Joan Christabel Jill Knight, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, DBE (née Christie; born 9 July 1924), is a former British Conservative Member of Parliament. She was created a Life Peer as Baroness Knight of Collingtree, of Collingtree in the County of Northamptonshire in 1997 after standing down at that year's general election. She was appointed MBE in 1964, and elevated to DBE in 1985.
Born in London, where her birth was registered at Wandsworth, Joan Christie attended the King Edward Grammar School for Girls, Birmingham and later served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) during World War II. On 14 June 1947 she married James Montague "Monty" Knight (an optician), in Northampton; the couple had two sons. After taking her husband's surname, she became known as Jill Knight.
Early political career
She was elected as a councillor on Northampton Borough Council, and served from 1956–66, and became a whip. She unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat of Northampton in 1959 and 1964 for the Conservative Party.
She was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Edgbaston in the 1966 general election, and held that seat in successive elections until she stood down at the 1997 election. The Conservative MP for Edgbaston Edith Pitt had died on 27 January 1966 and it was the first time that a female Member of Parliament had been succeeded by another woman.
Knight was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, 1969–72. For more than two decades she was an active member of the Conservative Monday Club and was an outspoken opponent of the Irish Republican Army. Following the February 1972 Aldershot Bombing by the OIRA she called for legislation to outlaw the IRA, and attacked supporters and sympathisers on the mainland. In September 1973 she repeated her call for the banning of the IRA which, she said, was "at open war with Britain", and in December she stated that "it is the first duty of any government to protect its citizens". In June 1974 Knight protested at an "arrogant IRA march" in London. She said it was "an outrage and insult to the British people". In this she was supported by other Monday Club MPs John Biggs-Davison, who made representations under the Public Order Act to the Home Secretary, and John Stokes. In June, she also made a formal complaint to the Home Secretary about the "Terrorist International Rally" that had been held in Northern Ireland. She said it was "highly offensive for international terrorists to meet in Britain and plot against us". In August 1974 she tabled a Question in the House of Commons asking the Secretary of State for Social Services to review payments to foreign visitors.
In October, Sir Keith Joseph, speaking in Knight's constituency, expressed admiration for her as "a brave woman who speaks up when others prefer discretion in public and speak their minds only in private", to which she replied: "I believe my constituents sent me to Parliament to speak up, not shut up." In November 1974 she called for the death penalty to be made available for IRA and all terrorists, moved an amendment to that effect in the House of Commons, and asked the then Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, to step up activities against the IRA. Knight said she had received more than 8,000 letters demanding capital punishment for terrorist killers and only 115 against. John Biggs-Davison and Knight protested in parliament when the government decided to pay £42,000 in compensation to the relatives of the 14 men shot dead by the British Army in 1972. She added "these payments would seem to open up a completely new level of culpability. What compensation will the relatives of the victims of IRA killers in Birmingham get?"
In December 1974 Knight protested in the House of Commons that single men on strike were receiving social security benefits on their own behalf for rent and hire-purchase payments. The following month she supported Harold Wilson's decision to intervene in the British Leyland strike by appealing to the workers.
She was on the Select Committee for the Council of Europe from 1977, Home Affairs 1980–83, Lady Chairman of the Lords and Commons All-Party Child and Family Protection Group from 1978, on the Conservative Back-bench Health and Social Services Committee from 1982, Secretary to the 1922 Committee 1983–87. She was President of the West Midlands Conservative Political Centre 1980–83 and Lady Chairman of the Western European Union Relations with Parliaments Committee, 1984–1988. She served on the Council of Europe (1977–88), and as Chairman, British Inter-Parliamentary Union (1994–97). Knight, along with David Wilshire, was responsible for introducing the Section 28 amendment to the Local Government Act 1988, which barred local authorities from "promoting" homosexuality. She was also an opponent of abortion, and supported successive attempts to reduce the period during which the operation could be legally performed.
In June 2013, she opposed same-sex marriage, arguing that Parliament cannot change the fact that "marriage is not about just love. It is about a man and a woman, themselves created to produce children, producing children. A man can no more bear a child, than a woman can produce sperm, and no law on earth can change that. This is not a homophobic view. It may be sad, it may be unequal, but it's true."
- According to the Birth records of the General Registry Office of England and Wales, digitized at findmypast.co.uk, the birth of Joan C Christie was registered in 1924:
Name: CHRISTIE, Joan C
Registration district: Wandsworth
Year of registration: 1924
Quarter of registration: Oct-Nov-Dec
Mother's maiden name: Watson
Volume #: 1D
- The London Gazette: . 29 September 1997.
- The London Gazette: . 1 January 1964.
- The London Gazette: . 15 June 1985.
- Phillips (1980): p. 80
- Joseph Patrick McCormick, Baroness Knight: Parliament can't help blind people see, so can't help 'artistic' gays get married, Pink News, 3 June 2013
|This article lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. (February 2013)|
- Copping, Robert. The Monday Club - Crisis and After, Current Affairs Information Service, Ilford, Essex, May 1976, pp. 5, 9, 16-18, 21-22
- Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1973, 160th edition, Epsom: Sell's Publications Ltd
- Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1990, 171st edition, London
- Knight, Jill. About the House. Churchill Press, 1995 ISBN 0-902782-29-0
- Who's Who, London: A. & C. Black (various editions)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Jill Knight
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston