HC Deb 19 June 1878 vol 240 cc1800-74

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: Sir, When I first undertook the conduct of this Bill in the House, I felt that I accepted a very considerable responsibility—a responsibility which, I must confess, did not appear likely soon to pass away. Time, far from decreasing that sense of responsibility, has tended to increase it; and though I rise in the very well-assured belief that this Bill will most certainly become law sooner or later, that the change we propose to introduce will be accepted by Parliament in, I hope I may say, not merely the lifetime, but in the Parliamentary lifetime, of many of the older Members of this House, still I must admit that the circumstances of the present day are not favourable to anything which savours of novelty. And, Sir, I feel that my responsibility with respect to this measure is also heightened by the fact that I am conscious of having lost the support of some Members whose names and characters carried the most deserved weight both in this House and in the country. On the back of this Bill is the name of Mr. Russell Gurney, who has so recently passed from among us; and I should not be doing justice to my own feelings, nor, I think, to the subject itself, if I were to let this occasion pass without paying a tribute of respect, however feeble, to the memory of that distinguished man. This is not the time to rehearse his virtues; that task is reserved for those who knew him more intimately. But it would be ungrateful on the part of anyone who had charge of a Bill for removing the electoral disabilities of women, if in introducing that Bill to the House, and in asking the House to assent to the second reading, he let the name of Mr. Russell Gurney pass by without paying a tribute to his memory. Mr. Russell Gurney was a Judge; and we all feel, and we have a right to feel, that it is a perilous experiment to introduce into this House a judicial element. We have excluded one by one from our deliberations those who sit on the higher benches of justice; we have been afraid lest, if they mingled among us, they might carry to the judgment seat something of the partizanship which is inevitable in this Assembly. But, in doing so, I think we must all be conscious that it is not altogether a gain to exclude such persons from our debates; for if we save the judicial seat from imputation of Party feeling, we have also lost to this House some who would bring to our discussions the habit and the temper of the Bench. And I think it may be said of Mr. Russell Gurney, that when he was here he never forgot that he was often called to sit in the judgment seat, and that even among us he was a Judge rather than a Member of Parliament. And especially in respect to all questions affecting the position and the rights of women, he had that great attribute of a Judge, to recognize their claims even before they were pressed on his attention by any importunity. The unjust Judge of Scripture listened to the complaints of a woman only because he was wearied out by her pertinacity; the righteous Judge is foremost to admit any proper claim from whomsoever it may come, and Mr. Russell Gurney surely fulfilled that duty. We have also lost another Member of this House, a man of distinctive character from Mr. Russell Gurney; but exercising an influence which was certainly as great, and deeply deserved. Mr. Henley always voted, and not unfrequently spoke, in favour of this Bill. When I have reminded some persons out of this House of that fact, they have not unfrequently been struck with astonishment. "What! Mr. Henley voted for the Bill! How is that possible?" I think that astonishment indicates a somewhat feeble appreciation of Mr. Henley's character. Mr. Henley was endowed with that rarest of qualities, the courage of thinking for himself. If any man has that quality, although his thoughts may not go far, he at once becomes a person of distinct individuality. Mr. Henley thought for himself, and, so thinking, he had the courage of his convictions. He addressed himself to this question without prejudice, and without any apprehension beforehand as to the consequences of his own thought. He saw that the claims of women could not be denied, except upon grounds which would also compel the claims of men to be rejected. Mr. Henley, happily, has not left his neighbours and friends as he has this House; but, as he has left us, I may be allowed to express the hope that on the opposite Benches, and on these also, we may never want instances of a like individuality and sagacity, even though we may never see a more absolutely honest Member, one possessing greater independence of character, a more thorough simplicity of thought and directness of purpose, and a higher courage, than Mr. Henley. Now, in approaching this Bill, as, indeed, in approaching any question which is to be submitted to this House, the first feeling which I think any advocate must have is that of the necessity of arriving at some common ground—some base from which he and his opponents may depart on their separate ways. And I hope I shall not begin with a principle too elementary, if I assume that every Member of this House is of opinion that representative government is the best of all forms of government; and that it should be the aim of this House, in the interests of the country, the destinies of which are so largely committed to its charge, to make itself as representative as possible. I think that representative government will be admitted to be the best of all forms of government for various reasons. In the first place, you secure in your Assembly, to which is confided the legislation and the supervision of the administration of the government of the country, a large body of information respecting the subjects to which it has to address itself. Your House, Convention, or Assembly, or whatever it may be called, is informed on almost every matter that can come under its deliberation. You also secure due attention to the claims, rights, and interests of every section of the body for which you legislate, or whose interests you administer, since in a representative Assembly there are representatives of all interests—or there should be; and so you secure a hearing for the different classes whose interests you are dealing with. And, lastly, there is this great advantage in representative government—that you thereby interest every class of the community in the affairs of the community, that you develop among your citizens the sense of citizenship, that you educe from among the people a common feeling as of those possessing a common history, with common objects, and a common destiny. You may have different ways of arriving at the formation of the representative Assembly which you aspire to create; but, in some way or other, you follow these principles in endeavouring to bring into your representative Assembly representatives of different sections of feeling and of interest in the community itself. Of course, there will be differences of opinion—there are differences of opinion now—as to the adequacy or completeness of the machinery you have adopted. Some persons will say it errs in the excess, or undue proportion, of representation given to one class, or in a deficient representation in respect to another class; others will think it can- not be materially mended; but the object, the principle we all have, is to secure in some measure or other to each section, to each class, a certain representation—and for the purposes which I have stated—namely, to secure information to the House, to secure that justice which is attained when the House has before it the representation of all divisions, and to secure the welding together of the members of the community into a sense of common union. Well, Sir, if we realize these principles, and turn to the question before us, I think we must at once see that the question of sex, at all events, does not primarily arise in the topic now under consideration. All the principles I have laid down apply without distinction of person to men and to women. There may be reasons, to which I will refer presently, why women should be excluded from any share in the election of the members of a representative Assembly; but, at all events, this much, I think, must be admitted—that the burden lies on those who insist on their exclusion to justify their exclusion, and that, primâ facie, distinction of sex does not appear as an element in the problem under consideration. I do not shrink from the necessity of positive proof of the claim I am advocating; but I must point out to the opponents of this Bill that logically and constitutionally the burden rests upon them to justify the exclusion which actually obtains. Now, Sir, I remember that some years ago, when a question of the extension of the suffrage was brought on a Wednesday afternoon before this House, a right hon. Gentleman, who then filled the Office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, came down to the House and laid down this principle—that he thought all members of the community should be admitted to a share in the representation in this House against whom there could not be established personal unfitness or political danger in consequence of their inclusion. Prove they are personally unfit, and you then establish a good reason for not admitting them to the franchise. Prove that political danger would follow their admission, and you again establish a reason for excluding them; but, unless you prove one or the other, their case is established when they come claiming to be admitted, because you certainly gain something by their admission, and you must prove a loss in order to deny their claim to be admitted. That was thought at the time, Sir, to be rather a revolutionary sentiment; but, in truth, it is a commonplace of the Constitution, and the exceptions cover every case that may be rightly alleged against the exclusion of any class or any set of persons in the community. And, with regard to the problem in hand, the question arises, can you demonstrate with respect to women that they are personally unfit to exercise the franchise, or can you demonstrate that political danger would follow their inclusion? And, let it be remembered, Sir, what the problem is as expressed in this Bill. We are not dealing with a universal enfranchisement of women or a universal enfranchisement of men. We take the lines which have been adopted by Parliament as those which are best fitted to secure within this House a representation of the people in the country; and what you have got to do in going through any constituency, as it is at present formed, is to demonstrate in respect of the women in comparison with the men that there is personal unfitness, or that there would be political danger from their inclusion. Of course, with respect to this matter of personal unfitness, I might cite women who are most distinguished in arts, in literature, and in the science, and even in the practice, of government; but I confess that I think that is not a fair and a right method of argument. I might cite in the same way men who are distinguished in the science and practice of government. The real problem before us is that of comparing the average man with the average woman, and discovering whether, in a comparison between those, you can find any radical unfitness in the members of one sex to disqualify them from exercising the franchise under the conditions under which the franchise is now exercised by the other sex. Let any hon. Member in his imagination go down any street of the borough he represents and go from house to house. He finds in one house a maiden lady or a widow living alone, paying her rates and taxes, and fulfilling all her duties as a member of society; and in the next house a man, a father of a family. Taking them one by one, side by side, can you attribute to one as against the other any personal unfitness? It may be said that women are ignorant. It may be said that they are prejudiced; that they are led away by their sentiment; that they are uninformed; and that they are controlled by priests, or by some other persons exercising considerable influence over their feelings and opinions. Cannot every one of these things be said of men also? Who are the opponents of women who come and say they are ignorant? Who are the opponents of women who come and say they are prejudiced? You meet prejudice by prejudice, and then you proclaim your intellectual superiority by declaring that the other sex are affected with this disability of intellect. In respect of this, as it appears to me, ludicrous criticism, knowing how indissolubly connected men and women are, how little we can escape from the range of their intellect, how very feeble we are to cut ourselves adrift from the influence of their thoughts and feelings, I have often thought of a couplet of Mr. Pope, who was very severe upon women and said many harsh things of them; and whose relations, indeed, with the sex were not always happy. But he said one thing which I have always thought to be a conclusive reply to all these objections. Hon. Members will remember one of the Royal Princesses who had a dog, upon the collar of which was engraved the couplet Mr. Pope wrote— I am Her Highness' dog at Kew, Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you? When men charge women with prejudice and ignorance, and with being controlled by priests, I am tempted to turn upon them and reply—"Pray tell me, Sir, whose dog are you?" If women follow priests, what priest do you follow? Is it the editor of the daily paper? I am afraid we have in this House some experience of dependence on priests of that kind, who differ only from the more recognized order of the priesthood in this respect—that their principles are not quite so fixed, and that what they are ready to proclaim to-day they are equally ready to denounce to-morrow. Now, as to political danger, there is a notion that if you admitted women to the franchise this same objection to priests would arise. A notion is also sometimes advanced that you would find women voting together, and a most alarming picture is presented to our imagination of the women all going one way, and the men all going the other. I do not think that shows any great knowledge of women. As far as I have had any acquaintance with them, I have found them differ amongst themselves very much as men differ amongst themselves, and if some have one favourite priest others have another; some are reactionary, while others are very much in favour of moving in advance; and if you have any regard to facts, you cannot allege this rushing together of women in one direction and the men in another. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Hanbury), who has given Notice to move the rejection of this Bill, did, I believe, once vote for it, and I understand that he has explained the reason of his change to be this—that he thought there might be a political danger in the severance of political rights from the possession of the physical power; that, under certain contingencies, you would get women voting in a mass, and, perhaps, out-voting the men, which would cause a rebellion on the part of men, who, being endowed with greater physical power than women, would put down by brute force the people who would out-vote them. I think I do not misrepresent the hon. Member in saying that these were the reasons of his conversion. Now, as I have said, that is a picture of possible danger which is purely imaginary. There is no reason whatever to apprehend it. But more than that. I will venture to say that it is an imaginary picture, only to be entertained when one is in the first stage of reflection on the constitution of political society. It is perfectly true that in the very elementary stages of society physical force directs the order and relation of things in that society. In the very earliest stages women suffered from that fact in those very rudimentary forms of society—which may still be found in some remote corners of the world—where women-children, for instance, are habitually put to death, with certain rare exceptions, and where women-wives were taken by a process of capture and theft just as cattle are in partially advanced communities. But even amongst communities so un-advanced as those, you find the beginnings of law and the inception of reason and justice, without which, in fact, society could not exist; and as society goes on developing in its political organization, the notion of law, and of reason, and of justice gradually supplants, one by one, all these notions of force, until in the end the exercise of force is habitually directed as the resultant of reason and justice requires. And to apprehend any return to the elementary form of society from the advanced form of society is to invite a return to anarchy from civilization. The Constitution, and the rules of the Constitution, are conditions of thought which are the commonplaces of every civilized community, just as in this House the Rules and Orders of the House are things which are so much the standing objects of our thoughts, that we are almost incapable at times of conceiving of their alteration. And, in the same way, if you got society so far advanced as to have admitted women to the suffrage on the ground of justice, you might dismiss as an altogether imaginary fear the notion that there would arise again an insurrection of force formally setting aside the concession made by law. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire is very sensitive about appeals and suggestions that might interfere with the regularity and good government of any Empire. He has recently taken occasion to express his dissatisfaction with the language of a right hon. Gentleman, because that right hon. Gentleman chose to denounce with great energy and vehemence what he thought was the beginning of injustice; and the hon. Member for North Staffordshire appears to be of opinion that it is injudicious to denounce injustice, because you may lead those who suffer from injustice to be dissatisfied with their situation. Now, Sir, if that is injudicious, how much greater is the injudiciousness of those who would suggest to the members of a civilized community a return to brute force in order to overcome the conclusions which you have arrived at by considerations of reason and of justice? Before quitting this part of the subject, let me observe that, although I have been arguing the question very much on â priori considerations, it is not, after all, necessary to do so. We have got experience of the operation of woman suffrage. We have admitted women to the vote in the municipalities. We have admitted women to the vote in the election of school boards; and, more than that, we have admitted women to the eligibility of being chosen as members of the school boards. Well, now, have we discovered any personal unfitness or seen any trace of political danger from those experiments? I have made inquiries where-ever I have gone as to the result of the experiments as to the admission of women to take a part in these municipal and educational matters; and, with one exception, to which I shall presently refer, the replies I have met with have all been favourable to the experiment. I am told that women take great interest in municipal matters; that they readily come to the poll in about as great proportion as men; that they are very careful in the choice of persons to represent them; that they are known for a strict regard to character; and that one thing they desire to secure is the presence of a respectable and responsible person on the board which is to administer the affairs of the town or the affairs of the school district. I have met with only one exception. One gentleman whom I asked told me that the experiment had not succeeded. I was alarmed. I asked him why—in what particular had it failed? He told me it had not succeeded; that it was not the function of women. Well, I endeavoured to draw him back, to tell me experimentally what had been the proved defects, what were the faults which he had discovered, what were the errors which had been committed. I could get nothing out of him, except this dictum—that it was not the function of women to take any part in public matters, and therefore the experiment has not succeeded. With that single exception, which was no exception at all, the answers I have met with from all parts have been favourable to the admission of women to political privileges. I am not indeed conscious of any political arguments that have been advanced against this question which are insisted upon gravely. But I am aware that that does not exhaust the matter. There are other reasons which are insisted upon against the admission of women to the franchise; reasons which have considerable influence with many persons, and to which, of course, I must address myself. It is said—"After all, the experiment is on a small scale. I do not suppose there will be any danger to Government or the Constitution. Things will go on much as they are at present. Perhaps a little more attention will be paid to the claims of women. Cases in which their interests are concerned will be more sharply inquired into, and so it will be an advantage to admit them to the franchise; but if you do admit them to the franchise you must consider also the effects upon the character and the position of women, and those effects are so alarming and so much to be deprecated, that it is impossible to concede the claim which is insisted upon." I must grapple with that argument, and I do so without any sort of hesitation, because, so far from the effects on the character and position of women by their admission to the franchise being alarming or such as to be deprecated, I believe, on the contrary, they will be such as are much to be desired; and that it will be productive altogether of beneficial effects both on women's character and to society. In the first place, it is undoubtedly true that if we admitted women to the franchise, we should secure to them a degree of independence which many people are now slow to concede to them. We should recognize them as being self-dependent, self-sustaining, and independent members of the community, not bound to rely upon other people, and not necessarily having their existence connected in a dependent way with that of some other member of society. What would be the first effect of that on what I may call the economic position of the question? Is it not perfectly clear that the more you develop in women the idea of self-dependence and self-sustainment, the more certain is the improvement you effect in their economic position? You would introduce into general society a new moral notion that it is the duty of the parents of a girl to train that girl in some measure for a self-sustained and self-dependent existence— to train her so, that under the circumstances of the future she might, if necessary, be able to maintain herself as a boy is now trained to maintain himself. If you get that notion of the self-dependence of women, I shall consider presently at what cost that may be realized; but if you get that notion developed in society, the inevitable result is that you make it an obligation, an element of duty, on the part of the parents, to qualify their children to sustain the part which they will be called upon to take. The immediate effect of that on the economic position of women would, in itself, be a revolution, but a revolution of the most desirable kind. Because, what is the economic position of women now? There are women who earn wages; but, in the majority of cases, the wages of women are wages not for the sustainment of existence, but in aid of existence. Women in relation to the economic world are very much in the same position as the agricultural labourer used to be under the old Poor Law, when it was not thought a necessary part of the organization of society that the agricultural labourer should sustain himself by his wages, but that his wages should be assisted by the poor rates, and the poor rates assisted by his wages. So now, women not having an independent existence, not having thrown upon them the duty and the privilege of maintaining themselves, are remitted to a sphere of work in which what they earn is simply an assistance to means obtained elsewhere, and not sufficient for the sustainment of themselves. Now, if that is a change to be apprehended, that, at all events, is a gain. It may be a gain purchased at considerable loss—that I will refer to presently—but that is a gain, and a gain to which I would ask the most careful attention of those who are opposed to this movement. But now, it may be asked, if you have women thus self-sustaining, and living by themselves, earning enough to live upon and ruling their own affairs, will you not cause an absolute revolution in society? The women and the men will come together then on comparatively equal terms, and you will not have that sweet relation of dependence and support which is the characteristic of the present state of existence, I admit that revolution would happen; but is it a revolution to be deplored? Has not every stage of advance that has been made by woman to the position which she now fills in English society been accompanied with the same fears which are expressed with respect to her future advance? Every stage of advance which has been made has been accompanied with these cries of alarm. When you, in the first instance, gave her any duty, any separate rights, you were met with the suggestion that you were raising a rebel in your household and rending the bonds of society. Take, for instance, the women of the harem. If you suggested to any person in the East to give to women that degree of enfranchisement which obtains in the West, you would be told at once that it would be impossible for society to go on under such a change; that you would no longer have the well-organized society which happens to exist, and that you might expect some revolution. Still, we have gone through that stage, and we find it is a gain. So even now in our social condition in the West. Generation after generation, we have been enlarging the sphere of woman's thoughts, the range of her study, the circle of her ideas, and every generation there have been some people to raise this cry of alarm, and every successive generation has seen it falsified. I am not disposed, Sir, to speak very harshly of these fears. They are exceedingly natural. We all know the conditions of society under which we have been born and reared. We look back with affection to the memories of our infancy and youth, and we feel a very natural anxiety lest anything should be done to change that youthful order of the household, and the social condition under which we ourselves have grown up. In the same way we may look back upon every stage of the development of society with the same affection, and experience the same alarm. But I venture to say, that if the change which we propose could be realized, instead of shrinking from it, we should invite its consummation. Sir, this is like a proposal that might be made in China to enfranchise women from the servitude under which they are supposed to labour from going about with small feet cased in cramped shoes. I have no doubt that if it were suggested to a Chinaman that women should be allowed free play, even in the function of walking, you would get conjured up to your imagination a very fearful picture as to the result of the dependence of the sex in that respect being changed. What can be prettier than the fancy of the woman tottering towards you on feeble feet, until you open your arms and she falls within them to receive the support of your strength? Would not the foundations of society be upset if she could stand alone? That analogy is absolutely perfect with respect to the enfranchisement of women. You have got women in a limited sphere of duty, and with a limited range of ideas. We propose to enlarge that sphere of duty and that range of ideas, and we say that there by you will make women better instead of worse, and make men better instead of worse also. I ask those who dwell most strongly upon this beautiful picture of the past, to recognize frankly for themselves the cost of that picture. The hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James), who, I believe, first discovered his considerable talents to the House in speaking on this question, dwelt at length upon the magic of home and the remembrances of childhood, which, as he said, might possibly have been cast with women not perfectly educated; and whose lessons, though given in ungrammatical language and with limited knowledge, were lessons which would endure to the end. Perfectly true. But was affection going to vanish if women became grammatical? Is the household god to be destroyed because women have a little larger range of duties? Will the remembrance of childhood and the relation of a mother to a child pass away because you have advanced women in the social and educational sphere? A lady, who has recently written on this subject, has conjured up the notion that if the change which she regards as inevitable is consummated, the result will be that woman will become a loveless creature, a being incapable of loving and of being loved. That must be a wonderful picture; but, in spite of the gravity with which this lady has reproduced it, we may afford to dismiss it as altogether illusory. "Love laughs at locksmiths;" and the notion that you are going to get rid of love because you give women a vote is one that cannot be seriously entertained by any person who has had, I will not say the experience, but even the capacity, of studying the stories of the human affections. The foam-born goddess, according to the old legend, laughed with the easy consciousness of victory, when she stood side by side with Pallas and Juno in the contest for the apple. And I am quite sure that we may altogether dismiss any such effect from this Bill, even if it should become law to-morrow. You will not dissolve society because you give to women the power to vote at Parliamentary Elections; and, as I have said, I ask hon. Members to consider the cost of the limitations we maintain. The narrowness of women's range of ideas is absolutely deleterious in its effect. Our earliest lessons are received from them. Are they not often lessons that we have afterwards to unlearn with great difficulty and pain, and do we not often find a difficulty in freeing ourselves from them, and in emancipating ourselves from the errors of our earliest education? Again, to those who enter into the marriage relations of life, how constantly does it happen that the man's freedom of intellect is a thing kept to himself, that he is incapable of imparting to the woman with whom so much of his life is spent any conception of the range of his thoughts? He does not find in her any companionship; but, on the contrary, he finds her a drag upon his aspirations, and a drawback upon his advance. You may, if you choose, contract the sphere of women's thought, but you may be sure that that contraction will re-act upon yourselves; and in enfranchising women you not only give them a benefit, but you confer a benefit upon yourselves. You may then realize the vision of the poet— To live, and see her learn, and learn by her, Out of the low, obscure, and petty world. The political reasons for granting the prayer of the Bill appear to me to be undeniable; but I confess they are not the reasons why I most stoutly support it. The reason why I urge it upon the acceptance of the House is, that I believe it will develop a fuller, freer, nobler woman, by admitting woman into the sphere of political thought and duty—that by advancing woman you advance man with her. Some of those who hear me may say—"But what is to be the end? We do not see the end to which you are advancing." That may possibly be. I do not know that we are always bound to see the ultimate goal towards which we are moving. If we are moving upon right principles, if we are actuated by a feeling of justice, if the hand that moves above us and leads us on is a hand in which we can place implicit faith and confidence, if the light that is leading us through the encircling gloom is not a snare from the abyss, but one which we can trust with absolute reliance—then, I say—"Trust to that light; follow the hand without fear of the future." Let any man—a husband, father, or brother—consider the case of a young woman or girl committed to his care. You have there a human being of infinite capabilities of mind, body, and soul. Can it by possibility be right to limit the range of the development of that human creature in any way whatever? Will not human society be improved by making the most of her faculties, whatever those faculties may be? She will be improved and you will be improved. The whole community will be advanced, and it is upon that account mainly and principally, that I propose the second reading of this Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Courtney.)


