§ Order for Second Reading read.
MR. JACOB BRIGHT*
Sir, I rise to move that the Bill for the Removal of the Political Disabilities of Women be now read a second time. If that Bill should pass into law, women will have votes in boroughs if they are householders, if their names are on the rate-books, and if they pay their rates. Women will have votes also in counties if they are householders, and if their houses are rated at £12 and upwards, or if they should be possessed of any description of property which now entitles men to vote. The House may desire to know to what extent women would be enfranchised if this Bill became law. I have Returns of the number of women on the burgess rolls of a great many municipal towns, and I will just state one or two facts from that list. I notice that the largest proportion of 195 women, who are municipal voters is to be found in Bath, where there is 1 woman to 3.8 men. I notice that the smallest proportion is to be found in the town of Walsall. There I only find 1 woman to 22.9 men. The peculiar circumstances of these boroughs would, I have no doubt, easily explain that great difference. But I may mention two or three other towns, as showing what I believe would be about the average number of votes of women in proportion to men in the other boroughs of England. In the town of Bristol there is 1 to every 7 men; in Manchester 1 to 6; in Newcastle-on-Tyne 1 to 8; in Northampton 1 to 13; in York 1 to 7. When we last discussed in this House the question of the extension of the franchise, there was a great fear entertained by those who were within the political pale lest, by admitting those who wanted to get in, they would be swamped. I think that was the term that was then generally in vogue. Even the hon. Member for Pembroke will admit that the number of persons we propose to enfranchise by this Bill is so small that no fear need be entertained on the present occasion. The aristocratic sex—that sex in whose hands are nearly all the material privileges of life—would still be dominant in the government of the kingdom. I advocate this claim of women to the franchise on the grounds of public justice and of practical necessity; and I may say in passing that unless I thought that this matter was one of great practical importance, I should certainly have left it in other hands. The difficulties in the way of legislation on the part of private Members in this House are so great, that no one would undertake it unless moved by a strong sense of justice. Now, it should be remembered, that Parliament does not give votes either to men or women. There are thousands of men who have no votes. There are men in every position of life—and of every degree of intelligence and education—who have no votes. Parliament applies a certain test and give votes to all those men who can submit to that test. If a man is on the rate book and pays his rates, then, though he belong to the fraternity of London thieves, though he be an habitual drunkard, or a returned convict, though he may belong to the class of those who are so ignorant that they scarcely know 196 the name of the Sovereign who sits upon the Throne—yet, if a man be able to submit to the test, whatever his position or character may be, he is at that moment admitted to the rank of voter, and enabled to influence the proceedings of this House. It does seem a strange anomaly that this test—that this qualification—which works such magic with men, is wholly inoperative with women, and that no matter what a woman's position may be—how much property she may have—how much intelligence she may possess, she is still excluded from the franchise, though able to come and submit to every test which Parliament has established. If there were some burdens from which they escaped which fall upon men, I might suppose that there was some kind of answer to be given to this claim. But I know of no such burden, and the only attempt of which I have ever heard to make it appear that women do not share all the burdens of men, is the attempt to show that women take no part in defending their country. It must be remembered, however, that no man is compelled to defend his country. It is a voluntary matter. We hire those who defend the country, and if women as well as men pay the taxes into the Exchequer which enable us to pay those who defend the country, that is a sufficient answer to the argument. I think Florence Nightingale could tell of the services of women who have done something even in defence of their country. The services in the hospital are almost as necessary as those which are performed in the camp; and women are always ready for that or any other kind of service. There has always been great anxiety on the part of men to possess the franchise. From the time that I was a boy I remember associations of various kinds, differing in strength, but always laboriously at work to procure the Parliamentary vote for men. We know very well that men have sacrificed their liberty and perilled their lives in pursuit of this object. In our own generation this has been the case over and over again. Does the House suppose that these men have been misguided, that they have been following a phantom, and that that which they have desired has been of no use to them? On what ground have men always displayed this great anxiety to vote for Members of Parliament? Why, they have told us 197 that an equal share of taxation fell upon them, and, therefore, that they ought to have some control over the expenditure of this taxation. They have told us that it was not within the power of this House either to enact a law or to repeal a law without affecting advantageously or disadvantageously the whole people of the country. The non-electors made another statement. They said—"Your exclusion of us from the political pale is tantamount to a declaration of our moral and intellectual inferiority. It diminishes our own self-respect; it takes away from us the respect of the other portions of the community; and it necessarily makes our career in life far harder and less successful." Is there any one of these reasons which men have so persistently urged for admission to the franchise which does not apply with equal, and even with greater, force to women? Is there a single tax which men pay which women do not pay also? Is the ability to pay on the part of men and women equal? There is not a male and female rate of taxation, but there is a male and female rate of wages and earnings. Women everywhere, with a few remarkable exceptions, are getting far less money than men; they have to work much longer for the same money; and they are even paid much less when they are doing precisely the same work. Taxation must, therefore, fall somewhat more heavily upon women than upon men. Are there any laws imposing restrictions and obligations on men—any laws of a penal character—from which women escape? No; but are there not laws of recent origin which fall with terrible harshness upon women, and which place their peace and security in peril? Are there not such laws—laws from which men wholly escape? These laws may be just and necessary. It is not for me to discuss them at the present moment. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) will give the House an opportunity of defending them in a short time; but I have a right to say that the fact that one sex legislates for another and imposes burdens upon an unrepresented portion of the people, which it does not take upon itself, forms an additional reason why women should ask for the suffrage, and strengthens the claim which I am urging at the present moment. If it be true that men felt when they were 198 excluded from the franchise, that it was a mark of great disrespect and injurious to their position, will not women have the same feeling? There are inferior men in every rank of life. They have no objection to degrade women and keep them in degradation. So long as Parliament legislates in this way, so long as it puts them in an inferior position politically, it gives considerable support to the course taken by the class of men to whom I have referred. At the present moment what does Parliament say to women who are occupiers and owners of property? It says to them—You are fitted to vote in local matters—in small concerns which do not greatly affect you you are entitled to have your vote; but when we come to Imperial affairs, then you are disqualified, and we refuse to admit you. But I am told that the theoretical arguments on this subject cannot be answered; that theoretically women undoubtedly have a right to that which they claim; and the advocates of this measure are asked to deal with it practically. We are asked to show of what injustice women complain, and what changes they would propose to make in case they were admitted to political privileges? All these questions were put to the non-electors of England previous to the Reform Bill of 1867, and I believe they were not unsatisfactorily answered. But I undertake to say that the inequality of the law betwixt voters and non-voters prior to 1867, was as nothing compared with that which now exists between men and women. Allow me, then, to call attention to some of these inequalities. I am not going to say how they should be altered; but I have a right to point out that they exist, and that they have been made by that portion of society having power against that portion which has no power. Take the law as it affects married women. I may be told that this Bill would not give the franchise to married women. That is quite true. This is a practical measure. It is only in our power to give votes to those who can submit to the tests which have been established by Parliament; but we propose to give the franchise to those who have been married and are widows, and to spinsters who are yet to be married. I contend that this would give adequate security to the whole sex. Look for a moment at the law with regard to the property of mar- 199 ried women. According to the common law of England, a married woman, in regard to the rights of property, is in the position of the negro in the Southern States of America before the American Revolution. She cannot control her property, and she has not the possession of one farthing of her earnings. According to my view, the possession of property is necessary for education, and for the proper development of character. Be the woman ever so prudent, be the man ever so imprudent—be the woman ever so sagacious, and be the husband ever so imbecile, still he has absolute control, not only of his own but of hers. Sir, the House is agreed upon this question, and is unanimous upon the injustice of the present law. The hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes) is of the same opinion as the right hon. and learned Member for Southampton (Mr. Russell Gurney). I may, then, be asked why need women have votes, if they can obtain redress without them? It is one thing to acknowledge an evil and another to find a remedy for it. We legislate in the following order:—First, for those who can make themselves dangerous; next, for those who exercise a pressure at the polling-booth; and lastly, or not at all, for those who have no votes, and therefore no constitutional influence. The Married Women's Property Bill has three times received the sanction of this House, and it has been twice before a Select Committee; but he would be a very imprudent man who would undertake to say when it will become law, or, further, that it will become law without greater mutilations than it has yet received. But that is not the way in which the class which has the franchise is treated. Look at what has been done with regard to the working classes since the passing of the Reform Act of 1867. I have seen Members of this House sit here till daylight in order to defeat the Married Women's Property Bill, which seeks to prevent the confiscation of the property of a vast number of persons, and I have been glad to see the same hon. Members competing in this House in their desire to protect the funds of trades unionists and to protect the trades unions themselves. That is the effect of the franchise. Last Session the Government brought in a Bill to protect the funds of trades unions, and this year they propose to intro- 200 duce another Bill to put these associations on a more satisfactory footing; but I am afraid it will be a long time before the Government undertake to deal with these questions which belong to a portion of society among whom the franchise does not exist. But let us look a little further at these inequalities of the law. Look at the position of a woman who loses her husband. If he die intestate, the law protects her and gives her a certain portion of the income arising frem his property, whatever that property may be; but if he choose to make a will, she is left entirely to his justice and mercy. I do not deny that the majority of widows are fairly treated in this respect; but it must be remembered that when we pass laws we do not legislate for the majority; we legislate because of the existence of that minority who possess neither justice nor mercy. I have known many cases of this sort. Take the case of a couple just entering life in one of the industrial districts of England. They begin life often with nothing but good character and intelligence. The man works at his business; the