HC Deb 12 June 1884 vol 289 cc92-207

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

New Clauses.

New Clause:— (Extension of suffrage to women.) For all purposes connected with, and having reference to, the right to vote at Parliamentary elections, words in the Representation of the People Acts importing the masculine gender include women."—(Mr. Woodall.)

Question again proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


In the course of the somewhat comminatory observations addressed to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, there was one statement made in which I heartily concur. The right hon. Gentleman expressed a decided opinion that this question of female enfranchisement should be discussed totally apart from all political and Party considerations. When I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that, it occurred to me that it might not be inappropriate or improper that I, who have for a long number of years taken a strong interest in the success of this proposal, should rise immediately after the right hon. Gentleman, and add my voice to the suggestion that it should be removed from all Party considerations. At the same time, I must remind the Committee, in reference to the condition on which the right hon. Gentleman laid such great stress, that the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) never has been considered as being of a Party character; and if it had not been for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself, I venture to think that it would have been discussed and decided without the slightest reference to Party topics or political considerations. But I contend that the right hon. Gentleman, in that speech, did contrive to throw a good deal of Party colouring over the whole question. At the game time, in the remarks I propose to offer to the Committee in support of the proposition of the hon. Member for Stoke, I shall endeavour, as far as I can, to avoid everything that may savour of Party politics. But, apart from the desire which has been expressed to keep this question clear from Party politics, I confess I entertain considerable doubt whether any question which relates to the franchise—any question relating to the enfranchisement of any portion of Her Majesty's subjects—must not be regarded more or less as a political question. My contention, then, is, that whether the question of the enfranchisement of the female ratepayers of the Kingdom be considered as part of a proposition for the general enlargement of the franchise as now proposed, or whether it be considered a separate measure, introduced on its own merits, the political questions which surround it should partake in no sense whatever of a Party character. Beyond that I find considerable difficulty in following the right hon. Gentleman; and for this reason—that the right hon. Gentleman expressed no opinion what- ever upon the principle of the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Stoke. He is, apparently, neither against it, nor is he for it. His attitude in respect of this question, which has now been under discussion for a great number of years, may be described as a purely Laodicean attitude—he will neither support it, nor will he oppose it in principle. To hear the right hon. Gentleman one would fancy that it was a totally new question suddenly sprung on the attention of the Committee by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke. Is it a new question? Why, Sir, if there is any question connected with the franchise which has been more thoroughly discussed, sifted, and threshed out during the last 17 years, it is this very question we are discussing now. But the right hon. Gentleman went a step further, and he suggested that the hon. Member for Stoke was endeavouring to entrap the Committee into a hasty and precipitate decision upon the question. As to haste and precipitancy attaching to a proposal for the enfranchisement of the female ratepayers of this Kingdom, I should like to know how many debates have taken place within these walls upon it; how many Divisions have occurred in the House of Commons; how many public meetings have been held; and how many writings have been given to the world by eminent patriots and illustrious statesmen, who have sifted this matter to the very bottom? When I heard the charge of haste and precipitancy, I could not help reflecting how the proposals of Her Majesty's Government themselves would stand in comparison, so far as haste and precipitancy are concerned, with the proposal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke. Let us take this question of the enfranchisement of the female ratepayers, and contrast it with the proposal of the Bill for the enfranchisement of the Irish cottiers, or the enfranchisement of that novel class of citizens who are, under the Bill, to come into the enjoyment of the franchise, under what is called the Service Clause of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. For how many years has the question of giving the vote to the Irish cottiers been discussed, either within or without the walls of Parliament? How many years have been devoted to the consideration of whether that class of persons who occupy what may be called without offence a servile position is fit and capable of exercising the franchise or not? No, Sir; in considering this fragmentary Reform Bill, the charge of haste and precipitancy cannot justly be levelled against the clause now under discussion. Well, then, Sir, passing away from that question, I think there were only two other considerations brought under the attention of the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman. The first was, what I think he called the social magnitude and complexity of this question. Well, I am bound to say that for my part I cannot soar to those heights of speculation to which the right hon. Gentleman invites us. I confers that I have never been able to look at the question from that transcendental aspect from which some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have been disposed to regard it. To me it is a very simple, a very plain, and almost a humdrum question. It is simply this—Will you grant the Parliamentary franchise to a class of Her Majesty's subjects who, for many years past, have blamelessly, and with great advantage to the State, exercised the franchise with respect to Municipal, with respect to Poor Law, and with respect to School Board elections? I cannot make the question either greater or smaller than that. It is a simple, practical, and plain question, which really requires no speculative skill to discuss or decide upon. Well, Sir, if that be so, can anyone allege that the female ratepayers of this country have shown themselves unworthy of the trust which it is proposed to repose in them, from the manner in which they have discharged the functions which have already been entrusted to them? I ventured, in some observations which I made upon the second reading of the Bill, to allude to one class of these female ratepayers—the female farmers of this country. By way of illustration, I will again refer to that class, because as a county Member I naturally have more knowledge of that class, and possibly more interest in them. But, I ask, can anyone allege that during the period of time, now ranging over a great number of years, the female farmers have exercised the franchises with which they have been entrusted, and have discharged the duties which have devolved on them, many and important as those duties are, there is the slightest ground for asserting that they are likely to prove themselves unworthy, unfit, or incapable of exercising the Parliamentary franchise. I should like to quote the opinion delivered only the other day in a town with which I am acquainted — the borough of Grantham, by a gentleman well known in the agricultural world of Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, on this very subject. I refer to Mr. Wilders, who said— To my mind the greatest injustice is, that the female ratepayer and owner should not he allowed to vote. Fancy a woman farming 500 acres of land, and paying the usual contributions to the taxes of the country, having- no voice in the representation of the country while her own labourers have. If any man disputes the business capabilities of women, let him begin and finish an important business transaction with her, and I will answer for it he will come off second best. Well, then, Sir, I contend that there has been no valid reason assigned by anyone why the Parliamentary franchise should not be conferred upon these fit and capable fern ale ratepayers. The right hon. Gentleman has drawn somewhat upon his imagination, and has suggested that there might be some occult reason—I do not think he said it occurred to his own mind—but that there might be some occult reason why these female ratepayers, who might be perfectly fit to vote at Municipal, School Board, and Poor Law elections—nay, even why they should he capable, under the new measure which the Government have introduced, of managing the whole of the local affairs of the 4,000,000 of inhabitants of this great City, but why they still might be incapable, every four, five, or six years of deciding at the ballot box who should be a fit and proper person to represent them in this House of Parliament. Was there ever a more puerile reason offered to the Committee than that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman? Is he prepared himself to maintain it in argument? Will he tell the Committee that he agrees with those who draw this distinction, and that he draws this line of demarcation between the fitness of the female ratepayer to manage the educational and all the local concerns of the 4,000,000 of people who inhabit the Metropolis, and the privilege of exercising every five or six years the right of voting for a Parliamentary Representative? No, Sir; I think the right hon. Gentleman will not tell the Committee either now, or upon any other occasion, that he entertains that view, or draws that distinction. Then the right hon. Gentleman has stated, as a sort of appeal to the fears of hon. Gentlemen behind me, what the number of female ratepayers is who might come in under the operation of this clause. Again, as a county Member, having tested the fitness in the way I have indicated of the female ratepayer to exercise the franchise, I am not in the least concerned at any difficulty which might arise from their admission under the operation of the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Stoke. It appears to me that, in the great majority of cases, the female ratepayers have proved their capacity during a long series of years. I take it that the great majority of those who are to be enfranchised by the measure of the right hon. Gentlemen occupy a precisely opposite position. They have not—I do not say from any fault of their own, but by the circumstances in which they have lived —had the opportunity of proving their fitness to exercise the franchise which so ungrudgingly the right hon. Gentleman is about to confer on them. Well then, Sir, on all these grounds, and I think they were the main points of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I venture to think that not a shadow of a case has been made out against the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke. I come now to consider the last argument, if I may so call it, of the right hon. Gentleman—an argument indeed which partook of the nature of a threat, and which might be passed by almost as laughable, if it did not constitute the substance, and almost the whole meaning, of the speech of the right hon. Gentlemen—I mean the threat with which the right hon. Gentleman began and concluded his observations. Well, I confess that when the right hon. Gentleman asked the hon. Member for Stoke if he had not received an important letter which had been transmitted to him that morning, and, on being informed that he had not, proceeded to give the substance of that letter, I expected, and I have no doubt the whole Committee expected, some startling announcement of the deadly peril that might ensue to the fortunes of this Bill, if the clause proposed by the hon. Gentleman were inserted in it. I thought it possible that from some unexpected quarter communications of a public character might have been sent to the right hon. Gentleman, pointing out that, however friendly the writers were to the Bill as it stood, if the clause of the hon. Gentleman were inserted, deadly peril would ensue. I wondered myself from what quarter the danger was likely to come. Was it from the Bench of Bishops? Had they signed a "round robin," and sent it to the right hon. Gentleman, containing this alarming communication? Or was it communicated direct from the 300 "Gentlemen"—I think that was what the right hon. Gentleman called them in the speech which he made before Whitsuntide —who in "another place" were to interpose their authority and influence. Such was the fear expressed by the right hon. Gentleman when the proposal of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Stanley) was made. Did the right hon. Gentleman announce that great additional hostility must be expected by the Government in "another place," if the clause of the hon. Member for Stoke was inserted in the Bill? No, Sir; nothing of the kind occurred. There was nothing from any quarter from which danger to the Bill might be expected, or from any section of hon. Members; nothing, except in the mind and disposition of the right hon. Gentleman himself. There was the peril and the danger to the Bill if the Amendment of the hon. Member was carried. It was created by, existed in, and was to be applied only by, the right hon. Gentleman himself. It exists nowhere else. It is not, of course, for me to offer advice, and it is for the hon. Gentleman to say what course he intends to pursue, after having heard that statement of the right hon. Gentleman. There is nothing before him except that bald statement on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, hoc volo, sic jubeo. The exertions, the struggles, the hopes, and the anxieties of 17 years are to count as nothing compared with the ipse dixit of the right hon. Gentleman himself. It is no part of the position I now occupy here to presume to offer advice to the hon. Member for Stoke; but I may give a few words of encouragement or consolation to him, if he decides upon pressing his Amendment, even from this Bench. It is not many weeks ago since in this House we had a somewhat similar threat on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. There was a very important measure which came down to this House from the other House of Parliament dealing with a question that excited a very great amount of interest from, one end of the country to the other. Her Majesty's Government announced that if a certain Amendment to that measure then proposed was not accepted, and inserted in the Bill, they would not bind themselves to proceed further with the measure. The House of Commons resisted that threat. They defeated the Amendment of Her Majesty's Government, and then the Minister in charge of the measure, supported by the right hon. Gentleman himself, rose and said that under the very serious circumstances of the case, he must ask for an adjournment in order that the Government might consider the course they would adopt in such an alarming condition of affairs. So solemn were the tones of the Prime Minister, that even my noble Friend the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) became alarmed, and suggested that no time should be given to the Minister to reconsider the position, but that the House should go on with the Bill immediately, and without delay. Fortunately, wiser and more moderate counsels prevailed. The time for consideration which Her Majesty's Ministers asked for was granted. What happened? Was the Bill withdrawn? Did the country suffer the loss of a measure on which they had set their hearts? Not a bit of it. A few words to save the honour of the Government were inserted, with the assent of every hon. Member in the House, and that measure, which was threatened by the Government, was accepted by them and by the House, and is now upon the Statute Book of the country as part of the law of the land. So it will be, I hope, with this proposal. Well, Sir, I would extend my survey further back than the middle or the beginning of this Session. The right hon. Gentleman has, I notice, repeated several times certain words which may be described as the doctrine of opportunism. Now, I should like to consider whether this doctrine of opportunism has ever been followed successfully by the Leaders of great public movements in this country during the past 60 or 70 years? I do not deny that if a man is advocating his own personal objects, or a case which he has temporarily taken up, in order to gratify his ambition—such, for instance, as a desire to become the President of a Republic, or a Secretary of State, or a Prime Minister—the desire to achieve the great object of his personal ambition might induce him to follow the doctrine of opportunism. But if, on the other hand, a man takes charge of a great public question in England, and wishes to carry that question to a successful issue, then I venture to say, what all history shows, that he must turn resolutely a deaf ear to every suggestion of opportunism that may be made to him. Did O'Connell and Sheil carry Roman Catholic Emancipation by attending to the suggestions of opportunism? Did Cobden and Bright bring about the repeal of the Corn Laws by consulting the convenience of Prime Ministers and Cabinets? Did Lord Ashley, in this House, or when he was removed from this House? Did honest John Feilden induce Parliament to pass the Factory Acts by attending to the doctrine of opportunism? No; if a man undertakes to champion a great public cause in this country, he must, in season and out of season, press forward the question he has at heart. He must inscribe upon his banner and upon his conduct the motto, "Thorough;" and he must persevere against all solicitations and suggestions, whether of fear or of favour. But is it true that this clause is inopportune? I think I heard you, Sir, say that the clause of the hon. Gentleman is perfectly in harmony with the proposals of this measure, and that it is germane to the subject of Reform. In fact, it is only inopportune in the eyes and in the judgment of the Prime Minister and his Colleagues. Therefore, although I have said that I will not presume to give advice, I venture to hope— for the sake of the success of this clause, which, apart from all partizan considerations, I have had at heart for a great number of years—that the hon. Gentleman and his Friends on the other side of the House will not be deterred by the violent language they have heard from the Prime Minister, but will proceed, undisturbed, to submit this question to the arbitrament of the House of Commons. But, be that as it may, for myself, my course is clear and plain. Guided by every consideration of justice and fairness, of equity, of analogy, and of experience, I shall give a cordial and unhesitating support to the second reading of the clause which has been proposed by the hon. Member for Stoke.


Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not rise for the purpose of defending the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government from the attacks of the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners); but I could not help being amused when I heard from the seat which used to be occupied by the greatest Opportunist who ever lived, charges of opportunism flung across the House. And let the House bear in mind that the opportunism of the great statesman to whom I refer had special reference to the question of Reform. The noble Lord began by saying that this was a "humdrum question—a very plain, a very practical, and a very simple question." Now, I think, if one thing has come out more than another in the course of this debate, it is the recognition by the Committee that the question is one of the very greatest magnitude. I do not think it possible to exaggerate the importance of the revolution which my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke- (Mr. Woodall) proposed as calmly as if he were proposing that the House should adjourn for the Derby. And do not let hon. Members think that, in voting for this clause, they are only voting for the enfranchisement of a few widows and spinsters. Those who are at the bottom of this movement know better. Once pass a clause which shall remove the disability of sex, and all the rest will follow. Once pass an Act which shall give the franchise to women irrespective of marriage, and I should like to know how long the Common Law is to step in and bar the votes which you will have given by statute? It is this which constitutes the charm of his Motion in the eyes of those who support the movement. What is the object of the movement? I would ask hon. Members, who think that the object of the movement is the enfranchisement of spinsters and widows, to read what has been said by Miss Becker in a very recent number of The Woman Suffrage Journal. She says— The generation which has witnessed the abolition of one wrong, old as the everlasting hills (meaning slavery), is determined to -witness the greatest emancipation the world has yet seen—the removal of the brand of political incapacity from half the human race. Now, the greatest emancipation the world has yet seen cannot mean the emancipation of widows and spinsters. Widows and spinsters do not yet constitute, thank goodness, half the human race. And, indeed, anything short of the emancipation of married women is so intolerable to the movement itself, that Mrs. Jacob Bright, in the instructive circular which she published the other day, expressly informed us that when my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton (Mr. Mason) last year told the House that if his Motion meant the enfranchisement of married women, he should wash his hands of the question then and for ever, "a cold dismay" — that is the phrase—"fell upon his lady supporters in the Gallery," and Mrs. Peter Taylor, whom she describes as the "mother of the movement," resigned on the spot; an example which I am informed was followed by many of the grandmothers of the movement as well. Mrs. Bright asks, "Whether Mr. Gladstone will accept this mutilated measure?" —i.e., with my Friend's clause inserted—"which, while granting the right of voting to women of the lowest class"—of whom I am told there are 40,000 in London alone—" will, nevertheless, withhold it from the cultured wives and mothers of the nation?" Now, from Mrs. Bright's point of view, it is impossible not to share in her indignation; for if it be not right to give the vote to women who are discharging the highest responsibilities of their sex, how can it be right to give it to women who are discharging none of them? My hon. Friend, when he moved this clause, touched upon what he called the expediency of giving votes to women. I differ entirely from my hon. Friend. There is no more unwelcome fact to Liberals than that popular institutions have not always and everywhere been a success. The experiment which has been tried with beneficent results in, England and America, has also been tried in France and Spain; and it has failed so frequently, or succeeded so partially, that but for the triumphant example of England and America, it might still, I think, be contended that representative institutions are upon their trial. Now, why has the experiment succeeded so well here, and failed so often in Spain and France? It is simply because the Anglo-Saxon race is less impulsive, less emotional, less capricious and crotchety—I had almost said less feminine—than the Latin races. Depend upon it, that just be far as the feminine element penetrates into your electorate, a feminine alloy will penetrate into your policy. You will have feminine inconsequence at the very moment when you desire to be most calmly logical, and a feminine flutter in your courage at the moment when you require to be the most manly and robust. But why is it that we are asked to admit this very doubtful class of electors? The noble Lord opposite tells us that it is because they possess what is vulgarly called "the qualification," but which by itself is no qualification at all. It is not because men pay rates or taxes, or own or occupy property, that they have votes, but because they are men. What is called the qualification is simply a restriction on this primary qualification, and has been imposed in order to insure that the voter, being a man, shall be a man, politically speaking, of the highest type—that is, a man who is independent and free. But my hon. Friend (Mr. Woodall) proposes to read backwards all the qualifications for political life—he proposes to enfranchise a sex which, in the nature of things, can never be independent, and to give votes to individuals who are not oven men. My hon. Friend says that we have already broken through the principle of sex and given votes to women in the Municipalities and School Boards. I deny the truth of the analogy. It is quite true that we gave votes to women in the Municipalities, and we gave them carelessly. We slipped the female franchise into a Bill introduced for another purpose, just as we are seeking to slip it into this Bill. It was contended that since women had always voted, as shareholders, for those who managed their commercial affairs, so they ought to vote for those who had the disposal of the funds which they contributed through the rates. But there is no real analogy between this kind of voting and voting for Members of Parliament, any more than there is any real analogy between the questions which agitate this House and the questions which puzzle Aldermen. As re- gards the School Boards, we had decided that women should sit upon them, in order that they might superintend the education of girls, just as they sit upon any other benevolent committee. Having decided that they should have the right of being voted for, we logically decided that they should have the right of voting; for the right of voting-implies the right of being voted for, or vice versâ. But we see at once that there is no true analogy between the two cases, because no one proposes that women should be returned to this House. The noble Lord opposite has referred to the case of women who are farmers. He speaks of it as a great anomaly that women who are farmers should not possess votes, while their labourers will have them. The man who thinks he has invented a franchise which presents no anomalies is a fool; well, at all events, he is a person the reverse of wise. But in this instance the anomaly has been greatly exaggerated. We are all familiar with the names of women in farm agreements. In nine cases out of ten they are put there as a mere matter of convenience. It is the sons or brothers who carry on the farms; they join the labourers in the toils of the field; they are regarded by them as masters, and they will be enfranchised by this Bill. But if it were possible to give the vote to women who are farmers, is that a thing to be desired? What has been the history of the independence of the tenant farmer in this country? Is it true, or is it not, that in nine cases out of ten the vote has belonged to the landlord rather than to the tenant? Whenever women are to be subjected to peculiar pressure we have passed special legislation for their protection. Are we asked, then, to commit this enormity? Without passing any such special legislation, are we asked to subject women, in all the weakness of their sex, to an amount of pressure which men, in all the robustness of theirs, have been found wholly unable to resist? But, putting consequences on one side, I revert to our original position, which was, that to seek to invest women with the duties and responsibilities of men is to misunderstand the whole economy of mankind, A very long experience has proved that there are certain responsibilities and duties which attach to men, and certain responsibilities and duties which attach to women, and that those duties are best performed when one sex does not invade the province of the other. This has been so long understood that I do not think we are likely to make any great discoveries in elementary matters of that kind. I should like to read to the Committee a few words from a distinguished French writer, of Liberal opinions—the late Comte de Gasparin. He says— This is a question of the rights and duties of one sex claimed by the other, and of an absolute change of vocation, ideas, occupations, and individuality, and it will be difficult to persuade us that while men find it so hard to act as men that women can act as men and yet remain women; playing a double part, fulfilling a two-fold mission, and assuming the two-fold character of humanity. This is what will happen. We shall lose the woman without getting the man. What we shall get is that monstrous and repulsive creature, already looming above the horizon—la femme-homme. Now, I think that that view commends itself to our common sense, and it is confirmed in many ways. It is confirmed by the almost total abstention of women from those public offices which are loyally open to them, but which they feel themselves compelled to decline, because they are imsuitable to their sex. It is still more strongly confirmed by the coldness with which women have received the proposition of my hon. Friend. That innate sense of what is womanly, which is more to some women than reason or law, more, perhaps, than religion itself, rebels against this proposal. What I would say to my hon. Friend is this. Let him first convince his clients; let him get the women of England upon his side; let him prove to them that the franchise is a trust which they will prize and gladly undertake, and faithfully discharge; and then let him come here and make a proposition which will have acquired some substance from this support, but which, discredited by their apathy and condemned by their silence, is little less than a burlesque upon our theories of political equity, and an impertinent satire upon them.