No one recognizes more heartily than I do the gracious and well-deserved tribute of respect which has been paid by the hon. Member for Liskeard to the memory of Mr. Russell Gurney. There can be no doubt that women had a great advocate in Mr. Russell Gurney, who was desirous of seeing some great and general progress of their welfare. But I do not believe that this Bill is in any way calculated to advance their cause. Before I proceed to discuss this Bill, I wish to make one or two remarks on the change of advocates which has taken place in regard to the advocates of the Bill. I congratulate the hon. Member for Liskeard on having supplanted two such able advocates as the hon. Members for Manchester and Marylebone (Mr. Jacob Bright and Mr. Forsyth). I can only express a hope that this constant change of advocates is not one of the first symptoms of that fickleness which some of us are inclined to associate with female politicians. Of course, I know that the ladies are under considerable obligations to the hon. Member, who was their champion on the last occasion under somewhat peculiar circumstances. I believe that he did them the greatest service he could do by talking out their own Bill. I hope his appearance here today as the proposer of the Bill is a proof that he is going to have the question fairly fought out—not merely talked upon, but put to the test of a division. But I do feel, even although I am freely disposed to discuss and vote upon the measure, that there is some objection to bringing it before the same House, the same Parliament, Session after Session, without any new arguments being adduced, and without any prospect of a change, except one, which would throw further and further back the cause which the hon. Gentleman advocates. It is impossible that anybody who takes an interest in the question can fail to see that, so far from making progress inside or outside of this House, the more it is discussed the further it goes back. Very few indeed approve of the principle as it is submitted to us either inside or outside of the House. Among the women themselves there is no widespread feeling at all. Among all my acquaintances I do not know a single woman who takes an interest in the matter, or wishes to have a vote. One of the things most likely to upset Parliamentary government is to make the vote too cheap. We have found that to a great extent in our system of local government. The great difficulty we have to deal with is that people when they have got a vote will not use it; and I am afraid that if we extend the same principle to Parliamentary government, the representative system of which I, together with the hon. Member, am so proud, will receive a severe blow. The feeling against this measure is increasing, not only outside the House, but inside the House itself. I venture to say there is no question which has ever been submitted to our consideration, upon which you find so many Members changing their minds. I have seen, that I know of, no woman outside who asks for a vote; but I know there are a great number of Members inside the House who will give their votes to-day who, like myself, have entirely changed their opinion on the matter. A few years ago, actuated by a kind of political gallantry, I thought there was no objection in giving women a vote. But, although gallantry originally prompted some of us to vote in favour of this measure, we now feel that the greatest kindness we can do to the women themselves is to refuse them this vote, and put them out of the turmoil and struggle of political life, and not place them in that false position in which they would have to choose between the rights of men and the privileges of women. I appeal to hon. Members who sit on this side of the House to say whether they are to any extent swayed by the idea that this demand made on the part of the ladies would add new recruits to the Conservative cause. Those ladies who would come forward prominently, and give their votes at Parliamentary Elec- tions, are not the ladies who, if returned to Parliament themselves, would be likely to sit on this side. But, whether that be so or not, I am quite sure that in the immediate future this Bill, if passed, would be pregnant with very serious disaster. And, whether we are Conservatives, or Radicals, or Liberals, we must all see that it is not only a measure that would revolutionize society, but that it would do worse than that, for it would entirely decompose it. In dealing with the Bill, there is one very great difficulty I am under. That difficulty arises in this way. It is totally impossible to know what the hon. Member himself means by the Bill he has placed before the House. I would ask him one plain question. Does he, by this ambiguous Bill, mean to give the franchise to married women or not? [Mr. COURTNEY: No.] I am very glad to have that question fairly answered; but I wish it had been answered more clearly in the Bill itself. But, now that I have got an answer, clearly and distinctly from the hon. Member, I tell him that if that is the case, then this is a most disingenuous Bill, for the whole of the speech of the hon. Member was a speech addressed to the wrongs of women. There was a great deal of à priori argument in it; but nothing was said about the special wrongs of the women, whose cause he advocates in this measure. We have heard a great deal in this discussion today, and throughout the time the question has been fought, from the very first time when Mr. Mill brought it forward, the question seemed to be entirely fought out upon the wrongs of married women. We have heard it said that the Bill was to redress the wrongs of one-half of the human race, and the answer has been made that those women have not the responsibilities nor the duties which men have, and that they have not the same perils to undergo. Miss Lydia Becker, for instance, met this argument by saying, when it was alleged that women were not exposed to the same perils as men—"As a matter of fact, we understand that the percentage of women who lose their lives in the dangers incident to them in the profession of marriage exceeds the percentage of soldiers killed in battle." I do not see how this argument of the perils of battle or of maternity is to be at all affected if the Bill is not to apply to married women. In order to be consistent and logical, the hon. Member, in supporting the Bill, indulged in arguments which applied to the wrongs of women as a whole. But, when he has to put his thought into practice and place the Bill before the House, the hon. Gentleman does not try to redress the wrongs of women as a class or whole, and as exposed to special perils; but all he does is to bring in a Bill which simply gives a vote to a certain number of well-to-do females. That is all that the hon. Member does, and nothing else. I object to the Bill, therefore, on the ground that it is disingenuous, and also because it is a mere piece of class legislation. It is a Bill which only affects the well-to-do, and which fails to affect the poorer class of women. As a rule, the female voters on municipal matters are persons who belong to the middle and upper classes. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no.] I will read a letter written by a clerk of one of our Southern towns, and I think I may say from my own experience that it is a fair sample of what happens at municipal elections all over the country— We are blessed with about 500 women voters on the burgess roll. I think the preponderance is very large on the side of the middle and upper classes. This arises from the fact that many of the widows of the working class, when the head of the household is gone, content themselves with becoming lodgers, or are excused their rates, or procure the aid of the parish authorities. The result is, that the only people who would be enfranchised by this Bill are maiden ladies with property, so placed that, in spite of having this charm of property, they have not yet been able to acquire that position which is called—not very gracefully—by Miss Becker "the profession of marriage." Then, again, I contend that a large amount of mischief would be done by giving this vote to female lodgers. Certainly, in our large towns, no one could deny that we should be giving a vote to a class of women who are, perhaps, the least deserving of it. I should like to know, for instance, what would be the position of any hon. Member who represented the district of Pimlico to which I have alluded within the borough of Chelsea? Would not any Member returned for that borough occupy a very extraordinary position in this House? I think the Bill in this respect would do very serious mischief. So far from giving a vote to the best class of women, you would only succeed in giving it to the very worst. When we are told that the wrongs we are to redress are the wrongs of the married women, we cannot fail to see that a vote given to women of this kind would work in a most mischievous way towards upsetting the present position of the franchise. Miss Lydia Becker herself says this. She does not mention specifically either married women or the other class to which I have referred; but she says this, and it seems to bear upon the question— Every extension of the franchise to classes hitherto excluded lowers and weakens the status of the classes which remain out of the pale. So much for the question of natural right, on which the hon. Member laid so much stress. [Mr. COURTNEY: No, no.] Then I have much misunderstood the argument. I should like to know where he gets his natural right, which denies and refuses to the best of women and the flower of womanhood a vote, and gives it to those who are the bane of society? I should like to know under what natural right he comes forward and says that women are to vote, but are not to sit as representatives? Where is the difference? How does natural right work there? From what strained source does the hon. Member derive this doctrine? If you go back to history and expediency, it would seem that women have much more right to sit in this House, apart from the turmoil of politics. If you look to their weakness and to their sensitiveness, you will see that they are much more fitted to sit in this House than to engage in the turmoil of public life outside. The very people who support this Bill are fond of appealing to history to show the great deeds women have done; but they must bear in mind that it has been in the position I have pointed out—from the serene dignity of the Throne—and when they have been shut out from the actual strife of life that they have shown their capacity for ruling. We are willing to admit that, because our case does not rest upon the intellectual inferiority of women. The whole of our case rests on three things—first, feminine weakness; secondly, the difference of sex; and lastly, the temptations to which women are exposed. It is a remarkable fact that in this Bill the women who are to be enfranchised should be women who are not married, and that the women alone who have wrongs should be the married women. Why, under these circumstances, is the vote denied to them in the Bill? It is the most inconsistent Bill I ever heard of. It is simply a Bill to give a vote to people who have no wrongs to redress, while it passes entirely over those whom you say have wrongs. The hon. Member said a great deal, no doubt, about representation. But the women are not unrepresented at this moment. Their interests are the interests of men. They do not stand on a different footing from men. If a husband punishes them, or a question arises as to the property of married women, they have brothers and other relations who will advocate their cause; and, further than that, when the hon. Member spoke of representation, it was not an English idea of representation which he had in his mind, but rather that which exists in America. It resolved itself into a question of delegates—of having every class a delegate. Every class, and trade, and interest is, I suppose, to have a separate representation. So far as interests are concerned, I cannot for the life of me see where, in the whole of the speech of the hon. Member, he succeeded in pointing out how the interests of women are opposed to those of men. He failed to make out any case either on the ground of natural right or natural wrong. When I speak of wrongs, I am reminded that, in the course of the present Session, there was a case in which a complaint was made. A Bill was brought forward early in the Session—I believe by the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Herschell)—in which he wished to do away with actions for breach of promise of marriage, and I find that an interesting Petition against that Bill was presented by the ladies. Their Petition is really interesting, as showing the one grievance which, as far as I have been able to see, they have yet been able to prove. The Petition runs as follows, and it expresses peculiar notions about marriage itself:— The humble Petition of the undersigned showeth—That marriage is the natural and honourable profession in which the majority of women maintain themselves by the discharge of the conjugal, social, and domestic duties which appertain to the position of a wife. That the entrance on this profession comes to a woman through an offer or promise of marriage. That the acceptance of such offer or promise debars the woman from forming other ties, and the breaking or non-performance of such promise hinders her from obtaining an establishment in life, inasmuch as a woman who has given her promise and affections to one man cannot transfer them to another without grievous loss. That the law guards the rights of contracting parties by annexing penalties to breaches of contract, or by providing compensation when one of the parties suffers through the default of the other. That it would be highly injurious and inexpedient to lessen the sense of the binding nature of a legal promise by permitting promises of marriage to be broken with impunity. That men do not usually marry for a maintenance, while marriage is regarded as the proper and usual means through which women obtain a maintenance; therefore, a breach of promise of marriage by a man to a woman causes a pecuniary loss which is not usually suffered through a breach of promise by a woman to a man. That the proposal to abolish actions for breach of promise of marriage would deprive that section of Her Majesty's subjects who are excluded from representation in your honourable House of protection against the wrongful acts of those who have a monopoly in making the laws. Now, there is no grievance which this House, which has a monopoly of doing wrong, is not always anxious to redress. Women hold property, and therefore it is said that property should not be un-represented. That is a good argument, no doubt. I do not think that property is sufficiently represented; but we must look at the facts as they are. How does the matter stand in regard to the representation of property? In all our local government—in the election of Guardians, for instance—and in all matters where property is most nearly touched, where it has to bear a number of burdens, and where taxation is really almost the whole duty of the body elected, property has its full influence. The owner of property may not only give one vote, but possibly may give 12, if he has a large property—six as occupier and six as owner, making 12 altogether. In a case like that, where property is actually represented, women have votes already; but in Parliamentary Elections, I am sorry to say, property has very little to do with it. The greatest Peer in the land, for instance, has not a vote at all. A man may have 50,000 acres of land, but he has only the same vote as a man who lives in a lodging. Therefore, the question of property has really nothing to do with the matter. What you do find is this, that property is a qualification, but it is only one out of several others. An appeal has been made by the hon. Member for Liskeard to the principle of taxation without representation. As a matter of history, the people who raise that cry are utterly mistaken. It was originally raised by Lord Chatham as a grievance of the American Colonists, and it had reference to people who were outside the country altogether, and who did not live in the same homes and with the families of those who were already represented. Such people were in a wholly different position from that occupied by these women who live in the same homes, and have so many interests in common with those who are already represented. Every man pays taxes, either directly or indirectly, and yet how many are there who have no direct voice in the representation? Therefore, I do not think that argument ought to have much weight. What are we taxed for? Is it not for the purpose of protecting our property and our persons; and are there any people in the world who derive more benefit from this taxation than the women? Then comes the further question raised by the hon. Gentleman with reference to the franchise. We are told that the vote has been already given to women in many local matters. Indeed, the concession, it is urged, has gone to the extent of conferring upon them the municipal franchise. For my own part, I do not place much faith in these arguments by analogy. Some people, if they have made two mistakes, wish to make a third in order to be consistent. I think we have gone too far in giving women the municipal franchise; but, even supposing we have not done wrong in granting it to them, there is a great difference between a local franchise and the general franchise which it is sought to give to women now. No doubt in the boroughs women who are largely interested where property is concerned have a vote, and I do not know that they use it badly; but there is nothing like the same excitement about those elections that there is about Imperial Elections. Women are not there thrown into the turmoil and bitter- ness of public life that prevail in General Elections. Again, at General Elections, there arises the great question of the defence of the country, to which women contribute in no sort of way; and it certainly seems to me that the responsibilities and the rights of citizenship ought to go together. Since the franchise has been so largely extended, we have introduced almost too much sentiment into our political life. The masses are now too likely to be swayed by a great orator and to be at the mercy of empirical statesmanship. We are placed to a great extent at the mercy of mobs, and that danger would be greatly increased if women were added to the number of our voters. I do not think that on either of these grounds the hon. Member for Liskeard has made out his case. This, however, is not a question of rights or wrongs, of property or taxation, or anything of that sort. It is simply a question of expediency. I think the fact cannot be denied that Government rests in the last resort upon force. I should like to know what has been the result even of recent additions to the franchise? Can the hon. Gentleman say that it does not rest the Government more and more upon force? Was not the franchise extended to these people partly, perhaps, because they were deemed fit for it, but chiefly because it was thought that the great force of the country should also be the governing force of the county? We cannot get over the fact that force is at the bottom of all government. The hon. Gentleman has represented modern civilization as a Utopia, which I do not believe it to be; but government rests in the last resort upon force, and the women whom the hon. Gentleman wishes to enfranchise do not contribute to that force by maintaining order at home, or by defeating the enemies of the country abroad. All the advantages women possess they obtain by reason of their weakness. If we are to carry out the principles of the hon. Gentleman to their logical conclusion, we should produce those results. In the first place, we should have women competing with men in every condition of life. They might compete, no doubt, but it would be impossible to get rid of the two differences I have mentioned—the difference of weakness and the difference of sex. I candidly believe that the mere fact of women competing with men would deprive the former of many of the privileges which at present gallantry, courtesy, and consideration always extend to them among all classes of the community. We all know from our own experience that the more women try to imitate men and to compete with them, the more does our respect for them gradually diminish. On the other point I will only touch very lightly; but I must say I do not think there would be any great gain to the morality of this country if we were to have this constant confusion of the sexes. The present measure owes its existence partly to the increasing rarity of marriage. That question has been very ably argued by the lady to whom the hon. Gentleman alluded, and she says that this very Bill, and the course of conduct pursued by the ladies who support it, will not merely stereotype the present evil, but will do much towards greatly magnifying and extending it. After all, this question is mainly one of expediency. I believe that in the interests of women themselves this Bill would be the most mischievous that could be passed. On behalf of 99 women out of every 100 in this country, I declare that the Bill is one of the most disadvantageous and most mischievous to them that could possibly be passed into law. A vote is a small thing in these days, when almost every man possesses one. Indeed, it is almost a mark of distinction now not to have a vote. But, although a vote is a small thing, the granting of it to women implies their mixing themselves up in public life, fighting in political struggles, and sacrificing the privileges of women, in the vain hope of gaining gradually the rights of men. Therefore, a vote, while a small thing in itself, does in reality represent great mischief. A great deal has been already done, and much remains to be done, for the advancement of women; but their cause would be best advanced if they made better use of the sphere now open to them; and in the medical world, in the matter of education, and in other respects, they might gain the day. But the granting of a vote of this kind has nothing whatever to do with the question. All the grand ideas which the hon. Member for Liskeard advocated throughout his speech had nothing whatever to do with the giving of a vote to women. The advantages which the hon. Gentlemen referred to might be gained equally well without it. If we did give this vote, we should open the door to all the mischiefs he has described; and, in the interests of 99 out of every 100 women in this country, I sincerely hope that this measure will be rejected. Sir, I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time on this day three months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Hanbury.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


The sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire have excited in my mind the thought that I shall do right in taking part in this discussion. I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that the strength of women consists in their weakness, or something of that kind. That argument is contrary, I think, to the facts with which most hon. Members are acquainted. We have all found out that the weak are those who are oppressed, and that those who are able to help themselves are taken care of. This rule, I believe, applies to the interests of women. The hon. Gentleman opposite seems to be afraid of the further extension of the franchise, which, he says, is already too wide; and he appears to think that England would be better governed if we reverted to the days when the franchise lay in the hands of a few, a majority of those few belonging to one class of society. As arguments against the Bill are drawn from the possibility of women of a low type having votes and influencing elections, it is only fair to remind the House that at present there is no difficulty in finding men who have votes and whose moral qualifications are of an exceedingly low character. Therefore, it is unfair to bring forward against the advocates of this measure the charge that they would place on the electoral roll women lodgers whose moral character might be such as to unfit them entirely for that position. The men are already there. The Legislature has never allowed a moral qualification to enter into the question of the fitness of individuals to be placed on the electoral roll. As the hon. Member opposite represents a county perhaps he may not be very well acquainted with the operation of the law which puts women upon the municipal roll. I have never heard in the borough which I have the honour to represent that the least harm has resulted from women having votes. I do not know that the elections in the borough have been materially influenced by the women whose names appear on the municipal register. What I do know is that women go to the poll and vote without the least difficulty; and I never heard anyone suggest that women were injuriously influenced by voting. I consider that thus far we have lost sight in this debate of two or three reflections which were thrown out by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney). In my opinion those considerations ought to be kept in mind, as they have a very important bearing on the subject. The granting of votes to women would be mutually beneficial to all classes of the community. I remember perfectly well the case of a widow who was left to rear up a large family. She was the occupier of a considerable portion of an agricultural parish; she acted as overseer of the parish; and, probably, she was the most intelligent individual in the parish. Yet she was disqualified to vote simply because she happened to be a woman. The great object to be kept in view is good government. I do not think that when this question of women's disabilities is under discussion the House ought to run away into questions affecting female weakness, and their liability to be tempted by men. The question at issue is, what is the best thing to be done in the interests of the country? Women, I believe, would promote their own interests, and those of the community, if they had a legitimate voice at the Parliamentary elections, instead of having, as at present, only indirect influences. If they had votes, and if their names were placed on the register, their right to discuss political questions would be plainly acknowledged. At present they influence those questions as a matter of courtesy. I venture to believe, however, that women ought to be allowed to have a direct and legitimate voice in the election of Members of Parliament.


Mr. Speaker, I desire to say a few words upon the Bill now before the House. Upon former occasions, when I have had an opportunity of speaking on this Bill, it has been observed that I treated a grave subject with great levity and coarseness. At all events, to-day I shall not repeat anything that will bear misconstruction, and I shall be perfectly serious. I deny explicitly, in the first place, that I have ever said, as some hon. Members will say, that women are unfit to have political privileges because the sex is to some extent emotional, impulsive, and sometimes hysterical. I have never made any observations of that nature, and I do not think it is a proper way of stating the question. I have never said, either, that ladies are unfit for the exercise of political rights because they are in many instances, through life, led by priests and parsons; but I have always assailed the Bill before the House as a mischievous Bill—as a Bill badly drawn, and as a Bill which purposely evades the real question at issue which it attempts to settle. Nevertheless, into whatever hands the cause is intrusted—whether it be confided to the tender mercies of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth), a nondescript politician, who sits on the Conservative side of the House, or whether it is by him handed over to the Radical Member, the Representative for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), who sits on the other side of the House, or whether the Bill falls by its own gravity into still more incompetent hands—the measure is presented to us with the same face and in the same guise, without the alteration of a single word or a single letter. Now, Sir, in my opinion, the Bill would be unintelligible to the uninitiated but for its title. The title seems to imply that the object of the promoters of the Bill is to remove all the disabilities under which women labour, to bring feminine assurance, or feminine influence, to bear directly upon that political life from which ladies have been debarred from the commencement of the world. Now, if that be the object of the promoters, it is done in a very imperfect manner. The promoters of the Bill tell us that it will place upon the electoral roll, as it is at the present moment, something like 350,000 or 400,000 fresh names, and this whilst the franchise is restricted; but if household suffrage is to be extended to the counties, then, I presume, a Bill of this nature will place upon the electoral list at least 1,000,000 fresh names. Now, assuming this to be the case, my contention is that this huge Reform Bill, this great Reform Bill—dealing, as it does, largely and widely with the franchise—is a measure which, in my opinion, ought to be placed in the hands of a responsible Minister of the Crown—a Minister having a good mechanical majority at his back. A measure of this nature, so great in its character, ought not to be managed by a coterie of ladies out-of-doors, or mismanaged in this House by Members of no political weight, Members sitting below the Gangway and acting independently of each other. What, then, ought to be done? In my judgment, the promoters of this Bill ought to drop it. And if they be so advised, they should bring it forward in some future Session by way of an abstract Resolution. That abstract Resolution should describe the principal grievances under which the sex labours, and should call upon the Government to relieve womankind of those grievances at the earliest moment, and in the fullest possible manner. The ladies tell us that their cause is a great one. They state that it is one that is not to be snuffed out by levity nor trampled out by opposition. They say that their great cause will be persevered in until right be done. The ladies tells us that they have champions of the highest intelligence in the country; that they have, for example, as an advocate in this House, a man to whose sober judgment the cause had commended itself—the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the Leader of the House, and great weight is attached to his opinions in this House. The ladies say, also, that they have a most redoubtable champion in the Upper House in the person of Lord Beaconsfield. Now, who is Lord Beaconsfield? The Earl of Beaconsfield is a gentleman whom his ignorant detractors out-of-doors declare to be the Mephistophiles of England—a person who, by his enchantments and fascinations, holds both Houses of Parliament enthralled, and who, by means of these devices, carries out at home and abroad a policy hateful in the eyes of Heaven. But that is not all. The ladies tell us they have a convert in that versatile and voluble statesman who sits on the Opposi- tion benches—the "People's William." No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich is still a great power in this country. He wields at his will a portion of the Democracy, and all the Nonconformist Bodies worship at the feet of this Gamaliel. Well, how is it that this cause of the women is not making progress in this country? The cause of the women would be safe if these Gentlemen would act together, and if they were earnest and honest in their political life. But I see no appearance of honesty or earnestness in their political life. Certain it is that the Gentlemen of the House of Commons, who are supposed to be the great champions of the cause, never put in an appearance at these debates. They treat these Wednesday exercitations as political impertinences. Certain it is that if one-tenth part of the energy which has been wasted in an insane crusade to obtain through Holy Russia civil and religious liberty for benighted tribes in Europe had been devoted to this cause of the ladies of England it would have been greatly to their advantage. But a great deal of apathy and indifference reigns throughout the House, and out-of-doors the cause is brought into ridicule in a manner that I need not stay to discuss. Now, what about the Bill? I have already stated that this Bill is a very mischievous one, and made perplexingly vague in order to evade the cause which it professes to sustain. The Bill has no Preamble. The Bill announces no principle, and yet there is a very great principle underlying this Bill. It has, as I say, no Preamble, and the reason why it has no Preamble is very clear. It was almost impossible to make a logical Preamble to such a foolish Bill. The Bill describes no grievance from which the sex suffers, and it endeavours to remove none. The only matter with which it deals is that of registration, and that it deals with in a very imperfect manner. The Bill runs to this effect— Be it enacted, that in all Acts relating to the qualification and registration of voters, or persons entitled to vote, or claiming to be registered to vote in the election of Members of Parliament, every word importing the masculine gender is to be taken as including females, for the purposes of registration, any law or usage to the contrary notwithstanding. Now, what is the meaning of those words? The Bill deals with registra- tion; but what about the votes when the ladies are registered? I ask for information. Can a woman go before the returning officer and give the names, as candidates, of persons whom she thinks will best represent her interest at an election? And can those persons so nominated be females? If not, why not? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone (Sir Thomas Chambers), who, in 1875 and 1876, brought forward the Bill in this House, used to tell us distinctly what was his view, and what was the object of the Bill in his hands. He said the object of the Bill was to promote the interests of widows and of unmarried women—women living in a state of enforced celibacy, and that if he could obtain for them the privilege, once in three or four years, of putting, by way of solace and consolation, a paper into the ballot-box, there would be an end to the whole transaction. The hon. and learned Member used to say that the Bill was so simple and so insignificant that he thought we might pass it without hesitation. The hon. and learned Gentleman used to say that he was extremely opposed to any married woman being admitted to the franchise. A married woman, if honest, might be called through election by grace to a better life; but the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Marylebone contended that no married woman should ever have the right to interfere in a metropolitan election in this life. Now that is a very strange doctrine to hold. In my opinion, many married women would be put upon the register as the Bill now stands. If I remember rightly, five or six years ago, when a similar Bill was introduced in the last Parliament, there were some words which said that women must not be permitted on any account to vote, but those words have been deleted. I shall not pursue this part of the subject further, except to state that the Bill, in my judgment, has been made obscure for a set purpose. I contend, also, that any Bill which professes upon this point to bring within the pale of the Constitution unmarried females, and which is so worded as to exclude women and to disenfranchise them when they shall obtain the high and coveted position of a British matron, is a Bill mischievous in its conception, and is a measure which it is very discre- ditable that Members should every year bring forward in this House for serious discussion. Now, Sir, a word about the cause of the ladies, which is altogether thrust aside in this Bill. I have never heard, in this House, the rights of women as they are defined by themselves at public meetings under the agitation now going on in this country, discussed or debated except on one occasion, in 1876. The Gentleman in this House who spoke at large upon the claims of women, and their demands upon the Legislature, was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). We all know that he is a great supporter of the extension of the franchise; but the Member for Birmingham said he would not accept or look at this Bill, as a means for extending the franchise, because the measure had a higher aim, the aim being the exemption of woman from the tyranny of man. Now, the women, to do them justice, never conceal what their real aims and objects are. They tell us their demands explicitly at public meetings, and they recount them in the drawing-rooms—for that is a very favourite mode of agitation—where they drink tea and noyeau—meetings at which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard so ably presides. They tell us what they want—they want a plain recognition of the complete equality of the sexes, male and female, in all matters political before the law. They declare it is a case of gross oppression to debar a woman, because she is a woman, from competing with men for the possession of every office of the State, in public, in professional, and in political life—for places, in fact, which men are at present supposed to be alone competent to fill. They point, in their harangues, to our Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, and they say that she, a woman, holds the highest offices in the State; and they ask for a response to their question why they are prohibited from holding any office in the State higher than that of a Maid of Honour, a Lady of the Bedchamber, or the like? These are very plain questions, and very plain statements, and anyone can understand them; and it is not easy to give an answer logically to these demands. Such demands, in my opinion, ought to be conceded if they be reasonable, and if the sex, as a rule, demands them; for judge what would be the position of this country, if the larger portion of the women were to revolt against the men! Why, the consequences would be too awful to discuss. Now, these demands are not made by ignorant women, or by women without education. They are deliberately and earnestly put before us for acceptance by ladies of the highest culture and position who take part in this agitation. For example, last year a lady of the highest social position gave the countenance of her illustrious name in aid of the cause—the Lady Anna Gore Langton. This distinguished lady, in many letters addressed to the public journals, declared that this was a great cause—a cause which she was satisfied must triumph, because she said she was old enough to remember the triumph of a measure similar and analogous in its nature, which, after a great deal of agitation, was brought to a successful close by a relief Bill in 1829. What was the cause that is stated to be analogous to this? It was the great Catholic Relief Bill. Now, what were the demands of the Roman Catholics in those days? for I fully admit that the claims made by the women are analogous to the claims made in the great Catholic agitation. The Roman Catholics did not ask for the franchise in 1829, because they had it; but the Catholics of that day felt themselves to be politically powerless, politically impotent, for, although they had the franchise, they had no possession of any of the loaves and fishes. They asked, and very properly, that such of their body as were Peers should have a right to seats in the House of Lords, and to take part in the discussions of that august Assembly. For the laity and gentry of the Roman Catholic community, it was demanded that such of their body as should be elected to represent constituencies should have the right to seats in the House of Commons, and to take part in the debates—it might be in all the wrangles—that have made this Assembly notorious. But they demanded a great deal more. The Catholics said they were excluded, by reason of their faith, from holding many of the highest positions in public and political life, and they demanded to be put on an equality with Protestants, because they conceived they had equal intellectual attainments, and because they were loyal subjects of Her Majesty. Well, those claims were conceded; but will anyone tell me that those six lines of the Bill I have just read are on all-fours with the Roman Catholic Bill of 1829? The matter is too ridiculous to merit any refutation or argument. If, therefore, this cause of the women is to be taken from independent Members, and is to be treated in the future by a Minister of the Crown, it must be dealt with in a manner very different from the way in which it is being treated in this Bill. If it is considered to be analogous to the Roman Catholic Bill of 1829, then Peeresses, by creation and descent, must be declared competent to take their seats in the House of Lords, and married women, equally with single women, must be allowed to vote at elections for Members of this House of Parliament—nay, they must be made eligible to sit in the House, if elected. Women must be required to fulfil all the duties of private citizens. I do not say they should be required to take commands in the Army, Navy, or Marines, but they might fulfil all the duties of civil life. They must act as magistrates, and sit on juries, and the like. If this system is a reasonable system it ought to be conceded, and this House of Parliament is the proper tribunal to decide whether these things are reasonable or not. I do not say whether they are reasonable or not, because these claims are not before us in this Bill, which is a ridiculous Bill. When these claims are before us, I will give my vote on the matter. Now, in conclusion, I will say a few words on the way this cause is managed out-of-doors. There is, at Manchester, a newspaper published solely in promotion of the rights of ladies. It is called The Women's Suffrage Journal, published once a month, and edited by an accomplished and fascinating lady, Miss Lydia Becker. I have been told she is fascinating; I have not the pleasure of her acquaintance. On the first of every month there is put in a conspicuous page the names of a number of women who, during the preceding period of 30 days, were assaulted, sometimes brutally, by their husbands. These cases are enumerated first to show that under the Reform Bill of 1867—the "leap in the dark" Bill—some great ruffians have been put on the register by that Bill. But it is not proposed by the editor of that journal that that Act should be repealed. She says the women who are assaulted ought to have votes; but this Bill does not attempt to give them a vote. It does not deal with married women. Miss Becker has recently discovered that there is in England at this moment a modified slave trade. She says, in fact, that in the land we live in women are bought and sold, and the law takes little or no cognizance of these transactions. Now, I have heard from my earliest youth, and I believe it to be a known fact, that many young girls of tender but of marriageable age are sold by their mothers to wealthy suitors. I believe that arrangements of this nature are not unknown in the highest, in the lowest, and in middle life. Robert Burns, a poet of Scotland, whose poetry is much cherished by the people, because his poetry is true to nature and to life, makes one of his heroines in lowly life, who had been so disposed of in marriage, say of her mother— Bad luck to the penny That tempted my Minnie To sell her poor Jenny For siller and gold. But it is not the sale of women at the matrimonial market that lacerates the heart of Miss Becker. She complains that women are sold by their husbands, and that the law does not interfere to punish them. A few instances are given of this in The Women's Suffrage Journal in the issue of February, 1877. The first case is that of a Mr. and Mrs. Henley, who lived at Leigh, in Lancashire, and who resided in Thomas Street. Mr. and Mrs. Henley were a young couple. The husband was 22 years of age, and the lady was very attractive. Henley complained one day in a public-house to a companion called Hayes that he had married too early in life. He was ambitious, and wanted to push his fortune in the world without any drawback. Mr. Hayes sympathized with him. The two went to Thomas Street, and had an interview with the lady. Terms were arranged and put in writing. Hayes undertook to protect Mrs. Henley in future, together with her infant child. He took also the lease of the house, and Henley, in devotion to his friend, made him a present of a pigeon cote and some doves, and clenched the bargain for 5s. Then follows the story of the sale outright of a woman named Sarah Tyrer for a small sum. She was the wife of a bargee. The man who purchased her was in the same line of life. His name was Carrington. He paid 18s. for Sarah. He paid for the woman in her presence, and took the article he had purchased home with him. They spent the night pleasantly together. Next day Mrs. Sarah Tyrer went out for her wardrobe, but never came back again. Then the purchaser found out that the roguish couple had cheated him out of 18s., and were carousing together upon the proceeds of the sale. He went to a magistrate, who ordered him out of Court. Now, why are these racy stories published in a journal? They are given ostensibly to show that if womankind were introduced to political life the sex would be elevated, and vice would disappear. But that is simply nonsense. Any cause is discredited by arguments like these. When we see, then, a measure of great public policy supported by literature like this out-of-doors, and when we see the cause of the redemption of women advanced in this House by a Bill, the main object of which is to declare that marriage is an absolute disqualification in women to the rights of citizenship, the whole question seems in the hands of its promoters to be treated as if it was an arrant sham.


Mr. Speaker—Sir, the position of this Bill has been noticed at considerable length by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Hanbury), and I think it is impossible to deny that the present state of the law in reference to the electoral franchise is inconsistent and contradictory, and I will say unjust. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire has told the House that, in his opinion, every man almost now has the franchise. The franchise was originally intended to represent the property of the country; but successive Governments thought it right to increase, and increase largely, the electoral franchise to men. We have it extended to household suffrage; we have it extended to the lodger vote. At first we had property and education represented. Now we have property without education represented; and possibly we have education without property represented. We have the household franchise, representing the minimum of property in England, except, perhaps, the lodger franchise. In the lodger franchise, so far as property is concerned, the lodger's property is represented by his Portman- teau, and his education is represented by his newspaper. The hon. Member is right in saying that almost every man is entitled to the franchise. But whilst the franchise is thus extended to men, the female possessing £10,000 or £20,000 a-year is not entitled to have a vote. That appears to me a gross anomaly; and, without professing any chivalrous object, I would put it on the ground of common sense, if property is represented by men, is it not unjust to exclude that representation when a woman happens to be the owner of the property? She has for all other purposes to discharge the duties connected with the property. She is subject to taxation. She has the privilege of paying her taxes without having the right to impose them. She cannot propose any Representative in this House, nor can she legally support him by her vote. But where taxation is local, as in municipal institutions, and as in the Poor Law, and where the education question arises, the female is allowed to vote. And permit me to say these local questions frequently cause just as much local interest and excitement as the larger elections of Representatives where women are precluded from exercising these rights. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire justly said that he thought the law had probably gone too far in prohibiting women from the franchise; and that if they had the right to elect a Member of this House he did not anticipate any of those evils which were supposed to arise in these contests more than in any other. Reference has been made by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Smollett) to the concession of Catholic emancipation. Anyone who looks back to that time will see how the prophets of evil predicted what would be the results of that measure. What have been the evils that have followed from it? The prophets who indulged in these lugubrious anticipations have been disappointed. While the exercise of these minor rights are denied to women, the Constitution of this country gives to Her Most Gracious Majesty the highest and most responsible position in this realm; and contrasting the reign of Her Majesty with that of many of Her predecessors, it is undeniable that the comparison is one most favourable to the prudence, wisdom, and energy of the female mind. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire has quoted various pamphlets and various newspapers. It is very easy to take a few extracts, either from pamphlets or from newspapers, and then to comment on these isolated passages; but how is it that for a year past the hon. Member for Cambridge, who appears to read this Manchester paper, has not been able to find a single passage from the 1st of February, 1877, until the present date, on which he can lay his finger? I have not perused that journal with the same assiduity as the hon. Member for Cambridge; but if I had known he was going to quote it, I should probably have found much that would have been an answer to the attack which he made, and that would have furnished admirable arguments in support of this Bill. It is conceded that by this Bill it is not intended to give the franchise to married women. I remember on a former debate, when many Members, including the noble Lord the Postmaster General, who is a supporter of this measure, stated that that was their view, and I may say that is my view also. It must be a matter of great satisfaction to see the interest taken in this matter, the Treasury Bench being now unoccupied. I venture to say no usual occupant will vote against the measure. The limiting of the Bill to widows and ladies who are not married is perfectly intelligible. It does not endanger the domestic arrangements and the harmony that ought to exist in a family. If one were to give to the wife a vote and to the husband a vote, it might tend in many cases—it might tend in all—to the interruption of that harmony that ought to exist between them. Therefore, the exclusion of married women is right and legitimate; but in the case of an independent lady, who exercises all the rights of a proprietor, why she should not be represented in Parliament, and why she should not select her own Representative, unless we can show that some evil results would come from it, is to me unintelligible. But then it is said if you follow this logically, you must give to women all the rights that men have; that they must sit here and in the House of Peers, because you have conceded to them the right to choose a Representative. Now is that so? Reference is made to priests and parsons. I am not going to say anything against that very respectable class. Yet they have the right to select a Representative, and cannot sit in this House. There is a line between the right to select a Representative and being a Representative. Clergymen are excluded from being Members of this House. Yet they exercise the right of electors, and do not claim the more important right of being themselves Representatives. Therefore, there is no anomaly in giving females the right to choose a Member to represent their interests without having the right of being themselves Representatives. As to female lodgers being an objectionable class, an hon. Member spoke of the female lodgers in Pimlico. I am not so well acquainted with them as he is, and I do not know what he means. There are objectionable persons in all classes. There are many whom we would not select as our companions; and when the franchise includes every man in the community, there will be a large number of persons included in that category who may be very objectionable. The hon. Member for Cambridge has again referred to this Bill as being a foolish Bill, and as being a disingenuous Bill. It has, at all events, the advantage of being a short Bill. If it had been drawn through the intervention of Members of my Profession it probably would have been, if not more lucid, a little longer. It has, at all events, the advantage of brevity. It is said that it has not in terms excluded the married women. If there be the slightest doubt on that subject two words in Committee will set that matter right. If there be any question about it, that may be urged in Committee. The principle for which we contend has been fully stated by the hon. Member who commenced this debate. I need only add that I think it is an anomalous and unjust position in which women are placed; and I cannot doubt that, whatever opposition is shown now, in some future day this measure, or one analogous to it, will be carried.


