Joan Christabel Jill Knight, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, DBE (née Christie, born on 9 July 1923 in London  (or 1927)) is a former Conservative Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom. 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 awarded the MBE (1964) and DBE (1985).
Jill Christie was educated at the King Edward Grammar School for Girls, Birmingham. She served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during World War II. On 14 June 1947 she married James Montague (Monty) Knight (who was an optician, in Northampton). They had two sons.
She served as a councillor on Northampton Borough Council from 1956-66, where she was whip. Knight 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 1966, which she held in successive elections until 1997.
Knight was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, 1969 – 1972, on the Select Committee for the Council of Europe from 1977 , Home Affairs 1980 – 1983, 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 1982 – , Secretary to the 1922 Committee 1983 – 1987.
She was President of the West Midlands Conservative Political Centre 1980 – 1983 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).
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 the "arrogant IRA march" which had been held 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. Also in June she herself 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". (The IRA was banned in 1977.)
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, stating that "anyone from Ireland or elsewhere must be made to understand that we have not the money to fund them". 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". She responded "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 that she had received more than 8,000 letters demanding capital punishment for terrorist killings and only 115 against it. John Biggs-Davison and Knight protested in parliament when the government decided to pay £42,000 in compensation to the relatives of men who were shot by the British Army on Bloody Sunday in 1972. She added that "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 Jill 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.
Jill 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 time-period when the operation could be legally performed.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Parliament for Birmingham