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Philip Norton, Hull/House of Lords

Jon Parry, Pembroke College, Cambridge

Kathryn Rix, History of Parliament

Martin Spychal, History of Parliament

Susan Cohen, Parkes Institute, University of Southampton

November 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the election of Robert Lowe (1811-1892), the first Member of Parliament for the University of London which he represented for the next 12 years.

University constituencies at Westminster date from 1603 and remained a feature of British political life until 1950. The practice of university constituencies—in which members or graduates of a nominated university vote to elect a representative—continues today in Ireland with the election of two members of the Irish Senate.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Robert Lowe’s election as MP for the University of London, this special session of the IHR’s ‘Parliaments, Politics and People’ seminar considers the place of university constituencies in British political history.

What were the arguments in favour of multiple votes for graduates? What were the distinctive contributions of university MPs like Robert Lowe or Eleanor Rathbone, MP for the Combined Universities (1929-46)? Why did the practice of multi-member constituencies die out? And is there now renewed interest in giving some members of an electorate more voting opportunities than others?

Participants include:
• Dr Susan Cohen (Liverpool John Moores University)
• Professor Philip Norton, Lord Norton of Louth (University of Hull and House of Lords)
• Professor Jon Parry (Pembroke College, Cambridge)
• Dr Kathryn Rix (History of Parliament)
• Dr Martin Spychal (History of Parliament)