The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Smollett) has asked, "Who is Lord Beaconsfield?" Lord Beaconsfield is a person who once said that critics are those who have failed in literature and art. Critics do not usually place their works side by side with the works they criticize. The hon. Member for Cambridge has not observed this caution; but he has failed either to answer the arguments or to rival the eloquence of my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney). The hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Hanbury) complained that this Bill was brought forward Session after Session, and that the same arguments were used. The same arguments must be used on one side, because they have never been answered; but I venture to say that the repetition on the other side has been far more striking. Many arguments have been brought forward against this Bill that have only the faintest concern with it. The very few arguments which really apply have been pressed in this debate, as they have been pressed in debates every Session, with praiseworthy regularity. These arguments remind of nothing so much as the 10 men who represent the "Forty Thieves" on the stage by passing over and over again. In every discussion when the question of the franchise arises, we hear a great deal of various theories of representation. We have not been favoured with many of these theories; but we have had many theories of the home duties of women, of the difficulty of women becoming Members of Parliament, or of their going to fight in battle, and so on. I cannot help thinking that the reason of this is, that every one of those theories, if pursued to its logical conclusion, would supply an argument in favour of the Bill. There is, first, the theory, often advocated on the other side, that property should be represented. The only reference made in this debate to that theory was by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire. He said that, in fact, this Bill would mainly enfranchise a few rich women. A few minutes afterwards he said that property was insufficiently represented in this House. The hon. Member went on to refer to the principle that representation and taxation go together. He made little of that principle, and seemed to attach no importance to it. Is it not a fact, that the women who claim to be represented under this Bill pay a considerable proportion of this taxation? It has been said, in many debates on the franchise in this House, that intelligence and education should be represented. I want to know, are there no women whom that principle would admit? It is also said that this House should be the reflex and mirror of the nation. If that be so, why should women be excluded? There can be no greater anomaly than the exclusion of women who possess every qualification the law demands. We are told by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire that this is a revolutionary proposal. Yet women belong to that section of the community who are most attached to old institutions and national associations, and would be the last people who would be disposed to work a revolution in the Constitution of the country. Then it is said if the enfranchisement of women does not work a revolution in the Constitution of the country, the granting of the franchise will work a revolution in the constitution of women; that the performance of the simplest duty of the franchise will transform women into political nomads; that their going to the polling-booth for a few minutes in every four or five years will entirely destroy the refinement of the women of England. These absurd fears remind me of nothing more than of the well-known story told of Sidney Smith, at a time when some change had taken place in Party politics. Sidney Smith wrote to a friend, and said he understood the event had excited such consternation that he began to be afraid that the laws of nature were suspended; and it was only when he had sown some mustard and cress in his garden, and it began to come up, that he saw things were going on pretty much as before. Then, it is said that women do not care for the franchise, and do not desire to possess it. I am sorry to say that a great many ladies, who have never given this subject a moment's attention, are ready to laugh at those who, after careful consideration, have felt themselves bound to support this movement. The women who speak lightly of this measure are not those who are likely to be affected by it. It is not the rich and idle who want the franchise. It is not those who have every luxury, and who have every wish gratified. Those are not the women who feel the want of the franchise. But we must remember that there are thousands—I may say millions—of women in this country who have to go out and fight the battle of life as best they can, and to earn their bread by the sweat of their brows. You speak of home duties! But what is the use of speaking of home and family to thousands of women to whom home and family are impossible? There are in this country thousands of women of that kind, and it is ridiculous to ignore their existence. Poets may talk of women as something delicate and tender, whom the winds of Heaven may not too roughly visit; but the lives of most women, as well as of most men, are not spent in a fool's paradise, but in a hard and cruel working world. What are the views of those women who are doing good work in the world, leading earnest and useful lives, and who are women of the highest intellectual attainments? One of the strongest and most convincing arguments in favour of a Bill of this kind is, that it has had the support of such women as Mrs. Somerville, Mrs. Mary Carpenter, Miss Cobbe, Mrs. W. Gray, and Miss Florence Nightingale. If opinions are to be weighed, and not counted, I wonder how many nonentities, who laugh at woman's rights, it would take to outweigh these names? These ladies have not been led to take an interest in the question by any theoretical or sentimental ideas on the subject. They have been led to devote themselves to the question by what they have seen of the unfairness of the present state of things on the lives and work of women. They know how women are affected by the unjust state of the law, and they know how hopeless a task it is for those who have no political power to get the law reformed. The first Session I had the honour of a seat in this House, an eminent lawyer (Lord Coleridge), who was then Attorney General, made a speech, in which he referred to the unfair state of the law as far as women are concerned. He said that if the House of Commons was as much aware as every lawyer was aware of the state of the law of England as regards the property of women, he did not think it would hesitate to say that the law was more worthy of a barbarian than of a civilized community. That is the opinion of a great and eminent lawyer, delivered many years after Lord Brougham had said there must be an entire re-construction of the law before women could obtain justice. Even in those countries where women are best treated, the law is generally unfavourable to them in respect to almost all the points on which they are most deeply interested. Women desire the franchise, not from any fancied equality with men, but because they heard that the possession of political influence is the only guarantee for legislative justice. The hon. Member for North Staffordshire said there was not a single case in which the interests of women were opposed to those of men, and he objected to women being looked upon as a class. Now, that seemed to me to be a most extraordinary statement. I confess that I do not yet understand what the hon. Member meant in making that assertion. It may be said that women, like men, belong to many classes—the rich and the poor, the industrious and the idle, the good and the bad, and so on; but there is nothing more absurd than to say women are not a class. In reference to legislation, they are a class as far as they have special interests concerned which are affected by legislation. Have women no special interest in the laws affecting marriage? Have they no interest in the laws affecting the property of women? Have they no special interest in the guardianship of children? Then, again, look at the great number of subjects on which we legislate with special reference to the industrial pursuits of women—the hours at which women are to be employed, and so on. In all of these cases they have a distinct and peculiar interest as great—and in some respects greater—than that of man. Then we are told that we are endeavouring to upset a state of things that has existed from the creation of the world; that we are going to destroy the relations between the sexes, which have endured for all time. The same thing has been said in regard to polygamy and of slavery over and over again. Slavery is almost co-eval with the creation of man. The Digest itself, which represents the wisdom of 13 centuries, says that slavery is a constitution of the law of nature. We must look forward in these things. We must advance as every civilized country advances. Our position is a high one, and we must maintain it. The most extraordinary statement yet made in the course of the debate was the statement made by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire, when he said that as civilization advances women grow weaker and weaker because government is more and more based on physical strength. That is a statement which contradicts all the facts of history, and all the experience of mankind. In an elementary condition of society government was nothing more than the expression of brute force; but as civilization goes on other influences begin to work. The intellectual and the moral forces came to the front, and it has begun to be recognized that there is something in government beyond mere brute strength. Law is the protection and the refuge of the weak. The man who says that woman is not to have a voice in the shaping of the law because she is physically weaker than man, uses an argument which shows that he never reached a fundamental conception of what the nature of law is. This demand for the suffrage is only part of the great movement which has been going on for years in this country, and which is opening out a wider range of thought and broader sympathies for the women of England. Let us look back to the state of things which existed in those distant states of society to which the hon. Member for North Staffordshire wishes to confine us. Once upon a time there was a grave question whether the spiritual and immortal nature of man was shared by woman, and whether the possession of a soul was not the exclusive attribute of the lords of creation. Chrysostom described woman as a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic peril, a deadly fascination, a painted lie. Many arguments advanced to-day will in time to come seem quite as ridiculous as this. The time will come when men will no longer desire to exclude, upon such grounds, so large a portion of the industry and intelligence of the country from the enjoyment of the simple rights of citizenship and the discharge of the elementary duties of citizenship. There is no question of antagonism between the sexes. This movement is not based upon the assumption of such antagonism. We cannot raise women without raising men. Man has a direct interest in the progress of every movement which has for its object the elevation of woman. This movement will raise woman, widen her mental power, and elevate her ideas. The more you do this the more you fit woman for that high and true companionship with man to which nature, in making her a reasonable and intellectual being, has clearly intended her. The companionship we should secure for her is not companionship in the mere frivolities of life, but in those great aims and interests which occupy the highest thoughts of man. It is the absence of such companionship, and the want of objects of sufficient interest—the want of capacity on the part of woman to enter into the thoughts of man—that strikes the greatest blow at domestic happiness. I shall vote for the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, because I think that while it will be an act of justice to admit those women to the franchise who possess the only qualification the law insists upon, it will also widen their ideas, enlarge their intellects, and lead them to take a rational interest in the affairs of the country in which they have so large a stake, and whose future to so great an extent depends upon them.


Having never troubled the House with a speech on this subject before, I hope they will forgive me for troubling them on this occasion. My excuse for doing so is the conduct of the Party to which I have the honour to belong. Many Members of that Party have been strong supporters of Bills similar to that which is now before the House; and, under these circumstances, it would have been somewhat strange if no single Member were to rise on this side of the House and speak in support of the measure, now that the Conservative Party are in Office. I think, moreover, that when you look at the back of the Bill, and find among the names of those responsible for the preparation of the measure that of so illustrious a Member as the late Recorder of London (Mr. Russell Gurney). I think that it is only right that some Member of the Conservative Party should endeavour to fill his place, and recommend a measure to which he was always known to give his warmest support. When we on this side of the House were in favour of such a Bill, we were in favour of it on the ground of principle. Those were days when we had what we were pleased to call our principles; and the principle on which we supported this measure was that we were in favour of personal liberty as opposed to legislative restrictions. Those were days when persons were harassed by over-legislation; when interests and classes of people were oppressed by Acts of Parliament; and when the Conservative Party used to lift up its voice in favour of personal liberty and of leaving people to mind their own affairs themselves, trusting to their discretion, good judgment, and sense of right and wrong, rather than endeavouring to tie everybody down by Acts of Parliament. The Loader of the Conservative Party (the Earl of Beaconsfield) was always in favour of this measure on the grounds I have stated, and I have no reason to believe he has changed his mind. I have not heard it stated that he has abandoned his former opinions. But, certainly, a strong change seems to have come over the Party he leads. I believe that there are Members of the Cabinet professing Conservative opinions who give their votes, and on several occasions have raised their voices, in favour of this measure. Where are they this afternoon? The Leader of the House (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), I believe, has recommended this measure to the House of Commons. He has certainly supported it by his vote. Why is he not here to state to his Party the reasons which induced him in times past—and perhaps will induce him this afternoon—to give his support to the measure? Unless we have abandoned the principles which it was convenient to assume in Opposition, I think we ought to act up to them on an occasion like the present, or to offer to the House and the country some reason why we are prepared to put down the other sex by legislative enactments, instead of trusting to their own discretion and sense of right and wrong. That is my first excuse. My second excuse is this—that there has been of recent years so much use made of that sort of argument, which Mr. Bent-ham called "the hobgoblin argument." I never found any Member who very strongly objects to the measure now before the House who did not say that what he objected to was not the measure itself so much as what it would lead to. ["Hear, hear!"] As I hear the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) cheer that remark, I presume there are still those in this House who are afraid of what it is going to lead to. Now, I always endeavour to be frank with the House, and I am bound to say that this "hobgoblin argument" has received great support from the agitation which has been carried on by the advocates of the measure in this country, and from the speeches which have been made in this House in support of it. It certainly is an argument which has had a great effect upon the House. It has terrified Members on this side, and sober-minded and intelligent Members on the other side. The hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James) was so terrified at the prospect of what might happen if the measure passed, that he was instrumental in forming, a few years ago, a society for the protection of men. That society has, I believe, succeeded in diverting some hon. Members from the opinions they formerly entertained, and, among others, the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Hanbury). I believe that the hon. Member for North Staffordshire was at one time a strong supporter of the Bill, and that he was induced to change his mind, and was brought round to his new mode of thinking, entirely by the use of the "hobgoblin argument." Members who, like myself, always supported this measure upon moderate, and what some people may, perhaps, call very low, grounds, should, I think, state the grounds on which they vote, in order that they may not be confounded with the advocates of women's rights, and those who wish, as an hon. Member said just now, to turn the world upside down. Now, I am not one of the strong advocates of women's rights. I do not believe that women are much oppressed, or that their prospects, on the whole, are very bad, or that their interests are in an unsatisfactory condition. I do not myself feel that if we pass this Bill for the removal of the disabilities of women in regard to the election of Members of Parliament, there will be any great revolution at all. A Bill was passed some time ago for giving them votes for members of Town Councils. That has not altered the character of the sex. If an intelligent observer, who had been absent since this measure passed, should return to the country now, he would not think that the character of the women of England had been much altered by the passing of that measure; nor do I believe that if a Bill like the one now before the House were carried, it would have the immense effect either its friends or its enemies in some cases prognosticate. I wish to say that, in supporting this Bill, I support it on the principle I have always believed the Party to which I have the honour to belong adhered to. That principle is, that you are not to impose upon any person any legal restriction not absolutely neces- sary, that you are to trust not to the positive enactments of law, but to the sober and intelligent discretion of people themselves to choose the particular careers in life to which they will devote themselves. I am willing to remove every legal disability from women, not because I wish to see women embark in pursuits for which they are unfitted, or because I am desirous of seeing them become the surgeons, lawyers, or legislators of the country; but because I think you may sufficiently trust to the intelligence and discretion of women themselves to embark in such pursuits as it is desirable they should adopt. I do not want to see women sit in this House. It may be said that it is impertinent for me to interfere with their discretion in the matter, and that I should, according to my own principles, express no opinion as to whether women ought or ought not to have seats in this House. But, be that as it may, I think it is a question which might with perfect safety be left to the decision of the women themselves, and that there is no occasion to impose upon them any disability; because I do not believe that you would find that women would ever embark themselves in pursuits and positions of life for which by their character they are un-suited. I have a high opinion of the intelligence and discretion of the female sex, and I do not think that they require all this legislation. They do not require that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Smollett) should take them under his protection, and decide for them what they are to do and what they are not to do. We should give them perfect liberty, and they could then decide for themselves. I shall vote for the Bill simply because I am in favour of the removal of restrictions. It takes away a restriction which I think is unnecessarily imposed by the law, and it leaves women in exactly the same position as that which is occupied by men. I consider that they are as fully entitled to the franchise as men, and that they should be as free as men to make such use of the franchise when they get it as they in their own discretion shall think proper. I therefore give my cordial support to the Bill as a Bill simply for the removal of disabilities, and I do it on the principle of personal liberty, and because I think you ought not tie women down by arti- ficial restrictions, but should allow them to be free and equal with men in the eye of the law, with full discretion to act as they think fit.


