Obituary: Lord Murray of Newhaven

Keith Anderson Hope Murray, educationalist: born 28 July 1903; Fellow and Bursar, Lincoln College, Oxford 1937-53, Rector 1944-53; Ministry of Food 1939-40; RAF Volunteer Reserve 1941-42; Director of Food and Agriculture, Middle East Supply Centre, GHQ, MEF 1942-45; Chairman, University Grants Committee 1953-63; Kt 1955; KCB 1963; created 1964 Baron Murray of Newhaven; Chancellor, Southampton University 1964-74; Visitor, Loughborough University of Technology 1968-78; Chairman, Committee of Enquiry into Governance of London University 1970-72; died 10 October 1993.

IT IS only very occasionally that an individual's decision on whether or not to accept the offer of a job makes a difference to the development of British institutions, writes Tam Dalyell. Possibly the clearest cut example of such a decision occurred in 1952.

The newish Conservative government was faced with filling the crucial post of the chairmanship of the University Grants Committee at a time when there was a consensus that university education should be greatly expanded. Elements in the Government, but more particularly in the Treasury and Department of Education, thought that the expansion would be controlled if the chairmanship of the UGC was given to a civil servant, and they had a number of ideal choices in mind, with the immensely talented and energetic Toby Weaver being front- runner. Rab Butler, with his many Cambridge and university connections, demurred, and said that at least academia should be given the opportunity to put forward an acceptable candidate.

In their unhappiness at the prospect of the universities' suffering the thin end of the wedge of state control, the Oxbridge heavyweights turned to the Rector of Lincoln who as bursar had rescued his college from looming financial disaster. Keith Murray was at that moment looking forward to becoming Vice-Chancellor of Oxford in the following year, 1953, and did not want to be severed from Lincoln. However, he succumbed to the pressure of his friends, led by Oliver Franks, Canon CE Raven, Master of Christ's, Cambridge, and the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, Sir Lionel Whitby, Master of Downing. By doing so, he ensured that the universities would remain at arm's length from the Government, and this was with beneficial consequences for the next quarter of a century.

My abiding memory of Murray was his commanding performance before the Public Accounts Committee as accounting officer. As a 29-year-old MP I had asked him some direct questions about university education which Sir Edward Compton, then the Controller and Auditor General, observed to me afterwards were 'a bit over the top'.

However, the following week I had a message from Murray that he would like to give me a cup of tea and talk - which was kind and thoughtful. When I entered his room he put me firmly in my place. 'Why,' he said, looking up, 'did your parents take you away from my old school, Edinburgh Academy, and send you to Eton? Do you think that was good for you?' After my watery smile, he simply could not have been more charming or educative to a young politician about the working of higher education in Britain.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas