HC Deb 13 July 1972 vol 840 cc1822-3
7. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will seek powers to control admissions to all medical schools, in view of the existing quotas on grounds of sex.

Mrs. Thatcher

No, Sir. The admission of students is best left to the authorities of the universities and medical schools.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Lady bear in mind that 13 major medical schools in the United Kingdom have admitted in evidence, which has gone unchallenged, to the Select Committee of the other place dealing with discrimination that they operate a quota restricting the entry of women medical students? Does she not have a responsibility to ensure equal opportunity in education?

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not believe that that responsibility would best be exercised by any Minister taking over the admissions to medical schools. I think it can be done only by the academic authorities. I think that the hon. Lady and I would both agree with the view in the Todd Report that the criterion for admission to medical school should be the ability to profit from the course and become a good doctor. That is the only criterion which should be adopted.

Mr. Edward Short

That really is not good enough. The right hon. Lady knows that there is another criterion, and that is sex. This is a gross example of discrimination against women. What does the Secretary of State intend to do about it?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have already expressed my view on the Todd Report and the way I believe these admissions should be determined. I do not believe that the solution would be for a Minister to take over the admissions policy of a particular academic institution.