I am not about to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham), step by step, into the able speech which he has just delivered. I trust that he will not accuse me of want of courtesy in not following him, when I say that I decline to discuss the subject upon the large lines upon which he has discussed it to-night, under the conditions created for those in favour of admitting women to the franchise by the action of the Prime Minister the other day. Those of the Liberal Party who take an interest in the subject were told that we may not vote in favour of this proposal, unless we choose to place ourselves under the imputation of risking the passing of the Franchise Bill, or, it may be, of imperilling the existence of the Government itself. My object, in the remarks I shall address to the Committee to-night, is mainly to endeavour to make some reply to the speech of the Prime Minister on the part of those who feel most deeply and keenly and who have fought and spoken most earnestly upon our side of the question for years. I will only say, before I pass to that part of the subject, that my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) would, I think, have been fairer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) if he had replied to his speech—if he had confined his arguments to answering the propositions which my hon. Friend has placed before the Committee—instead of quoting the individual opinion of ladies, estimable and talented, but not necessarily and not actually representing the movement, or the Motion of my hon. Friend. Well, then, Sir, I will begin by making this acknowledgment fully and frankly, that Her Majesty's Government, as the Prime Minister said, are the sole judges of their own responsibility in the conduct of this measure for the extension of the franchise, and that they alone must decide for themselves the amount of cargo it will carry, and how much might endanger its safety. I make that admission; I acknowledge the absolute and unanswerable justice of that statement and argument of the right hon. Gentleman. No one can divide or diminish their responsibility. The Prime Minister spoke the other day, in no hasty terms—I might almost say in tones of warning, if not of absolute menace—and I regard the clause of my hon. Friend, in consequence, as being upon this occasion doomed and lost. But, Sir, I cannot conceal from myself that it is a serious blow that the right hon. Gentleman has felt it is duty to deal to some of us, and to a cause which we have dearly at heart. It is, in my view, the most serious and damaging blow which this cause has ever yet received during the 17 years that it has been before the country, and in the course of the 10 occasions on which it has been discussed and voted upon by the House of Commons. The action of the right hon. Gentleman appears to me to put upon some one or more of us, who, as I have said, have been most intimately associated with this subject, the absolute duty of giving some explanation of the views which we take of the action of my hon. Friend (Mr. Woodall), and some protest against the position in which we find ourselves placed by the action of the right hon. Gentleman himself. Sir, I failed to be enlightened by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman — however powerful, and immensely powerful it was—I failed to be enlightened by that speech as to the specific nature of the danger to his measure from the course taken by my hon. Friend. I failed even to gather exactly the direction in which we were to look for the danger, although the right hon. Gentleman triumphantly asked my hon. Friend—" Is it not clear now to your mind whence the danger is likely to arise." Well, Sir, we who have taken the greatest interest in this subject have thought it our duty, and did think it our duty before this Motion was put upon the Paper, to consider that question of danger for ourselves. I wish, with the permission of the Committee, to be allowed to state what our views have been upon the question of danger, and I wish to do so for this reason. I feel that there was an unfairness in the position in which, if it could have been avoided, the right hon. Gentleman has placed us. We are, and have been, amongst the most earnest Members of his Party and of his supporters. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] I can certainly speak for myself, and I think I may be permitted to say upon this occasion that I have given to the Government ungrudging support—[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]—although I place no value upon that fact.


I hope I may not be misunderstood. I did not intend to apply that cheer to the last remark of my right hon. Friend, or to imply that I attach no value to his support.


I quite under-stood the kind intention of the right hon. Gentleman; but I have said all that I wished to say upon that head, and I hardly like to pursue the matter further. I will merely add, that acting in that spirit, I have frequently refrained from addressing the House, because I have felt that silence would help the Government more than speech. Indeed, in the course of my public career, I cannot recall a single occasion when I attempted to obtain possession of the ear of the House, except there was some special duty before me. When I have differed from the Government I have either been silent, or I have spoken in moderation. I have been delighted, when I could agree with them, to express heartily and frankly my concurrence. Well, then, addressing myself personally to the right hon. Gentleman himself, I do feel keenly that he has felt compelled to put me, as well as others, in the position in which we find ourselves to-night. I declare that we are as deeply interested in this Franchise Bill as he is himself, and as the Cabinet by which he is surrounded, and yet what is the position in which he has, perhaps unconsciously, placed us before this House, our Party and the country? It is this. He has told us that we must either vote for this clause, and then lie under the imputation of being willing to risk this great measure of enfranchisement, and even the Government we have so long and cordially supported; or else, by abandoning or withdrawing this clause, or receding from it, and voting against it, declare that we are false to our principles, false to our views, false to our professions and pledges, and, I will add, false to those women whose cause we advocate. [Laughter.] It is useless to laugh. I am impervious to laughter; and I say that we should be false to those whose great exertions we are bound to consider, and who have sacrificed years and years of life, labour, and of strength in a cause which they hold to be sacred. We venture, in the first place, to think that there could be no danger in the discussion of this clause, even if it did not proceed to a Division; and that there could be no danger in this discussion, or in the Division, if the clause were rejected. I suppose, at least, that may be allowed us on this occasion. But then there was the alternative of the acceptance of the clause; and, in that case, it seemed to us even still more clear, that, be far from there being any possible danger to the Bill, the acceptance of the clause would inevitably strengthen the Bill, and improve the chance of the Government in regard to it. And why? For this simple reason—that the clause, if accepted, would be the act of the House, and of both sides of the House, and not the proposal of Her Majesty's Government; and I say that we know—the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners) has almost told us so much, and no one has ventured to deny it— that the insertion of that clause would not have made the Bill less palatable to the House of Lords. Well, then, Sir, we come to the conclusion that there was no possible danger to the Bill from the discussion or the acceptance of the clause of my hon. Friend (Mr. Woodall) from without, and that the only possible danger must lie within the walls, so to say, of the Cabinet; and I must say that that impression of ours was confirmed to my mind by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. The relations of Parties and of individual political men to this question have been curious and interesting. The question has received genuine support from both sides of the House. On our side of the House that support has been found rather in the rank and file. On the Conservative side of the House it has been found amongst the accredited Leaders of the Party who sit on the Front Opposition Bench. I do not now know exactly—I did not at all understand at the time the meaning of some very sphinx-like words uttered by the right hon. Gentleman when he spoke, I think, of the indirect opposition to the Bill, and the motives for that indirect opposition, which I assumed he meant might operate on the minds of some Members in dealing with this particular clause; but I say distinctly that this clause has met with genuine support on both sides of the Committee, and that the support it has met with from the Front Opposition Bench has been genuine support. I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) with regret express his opinion that the support given to women's suffrage by Lord Beaconsfield was opportunist, and not sincere.


I wish to correct a misapprehension under which my right hon. Friend is labouring. I simply said that Lord Beaconsfield's position with regard to the question of Reform was opportunist.


I beg my hon. Friend's pardon; but I thought he was addressing himself, at the time, to the question before the Committee. What I wish to say is, that there is no more sincere supporter of the clause than the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners), without the slightest drawback of particular Party motives with regard to the subject. Who will doubt the sincerity of the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote)? It is well known that he has, from the first, taken this view, and that he has taken a kindly, personal, and somewhat active interest in the question. With regard to the late Lord Beaconsfield, I wish to express the opinions I have always entertained, and which I hold as strongly as I ever did—that there was no political subject—and I call this a political subject — upon which Lord Beaconsfield's convictions or predilections were more sincere or more heartfelt than upon the subject of women's suffrage. No doubt, the Prime Minister was perfectly right in saying that there are, on both sides, profound and keen differences of opinion—a kind of difference which sets men against each other in keen and deep antagonism of thought. That I entirely admit, and I find no fault with the existence of such differences, because all this keen opinion is, ex necessitate, genuine opinion. But what I regret, if it could have been avoided, is that, by the action of the Prime Minister, these genuine opinions should not be allowed to have their natural and accurate expression. All this, however, is past. What we, who are most completely and actively in favour of the question, are still left to do, is to state conscientiously how we have been affected by the arguments, and invitations, and appeals of the right hon. Gentleman, and what course it is which we shall pursue. Now, Sir, one statement of the right hon. Gentleman, upon which his opinion was largely founded, has been already referred to by the noble Lord opposite. It was this—the right hon. Gentleman dealt with this as a completely new subject. Well, Sir, we cannot make that admission. We cannot make the admission in words, nor can we make it in deed. We say, on the contrary, that this question has been before the House and the country for some 17 years; that we have divided upon it in this House 10 times without any enormous majorities against us, and, on the whole, with an improving record. Further, I would say, for the information of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, that very nearly half the Members of the Liberal Party, who have at one time or another expressed opinions on this subject, have declared more or less their accordance with the principle of the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke. But there is another reason why we cannot accept or give an affirmative reply to the invitation of the Prime Minister. This, Sir, is a Bill of principle. It is a Bill, the principle of which is household suffrage. Now, the principle of household suffrage is one of two things—it is either put as a rough test of capable citizenship, or else it means what I will call the family vote. Now, who are the women it is proposed to enfranchise? The women to be enfranchised under the clause would be, first of all, women of property, intelligence, and education having a status in the country; secondly, a large class of women of exceptional competency, because, having lost the services and support of men who should be the bread winners and the heads of families, they have been obliged to step into their shoes, and to take upon themselves the burdens and responsibilities which had previously devolved upon men. And because they have done this with success, I decline, either by word or deed, to make the admission that these women are less capable citizens than the 2,000,000 whom the right hon. Gentleman proposes to enfranchise by this Bill. Well, then, let it be the family vote—that is to say, exceptions apart, let the basis of our Constitution be that the family, represented by its head, should be the unit of the State. Now, that is the idea which recommends and has always recommended itself to my mind. But on what principle, or with what regard to the permanence and stability of that principle, can you exclude the head of the family, and give that family no voice, because the head happens to be a woman? If this clause be excluded, as it will be excluded, from the measure, this Bill will not be a Bill of one principle but of two principles, if they are worthy of being called principles. It will not be a Bill containing only the principle of household suffrage, interpreted as the family vote, but a Bill founded on these two principles—first, the principle of a male householding vote; and, secondly, the principle of the exclusion of the head of the household, when and because the head of the household is a woman. That principle of exclusion is a permanent principle of exclusion; and, therefore, the Bill, with this clause left out, is a declaration in principle and for ever against the political emancipation of women. I will put it still more plainly, if I can. My hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) dealt with this as an unnatural and revolutionary proposal. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), who, although it is rather rash to say so, I hope may possibly follow me in this debate, regards, as I happen to know, the proposal as a revolutionary proposal, and, therefore, objects to it. Now, the argument which I am about to put to the Committee I desire to address pointedly to the mind of my right hon. Friend and to those who think with him on the question of revolutionary policy, and I will say this—that the Bill without the inclusion of this clause opens and leads the way to manhood suffrage—manhood suffrage, as the desideratum and ultimatum of politicians, with the definite and permanent and absolute exclusion of women. On the other hand, with the clause included, what I say is this— that it would in a large and true and in a noble and in no Party sense be a Conservative clause; because it would mean, as far as we can see or provide, that the future basis of our commonwealth should be a family represented by its head—man or woman— rather than the male citizens of 21 years of age. I address that argument to my right hon. Friend, and I hope, at least, that it may have some influence upon his mind. Sir, I say that it is impossible for us not to make some protest upon this occasion by voice and by act. The Prime Minister has given us no choice whatever. What did he say with regard to the voting of the Members of the Government? I took his words down, and they were these— "When the subject is taken out of the vortex of political contention and strife the Members of my Government will be free to vote according to their convictions." [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] No; the last words were not those which the right hon. Gentleman used. To make it quite clear, the actual words of the right hon. Gentleman were these— "When the subject is taken out of the vortex of political contention and strife." He was replying to a hypothetical question of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) as to how far the Members of the Government would be free in the future to vote according to their own convictions. Well, I was not fascinated by that statement. I confess that it exercised no fascination upon my mind. What does it mean? It means simply that the Members of the Government will be free to support the clause in a private Member's Bill. There can be no other meaning to these words than that; and, even if the subject were brought forward in a private Member's Bill, the Prime Minister would still be able to say that the question had entered into the vortex of political contention and strife. I was a Member of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman in 1871, and in that year this question was left an open question, and I voted upon it. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is making no concession or advance to-day. Speaking as a Member of the Liberal Party, and as an advanced Liberal, I must say that it is with considerable pain and with no inconsiderable shame that I have to recall to myself and to this Committee that we must look across the House for a better example than that. In 1867, when the Conservative Government had their own Reform Bill before the House, they treated the Motion of Mr. John Stuart Mill as an open question, and their Tellers did not tell in the Division. Again, the Prime Minister said—and the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I quote him inaccurately—"It is intolerable that this question should be mixed up with Party and political debate." Sir, I say that these words of the Prime Minister drive and compel us to a Division; for what do they mean but this—that this question is never to go beyond the stage of a private Member's Bill. But private Members' Bills do but prepare the way. Legislation upon a subject like this is not possible by a private Member's Bill. It is only by making it part of a Government measure that it can succeed. Our purpose is so to deal with this question in the House and outside the House as to make it more and more a question of practical, and even, if necessary, of Party politics. We cannot, therefore, do otherwise than protest by our votes to-night against the opposition to the clause; for if we were to yield to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, we should be guilty of the dishonesty of deserting, or the dishonour of concealing, our intentions and our views. Speaking for myself, there is no subject on which I am more convinced, or on which I feel more deeply. I desire, and I intend to do what I can, to bring the question within the realm of practical and even of Party politics; and, as an earnest of that intention, I shall insist on recording my vote in favour of the clause of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke.


The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Stansfeld), as a Democratic Reformer, does not shrink from the attempt to enforce the despotism of Democracy. The right hon. Gentleman insists that the Prime Minister shall adopt the policy of a section of his followers—namely, the principle of women suffrage, which the Prime Minister himself has invariably opposed. Is not that an example of the despotism of a Democracy?


Will the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Newdegate) allow me to interrupt him? I think that he has misunderstood my argument, which was that it ought to be left an open question.


But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax said that he wished it to be left an open question. Yes, for the present, in order that he might force it into the position of becoming a strictly Party question. He cannot deny that; and I say this— that deprecating the despotism of a Democracy, as every true Reformer must, and as every true Constitutionalist must, I have never known an instance of the attempt to enforce the despotism of a Democracy more distinctly than in this case; for it is an attempt to force this House, and the Leader of this House, to reverse the rejection of this measure, which has for 17 years been the true ex- pression of the opinion of the House of Commons. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman quoted the assent given to this proposal by the late Lord Beacons-field. After having, for one year, served as whipper-in under the late Lord Beaconsfield, I had an uncomfortable consciousness, that there was no valid distinction between his opinions and those of the late Emperor of the French., and I repeatedly, in consequence, refused to accept office under him. I have reason for thinking that; I have, in point of fact, reasons for knowing what was the issue of his attempt to apply the principle of this clause in the guidance of the Conservative Party. Why, it was that that noble Lord—and for many reasons I lamented it—concluded his political career in this country by such a fall as no Conservative Leader ever had before, so far as I have known. I say, Sir, that with respect to this question, I participate fully in the feeling of both the men and the women of the United States. I need not remind hon. Members that this question has been agitated in the United States, and the agitation eventuated in this—that the women, of the United States, by a vast majority, rejected it, and that every genuine Republican in the United States has opposed it. And why? Because they knew that such a Democracy would found a despotism. I could adduce various instances; but it is sufficient that I should mention the fact, that the majority of the English people coincide with the Representatives of the people in the United States, in having always rejected this proposal as an unnatural measure. One of the most intelligent supporters of this franchise, Mr. Cold-win Smith, went to the United States; and, from the United States, he addressed his fellow-Democrats in this country, warning them against the adoption of this measure. Now, it has been repeatedly pleaded, that the women of England suffer all kinds of hardships— hardships removable by Parliament. Has Parliament done nothing to alleviate the hardships under which the mothers and the wives and sisters of the English people have suffered? I have reason to remember — for I took an active part in the agitation — that we passed the Ten Hours Bill specially for the benefit of women and children; and since that time we have passed a Nine Hours Bill. I must declare that the present House has submitted to more indignities than any other House of Commons that I ever knew. I will cite one instance—the present House suffered itself to be impeded by the action of a small faction of its Members, until it was only liberated from positive thraldom by its Speaker transgressing all Rules of Order, so that this House might be freed from the intolerable position into which it had fallen. And if it were now to consent to pass this measure for the establishment of female suffrage, it would forfeit the small remnant of the title to represent the manhood and the manly feeling of England, which still pertains to it. There is one Book which is not only pre-eminently historical, but which is undoubtedly prophetic. Let even those who doubt its inspiration take the Bible into their hands, and they will find that, from the Book of Genesis to the last chapter of the Epistles, the position of woman is clearly defined. She is to be dependent on man; but she has every claim upon his manhood, every claim upon his best feelings, every claim upon his support and strength. I remember the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham), who has addressed the House so ably tonight, stating upon this subject, in a thin House, that the career of man and woman, although parallel, is never identical until they become united by marriage. No statement more true, according to the doctrine of the Bible, was ever made. I might cite text after text to prove that assertion; but I feel that I should insult hon. Members by quoting that which they must know so well. It would be insulting to the House to suppose that hon. Members are not familiar with the passages on which I found this argument. Sir, there is no part of the known world in which women are treated with more indulgent deference than in the United States; and, with the permission of the House, I will quote the description of their treatment which has been given by Mr. Goldwin Smith. Mr. Goldwin Smith, in the able publication he issued from the United States, announced his conversion; announced that, from being a supporter of, he had become an opponent of this proposal; and, after a warning to the friends of freedom in this country, shows that Mr. John Stuart Mill, in his advocacy of women suffrage, distinctly attacks the ordinance of marriage and the marriage state. Mr. Smith is a gentleman to whose general opinions on other questions I am entirely opposed. He is an ultra-Liberal; and he was an advocate of this Bill until he visited that great sphere of experiments — the United States of America. He condemns the view which was taken by the late Mr. John Stuart Mill with regard to the relations of women to their husbands in this country, and throughout the world. He writes— Mr. Mill and his disciples represent the lot of the woman as having always been determined by the will of the man, who, according to them, has willed that she should be the slave, and that he should he her master and her tyrant. Society" — and hero he quotes Mr. Mill—"both in this (the case of marriage) and other cases, has preferred to attain its object by foul rather than by fair means; but this is the only case in which it has substantially persisted in them even to the present day. This is Mr. Mill's fundamental assumption, and from it, as every rational student of history is now aware, conclusions, utterly erroneous as well as injurious to humanity, must flow. That is the view of marriage upon which this proposal was advocated by its most powerful representative, Mr. John Stuart Mill. Elsewhere Mr. Goldwin Smith refutes Mr. Mill's assertions, and with one further extract from his pamphlet I will trouble the House. He wrote— That the present relation of women to their husbands literally has its origin in slavery, and is a hideous relic of that system, is a theory which Mr Mill sets forth in language such as, if it could sink into the hearts of those to whom it is addressed, would turn all affection to bitterness, and divide every household against itself. Yet this theory is without historical foundation. It seems, indeed, like a figure of invective, heedlessly converted into history. Even in the most primitive times, and in which the subjection of women was most complete, the wife was clearly distinguished from the slave. The lot of Sarah is different from that of Hagar; the authority of Hector over Andromache is absolute, yet no one can confound her position with that of her handmaids. The Roman matron, who sent her slave to be crucified, the Southern matron who was the fierce supporter of slavery, were not themselves slaves. Whatever may now be obsolete in the relations of husband and wife is not a relic of slavery, but of primitive marriage, and may be regarded as, at worst, an arrangement once indispensable, which has survived its hour. Where real slavery has existed it has extended to both sexes, and it has ceased for both at the same time. Even the Oriental seclusion of women, perhaps the worst condition in which, the sex has ever been, has its root, not in the slave-owning propensity so much as in jealousy or passion, which, though extravagant and detestable in its excessive manifestations, is not without an element of affection. The most beautiful building in the East is that in which Shah-Jehan rests by the side of Nourmahal. Mr. Goldwin Smith thus condemns the view of the marriage state which was held by the leading mind that advocated the principle of this clause, who wrote that the married woman is a slave; but what does this Bill do? The former Bills, to which Mr. Goldwin Smith referred, proposed to enfranchise her unmarried sisters, but to leave the wife in the position Mr. Mill described as that of a slave! Will the House permit me to take one further description of what Mr. Goldwin Smith found in the United States, where this movement for the enfranchisement of women, originated, though still unsuccessful there? He says— In the United States the privileges of women may be said to extend to impunity, not only for ordinary outrage, but for murder. A prisoner, whose guilt has been proved by overwhelming evidence, is let off because she is a woman. There is a sentimental scene between, her and her advocate in Court, and afterwards she appears at a public lecture. The whisky crusade shows that women are practically above the law. Rioting and injury to the property of tradesmen, when committed by the privileged sex, are hailed as a new and beneficent agency in public life; and because the German population being less sentimental, asserts the privilege of legality and decency, the women are said to have suffered martyrdom. So far from the American family being the despotism which Mr. Mill describes, the want of domestic authority lies at the root of all that is worst in the politics of the United States. If the women ask for the suffrage, say some American publicists, they must have it, and in, the same way everything that a child cries for is apt to be given it without reflection as to the consequences of the indulgence. Are we in this House actuated by a more cruel spirit towards our fellow-countrywomen than the Americans? I do not believe that we are; and yet, Sir, we have heard in this House the advocates of this measure assert that the House itself is totally insensible to the claims of woman, and that this House has so little manhood, that until it consents to permit woman to have the suffrage no justice will be done to her. This assertion is monstrous, and yet it is upon this assertion that this dangerous proposal is based. This question has now been for 17 years debated. For 17 years it has been proposed to extend the franchise to women; but except upon one occasion in 1871, when the second reading to enact the principle was passed in a thin House, no affirmative response has been made. The passing of the second reading of the Bill in 1871 was an error which the House hastened to correct upon a subsequent occasion by a majority of 90. As a matter of fact, this dangerous proposal has invariably been rejected by the House; and now the Democratic Member for Halifax (Mr Stansfeld) insists that, because the Caucus of Leeds passed a resolution in its favour, the Prime Minister shall change his course and bow his head to the will of that usurping Body. The noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) did everything he could to minimize the question. The Prime Minister was right when he said the clause raises one of the widest social issues that it is possible to conceive. It has failed to become popularized in the United States. There is but one country in Europe in which women are armed with the vote—namely, in Italy. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax knows that that is the ease. But do the Italians trust a woman to vote by herself? The Italian women are compelled by law to vote by means of male delegates. And are not the women of England indirectly represented in this House? I will answer for it that if any candidate has the support of the women of the constituency he seeks to represent, he is certain of his return. And I thank God that it is so. It is because I know that it is so, and because I am certain that women would forfeit their natural influence by entering openly into political contests, that I deprecate the passing of this clause, which would convert what purports to be a Reform Bill into a revolutionary measure. I think the Bill now before the House goes very much too far; but I, as a genuine Constitutionalist, will not attempt to obtain the defeat of the Bill in "another place "by committing myself to a proposal which involves the abnegation of our most sacred duties as men. I sincerely trust that this House, which has manifested less self-respect than its Predecessors, will have sufficient self-respect to persevere in its unvaried course by again rejecting this most dangerous proposal.