woman attends to him and to the family; and the man often becomes rich. If the law were equal, the wife would have some kind of security with regard to that wealth which she had helped to make. As I said before, I do not propose to say what changes should be made in these matters; I merely point to an inequality, and I may remind the House that these inequalities have been made by a section of the community. It is required that a woman should receive 10 times the provocation that a man receives before she can obtain a divorce. A woman has no control over her children when they become seven years of age: the husband may part them from her when they reach that age. I know the case of a lady who was deserted by her husband when she had one child. Amidst much suffering she had to get a living for herself and her child, and when the child was seven years old, because she importuned her husband for some assistance, he threatened to take away the child, and she had to conceal both herself and her child in order to escape the danger. I might say something also in regard to education. It is to me a very painful thing to see the difficulties which women have to contend against in order to get anything 201 like a high, education in this country. Women are charged with being frivolous; but that charge is very often made with great frivolity, and it is too often made by those who look at women through the medium of what they call society. So long as it is the custom of the country for women only to be admitted to the frivolous occupation of men, it is likely that that charge will continue to be made. Men and women may mix at the dance, the picnic, and the theatre; but when they go to the lecture room it is considered improper. However, there is a class of men growing up who consider these things, and they believe that the morality of this country will be greatly improved when the lecture rooms are opened to all. I might even go to the primary schools, in order to show what is the influence of those above upon those below. There is a great free school in Manchester—an admirable school—which takes children out of the gutter; but it only takes in the male children, and the girls are left in the streets. Surely such a thing must have a very bad influence upon those boys and girls. I am glad that in this proposition, which I now make to the House, there is nothing of a party character, though I must say that this is the first proposition for the extension of the Parliamentary franchise which has ever been free from party conflict, and from the passions arising out of that conflict. When this proposition was made to the House in 1867, by Mr. John Stuart Mill, it received a very general support. Five of the Members of this House who supported that proposition are now Members of the present Government, and that does not exhaust the Members of the Government who are in favour of this Bill. There were also many eminent Members on the opposite side of the House who supported the proposition. The opinions of the Leader of the opposite party are, of course, no secret. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire is not now in his place, because if he had been, I think he would have supported this measure. I have an extract here from one of his published speeches, in which he says—In a country governed by a woman, where you allow women to form part of one of the Estates of the Realm—I allude to the Peeresses in their own right—and where they have power to hold manorial courts, and may be elected as 202 churchwardens or overseers of the poor, I do not see, where a woman has so much to do with the Church and with the State, on what reason, if you come to right, she has not a right to vote.But the right hon. Gentleman made a still more direct avowal of his opinions in a debate in this House in April, 1866, when he said—I have always been of opinion that, if there is to be universal suffrage, women have as much right to vote as men; and, more than that—a woman having property now ought to have a vote in a country, in which she may hold manorial courts and sometimes acts as churchwarden."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiii. 99.]But, whatever claim I may have on the support of hon. Members on that side of the House, I feel that I have a stronger claim upon the great Liberal party to which I have the honour to belong. I do not know what meaning we are accustomed to attach to that word "Liberal" on this side of the House; but today I do not ask for liberality—I ask only for the barest justice. According to our professions on every hustings, we have certainly said that if justice does not require that every individual should have a vote, it does require that every class should be represented; and we have established it as a political axiom, that no class ever will receive legislative equality at the hands of another class. We have always said that those who are called on to obey the laws should have some voice in making the laws, and that representation should follow taxation. I have been met by this argument from some of my political friends: they have said—"Our principles do not require that we should support your Bill. We are in favour of good government; that is our only aim. We will enfranchise those who are fitted to be enfranchised; but we deny that women are fit, and we shall, therefore, oppose your Bill." Now, let me examine that argument for a moment. In the first place, it strikes one as not being very new. No class has ever asked to be admitted within the political pale in this or in any other country without receiving that answer; and in this country, at any rate, no class has ever been admitted to the franchise without great advantage to itself and the country. In the Southern States of America, in the Northern States to a very large extent, and in this country to a great extent also, the people were told before the American War that the negro was not fit for freedom. People never are fit for freedom or for constitutional rights until they 203 obtain them; but now there is not a man in America who would like to go back to the terrible state of things which existed before the Civil War broke out. It was commonly said in America that the negro was not fit for the vote; but a negro population of 4,000,000 has now become enfranchised, and no one will deny that the peace and prosperity of these Southern States have been secured by that great legislative change. I confess I am surprised when I am told that women, as a class, are unfit for the franchise; women who are the subjects of a female Sovereign, are engaged in many literary pursuits; who are at the head of educational establishments; who are managing factories and farms, and controlling thousands of businesses throughout this country! If I am told that many women are not fitted for the franchise, I am bound to admit it; but, then, the same thing may be said of many men. Anyone who says that women generally are not fitted in point of intelligence for the franchise knows very little of the agitation which has produced this Bill. There has never been an agitation more ably conducted by the various ladies who have taken part in it; and, considering the small means at the disposal of women, there never was a question which made such rapid progress in so short a space of time. I have been told, also, that if this Bill were to pass, the Government would be handed over to the Conservative party in the very crisis of the country's fate—these are the very words I have heard used. Well, I take consolation from the fact that this country has sometimes even survived a Conservative Administration; but if there be any meaning in an argument of that kind it is this—that if the country were properly and justly represented, we should be sitting on the other side of the House. Now, I do not believe a word of it. I have paid some attention to this question, and I have considered the objections raised against the possession of the franchise by women on the ground that they would be Conservative; but I will not enter into a discussion of that point now, because I think every man will vote according to what he takes to be the justice and reason of the case, and not ask whether women are Conservative or Liberal. I will, however, undertake to say that there would be no change in the balance of parties. There 204 would be one great change, which would be this—from the moment women obtained the franchise, even though an election might not take place for several years to come, whenever a question affecting their interests came to the front, it would receive an amount of attention and consideration which it would not, and could not, receive now. I have heard both in the Lobbies of this House, and in other places, many things said in opposition to this Bill, and some of the objections are very peculiar. I have been told that women are too religious; that they have too much respect for the clergy and for religious teachers in general; and that, therefore, they should be subject to political disabilities. We have had in this House some earnest discussions, to be followed by many more, on the question of education; and there is a predominant feeling in favour of giving, in some way or other, a religious education to children. I hope, if the fact of being religious is to be followed by political disabilities, that we shall not succeed too well in that task. It is true that the religious sentiment is stronger in women than in men; their path in life is a harder one, and law and custom, instead of coming in aid of their weakness, too often trample upon it and bestow their favours on the stronger sex. That being so, it is not remarkable that women, more than men, should seek consolation and strength from that Power before whom, at least, all human beings are equal. I have also been told that women should not be political, or, in other words, that it is the duty of women to be politically ignorant. I might as well be told that grass should not be green; and, no doubt, if you sufficiently excluded air and light and moisture it would no longer be so. Women are political, and they cannot fail to be so in the circumstances in which they are placed. They are born in a free country, where public meetings are held on every variety of subjects, those meetings being open to everybody; they are born in a country where we have a daily Press which is the ablest, the most interesting, and the cheapest which the world has ever known. We were told some time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown, that eviction notices fell like snowflakes in some parts of Ireland. The daily papers fall like snowflakes in all our houses; and if 205 we are not to make our women political, we must shut the doors against the Press. To tell me that women should not be political is to tell me that they should have no care for the future of their children, no interest in the greatness and progress of their country. If it be true that women are not to be political, then we ought logically to take away from them the only shred of privilege which connects them with this House—the privilege of petitioning this House. Tens of thousands of women's names have been sent to this House in Petitions this year. We are supposed—[here the hon. Gentleman pointed up to the Ladies' Gallery]—not to know that there is a Gallery behind that screen; but I have noticed that it rarely happens that an hon. Gentleman comes down to make an important speech without his having some one or more of the female members of his family up in that Gallery. If women be deteriorated by political knowledge, I think the female members of the families of Members of Parliament must be in a very deplorable state indeed. I have visited them at their own homes, but I have never found that deterioration: on the contrary, I have found with larger knowledge more vivacity and interest; in short, an intellectual flavour not always to be found elsewhere. An objection, considered to be a very great one with regard to the franchise, is, that women themselves do not care for it, and would not use it if they had it. But no one who has paid any attention to the facts of the case would raise that objection. Before the Municipal Franchise Bill gave municipal rights to women—I know this to be a fact because I made the inquiry in the neighbourhood with which I am most acquainted in Lancashire—where women had the power of local voting they used that power in the same proportion as men; and I have found that since the Bill of last year came into operation, in many municipalities they have voted in nearly an equal proportion with the men, while there are cases in which the polling of women has exceeded the polling of men. But it should be borne in mind that by passing this Bill we do not compel women to vote. There are a great many men who have no interest in politics at all, and who do not wish to vote; and unless we had organized associations to arrange the matter for them, many of them would never be 206 upon the register at all. Let me state what is the present position of women with regard to the power of voting in this country. They vote in all local matters; they have every parochial vote; they have votes in corporate and non-corporate towns. In the non-corporate towns and in parishes they vote under the conditions of what is known