Having hitherto given a silent vote against this Bill, I desire, with the permission of the House, to state briefly why I have done so. It seems to me that before entering upon the question whether women ought or ought not to have the suffrage, we should have a more distinct answer than we have as yet had to another question, and that is—"Do women want to have the suffrage?" I am well aware that there are a certain number of women—earnest and intellectual women—who have strong feelings and aspirations in that direction; and I am bound to admit that they are themselves eminently qualified for the discharge of any duties which might in consequence devolve upon them. And if any of them can be described—I should be very sorry myself to use such an expression—as "social failures," it seems to me all the more just and fair that they should have as men have, the opportunity of distinguishing themselves in another sphere. But, as far as my observation extends, there are a very much larger number of women who are most strongly opposed to this measure, and perhaps a greater number still who are profoundly indifferent. It has been said that those who do not wish need not qualify, and ought not to stand in the way of those who do. But we may be very sure that in places where party spirit runs high—and these places are by no means few—very strong pressure would be put upon women who could qualify and did not, either by the eager partizans among their friends, or perhaps even in some cases by their religious advisers, to induce them to do what they would call their duty to their country, and, between the two influences, these women would be placed in an unpleasant position. But that, after all, is only a minor objection; and the main objection is the inevitable lowering of political spirit by the introduction of an indifferent, if not a reluctant, contingent. It may be that this adverse feeling on the part of women may undergo a change; and I am not quite sure that there are not symptoms that this change has already begun. And when it appears to me that women in general desire to have the suffrage, I should be disposed to vote for it; for I think we may fairly assume that the political interest therein evinced must be accompanied by some political aptness.


I have a few words to say on the subject of the measure now before the House, and I wish, in the first place, to refer to what has fallen from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who has chosen to speak to us in behalf of the Conservative Party. He will find, on looking back through the record of those who have sat on this side of the House, that both of us are among those Members of the Conservative phalanx who, in former times, as well as at the present moment, have been, and still are, very independent specimens of that Party; and, as I never yet have sacrificed my independence, even at the bidding of "the front Bench," I still more positively refuse to sacrifice it now at the bidding of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham. What right he has to come here and, in the deplorable state of Robinson Crusoeism in which that Bench now is, to constitute himself, for the time being, Leader of the Conservative Party, and lecture us upon our duties with regard to this Bill, passes my comprehension. I tell him to his face, as I have said in his absence, he has no right to speak for the Conservative Party, and that his historical memory is about on a par with his legal right in this matter. Some Members of our Party may have voted, and some will now, in favour of the Bill; but it is simply a vision of the hon. and learned Gentleman's own imagination, that those on this side of the House ever as a Party took up this measure. On both sides of the House this Bill has, happily, been regarded as one of the few great questions which have not been made a matter of Party warfare; and I trust and believe that it will continue so, until, ultimately, it will become a Party matter on both sides never to let this scheme become the law of the land. But my hon. and learned Friend comes forward, and projects himself upon us like an aerolite. He tells us that he is in favour of this Bill, on the principle of personal liberty; but what that personal liberty may be he does not tell us. Now, suppose any hon. Member were to bring in a Bill, say to give legislative sanction to polygamy, or anything of that sort, the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham would be—or rather, his assertion, for it is hot an argument—"I am a Member of the Conservative Party; I am in favour of personal liberty, and therefore I vote for the Bill." That would be just as sound in regard to a Bill to sanction polygamy as for anything else; because when he made the assertion the hon. and learned Gentleman forgot the little ceremony of proving the connection between the assertion and the result to which it led. The only other portion of his speech, on which I feel inclined to make any remark, is the regret he expressed, that he was not present at the beginning of the discussion. Well, I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in expressing that regret; for if he had been present when the discussion began, I do not think he would have made the speech he has just addressed to this House. I have been present all day; and I may say that very seldom has it been my lot to listen with more thorough and entire satisfaction to a speech delivered in this House than when I heard the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), and I will tell the hon. and learned Gentleman why I say so. It is because I never saw a speaker more completely kick into infinite space the ladder on which he had climbed. The hon. and learned Gentleman got up to advocate a Bill which was intended to give the franchise to spinsters and to widows, but which would leave un-enfranchised that portion of he female world which, to use the graceful language which we have just heard of the lady Petitioners, "carries out the profession of matrimony." I do not see the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Sir Thomas Chambers) here to-day; but I would ask, how often has the hon. and learned Gentleman laboured in this House, with a zeal and energy which I can only compare to the exertions of Sisyphus, in rolling his eternal stone up-hill in endless repetition, to prove that he was merely advocating a Constitutional measure? my hon. and learned Friend has merely advocated a Bill to enfranchise the unmarried or the widowed portion of the other sex; he would be no party to anything that should establish an equality of female light. I quite believe in the sincerity of my hon. and learned Friend; and I think that never was sincerity more thoroughly proved than by the hopeless despair in which he has run away from his own Bill—that totally unworkable measure, in regard to which his own good sense has shown him the radically false position he has taken up. Well, what was the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney)? I appeal to those few hon. Members of the House who, like myself, had the advantage of hearing it, whether it was not, from first to last, an unqualified and uncompromising and logical claim for a new departure for the whole political and social system, not merely of England, but of the whole world—an assertion of rights and claims on the part of womankind which have no relation at all to the Constitution of the country, which have no relation to the franchise as it now exists, which have no relation to our form of government as it at present exists, and which have no affinity with our existing social relations; but which are merely the Utopia of a sanguine and purely theoretical philosopher? In this, I think the hon. and learned Gentleman only reflected, with a little exaggeration, the phenomenal arguments of the accomplished ladies whose brief he has taken up. If there be one fact which more than another would convince me that opposition to this Bill is the course pointed out by common sense and worldly wisdom, it is this—that the advocacy of the measure, not with standing all the infinite struggles of those who have laboured to push it on, has never advanced beyond a very limited and very definite circle—a circle composed mostly of women, but some of whose components are men, who have never been able to throw off the oppressive burden of the à priori, who, having come into the world with a theory of creation—a theory of human nature which is not exactly that which exists among the rest of human kind—have never been able to square their own conceptions with the accidents of the world as they find it. Those persons have created for themselves a phantasm of women's wrongs, of women's disabilities, and of women's disadvantages—they have created for themselves a theory that those disadvantages may be removed by an arbitrary, so to speak, mechanical agency, conferring on women social and political privileges such as are only to be found for a fragment of the sex in the provisions of this contemptible Bill, which is the result of this great theory. The hon. and learned Member for Marylebone, as I have said, has thrown away his Bill; but the arguments for it are dead against every limitation in it—dead against the disfranchisement of women, dead against the division of women with or without property, dead against everything but that doctrine of the general, the theoretical, right of women as women, on which might be based a Constitution, but one which will not be the British Constitution with which we have been hitherto familiar. Just look at the question for one moment. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard talks of woman's career being opened up, of women meeting men on an intellectual equality—a point on which he dwelt with emphasis. I will assume that the hon. and learned Gentleman is a practical man, in spite of his speech, and I would beg of him to see how he turns the "pretty fool" into an intellectual woman. She must be a ratepayer, and she must be an occupier or a lodger. By this Bill she is to be thus turned into the intellectual equal of my hon. and learned Friend opposite (Mr. Courtney), or my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). Well, we will assume the case of some such woman. She is well educated, she has the franchise, and some agreeable, highly-trained man, who is her intellectual equal, wins her heart. She has her choice—either to remain a blighted being, but an intellectual one, and a voter, and in all respects man's social and political equal; or to change her name, and thus to change her nature, shedding her intellect as she puts on her wedding ring, and becoming a degraded and inherently unintellectual worker of samplers and mother of children. Now, I appeal to my hon. and learned Friend, whom I know to be a man of culture, a man of intellect, and a man of experience—I ask him how he can reconcile his magnificent assumptions with the miserable limitations of this Bill, which he has inherited from that sound Constitutional lawyer, the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone? The Bill, in fact, breaks down on its own assumptions. It is to be worked on Constitutional lines; and yet its promoters only propose to work it for the unmarried women and widows! The absurdity of the thing flies in their own faces, and they will be compelled either to go further or abandon the project altogether. The hon. Member who spoke on the other side gave as an argument why we must not enfranchise a married woman, that she and her husband would probably differ in politics, and that, in that case, they would live the life of cat and dog. But, I would ask, is the unmarried woman supposed to be so totally divorced from human sympathies, human relationships, human duties, human obligations, and human difficulties, that her political independence will leave her totally free in the serene exercise of her political duties, and that not until she is married will those dreadful complications and quarrels, to which I have referred, arise? Let us suppose that she is not married, but engaged. Here is a bright young Liberal maid, engaged to a handsome young Tory. A General Election is to take place two years hence, and it will come in February, 1881—for that is the time that it must come. This young lady is versed in woman's subjects, and, in the world at large, she is a reader of every intellectual and able publication. She is engaged in January, and her marriage is fixed for March. Is it possible that, if she were to vote for the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, and the Conservative, though good-looking young gentleman, were to vote for a man of opposite politics, and take his stand on the re-actionary side—the re-actionary side of this question—there would, on the hypothesis which I am considering, be peace and happiness between them? She will at that day be only engaged, and not married; and so, upon the theory of the hon. and learned Member, her voting would be a perfectly safe proceeding. I do hope that the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard will add a clause the Bill, saying that, whenever it is not otherwise provided, human nature should be taken to be human nature in the sense of The Women's Suffrage Journal. Any trouble, any difficulty, any social inconvenience that may attach to the vote will be equally attached to the wife, the spinster, and the widow. I deny that there is anything like a public opinion on the part of the reasoning, intelligent, thinking wives and mothers of England in favour of the Bill. Petitions have been presented up till to-day signed by 111,000 persons in favour of the Bill; but hon. Members who know what petitioning means, who know what The Women's Suffrage Journal aims at, who know what an active organization implies, who know the meaning of meetings where women speak and attractive Members of Parliament take the chair, will well know how to estimate the value of Petitions with 111,000 signatures. What do such Petitions mean? They mean that millions of women in England are either totally unstirred by the question, or are deeply and conscientiously opposed to so listless a change as this Bill proposes. What is the Bill? It says that married women may be cruelly treated by their husbands, my be defrauded of their money, and shall not be entitled to a vote; but that any unmarried lady who drives her brougham, and who may have some difficulty in showing how she provides the money to pay the rent of the house at the door of which that brougham draws up, have the franchise. This is the Bill which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham is so enamoured of, and which he calls on us to support in the name of the Conservative Party. I know as well the zeal for the ladies of the hon. and learned Serjeant the Member for Queen's County (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock); but I think that he and the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Blennerhassett) make this mistake—they go too far in what they say: they either prove the absolute necessity of the enfranchisement of all womankind, or else they prove that the measure ought not to be entertained in any shape. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Palmer), in his spirited maiden speech, threw in our teeth the fact that a man's personal conduct was no qualification nor disqualification for the franchise; but the difference is, that the peculiar franchise created by this Bill is one that gives a direct premium to women to follow the less creditable professions—to use the felicitous phrase of the ladies' Petition—instead of the higher and more honourable ones. This, I think, is of itself conclusive as against the Bill. I suppose we shall every year have a Wednesday given up to the discussion of this proposal; but as long as these discussions exhibit the House at 4 o'clock as it now shows itself; so long as the arguments are pressed ad infinitum by the same circle of clever and intellectual, but not very well-contented, nor very practical-minded ladies; so long as persons without any difference of political opinion merely turn to the consideration of the question on the strength of their own good sense and knowledge of the world as it is; so long, I assert, will the claim for women's franchise, consistently and creditably and conscientiously as it may be advocated, remain one of a purely artificial character. The evils it is said this Bill would remedy have no existence, or are greatly exaggerated; and it will not be able to remedy them, except on the extravagant hypothesis that women make a distinct party in the world in direct hostility to the party of man; that woman is born the natural enemy of man, and that if she be enfranchised she will be strong enough to make good the predominance of her party against that of man; that she will be able to return a Parliament of men who will do what the present Parliament has left undone, and leave undone everything which the present Parliament has done. I hold that the thing asked for is a mere phantasm, which only creates a mischievous state of agitation—calls people away from real duties and real responsibilities to sham grievances and illusory wrongs. If you pass this Bill, you will have the choice of two alternatives—you will either vexatiously, but purposely, weaken the intellectual and moral force of the electoral body, or else you will give free leave and charter to theories which may be benevolent, but which are illusory and contrary to all sound principles of law and political economy, and against all the principles of generous and strong, because reasonable and workable, morality.


