Jill Knight

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The Baroness Knight of Collingtree

Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
23 September 1997 – 24 March 2016
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Edgbaston
In office
31 March 1966 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byEdith Pitt
Succeeded byGisela Stuart
Personal details
Joan Christabel Jill Christie

(1923-07-09) 9 July 1923 (age 97)
Bristol, England, UK
Political partyConservative
James Montague Knight
(m. 1947; died 1986)

Joan Christabel Jill Knight, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, DBE (née Christie; born 9 July 1923) 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 she had stood down at that year's general election, and retired from the House of Lords on 24 March 2016. She was appointed MBE in 1964, and elevated to DBE in 1985.

Early life[edit]

Christie was born in Bristol in 1923[1] (although she later shaved several years off — when seeking election she put down her year of birth as 1930). Her parents divorced when she was a child. Her mother was a teacher and a graduate of Bristol University. Christie attended Fairfield Secondary and Higher Grade School in Bristol and the King Edward Grammar School for Girls, Birmingham. In 1941, she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Her unit served in Amiens, moving later to Hamburg, following the British advance, performing ground control of aircraft. She also appeared on British Forces Network radio.[1]

Upon her return to the UK she joined the Young Conservatives in London. On 14 June 1947 she married James Montague "Monty" Knight (an optician, who had served in the war as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy), and moved to Northampton.[1]

Political career[edit]

She was elected as a councillor on Northampton Borough Council, serving from 1956–66, and became a whip. She unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat of Northampton in the 1959 and 1964 general elections for the Conservative Party.[2][3] 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, Dame 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.[4]

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 IRA she called for legislation to outlaw the IRA, and attacked supporters and sympathisers on the mainland.

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 was created a Life Peer as Baroness Knight of Collingtree, of Collingtree in the County of Northamptonshire in 1997[5] after standing down at that year's general election, and retired from the House of Lords on 24 March 2016.[6] She was appointed MBE in 1964,[7] and elevated to DBE in 1985.[8][9] She was interviewed in 2012 as part of The History of Parliament's oral history project.[10][11]

Section 28[edit]

Knight, along with David Wilshire, introduced the Section 28 amendment to the Local Government Act 1988, which barred local authorities, including schools, from 'promoting' homosexuality.[12] While promoting the new clause Knight claimed that children under two had access to gay and lesbian books in Lambeth, a claim which has never been substantiated.[13] She linked discussion of homosexuality in schools to the spread of AIDS and described homosexuality as 'perverted' and 'desperately dangerous'.[14] She has been described as a key force behind the legislation and a 'dedicated – not to say fanatical – anti-gay'.[15]

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."[16] In the same year, she claimed it was wrong for David Cameron to apologise for the legacy of Section 28, while appearing to defend herself from accusations of homophobia by claiming that gay people are 'very good at antiques'.[17]

In 2018, when she was confronted about her role as an architect of and a main driving force behind section 28 she said she is sorry 'if' the law hurt anyone. Knight stated that her motivation had only been to maintain the welfare of children.[18]


Coat of arms of Jill Knight
Argent an oak tree eradicated Azure fructed Or within a mascle Azure thereon four needles in lozenge Argent each enfilled and entwined by a thread Or the ends thereof knotted in chief and in base.
On either side a lynx Azure gorged with a plain collar attached thereto a chain reflexed over the back.



  1. ^ a b c Profile, historyofparliamentonline.org; accessed 16 May 2016.
  2. ^ Kimber, Richard. "UK General Election results 1959". Political Science Resources. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  3. ^ Kimber, Richard. "UK General Election results 1964". Political Science Resources. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  4. ^ Phillips (1980): p. 80
  5. ^ "No. 54904". The London Gazette. 29 September 1997. p. 10969.
  6. ^ "Retired members of the House of Lords". parliament.uk. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  7. ^ "No. 43200". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1964. p. 17.
  8. ^ "No. 50154". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1985. p. 7.
  9. ^ "KNIGHT, Jill (b. 1923)". Interview with the History of Parliament oral history project. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Oral history: KNIGHT, Jill (b.1923)". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Baroness Knight of Collingtree interviewed by Mike Greenwood". British Library Sound Archive. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  12. ^ Nicholas Billingham (7 June 2015). "Letters: Section 28 anti-gay law was not devised in the Department of Education". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "The Destruction Caused by Clause 28". Glasgow Women's Library. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  14. ^ "AMENDMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1986 (Hansard, 8 May 1987)". api.parliament.uk. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  15. ^ Letters (7 June 2015). "Section 28 anti-gay law was not devised in the Department of Education | Letters". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Baroness Knight: The gays are still good at antiques and Section 28 was right". PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  18. ^ Salisbury, Josh (25 May 2018). "Baroness Knight: Section 28 architect says she's sorry 'if the law hurt anyone'". PinkNews.
  19. ^ Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage. 2000.


  • Phillips, Melanie (1980). The Divided House. London: Jonathan Cape Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 9780283985478.
  • 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)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edith Pitt
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
Succeeded by
Gisela Stuart