Sir, I shall certainly not go into the general question involved in the Amendment before the Committee. As far as I have followed the course of this debate, I may say that the only new argument for or against the proposal to confer the franchise upon women, was one from a military point of view—namely, that of the hon. Member who moved the new clause (Mr. Woodall), when he referred to Boadicea and Joan of Arc. On former occasions, and ever since I have had the honour of being a Member of this House, I have been a most strenuous opponent of the possession of the franchise by women. Very soon after I was returned to Parliament, I had the honour of being chosen by a body of Gentlemen opposed to conferring this privilege on ladies, to lead the opposition to a measure for that purpose then about to be laid before Parliament by the late Mr. Forsyth; and I look back with pleasure to the fact that I was able to conduct that opposition to a satisfactory conclusion—namely, the defeat of the measure referred to. But circumstances alter cases; and I wish, with the permission of the Committee, to say a few words in explanation of the course I propose to take on the present occasion. I intend to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. ["Oh!" and cheers.] Now, Sir, suppose I had been going to vote against my conviction—which I am not going to do, for reasons which I shall explain—I think that hon. and right hon. Members opposite ought to be the last to jeer at any Member on this side of the House, even if he should vote contrary to his convictions, for they should bear in mind that there is an old saying, that "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones." Lord Sherbrooke, speaking, in 1878, on the Motion for the Extension of the Borough Franchise, brought forward by my right hon. Friend the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan), made use of these words. He said— It is not a question of what people want, nor is it a question of equality; but it is a question of the public good. What you have to show is, not that people want this thing or that, or that the people are fit or unfit to exercise it, but that the safety and welfare of the Empire will be promoted by your proposal."— (3 Hansard, [238] 180.) Now, Sir, that is my idea of what ought to guide us in the present instance. I am, and I have always been, of opinion that the conferring of the franchise is not a question of individual right, but that it is a question of Imperial necessity and Constitutional advantage; and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) laid some stress upon that idea in the speech to which we have just listened. But, Sir, the Bill before the Committee has virtually passed this House; all its clauses, which have been divided against, have been carried by large majorities; and we, who have been opposed to it, have had no chance of upsetting any of its provisions. But the provisions of the Bill have been based on the assumption of individual right, not upon Imperial or Constitutional necessity; and, therefore, although I have opposed the Bill—not quâ lowering the franchise, because I do not think that that would do any harm, if it were combined with some other measure of a Constitutional character—I, for one, do not see that there is any reason now why we should not support the admission of women to the franchise. An attempt has been made to prevent some of the very lowest of the class to be enfranchised by this Bill from getting the suffrage; but that has been defeated, and it has been decided in this House that no person who possesses the qualification proposed in the Bill shall be deprived of the vote. Therefore it is that on this occasion I intend to support the clause proposed by the hon. Member opposite. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, speaking the day before yesterday, on the question as to whether the inhabitants of one - roomed houses, or hovels as they have been called, should be admitted to the franchise, asked if it was the wish of the Committee to place those people in a position of greater degradation by refusing them the vote? Well, it has been decided, by a large majority, that those people shall be admitted to the franchise, although a great number of them are illiterate, and are, in consequence, certainly not so well qualified as many women are to exercise the franchise. Why, then, impose such a degradation on women possessing the qualification? And that is another reason why I intend to support the Motion before the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, in that most eloquent and impassioned speech which he made against this proposal, on the last occasion when it was before us, said that the Government had already upon its shoulders as much as they could very well bear, and he alluded to the proposal as the last straw that would break the camel's back. ["No. no!"] That, at any rate, was the effect of his remarks. As I understand it, this is a Bill to render perfect the representation of the people; and, that being so, I think that every point in connection with it ought to be fully discussed and thoroughly sifted; and, therefore, I say that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, that the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent is putting too great a burden on the Government, went not so much against the Amendment as against the Bill itself. It appears to me that, unless every point in connection with this subject is fully discussed on this occasion, instead of ending the matter, we shall have it cropping up over and over again as it has done for the last 17 years. Now, although I am about to vote for this Motion, I do not intend by so doing to render myself liable to vote for it, or for any analogous Motion that may be put forward on a future occasion. I have given what appears to me to be very good reasons for the vote I intend to give; but if, happily, this Bill does not pass, and another Bill, at no distant day, is brought in, which, keeping the Constitutional advantage in the eye of Parliament, takes care that no large section of the electorate shall have a preponderating influence over the rest, I shall reserve to myself full liberty of opposing the extension of the franchise to women. The House has decided that it is the abstract right of the individual to have the franchise, and on that hypothesis, I cannot understand why, if the Bill became law, the women to whom the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister at Dalkeith, in 1879, so pathetically appealed to exercise their influence for the purpose of returning him and his Party and ousting the late Government from power, should not be allowed to exercise the franchise.


Sir, the noble Viscount who has just sat down (Viscount Folkestone) has announced his intention of voting, on this occasion, for the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) for conferring the franchise upon women; and he has also told us that it is his intention, if the proposal should come before him on a future occasion, to reverse that vote. Whatever may be the merit of consistency, I believe I have always consistently opposed the conferring of the franchise upon women, and I have done so upon principle. I was early taught that Parliament could do anything but bring a dead person to life; make a man into a woman, or a woman into a man. But it would seem that hon. Gentlemen who support this Motion are doing their best to achieve the latter transformation; and I cannot help thinking that they will find this clause, simple as it may appear, will carry them a great deal further than they wish to go. The argument we had last Tuesday in the excellent speech of the hon. Member for Stoke seemed to me to fall very far short of a conclusive reason for conferring the suffrage upon women. He told us of Boadicea and of Joan of Arc, and he described them as great military geniuses. I do not know whether they were great geniuses, or not; but I cannot forget that they both came to an untimely end. And then he told us of Miss Octavia Hill, and other ladies. Well, no one doubts that there are excellent women, who discharge the duties of life in a manner which earns for them the gratitude of mankind. But, surely, that is no reason why Rich a clause as is now proposed should be inserted in this Bill. Again, there may be women ratepayers; but I have still to learn that, because they have to pay rates, they are entitled to discharge the function of voting. The right hon. Gentleman on ray right (Mr. Stansfeld) and the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners) who have to-day spoken on this clause, have, in my humble opinion, misinterpreted it. It must be admitted that, under this Bill, married women holding the necessary properly qualification in counties will have a vote in counties. How long will you keep married women from voting as occupiers in towns? You bring to the front the whole question, both of married and single women voting; and I say you cannot possibly go on without raising the question of single women only voting. Can you, for instance, deprive a woman, when married, of the vote which you say she is to enjoy when single? You cannot possibly do it. A woman is, undoubtedly, a much better citizen when she is married than when she is single. Why, then, is she to be deprived of the advantages and privileges she was entitled to before marriage the moment she ceases to be single? If it were possible to make such an enactment, you would be driven to amend it by another Act of Parliament, and you would land yourselves in universal woman suffrage. Then, I ask, where is that to end? According to the last Census, the number of the women of England exceeded that of the male population by 700,000, or 60 in the 1,000; and if the door be once opened in the manner proposed by this clause, the weight which would turn the electoral balance will be in the hands of women— in other words, you will have petticoat government. Again, if you once give married women the right of voting, yon will have a dual voting power in almost every home, a power which, so far from adding to domestic happiness in this country, will, I believe, tend much to destroy the unity which exists in our homes. But, Sir, there is another difficulty which occurs to me, and it is this— I do not see that the matter could rest even here. If we give to women a political vote, they must have also political representation. Beyond all question, they would claim, in time, the right of sitting in this House; and as they are the majority in the country, they may become the majority here. Thus we might have both married and single women Members of Parliament, with great attendant inconveniences. However, Sir, I take altogether a higher view of this matter. I believe it to be far better for the prosperity and strength of the country that the franchise should not be given to women. If there be any injustice, in the circumstance that some women pay rates, while they have no votes, it is, in my opinion, but an injustice of the very smallest kind, especially when it is compared with the adoption of a proposal, the practical effect of which would be to alter the feelings and customs of the country with regard to the position of women. Whether it be by the result of the development of species, or whether it be the dispensation of an All Wise Creator, there is no doubt that woman is endowed with, a most delicate organization which, sways the whole course of her life; it influences her actions, and her mode of thought, and its effect is to make mankind afford her protection rather than turn her adrift in the vortex of political life. These considerations, I think, ought to weigh with the hon. Member for Stoke. And now with regard to one portion of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). My right hon. Friend says he wonders where the danger to the Bill lies, in the event of his Motion being carried. If this Motion were carried tonight, by even a small majority—it cannot be carried by a large one—the Franchise Bill would be placed in danger by the hon. Gentleman who moved the clause, because, I believe, that there are many hon. Gentlemen on these Benches who would prefer no Bill at all to one containing such a provision and embodying such a principle as that under consideration. My right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax was eloquent on the power and aptitude of women for work. I am one who thinks very highly of those to whom, we owe so much; but I am unable to concede all that my right hon. Friend claims for them in that respect. "We have, I think, an illustration of the administrative capabilities of women in the case of School Boards. It is generally admitted that, in the country districts, their presence on the School Board is of great advantage; and, in those districts, I believe that women have had, and ought to have, their effect upon the education of the country; but, when we come to the education of the children in this great Metropolis, we find that they fail, and that their presence on the School Board only impedes the action of those who administer the Acts. Finally, having carefully thought out this matter, I cannot help coming to the conclusion that there would be a great deal more loss than gain occasioned by a change in our social and political life, such as is indicated by the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke, and that it will, moreover, be attended with positive disadvantage to the State. The Committee should bear in mind the fact that this demand does not come from the women themselves. It is, apparently, the proposition of a few agitators who go about the country demanding what they call the rights of their sex; and that being so, apart from other considerations, I do not think it would be for the advantage of the country that the clause of the hon. Member for Stoke should be incorporated with the Bill.


Sir, I have listened with great attention to the speeches of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and I am bound to say, without criticizing too strongly, that I failed to find any special argument against the case made out by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall). I think it well to recall to the Committee the speech in which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister introduced this great measure of Reform to the House, not with the view of criticizing its details—were I to do so I should be out of Order—but merely with the object of contrasting it with the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday last in opposition to this Motion. It will be in the recollection of the Committee that the Prime Minister urged for their consideration, when he introduced the Bill, that 2,000,000 of people were waiting to receive that which he assumes to be a right, but which some others consider to be a privilege, and that all other legislation was to be set aside in order that Parliament might confer upon them that right. Now, supposing that argument to be a correct one, I ask him whether, by a parity of reasoning, those women who, at all events, possess the property qualification have not as good a claim to enfranchisement as the 2,000,000 of men whom he proposes to enfranchise? Certainly, most of the women in question are the equals, if not the superiors, of the men in intelligence. They are human beings, and they are citizens in the eye of the law; and, therefore, I say that, logically, they have at least an equal claim with the 2,000,000 of men who are not to have their right any longer delayed. Well, Sir, the Prime Minister passed over that argument very lightly—in fact, he astonished the Committee by informing them that Her Majesty's Government, at all events as far as he represented it, had not exactly made up their minds with regard to the question of woman suffrage. It is a singular fact that this proposal, which has been before the House for 17 years; which originated, I believe, on the Liberal side of the House; and which, has always found conscientious support with many Members of the Conservative Party, should suddenly appear to the Prime Minister as an essentially open question. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman said he did not entertain any particular dislike to the proposal, and that he admitted that several Members of his Cabinet were in favour of it; but I question whether the hon. Member for Stoke and those who think with him will derive much comfort from that assurance, and I think he might almost say to the Prime Minister— When first I attempted your pity to move, You turned a deaf car to my prayers; Twas all very well to dissemble your love, But why did you kick me down stairs? I think, Sir, those lines are very applicable to the position which the right hon. Gentleman has taken up with regard to the question of woman suffrage, although, if the adoption of the present proposal had appeared likely in any way to assist the passing of the Reform Bill, I have no doubt that the right hon, Gentleman's love would have been of a more decided and active character. But as he thinks that this clause may, in some degree, affect or interfere with the passing of the Bill, he concluded that the best policy was to issue his fiat against it, and to threaten with the horrors of political excommunication all those of his supporters who ventured to express an opinion in its favour. There are two paragraphs to which I should like to allude, as they show, to a very considerable extent, how anxious the Prime Minister is to depart from the views of his political Friends, as well as to impugn the utterances of his political opponents, whenever the opportunity seems fitting for that purpose. The resolution passed at the meeting yesterday, presided over by the hon. Member for Stoke, was to the effect that the meeting heard with astonishment that the Prime Minister refused to allow this Amendment to be discussed on its merits, and decided by the free exercise of the judgment of the Members of the House of Commons, on the ground that its adoption would endanger the Bill; and it went on to say that such an exorcise of pressure appeared to the meeting to be an infringement of the privileges of a free Parliament and of the rights of a free people. I venture to think that that verdict will be endorsed by the country at large. It is all very well for the Prime Minister, who wishes to add to his many triumphs, a measure which shall go down to posterity as a great Act of reform, to say that he is extremely anxious to emancipate 2,000,000 of men; but I ask him how he can logically say that those of his supporters who are anxious to give effect to this Motion are impeding that measure of reform? They are not impeding it; they are seeking to extend it; and if the proposal had originated with the right hon. Gentleman or his Colleagues, we should have heard from him not one word of condemnation with regard to it. Two million voters are to be added to the electoral roll by this Bill; and if the clause of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke becomes law, we shall add, at the outside, about 400,000 women to the electorate. It is perfectly true that, from the other side, very long and interesting speeches have been made as to the merits and demerits of female suffrage, and as to the position which hon. Members think women should occupy in the social scale. No doubt, as philosophical disquisitions, those speeches are valuable; but I am bound to say they have not touched, in the slightest degree, the great question before the Committee. Hon. Members on that side of the House have urged that the vote is a right; some hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House agree with them; others are inclined to think that the vote is a privilege. Let us assume that the vote is a right. I want to know, if it be a right of citizenship, on what possible ground can you take it away from women? Is it simply because they are women? We have heard, and it has never been disputed, that there are 20,000 tenant farmers who are women in this country, and that one-seventh of the real estate of this country is in the hands of women. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) said that the argument with regard to the tenant farmers, which I venture to think was a very strong one, was not a strong one, inasmuch as their farms are administered by their sons or other near relatives. If the hon. Member thinks that the advice of the sons or other near relatives with regard to the administration of estates was good, why should not sons or other near relatives advise those who have a vote as to the proper way in which they should exercise it? On the other hand, I would point out to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) that his argument cannot be taken in connection with this Reform Bill, because, if the Bill passes, sons and others employed on an estate will have a vote themselves. There lies the absurdity of the whole position. The woman who is the owner and occupier and the employer of the men will have no vote; whereas the yokels she employs will have a vote. I do not think that a weaker argument against the case could be found. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), whose speech by-the-bye was a most refreshing one, spoke with an earnestness and conviction which made it clear to the mind of everybody that his heart and soul were thoroughly in the subject on which he addressed the Committee. Well, the right hon. Gentleman told us that he did not for a moment believe the assertions that had been made that Lord Beaconsfield was not sincere in the support which he accorded to woman suffrage. Now, I remember that Lord Beaconsfield, speaking a long time ago upon the privileges of citizenship which are now to be refused by a Liberal Government, said— The privilege of citizenship is to give to everyone who is worthy of it a fair share in the government of the country by means of the elective franchise. I am at a loss to understand by what ingenuity of logic right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite can possibly get out of the position that the right of citizenship means a fair share in the government of the country by means of the elective franchise. I have observed that in the discussion upon the question of woman suffrage, hon. Gentlemen always endeavour to introduce extraneous matter. The only question at issue is, whether unmarried women, possessing the necessary qualifications, should be entitled to vote in the same manner as men would be holding the same qualifications. The hon. Baronot the Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease) said that hon. Members on this side of the House are not in favour of giving married women, the vote. The spinster or the widow of to-day may be the married woman of to-morrow; to-day she has a vote, tomorrow she has not. Therefore, I cannot, for the life of me, understand the cogency of the argument of the hon. Baronet the Member for South Durham. I recollect that, in the debate last year, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General (Sir Henry James) used these words— The hon. Member for Wolverhampton said —'Why not give the franchise to woman, when she is willing to discharge all the obligations to the State? But is she able to do so? Ought not a person who claims the rights of citizenship to be able to fulfil all its burdens? What is the first duty of a citizen? It is to defend the country in time of war…Will she do that?' "—(3 Hansard, [281] 719.) But what is the answer to that? You might just as well say, because a man is lame or blind, and, therefore, cannot be a soldier, he is not entitled to vote. A woman does not he-come a soldier, because it is not her vocation; a man who is blind cannot enter the Army, because he is not fit for the service. Such was the argument used by the hon. and learned Attorney General (Sir Henry James) last year; and as his speech, unfortunately, was delivered at the end of the debate, no one had an opportunity of replying to it. Such are the sort of arguments which are consistently put forward by the opponents of this measure. I do not see any danger whatever in according the franchise to women, and I cannot understand the objection to it. If women are properly qualified as regards property, if they fulfil all the conditions of citizenship and are compos mentis, and fit to exercise the right of voting, why, because they are women, should they be excluded from the exercise of that right? The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) said there was no sort of parallel between the case of women voting in municipal and school board elections and their voting for Members of Parliament, I think, on the contrary, that there is every analogy between the two cases. To vote for municipal councillors, or for members of a school board, is a function of citizenship. To vote for a Member of Parliament is also a function of citizenship, though it may be a function of citizenship of a higher degree. Two years ago women were not eligible to take degrees at Universities; and we recollect the great outcry against women being made eligible to take them; indeed, it was said that if they were, the old characters of the Universities would cease to exist. Why, even lately, there was a great discussion on this subject at Oxford, and by a large majority women were admitted to the examinations for degrees. Is it a fact that the Universities have deteriorated in character, because of the admission of women? Statistics show that this is not the case, and that the intelligence of women is on a par with the intelligence of men. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) also said that, if women were granted the franchise, an hysterical and cowardly element would be introduced into politics. Bearing in mind what the policy of the Government has been, I can understand that that might reasonably occur to the mind of the hon. Gentleman; but if we take the average of English Governments of late years, I do not think we need be at all afraid that the influence of women would exercise a cowardly or hysterical effect upon State policy. Such arguments may be dismissed for what they are worth; the question remains the same— namely, whether you are prepared to come before the country and say that 2,000,000 of men, who are not enfranchised, are entitled to the franchise; and, at the same time, withhold the vote from 400,000 women, who are better qualified to have votes than the 2,000,000 of agricultural labourers to whom you propose to give the franchise. Luckily, in England we have no Salic Law; and if there be a country in the world in which women should not suffer from electoral disabilities, it is England. Surely our history proves this. Where can you find in the pages of the history of any country so brilliant a record as that in the Reign of Elizabeth, or Anne, or our good Queen, Victoria? The defeat of the Spanish Armada, the Wars of Marl-borough, and our victories in the Crimea and India, are the results of a policy which certainly cannot be described as hysterical or cowardly. I think that with these examples of women before us— women who have governed over this nation of warriors with a hand of iron, though in a glove of silk—we should be trifling with the subject were we to accept the argument of the hon. Member for Huddersfield and others, that by granting to women the privilege of voting for Members of Parliament, we should introduce an hysterical and cowardly element into the Legislature of the country. It is because I hold these views very strongly, that I shall, as on previous occasions I have voted for similar Motions, vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke.


