Steerpike

Tories move to stop dodgy donors

Tories move to stop dodgy donors
Credit: Institute for Government
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Amid all the hubbub of cheese, wine and garden parties, it can be hard to focus on non-Covid matters. Still, one Tory MP appears to have managed it, given the decision of Jesse Norman today to table an amendment to the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill. 

Norman, whose motion is seconded by a trio of well-respected colleagues — Sir Robert Buckland, Robert Halfon and Damian Green — wants universities to declare all donations over £50,000 from foreign donors and list those sums in an annual register published by the Office for Students.

Mr S has spent much of the past fortnight banging the drum about the millions being given in donations and grants to the Russell Group of leading universities by companies with close links to the Chinese state. This amendment aims to increase 'public confidence' in Britain's institutions of higher education, following a string of negative stories such as the Gaddafi family foundation funding an LSE research centre for £1.5 million. 

Steerpike has previously noted how universities often refuse to disclose the names of foreign benefactors on the grounds of contractural arrangements and commercial sensitivity. The intervention of four well-respected Conservative MPs should be seen as a sign that this amendment will succeed. Mr S understands it was only tabled after soundings had been taken as to the likelihood of it being adopted by the government.

Good to see that at least some Tories are still wary of dodgy donors these days.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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