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Private Sports Clubs

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 18 January 2007

I am aware that sex discrimination persists in some private sports clubs, where women members are treated less favourably in accessing facilities and services, or regarding their right to play a part in club management. We are considering how to address such discrimination through the discrimination law review.

The glorious game of golf is a 15th-century gift from Scotland to the modern world, but there are still some clubs in our land whose attitudes to women members are stuck in the social bunker of that bygone era, in that they discriminate on the ground of sex so far as playing and voting rights and access to facilities are concerned. Will the Minister be up for the tussle with the antediluvian tendency in this sport when she drafts the regulations necessary to eradicate discrimination on the greens and in the clubhouse, so that, at last, women and men can be on a par?

I entirely agree with the sentiment expressed by my hon. Friend. Where clubs have members of both genders, they should be treated equally, and we will seek to address that matter.

The Minister specifically says that where clubs have members of both sexes, they should be treated equally. Does she have any plans under the review that she mentioned to look at clubs of which women are not allowed to be members, such as the Royal & Ancient golf club, which is actually golf’s governing body?

The Government’s position on single-sex organisations is that they should be allowed to exist. There are situations in which both men and women choose to have an organisation that is for just one gender, and we will not seek to change that. However, where both men and women are members of a given club, they should be treated equally.