I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry De Worms) would not like to get any man's vote on the strength of an argument he could no prove; so I assure him that women cannot graduate in either of the two old English Universities. They can, no doubt, take part in the examinations, and be reported by the examiners; but they cannot take degrees. I can also assure my hon. Friend that if the question of the graduation of women in these Universities were to be raised, it would not be regarded as so light and airy a question as he seems to think it. When my noble Friend the Member for South Wiltshire (Viscount Folkestone) got up and declared he meant to change his vote on this matter, I own I listened with great attention. The arguments he adduced were a great deal marred, in my opinion, by the promise he gave to perform the part of the returning prodigal when the right time comes. And that leads me to another question; but it is one which no one will answer. It is, that if this Amendment or clause were separated from the present Bill, how many on this side of the House would vote for it? I think many would follow the reserved provision of my noble Friend the Member for South Wiltshire. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) has been reproached by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), and by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, and by other hon. Members, for hectoring, or bullying, or lecturing the Committee. My objection to the course taken by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) is of a very different nature; it is that I think the bribe he has displayed brings him actually under the penalties of the Corrupt Practices Act. If ever there were a bribe given with a jubilant contempt for dis- guise, it was the right hon. Gentleman's statement that if the clause of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) were passed, this reform Bill would be imperilled. That was really carrying the persuasion of opponents to an illegitimate extent. Little as I have been able to bend my affection to this reform Bill, I can see that female suffrage is a step so much more objectionable that, if I were certain my single vote would carry the clause of the hon. Member for Stoke, and that that single vote would destroy this Bill, I should vote against the clause. Very gravely I declare that I cannot consider this is a question to be played with as a mere card in the political game, and I reproach both sides of the House for the way in which it has been brought forward and dealt with. It has been truly said that this question goes to the very root of the providential constitution of the human race; and it is all very well for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich to try to throw the onus on us, as if we were opposing something self-evident. If the thing is self-evident, why has it not been regarded as such in any place in the world, except in two Backwood States of America—which, I believe, have already done their best to annul the ill-judged arrangement—and, in an anomalous way, in modern Italy? The Prime Minister made a great mistake when he talked of this as a question new to the House of Commons. It is an old question, for it has been 10 times rejected. Years ago, a Bill for the enfranchisement of women slipped through a second reading; but the House was so alarmed and startled at what it had done, that, Sir, on the Motion to go into Committee, an honoured Member of this House and your Predecessor in the Chair, Mr. Bouverie, led the opposition, and by a magnificent majority the proposal was defeated. The whole onus probandi lies with the originators of this proposal. In no country in Europe, with the single exception of the anomalous case of Italy, has the principle of this clause been accepted. I will not follow the example of those who argue the question from the beginning. I have done so several times in this House; and, as I do not want to be reckoned amongst those hon. Members who are always playing on one string of one fiddle, I reserve my arguments for some future day, in this or some other Parliament, when the question comes up as a substantive Motion. I wish to deal with it now in connection with the Franchise Bill; and I contend that to make this proposal in connection with the Franchise Bill is merely to play with our credulity; it is like children in the dark playing at ghost to pretend that this is to be dealt with as a question of female ratepayers or old women farmeresses of Warwickshire. One of the most influential Members of the Cabinet stated, not many months ago, that the goal for which he was aiming was manhood suffrage. That is an honest position, though a startling one. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) has never recanted, and it is self-evident that this Bill, whether we like it or not, is a very long stride towards manhood suffrage. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I never implied that it was so in the intention of my right hon. Friend; but bystanders may often see further than the actors. It is my opinion that this Bill is a very long stride in that direction. I do not say my right hon. Friend means it to be so. I earnestly believe he does not; but I believe that a Bill which at once creates a constituency of 2,000,000 in the small area of the United Kingdom is such a concession to numbers that the bulwarks against manhood suffrage are very much weakened. That is my conviction; so I say that, from my point of view, to argue the question of female suffrage as if it were a mere question of female ratepayers is to trifle with the subject. This Bill in itself is, intentionally or unintentionally, a contribution to the cause of manhood suffrage. This female suffrage additionally thrust on it would be a contribution towards that more than manhood franchise, for the title to which the only condition would be that the voter is a member of that which naturalists call the genus homo, and is residing in this United Kingdom, or these disunited Republics, as the case may then be. I have always objected to female suffrage, as being contrary to what I believe is the manifest order of Nature, contrary to good policy, and an innovation greater than any that has ever been tried. I cannot accept the change; and the bribe that to pass the clause of the hon. Member for Stoke would endanger this Franchise Bill is, as I have said, though very tempting, one that it is a duty for me most steadfastly to resist. Never shall I have gone into the Lobby with greater satisfaction than that with which I shall follow my right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), though for diametrically opposite reasons, but with a similar result; and I only hope that, when the question of female suffrage comes on again under different circumstances, and we have to oppose it without any reference to a reform Bill, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will return the compliment.


I could not give the vote, which I think it my duty to give on this occasion, without offering some explanation of the causes which have led me to take what undoubtedly is, for the present, a change of front in relation to this question. For many years I have advocated the extension of the franchise to certain women, and I have done it on this ground—that I believe that in any Representative Assemblies unrepresented interests are never attended to. I cannot conceal from myself that, of late years, the public conscience has been considerably stirred as to the legitimate rights of women. A great deal has been done for the education of women; they have been admitted—and most rightly admitted—to studies at the Universities; and I believe, notwithstanding what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Beresford Hope), that there is one University—the London University—which has admitted women to degrees. These habits are catching in other Universities; and I have very little doubt that my right hon. Friend will soon find that, in his own University, to which I belong, women will be admitted to degrees. While favouring the principle of woman suffrage, I strongly object to it being pitchforked into this Bill. In the first place, we do not quite know how women may use this franchise; though I should like to say a word or two about how I have known them use an analogous franchise. In the next place, the question ought to be thoroughly debated, and not raised on a side issue. There are many women whom it would not only be undesirable, but positively odious, to admit to the franchise. I do not want to pursue such a topic far; but there is a body of female householders and lodgers whom no one desires to enfranchise; and in discussing the clause of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) the Committee should bear in mind that while a good and excellent woman is one of the best things one sees in Nature, and a thing a man is always ready to honour and reverence, a bad woman, is the most odious and most hateful thing in Nature. Such questions as this must be considered very broadly; and I say, quite irrespective of what the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has said, that supposing this clause were carried, it would be absolutely necessary to spend a large amount of the time of the House in devising means by which this franchise should be so arranged as to exclude the persons who are, in some respects, not qualified to exercise the suffrage. I said just now I should say a word about the way in which an analogous franchise has been used by women. Last November an election took place for a Town Councillor in the City of Oxford, and one of the candidates was Sir George Rickards, a gentleman well known to Members of this House. Sir George Rickards had gone to reside in Oxford; he had large local knowledge; lie had a high personal character; indeed, his general reputation eminently fitted him for the position he sought to fill. I do not know that he stood in any particular interest. I do not know that he has any strong political opinions; but he certainly is a very strong friend of the Church. There was brought against him a person who had been on the Bench for the City of Oxford; but who, on his confession, had been guilty of the grossest and most scandalous personal bribery in a Parliamentary Election held a short time before. Had the Election inquiry at Oxford been conducted as it should have been, the evidence against this man would have been forthcoming, and he ought to been have committed to prison for some mouths. As it was, it was absolutely necessary he should be turned off the Bench. Now, it is admitted that this disreputable person was returned as Town Councillor by the votes of the women in the North Ward. I cannot help thinking that we must hesitate a little before we believe in the moral sense of women with regard to public questions. In nay opinion, it is an open question whether women will give a true deliverance upon public matters; because I am bound to say what occurred at Oxford created in me very considerable alarm as to what might happen if women were admitted to the franchise. A certain enfranchisement of women may be desirable. I have all along felt that in certain directions it is expedient that the franchise should be given to them; but I want to hear a little more about it before I vote for such a Motion as this. I want, for instance, to have a larger amount of information as to what the judgment of women is with regard to those public functions which they would be called upon to perform. I do not think the advocates of the Amendment have made out so clear a case that I can at once make up my mind on so large a question as the extension of the franchise to women—certainly not to support a Motion couched in such broad terms as the present. I have had the honour of listening to what the hon. Member for Stoke has said in support of his Amendment, and am prepared to admit that the hon. Member has advocated his case with great discretion and force. It is easy to show instances where considerable wrong has been done to women through their not having the franchise—for example, those who are engaged in the occupation of farming frequently lose their holdings in consequence. Very often when their husbands die, and no vote can be given in respect of their holdings, fresh male tenants who can exercise the franchise are sought. There are many women who ought to have, for gaining a living, facilities which have not been given to them in times past; and there are a variety of functions which women can perform with admirable skill and tact and success, that men cannot rival; but it is very questionable whether these disabilities should be removed in a Bill of this kind, which is characterized by a few simple principles—whether, in this measure, so large an addition to the franchise should be introduced. I will only further observe that in the votes I have given on the Bill—an dido not think I have been absent from one Division—I have thought it to be expedient to treat the measure on the lines of "one man one vote." If the hon. Member for Penrhyn (Mr. Brett) should bring forward his proposal for the disfranchisement of the Universities on some other occasion I should vote with him heartily, because I think nothing can be more disastrous, or more mischievous, than the University franchise. One who has lived in a University 40 years knows something of this—he sees something of the mischief; but if the hon. Member had brought forward his proposal on this Bill I should have opposed it. I should have thought that a thoroughly enfranchising Bill was not an opportunity for introducing any disfranchising principle; and, similarly, I think the Committee should not entertain this Amendment, having so constantly and persistently, and by such large majorities, refused to go beyond the simple purpose of assimilating the county and borough franchises. However expedient in many particulars it may be to enfranchise women, I do not think a clause for the purpose could with propriety or wisdom be introduced into this Bill.


It was a very pertinent question of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope), how many on this side of the House would have voted for this Amendment if it had been brought in as a measure by itself? There is a curious difference of opinion on this subject between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers) who has just sat down, and who is so well known and so highly respected in the Universities. I think, however, I can answer the right hon. Gentleman's question—"How many hon. Members on this side of the House would not have voted for the Amendment if it had been brought forward as a substantive Motion?" Perhaps a large number. A great many who have not made up their minds on the question are now determined to vote for the proposal. In the old state of the franchise, it was not so much a matter of importance to women whether they possessed votes or not; but now that this Bill proposes to create 2,000,000 new voters of a much lower order than those who have been hitherto exercising the franchise, it becomes of importance to secure some countervailing advantage in the shape of 400,000 women voters, who, for the most part, are possessed of education and property. Having answered that question, I, in turn, would now ask the hon. Member for Southwark, how many hon. Members on the other side of the House would have voted for the Amendment, believing it to be right and just, if it had not been for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government the day before yesterday? We know that 110 hon. Gentlemen, sitting on the other side of the House, this year signed a Memorial to the right hon. Gentleman expressing the opinion "that no measure"—I am quoting now from a Resolution passed with only two dissentients at a large meeting held at 29 Parliament Street yesterday, the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) in the chair — "for the extension of the franchise could be satisfactory that did not contain provisions for extending the suffrage to women qualified to vote." [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister shakes his head. That Memorial, I say, was signed by 110 Liberal Members.


The hon. and gallant Member is referring to a Motion passed this year.


I believe I said this year. The mistake rests with me. It was a slip of the tongue—I should have said last year.


It was in May last year.


It does not matter. The statement is the same. We know perfectly well that 110 Gentlemen sitting on the other side of the House were of opinion that no measure on the subject of the extension of the franchise should be passed without extending it to women; and yet we know perfectly well that nothing like that number from the opposite side will support this Amendment to-night by their votes. The chief argument which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister brings against it is not that the Amendment is wrong in itself, and not that sound arguments can be adduced against the admission to the franchise of women of respectability, and who have a stake in the country; but that it is impossible to add any Amendment, either important or unimportant, and certainly not this very important one, to this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said the ship is overloaded.


The vessel.


Well, the vessel. The vessel, he says, is already loaded down to the load line. It is loaded down to the load line with these 2,000,000 male voters, a large proportion of whom have no stake in the country; so that it will be swamped and lost by the addition to the franchise of 400,000 women, possessing- a stake in the country, and every right as citizens to vote. I say, then, that the ship must be in a very precarious state, indeed; and I pity the crew if they are to be swamped by such an addition to their cargo. The right hon. Gentleman considers that the ship would be swamped by 400,000 extra votes of women; but he does not seem to fear, in the least, the enormous number of extra Irish votes he proposes to take on board—a number far exceeding that which lie put before us in his opening speech. Then, we are told, this is a matter which can wait. And what are the women likely to get by waiting? They have waited 17 years, during which the subject has been discussed; and now they are told that they are to wait until 2,000,000 of the common orders have been admitted to a share in the Parliamentary management of the country—2,000,000 of the substratum of society from which the enemies, the oppressors, of women come; from which come the wife-beaters and wife-kickers, whom we see mentioned in our police reports nearly every day. The class the right hon. Gentleman wishes to entrust with a share in the management of the affairs of the country is largely composed of men who consider their wives so many beasts of burden, who live on their wages, ill-use them, and treat them more like animals than human beings. I say the cause of woman suffrage will be thrown back for many years if you do not concede it in this Amendment. For this reason, I shall vote for it, if for no other. I agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease), that the question as to Boadicea and Joan of Arc, and so forth, is beyond the point; but I must join issue with the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), when he introduces the Scriptural argument, and tells us that no instance can be given in which, in Scripture, women did anything to advance the State. The hon. Gentleman relies solely on Scripture; but he seems to have forgotten the people of Israel who were ruled by Deborah and led by Deborah to victory, and that Solomon did not disdain to receive the Queen of Sheba as the Empress of a great nation. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: She acted under advice.] The hon. Member, sotto voce, says to me that Deborah acted under advice; but it is not the way I read Scripture. I read it that it was the weak vessel who decided that the children of Israel should vote against their rulers. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham) used an argument which I think a most unworthy one—namely, that the franchise is not to be extended to women, because, unhappily, in this country, as in all others, there are women of a degraded and debased class. Because there are 40,000 of them in this Metropolis alone, the remaining women who are pure and virtuous are to be deprived of the power of voting. But will the hon. Member guarantee that the 2,000,000 men the Bill proposes to enfranchise, and whom he is perfectly prepared to see enfranchised, shall be pure and perfectly moral men? Will he insure that amongst these 2,000,000 men there are none who are living on the wages of the sin of these unfortunate women? Will he exclude every man who seduces a poor girl and brings her into this miserable class? No; men may sin and be a power in the State; but when a woman sins, not only is she to have no power, but her whole sisterhood are to be excluded from it. I consider the argument used by the hon. Member an unworthy one, and one which will not bear the test of examination. I began by saying that a great many hon. Members on this side of the House would probably not have voted for this Amendment had it come up in the shape of a substantive measure. I believe, also, that a few years ago a great many women would have been against this as a substantive Motion, who now welcome it. I know this, for I have had a great many letters on the subject from ladies —so many, in fact, that I am obliged to cease answering them. I know that all over Ireland, among the respectable classes, there has been an enormous change of opinion; but if I were to speak for any length of time on this subject, I should not be able to put the case in clearer, terser, or better language than does a lady who has written to me, and whose letter I hold in my hand. She expresses herself so well that I will read what she says. She writes— By my former marriage, I am possessed of separate property and pay taxes of every kind. I have never, hitherto, wished to step out of the seclusion of private life; but when I learn that this last act of Mr. Gladstone's midsummer madness may place a vote in the hands of my servant in my Gate Lodge, who has free house and coal, and so much a week from me, while I, the mistress, will have none, and he will, of course, follow the guidance of his priest, voting from my house, while I am a useless unit, because, forsooth, I am a woman, I am tempted to recollect that I am also a reasonable human soul, created by Him, who has said that in Him there is neither male nor female. This woman is to be denied the franchise and the right of protecting her property, whilst her lodge keeper is to have the right of taking part in the management of public affairs, and, possibly, of voting away her property. Where is the justice of this? I maintain that, however the question of female suffrage stood before, it is immeasurably strengthened now, and is rendered absolutely necessary, and that it should be immediately granted by this Bill. I entirely agree that if this clause is inserted in the Bill it will make it, to a certain extent, a more Conservative measure. I agree with the argument that by placing household suffrage in the hands of the head of the household—whether male or female—you will prevent the extension of the franchise beyond household suffrage—that is to say, prevent its extension to manhood suffrage. I believe that every idea of common sense points to the desirability of supporting the Amendment; and I, therefore, have great pleasure in doing so.


I am strongly opposed to female suffrage. I dislike very much the way in which the agitation has been got up; but, as a matter of principle, I am opposed to all agitation. I think there is nothing more reprehensible than for a number of persons to agitate for the purpose of diverting the action of Members of Parliament. When I was a candidate for a seat in Parliament, I had numerous memorials and letters sent me by the opponents of vaccination, temperance advocates, and others; and yet, although I was threatened by them, if I did not promise my support to their movements, I never replied to one of their communications. Nevertheless, I was returned by a majority of more than three to one; and that was, I believe, because people always respect those who act according to their principles, and will not listen to agitation got up by any class of people, be they respectable or be they not. There is one thing as to this agitation which is extremely revolting, and that is that a number of ladies—of whom I desire always to speak with respect—are connected with it who have also been associated with another agitation which it is not decent to refer to further. Suffice it to say that it was an agitation against a certain measure which, in the judgment of Ministers—which, in the judgment of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington)—was absolutely necessary for the preservation of the health of our soldiers and sailors. This measure, in spite of its necessity, has now been discarded against the real opinion of the House, against the opinion of all the officials of any importance, because an agitation has been unscrupulously brought to bear on the question by a great number of those very ladies who are associated now with this claim for female suffrage. The thing, I contend, comes before the House in a very unsavoury aspect. I am hero to state what I feel, and what I believe about it. Hon. Members have spoken of the number of letters they have received; but, for my own part, I am thankful to say that for some time past I have ceased to be pestered with communications on this subject. I am thankful, because it saves me the discourtesy of refusing to reply to a lady. I used to get letters, but I am glad to say I have had none for some time now. I say this with every respect for the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down. I am sure we all feel that the sentiments he expressed were those of his heart, and that the voice he gave to those sentiments here was dictated by his sense of right. I felt every respect for him. I felt that he stood on a far higher platform than I did, and that he entertained a far more exalted impression of the sex than myself. But we must look on these questions from a large and broad point of view. I sympathize very deeply with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), because I have always thought that the distinction of the sexes is a matter of Divine law. From Genesis to Revelation it is clear that the law is uniform. In Genesis we see the woman told that the husband shall rule over her; and in the Epistles we are told that woman is made for man. Such is the Divine Will, and no amount of screaming or agitation, or letters, or papers, or journals can alter the relation between the sexes. I have spoken as a man; I am now going to speak as a lawyer, and to call attention to a very singular fact which I have noticed during the discussion. A short time ago, in. 1881, an Act was passed called the "Married Women's Property Act." I ventured to show, and I trust with earnestness, what the result would be. I told the House that we should see a woman residing in a house with her husband, and giving him notice to quit. I was laughed at; but what I predicted has actually occurred. I claim, therefore, to be possessed of some knowledge of what we are about. It is curious that no one on the other side has referred to the effect of the Married Women's Property Act; but it is important to consider it in connection with this proposal. This dishonest agitation is denounced for this reason, that there are two opinions—and the agitators try to conceal the fact — one being that the widows and spinsters possessed of property should have the vote; and the other being that all women, so far as they have the same qualification as men, should vote. It is clear there is a division between the two sections of agitators on this question; and I ask, is it honest for those who have really the desire to make all women voters—or practically all—to pretend that they only want to enfranchise widows and spinsters? No, Sir. But it is easy, when an agitation is got up, for two kinds of opinion to coalesce —for Gentlemen who do not wish to see the point ultimately carried to combine with the agitators who do. In a matter like this a great many Gentlemen vote for an abstract Resolution who have not the courage to vote for the principle involved when it comes to something really practical. Such a course is cruel even to the agitators. The ladies who are engaged in the affair say—"Oh, So-and-so and So-and-so are voting with us this time," and the deluded creatures go counting up their imaginary gains; but when the time comes they find these false supporters slip away one by one, until they cannot get any of the promised votes. I am glad reference has been made to the 110 Members who requested the Prime Minister to include this principle in his Bill; hut I was suprised to see the right hon. Gentleman shake his head when the reference was made. No doubt he was right so far that the Memorial was not presented this year; but that shake of the head, at first, meant more than that. It meant a general denial; but the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel King-Harman) was provided with a reference. You should always be provided with a reference when you have the Prime Minister opposite you—always have all the Blue Books and documents you can possibly arm yourself with when you are going to make a speech in his presence. Well, are those 110 Gentlemen opposite going to vote for the admission of women to the franchise? No; because of the embarrassing declaration of the right hon. Gentleman two days ago. All that talk about overloading the ship is sheer nonsense. With his tremendous majority at his back, with his wonderful power of performing business, and more than human power of explanation, the right hon. Gentleman can do what he pleases. He can make the 110 vote with him if he chooses, because the hon. Members who signed the Memorial will certainly vote with the right hon. Gentleman directly he sets his foot down, whatever their own convictions may be. I am afraid there are, at least, two unhappy Members of the Government who have been here watching the debate and who are really devoted advocates of the enfranchisement of women, who are trembling in their slices to know whether or not they will be allowed to retire without voting. Is that not a pitiable sight? Why could not the right hon. Gentleman have made this an open question? Simply for one reason—nothing more nor less than—well, I am not going to repeat the Latin quotation the House heard from an hon. Member to-day, because it would be painful to do so, seeing that the passage in Juvenal refers to the cruel action of the Roman lady who used to scourge her slaves. It would be cruel to the Prime Minister and his followers to quote that. I agree with the admirable speech made by the Attorney General on this subject—I believe there never were but three speeches which have returned Members to Parliament on their merits, and that was one of them. I very much admire the courage he showed in repressing the agitation that was got up some time ago. He has always been consistent in opposition to these measures, and he must feel much more happy than many Members of the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman stands far above many of his Colleagues, and is much more far-sighted. He has always been consistent on the question. We find that the present day is a day when people must not vote as they like when the Prime Minister has put his foot down; and I am going to make an appeal to some of those 110 Members who ought now to vote for the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke. The appeal I make is this. I want to-night to see a free expression of the opinion of the House. I consider the conduct of the Prime Minister has to a certain extent prevented that being possible; but, knowing as I do that a great number of those 110 Members are going to vote for the Government, I am anxious to pair with one of them, and the only way in which I can pair is this. I must select one of them, and I must consider that my vote is a vote for this proposition, although I am really pairing with an hon. Member who is voting against it, but really for it; and the effect of my so voting will be that it will only to a small extent correct the vote of the 110 who will vote with the Government against this proposal.