as Sturges Bourne's Act, according to the property they are rated for. Thus, a lady of property may have as many as six votes, while her servant—her gardener or her labourer—has only one. But is it not an absurdity that a woman can have six votes and her man-servant only one in local matters, while in Parliamentary elections the poor man retains his one vote, while the woman, who is in a high position and owns large property, has absolutely none. Last year's legislation appeared to me as if it should settle this question of the Parliamentary franchise for women. Without any Division in either House of Parliament, and with only one single voice raised, and that not with any earnestness, against it, women were admitted to vote in all our municipal elections. Women go up to the poll, they do not vote with the quiet of the Ballot, but they go up openly and give their votes once a year, not once in four or five years, and it must be borne in mind that these municipal elections have become as completely political as any Parliamentary election could possibly be. I do not know how or on what argument we can now say to women—"No; you have come so far, but you shall not come any further." I should like to read a single sentence from the speech of Lord Cairns, made in the other House of Parliament when the Bill of last year passed, and when the Earl of Kimberley spoke on one side and Lord Cairns on the other. Lord Cairns said—As an unmarried woman could dispose of her property and deal with it, he did not see why she should not have a voice in controlling the municipal expenditure to which that property contributed?Does anyone dissent from that statement? But if it be just and right that a woman should be able to control the municipal expenditure to which her property contributes, should she not have a right to control the Parliamentary expenditure to which her property contributes? The local expenditure of the 207 country amounts to about £20,000,000, and the Imperial expenditure to about £70,000,000; and, if justice requires that she should have the opportunity of controlling the expenditure of the smaller sum, is it not unjust to deprive her of the means of controlling the expenditure of the larger? But we want votes for something else than merely to control the expenditure of our money. Parliament can confiscate the property of women, and it does so to a large extent. It can deal with liberty and life, and pass laws affecting the happiness of people in the remotest cottages of the land—matters of far greater importance than anything connected with expenditure. I see that an hon. Gentleman opposite has put a Notice on the Paper for opposing my Bill, by moving the Previous Question. When I first saw that Notice I asked a Member of great influence in the House what he thought of it, and he replied that it was rather a shabby way of meeting the question. I will not apply that or any other epithet of the sort to it. One remembers occasions where it was both justifiable and intelligible to take such a course as that which the hon. Gentleman proposes to adopt; and, for anything I know, that course may be quite justifiable now, but I cannot decide the point, as it is unintelligible to me. I could suggest a more manly course; and we should remember that, up to now at any rate, this House is the creation of masculine constituencies. If the proposition that I make is not founded on justice and reason, it would, I should think, be more agreeable to the feelings of hon. Members who oppose me to give a distinct "No" to this proposition. But if, on the other hand, the claim women make upon this House be founded on justice and on reason, then let us freely concede it. I have been told that the Government are to stand neutral on this question. Well, unfortunately it is the characteristic of all Governments to be so engrossed in attending to the wants of the powerful that they can seldom give any kind of consideration to the claims of the weak. I shall forbear quoting from the speeches of the Prime Minister; but I do remember burning periods of his in speeches which he delivered in this House and elsewhere—which did much to create enthusiasm in the country, and to place him high in the 208 hearts of the people—that are as applicable to the case now before us as to the occasions on which they were uttered. There is, however, one thing which consoles me when I reflect upon this. There is nobody more open to conviction in this House than the First Minister of the Crown, and, when he is once convinced, there is nobody more resolute in carrying out his convictions. One word more, and I will no longer trespass on the kindness and forbearance of the House. There is a very general movement in favour of this Bill—a movement which exists in almost every part of the three kingdoms. There have been many Petitions during the past three Sessions in favour of it. During the three short months we have already sat here this year, more than 100,000 names have come up asking us to pass this Bill. The persons who sign these Petitions only ask from a household-suffrage Parliament a Bill that will establish real household suffrage. They complain that it is not fair that a house should be passed over because a woman happens to be at the head of it. The women who are interested in the subject are only acting in the spirit of one of the noblest proverbs of our language—"God helps those who help themselves." Is it a matter of regret to us that they should have these aspirations? Ought it not rather to be a matter of satisfaction and of pride? That this Bill will become law no one, who has observed the character of the agitation, and who knows the love of justice of the British people, can doubt. I hope it will become law soon, for I have a desire, which will receive the sympathy of many in this House—I have a strong desire that when our children come to read the story of their country's fame, it may be written there that the British Parliament was the first great Legislative Assembly in the world which, in conferring its franchises, knew nothing of the distinctions of strong and weak, of male and female, of rich and poor. I will conclude by moving the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Jacob Bright.)
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he would express his opinion of this measure, not by indulging in sentimentalities on the 209 rights of women, but viewing the matter simply as a practical question. It resolved itself into a matter of money—a mere question of money. The payment of certain rates entitled persons to vote for a Member of Parliament, those persons being the rated occupiers of any dwelling-house of the value of £10 annually, or the rated occupiers of any premises other than a dwelling-house of the annual value of £10, and lodgers of the annual value of £10—so that it was a mere question of money; having nothing whatever to do with sex. There were in his city of Aberdeen 185 women householders, from each of whom he presented a Petition to the House. They had fulfilled the legal conditions imposed by Act of Parliament, and therefore they were as much entitled to vote as any of the other 14,000 voters in Aberdeen. What did it matter, so long as a party fulfilled the conditions of the law, whether that party wore petticoats or a pair of breeches? Of the Petitions presented in favour of the Bill, 21 were Petitions under seal, and 230 others contained 94,760 signatures; and that was a good proof that the feeling was pretty extensive throughout the whole kingdom. It might be said that if they granted the privilege to women they would probably affect the returns at contested elections. But what would be the total amount of the influence that could be brought to bear in that way? In Aberdeen there would only be 185 women out of 14,000 voters. In a small borough the women might probably turn the scale, in case they all voted on the same side—an event not very likely—but these were exceptional instances, having nothing to do with the principle. He would tell the House what the India Company did. For 100 years they granted to women having the money-qualification a right to vote. And for whom? Why, for 24 men who, in position, dignity, and power, were at all events equal to any Members of that House, for they had to govern 200,000,000 of people; whereas each of us here represent only the 658th part of a Legislature for governing only 30,000,000. Under these circumstances, he did feel that they were doing a great deal of injustice to the female community. They were as capable of exercising the franchise as men were, and they had a full right and title to exercise it.
in rising to move the Previous Question, said, that he would not go into the question of the rights and dignities of women, or their relative inferiority or superiority to man; but the main proposition which he wished to maintain was, that they had no sufficient evidence that it was the wish of the women of England to have this privilege conferred upon them, and that there was very strong presumptive evidence that they considered it to be a possession something like what was known to the lawyers as damnosa hœre-ditas. The same reason that prevented women from desiring to have these privileges conferred upon them prevented them from getting up an agitation in opposition. They were bound to look not only at the express declarations contained in the form of Petitions, but also upon whatever other evidence would guide them to a conclusion as to what their real wishes were. Now, he had asked the question of many women, and almost invariably the answer he received was, that they would much rather not have these privileges conferred upon them. He had asked other persons the result of their inquiries, and it had uniformly been the same. There was a better mode of getting at the real feeling of the people than by the presentation of Petitions. They all knew how Petitions were got up; and he thought they could not do better in such a question as this than follow the advice, in ascertaining the real feelings of the people, of one of the greatest men who ever lived—a piece of advice which threw much light on the character of that extraordinary man. Amongst the invaluable pieces of advice which Napoleon gave to his brother Joseph, he said—"Collect opinions one by one, but not in councils." Now reverting to the general subject, he thought the House would see what a good reason women had for not wanting the franchise. One of the inexorable conditions on which life was given was that of not having two opposite chances. They could not be on one side of a question and on the other at the same time. The extension of privileges conferred an extension of responsibility. If women were to have these extended privileges, many immunities which they now enjoyed must be removed. That was the inexorable condition on which life was maintained. If 211 they were to extend their political influence, they could not expect to assert so much of their social influence. If their social influence was maintained in the way it had been maintained throughout England, a considerable amount of political influence must follow; but if they fixed their minds exclusively on political things, their social influence must be weakened. Influences must be distinct and divided without assigning a relative position of superiority and inferiority. It did not follow when the two influences were perfectly distinct that what was good for the one was necessarily good for the other. To use an illustration, it seemed to him that men and women were travelling in the same direction on different, yet parallel lines, charged with the freight of human happiness, and they might have much happiness as long as each party kept on its separate line; but, if one or the other got into the wrong groove, he was afraid their stock of happiness was likely to be greatly reduced. He would give an example in point from Boswell's Life of Johnson. Boswell asked Dr. Johnson his opinion of the merits of a woman's preaching. Dr. Johnson's reply was—"I consider a woman preaching like a dog standing on its hind legs; it was not done well, but the wonder is to find it done at all." He (Mr. Scourfield) did not wish women to enter into competition with dancing dogs, and to show their wonderful powers in doing things which they were not expected to do, and which there were many disadvantages to their executing in a proper manner, and in a manner equally efficient with men who perform them under totally different circumstances. Their vocation was a high one. Their vocation was to make life endurable. The prospects of society in regard to the diffusion of general education without much originality or deep thinking, was one of the darkest clouds that hung on the horizon. There was a predominance of persons who wished to lecture and talk over those who wished to listen. They were threatened with the universal dominion of talkers and bores, and among the influences which frustrated that alarming tendency—that of women was one of the most effective; but, if they went into the same line of business as the men, there was nothing left for us but to pray for an early consummation of Dr. Cumming's prophecy. He pro- 212 tested against being accused of making any allegation of their inferiority. He had no doubt that their vote would be given on as good and pure principles as any of the men; but he wished to remind hon. Members of one circumstance. The House, by a decisive majority, refused to adopt voting papers at elections. If voting papers had been allowed, women might have recorded their votes without being under the necessity of giving personal attendance at the poll; but now they must give their votes by personal attendance, and be exposed to all the annoyances to which everyone who had taken part in a contested election knew very well that persons who engage in these matters were invariably subjected. It was said that they need not vote if they did not like; but they knew that when a district became excited election agents would hunt out the name of every person who could vote, and careful inquiry would be made as to every influence that could be brought to bear in order to get them to vote in favour of a particular candidate. In this way women would be subject to an amount of annoyance and persecution of which they had little idea at the present moment. He wished to see women continue in that vocation in which they were engaged, and doing all that was admirable, amiable, and delightful; but he had no wish to see them engaged in the line of the exceptional and the wonderful. He begged to move the Previous Question.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