I think the House will agree with me that my hon. Friend who has just sat down has given us a very agreeable and amusing speech; but I think they will also agree with me in saying that he has not met the arguments in favour of the Bill by any reasonable counter-arguments. I think, likewise, that he was rather hard—and perhaps a little unfairly so—on the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who, when he got up to speak in favour of this Bill, spoke, as I took it, in reference to the empty state of the Government Bench, and not on behalf of the Conservative Party. I think that we on this side of the House have a right to express our agreement with him in the remarks he made as to the empty condition of the opposite benches. We know that at least three, if not four, of the Members of the present Government have formerly voted in favour of this Bill. The first case I will mention is that of the Leader of this House—the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who has voted on many an occasion in favour of the measure, and who I am sorry is not in his place. Then we have the noble Lord the Postmaster General, who I am happy to see in his place. He has often recorded his vote in favour of the Bill, and I trust will once more do so to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer last year met a large and influential deputation of ladies and gentlemen favourable to the measure, and on that occasion he said he still sympathized with the object of the Bill. But he also said the matter resolved itself into a question of expediency and opportunity. I do not know whether he meant that that opportunity would come when the present Government go out; but I should have thought that the same reasons might have been given for supporting the Bill, whether a Conservative or a Liberal Government are in power. The question is not a Party question. The Bill is supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) has rather tried to throw a slur on this question by saying it is a very small affair, and that the Bill has not created in its favour any large influence throughout the country. I entirely disagree with him in this. I remember when, in 1867, the late John Stuart Mill first brought the question before the House on an Amendment to a clause of the Reform Bill, and at that time only about 70 Members went into the Lobby to vote with him; but since then the number has been more than doubled. As I understand, it includes now between 140 and 150 Members. But I do not think that this fact alone sufficiently shows the interest felt in the country on this question. I will not say much of the Petitions in its favour, because I quite agree with, my hon. Friend opposite that you may get up Petitions on almost any question; but we have also the fact that large public meetings have been held in various parts of the country, and that they have almost unanimously declared themselves in favour of this measure. We also know that many of the largest and most important Corporations throughout the country—such as those of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, and other large centres of population—have petitioned unanimously in favour of the Bill. If this be so, I do not think we can say that the measure has not grown into importance and is not worthy of the attention of the House of Commons. I think the promoters of the Bill may take heart of grace at the progress they have made, especially when they remember that it is not much more than 10 years since this question was first brought before the House. During that interval women have obtained in many ways a much better status than they had before. It was said by my hon. Friend that the admission of women to the municipal franchise was an accident; I do not agree with him. The fact is, that women were allowed municipal votes after a full discussion of the question in this House, and it happened to be on an Amendment to a Bill on the municipal franchise which I myself brought before the House. Well, again, women have been allowed to vote in the election of members of school boards, and they have exercised the power given to them in every way to the benefit and satisfaction of the country. And not only are they allowed to vote for members of school boards, but they are allowed themselves to sit on school boards, and we have several remarkable cases of ladies who have acted on school boards with the greatest ability and judgment. Besides this, they have votes for vestries and for the election of Poor Law Guardians, while they have also the right to be elected as guardians of the poor. If this be so, what reason is there why we should stop here and say that while they, equally with men, pay rates, they shall not have the privilege of voting for Members of Parliament? I confess that I can see no reason for taking this position, except it be a reason to say that they are objected to because they are women. If there is anything in the objection, it must be either because they are not fit to give a vote, or else it is that their admission would be an injury to the Constitution, or an injury to the women themselves. I cannot understand that any reason can be brought to bear against the proposal to give women votes as a matter affecting the Constitution itself. Women are allowed to enter into trade. They carry on large businesses. I have myself known women carry on large cotton-spinning concerns in a very satisfactory and successful manner. They are owners of land, and they are in many ways called upon to perform the same duties which men are called upon to perform. Therefore, I think that this Bill proposes what is only fair and just with respect to the class of women who are occupying householders. I should not support the Bill if it went further than this. Then, is there any reason why women should not have votes, looking at the question as one affecting themselves? Well, we are told that if women had votes, they would be less attentive to their domestic duties; but I want to know whether the political duties which a woman would be called upon to perform, were this Bill passed, are so onerous that they can interfere materially with their domestic duties? Men have their business duties, and women would not be in a worse position than men. But then we are told that women cannot perform the duties which attach to the privileges of men. I have heard it used as an argument against granting these privileges that women cannot serve upon juries. I cannot see any reason why, in many cases, women might not satisfactorily serve on juries. There are many cases in which women-jurors would be able to give a more satisfactory and judicious verdict than men. It was said that women could not serve their country in war. I admit they could not enter the Army; but if there is any country where that argument ought not to be used, it is this one. Ours is a paid Army. No man is compelled to serve in the Army, and that no woman could be called upon to perform duties which men are not obliged to perform is no reason for denying the suffrage to women-householders. Each sex has duties which they can perform separately to the satisfaction of the country, and their performance of different duties is no argument for the exclusion of women. In fact, there is no reasonable argument against this measure, either on the ground that it would do injury to women themselves, or that it would be injurious to the Constitution. I do not wish to use any exaggerated language as to the result of giving the vote to women-householders. I do not think myself that any great difference would be made in the Membership of this House; but a grievance felt by a large class would be done away with, and we have always legislated in this country with the object of doing away with grievances. At a time when an Election is about to take place, if women feel that they have grievances to remedy—that the law in respect to their property is not satisfactory—that the law with respect to assaults upon women is in need of improvement—or that the education of women demands legislative attention. I do not see why it should not be in their power to exercise a direct influence upon the Legislature. I think the influence they would bring to bear upon the Election would be a just and good influence, and would not be exercised to their own injury, but to the great benefit of the Constitution. The late Mr. Mill, when he brought this matter before the House, did so in a manner that made a great impression on the House. It was entirely owing to his speech that I decided at that time to vote for his proposal, which I have ever since continued to vote for. I will trouble the House with a few of his words, and I hope they will have some influence on hon. Members to-day. He said— There is no other example of an exclusion which is absolute. If the law denied a vote to all but the possessors of £5,000 a-year, the poorest man in the nation might—and now and then would—acquire the suffrage; but neither birth, nor fortune, nor merit, nor exertion, nor intellect, nor even that great disposer of human affairs, accident, can ever enable any woman to have her voice counted in those national affairs which touch her and hers as nearly as any other person in the nation."—[3 Hansard, clxxxvii. 817.] I say, then, on these grounds, let us act justly in the matter; let us place women in the same position as men, and if we do that we shall never regret the day when we gave women the same privilege as men, of voting in an Election of a Member of Parliament.


I had no intention to address the House on this occasion, because this is one of those subjects which are already very well thrashed out, and the interest in which becomes less every year. But the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) has caused me to rise. He has said it is very extraordinary why the Conservative Party while they were in Opposition should have supported this measure, and should not do so now. I, for one, have never supported this measure, whether my Party has been in power or out of power. I am told that there are weak brethren who have voted for this measure thinking it would be in the interest of the Conservative Party; but I, for one, have such strong feelings on this subject, that my Party might stay on the Opposition side of the House till the Day of Judgment before I would vote for this measure, which I believe to be contrary to true principles. I think that first impressions are generally right, and I am sure that the first impression that this Bill would create, if it were new to hon. Members, would lead them to throw it down and say "rubbish." The hon. Member who has just sat down says he does not see any reason why women should not serve on juries. I believe there is no country in the world that at this moment gives women the vote, and I read in The Women's Suffrage Journal that the system of placing women on juries in America, after a few trials, was abandoned, and had not been revived. Arguments are used on the other side about struggling women in want of work; but I want to know whether, if women had a vote, the House would in consequence provide work for struggling women? If hon. Members would only devote half the time employed in the advocacy of this measure to the attempt to reform the laws under which they were at present alleged to be suffering evil, they would do greater service to the sex. The hon. Member who last spoke said he did not think that this measure would have any effect upon the laws at all. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham is all for the liberty of the subject now. He would be a suitable Member to sit on the other side of the House. When I hear his speeches I never quite know whether he is on this side or the other. He generally, after all, votes right, and that makes up for other shortcomings. I would ask him, is there any greater inconsistency than that involved in this Bill, which would allow a single woman to have a vote and deprive her of it directly she is married? I put this case. A man marries a widow who has children. These children have property under the mother's control, and the husband has no power over it. The widow would be unable to give a vote in the interests of her children. I confess it seems to me utterly absurd that this Bill should pass. It is a short Reform Bill that will overwhelm the votes of men, and on that ground alone it is objectionable. Now, there is one Member of this House, with whom I do not agree in politics, but who spoke on this Bill last year—the right hon. Member for Birmingham—and he said— I should like to ask the House whether it is desirable to introduce our mothers, and wives, and sisters, and daughters into the excitement, and the turmoil … which seems in every country so far to attend a system of Parliamentary representation, whether it be in the United States, where so many systems are tried, or whether in this country?"—[3 Hansard, ccxxviii. 1737.] He further goes on to say— The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) referred to the Catholic question to the influence that might be exercised by Catholic priests. I will not go into that further than to say that every man in this House must be sensible, and those who are in favour of this Bill have never to me ventured to deny, that the influence of priest, parson, and minister would be greatly increased if this Bill and other measures of a similar character were passed."—[Ibid., 1739.] These are words which will, perhaps, have some weight on the other side. Nobody has answered them. If you pass this measure, you cannot logically deny the right of women to sit in this House. No man has a greater regard and respect for women than I have. There are a vast number of women far superior to men; but, taking them as a body, they have not the same intelligence or the same power of forming a judgment on great questions that men have. Lord Aberdare, whose name will be respected on both sides of the House, has clearly shown that women were not intended to occupy the position of men. Otherwise we should not in the 19th century be without an instance of some country in which the experiment has been tried. I have not altered my opinion on this subject, although I have had pressure put upon me. I have been told my seat would be safe for ever if I voted for this measure. But I would rather sit outside the House than sit in it on these terms. I have no idea of sitting here except on principle, and I have never given a vote unless I believed it to be for the good of the nation. I have not voted for the sake of temporary benefit to my Party, and I shall give my vote this afternoon against this measure. I do hope that hon. Members who bring this Bill forward and find their case waving will spare the House of Commons the time and Members the trouble of voting year after year on a Bill which I prophecy will never pass this House.


I do feel to some extent that I agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that it may not be altogether desirable that this Bill should be ventilated every year; but I think the House will only do justice to my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard in recognizing that, after what took place in the last debate, it was impossible for him to abstain from seeking a vote of the House upon the measure. He certainly was not to blame last year for the misfortune which prevented the vote of the House being taken. I cannot but feel that this is one of those measures which might be discussed at the beginning and at the end of a Parliament; but I am disposed to doubt whether a cause really gains ground by a perpetual annual Motion which does, to some extent, fatigue the House. I say that, Sir, entirely in the interests of the movement, of which I confess myself an ardent supporter. I throw out the suggestion to those in charge of the measure, not to discourage them in their efforts, but as a hint calculated, I hope, to insure their ultimate success. It is almost hopeless to say anything new on this subject. All the humour, I am bound to say, is on the side of the opponents of this Bill, and they never fail to treat this subject with a jocularity which they think takes the place of solid and serious argument and objection. If the proposal of the measure is well understood, it is perfectly simple. The promoters of the Bill practically say—"We find, as a part of the Constitution of the country, that the suffrage is given to men who satisfy a certain condition. In counties it is either property or occupation. In boroughs the basis of the franchise is the payment by the head of the family of his contributions to the State. If you find a woman in this position paying the same contributions to the State, and doing all for the State that she is allowed by law to do, in precisely the same way as a man, what is the reason why that woman, so discharging these duties, cannot have the same voice or influence in the destinies of the country as a man?" That is the simple question involved, and I have never heard any attempt to answer it except one—which is, that she is a woman. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University does not meet this question; but, as if he were the most violent supporter of the extremest claim of women's rights, pulls my hon. Friend's Bill to pieces because it does not go far enough. He says my hon. Friend is not only ungallant, but exceedingly illogical, because he picks out certain members of the female sex and proposes to endow them with the franchise, and leaves the larger proportion of the sex entirely out in the cold. It is easy to see that this is only playing with the question. My hon. Friend, in his Bill, does not attempt to take any step in the direction of establishing woman suffrage further than would be done by declaring that a householder shall not be under any disability simply by reason of her sex. I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University, would he support the Bill if it went any further? Would the Bill, in respect of which he makes the complaint that it leaves out married women, be more palatable to him if it attempted to enfranchise them? I am putting a question to which he could give but one answer. The question that really must be decided by to-day's vote is this—Is the disability of sex based on reason, justice, or expediency, or have those who assert that it ought no longer to be an impediment, made out their case? That, Sir, I take to be the real question which has to be answered by those who vote to-day; and, for my own part, I have no hesitation in saying we all lose by the infliction of disabilities. In a former debate, the hon. Member for Cambridge University said that in the beginning human beings were created male and female, and it was the will of the Creator to assign to each of them their separate sphere. The observation, though trite, was perfectly true; but who is to measure, who is to define or prescribe the limits within which the energy and power given by the Creator to the two sexes is to operate? What other reasonable limit can there be than the power which every individual feels in herself or himself to do work in their own sphere? I do not think myself that this Bill, if passed, would have a very marked effect on political Parties; but it would be another step in the recognition of the principle which, I maintain, we ought to contend for—the principle of the carriere ouverte, as the French call it, to every individual. It is said that everything woman requires is already done for them. I quite agree that great strides have lately been made in the way of opening careers to women; but whatever has practically been done has been done reluctantly. Nothing has been given at all, but everything has been obtained, as it were, at the point of the bayonet, and has been fenced about with restrictions. At the present moment, with the single exception of a limited entry into the Medical Profession, there are few careers actually open to women. Now, I shall always support every effort which seems to me to tend to the removal of these restraints. I shall do so as an act of justice to women, and because, by removing these restrictions on individual energy, I shall be doing the best service to the State and to the whole community. It seems to me that all experience tends in this direction, and there is no experience to the contrary. Has any hon. Member seriously maintained that the removal of these restrictions in the case of the municipal franchise has produced deplorable results? There is no evidence to that effect obtainable. All experience of all human work seems to show that you really are gaining for the public and the State by removing these social and political disabilities. We all remember when ladies began nursing in hospitals; and when Miss Nightingale went to the Crimea, the same people who now turn up their eyes in horror at the notion of women taking any new part in life, were as much shocked at Miss Nightingale's course, and abused her for what we now look back upon with a sense of pride, and gratitude, and satisfaction. The Conservative instinct is so strong amongst us that there is nothing more difficult than to open out a new career for women. But we have seen how well ladies have done as hospital nurses. I have no hesitation in saying, from my personal knowledge, that any lady who has once had the advantage of the attendance of a lady medical adviser will shrink very much indeed from going to anyone else. What is our experience as to the removal of the disabilities from our own sex? How long it took to obtain the admission of Jews to the House! My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire believed that to remove this personal religious disability would be to unchristianize this Assembly; but every Member must now feel that the removal of that disability has been to the advantage of the House. All experience of the removal of restrictions is similar. Inasmuch as men and women cannot do more than their respective powers will permit, what is the danger of removing these disabilities? It is because I believe this Bill to be a step in that direction, that I shall give it my support.


I am glad that the hon. and learned Baronet who has just sat down has held out some prospect that we shall not have this Bill before us next year. If this debate is to make some amends to the hon. Member for Liskeard for the fate which overtook this measure last year, I hope he will also make some amends for asking us to debate it now, by not bringing the subject forward again next Session. I am quite sure that this subject is not ripe for discussion. Some reference has been made to the deserted state of the Treasury Bench. I am sure the condition of that bench is a very fair criterion of public feeling. When any subject is stirring the thought of the country, Ministers find it necessary to be in their place. But when the debate takes the form of a pleasant and interesting discussion that can lead to no results, Ministers and other hon. Gentlemen who have serious business elsewhere stop elsewhere, and merely drop down here about the time they think the division will be likely to come on. I do not know that I should have risen to speak in this debate, had not mention been made more than once of The Women's Suffrage Journal by hon. Members who sit below me here. I have also had the privilege of having this paper sent me by some fair lady. I suppose, at least, it is sent me by a lady, and being a lady, of course she is fair. I have read that paper with very considerable interest, so much so that I began to wonder what other people might think of this question. My eyes wandered down the newspapers to try and find out. Amongst other paragraphs, I saw one describing the proceedings of a certain Municipal Council, which was not at Manchester, but was within 100 miles of that town. The proceedings were headed—"Miss Lydia Becker and his Worship." I thought the account was interesting, and if the House will allow me, I will read it to them. A communication was read from Miss Lydia Becker, of the National Association for Securing the Enfranchisement of Women, inclosing a Petition to Parliament in favour of the Bill for Removing the Disabilities of Women. One Alderman says—"I think we could not do better than send our Mayor to square it up with Lydia." Another says—"I think, as a matter of courtesy, he is bound to acknowledge the receipt of the letter." Then the Mayor says, in a great hurry—"Oh, it came to the Town Clerk!" Another member says—"Will he acknowledge it personally? I think he should." Then there was laughter; then the communication was placed upon the table; then the subject was dropped. Without pronouncing any exact opinion as to what the opinion of the Corporation of Manchester, which, I understand, has petitioned in favour of the Bill, is worth, I will say that I entirely endorse the course taken by this Corporation, and I think this Bill should be laid upon the Table, and dropped. That is an opinion, also, which appears to be endorsed by the Front Bench, as shown by their non-attendance this afternoon; and that, I believe, is an opinion which will be endorsed by a large majority of the House.


