Parliament: Equal Opportunities: Tory MP to lead attack on male- only clubs

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The Independent Online
A TORY MP aims to introduce legislation to ban all-male clubs following admissions by some ministers that barring women from full membership was an "anachronism".

Robert Walter, the MP for Dorset North, will bring in a Private Member's Bill to outlaw private clubs which refuse to admit women as full members. Under his Bill, which has the tacit support of William Hague and Michael Ancram, the Tory chairman, clubs such as the Carlton and the Garrick, which only allow associate membership for women, would have to give them full admission. It would end practices under which women are often given a "second tier" membership while their rights to use facilities and vote on club matters are restricted.

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Employment, which handles equal opportunities, said the Government would wait to see the Bill before deciding whether to support it. Plans to outlaw man-only clubs, which also have the support of the Equal Opportunities Commission, are understood to have been discussed by at least four minister, including the Cabinet Office Minister, Mo Mowlam.

But Downing Street stressed yesterday that there were no separate Government plans to bring in a ban. "It is nonsense. There are no plans to do this," a spokesman said.

Mr Walter, who came 11th in the annual Private Members' Ballot, has already resigned from the Carlton Club over its refusal to admit women as full members.

Mr Hague has also threatened his resignation in light of the club's decision not to hold another vote on the issue.