If there can be any man who has a right to second this Motion it is I, because I have shown my desire to help the cause of the women of England in a way which I think very few other Members have ventured to do in the Motion of which I have given Notice for the 24th of this month. But, Sir, while I have the strongest feeling with regard to the injustice which has been done them by particular laws in this country as they now stand, I am not prepared to say that they should enter into political life. I quarrel with the title of this Bill. I do not think it a disability of women that they have no votes. I consider it rather a privilege, that they have no votes, because they are therefore not expected to enter into that arena in which some of us are actively engaged. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. 213 Jacob Bright) that they have the same interest in the goodness of the laws which we have, and that the laws affect their happiness just as much as ours; but I say that they should take care to influence their husbands and their friends to put right-minded men into this House, and then their interests would be properly looked after. It is an entire delusion to say that they have no great political influence. I believe women have immense political influence. I saw a good deal of it in the contested Election of 1868. I maintain that their influence is extremely powerful in this country, and I am not prepared to say that it would be much more powerful if this Bill were passed. I am one of those who have the highest possible opinion of the capacity of women. I have, from a variety of circumstances, been brought into contact with women of the highest intellect and the highest character, and I will yield to no man in my estimate of their powers and their abilities. I consider that the sphere of their influence is at home. I consider that they have a duty to perform as important, if not more important than the duties that fall to men. They have to educate their children; they have to adorn the sphere in which they live; and to perform duties with regard not merely to the rising generation but with regard to their husbands, their brothers, and all their friends which are of an importance that cannot be exaggerated. I think myself—if hon. Members will excuse me for saying so, that their powers, although very great, are in some respects very different from the powers of men. We no doubt find cases in which a woman is able to express herself in public with wonderful eloquence and skill; but, speaking generally, I must say that I think that position is not a natural position for women. Then, again, I think that their powers, with regard to political matters, are rather powers of reflection than of action. They are perfectly well able to think about these things; they are able to influence those whom they know; but it does not thence follow that they should rush to the polling-booths, and be actually engaged as men are in these matters. I think their powers point to a different, vocation and a different sphere. Now, with regard to that, I want to ask hon. Members where this is to stop? It appears to me that if the argument that 214 has been used is good, there is no reason on earth why women should not be elected Members of Parliament. There is not a single argument which has been used that does not end in that. If they have equal powers, and equal capacities, and equal rights before the law, and if, therefore, they are to have votes, and ought to enter into the political arena, where does that end? In this House. If I gave my vote for this Bill, I should feel bound to give my vote to admit them as Members of this House. I defy anyone to find out a logical standing place between the two. It has been said that we have given them the municipal vote. My impression is that we have gone too far in giving them the municipal vote; but it does not follow that we should go further in a wrong direction. The argument is plausible; but I think there is no weight in it, unless we are prepared to give up the whole question, and admit that there is no kind of difference of vocation between men and women. The more I think of the Bill of last year, the more clear I am that it sanctioned no such principle. We have been told a great deal about the rights of women being neglected; I agree very much with what my hon. Friend said upon that point. I consider the state of the law with regard to the property of married women to be a scandal and disgrace to this country, and I think that nothing can exceed the harshness and injustice of that law. I know the case of a woman who has been sent from affluence to penury merely because her life interest in her property was not settled upon her at the time of her marriage; and I do hope that the Bill of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder of the City (Mr. Russell Gurney) will be passed in this House by a large majority. But it does not follow that women must necessarily have a vote. All that follows is that we should have right men sent here, who will do justice to all classes of society. The hon. Member says that women will never have justice until they have direct representation. I dispute that proposition. I think there are numbers of men in this House who are anxious and desirous to do justice to every class. A vast number of men in this country have, in fact, no votes, and are we to be told, that they are treated with injustice systematically because 215 they do not possess the franchise? I am not prepared to say that the time may not come when we may extend the franchise further; but, so far as I can see, we have not had a conclusive argument to show that women must be in the number of the included. I must say that I was a little surprised at the great stress which has been laid upon the question about money. It has been said that taxation and representation go together, and that if you pay taxation you ought to have a voice in its expenditure. That is a plausible argument; but it seems to me that a vote means a great deal more than a question about money. Hon. Members will admit, I think, that we deal with questions of far greater interest, and affecting us more in our daily life, than even the question of the payment of taxation. Therefore, the mere fact that a woman has a vote with regard to the expenditure of the taxes of the neighbourhood in which she lives, is no argument that she should have a vote with regard to the large questions which are involved in the proceedings of this House. The whole question is this—Are women, or are they not, to enter into political strife like men? That is the real point at issue. I confess that I am somewhat surprised at the remarks which have been made about married women. It is said they should have no vote because their husbands have votes. That is an argument which is not to me conclusive. A married woman is an existing entity, although she is married. She very often differs in toto from her husband in political matters; but, except in some cases where she has the influence described in a vulgar proverb, she is unable to influence the vote of her husband as she wishes. It may fairly be argued that she has the right to vote as much as any other woman. It is quite true that she does not pay taxes; but I dispute the proposition altogether that voting for Members to serve in this House is to be based entirely on the question whether a man pays taxes or not. When you bring in this question about women's rights, you bring in an argument far higher than that. I consider that a married woman would have a fair right to say that she was unjustly used if you admitted spinsters to have votes. The hon. Member has referred to the immense inequalities existing in the law. My answer to that is all the 216 same. What is wanted is not that women should be put upon the roll, but that women should use that legitimate influence which they possess to see that men of right views and feelings are sent to this House. I admit fully that the question has two sides. If you treat a woman as a man—having exactly the same powers and faculties as a man—there is a great deal in the argument which says that she is to have the same political rights. But when we look deeply into the matter, and see all the consequences which are involved in it, the more satisfied I am that we are safer as we are. I do not like to see women mixed up so much in all political questions. It is quite right that they should have their opinions, and that they should state their opinions and act upon them; but I do not desire to see a constant succession of women lecturers going about the country. I have shown, as I said before, my deep sympathy with the wrongs of women, and I am prepared to show it in every possible way that I can. But when I am asked to admit women to the same political privilege as men, I find that I am unable to agree to it. I hope that this House will by a decisive vote maintain the position we have hitherto maintained, and that we shall come to the conclusion that it is not a disability that women should not have a vote, but that it is rather a privilege that they should not be mixed up in political strife. On these grounds I am unable to vote with my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Jacob Bright), though I do so with considerable regret, lest it should be thought I am wanting in sympathy with women. I desire to state, and make it most clearly understood, that my motive in doing so is to save them from what would be rather an injury than a blessing.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
* Sir, I rise under somewhat peculiar circumstances, because I have to support this Bill against the Motion of the Previous Question, which has not, I think I am justified in saying, been defended by a single word. To treat the Motion for the Previous Question as a direct negative must, therefore, be our line of action. It may be necessary for me to answer, before I go into a defence of this Bill, some of the arguments which have been brought forward. I will first deal with one which was used by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. 