I am not one of the 110 Members who signed the Memorial to the Prime Minister to which the hon. and learned Member has referred; but I have voted in this House in favour of the inclusion of women in the Parliamentary franchise, and for many years have been, and still am, in favour of their inclusion. But I consider that it is more than doubtful whether, if the Government had introduced a clause into this Bill giving the franchise to women—indeed, I am certain there would not have been on the second reading of the Bill a majority anything like that which supported the second reading. I think that whilst, in my opinion, there would have been a majority, it would have been so small that it would in effect have been an invitation to the House of Lords to reject the Bill. In my view the arguments of the Prime Minister are absolutely unanswerable; and whilst I advocate, and shall continue to advocate, women's suf- frage— that is to say, the exercise of the franchise by the spinster and the widow —there I stop, I shall vote against the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke. In so doing, I believe I interpret the wishes of 9–10ths of my constituents. I may tell the House that there are 60,000 or 70,000 persons in South-East Lancashire duly qualified to exercise the franchise who are anxiously waiting for this Bill to become law to enable them to do so. I am quite certain that in voting against this clause, and in voting for the Government, I retard, but only for a time, the extension of the franchise to women. I am quite satisfied that I interpret the wishes of my constituents, and that I do no harm to the advance of women's suffrage in voting, as on this occasion I shall vote, with the Government.


I desire to say, in a few words, that I have very great pleasure in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke, because it does appear to me some what anomalous that one-half of the community should be debarred, by the mere accident of sex, from the privilege attaching to all capable citizens, although fulfilling all the conditions which entitle the other half to the satisfactory exercise of electoral functions. Why, let me ask, should we capriciously withhold the suffrage from women? Why are we to lay it down as an unalterable canon that, no matter what their merits or their capacity may be, women may never hope to exercise any voice or influence in the preparation of those measures which should concern them quite as closely as, and, in many cases, much more closely, than, men? Is it pretended that women are incapable of performing any electoral duties, or is it suggested that any danger will accrue to the State from admitting them, at the present time, within the pale of the Constitution? There has been only one cry of alarm on that point, and that was raised a few days ago in the columns of The Times. Admiral Maxse has discovered a possible source of danger in the circumstance that, at a time of great political excitement, the majority of men may find themselves defeated in their purpose by a combination of the minority of men with the majority of women. I do not believe in the probability of any such combination; but I admit, for the moment, for the sake of argument, its possibility. What becomes of the boasted secrecy of the Ballot if you are able to follow and trace out the votes of so many electors? Admiral Maxse asserts, on the authority of a French statesman, that if female suffrage were exercised at the present moment in France a revolution would certainly ensue; but what is the result at this moment of manhood suffrage in France? At this very moment a Divorce Bill is passing through the Senate, punishing a wife in the most rigorous manner for a single act of infidelity, while refusing relief to her for any number of similar acts committed by her husband. That is the atrocious and infamous legislation which is possible—nay, even probable—under a system of manhood suffrage. Then, again, it has been asserted that women should be excluded from the electoral franchise because they are incapable of performing military service—because they cannot pay what is called the "blood tax;" but I would remind the Committee that this argument is equally applicable to the case of many men—to the case of clergymen, for instance; to men who are physically incapacitated. In this country of voluntary service, comparatively few citizens are called upon to pay the "blood tax," or to render any military service whatever. Depend upon it, the axiom that there shall be 110 taxation without representation is quite as applicable to the case of women as to the case of men; and while on this point I rejoice to see this evening, in a letter in The Pall Mall Gazette from Miss Müller, who has been called upon to pay her rates, that she has courageously refused to do so, and that when she was warned by the rate-collector that he would be obliged to distrain, she told him that she felt herself conscientiously compelled to bar the door against him, and that he must force his way in. If all women would act as Miss Muller is prepared to act they would not have long to wait for the electoral suffrage. Again, it has been said that politics are not the business of women; that they take no interest in politics; but if such be the case, is it not the fault of those who do their best to debar them from taking any such interest? Moreover, I contend that the great majority of women take as much interest as the majority of men in politics, for the great majority of men, except on the polling day, take no interest in politics at all. Why, even Mr. Pox, at the end of the last century, admitted the political capacities of women, for in a speech in the House of Commons on the 26th of May, 1797—that is curious, I believe, as the first occasion upon which the question of female suffrage was ever mentioned in the House of Commons. He observed— In all the theories and projects of the most absurd speculation, it has never been suggested that it would be advisable to extend the elective suffrage to the female sex; and yet, justly respecting, as we must do, the mental powers, the acquirements, the discrimination, and the talents of the women of England, in the pro-sent improved state of society—knowing the opportunities which they have for acquiring knowledge—that they have interests as dear and as important as our own, it must be the genuine feeling of every gentleman who hears me that all the superior classes of the female sex of England must be more capable of exercising the elective suffrage with deliberation and propriety than the uninformed individuals of the lowest class of men to whom the advocates of universal suffrage would extend it."— (Parl. History, [33] 726–7.) That was the opinion of Mr. Fox then and if the women of England were capable citizens in the days of Mr. Fox, in what he called the improved state of society, what would Mr. Fox's opinion have been if he could have seen the women of the present day? What would he have said if he could have seen, for instance, the labours of a Miss Nightingale or a Miss Davenport Hill; or if he could have been informed of the great honours reaped only a few days ago by a young lady at Cambridge, in the Tripos, I think, of Moral Science, distancing all her male competitors, not one of whom was able to obtain the First Class, which was only reserved for her? The fact is that the education and the employments, the occupations and the pursuits of women have been completely changed since the days of Mr. Fox, and even since the days of Mr. John Stuart Mill, who in 1867 first brought the question of female suffrage before this House. On that occasion Mr. Mill complained that the Universities were closed against women, and that by the merest accident one lady, Mrs. Garrett Anderson, had succeeded in obtaining admission into the Medical Profession by a door which had been accidentally left open, and which after she had entered was immediately closed behind her. These things are now happily changed. Women, as we have been informed to-night, have been admitted to the same education, and to the same pursuits as men, and the institution of secret voting has removed the last objection to the admission of women to the suffrage. It is idle to pretend that women are represented by their male relatives—you might as well say that agricultural labourers are represented by farmers. What we ask is that women shall no longer be treated as children or as lunatics, but that they shall vote or abstain from voting as they please for Members of this House. We have been told by the Prime Minister and others that the present time is not opportune for opening up this question; but if the present time be inopportune, will the Prime Minister tell us what time will be opportune? If this question is raised either next year or the year after, will it not be said—"You are re-opening the whole question of electoral reform, which has been happily settled for years to come?" I warn those Liberal Members who have hitherto been supposed to be favourable to this proposal of female suffrage, but who now unaccountably and pusillanimously hold back, that the more convenient season for which they are waiting will never come. Upon those Liberal Members must rest the responsibility for the negation of this measure; and I tell the Prime Minister that again and again, in and out of season, we shall press this matter upon his notice, and that until this matter is happily settled he need not expect any rest or repose. We shall knock louder and yet louder until the doors of the Constitution are at last thrown open to these capable citizens. I am not a recent convert upon this matter. I have studied this question carefully and long, and I never gave a vote with greater satisfaction than that which I propose to give to-night in support of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite.


After the speech of the Prime Minister I do not feel disposed to go with the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Major General Alexander) and others who support the proposal. The Prime Minister tells us that it will endanger the Bill, and we must believe him. There can be no doubt as to our duty in this matter, and after the speeches of to-day my mind is converted from the view I previously took; but it is a matter of real justice that those who have property should have votes. They are perfectly competent to vote; but the speech of the Prime Minister mates it necessary for me to abstain, from voting.


I am one of those Members of the House who are indifferent as to whether the Prime Minister has left this an open question or not; though, for my own part, I rather regret that he has not done so, because if he had left it open, it would have been determined upon its merits; and, for the first time in this House, as a matter of practical politics. I remember many occasions upon which this question has been brought forward in this House when its defeat could be predicted, and many hon. Members no doubt gave votes out of good nature, which they would not have given if they had been satisfied that the votes they gave would be followed by any practical operation; and I believe we should have found the numbers of those who gave votes on previous occasions considerably reduced. In the course of this debate reference has been made by most of the hon. Members who have spoken to the qualification of women for performing certain duties, and for carrying out employments in which they may be satisfactorily engaged. I do not know anyone who desires for a moment to dispute their qualification with regard to these matters. There is no doubt, as has been suggested by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall), that women are great teachers of the young, and that their number as teachers has greatly increased. I think that is a matter upon which the country and the women themselves are very much to be congratulated. One cannot conceive any duty that can be better or more faithfully fulfilled than that of the noble army of teachers of the youth of this country. Whether it will be equally satisfactory to the country, or at all events to the male portion of it, that there should be the same increase in the noble army of milliners and dressmakers is altogether another question. With regard to the tenant farmers, to which the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry De Worms) and others have referred, that is a matter which I think requires a little further consideration, I understand that hon. Gentlemen base their assertions that there are 20,000 women tenant farmers in this country on the Census taken in 1881. I have taken an opportunity of looking at this Return, because I entertained a strong opinion that that was a very exaggerated statement; and I find from the first column with regard to the ages of these women tenant farmers, it appears that two of them are under the ago of five years; 50 are under 15 years; 156 are under 20 years; and so on in proportion. Now, I judge from that not that the Return is incorrect—I have no means or desire to impeach the accuracy of the Return—but that it does show that before any strong argument is founded upon it, it must be examined to see how many of these women farmers and graziers in the country are simply owners of the farms and pastoral lands; and we must not too readily come to the conclusion that all these women are living on their farms, and carrying on the business. But I do not think that the question of whether women are suitable for certain occupations is decisive upon this point, although I know it is a consideration which presses much upon the minds of Members and others who support the enfranchisement of women. Before I pass away from this particular item in the argument, I should like to direct the attention of hon. Members to another column in this Census as to the occupations of the people. You will find there described agricultural, mechanical, and other employments; but the last item is the heading "Indefinite and Unproductive," meaning, I suppose, persons having no visible occupation, or, it may be, persons living on their own means, or persons living on no means, easily ascertained. I should like the Committee to consider these figures in order to see how they are to judge of other figures to which reference has been made. In the United Kingdom there are 7,617,000 male persons who are put under the class of "Indefinite and Unproductive"—that is to say, 7,617,000 out of a total of 17,000,000. When we turn to the figures as to female persons, we find there are 13,195,000 who come under the class of "Indefinite and Unproductive," out of a total of 18,000,000—that is to say, whereas there are 45 per cent of men under this par- ticular class, the percentage of women is 73. Now, I do not say this is conclusive, or is a very strong argument one way or the other, and I do not rely upon this particular kind of argument at all; but I do say it is a matter which must be taken into consideration when people are founding an argument on the fact that there are a certain number of women who are engaged in one occupation, and a certain number in another occupation, and attempt to found upon that some argument favourable to this clause. Now, with regard to this question of female suffrage, there have always been two difficulties. One is the difficulty of dealing with married women; the other is, how far, if you are to give women political power at all, you will place any limit to their political power; and if you do that, where the line is to be drawn. The first of these difficulties has never been put before the House in an altogether satisfactory manner. In the debate on a Bill brought forward by Mr. Forsyth, when Member for Marylebone, the question arose as to disposition of married women. Mr. Forsyth said he entertained a strong feeling with regard to the position of unmarried women; but he did not entertain a strong feeling with regard to the position of married women; and the result was that, having made that declaration, he ceased to be the Representative in this House of the Woman's Suffrage Association and the position was given to another Member. The hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. Hugh Mason) last year brought forward a Resolution on this question. That was a Resolution which, on the face of it as one at first read it, might have been taken to mean the absolute and entire enfranchisement of all the women in the country, married or single, or it might have been supposed to be limited simply to the case of unmarried women. The hon. Member for Ashton himself, in the speech he made on introducing that Resolution, expressed a very strong-opinion with regard to the advisability of including married women in the political representation of the country, and declared that the Resolution was not brought forward with that intention. Then there came that remarkable declaration which was made by Mrs. Jacob Bright, and which has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. A. Leatham). That declaration appears to me to embody a very strong argument, for it puts this question—"Why should you refuse that to a wife and a mother which, under your proposal, you would give to a woman who is the mother of any number of illegitimate children?" I feel bound to say that, as I regard the matter, this is in reality a very strong contention. I now come to the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) which is now before the House; and I should like to ask one question of my hon. Friend. I should also like to ask the same question of some of the hon. Members who are intimately associated with this movement, and with the particular Association by which it is being advocated. The question I desire to put to them and to my hon. Friend is this—whether, when this Resolution was first drawn up, it was or was not intended to include married women? For my own part, I entertain a very strong impression that it was so intended, and I say so for this reason—that I think if it had not been intended that married women should have been included, the Resolution would have said so. Reference has already been made, in the progress of this debate, to the course pursued by the Legislature of the Isle of Man, which has given women the power of exercising the franchise; but in the statute by which that power is conferred, the words "spinsters" and "widows" are expressly used, so that there could be no possible mistake about the intention of the Legislature. I repeat, therefore, that if it had not been intended in the first instance that this clause should include the case of married women, I cannot see the reason why it should not have gone the length of stating clearly and specifically what that intention was. It has, indeed, been stated in the course. of meetings that have been held in furtherance of the movement that it is well understood that the clause would not bear this interpretation, and that it had been brought before some lawyers for interpretation, and, they having been well advised upon the matter, were of opinion that in point of law the clause would not be construed to include married women. This is all very well as far as it goes; but it might also be construed the other way; and, for my own part, I have some doubt as to whether it would not. At any rate, I am quite certain of this—that all doubt on the point could have been very easily avoided by the use of a very few words; and I will tell the Committee why I am induced to think that if the clause should be passed as a portion of this Bill in the way in which it is now drawn it would carry the case of married women. It has been said that this would not be so from, the construction which the Court of Queen's Bench put upon a similar clause in the Municipal Corporation Act, in a case brought before the Judges of that Court 12 years ago. But it must be borne in mind, in the first place, that the decision given by the Judges in that case was a decision relative to an Act of Parliament of a totally different character to the Bill now before the Committee, and that, in addition to this, there has been since that period, under various Acts of the Legislature, a, considerable alteration in the relations which at that time existed between husband and wife. For instance, there has been a great change in the law with regard to the holding of property and the power of making contracts, as well as with regard to the power of suing and proceeding against each other civilly and criminally. All these things having undergone a radical alteration since the Judges gave that decision, the relations formerly existing between husband and wife on those matters having been absolutely and entirely changed, it is to my mind by no means certain, and, indeed, in my opinion, there is very considerable doubt as to whether any Court before whom this clause might be brought for construction would not feel itself called upon to construe it to the fullest extent in favour of giving the most thorough and perfect franchise which it could be capable of conferring. One of the Judges, in pronouncing the decision to which I have referred, made this observation—that "it was a disqualification of status and not of sex." It is not my business to criticize the decisions of the Courts, or the language or proceedings of the Bench of Judges; but when I find one of the learned Judges laying it down as a legal dictum that the disqualification was one of status and not of sex, I think it right to ask the Committee to bear in mind that the disqualification of marriage is one which does not attach to a man, but which does attach to a woman, and that only by reason of her sex. I have thought it right to make these few observations with regard to the view that may be taken of the legal construction of this clause, because, on a full consideration of the Amendment of my hon. Friend, I have been led to entertain very considerable doubt as to whether it will not, as it is now worded, carry the case of the married women; and whether it has not been put in this form for the purpose of giving women to understand that under this clause they may have a chance of obtaining the franchise if they can succeed in satisfying the Court before which the question may be brought that they are entitled to it. My hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Biddell) intends to bring forward an Amendment by which he proposes to insert the word "single" before the word "woman;" and, in case that Amendment should be accepted, the clause will run in this shape—"In every case where words import the masculine gender they shall be held to include a single woman." Now, I should like to draw my hon. Friend's attention to this —that in the old authorities which constitute the law of the country there is a section devoted to the description of those phrases which are to form the additions of women, and in that description is the old phrase "single woman," which is well known alike to the law, and to the history, and to the literature of the country; and it is there stated that the proper description of a single woman is, a woman who is neither a maid, nor a wife, nor a widow. Now, we all know perfectly well from what we have heard that there is an enormous number of that particular class who will receive the benefit of the franchise if this clause should be passed. I think I know my hon. Friend too well to suppose that he would desire to confer the franchise solely on that particular class of persons; and if he wishes to see any Amendment made to the clause I would ad vise him by all means to get rid of the term "single woman," and to follow the example set by the Legislature of the Isle of Man and go back to the well-known terms "spinster" and "widow." But with regard to the question of including married women, I would say that, assuming this matter should be so disposed of that the Committee in its wisdom should either accept the proposal to enfranchise women who are married, or should refuse to give the franchise to that class of persons, then will come the further question for consideration—if you decide on giving the franchise to women at all, are you going to limit their selection of the persons for whom they are to vote? Are they to be allowed to vote for everybody except themselves? Four of my hon. Friends who have addressed the Committee have referred to the cases of Boards of Guardians and School Boards. Well, what is the state of things with regard to those Bodies? Under the existing law women have the power of voting for members of Boards of Guardians, and of voting for themselves as Guardians: they have not only the right of voting, but also of being themselves elected. The same right applies with regard to School Boards. Women have not only the right to vote for members of School Boards, but are themselves qualified to sit on those Boards, and may, if they see fit, elect each other. Well, if you make use of School Board and Poor Law and municipal franchise as an argument for conferring a political franchise on women, on what ground, I ask—what reason will you advance for the application of this argument to one state of things and not to the other? If the argument is to be applied to the question of the female franchise we are now discussing, you must either accept it as a whole, or admit that it does not form a sound and solid argument, because when applied to the political franchise it breaks down. For my own part, I am disposed to think that there is no more objection to women being elected to sit in this House than there is to confer on them the franchise in order that they may vote at the election of persons who desire to sit here. If we are to bring women into the political arena at all, I can see no reason why they are not to be introduced into our political gladiatorial combats, or prevented entering this House. But, at the same time, I entertain a very strong objection to their being brought into political life at all. Most of us know something of political life both, inside and outside the House, and have had some experience of its toils and troubles, of the envy, hatred, and malice which it engenders, and of the difficulties, disappointments, and dis- enchantments of political life. I think that those of us who have had any lengthy connection with politics must have formed a very strong opinion on this matter, and agree in regarding it as undesirable that women should be allowed to have seats in this Assembly. It has constantly been said by hon. Members engaged in the discussion of this subject that women themselves have no desire to obtain seats in this House; but that all they are desirous of is to be placed in the same position as clergymen and priests, and to be able to record their votes at Parliamentary Elections, and rest content. I, for one, do not believe a word of it. I am, at any rate, quite certain of this — that the prime movers in this agitation, the most active spirits, the most eloquent and persevering advocates of women's claims, are aiming, in their propagation of female suffrage, first of all at conferring the franchise on married women, and, secondly, on obtaining the right of election for those women who, having before them an object of honourable ambition, look forward to the time when they may have been enabled, step by step, to secure for themselves exactly the same political position as men, and may then claim to be themselves elected as Members of Parliament. I would here remind the Committee of a meeting on this subject that was held not long ago at St. James's Hall. At that meeting the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster (Mr. Rankin) made a speech, in the course of which, by a lucky accident, he hit on the question of women's claim to have seats in this House. That meeting was conducted with great skill and care—


I beg to say that what the hon. and learned Member has said is inaccurate, as it was by no means an accident.


At any rate, from what appeared in the speech of the hon. Gentleman as reported in The Women's Suffrage Journal, the hon. Member said— Sometimes it was said that if they gave women a vote they must also admit them to Parliament. He drew a distinction between voting for a Member and sitting in Parliament, and said there was no doubt that there was an essential difference in the two things. (A VOICE; 'Why?' and interruption.) And this was followed by other expressions of dissent. That being the hon. Member's view, he was quite right in expressing it, and no doubt the ladies would not think any the worse of him because he honestly stated his opinion. But it shows that the meeting did not altogether agree with him; and I will go further, and put it to the Committee, whether what I am saying is not absolutely and entirely correct; and whether it is not within the knowledge of many of my hon. Friends that a very considerable number of ladies who take a prominent part in the advancement of this movement do desire to take part in the discussions in this House—whether they do not look forward to the time when, by the action of Parliament, they may be permitted to take precisely the same part in the political affairs of the country as is now taken by men? It is said, and I know it to be the feeling of many hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) and those who have supported his proposal on this and on previous occasions, that, after all, tin's is only a limited measure; that it is only intended to give the elective franchise to a limited number of women; and that if Parliament will introduce certain checks and safeguards no great amount of harm or damage will be done, Well, if we could, upon the whole, agree to look at the matter from this point of view, and could satisfy ourselves that that would be the end of it, then we might say that no great harm would be clone; but I am disposed to entertain the opinion that before very many years are over there will be a very much greater addition to the electorate of this country than even that which is now proposed by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke. I think that events clearly point in the direction of manhood suffrage. We all know that it is so in the Colonies, and that the same thing exists in the United States of America, as well as in Germany, Prance, Denmark, Italy, Greece, and other countries, and I can see no reason why it should not be the case in this country, except that we, in England, are not quite so quick in accepting Radical or Democratic views. I will, however, suppose I am correct in this, and that it may be so accepted. I will assume, also, that this House should be induced to extend the suffrage in the way now proposed, and to give a household franchise to certain women. What, I ask, in that event, would be likely to happen? Do hon. Members think that any checks or safeguards we might now be disposed to adopt would, for a single moment, be available when the time came for pressing forward this movement in the direction I have pointed out. It is my opinion, and I think it is that of many other hon. Members, that those checks and safeguards would be entirely swept away. As the movement towards manhood and womanhood suffrage progressed, it would, in course of time, be found that some 17,000,000 or 18,000,000 of men would be admitted to the franchise and be confronted fit the polling booths with some 18,000,000 or 19,000,000 of women having a powerful influence in the conduct of political affairs in this country. I have said that a large extension of the existing suffrage is a state of things we have a right to anticipate; I am bound also to say that I do not fear it. If it comes by means of a slow and gradual progress which is good for all parties in this country, there need be no ground for alarm; but I should indeed tremble for the future of our country if the time should ever arrive when its destinies would be swayed, and, perhaps, be controlled by an enormous mass of women, numerically equalling, and, perhaps, exceeding the men—a mass of female voters who would have the power of voting on every question, whoso noblest impulses, and whose natural instincts and affections, would inevitably tend to lead them astray on great political questions, and who, I very much fear, would be subject, among other things, to this remarkable influence—that to-day they might be led by fanatics and to-morrow driven by priests. The view I have thus expressed I entertain strongly and deeply; and it is because I believe that to allow the political enfranchisement of women would be injurious to the State that I feel myself compelled to vote against the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Stoke whatever may be the course taken, by my hon. Friends around me.


