HC Deb 11 December 1973 vol 866 cc184-5
13. Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consultations she has had with the hospital medical schools on their policy with regard to the admission of women medical students.

Mrs. Thatcher

None, but at my request the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has agreed to examine university admissions policies, including those of medical schools, with a view to establishing whether there is any evidence of discrimination on grounds of sex.

Miss Fookes

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but will she impress upon the committee the need that merit only should be taken into consideration? Will she also consider the position in respect of the entry of women into veterinary training, where I have clear evidence of discrimination?

Mrs. Thatcher

I shall certainly impress upon the committee the need which my hon. Friend points out. If she has any evidence about veterinary training I shall gladly consider it.

Mr. William Hamilton

In the Government's consultation document on equal opportunities did the Secretary of State not undertake to consult the UGC about this very matter? Will she say what consultations have taken place up to now, when they will be completed, and what steps she will take with universities which might defy her instructions to cease discrimination?

Mrs. Thatcher

As a result of that undertaking a specific request went to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to look into this matter, which it is now doing.

Mr. Moyle

Will the right hon. Lady accept that the admission of women to medical schools on the basis of quotas or special examination results is totally wrong, and totally at variance with the principles that we are trying to enforce elsewhere on sex discrimination? Can she not at least say that now?

Mrs. Thatcher

I have said that at this Dispatch Box before, and I repeat it. I agree with the principle enunciated by my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Miss Fookes) that admission should be on the basis of ability.