217 Fowler), because in disposing of it we dispose of a considerable number of arguments of the same kind. This is an argument which is used against this particular measure, but which is really directed against the propriety of what would be a much wider measure—the extension of the franchise to all women. It is an argument which is in no way applicable to the measure before the House, when it is said that the proper position for a woman is in her family, educating her children, and, I think it was even said, attending to her husband. The Bill applies to no woman who has a husband, and in no case can this argument be used against the Bill before us. If you go further, and say that the franchise ought not to be given to a woman who is a widow and has children, and whose time should be taken up with educating and attending to those children, then, Sir, my hon. Friend, to be consistent, should disfranchise all widowers who have children; for on what possible ground can it be denied that, if it is the duty of a widow to give up the whole of her time to her children, it would be the duty of the widower, in similar circumstances, to do the same? One argument of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Scourfield) is that women should not have a vote because of the turmoil of elections; because of the dangers of going to the poll, and because of the possibility of their experiencing insolent treatment at the polling-booth. Women do go to polls at the present moment, and, therefore, the whole argument falls to the ground. We know well that many municipal elections are distinguished by as great political strife as any election of Members of this House; and last year there was not a single case of women meeting with anything like violence. But I will take it for granted that the argument is well-founded. Even supposing that women were hindered from going to the polling-booth, they would be hindered by the violence, the roughness, and the rudeness of men; and it seems to me one of the grossest arguments ever used, that you should with-hold the franchise from them because they would be hindered from exercising it properly by the violence of the very men who prevent them from acquiring it. The strongest argument which was used by the hon. Member was that 218 women did not want the franchise, and in the course of his statement of it he laid down one of the most extraordinary propositions ever heard from these Benches. He objected to the argument drawn from the fact that Petitions had been brought forward in favour of the measure, and said that the proper way for a Member of this House to proceed when he wished to ascertain the opinions of the people on a particular subject was to go about and ask individuals one by one what they thought of it. Sir, I am but a young Member of this House; but I am an old enough Member of it to know that the only constitutional method of addressing this House is by Petition. The only means which people have of directly making known their wishes to Parliament is by Petitions, against which the hon. Member protests. With regard to the general argument that women do not want the franchise, it was answered by anticipation in the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester. He said that this Bill did not compel women to vote; but if a particular woman does not wish for the franchise, or even if a majority of women do not wish for the franchise, that is no reason for refusing it to those women who would use it, if it be just that they should have it. But, further, in reply to that argument, I might argue that a class which has been always excluded from political power does not ask for political power. You will always find that in the case of any class which has been despotically governed—and, though I do not wish to use strong language, it cannot be denied that women have been despotically governed in England, although the despotism has been of a benevolent character—the great majority of that class are content with the system under which they live. You find this the case in Oriental countries. If you applied to the women in India—if you were to go to Bombay, which, in these matters, is the most enlightened part of India, and if you were in a position to offer them social rights equal to those of men, and to propose to break up the system under which they live, I can have no hesitation in saying that the vast majority of those women would sooner be let alone. Is that an answer to those who contend that the system is not just, and that they should not be let alone? I think it is no answer to the 219 argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester—that you do not compel those to vote who do not desire it; but that you permit those to vote who do. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) says that it is a delusion to say that women are not represented, or that they have no political influence. He said that it was a mistake to say that justice was not done, and could not be done, to individuals who were not represented. But I would point out to my hon. Friend that when that argument comes to be applied to a whole class, it is precisely the argument by which hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite met the proposition for Reform in 1866, and which they abandoned in 1867, when they enfranchised a large portion of the working classes. That argument of virtual representation was disposed of in such a way that it could not be stirred again in this House; and if you substitute the word "women" for the word workingmen, you have a sufficient answer to the argument of virtual representation. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Pembroke asked where we were to stop. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge said that there was no line to be drawn short of admitting women to Parliament, and argued that there was no standing place between this proposition and the admission of married women to the franchise. With regard to the admission of women to Parliament, I would feel that if there were no other, that that is a matter in the hands of the constituency. If there are those dangers with regard to the admission of women to Parliament, which my hon. Friend professes to fear, the question, according to all political rules, ought to be left to the constituencies to decide. There is no need to make a law that people over 90 years of age should not be Members of this House. If my hon. Friend is right in thinking that women labour under disabilities similar to those of persons of very advanced age in seeking admission to this House, the proper remedy is in the hands of the constituencies, who would not be likely to return them. With regard to the representation of married women, you would, by passing this Bill, be putting yourself in the firmest possible position for answering their claim. Whether it be just or unjust that married women should have a vote, you have at present 220 no intelligible basis on which to rest your franchise. You do not say that the occupier of every house, or that the possessor of every freehold, shall vote; but you say that they shall vote in cases where they are men. But if you make property the absolute test without exception or disqualification of any kind, then you have for the first time an intelligible basis on which you may rest your suffrage, and upon which you can withstand the demand for universal suffrage. But if you should reject the adoption of that basis for any length of time, it will be impossible then to resist the demand which will be generally made upon you for the adoption of universal suffrage in the election of Members of this House. The real argument which must lie at the bottom of this question is the alleged intellectual incapacity of women. I will first argue the question against the hon. Member (Mr. Scourfield), who seems to approve of the Municipal Franchise Bill of last year—[Mr. SCOURFIELD: No!]—who, at any rate, did not oppose, and then I will argue it against my hon. Friend who is opposed to that Bill, because undoubtedly their views rest on different grounds. The franchise at the present moment is considered by some people to be a right, and by others it is not. With regard to the people who consider it to be right, there can be no doubt in their minds that it is just as much the right of women as of men. With regard to those who consider it a matter of expediency, I would point out to them that the Legislature has decided that there shall be a property qualification of some kind for the exercise of the franchise. The qualification you have established is, that every person living in a house and paying rates shall be entitled to vote. There is only one class of the inhabitants of full age except the insane, who are passed over in this Parliamentary franchise. You do not pass over negroes, for there are negro voters in almost every borough in the country; but you pass over one class—the class of women. It is quite clear that you have passed them over on account of some grave incapacity. If that were not clear from the general nature of the case, it would be clear from what Blackstone says. Blackstone, describing those who are subject to political disability, that— 221No vote can be given by lunatics, idiots, minors, aliens, females, persons convicted of perjury, subornation of perjury, bribery, treating or undue influence, or by those attainted of felony, or outlawed in a criminal suit.If you exclude aliens—and no country permits the subjects of a foreign Power to exercise the Parliamentary franchise—the disabled people divide themselves into two classes—those convicted of crime and those who are under some incapacity of mind. It is quite clear that no one would propose to rank women among criminals, and it would seem that they are ranked amongst the incapable. Now, Gentlemen who approved of the Municipal Franchise Bill of last year are in the most dangerous position possible. They are in the position of the faithful who have to enter into Paradise over a bridge narrow as a sword's edge. They must put themselves within the doctrine of Blackstone, that women are under some grave incapacity for exercising the political franchise, and yet demonstrate that the disability is of such a kind that it in no way applies to municipal elections. On the other hand, my hon. Friend who sits near me (Mr. W. Fowler) says that he was opposed to the municipal franchise being given to women, and perhaps he will bring in a Bill to repeal that Act. Unless he takes that line, he must say that there is an extraordinary difference between municipal and Parliamentary votes. The municipal vote is concerned with taxation chiefly; but the Parliamentary vote, as my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester said, is concerned with taxation and with graver things besides. If we were arguing this question in the time of Walpole or Bolingbroke, if we were arguing at a time when our whole history was filled with records of wars and Court intrigues, then some case might be made out for not giving women votes. But at a time when we are legislating upon subjects of a wholly different kind, when we are not legislating upon questions of foreign policy, or of peace and war, when we are not continually mixed up with Ministerial and Court intrigues, when we are legislating on such matters as pauperism and education, then I think the argument as to the difference of the vote entirely breaks down. I was glad to hear an hon. Member say that women should rather confine themselves to deliberation 222 than to action, for a vote is but the expression of an opinion. He said that, though some women possessed great eloquence and great power of expressing their opinions, still it was a monstrosity, and that he disliked such public appearances of women. My hon. Friend seemed to forget that the highest office in this country is occupied by a woman. If he makes out a case for the absence of political capacity in women, how can he reconcile it with the exercise of the highest political functions in this country by a woman—functions which require that she should continually deliver public addresses. If my hon. Friend's argument as to political imbecility fails, then he must show that women labour under some other incapacity. He must show that women labour under an incapacity of such a character that, although their may be Queen—that is, may exercise the office of King—that although they may be sheriffs of counties, although they may exercise the offices of overseer and churchwarden, although they used—as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) reminded us—to vote in the election of directors for the East India Company—that disability is such that they cannot vote for Members of this House. My hon. Friend has not spoken at any length of the results which might be expected to flow from this measure. I do not think we need speak much of them, because the Bill is a small measure, a practical measure of justice; but if, for one moment, I may address the House upon that subject, I would say that, while we are looking forward to next Session, when we shall be dealing with the great evils of ignorance and intemperance, our deliberations would not be the less valuable if women were represented in this House. What I would point out to hon. Members who are opposed to the extreme development of "women's rights" is, that if I were one of the fiercest opponents of women's rights, on that very ground I should vote in favour of this Bill. I would do so on the ground which I have already stated—that by not passing over persons on the ground of their sex, but resting the franchise upon the basis of house-holding, you would have an intelligible basis for the franchise, and you might prevent that demand for universal suffrage which you may possibly have some day to meet.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said: I listened with considerable pleasure to the ingenious and able, though fallacious, speech of the hon. Member opposite. But before I go to the main question, I must point out that one or two of his attacks on the hon. Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Scourfield) will hardly hold water. He asserted—I think I am not exaggerating his words—that he never heard so extraordinary a statement in this House as that made by that hon. Member, that petitioning was not a legitimate method of bringing public attention to bear upon any subject. But my hon. Friend said nothing of the sort. He was dealing with a particular case, and pointing out its peculiarities. It is so true that it has, in point of fact, passed into a truism, that the party which is desirous of a change, good or bad, has a great advantage over the party who is opposed to such change, people who are uneasy under a particular state of things are under a temptation to parade before the public that uneasiness. On the other hand, those who are contented have no such temptation—if they are not politicians or tacticians—they do not think it necessary to disturb themselves in order to keep themselves in that position in which they are; therefore, it is much more difficult to get Petitions from people who do not want a change than from people who do. But then, in the present case, what is the class of persons who are not petitioners? It is that class of persons who are specially unlikely to address themselves to the practice of making their grievances known by means of Petitions to Parliament. Their frame of mind and their natural temperament make them look with dislike, not only upon the privilege itself, which is sought for, but upon the very machinery which is resorted to by those women who ask for such a privilege. They are the women who do not want to be enfranchised, and who think it is not very creditable on the part of any individuals of their sex to come forward as political speakers and political agitators, and who look on the very fact of signing their names to a Petition, not knowing what a farce sticking Petitions in the bag at the Table is, with a sort of shame as exposing their names to public notice and discussion. Therefore, I contend, women who do not want to be enfranchised will certainly 224 not Petition, and so, to bring forward as an argument the absence of petitioning on the part of women generally is not a very conclusive mode of reasoning, while to point out that a certain number have petitioned is only to say that there is a strong body of patriotic, strong-minded, hard-headed women in the country. So much for that argument. The hon. Baronet has asserted that there are two classes of persons in this country, an enfranchised and an unenfranchised class, and from first to last he has talked about unenfranchised females as a class, and in thus talking of women as a class he has failed in explaining what is the precise meaning which he attaches to the word "class." The general understanding of the word is, that it signifies a number of persons banded together in close proximity to each other by common habits of thought, or feeling, or circumstances; but the race of women are as varied in its conditions as the race of men, and in no sense of the word can they be termed a class, except you imply that there are only two classes of human beings in the world—namely, men and women. To term the unenfranchised women a class is neither accurate nor logical. As all men are not of one class, but there is an infinite variety, so, also, all women are not of one class; and to speak of the unenfranchised women, by themselves, as a class, is contrary to the true sense of language. The wealthy class, for instance, includes both men and women; the intellectual class includes both men and women; and the stupid class, if I may use the term, includes men as well as women. Women, therefore, cannot be said to be a distinct class in any sense of the word. Women may, all of them, be unenfranchised; but they are not an unenfranchised class, for, as I have said, they are not a class at all. Every class to which women belong has its analogous class among men. Then the hon. Member called us over the coals for not opposing the Municipal Franchise Bill of last year. Now, in respect to that, I am quite willing to take my share of the blame. The example of today shows how very unwise it was not to oppose that Bill last year. It is a very pretty argument for newspaper writers and platform speakers that because we did not oppose that Bill last year which enfranchised women, so far 225 as municipal elections are concerned, therefore we ought not to oppose a Bill which proposes to enfranchise them with respect to Parliamentary elections; but, in point of fact, the Parliamentary Session is so hurried, so feverish, and lasts for so limited a portion of the year, and questions of great importance are brought on at such very unseasonable hours of the night, that to cast in our teeth that we allowed that Bill to pass in silence is rather hard, conscious as we all must be that the manner in which much of the business is hurried through is very creditable to Parliament. But whether or not that Bill passed without opposition or discussion I make the hon. Baronet a present of it, and both I and every one of those who feel that we ought to have opposed it must plead mea culpa. Those who support the Bill in all its inconsistencies, and contend that we ought to give the franchise to widows and spinsters, but not to married women, have no ground whatever on which to base their argument. I am not dealing with the "thin end of the wedge" argument which holds as good here as in the United States; but I say, arguing from the à prioriand abstract principles on which you defend the proposed change, that it would be a gross injustice not to enfranchise married women if you enfranchise women who are widows or spinsters. Why do you propose to enfranchise certain women? Is it because they are proprietors, or because they are ratepayers or freeholders, as the case may be; in short, because they are the owners of a certain amount of material property, or what represents material property, which entitles them to vote? But so is a married woman under her settlement. She has her own property. If you regard the words in the sense of having a stake in the country, may not married women have as great a stake in the country as widows and spinsters—will they not have it if the change in the law of married women's property, which is on the Notice Paper, become law? In fact, to enfranchise one and not the other would be to insult every married woman, and to create a political grievance on the part of every married woman in the country. For my own part, I decline to suppose that the House would accept the Bill in that fragmentary state. This is either a Bill to enfranchise all women, 226 whether married or unmarried, who have a stake in the country, or it is a piece of most illogical legislation. Deal with it as a question of enfranchising all such persons in such a position, irrespective of their sex, and what does it mean? To look at the matter in another and a secondary point of view, it is impossible to enfranchise women without giving them the power of obtaining a seat in this House. That is undoubtedly a necessary and logical consequence, and I think that it is a consequence which must have escaped the attention of the hon. Members who support the change. There was a. time, some years ago, when the qualification for a seat in this House was the possession of a certain amount of money or money's worth. Up to the year 1858 there was a property qualification which was necessary to render anybody eligible for a seat in Parliament. At that time a Bill was brought in by my right hon. Colleague, then Home Secretary, which wiped out that property qualification and made every man in this country eligible for the honour of a seat in Parliament, even if he were not a ratepayer and had no qualification at all. Having thus made the eligibility of Members wider than the electoral ability of voters, you cannot now make a great measure of enfranchisement and say, that those who are enfranchised should be excluded from a seat in this House. The whole thing is inconsistent and illogical, and will not hold water for a moment. On the other hand, it is an acknowledged constitutional axiom, that those who enjoy political privileges, such as that of voting, are correlatively under obligations and responsibilities to take their part in the public service. I do not talk of the direct responsibility of the public defence, which maybe limited—though this is illogical—to the male sex alone, but of such obligations as the liability to serve on juries. If you give a woman a vote, are you prepared to make a woman liable to serve on juries? and, if not, where is your consistency? You would at once create a glaring inconsistency, and make of the enfranchised women a privileged class of voters. I do not see why you should, while you propose to remedy injustice on the one hand commit a new one on the other; and I put this at once, as a test, how would those who advocate this measure like to make women serve 227 on such juries as those accustomed to deal with matters which come before Lord Penzance? The hon. Gentleman accused us of basing our arguments on an assumed intellectual inferiority of women. I repudiate that altogether. My great opposition to the measure is based not upon an inferiority, but upon a difference of intellect between the sexes; and here I would appeal to common sense as evidence of the fact, that, although there is no political or intellectual incapacity on the part of women, yet there is a broad and clear physiological difference between women and men which amply justifies the present state of things. The male intellect is logical and judicial, the female instinctive and emotional. The instinctive and emotional has its own duty and its own functions in the progress of things; and that function is to guide, to influence, to moderate, to regulate, to suffer—not to govern. Any person who is of liberal mind will at once see that the direct influence of the female mind on the progress of the human mind, and on the progress of human affairs, is immeasurable; but it is by her very weakness, her helplessness, her reliance upon man, that she holds her power; and though it may be technically called restricted power, its ramifications are infinite; but if for this indefinite sway you substitute a hard legal power, and accompany it with all the obligations to which men who exercise it are liable, what would become, not merely of woman's influence, but of her duties at home, her care of the household, her supervision of all those duties and surroundings which make a happy home; all those matters must be neglected if we are to see women coming forward and taking part in the government of the country. Now, look at things just as they are. Come down from the philosophical and the abstract, and let us regard this question from a practical point of view, and let us test it first by referring for a moment to the question of elections. It is said—"Oh, you will have the Ballot." But even if we do, the Ballot will not change human nature, it will not change attorneys, it will not do away with stump speeches. What will be the effect upon elections? Quite apart from the temptation to strong-minded women to plunge into the fray, look at the disastrous effect which it might have upon the passive portion of 228 womankind. Imagine half-a-dozen attorneys swooping down upon a timid spinster; picture the landlords who would turn upon poor struggling widows who were keeping open shops for the support of themselves and their children. Look at the manifold persecutions which may be brought to bear upon female voters, not for any advantage of their own, but to turn the election, when it was a struggle between Brown and Jones. Look at the question of bribery. How would it be possible to bring home a case of bribery against a woman. If there were women voters and unconscientious men, the men would find a way of bribing them, and women canvassers would even be enlisted. The Man in the Moon would find his wife, and all the great barriers of bribery would be broken down by the exhibition of a pocket-handkerchief and a red pair of bright eyes. A notorious amount of immorality and corruption at present exists, although the natural conscience has been notably awakened. Would it lessen, do you think, by creating women voters? Would you not rather risk losing the advantage you have so hardly gained? Here I dismiss all reference to the argument which I was sorry to hear raised with reference to the highest position in the State being filled by a woman, as altogether inapplicable to the question whether other smaller powers and obligations and duties should be placed in the hands of women. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen asked whether there was any reason why some persons should be debarred from voting because they wore a different dress from that of the other sex. I must demur to this argument from the representative of a Highland constituency. [Colonel SYKES: I am not the Member for a Highland constituency.] However, passing that by, I appeal from the experience of the East India Company which he urged to the more ample experience which we have almost every day in the year of the inconvenience which results from females voting in the elections for our charities. Governed as these are by active committees, yet the elections for those charities had become so thoroughly confused, and so utterly unsatisfactory, that nearly every one of them, in succession, has adopted a system of cumulative election, because it was found that the single elections which were carried 229 on by female suffrage and female canvassing were carried on in such an impulsive manner—no doubt entirely owing to the good nature of women, that the whole system became absolutely unworkable. If you enfranchise only a few women, you will put them in a most cruel and undesirable position—enfranchise women generally, and make them a power in the country, and you will find yourselves drifting on a sea of impulsive philanthropy and sentimentalism, where you are now at anchor on the principles of political economy. With the highest respect for the female sex, I must say I doubt, if such a change as that which is now proposed takes place, whether we could discuss questions in this House or in the country with our present calmness, or, whether Parliament would retain the influence which it owes to its reputation for judicial wisdom.