Before the House divides, I wish to call attention to one or two circumstances which occurred at an earlier period of the afternoon, when the attendance of hon. Members in the House was very small. A story is told of Mr. Wilkes during one of the Elections for Middlesex. His opponent said—"I appeal to the common sense of the constituency." Mr. Wilkes retorted—"I shall appeal to their nonsense, and I shall beat you." The result justified his prediction, and I have always thought that this little incident explains why the House of Commons dealt so roughly with Mr. Wilkes. A man who obtained his seat by a successful appeal to the nonsense—which means the prejudices and the meaner instincts—of a constituency, was in those days not looked upon as a Member returned to this House for the purpose for which this House exists. This Bill appears to me to be founded upon sentimental nonsense. Anyone who has read the history of Prance will have observed that one of the great characteristics of the latter part of the ancien régime was that the educated classes lent themselves to extreme democratic notions—to a philosophy so absurd and so abstract, that it violated all those rules which the Creator has established for the government of man. Such was still the distortion of opinion in France, when Mr. Wilkes took refuge in Paris, in 1796, after having been expelled from this House. The nonsense of France was then represented by a sentimentality which was none the less nonsense because it was sentimental. The attendance in the House was thin when the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) spoke. I must do him the credit to say that he cast aside all the careful reservations as to the character of this Bill, which the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for Coventry (Sir Henry Jackson) has since so carefully built up; his whole argument went to the extreme of declaring that the object of this Bill was to establish a system of self-assertion among women, which would eventually place them above those considerations which have hitherto resulted from the difference between the sexes. I will quote to the House some of the hon. Member for Liskeard's expressions. He said that he claimed the franchise for women as an absolute right, and that it rested with the opponents of the Bill to show either that any such claimant was unfit for the franchise, or that it would be dangerous to grant it. He contended that the claimant, whether man, woman, or minor, had an absolute right to the franchise, and that an unjust restriction was imposed by refusing their demand. That was one of his proposals. Next, the hon. Member said that any political recognition of the difference between men and women was a relic of barbarism—of barbarism of the most primitive form, of government by force. He further stated that the object of the Bill was to develop self-dependence in women. He then asserted that the development of self-dependence in women tends to a revolution which is most desirable. I remem- ber quoting a declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, that this Bill was founded upon a revolutionary principle; and I ask the House, when these are the declarations of the Mover of the Bill, whether the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in making that assertion? It is the statement of such objects which has induced the United States, with their democratic Constitution, to resist and repudiate successive attempts to induce them to admit women to an equality with man in the franchise, with the view of creating among women that system of self-dependence which would lead them to ignore the distinctions of nature, the relations of the family, and to discard all those safeguards which they legitimately derive from the feeling, which the Creator has implanted in the breast of every man worthy of the name, that the comparative weakness of woman establishes on her part a claim to considerate protection and to privileges which he would refuse to his fellow-man. But the hon. Member for Liskeard did not stop there. In deprecating what the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for Coventry is kind enough to call our prejudices—our respect for the difference of sex—he compared the state of opinion of this country in the 19th century with the state of opinion in China, and said that the refusal of the franchise to women was paralleled by the manner in which the Chinese pinched their ladies' toes. I shall shortly show the House some of the other extreme arguments by which the hon. Member supports his views. We are not bound, in this House, he said, to consider the end of any course that we may adopt. It is sufficient for us that, at the time, we apparently satisfy what he described as the claims of justice—his notion of justice being that we should ignore the distinction between the sexes, and do all we can to create in the women of this country a feeling of self-assertion, which the democratic experience of the United States leads that country to believe to be inconsistent with their domestic happiness. I have spoken as shortly as I can, but I wished to show the House that this nonsense is not harmless, because it is sentimental. If this House were to sanction the second reading of this Bill according to the views of its Mover, it would adopt those principles of Socialistic democracy which at this moment are disturbing Germany, and which a few years ago convulsed France. I ask, therefore, whether, for the sake of passing this petty Bill—for its advocates dare not demand anything but a modicum of its real object in their terror of having its real scope discovered—the House will sanction the ultra-democratic principles which the hon. Member for Liskeard declared this morning to be involved in the adoption of the measure?


The hon. Member who has just sat down has reminded the House that Mr. Wilkes succeeded because he made his appeal to the nonsense of a constituency. I think it is quite possible that the result of the division which is shortly to be taken may again prove that he who appeals to nonsense is not always unsuccessful. In the few remarks I have to make in reply, I shall adhere as closely as possible to a consideration of those arguments which appear to me to be based upon a misconception of my former remarks. I have been accused—most strangely, as it appeared to me—of adducing arguments from natural rights, and my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) and the hon. Member for Cambridge town (Mr. Smollett), both assumed that certain logical deductions were inevitably to be drawn from the logical statements I was supposed to have made. I should have thought if any thing could be inferred from my speech, it was that I based the whole of my argument—as all the philosophy to which I can lay claim is based—upon the doctrine of expediency. I am a utilitarian pur et simple, and the want of logic of which my hon. Friend accuses me arises from a misconception of his own. This enfranchisement, so far as it goes, is demanded on the ground of public benefit, and the limitation of that enfranchisement is based upon the same principle that public benefit will accrue from that limitation. So far as that public benefit goes, the principle should be carried. Where the public, benefit is not certain, the principle should cease. I take the Constitution of this realm to be this. This House is called together by the votes of certain arbitrarily-distributed constituencies, by which we do secure a fair—and, to a large extent, an adequate —representation of the different interests of the country. Take any constituency. Go to any street in any borough, or to any county, and you will find shops and farms side by side, one occupied by a man and the other by a woman. Upon what ground of expediency do you give the man a vote and refuse it to the woman? The arguments upon which representative government is defended do not concern themselves in the least with the question of sex. The general reasons why you give the vote to a man must apply to a woman, except in so far as you can show particular reasons against it. It is said—"If you admit women to the franchise at all, you must admit married women;" and then this Bill is denounced as illogical, because it does not admit married women. Nothing is more ridiculous than the affectation of logic by the illogical. Why do we admit spinsters and widows? Because, by that means, you will include a larger number in the representation of the country, get a greater number of persons represented not now represented, instructive House, develop its sense of justice, and enlarge the character of women themselves. But when you come to the question of married women, there is at once another consideration. If you give a married woman a vote, politics may become a subject of domestic dissension; and that is a sound, if not a sufficient, reason for limiting the franchise. It is no argument against the proposition, that you thus abandon the main object in view—the development of the female character. I am not so sanguine as to hope that by giving a frivolous woman a vote you will at once convert her into a sober and staid matron; but I do look forward to the probability that the alteration will after some time exercise an influence on the female character. But if you give women the prospect of the exercise of political duties, you will make the study of social and political science part of the education of all women; and, whether married or not, you secure that great interest in matters of general benefit, which it is our object to secure. It is said, indeed, that the Creator has made women weak; but some years hence we may have better views of what He has intended in that respect, and we may discover that the intentions and views we have attributed to a higher power are simply the result of notions inherited by us from our ancestors. To say that these were the intentions of the Creator, is to give our opinions a degree of permanency to which they can have no claim. The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Ferguson) said he had hitherto voted against this Bill, and should continue to do so to-day, because he did not discover that women were themselves in favour of it; but that if they were, he would vote for it. I cannot allow that that is a sufficient reason for withholding a vote from those who desire it; and still less do I think it a sufficient reason, if you believe by giving a woman a vote you can develop their interests in the well-being of the community. As a mere fact, however, I can assure him that women are deeply interested in this question, and that their number is increasing year by year. I had the honour of presenting, at the opening of this Sitting, several Petitions of an extremely representative character. One was signed by Miss Taylor, Mrs. Grote, Miss Florence Nightingale, Miss Swanwick, Miss Bastock, and a great number of other ladies eminent in art, science, and philosophy—all desirous of a vote. I also presented a Petition from working women, shoemakers, sempstresses, and others. So that, going from one end to the other of the social scale, you will find everywhere a large number of women desiring a vote. I do not say every woman desires it; but does every man use the vote he has? What proportion of men do not vote in the Metropolitan boroughs? There is, however, this important consideration—that, where women have votes, they exercise their right in just the same proportion that men do. I am also told that this question ought not to be brought on year by year, as the feeling in favour of the Bill is dying away in the country. There are many reasons to be urged on both sides on the question whether a Bill should be brought forward year after year; but I can assure the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) that this is by no means a settled question. I can tell him, also, that the feeling for this Bill is increasing. It is a mistake to suppose that this House entirely represents the feeling of the country outside the House. I am satisfied that the House will not fairly represent the opinion of the country until this Bill is passed. I think that that time is not so far distant as some Members seem to think, and I hope the minority in favour of the measure will go on increasing and increasing until this change is made.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 140; Noes 220: Majority 80.

Anderson, G. Holms, W.
Anstruther, Sir R. Hutchinson, J. D.
Archdale, W. H. Ingram, W. J.
Ashbury, J. L. Jackson, Sir H. M.
Barclay, J. W. Jenkins, D. J.
Barran, J. Jenkins, E.
Bateson, Sir T. Johnstone, Sir H.
Beach, W. W. B. Kenealy, Dr.
Biggar, J. G. Kirk, G. H.
Birley, H. Laing, S.
Blake, T. Lambert, N. G.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Laverton, A.
Boord, T. W. Lawson, Sir W.
Bourne, Colonel Leeman, G.
Bousfield, Colonel Leith, J. F.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Lloyd, M.
Brooks, M. Lusk, Sir A.
Bruce, hon. T. Mackintosh, C. F.
Burt, T. M'Arthur, A.
Cameron, C. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Chamberlain, J. M'Lagan, P.
Cholmeley, Sir H. M'Laren, D.
Clarke, J. C. Maitland, J.
Clifford, C. C. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Cobbold, T. C. Marten, A. G.
Collins, E. Matheson, A.
Conyngham, Lord F. Morley, S.
Cowan, J. Mundella, A. J.
Cowen, J. Muntz, P. H.
Cross, J. K. Nolan, Major
Cubitt, G. Norwood, C. M.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. O'Gorman, P.
Delahunty, J. O'Shaughnessy, R.
Dickson, T. A. Palmer, G.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Parnell, C. S.
Dillwyn, L. L. Pender, J.
Dodds, J. Pennington, F.
Dundas, J. C. Phipps, P.
Earp, T. Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Ewart, W. Plimsoll, S.
Ewing, A. O. Polhill-Turner, Capt.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Potter, T. B.
Fletcher, I. Powell, W.
Forster, Sir C. Power, E.
Fraser, Sir W. A. Price, Captain
Goulding, W. Price, W. E.
Gourley, E. T. Puleston, J. H.
Gray, E. D. Ramsay, J.
Guinness, Sir A. Redmond, W. A.
Hamond, C. F. Richard, H.
Harrison, C. Ripley, H. W.
Harrison, J. F. Rylands, P.
Hervey, Lord F. Samuelson, H.
Heygate, W. U. Sanderson, T. K.
Hibbert, J. T. Sherlock, Mr. Serjeant
Hick, J. Shute, General
Hill, T. R. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Holker, Sir J. Smith, E.
Smyth, R. Wells, E.
Spinks, Mr. Serjeant Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Stacpoole, W. Whitworth, B.
Stansfeld, rt. hon. J. Whitworth, W.
Stewart, M. J. Williams, B. T.
Sullivan, A. M. Wilson, C.
Talbot, C. R. M. Wilson, Sir M.
Taylor, D. Yeaman, J.
Taylor, P. A. Yorke, J. R.
Temple, right hon. W. Young, A. W.
Trevelyan, G. O. TELLERS.
Villiers, rt. hon. C. P. Courtney, L. H.
Wait, W. K. Gorst, J. E.
Watkin, Sir E. W.
Adam, rt. hn. W. P. Dick, F.
Agnew, R. V. Digby, Col. hon. E.
Allcroft, J. D. Duff, M. E. G.
Allsopp, H. Dyke, Sir W. H.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Dyott, Colonel R.
Assheton, R. Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.
Bagge, Sir W.
Baring, T. C. Edwards, H.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Egerton, hon. W.
Barrington, Viscount Errington, G.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Evans, T. W.
Bass, A. Ferguson, E.
Bass, H. Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.
Bates, E.
Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H. Floyer, J.
Beaumont, W. B. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Foster, W. H.
Beresford, G. De la P. Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Freshfield, C. K.
Brady, J. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Bristowe, S. B. Garnier, J. C.
Brown, J. C. Gathorne-Hardy, hn. A.
Bruen, H. Gathorne-Hardy, hn. S.
Bulwer, J. R. Gibson, rt. hon. E.
Burghley, Lord Gladstone, W. H.
Burrell, Sir W. W. Goddard, A. L.
Campbell, Sir G. Goldney, G.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Goldsmid, Sir J.
Gooch, Sir D.
Cartwright, F. Gordon, Sir A.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Cave, T. Greene, E.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Gregory, G. B.
Cavendish, Lord G. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Christie, W. L. Hall, A. W.
Churchill, Lord R. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Close, M. C.
Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B. Hamilton, Marquess of
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hankey, T.
Coope, O. E. Harcourt, E. W.
Cordes, T. Hardcastle, E.
Corry, J. P. Havelock, Sir H.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.
Crichton, Viscount Heath, R.
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Henry, M.
Cuninghame, Sir W. Herbert, hon. S.
Cust, H. C. Herschell, F.
Dalkeith, Earl of Holford, J. P. G.
Dalrymple, C. Holland, Sir H. T.
Davenport, W. B. Holms, J.
Davies, R. Home, Captain
Dease, E. Hood, Captain hon. A. W. A. N.
Denison, W. B.
Hope, A. J. B. B. Peel, A. W.
Howard, hon. C. Pell, A.
Howard, E. S. Pemberton, E. L.
Hubbard, E. Peploe, Major
Hubbard, rt. hon. J. Philips, R. N.
James, Sir H. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
James, W. H. Praed, C. T.
Kavanagh, A. MacM. Raikes, H. C.
Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir U. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Ritchie, C. T.
Kingscote, Colonel Robertson, H.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, rt. hon. E. Rothschild, Sir N. M. de
Russell, Lord A.
Knowles, T. Russell, Sir C.
Lawrence, Sir J. C. Sackville, S. G. S.
Lawrence, Sir T. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Learmonth, A. Salt, T.
Leatham, E. A. Samuda, J. D'A.
Lee, Major V. Scott, M. D.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Severne, J. E.
Leslie, Sir J. Shirley, S. E.
Lewis, C. E. Simonds, W. B.
Lewis, O. Smith, A.
Lewisham, Viscount Smith, S. G.
Lloyd, S. Smollett, P. B.
Lloyd, T. E. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Locke, J. Stanhope, hon. E.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Lowther, hon. W. Starkie, J. P. C.
Macartney, J. W. E. Steere, L.
Mac Iver, D. Stevenson, J. C.
M'Arthur, W. Stewart, J.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Stuart, Colonel
Maitland, W. F. Swanston, A.
Majendie, L. A. Sykes, C.
Makins, Colonel Talbot, J. G.
Malcolm, J. W. Tavistock, Marquess of
Marjoribanks, Sir D. C. Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Marling, S. S. Thornhill, T.
Massey, rt. hon. W. N. Tollemache, hon. W. F.
Master, T. W. C. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Merewether, C. G.
Monckton, F. Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Monk, C. J. Turnor, E.
Montgomerie, R. Verner, E. W.
Montgomery, Sir G. G. Walker, O. O.
Moore, S. Wallace, Sir R.
Moray, Colonel H. D. Walter, J.
Morgan, hon. F. Watson, rt. hon. W.
Morgan, G. O. Whitbread, S.
Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Whitelaw, A.
Muncaster, Lord Wilmot, Sir H.
Mure, Colonel Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Murphy, N. D. Wilson, W.
Newdegate, C. N. Winn, R.
Noel, rt, hon. G. J. Wolff, Sir H. D.
North, Colonel Wyndham, hon. P.
O'Conor, D. M.
O'Donoghue, The TELLERS.
Onslow, D. Cotes, C. C.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Hanbury, R. W.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put off for three months.