HC Deb 27 October 1919 vol 120 cc398-400

Nothing in the Statutes or Charter of any university shall be deemed to preclude the authorities of such university from making such provision as they shall think fit for toe admission of women to membership thereof, or to ally degree, right or privilege therein or in connection therewith.—[Major Hills.] Brought up and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

Apparently some doubt exists whether universities have the power under their Statutes or Charters to admit women to degrees, and my Clause is designed to remove that doubt.


As explained by my hon. and gallant Friend, this Clause seems quite reasonable, but I confess I think it is unfortunate that it is not on the Paper, because I do not know that the university authorities have been consulted, and it may be that the precise form of the Clause is of some importance in order to carry out the wishes of the House, as far as possible, and also of the universities. I much regret that no Members of the universities are in the Committee, because they did not know this Clause was going to be brought forward. If, therefore, the learned Solicitor-General is going to accept the Clause now, I venture to suggest that it should be on the understanding that when it comes up on Report, and the attention of Members for the universities and the university authorities has been drawn to it, any alterations should be made if necessary.


I am obliged to my hon. and learned Friend (Sir J. Butcher) because he has put a very proper limitation on what we are proposing to do. But I should like to advise the Committee to accept this Clause. It seems to me to be carefully drawn and I would point out what I think it does and what I think it does not do. Of course, I have not had the opportunity of consulting all those persons who no doubt would have liked to have been consulted. As I understand, this Clause merely takes away from a Statute or a Charter a bar. We are not giving any directions to any university that they shall make provisions. All that we are doing is to make it possible, if they in their discretion think fit, to admit women to membership and so on, notwithstanding anything in their Statutes or Charters. What their discretion might be it would be impertinent on my part to suggest, and I am sure the Committee would not wish to invade territory which clearly belongs to them, and only desires to remove a disqualification.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause accordingly read a second time.

Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."


Might I ask this question? Is it intended that the same provision with regard to universities should apply to university colleges? As we know, they have their own Statutes by which they are bound. It may or may not be that they have power to alter those Statutes so as to admit women on the terms on which they would like to admit them. Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman would kindly consider between now and Report whether the same provisions which we are now making by this Clause with regard to the universities should not be extended to the colleges?


I have gone as far as I can. This legislation by, I was going to say postcard, does not seem to be quite to the point. College authorities as well as university authorities may-or may not have the abilities or disabilities suggested, but I am not prepared to say at present other than that this Clause be added to the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Schedule (Enactments Repealed) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House."

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

May I, at this stage; make an appeal, or perhaps put a question, to the Solicitor-General arising out of the Debate and Division to-day on the Amendment passed allowing a peeress, in her own right, to take her seat in another place without any legal disabilities? Will the Solicitor-General say, in view of the possibility of hon. Members desiring to raise the question on Report or Third Reading, as to whether a peeress in her own right has now, not only the privilege of sitting in another place and of voting and speaking, but also of standing for membership of this House, and, if elected, taking her seat here?


The hon. and gallant Gentleman will see that on the Question that the Bill be Reported, as amended, to the House we can hardly again go into the whole question.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 200.]