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said: The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge and the hon. Member for Pembrokeshire feel very uncomfortable that they assented by silence to the Municipal Franchise Act of last year, because they feel that it forms an invincible argument that they should extend the Parliamentary franchise to ratepaying women. They cannot say that there was any novelty in that Act, for it simply restored rights that had been taken away in 1835, and which has been continuously exercised in all places which had not municipalities; and as that right had been in operation for centuries, abundant arguments might have been gathered from a past experience of the unfitness of women to exercise the franchise. But during the discussion of the Municipal Bill of last Session, no one alleged that women had improperly used their votes in civic elections, or had shown any incapacity for political affairs. The hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me discuss the question on two grounds only—one of them being a question of right, the other of expediency. But, as a question of right, observe how limited it is, for there is no abstract proposition before us. The subjection of women, their social independence as wives, the equality of their intellects, their right to enter professions and to study in Universities, have all got mixed up with the one question before us. They may, no doubt, be in- 230 fluenced by the result of this Bill, but are entirely independent questions, upon which we are not called to give any opinion. We have not even the larger question before us, as to whether women, as a class, should have political representation. The real issue is one of great simplicity, and of that limited and practical character which we like to deal with in legislation; for it involves no subversion, but a mere development of our political institutions. We are simply asked to pronounce that independent female proprietors and single broad-winners of substantial qualifications should be entitled to vote for the representation of the people. Their general fitness to take part in matters relating to property is already admitted by the State in every point except the Parliamentary suffrage. A woman can hold and absolutely dispose of her property, and possesses full right of contract. Having the general rights which attach to property, she has also the burdens, and pays her full share of public taxes. The law, therefore, recognizes a woman in possession of property as a capable citizen; and all that this Bill asks, is that you should complete the logic of her position by removing her from the only class of incapables known to the law—namely, idiots, lunatics, criminals, and minors. On what ground of right can such a demand be refused? Our Constitution takes each individual citizen in possession of property as the political unit of the State. In doing so it is possible that property was intended to be represented, or that it may have been viewed as a mere rough-and-ready material test of the aptitude and capability of the possessor for political privileges, and as an assurance that he possessed a stake in the country. But, whether the one view or the other be right, the application of the principle must be as much to the female as to the male citizen. The class of female proprietors is already large, and it is an increasing class; and the number of female breadwinners is not far from one-third of the adult women of England. Is it well for the State that such a large amount of property, or of individuals in its possession, should be unrepresented in this House? In the past history of our legislation, we have had a perpetual; struggle with religious bodies and with corporations to prevent property getting 231 outside our political system. At last we conquered them by successive laws of Mortmain, which had for their object to prevent property being grasped by dead hands, and to preserve its possession in the living, who could manage it in the light of their individual interests, and keep it in harmony with political changes and necessities. Yet by our exclusion of female citizens from the franchise, we shut out as effectively a large amount of property from our political system as the churches and monasteries did in ancient times by the accumulation of estates. To hon. Gentlemen opposite, who think that property ought to exercise a large influence on political affairs, this consideration should have much weight. To those on this side of the House I would appeal on the ground that we desire to extend the franchise to all capable citizens. That women are capable citizens must be admitted from our laws of property, and from their possession of the municipal franchise. Their capability is further allowed by the Constitution, which entrusts to them the highest share in government. Female Sovereigns may sit on the Throne, and in past times, as now, adorn their high position. But if they are capable of exercising the highest function of government, they must be fit to perform the lowest functions—that of delegating their interests to a representative who may protect their property against undue taxation, and their persons against the injurious influences of bad legislation. Then, if the right be clear, how does the case stand on the ground of expediency? This divides itself into two questions—first, whether it is in the interest of women themselves that they should be enfranchised? and second, whether it is in the interest of the State? On the first head there can be little doubt, for our aim in late years has been to bring women into complete social equality with men in the eye of the law; and if we desire to achieve this fully, we must remove from them their political inferiority. For no inferior classes of a country ever obtain full equity until they are in possession of full political equality. Our consciences, indeed, struggle to confer that equity upon them; but how slow is the process, when the class is unrepresented, may be gathered from our recent legislation to protect the earnings of wives 232 from depraved and brutal husbands, and also from the two Bills before us this Session in regard to married women's property. If women had political rights, the inequalities of the law in regard to them would soon vanish from our statute book. In their interest, therefore, as citizens desiring to have full equity, it is expedient that they should no longer have political inferiority. But the doubts as to its expediency for the interests of women, in the minds of objectors, are rather sentimental than political. It is assumed that it is not a suitable or becoming thing in wives and mothers to attend to politics, because their function is rather domestic than civic. Well, we do not ask the suffrage for those who are wives and have their interests represented by their husbands. But there are 487,000 widows and 2,110,000 spinsters who have no such natural representatives of their interests. They surely have a right to interest themselves in affairs external to the domestic hearth. And the world has benefited largely by the broad sympathies and public spirit of such women. The very names of Miss Florence Nightingale, Miss Harriet Martineau, and Miss Burdett Coutts are a sufficient answer to this form of objection. I admit that the education of women, as a class, has not been of a character to attract them to political subjects. Whose fault is this? Men have monopolized all the higher schools and Universities for themselves, and have thus lowered the education of women. Grant them the suffrage which we now ask, and I promise you that they will quickly lay claim to a fairer share in the educational resources of this country. Give to women the responsibility of power, and their fitness to exercise it will be developed rapidly enough. This has always been proved by our past history, even when you have lowered the suffrage below the then educational level of the people. Though the expediency may be clear enough in regard to women, it does not follow that it is equally clear as regards the State, which may possibly have harm or good from the change which we propose. As to harm, there is much difficulty in the conception. It is true that in Continental countries revolutions have sometimes been disgraced by female violence; but such unwomanly exhibitions have not 233 characterized this country. But though there is little chance of harm to the State in the enfranchisement of women, there is, on the other hand, a great likelihood of good by the infusion of a higher tone into politics; for even the opponents of this Bill admit that, though women have a lower capacity for affairs than men, they have a higher morality, This might be infused into political life without deterioration to its vitality, and might mitigate part of the corruption and brutality which we have had to deplore in some of our elections; just as a freer social intercourse with women has softened the manners of men, and rendered drunkenness a disgrace in the upper classes of society. I attach great importance to the argument that the addition of women to the constituencies of the country would quicken our attention to social reforms. Party politics would have for them less interest than questions of social improvement. The health of communities, the education of the people, the care of the poor, the reformation of the criminal, the tending of the sick in hospitals and in their own homes, are subjects which would appeal to the sympathies of women, and would be pressed upon the attention of their representatives, not only with earnestness and persistence, but with an experience and knowledge which have been acquired in dealing with these subjects. Thus I have attempted to show that if the right to enfranchisement be clear, its expediency is so also. The laissez faire school of political economy has alone some grounds of objection. The world has governed its affairs, tolerably after a fashion, by the aid of men, and certainly with a decreasing injustice to women! Why not leave things alone, especially as women are pretty quiet, and have not yet pulled down our Park railings to force attention to their claims? But this school has always preached against reforms in a similar strain. The agitation for the extension of suffrage to men did not begin from below, but from above. In matters such as these I have a great belief in the public conscience, and that is now becoming awakened and quickened on the subject of justice to women. How otherwise can you explain the wave of public opinion that is rising in height and in power, and which is extending its impulse to all lands? Already in Austria, 234 Italy, Sweden, and in some of the United States, political suffrage to women is granted more or less efficiently. Last year we restored to them the municipal franchise of which they had been robbed. Scarcely a year now passes in which this House is not occupied in lessening the inequalities of the law in regard to women. Our Universities and other educational institutions are beginning to feel the injustice of their exclusion, and are timidly opening up to them their examinations and their honours. Though a large and increasing number of women have been aiding those movements, I believe that they are far loss due to them than to the convictions of an awakened public conscience that the time has arrived when all capable citizens, whatever may be their sex or position in society, should have equal laws and equal rights. It is because I believe that this Bill completes our sense of national justice that I give to it my hearty support.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
said, he should give his cordial support to the Bill. The question had not been discussed so entirely upon its real merits as it deserved to be. It was not so much a question of the personal rights of women, as of the rights of property. Wherever property existed—no matter in whose hands, if the persons holding it were fit according to the laws and the Constitution of the country to hold and administer it, it seemed to him that they were also fully and entirely entitled to all the rights and responsibilities which usually accompanied it. He could not understand for one moment why women in the possession of a large amount, or of any amount, of property should be denied the right to exercise the usual rights of property, as to representation, any more than any man who owned property. The last speaker had dared to do that which he (Sir George Jenkinson) would not have ventured to do; and he had done it most properly. He had mentioned the names of certain ladies in this country who deserved well of it for their efforts in the cause of humanity. When he named Miss Burdett Coutts, no one would say that a person holding her vast property, and administering it as she did, for the good of humanity, especially for the poorer classes of this country, was not fit to hold the franchise. He could not under- 235 stand why the owner of that property should be denied a right to vote for its representation in Parliament, any more than the right of a man, in such a case, should be denied. It had often been said, in answer to this argument, that persons holding property like this were represented by their tenants, and could command that representation through their votes. But the old days, when this sort of representation could be relied upon, were fast passing away, if they had not entirely passed away already. No owner of property would dare, in these days, to command his tenants how they were to vote, and no lady could have that representation through her tenants, which might, in some cases, have been exercised hitherto by the owners of property. It had been said by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) that, if you give this right to women, you must also agree that all men are equally entitled to have votes; but this Bill did not propose to give votes to all women; it only proposed to give votes to all those who possessed property. There had been a distinction attempted to be drawn between married women and single women, and it had been said that if you gave votes to spinsters you would create an injustice to married women; but he (Sir George Jenkinson) did not see any distinction made between married women and single women in this Bill. It simply proposed to do away with disabilities. It was intended to give a right of voting to all who possessed property, and he thought it was a good Bill. He should support it, and he should like to see all property more directly represented in that House than it was. He should like to see all payers of income tax, no matter what their sex, possessing a vote; because he thought a direct taxation, and especially a direct taxation of property, was that which ought to be represented throughout the country. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge had said something about the persecution that female voters would undergo if they had votes. His own experience of women was, that they were quite as fit to take care of themselves in that capacity, and to meet that persecution by counter persecution, as men were—and he did not see why they should fear female voters being created on account of the persecution they would incur.
