Baroness: let schools deal with hate speech

Communities minister Baroness Hanham has said the government expects schools and universities to tackle hate speech themselves — and that she believed that an adequate framework was already in place.

She answered questions on antisemitism on campus, online and at school during a session in the House of Lords yesterday.

Baroness Deech, a former member of the Jewish Leadership Council, called on the Government to urge university vice chancellors to take more action to stop hate speech on campus and asked what steps it is taking to prevent race and religious hatred material imported from overseas being used in faith schools.

Baroness Hanham said: “The number of antisemitic incidents in the United Kingdom is a very depressing reminder that this unacceptable behaviour remains a cause of great concern.

“The last place that we want antisemitism to take a hold is in our schools or universities. “We expect universities to have measures in place to ensure that their students are not subject to threatening or abusive behaviour, and those institutions have a strong legal framework to help them to deal effectively with this.

“With regard to people coming in from outside and talking on campuses, again, a range of guidance, providing a practical framework, is available to higher education institutions to help them to support tolerance.”

Lord Boswell, a member of the all-party group inquiring into antisemitism, said he was concerned about the “plethora” of hate speech online and the use of the word Jew as a term of abuse in the playground.

Baroness Hanham said it was up to schools to “stamp it out at the very earliest stages”. She said that the internet was “difficult to handle”, “daunting and challenging” and that it wa s made more difficult by other countries which had a different “balancing point” from the UK.

“What is on the internet goes beyond hate, and very soon we will have to find a way of obliterating and blotting out such unacceptable material,” she said.

Baroness Hussein-Ece, lead commissioner on religion and relations for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, criticised former Dior designer, John Galliano, for his antisemitic rant earlier this month.

    Last updated: 11:42am, March 11 2011