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.

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 Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher Coalition Liberal Sir William Martin Conway Coalition Conservative
1922 National Liberal Conservative
1923 Liberal
1926 by-election Sir Alfred Hopkinson Conservative
1929 Eleanor Florence Rathbone Independent
1931 Sir Reginald Henry Craddock Conservative
1937 by-election Thomas Edmund Harvey Independent Progressive
1945 Kenneth Martin Lindsay Independent
1946 by-election Henry George 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
Coalition Liberal Rt Hon. Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher 48.09 959    
Coalition Conservative Sir William Martin Conway 15.20 303 465 777
Labour John Atkinson Hobson 18.36 366 454 481
Conservative Herbert Geraint Williams 18.36 366 410 eliminated
Electorate: 2,357   Valid: 1,994   Quota: 665   Turnout: 84.60%

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
Conservative Sir William Martin Conway 32.8 968 982 1,093    
National Liberal Rt Hon. Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher 27.7 819 821 849 883 1,009
Independent Prof. J. Strong 19.4 571 575 595 611 813
Labour Leonard Sidney Woolf 12.2 361 361 365 366 eliminated
Independent Conservative W. B. Faraday 4.8 141 206 eliminated    
Independent Conservative 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 % ±%
Conservative Sir William Martin Conway 1,711 44.1 +11.3
Liberal Rt Hon. Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher 1,316 34.0 +5.3
Labour Prof. Joseph John 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
Conservative Sir William Martin Conway 50.4 2,231  
Liberal Rt Hon. Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher 30.1 1,333 2,064
Labour Prof. J. J. Findlay 19.5 861 885
Electorate: 5,655   Valid: 4,425   Quota: 1,476   Turnout: 78.2%
  • Resignation of Fisher
By-Election 8–12 March 1926: Combined English Universities
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Alfred Hopkinson 2,343 53.9 +3.5
Liberal John Ramsay Bryce Muir 2,000 46.1 +12.1
Majority 343 7.8 N/A
Turnout 4,343 66.7 -11.5
Registered electors 6,513
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing N/A
Eleanor Rathbone
General Election 1929: Combined English Universities (2 seats)
Party Candidate  % 1st Pref Count 1 Count 2
Conservative Sir William Martin Conway 26.8 2,679 4,321
Independent Eleanor Florence Rathbone 33.3 3,331 3,394
Liberal Prof. Robert Seymour Conway 22.3 2,231 2,281
Conservative Sir Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge, Bt 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 Florence Rathbone 37.2 5,096      
Conservative Sir Reginald Henry Craddock 26.5 3,633 3,685 3,754 4,858
National Labour Rt Hon. Sir William Allen Jowitt 20.1 2,759 3,003 3,207 3,632
Conservative Herbert Geraint Williams 12.8 1,748 1,819 1,922 eliminated
New Party Hon. Harold George 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 Sir Reginald Henry Craddock Unopposed N/A N/A
Independent Eleanor Florence Rathbone Unopposed N/A N/A
  • Death of Craddock
By-Election 15–19 March 1937: Combined English Universities
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Progressive Thomas Edmund Harvey 6,596 47.4 N/A
Conservative Rt Hon. Sir Francis Lindley 4,952 35.6 N/A
Independent 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 Eleanor Florence Rathbone 53.3 11,176        
Independent Kenneth Martin Lindsay 9.2 1,923 3,503 3,856 4,528 5,826
Independent Labour S. Wormald 15.3 3,212 3,973 4,081 4,473 4,675
National Independent E.C. Arden 11.6 2,433 3,073 3,389 3,829 eliminated
Independent Prof. J.H. 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%
  • Death of Rathbone
By-Election 13–18 March 1946: Combined English Universities
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Henry George Strauss 5,483 30.0 N/A
Independent Mary Danvers Stocks 5,124 28.0 N/A
Independent Sir Ernest Emil Darwin Simon 4,028 22.0 N/A
Independent Labour S. Wormald 3,414 18.7 N/A
British People's Party G.S. 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
  • Constituency abolished (1950)

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)[self-published source][better source needed]