against them. There are few more serious crimes in history than the Nazi holocaust—the murder of 6 million Jews, as well as hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti, disabled and LGBT people, political opponents and other minority groups—and to hear a Minister say that the Government plan to change the law to take the side of those who would deny that genocide is truly appalling.

As a proudly Jewish parliamentarian, my blood ran cold listening to the interview. There is no merit to any assertion that either academic rigour or the university experience is improved by exposure to such ideology. Holocaust denial cannot and should not be protected speech under the law. How can you assist in ensuring that the Universities Minister comes to the Dispatch Box to explain what she has said, apologise, and recant this chilling policy?

May I first thank the hon. Lady for giving me notice of her point of order? I want to set out on record that I find the idea of holocaust denial completely abhorrent; let me make sure that people are aware of that. The hon. Member will have the opportunity to clarify this matter when the relevant legislation is before the House. I hope that she will take it up with the Minister at the appropriate time when that legislation comes forward. In the meantime, I am sure that it would also be worth asking for a meeting with the Minister for clarification.

I am now going to suspend the House for three minutes to enable the necessary arrangements for the next business to be made.

Sitting suspended.