I do not propose to follow my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Inderwick) through all the legal subtleties he has imported into this subject. I believe that the principle involved in this clause is sound, and that it would be found beneficial in its operation; and it is because of this belief that I intend to vote for it. I do not claim to be so orthodox a Party man as my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld); but I will say that, so far as this Bill is concerned, no man is more desirous of seeing it become law than I am, and I have been equally consistent with the right hon. Gentleman in giving it a cordial and undeviating support. I believe I have voted in every Division that has taken place upon it, and my vote has always been given in favour of the measure. I have never suggested an Amendment, and, in fact, have never uttered a single word. I do not think the most loyal supporter of the Government could have done more than this. I should regret extremely if the Bill should be imperilled by any vote I am going to give; but I do not think my present vote will have that effect, and I certainly do not think it ought. If the clause is rejected the controversy will terminate. If, on the other hand, the clause is accepted, it will have been adopted by a majority of the Committee; and I think the Government will probably, on second thoughts, be able to discover some means of adapting the Bill to the wishes of that majority. They have done this on other questions of almost equal importance; and I hope, and have no doubt, they will be able to do so on this. They would never allow the work of the Session to be sacrificed to an adverse vote on the part of their supporters in Committee. Therefore, I do not think that hon. Members on this side of the House need have any fear as to the course they may pursue in voting for this Amendment. I quite agree with the Prime Minister that it is undesirable to delay the progress of the Bill by the discussion of extraneous and irrelevant subjects; but the proposal now before the Committee does not come within that category, for it is in strict conformity with the objects of the Bill. All it asks for is that the Bill may be made to fulfil its professions, and establish a uniform household suffrage throughout the United Kingdom. This Bill will, if passed into law, enfranchise 2,000,000 of men, irrespective of intelligence and morals, of character or capacity. Occupation is the only test of fitness it imposes. If this is to be the case with regard to one set of householders, why should it not be so with regard to an- other? Why should a disqualification apply to women, and not be equally applied to men? The course of modern legislation has been to confirm the maxim that taxation and representation should be co-extensive; that rights and burdens should correspond; and that before a person suffered under the laws he should assent to them. You admit women to the gallows and the gaol, to the Income Tax list and the poor rate book. By what right do you debar them from the ballot box? The onus of proving their disqualification is thrown on the exclusionists. Let them produce it. They have not produced it yet; it has not been shown in the course of this discussion. You allow women to vote in all, to be elected to most, parochial and municipal bodies, and you have also permitted them to vote for, and to become members of, School Boards. In some of the American territories women are invested with all the rights of citizenship. Is there any man who will have the hardihood to argue that any injurious consequences have resulted from the possession of such rights? Woman's influence, whether exercised on a British School Board, or in an election, College, or Convention, amidst the rough miners on the slopes and in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains, has been been beneficent, and her authority salutary and elevating. Justice and logic, precedent and experience, are all in favour of her inclusion in the roll of citizenship. [An hon. MEMBER: Precedents?"] Yes, precedent. What is against it? Two potent forces—prejudice and pride. The prejudice engendered by the organized selfishness of human nature, and the pride induced by ages of predominance. Nothing more. Woman, it is said, is intellectually inferior to man. I will admit, for the sake of argument, the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. Leatham) that woman is man's intellectual inferior. What then? Do you not allow the humblest and feeblest, as well as the most gifted, to enjoy the same civil privileges? Has the philosopher any legal advantage over the ploughman? John Hodge is not, and never will be, the equal of a Herbert Spencer. But John Hodge is not therefore kept in tutelage and forbidden to vote. We have, on the contrary, displayed extraordinary care in providing the machinery for enabling him to exercise his political functions. Ignorance or mental incapacity does not constitute a disqualification for the franchise on the part of man. If not, why should it disfranchise woman, who, equally with John Hodge, is taxed in her labour and her property? The noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) has cited the case of women farmers. I know a district in which there are three women farmers, who hold and cultivate more than one-third of the land in that district. They have some hundreds of acres, and they constantly employ 50 or 60 workmen, and many more occasionally. If the Bill Is passed as it now stands some 35 or 40 of those men will be enfranchised, although some of them can neither read nor write, while the persons who supply the capital and intelligence and enterprize, and who find the men their labour, will be deprived of that privilege. Is there anyone, even the most credulous opponent of this clause, who believes that such an anomaly—or rather, I should say, absurdity as this—can continue? Woman, however, is not intellectually man's inferior. History, reason, analogy, prove that her faculties—from diverse vocation and tendency, from perennial legal inequality and injustice—may be dissimilar; but they are not inferior to those of man. Her position has been the gauge and thermometer of civilization in every age and country. Some of the greatest philosophers, from Plato to Condorcet and from Condorcet to Mill, have maintained that, although woman may not be identically, she is equally, endowed with man in all his intellectual capacities. It is difficult to determine whether the inconsistency that would deny Miss Nightingale and Miss Octavia Hill a vote, but would give it to the latest housebreaker just emerged from prison, or the impertinence which affects to prescribe the circuit of duty for the Martineaus, the Somervilles, the Jane Austens, and the Mrs. Brownings is the more intolerable. Women's sphere, forsooth! Who endowed the Members of this House with the power to prescribe the position and apportion the arena in which our fellow-countrymen have to labour? The proper sphere for all human beings is the largest and the loftiest which they are able to attain, and this can only be ascertained by com- plete liberty of choice. If women wish to become politicians let them. Remove all obstacles and impediments to the freest choice of career either in political or social life. Some hon. Members have argued that the domestic arena is the only one for which women are qualified; but they exhibit great ignorance and great forgetfulness of history. Our parasitic conventionalities, our fantastic and fanciful modes of life, while professing to honour women, degrade them. Our very homage contains a latent irony. It stimulates the cultivation of woman's personal graces and lighter accomplishments to the neglect of her nobler powers. We surround her with a world of dolls, and then complain that she is frivolous. We deprive her of the lessons and stimulus of practical outdoor life, and then we chide her with being flippant and undisciplined. But, notwithstanding these disadvantages, the number of women who have shone as Sovereigns, or who have risen to renown in politics, literature, art, and ordinary life, has been exceptionally large. Call the roll of the most distinguished Rulers the world has known—keep in mind the predominance of men over women—and will anyone contend that the proportion of great Queens has not been in excess of the great Kings? The three brightest eras in British history have been those in which the Sceptre has been swayed by a woman—those of Elizabeth, Anne, and Victoria. What does Austria owe to Maria Theresa, Sweden to the valiant daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, and Spain to Isabella, who pawned her jewels to fit out a fleet for Columbus? Can anyone, in the face of such instances, gainsay the fact that, the opportunity being given, woman, in spite of her artificial training, has risen to the responsibilities of rulership? But hon. Members have argued that one of the first qualifications of a citizen is to be able to fight, and that, as women cannot act as soldiers or policemen, they cannot therefore be electors — that as they cannot build ships, nor make guns, nor lead armies, they should, therefore, be deprived of their civil rights. Do we disfranchise men because they are below the military standard? Are the weak, the aged, and the failing eliminated from the Register? Is it fair to apply to woman a test we do not apply to man? We refuse to allow her to take a share in the work of the world. The enervating habits we have imposed on her have impaired her physical powers, and then we cite to her detriment the weakness which our customs have created. Men with splendid natural endowments often die mute and inglorious for want of discipline and opportunity. Great Commanders grow out of the circumstances in which their lives are cast. Open to woman the same scenes, immerse her in the same great pursuits and interests and, if she fails, then, but not till then, shall we be able to make a basis of argument against her on the ground of intellectual incapacity. Those hon. Members who use this fighting argument forget the martial energy of the Scandinavian women. When my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) mentioned the names of Boadicea and Joan of Arc, a titter went round among hon. Members, who, in their hurried march of executive life, have allowed reflection to be submerged by locomotion, thought by action, and ideality by a narrow and soulless materialism. But the names of the gifted and the lost will live, and the lessons of their lives will stir the pulses of mankind when all our petty politics are forgotten. It has been argued that domestic cares and political pursuits are incompatible. If so, why need there be any fear of conferring upon her this power? No law is required to exclude either man or woman from incompatible occupations. My contention is that women are as capable of busying themselves in State affairs as men, and that it is unjust and unwise to exclude them from active life in all its higher departments. In every great reform the majority at first have always said the claimants for power were unfit for the possession of the privileges sought. This was the stale argument used against the admission of the Jews, the Catholics, and the Dissenters to political rights. But we admitted them. Let us look around for the consequences. Why not try women? Let the tools be for those who can best use thorn, be they men or women; let facts, and not prejudices, or mere legal technicalities, settle woman's capacity, and, therefore, her sphere. We take our stand on the ground of justice and expediency, on the self-evident and indisputable prin- ciple that every class should be endowed with the power to protect itself; and on this ground we claim for women the same rights and privileges that are given to men in like position.


Sir Arthur Otway, I think it has not been fully recognized by those who, up to the present time, have spoken in favour of the clause, that we want something more than abstract argument to justify our acceptance of the principle which it embodies. On the other hand, I must say that many of the arguments which have been used against this proposal to extend the suffrage to women appear to me weak, and such as I cannot adopt. For instance, it is alleged that the franchise would unsex women; but surely Nature is stronger than any laws which we can make. Then, it is urged that women would vote with the Conservative Party; but if women really hold Conservative political opinions why should they not give effect to them? Women, people say, do not fight, and therefore a case might arise in which all the men would be on one side and all the women on the other; but can anyone suppose such cases likely to arise? But I can just as little find any force in the argument for the admission of women that taxation implies representation, for every man who buys an ounce of tobacco pays a tax to the extent of the duty, and, however large may be the taxes which a man pays, he gets no more votes. Yet no one proposes to give votes in proportion to property. It has been well said that if we are to regard the State as a Joint Stock Company, and in that Company the holder of one share and the owner of 100 shares have each a vote, it may in one sense be said that 99 shares are unrepresented. ["Name!"] Those are the words of Goldwin Smith, and I do not think that any political writer has appeared in this country who has brought a more independent judgment to bear upon this question. The State is not, however, a Joint Stock Company in which men vote according to their pecuniary contributions; and it is not really upon property that we base the franchise. Nor is this question, as my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) tried to make it last year, a sentimental question—a means of creating what my Hon. Friend called "noble woman." It is a question far too serious to be decided by vague and speculative considerations of sentiment. The true grounds for extending the franchise to any hitherto unenfranchised class are that the extension should give us a better Parliament—that it should concede a voice and influence to interests needing to be represented, and that it should enable this House more perfectly to reflect the opinion of the majority of the constituencies, so far as that majority is qualified to form an opinion. Can it be said that the admission of women is needed for these purposes? There is a consideration, to my mind, amply sufficient to decide the point, and it is this—that women, taking them all in all, are not politicians—that they know little and care less about political questions. I am aware that there are a few, and an increasing number of women who do; but how small a proportion do they constitute of the whole mass whom this clause would enfranchise? If you go down to other classes of the community you will find the difference greater; whatever class one takes the women of that class will be found to have a far smaller knowledge than the men have of political questions. If we could admit the few women who do take an interest in political questions, without admitting those who do not, I should see no objection; for I do not argue that sex, as sex, ought to disqualify. It is not because women are women, but because the conditions of their lives have not qualified them for the exercise of political power, that they are unfitted to exercise the franchise. The time may, of course, arrive when women will take an interest in, and when they shall have gained a knowledge of political questions, which they are now without, and the objections which I now take would not then be applicable. But, as things stand at present, women are in every rank and class of life much less informed on politics than men are; and they must, owing to the nature of their lives, spent so largely at home or in comparative solitude, want those opportunities of discussion and of gaining a practical knowledge of the affairs of the world which men enjoy. Let each hon. Member ask himself how many ladies there are of their acquaintance who have thought seriously on political questions, or formed their opi- nions independently? How many ladies do they know, excluding the wives and daughters of Members of this House, who even read the political intelligence in the newspapers? Surely, a very small number. I am prepared for the answer that this holds true, also, of a large proportion of the classes already enfranchised, and of those to whom the Bill seeks to extend the franchise. Doubtless, there are many among them whose political intelligence and knowledge falls far short of what is needed for the exercise of electoral power. But the franchise has been extended so widely even to those classes because there are other grounds which made it necessary—because the special interests of the town workmen and of the agricultural labourers needed to be protected by giving them votes, instead of leaving them to the mercy of the wealthier classes. No such reason exists in the case of women. They are not a class. Their wishes and needs are substantially the same as those of the men who are their relatives. In a few points only can they be said to have any separate interests, and in those points the injustices which they have no doubt suffered from are being gradually removed. One of them has been removed by the Married Women's Property Act. As respects the guardianship of children, the law is still unfair to women; but the reception given to the Bill brought in by me this Session on that subject makes it probable that hero, too, their grievance will soon be removed, although the opportunities for obstruction in this House may delay it for a year or two. Looking at the thing broadly, it cannot be said that women need votes in order to obtain remedial legislation. There is, I think, a serious fallacy in the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Woodall) and his supporters, when they urge that because some women are eminent in literature, or in philanthropic and educational work, therefore they need the franchise. Rather might my hon. Friend have observed that the more power women exert in these indirect ways the less need is there to give them electoral power. There can be no more baseless assumption than that the polling-booth is the main source of influence in politics. Women already enjoy greater influence in other ways, both public and private, than the franchise would give them. In fact, nothing is more remarkable than the skill, the energy, the success, with which they have conducted political and social agitations. They have more leisure for the work than most men; they have powers of persuasion superior to those of men; and they throw themselves into any cause they adopt with more than manlike intensity. I may be told that surely the ladies who have proved themselves to be such accomplished agitators are fitted for the suffrage. No doubt they are, but they are a very small minority; and the great mass would either vote as their male relatives or friends suggested, or else be left to the mercy of wire-pullers—perhaps female wire-pullers—who would be no desirable phenomenon in politics. Washington knows what female Lobbyists can be, and I trust it will be long before wire-pulling or any of the other arts of professional politics, unpleasing even in men, begins to be practised by women. Now, from the nature of the case the female vote in any constituency must, as things now stand, be more open to manipulation, because less independent and less based on practical knowledge, than the male vote; and its introduction will therefore tend to give us a worse instead of a better Parliament. That female vote may become a very large one. For the Committee must bear in mind that, however some hon. Members may try to persuade themselves to the contrary, it is impossible to draw a line between married and unmarried women. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent did not attempt to draw such a line, because he felt the logical as well as the practical difficulty. It is intelligible to say that all women, married and single, shall remain unenfranchised; but it is not intelligible to say that married women shall be left without the political privileges which other women are to receive. If you overleap the greater distinction, that between men and women, you cannot stop at the lesser one. The advocates of women's suffrage are usually candid enough to admit this. They do not deny that if the franchise be now conceded to unmarried ratepayers, they will forthwith start a fresh agitation for the admission of lodgers and married women. That agitation will be stronger than the present one, for its logic will be irresistible, and it will be supported by the women who will then have already obtained votes. We shall be told that it is monstrous that marriage should involve disfranchisement, and truly told, for in many respects married women are better qualified than single women for the exercise of this power. We are bound, Sir, to look at this question as if it were proposed forthwith to establish womanhood suffrage. Sooner or later the suffrage in this country will come lower than it is now; and if we are to have manhood suffrage—not so impossible in these days of Democratic Toryism, when there is really no party of resistance in England—we shall have womanhood suffrage. I cannot think that the Committee will be moved by the ingenious argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), who suggests that we shall find a security against manhood suffrage in admitting some women to a right which obviously would not be extended to all women. That is a highly speculative view. A Parliament bold enough to take the one leap might not recoil from the other. On what grounds, Sir, are we asked to make this change? On grounds of abstract theory, a dangerous guide in politics. Why are we of all nations to try an experiment, a great and perfectly novel experiment, never yet tried in any civilized country, and not so much as talked of in countries like France and Germany? It has not been tried in any of our Democratic self-governing Colonies, nor in any one of the 38 highly Democratic States of the American Union. It has been attempted in the rude and thinly-peopled territory of Wyoming—where, so far as one can make out, it works badly—and in the saintly territory of Utah, where the effect of woman suffrage is to give every Mormon husband as many votes as he has wives. But when the proposal was made recently in the great State of Ohio, it was rejected by a large majority of the people, and I believe, after careful examination, that in the United States the Woman Suffrage Question has gone back instead of forward, and that the idea is less popular, less likely to be carried out now than it was 20 years ago, when sentimentalism was a stronger force than at present in American politics. Sentimentalism must be pretty strong in England, when so many hon. Members have been drawn into supporting this movement out of mere theory and a lazy good nature. They are half amused, half curious to see how it will work; they have given a heedless assent to the persuasions addressed to them by ladies whose zeal and eloquence excite sympathy as well as admiration; they have been led into pledges which cannot easily be recalled. But we have to look at a very serious question. We are asked in the Bill to try the experiment of enfranchising 2,000,000 of men, in addition to those who now possess the franchise, and this little clause invites us to try another experiment by enfranchising, perhaps, 700,000 women, who till lately never dreamt of having it. That is a startling thing to propose in a State like this. No Member of this House feels more sincerely anxious than I do that the fullest attention should be given to women's claims, or that their interests should be treated not only with justice, but with that equitable indulgence which is due to the sex less able to protect itself by the methods open to men. I have laboured for 18 years on behalf of the higher education of women. I have joined in advocating the Married Woman's Property Act, have undertaken in this House the task of endeavouring to obtain for mothers their just rights to the guardianship of their children. And it is just because I have had, perhaps, more occasion than some other Members to know how admirable is the work women now do, and how great their influence—it is because I believe the functions they now fulfil in our social polity and in philanthropic enterprize, as well as in domestic life, to be of priceless value to the community, that I hope Parliament will not thrust upon them political duties, for which the vast majority of them are still unprepared, and which comparatively few of them have shown that they desire. If this experiment is to be tried, let it be first tried by some State with less to lose than Great Britain has by an error which may prove perilous not only to our Government but to the best interests of women themselves.


