Combined English Universities (UK Parliament constituency)

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Combined English Universities
Former University constituency
for the House of Commons
19181950
Number of members Two

Combined English Universities was a university constituency represented in the United Kingdom Parliament (from 1918 until 1950). It was formed by enfranchising and combining all the English universities, except for Cambridge, Oxford and London which were already separately represented. The constituency effectively represented the red brick universities and Durham University with two members of parliament.

Boundaries[edit]

This university constituency was created by the Representation of the People Act 1918 and abolished in 1950 by the Representation of the People Act 1948.

The original proposal of the Speaker's Conference, which considered electoral reform before the 1918 legislation was prepared, was to combine all the English and Welsh universities except for Oxford and Cambridge into a three-member constituency. However, during consideration of the legislation it was agreed that London University alone should continue to return one member. The University of Wales was also given its own seat. The other universities, which were still to be combined, had their proposed representation reduced to two members. (Source: Pugh).

Combined English Universities was not a physical area. Its electorate consisted of the graduates of the Universities included in the seat.

The universities represented by this constituency were Birmingham, Bristol, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Reading (from August 1928) and Sheffield.

The constituency returned two members of parliament, elected at general elections by the Single Transferable Vote method of Proportional Representation. However, the first past the post system was used in by-elections.

Members of Parliament[edit]

This is a list of people who were elected to represent these English Universities in the Parliament of the United Kingdom between 1918 and 1950. The elections were not held on the polling dates for general elections in the territorial constituencies. The University constituency elections were held over five days, not on the ordinary polling date, so that plural voting graduates could vote in their place of residence and then visit their University to participate in its election.

  • Constituency created (1918)
Election First member First party Second member Second party
1918 H. A. L. Fisher Coalition Liberal Sir Martin Conway Coalition Conservative
1922 National Liberal Conservative
1923 Liberal
1926 by-election Sir Alfred Hopkinson Conservative
1929 Eleanor Rathbone Independent
1931 Sir Reginald Craddock Conservative
1937 by-election Edmund Harvey Independent Progressive
1945 Kenneth Lindsay Independent
1946 by-election Henry Strauss Conservative
1950 University constituencies abolished

Elections[edit]

There were six contested STV elections. The MPs in 1935 were returned unopposed. By-elections, to fill a single seat, used the first past the post or relative majority electoral system.

1910s1920s1930s1940s

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election 1918: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2 Count 3
C Liberal H. A. L. Fisher 48.09 959    
C Unionist Martin Conway 15.20 303 465 777
Labour John A. Hobson 18.36 366 454 481
Unionist Herbert Williams 18.36 366 410 eliminated
Electorate: 2,357   Valid: 1,994   Quota: 665   Turnout: 84.60%
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General Election 1922: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2 Count 3 Count 4 Count 5
Unionist Martin Conway 32.8 968 982 1,093    
National Liberal H. A. L. Fisher 27.7 819 821 849 883 1,009
Independent John Strong 19.4 571 575 595 611 813
Labour Leonard Woolf 12.2 361 361 365 366 eliminated
Independent Unionist Wilfred Faraday 4.8 141 206 eliminated    
Independent Unionist Sidney C. Lawrence 3.1 90 eliminated      
Electorate: 3,967   Valid: 2,946   Quota: 983   Turnout: 74.3
General Election 1923: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Martin Conway 1,711 44.1 +11.3
Liberal H. A. L. Fisher 1,316 34.0 +5.3
Labour Joseph Findlay 850 21.9 +9.7
Total votes 3,877
Quota 1,293
Turnout 5,008 77.4 +3.1
  • As two candidates achieved the quota only one count was necessary
General Election 1924: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2
Unionist Martin Conway 50.4 2,231  
Liberal H. A. L. Fisher 30.1 1,333 2,064
Labour Joseph Findlay 19.5 861 885
Electorate: 5,655   Valid: 4,425   Quota: 1,476   Turnout: 78.2
Combined English Universities by-election, 1926
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Alfred Hopkinson 2,343 53.9 +3.5
Liberal John Muir 2,000 46.1 +12.1
Majority 343 7.8 N/A
Turnout 4,343 66.7 -11.5
Registered electors 6,513
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing N/A
Rathbone
Conway
General Election 1929: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2
Unionist Martin Conway 26.8 2,679 4,321
Independent Eleanor Rathbone 33.3 3,331 3,394
Liberal Robert Seymour Conway 22.3 2,231 2,281
Unionist Amherst Selby-Bigge 17.6 1,762 eliminated
Electorate: 13,775   Valid: 10,003   Quota: 3,335   Turnout: 72.6

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1931: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2 Count 3 Count 4
Independent Eleanor Rathbone 37.2 5,096      
Conservative Reginald Craddock 26.5 3,633 3,685 3,754 4,858
National Labour William Jowitt 20.1 2,759 3,003 3,207 3,632
Conservative Herbert Williams 12.8 1,748 1,819 1,922 eliminated
New Party Harold Nicolson 3.4 461 623 eliminated  
Electorate: 19,109   Valid: 13,697   Quota: 4,567   Turnout: 71.7
General Election 1935: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Reginald Craddock Unopposed N/A N/A
Independent Eleanor Rathbone Unopposed N/A N/A
Combined English Universities by-election, 1937
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Independent Progressive Edmund Harvey 6,596 47.4 N/A
Conservative Francis Oswald Lindley 4,952 35.6 N/A
Independent Liberal Henry Brackenbury 2,373 17.0 N/A
Majority 1,644 11.8 N/A
Turnout 13,921 48.3 N/A
Registered electors 28,808
Independent Progressive gain from Conservative Swing N/A

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

General Election 1945: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2 Count 3 Count 4 Count 5
Independent Progressive Eleanor Rathbone 53.3 11,176        
Independent Kenneth Lindsay 9.2 1,923 3,503 3,856 4,528 5,826
Independent Labour Stanley Wormald 15.3 3,212 3,973 4,081 4,473 4,675
National Independent Eric Cuthbert Arden 11.6 2,433 3,073 3,389 3,829 eliminated
Independent John Henry Richardson 5.3 1,124 1,995 2,341 eliminated  
Independent A.R. Foxall 5.3 1,105 1,437 eliminated    
Electorate: 41,976   Valid: 20,973   Quota: 6,992   Turnout: 50.0
By-Election 13–18 March 1946: Combined English Universities
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Henry Strauss 5,483 30.0 N/A
Independent Progressive Mary Stocks 5,124 28.0 N/A
Independent Liberal Ernest Simon 4,028 22.0 N/A
Independent Labour Stanley Wormald 3,414 18.7 N/A
British People's Party Gerard Stephen Oddie 239 1.3 N/A
Majority 359 2.0 N/A
Turnout 18,288 42.1 -7.9
Registered electors 43,438
Conservative gain from Independent Swing N/A

References[edit]

  • Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885–1972, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Reference Publications 1972)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1918–1949, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Macmillan 1977)
  • Electoral Reform in War and Peace 1906–18, by Martin Pugh (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1978)
  • Who's Who of British members of parliament: Volume III 1919–1945, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (The Harvester Press 1979)
  • Who's Who of British members of parliament, Volume IV 1945–1979, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (Harvester Press 1981)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 5)