236 They had heard also of the difficulty in the shape of bribery, and the visits of the "Man in the Moon;" but those who had lately read the investigations that had taken place at various boroughs had heard some instances of a Woman in the Moon—and he did not think they would have greater difficulties in the matter of bribery with women than they had now. For these reasons he should give his cordial support to the measure; and there was also one higher ground upon which he did so. Women were now in a position in which they were enabled to say that men monopolized all the legislation; that they made the laws for women, to which women were subjected, without having any voice directly or indirectly in making them. They appealed to the justice of men, and that was a great reason why they should not ignore that appeal, but should rather show women that they do not appeal in vain to the justice of men—and especially to the justice of the British House of Commons.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, the tone of the debate had been so peculiar that he should have had great difficulty in deciding which way to vote, if he had not made up his mind before he came there. The hon. Member for Manchester, who introduced the Bill, compared ladies to the slaves in the Southern States before the war. But if they were to judge the matter in accordance with what they knew, some of them would rather be inclined to say that men were the slaves, and women the masters, for they had an enormous influence over them; but they must do away with all the romantic aspects of this question and bring it down resolutely to the region of common sense; and he wanted to ask hon. Gentlemen why ratepayers, worth many thousands a year, should be prevented from voting for Members of Parliament merely because of their difference of sex? He knew a lady worth £70,000 or £80,000 a year, who, in the election of Members of Parliament, had no vote at all, while her gardener, her groom, and other male servants had a vote each. He was not in favour of granting votes to all women; but he thought that in some cases they ought to have them. They gave them a power to vote for members of Town Councils, and in all local and municipal matters; but they had imposed on them very onerous duties which, to say the 237 least of it, he thought had been unfairly imposed upon them. For instance, they had imposed on them the duties of overseer. In his own neighbourhood, some years ago, an elderly widow was actually appointed an overseer at the age of 71. If they were to have that sort of thing at all, he thought they could not do less than allow them, on the ground of the property they held, to vote equally with themselves, and he should have much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
§ SIR HERBERT CROFT
said, that his fair constituents had not sent him a Petition on the subject of the Bill, whence he concluded that they did not wish him to advocate any change in the law. He should not like to see ladies exercising the franchise any more than he liked to see ladies going about as lecturers—an announcement that Dr. Mary Brown was going to deliver a lecture at 8 o'clock, attended by her husband. He did not like ladies going about delivering lectures on the rights of woman. He thought there was a great deal of truth in what their old friend Punch had recently said, that those who want woman's rights also want woman's charms. His own constituents were fair, graceful, and feminine; therefore they did not want a vote, and they had not sent him one single Petition on this subject, and, therefore, he should vote against the Bill.
said, he was bound to admit that Her Majesty's Government had not had time to give this subject full consideration in all its bearings. He said so with some feeling, because it was necessary for a Minister who occupied the Department which he held to consider questions of this nature, and it had been his earnest desire to obtain the opinions of his Colleagues upon this question; but such had been the pressure of business, and the importance of the measures occupying the attention, of Ministers of all Departments, that they had not been able to give to this question that consideration which would enable them to express their opinions upon it in such a manner as to guide the deliberations of that House. During the short time he had been present in the House that evening he had heard it said, that having last year supported a Bill for the extension to women of the municipal franchise, they were bound to give a similar support to this mea- 238 sure. But there was an argument which had equal weight on both sides the House—Stare super antiquas vias—that they should stand on the ancient lines of the Constitution. He (Mr. Bruce) considered that in the extension of the municipal franchise to women they were standing in the ancient ways. It was one of the strongest arguments put forward for the Bill of last Session, that in all similar cases women had held votes, and that in many cases they had lost the votes which they hail already exercised in matters connected with their personal interests. An hon. Member had told them that by the adoption of the municipal franchise they had one instance of a form of government under which women could vote. But Her Majesty's Government thought they were acting upon a known principle of the Constitution in extending the right to vote to women in the case of municipal elections; whereas the present question was a very much larger one. He was not going to argue against this proposition, on the ground of the political incapacity of women; or because on political subjects, their morality might not be equal to the morality of men. The ground he should take was, to ask the House to delay its consideration of the measure, because it was a very large question, and one that required mature consideration. It was a very large extension of the franchise in an entirely now direction; and it was a question in which the utmost deliberation was required as to the manner how women should vote, and as to the consequences—whether it would be possible to stop here. He was not going to use the argument which had been so often abused; but he asked hon. Members to consider whether it was logically or politically possible to stop here? If they gave women a right to vote, how could they refuse them a seat in that House, when otherwise qualified? The hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Playfair) had asked whether subjects of a Queen were proper persons to object to the principle of admitting women to the franchise? But his hon. Friend would see that the same argument applied with equal force to the admission of women to sit in Parliament. He was certain there were vast numbers of Members who were prepared to vote for the second reading of the Bill, but 239 who were not prepared to support that consequence; and that, he thought, was a strong reason why they should delay; their consideration of the measure. These, then, were the reasons why Her Majesty's Government were not yet prepared to express an opinion on the subject. They foresaw that this was a large subject, and that its consequences were large; but they had not had time or opportunity to come to a deliberate opinion upon it, and for these reasons he could not give his support to the Bill. At the same time, he wished to have it clearly understood that neither personally, nor as a Member of the Government, did he give any expression of opinion upon the matter.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
I will only trouble the House with one or two words in reply. I am satisfied with the course which the debate has taken, for the subject has been well debated, and I have no fault to find with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. On the contrary, if I may infer anything from that speech I rather infer that he personally has a very strong sympathy with the Bill. There is only one matter of which he has spoken to which I will allude. He said—"We cannot stop here; and if women have votes you will have to admit them to this House." Now I doubt whether anyone believes that they will be admitted to this House for many long generations to come, unless a total and unforeseen change should take place in the country. But if it be true, as I believe, that women are not to come inside this House, the more does justice require that outside of it they should have some kind of control over those who have the privilege of entering it. To show the feeling of the great constituency which I have the honour to represent, I may state to the House that I have just received a telegram, telling me that the Manchester Town Council have to-day agreed to petition Parliament in favour of this Bill by a majority of 42 to 12. Before the last Election, there were between 5,000 and 6,000 qualified women in Manchester, who asked to be put on the register. I hope the House will be willing to read the Bill a second time.
§ Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put."—(Mr. Scourfield.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 124; Noes 91: Majority 33.240
|Amory, J. H.||Kavanagh, A. Mac M.|
|Arkwright, R.||Kekewich, S. T.|
|Ayrton, right hon. A. S.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. H.|
|Baker, R. B. W.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Lawrence, Sir J. C.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Lennox, Lord G. G.|
|Bingham, Lord||Locke, J.|
|Bowring, E. A.||Mackintosh, E. W.|
|Brassey, T.||Maxwell, W. H.|
|Bright, R.||Milles, hon. G. W.|
|Brinckman, Captain||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Bruce, right hon. H. A.||Mitford, W. T.|
|Buxton, C.||Monk, C. J.|
|Candlish, J.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Cartwright, F.||Newport, Viscount|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Nicol, J. D.|
|Clay, J.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Pease, J. W.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Pell, A.|
|Crichton, Viscount||Philips, R. N.|
|Croft, Sir H. G. D.||Phipps, C. P.|
|Cross, R. A.||Potter, E.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Raikes, H. C.|
|Dalrymple, D.||Ramsden, Sir J. W.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Ridley, M. W.|
|Denison, C. B.||Russell, A.|
|Dent, J. D.||Salt, T.|
|Dyke, W. H.||Seely, C. (Lincoln)|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Finnie, W.||Smith, A.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Stapleton, J.|
|Fowler, W.||Strutt, hon. H.|
|Gladstone, W. H.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Glyn, hon. G. G.||Tollemache, J.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-|
|Gower, hon. E. F. L.|
|Grieve, J. J.||Walker, Major G. G.|
|Guest, M. J.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord G.||Whitwell, J.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Woods, H.|
|Hyde, Lord||Scourfield, J. H.|
|James, H.||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
Bill read a second time, and committedto a Select Committee.
And, on May 16, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. GATHORNE HARDY, Mr. VERNON HARCOURT, Mr. RUSSELL GURNEY, Mr. BONHAM-CARTER, Mr. WALPOLE, MR. HIBBERT, Mr. BALL, Mr. DOWNING, Mr. GORDON, Mr. RATHBONE, Mr. SCOURFIELD, Mr. WEST, Mr. STAVELEY HILL, and Mr. EYKYN:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records: Five to be the quorum.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.