Sir, the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) just now made a speech in which he seemed to imply that we should be almost criminals if we refuse to give the vote to women. He said that those who opposed this clause were actuated either by pride or prejudice. If that be the case, then the people of all the countries in the world, with the exception of one or two territories in America, must be actuated by pride or prejudice. The hon. Member for Newcastle was exceedingly eloquent and exceedingly poetical; and although if I tried I could neither be poetical nor eloquent, I wish to address one or two observations to the Committee. Sir, I look with considerable suspicion on the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Individually I believe in the virtues of those hon. Gentlemen; politically and collectively I do not consider that they possess a single virtue; and when I heard that this clause was supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and that it would be supported in "another place" by Lord Salisbury, I thought that a Liberal should pause before going into such bad company. The argument mainly used by Gentlemen in favour of the proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) is that because we have enfranchised men, therefore we ought to enfranchise women. It may be that we should enfranchise women; but because we have enfranchised men is no reason that we should do so. We may discuss the subject eloquently, we may refer to Joan of Arc and Boadicea; but, in point of fact, from the time of Eve till now, there has been a distinct difference between man and woman. There are a great many things which I am ready to admit women can do better than men, and there are other things which I think can be better done by men than by women. Each have their separate functions, and the question is whether the exercise of electoral power is a function which women would adequately discharge? I do not think it is. As yet, I understand that no country has really given women the vote; and were it not that hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are generally averse to giving the franchise to any large body of men, think, and think justly, that a very large majority of women would vote for Conservatives, I should be surprised at their making this desperate leap in the dark. Some hon. Members on this side of the House have told us that women are better than men. That is the language of poetry. But when we come to facts I am not at all disposed to admit that women, are better than men. It is not a question of whether women are angels or not, but whether they will make good electors. They might, of course; but some hon. Gentlemen seem to think that the matter is proved—that they will make good electors and give attention to the interests of the constituencies; and the hon. Member for Newcastle told us that he was convinced of this because Anne was a great Queen; and he told us also that Elizabeth was a great Queen. But Queen Anne was not a great Queen, and Queen Elizabeth had the intellect of a man with the weaknesses of a woman. The hon. Member also spoke of Queen Christina of Sweden as a great Queen; but everyone knows that she was one of the most execrable Queens that ever lived, for after being deposed by her subjects she went to Paris and murdered her Secretary. We learn that by the operation of nature more women are born into the world than men, that women live longer than men, and that a considerable number of men leave the Kingdom as soldiers and sailors while women remain at home. In consequence of this, there are at any given moment a greater number of women than men in the country. I am told that in every county, with the exception of Hampshire, more women would be put on the Register than men if we had womanhood suffrage. And what would be the consequence? They would look to the interests of women rather than to the interests of men; they would band themselves together, and we should have them, naturally, of course, asking to be admitted to this House, and then if they were admitted, instead of being on an equality with them, we should put ourselves under petticoat government; we should have women opposite, women on these Benches, and a woman, perhaps, in the Chair. They would, like women everywhere, have their own way. But it is not for us to consider that at present; we may suspend our judgment; but, at the same time, we must look the matter in the face. But the hon. Member for Stoke himself hesitates as to the consequences —he hesitated a good deal as to whether he would give the vote to married women or unmarried women, and by his mode of dealing with the question it would seem that he gave to vice what he denied to virtue. As long as a woman remains a spinster it appears that she is to have the vote, but that so soon as she marries she is to cease to be an elector; she is to lose her rights if she enters into the holy and honourable state of matrimony, and if her husband dies she again gets the vote. When Napoleon was asked by Madame de State who was the best woman in the State, he said—"The woman who has most children;" and, therefore, I think my hon. Friend is positively wrong in saying that he will give the vote to unmarried women, and take it away from them when they marry. But the reason why we ought to vote against the proposal is that this is not an opportune moment for considering it. This Bill is the Bill of the Government and of the Prime Minister, and I think the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right to object to political cuckoos on this side of the House who lay eggs in his nest. Let us look at the consequence of accepting this measure. As usual, hon. Members think the Prime Minister made a mistake, and that he did not mean what he said. I think he does mean what he said. He told us distinctly that he would throw up the Bill if this clause were passed. ["No, no!"] What would be the effect if my hon. Friends were in a majority on this question? The effect would be that they would not give women the vote, but they would deprive men of the vote. We are here by a distinct mandate of the country; one of the reasons why we were elected was that we pledged ourselves to vote in favour of the franchise being given to agricultural labourers. The Prime Minister says that the adoption of this Amendment would imperil the Bill; so not only should hon. Gentlemen on this side not vote against the Government, but they ought not to abstain from voting with, them, otherwise the Ministry may find itself in a minority, and the consequence would be that the Bill might be thrown over altogether. That I consider is a sound reason for voting with the Government at present. There may come a day when we shall discuss this matter on its merits; but in order to do that two things are necessary—first, that we must discover that the majority of women themselves desire the franchise, which I very much doubt; and, secondly, that the majority of the electors whom we represent should notify to us that they also desire it.


Before I make any remarks on the main question, I wish to say I think my hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) was not quite right in saying that there was no State of the American Union where this woman suffrage existed. I believe it exists in the State of Wyoming, ["And the Isle of Man."] I merely mention this to show that it has not the dreadful effects my hon. Friend seems to imagine it would have here.


I said it existed in Wyoming and Utah; but these are not States—they are only territories.


I accept the correction. The exercise of the suffrage by women in Wyoming does riot do the harm which my hon. Friend appears to think it would do if adopted here. The Boston Index of September, 1875, said— As far as can be known, the ladies divide their votes between parties as much as men do; rather more, perhaps, voting for personal friends. To sum up, the opinion of the best informed is that woman suffrage in Wyoming has resulted in making everything just as it was before, only a little more so. Now, my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. Leatham), in his very able attack upon the clause of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall), said that he was inclined to think that Representative Government was on its trial. Well, I do not go quite so far as that; but I am inclined to say that the Liberal Party is on its trial to-night. We shall see whether the Liberal Party is determined to be loyal to its principles, or simply true to its Party Leaders. The discussion on this clause, so far as I understand it, divides itself into two parts. We, first of all, have to discuss, though the discussion has not ranged very much over that ground—we, first of all, have to discuss whether the clause is right in itself, and whether it is proper that women should have the suffrage given to them; and the next question is whether, if the clause be a right one, it is now an opportune moment for dealing with the question? Now, it appears to me that if I prove the first proposition—namely, that this is a proper proposal, the second proposition follows naturally. I take that from the words of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain), who said not long ago, in discussing another question in this House—"It is always opportune to do right." That, I think, was the text from which my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) spoke the other day when he brought forward this clause. But before discussing whether this is an opportune proposal, I want to discuss whether it is right. I say it is right, and I do so because I hold the old Whig doctrine which has been alluded to in this debate—namely, that taxation and representation should go together. But when I say it is an old Whig doctrine, I hope the Committee will allow me to read one sentence from a speech of Mr. Disraeli, because I think he put the whole case we have before us to-night correctly in one very short sentence. Eleven years ago Mr. Disraeli said— I believe the anomaly that the Parliamentary franchise attached to a household or property qualification when possessed by a woman should not be exercised, though in all matters of local government when similarly qualified she exercises this right, to be injurious to the best interests of the country, and I trust to see it removed by the wisdom of Parliament. Now, that is our case; I do not think it can be put better than that. My hon. Friend (Mr. Woodall) does not propose any intricate change in the law. If we carry this clause, we simply put those women who are householders exactly in the same position with regard to the franchise as men are now; and I think it is but fitting that on this occasion there should be a combination of Whigs, some Tories, and some Radicals, to maintain that which Mr. Disraeli so long ago declared to be injurious to the best interests of the country. I can understand some of my Tory Friends, with their aversion to all changes of this sort, being against it; but I see the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) in his place. Why should he be against it? ["He is not."] Someone says he is not; but I am afraid he is. I look for better things from him, because I will tell you how I regard the noble Lord. Lord Dufferin, in one of his despatches dealing with Egyptian matters, said that in Egypt there is not an Opposition to the Government; and he added that opposition is the vital spark of Constitutional Go- vernment, Now, the noble Lord is the Opposition; and I look to him as the vital spark of Constitutional Government. Every day he becomes, to my great delight, more recklessly Radical, and I hope my speech will have the effect of converting him totally to our side, and that he will vote in favour of this proposal. Why should Radicals—old Radicals as well as new Radicals, like the noble Lord—be false to their principles on this occasion? There are a great many people who remind me very much of a sentence that was used by a slaveholder in the old days of American slavery—namely, "All men is born free except niggers." Why should Radicals vote that "all men is born free except women?" There is a certain amount of reason against this Motion; and it is, to a certain extent, plausible. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Inderwick) made a very able speech just now. He had a bugbear; he was afraid of the clergy. He said he was afraid that the clergy would influence women as to the way they should give their votes. Well, why should they not? What are clergy for, unless to influence people to do right? Why does the State employ 20,000 clergy in this country, unless to influence people? Why they should not influence old ladies, as well as other people, I do not know. The argument of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Inderwick) may be a good argument for disestablishing parsons; but it is no argument for disestablishing women. Someone—I forget whom—said to-night that women would all vote Tory. Let them vote Tory. It is the most illiberal doctrine I ever heard to say you will only give people the vote if they vote as you wish; it is high-and-dry Toryism of the very worst school. I would give women the vote if I believed that at the next General Election they would bring into power hon. Gentlemen opposite, the multiple control—Lord Salisbury, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), and the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), all joined together. ["And the Lord Mayor!"] I should not at all object to the Lord Mayor being one of the party; I think he would improve it. What an extraordinary argument it is. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), with whom I sometimes agree, is rather teased with the fear that women will be Tories. He seems to have a horror of Tories—and he called upon us not to vote for this Motion, because the Tories are going to vote for it. What did he do on the "dirty trick" day? My hon. Friend contends that the Tories voted with him, and not he with the Tories. Now, I want the Tories to vote with us to-night. Let us get rid of this fear of giving people their rights because they may form a particular Party. Let us "be just and fear not." Well, then, another great argument is that women do not want the franchise. I think that shows how bad our present system is. They have got so disgusted and depressed that they take no interest in politics. I think politics are the noblest pursuit anybody can follow. I regretted to hear my hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) say that there are no politicians amongst women. The hon. Gentleman, however, contradicted himself just afterwards when he said they went up and down stumping the county. [Mr. BRYCE: A very few.] Oh, a very few; and I hope there will be more. Another great argument is that women cannot fight, and that because they cannot go and kill people they ought not to go and vote at elections. There is a text, "No man that worketh not, neither shall he eat," and the text of the opponents of this clause is, "No woman can fight, neither shall she vote," and let us carry that out. Let us prevent the men who cannot fight from voting. What is to become of the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) and me, I should like to know? Well, that argument is of no avail. Another argument is brought forward—I found it in a very able pamphlet by one of the most able opponents of woman suffrage, Admiral Maxse. I read that pamphlet the other day, and it strengthened my belief in woman suffrage. Admiral Maxso said women hate war; but they adore the Army. Well, that is what the Prime Minister does. Surely you would not disfranchise him because of that. I believe that when women come to the study of great political questions they will be as much for peace as my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr is, or as I am; and I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. Leatham) say how much he dreaded that a feminine alloy might enter into our policy. I wish there was a feminine alloy—an alloy of truth and humanity— in our policy. It will be a good day for England when that alloy does enter into our policy. But about this peace question, and about the influence of women. I want to quote a greater authority than the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. Leatham)—I want to read to the Committee a few sentences that were uttered by the Prime Minister in the Corn Exchange at Dalkeith on November the 26th, 1879, one of those far-off days never to be forgotten. What did the right hon. Gentleman say to the ladies who presented him with an address? He said— I understand it to be your wish that I should say some words as to the particular share that ladies and that women may be said to have in the crisis of the day; the crisis of the day was an attempt to turn Disraeli out of power. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say— I appeal to you in virtue of the common nature which runs through all. I speak to you ladies as women, and I do feel that the political crisis has to do not only with human interests at large, but especially with those interests which are most appropriate, and ought to be most dear to you. The harder and sterner and drier lessons of political economy are little to your taste. You do not concern yourselves with abstract propositions. It is that side of politics which is associated with the heart of man that I must call your side of politics. When I look at the inscription which faces me on yonder Gallery, I see the words 'Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform.'…. But of those three words, the one upon which I shall say a few words is peace. And then followed a most eloquent passage, descriptive of the horrors of war, such as the right hon. Gentleman has been making since. The right hon. Gentleman continued— Do not suffer appeals to national pride to blind you to the dictates of justice. I am making no inappropriate demands; but am beseeching you, as women, to perform a duty which belongs to you, neglect of which would, in some future time, be to you a source of pain; but the accomplishment of which will serve to gild your future years with sweet remembrance. What is the use of the Prime Minister making demands of that sort on women if they are not fit to have an opinion upon politics? I say that out of his own mouth that sentence I have quoted only proves the case of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall); I have proved it so far as the Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench are concerned—I do not mean more than that, because I suppose they are all devoted followers of the Prime Minister. But now I come to the second part of my discourse. We are told that this is not the right time to introduce this question, and the Prime Minister said that my hon. Friend had not suggested any plan for carrying out his proposal. I think it was not said with the usual clearness of the Prime Minister, because it seems to me that the clause is simplicity itself. There would be no difficulty about it if it were passed and incorporated in the Act. Women would simply get on the Register if they had the qualification exactly in the same way as men did. There cannot possibly be any ambiguity or doubt in the matter. But the reason why it is not the right time to go on with this matter is, says the Prime Minister, because it is intolerable to mix it up with purely political and Party questions. But he says it is the largest social question which can possibly be raised. Well, surely a social question, and the largest social question, is one which a Liberal Ministry, above all others, ought to take up, and take it up at once, or, at any rate, to have an opinion upon one way or the other. What did Mr. Disraeli say? He said in one of his earlier writings—and it is a sentence I am never tired of quoting— The one duty of politics is to promote the social welfare of the people. What is the Liberal Party for if it cannot promote great social reform? The noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) knows that he learned a great deal at Birmingham. He went down there—I read his speeches with delight—and he said—"Social questions are the questions of the future"—and so they are, and when he is Prime Minister I hope he will remember that. But what is the Liberal Party for if it cannot make up its mind on these social questions? It seems to me it is useless; its sun is set; its day is done—[Mr. R. N. FOWLER (Lord Mayor): Hear, hear!]—and the sooner it is carried away and buried with the Lord Mayor as chief mourner the better. I say it is upon the great social questions that the Gentlemen I see sitting upon the Treasury Bench are bound to have an opinion upon, and to state that opinion, and not to deal with them as they are dealing with this question to-night. Well, now, Sir Arthur Otway, how are we to be coerced—some of us, not me? How are we to be coerced to vote against this great measure of freedom? Why we are told that if we do vote for this clause, and if by a piece of good fortune we should carry it, there is a chance of the Bill being thrown up. I ask my hon. Friends on this side of the House are they such children as to be frightened by shadows, and phantoms, and hobgoblins? Throw up the Bill because this clause is carried! I tell the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who form the Government—I tell them to their faces that they dare not do anything of the kind. If they did throw up the Bill because this clause was carried it would be a disgrace, vast, exceeding, and abiding. Throw up the Bill because the Prime Minister has told us it is a Bill to enfranchise capable citizens, and we merely propose to add 500,000 more capable citizens to the electorate! Why, such a thing was never heard of. We merely propose to add a clause which will not impede the Bill's progress, but which, if carried by those wicked Tories who frighten my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) so much, will smooth its progress to the realms of bliss, and will make it more acceptable to the House of Lords. It must be remembered that this is a clause the principle of which, as the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. E. Leatharn) stated to-night, has been already supported in this House by very nearly half of the Liberal Party. I say that for a set of Gentlemen who profess to represent the Liberal Party to come down, under those circumstances, and throw up the Bill would be an act of treachery to freedom and to progress unexampled in the political history of this country. They may get up and say what they like at that Table; but I do not believe they would throw up the Bill, because they dare not. There is another hobgoblin. They might resign. Awful idea! I remember that Mr. Cobden said he never knew a change of Government that the people did not get something out of, and I do not know that we should not get something out of a change of Government even now. What would happen, suppose the Tories came in? Why, they would do what they did in 1867, what the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock has written a letter about — they would over-trump the right hon. Gentleman. I have no doubt that if the noble Lord was at the head of the Government along with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford North-cote) they would bring in a Bill to enfranchise every man, woman, and child. As for foreign policy, the Tories might be worse; but it would be exceedingly difficult for them to be so. As to the Liberal Party itself, what would happen, if the Tories came in? I mean by the Liberal Party all the patriots sitting round about me. It would be like a resurrection from the dead. From every platform, from every hall in the country, we should have the shout for Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, raised once more, and all of us Radicals would rise once again into life and liberty—the old political life of the nation would be revived; we should be Liberals once more, instead of poor dummies sitting and voting here as we are bid. I do not believe that all these dreadful things will happen; we know what the result of the Division will be. But, notwithstanding that, I thank my hon. Friend (Mr. Woodall) for what he has done. I am glad there is one man in this House who will stand to his guns; I am glad there is one man who will disregard spurious Radicals and real reactionaries—Whigs, prigs, and philosophers—who will disregard all Ministerial maledictions. He may not win the day. I am afraid he will not; but he will lay the foundation beyond doubt of ultimate success. I congratulate him on the prospect of that success—success of a measure calculated to purify, ennoble, and elevate the national life of this country, and to bring in its train blessings which always attend a policy of freedom and liberty.


Sir Arthur Otway, I scarcely know what is the proper tone to adopt in addressing the Committee after the speech of my hon. Friend (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). It is a curious and significant fact that it seems impossible to continue a discussion upon the admission of women to the franchise without sometimes admitting the comic element. Much as we desire to be serious upon the subject, it appears that jokes can scarcely be kept out. Nevertheless, it does appear to me that we have before us a very serious question indeed, one which we can scarcely afford to pass by with simply a sportive allusion to the great difficulties which surround the subject; and I venture to put it to the Committee that there are many Members present who, judging from the speeches they have delivered, or the cheers they have given, may well be considered to be unconscious of the clause which is now before us. The purport and scope of this clause seem to me to have been misconceived. We have been assured over and over again that certain authorities — for instance, Lord Beaconsfield—have pronounced upon the clause, and again we have been told who are to be enfranchised by it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) began an enumeration of the classes to be enfranchised. The first are women householders, heads of families, and employers of labour, and so forth; and, secondly, he mentioned widows, who, he appeared to think, were exceptionally fitted to vote, but why I confess I am unable to understand. But I thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld) was going to proceed with his list, and that he was going to show to the Committee how the clause now before us differs in toto from previous proposals that have been submitted to the House in reference to the enfranchisement of women; and it will be a somewhat significant fact if, when hon. Members opposite realize the full purport and scope of the clause, they should in any large numbers support it, unless, indeed, they support it as part of a Bill which they afterwards intend to reject. But, if so, I shall have to tax hon. Gentlemen opposite with cruelly playing with the feelings of the ladies. They will seem to be imitating the conduct of those naval and military officers who in the Colonies will flirt to any extent with ladies of the country, because they know they will be ordered away before it really comes to business. So it appears to me with hon. Members opposite. The noble Lord the Member for South Wilts (Viscount Folkestone) has stated in the most frank way his intention to vote in favour of woman suffrage in this Bill which is going to be rejected by the Lords; but he said he was not going to commit himself to woman suffrage in the future. Well, now, I submit to hon. Members opposite whether upon a question of such gravity, for it is a grave question, it is right in this way to trifle with a great principle? The noble Lord (Lord John Manners) who opened the debate this evening is perfectly sincere. Other hon. Members have always voted in favour of the enfranchisement of women; but up to what point? So far as they were householders, so far as they were ratepayers, so far as they represented property. Yes; but I understand that some hon. Members opposite, and I expect the Lord Mayor, are going to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke, which is totally unconnected with property, which is totally unconnected with ratepaying, and totally unconnected with any qualifications which in Motions submitted hitherto have always governed the case; and they are going to vote in favour—I wonder whether they will do so?—of a lodger franchise for unmarried women. I trust that, even at this hour of the night, it is worthwhile to put before the Committee what is really the full purport of this Motion. Lord Beaconsfield has been quoted, and I see the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Stafford Northcote) is likely to take part in this debate. What Lord Beaconsfield said was this— A woman having property ought to have a vote in the country in which she can now hold manorial courts, and in which she may sometimes act as churchwarden. "A woman having property!" But would he have been prepared to extend the franchise to young ladies who serve behind the counters at the establishments of Messrs Spiers & Pond? Would he have supported the lodger franchise for all the unmarried women in London, and the large towns? It is entirely a new proposal. Take the proposal brought forward in the House last year— That, in the opinion of this House, the Parliamentary franchise should be extended to women who possess the qualifications which entitle men to vote, and who, in all matters of local government, have the right of voting. That is what hon. Members have been pledged to hitherto. It was "as ratepayers," and all the arguments that have been used have been directed to that particular point. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) was kind enough to make a special appeal to me; and he urged that this Bill would embody this most valuable principle—namely, that it would establish a household, a family vote. It was the family, he said, that was to vote. But that is not the proposal in the Amendment before the Committee. It is a lodger vote; the family vote will not occur in one out of 20 cases. Where in the case of women there is one family vote there will be 20 other females admitted. Therefore, I say that the situation is entirely changed; and I should like to know, when the Prime Minister quoted his figure of 500,000 women who would probably be admitted under this clause, whether he was not thinking, as my impression is, merely of householders and ratepayers, and that that number did not include all the unmarried women—that army of unmarried women who had left their homes, who do not live in their homes, for if they lived with their fathers and mothers they would not be enfranchised. My impression is that the right hon. Gentleman did not include them in the numbers he gave the Committee. I ask this House, then, and I ask hon. Members opposite, is not this a really startling proposal? It is a proposal for which they ought to vote in order, I suppose, to assert the principle of female suffrage! I do not think it would be right for any hon. Member to vote for such an Amendment. I think it would be a most unprincipled thing to do so unless he fully realized the whole purport of this Amendment. Well, Sir, we are not clear upon one point—namely, how far unmarried women are, or are not, to be admitted under this Amendment. The fact seems to be that married women would be admitted, and that fagot votes might be created in favour of a wife. My hon. Friend (Mr. Woodall) will correct me if I am. wrong, but I understand that the hon. Member would be prepared to amend this; but hon. Members have got to vote upon the Amendment as it stands; therefore I will assume that married women will have a vote. ["No, no!"] I say yes. It is rather important to make this perfectly clear. Where there is simply an occupation franchise, I presume the vote of the woman will be merged in the vote of the man; but by property quali- fication, and under the Married Women's Property Act, 1882, votes will be created for women, and, if that is so, we shall in future have to make an addendum to the old text—"These twain shall be one flesh." It will be—"These twain shall be one flesh, but two votes." We shall have two votes in one home, and husband and wife may both record their votes possibly for the same candidates, possibly for opposite candidates. I cannot think that this House is prepared or desirous to go to this point; and we should have liked some more distinct declaration from the right hon. Member for Halifax, or from those who have spoken on behalf of the enfranchisement of women, as to whether or not they mean that married women shall ultimately have a vote. That is important. But I will assume for the purposes of my argument that it is not intended to give them votes, but that the votes are to go to unmarried women who do not reside under the parental roof—not the householders, not the ratepayers—but to the emancipated spinsters and widows. I have had a correspondence—many Members have—with lady constituents on this point, and one of them has expressed her case so well that, with the permission of the Committee, I will read a short statement of her views. She says—and I think this will be cheered by my hon. Friends who have spoken on behalf of women.— We ask to have a voice, at least, in the laws relating to women and children. It is a cruelty to frame laws binding on us in every event of life, laws which regulate our labour and our homes, and which come between a mother and her child, and not to permit us even an expression of opinion as a protest. Men cannot know what we want or how we feel on these points as well as we know ourselves. Yes; but how, then, are men going to inform themselves as to the opinion of women if— Men cannot know what we want or how we feel on these points as well as we know ourselves. It appears to me that many of us have a most excellent source to which we can apply to obtain information as to what women think respecting the relations which ought to exist between mothers and children. It appears to me that many of us know where to go when we want the views of women, upon this or any other subject. But how the emancipation and the enfran- chisement of spinsters can enable women to convey to men a better idea what women want as regards their children baffles my understanding. I can assure the Committee that it is not by way of a simple rhetorical argument that I put this point. It lies at the root of the whole case. How are women to make their influence felt? Through their husbands, through their sons, their brothers, and their friends. To think that a collection of female voters will better be able to instruct us as to our duties in legislating for women is an assumption which, for my part, I am unwilling to make. It is said that women cannot now make their influence felt, and this was one of the points raised in. the able speech of the hon. Member for Stoke, (Mr. Woodall). It is alleged that they cannot make themselves heard, and that they have interests which they cannot follow up. I think, on the contrary, that they do make themselves heard. I am bound to admit that my hon. "Friend was perfectly fair in saying that it was not the intention of this House to oppress women. I should think not. The interests between men and women are not separate interests. The interest of the father is not a separate interest from the interest of the mother. We take a joint interest in our children, be they sons or daughters. We care for the education and the future of our daughters as much as we care for the education und the future of our sons. Now, I venture to think that women in that way, acting through their legitimate representatives, have ample opportunities of being able to influence political men. But women are to make their influence felt. Well, again I ask, what hon. Member of the House is not, or has not been, more or less, under the influence of a woman? We know the various classes of women who are able to have an influence in politics. Could we not see, from the eloquence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), how much he had been under the influence of the noble women whom he so well represents, and who made him eloquent on their behalf? There are other women who may be called the sirens of the political boudoir, and very influential they are sometimes—perhaps quite as influential as the emancipated Amazons of the public platform. On all sides we see the influence they bring to bear upon us; but what I object to, and what has been pointed out by other Members, is this—that certain splendid examples of womanhood should be put before the House, and that it should be said that because they have so worthily discharged the duties and functions assigned to them, therefore you may enfranchise women generally, and place the franchise in the hands of the whole sex. We have had put before us the case of Miss Octavia Hill. Well, Miss Octavia Hill has done and is doing splendid service in an unobtrusive manner; but I doubt whether she would be stronger, either with the public or with this House, if it were by the votes of female electors that she was obliged to make her influence felt. It is not the polling-booth, but it is through their action of this kind, that women must influence legislation. Then it is said—and the argument has been used so often that I will only allude to it for a single moment—that women are excellent Poor Law Guardians, and that, therefore, we have before us a proof as to the capacity of the sex for high civic duties. I object to this view, and deny that we can argue from the parish or the municipality to the State. I say it is lowering the standard of civic duty. We cannot think that simply because women are good Poor Law Guardians, they are, therefore, endowed with those qualities which are necessary to be citizens. Some of my hon. Friends around me I cannot address my arguments to, because they are in favour of as much flesh and blood as possible being admitted. We always recollect that women are flesh and blood. To those who think that to thrust a voting paper into a hand of flesh and blood is enough to make a "capable citizen," of course arguments of mine are useless. But I would ask hon. Members, particularly those below the Gangway, whether they really believe that women are capable citizens? I would ask—"Would they be content, if they had—as many of us have—a Political Association in their boroughs or counties, that the President, and the Treasurer, and the Secretary, and the various other officers of the Association should be women?" And if not, why not? I would ask again—"Would anybody be content to represent a constituency simply composed of women? Would you trust political questions to them?" Certainly not; and why not? Because in your hearts you do not believe that women are "capable citizens." Well, Sir, I do not think that it would be for the interest of women themselves that they should receive the franchise. I have shown what I believe as regards the means they have of making themselves heard; but why I object to this motion, among other reasons, is because it assumes an equality between men and women which never has existed, and which, I believe never can exist. I do not sympathize with the efforts of those who wish to reduce the difference between men and women to an indispensable minimum of difference. There is, as it appears to mo, a tendency growing up which is striking more and more at the family, and which is encouraging an independence on the part of women which, however it may please certain sections, is dangerous to society in the future, and which cannot recommend itself to the sympathies of men who are anxious for the future happiness of family and of society; and I do not believe it is good for the State. I believe that manliness, strength, courage, and all the manly virtues are certainly quite as much required in the present day as they ever have been. I do not wish that women should be educated up to our manly virtues, quite as little as I wish that we should be educated to that feminine tendency which the hon. Baronet who has just spoken seemed to welcome. Well, now, in conclusion, I would ask the Committee, is this the moment—when we are proposing to make this gigantic experiment with regard to adding 2,000,000 to the electorate—I would ask hon. Members opposite is this the moment when they are going to try an experiment which certainly is quite as large as the experiment with regard to the reduction of the franchise, and is, in fact, a greater change? There have been cases of universal suffrage for men; but we have had no experience to guide us as to the effect of what has properly been called "womanhood" suffrage. We have no experience in the matter; we have no statistics; we have nothing whatever to guide us. And, do not let hon. Members think that in giving their vote they are doing nothing more than expressing their own feelings at this moment. These movements gather strength by every thoughtless vote that is given upon them. Hon. Members opposite know that it is in no Party spirit that I make this appeal to them. Let them think that the vote they give is in favour of the female lodger franchise; that it is in favour of the principle that "words importing the masculine gender should include women for all purposes of the franchise;" and let them weigh the full scope of that Amendment before they give their vote for it, and see how it may complicate their votes in the future. It is no light thing to give a vote for this Motion. For my part I shall vote against it, because it seems to me to rest upon a false ideal of the civic duty and of the position of women, and because it rests upon a false ideal of all political aims. I do not wish to include women in our ranks when the responsibilities we have to bear are so great; but I trust the burden of Empire will still continue to rest upon the shoulders of men.


