HC Deb 17 December 1985 vol 89 cc148-9
8. Mr. Stern

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to meet representatives of the Association of University Teachers to discuss the proposed world archaeological conference; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Walden

No, Sir. No approach on this issue has been made to the Department.

Mr. Stern

Is my hon. Friend aware of the circumstances in which a major international congress, which would normally attract academics from all over the world, has been attacked by the Association of University Teachers, which wishes to define the countries from which people should be invited? Is he further aware that that attack had been backed up by the vice-chancellor of Southampton university, Dr. Higginson? In view of this attempt to blackmail academics into submission to the current political shibboleth, will he note that the guidelines issued yesterday by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals on freedom of speech in our universities are silent on this form of blackmail? Will he send them back, on the basis that they are totally inadequate?

Mr. Walden

I have, naturally enough, seen references to the ban in the press, but it is entirely a matter for the organisers of the world archaeological conference whether to impose one. I understand that the matter has not been considered by the senate or the council of the university and that no such condition was proposed by the university. My hon. Friend suggests that we send back the guidelines from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, which we received only this morning. I hope that he will give us time to read them first.