I think it must have struck anyone who has been in the habit of attending to the debates which we have had for many years past on this subject, and who has listened to the present debate, that there has passed a great change over the attitude of those who are the promoters and those who are the opponents of the admission of women to the franchise. I remember, in the early days when this subject used to arise, the arguments by which the change was defended and supported were very much of a sentimental and transcendental character, and that we used to hear a great deal about the character of women, and about the refreshing influence which the presence of women in the electorate would have upon the national character; and that opposed to those were general arguments of a more or less practical character. But to-night, it seems to me, we have shifted ground; and that, whereas the demand for the admission of women to the suffrage has been based upon practical considerations, and is of a distinctly practical and moderate character, it is on the side of the objectors that we have had raised all those classes of considerations which I have ventured to designate as "transcendental." We have heard a great deal about not introducing the feminine character into our Legislature; we have been told that we ought to cultivate the qualities of strength, manliness, and courage, and so forth, which are not the qualities which we usually associate with women. But these are not the arguments by which the practical proposal of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall), and the arguments introduced on his side, can be met. Nor are these answers which ought to be given to such arguments as I have heard; and least of all has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) a right to put us the question in a way in which it does not present itself to the House. The right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to fix upon the hon. Member for Stoke and his supporters the proposition that it is right to admit all the female lodgers to the suffrage. Now, that is not the position that is taken up by those who support the Motion; it is not the position which is taken up by the hon. Member for Stoke himself. Has the right hon. Gentleman not seen from the Paper Notices that have been given by my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk (Mr. Biddell), and more particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Coleridge Kennard), that, in the event of your accepting, by your vote, the second reading of this clause, you will be immediately called upon to give effect to it by the Amendment to be proposed that women should not be entitled to be registered as voters under any lodger qualification in pursuance of this Act. An hon. MEMBER: Why not?] Well, that directly traverses the argument which the right hon. Gentleman has laid such stress upon. Whatever he may have to say as to what might have been advanced by the hon. Member for Stoke, this, at least, he has no right to say in the face of the universal disclaimer by those who are going to support this proposition, that we are supporters of the female lodger franchise.


I know the right hon. Gentleman would not wish to misrepresent me. I have not heard a single disclaimer.


The right hon. Gentleman may hear it now. If he had been attending to the course of the debate he would have seen that throughout the greater part of the speeches stress was laid entirely upon property qualification and the house- hold qualification. The arguments were all drawn from that, and it is upon that that we are advocating our cause. I say it is unfair of the right hon. Gentleman to endeavour to present what is really a false issue to the Committee. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] The Prime Minister shakes his head. He has presented a good many false issues to the House. Now, this question of the admission of women to the suffrage we have had before us, as we are reminded, a good many years ago. I myself have continually supported, or, at least, have never opposed, the Motions that were made for the purpose of giving women the suffrage. It cannot be supposed that, in all these 16 or 17 years during which the question has been before us, we have been so inattentive and so careless as not to consider the objections which were made, and which are made so plausibly, against the proposition which is laid before us. We have continually had before us all those considerations about the difficulty with regard to married women, the difficulty as to their losing the vote itself, the difficulty as to the lodger, the difficulty with regard to the attitude we are to assume in the case of those who have had the vote and who afterwards lose it by marriage. All these matters have been considered, and we have to consider the arguments of a more sentimental character which have been brought to bear on the relations between the two sexes, and the effect which the influence of women might have on elections. We have considered all these matters, and I think we are pretty well satisfied with the answers that can be made to the complaints and suggestions that have been made. With regard to one of the principal of them, that of those who say that by giving this new right to women, you are about to change the character of women, and in a way which is unfortunate, and which deteriorates them, let me point out that everything you suggest as to making women politicians you have at present. At present women have power to take any amount of interest in elections short of one little act—that the most important of all, in one sense, but by no means the one which bears most on the feminine character. You may have women taking-part in your counties, making speeches and canvassing as any man would do throughout an election; but when it comes to going into the polling booth, protected by the Ballot, then you say you demoralize and lower her character. Is that common sense? Is it the argument on which such Gentleman as the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) rely? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that it is on the final act of going to vote that the whole influence of a woman's character depends? No, it is not. He knows perfectly well that it is not the final act of voting which determines the character of a woman. On the contrary, it is the keeping of women from taking a proper share in elections that is likely to make her more of an agitator than she is. The point upon which we lay stress is that upon which the late Lord Beaconsfield laid stress, and upon which so much stress has been laid to-night—namely, that by excluding women you are excluding a large portion of the property owners of this country from representation, and from their share in the legislation. You are now asked to introduce a certain number of women. We believe there will be 400,000 or 500,000 women who will be so admitted. The number is not difficult to recollect, because it is nearly the exact number of persons you are going to add in Ireland from the lowest population in the country. It is a moderate demand we make, when we ask you, as a counterbalance to the effect of admitting so large a body of men as to whose qualification and efficiency for the franchise you have no reason to believe that they have half as much knowledge of the real questions at issue as most of the women of England have—when you are going to admit these people as capable citizens, is it unreasonable to demand that the same privilege shall be given to 400,000 or 500,000 women who are at the heads of households and are managers of property in this country? We have been told that the tendency now is downwards towards something like manhood suffrage. If it is so, it is time that you should connect that with the enfranchisement of those who are representatives of a higher type than the multitude of the people to whom you are about to give the franchise. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), in his speech, raised a question which I heard with surprise as coming from that quarter of the House. He said that after all the great question was, would the admission of women give us a better Parliament? That is not a point that he and his set have insisted upon, or will tolerate, when it comes to the question of the admission of a large class of male voters. It is proposed to admit 400,000 or 500,000 of the Irish peasantry, and if anyone got up and asked whether they would improve Parliament, there would be a howl from that part of the House. The hon. and learned Member for Eye (Mr. Inderwick) told us that he had no more objection to women sitting in this House than to their voting. That is rather an illegitimate question to raise now, for there is no question of women sitting in this House. There would be strong arguments against that; but there is at present no proposal that they should do so. You have heard the case of the clergy who are qualified to vote, but not to sit or take part in Parliament; but the question, I think, was put in the most pertinent manner by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). The hon. Member brought us to the true point now at issue. It is not a question whether it is or it is not desirable for women to be admitted to the franchise. It is the question whether we are to be allowed to discuss whether they should be admitted to the franchise, and to vote, upon our convictions, whether or not that privilege shall be granted. I believe a large proportion of Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who have long ago committed themselves to the principle which so many hold, are now going to vote against it. They have examined the question, and after having examined it, and having satisfied themselves that it is a matter of right to vote in a particular way, they are now busying themselves, as far as possible, to find excuses for getting off. We have heard references made to the number of votes which Gentlemen on the other side are to give; and there was a Memorial presented to the Prime Minister last Session, signed by upwards of 100 of his followers, in favour of making provision for women's suffrage in any Bill brought forward for dealing with the representation of the people. Therefore, the matter has not been sprung upon the Government. It was brought before them by a large number of their own supporters, while they had still time to con- sider it; and not only that, but at the meeting at Leeds the question of establishing woman's suffrage was brought forward and discussed and accepted, I believe, by a unanimous vote. I do not know, in the presence of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley), whether I am correct. Well, the matter has been brought before the Liberal Party, before the country, and before the Conservative Party. It has been considered by us over and over again, it has been considered throughout the country, and has been brought especially under the notice of the present Government, and they have not thought it worth while to introduce it in the Bill. The Government may have very fair reason for not wishing to include this clause in their Bill in the first instance. I can well understand that they may have taken this view—"We have a large business to carry through; we may find some difficulty in passing our measure; and if we add too many clauses we may find ourselves unable to carry them, and we shall be obliged to submit either to the loss of valuable time or to the sacrifice of our Bill, or of the clause for which we have made ourselves responsible." But this is not the position in which they are put by this proposition of one of their supporters. It embarrasses them in no way, as I conceive, if they will only allow it to be discussed on its merits, and let the judgment of the House be taken on the propriety of including it in the Bill in its final shape. If the House decides against it on its merits, the Government will suffer no defeat. On the other hand, if the clause is carried, I cannot see any reason why the Government should object to it, unless they object to the whole proposal on its merits; and if they do that they should say so. They have refused to take us into their confidence; they have not explained why they object to the clause; they have given us no other reason whatever for doing so except that it will imperil the Bill. When, however, you ask how it will imperil the Bill, you get no answer but the extraordinary answer of the Prime Minister that he does not choose to have any such clause in the Bill, and if it be included in it, he is not sure that he will not throw up the Bill. I do not know that he did not go farther, and say that he would throw up the Bill altogether; and, therefore, he puts on his supporters a strain which I am not surprised if many of them find too much to bear. As the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) wittily said, it is the great offence of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) that he has been laying eggs in the Prime Minister's nest. The right hon. Gentleman deals with the measure very much in the spirit that used to be considered objectionable in olden times. He seems to say — "Am I not to do what I will with my own? This is my own Bill; and if I do not choose to put a clause in it, and if I say I will throw up the Bill if it is put in, you must take your orders accordingly." That appears to show that the Bill is one man's Bill; that it is on the Prime Minister exclusively that the responsibility for the Bill rests; and that if we are opposing the Bill, it is not to be held that we are opposing the will of the country, but that we are opposing the will of the right hon. Gentleman. And we cannot tell to what extent any of the proposals in the Bill have the real support of those who sit behind the Government, because we see in this case how much their strong and conscientious convictions are overborne by the vehemence and the dictatorial language of the Prime Minister. How can we tell that the same spirit has not been engendered in them with regard to the Bill as a whole? There is another point. The Prime Minister treats this Bill as if it were one in which there could not be admitted to be any change. If you change the Bill he implies that you destroy the Bill. I know he did not say that; but that is the spirit shown. Here is a clause of great importance proposed to be inserted—a clause which has long been in the contemplation of both sides of the House—a clause which fits entirely into the Bill and belongs to it in a proper way; but the Prime Minister comes down to the House and says—"I will not have this clause put in because I will not." Not only does he come down and order his followers to vote against the clause because it is his good will and pleasure that they should, but he gays that if by accident the clause should get into the Bill, he will throw up the Bill at once. In fact, he treats this Bill very much as we would treat a Money Bill sent up to the House of Lords. If a Money Bill is sent up to them, the other House is free to reject it, but not to change it. If they change it in any degree, this House rejects the Bill, and it is destroyed. I suppose that is the attitude to be assumed in regard to this Bill. If the Bill goes up to the House of Lords in the shape which the hon. Member for Stoke wishes it to have, or if the House of Lords themselves were to introduce a clause into it to this effect, it will be at once upset and thrown aside by the Prime Minister. He will permit no change to be made in it. In what a position does that put the other House, if they are to be treated on the footing that they must pass without change of any sort the measure sent up to them? They are to be free to reject it, but not to make any alteration in it. That is a remarkable course for the Prime Minister to take, and it raises very peculiar feelings in one's mind as to his position. The right hon. Gentleman has told us, and other hon. Members have told us, that they do not consider this clause to be properly introduced now, because it is not a good opportunity for introducing the question. It seems to me, on the contrary, that it is the very best opportunity for dealing with it, and for this reason — because you are going enormously to increase the electorate, and you therefore make the inequality as between man and woman much greater than it was before; and that is why we say you ought to provide for the class of property in the hands of women, because you are going to sink it still lower in proportion in the balance by the large addition you are making to the franchise. Two arguments seem really to lie at the root of the objections to this clause. The one is that women as a body are too Conservative, and the other is that it is admitting the rights of property, which you wish to keep in the background. It may be an objection on the part of the Government that this clause would operate in favour of property, because it is, as we know, with the greatest reluctance and difficulty that they have brought themselves to the length of recognizing even the existing property franchises. It will be said—"You are going to extend the property franchise, if this Amendment is carried." Well, I say that on that issue we are prepared to join, and we are prepared to main- tain that it is a right thing, and that it is the duty of this House under these circumstances, to make proper provision for those classes of property holders who are now without a vote. I have no doubt that there are numbers of Gentlemen here who have canvassed boroughs. They will have seen, from time to time, that, after going into two or three shops and asking for the votes of those who are the owners, they have come to one, perhaps, of the most important shops, and have been told—"Oh, it is no use going in; there is no vote there. The owner is a woman." Such women are probably of education and of gentle character, who are, perhaps, living as widows, and taking care of their families, and who have every right to be consulted as to who should be the man sent up to represent the constituency in which they live, to represent not only their own interests, but the interests also of those of whom, they are taking care. You are admitting masses of non-propertied classes, and refusing the vote to these. That is the ground, the Conservative ground, upon which we stand. That is the ground upon which Lord Beaconsfield stood. We have adhered to that view for 17 years, and that is the ground upon which we stand now. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will have to reconcile their own opinions and their own declarations upon former occasions with the unfortunate necessity in which the Prime Minister has endeavoured to place them. I have no advice, but only sympathy to offer them. I can only hope that they will be able to reconcile their action to their conscience. But, as for us, although there may not be, perhaps, a general assent—because there has always been a difference of opinion among us on the subject—I claim for those on this side of the House who have opposed female suffrage, as well as for those who have hitherto supported us, that liberty which I am sorry to see denied to those who sit opposite.


I promise the Committee that I will not detain them more than two or three minutes. But the right hon. Baronet appears to suppose that those who on the whole agree with him on this issue as to the general principle, and still find themselves unable to go into the Lobby with him, must stand in need of sympathy. For my part, I do not feel the least necessity for it. Much has been said about the opportuneness of this Amendment. I am myself, completely and fully, in practical politics an opportunist, and I think that those who are most loud against that doctrine are those who, somehow or other, never think it inopportune to attack their own friends and their own Party. So far as the Leeds Conference is concerned, the right hon. Baronet has been perfectly accurate; but I believe that had the issue been put to the Conference as it stands to-night, the vote would have been different. I do not conceal from myself that there is great and even perfect justification for the reluctance of the Government to encumber a Bill such as the present one with a clause that opens up an enormous subject, and deals with questions with which the Bill is not really concerned. In my opinion, the Government would be absolutely wanting in a sense of the gravity of the question if, on a more side wind, they made this enormous extension of the scope of the Bill. If the Government think it expedient to make a change which, as both those who like it and those who dislike it agree, will create a social revolution, it is for them to introduce it as a deliberate proposition by itself. Those who are pressing the Motion on the present occasion must either expect to carry it through or not. If not, they are wasting time most unreasonably on an abstract proposition. If they do expect to carry it, then, after the Prime Minister's declaration, they show that they had rather have no Franchise Bill at all than one which does not include women in its scope—in fact, that unless some 500,000 women are enfranchised 2,000,000 men are to be left unenfranchised. In spite of all the reproaches which have been addressed to me I shall, without any scruple, vote against the proposition. So urgent and so important do I consider the object of the present Bill, and so resolute and earnest is the mind of the country upon it, that, for my part, I will allow no side question, however much interested I may be in it, to make me swerve from supporting an object of this paramount importance.


Sir, I do not at all agree with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley). For my part I do not think that when he announced himself as a opportunist he spoke as a Radical ought to speak. We have seen a very remarkable political phenomenon to-night. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) has made a speech in which he opposed the admission to the franchise of 500,000 women, and his speech was received with cheers from the Ministerialists. But it will be in the recollection of the Committee that three or four weeks ago the same right hon. Gentleman delivered a speech in this House in which he opposed the admission to the franchise of a large number of the men of the country, on which occasion his statements were received with cheers by hon. Gentlemen opposite and in grim silence by hon. Members on these Benches. I ask myself what is the explanation of that phenomenon, which I think is hardly creditable to the character of this Parliament, and I find that the reason of this is simply that on the one occasion the Ministry was decreeing the admission of men to the franchise, while on the other occasion it was decreeing that women should not be admitted. I have been in favour for many years of admitting to the franchise as much flesh and blood as it might be possible to obtain; I am in favour of women having the franchise, and for very practical reasons which I will briefly state to the Committee. It has been urged against the admission of women to the suffrage that they are intellectually inferior to men, and I ask myself whether that is so? I have heard the same argument urged against the introduction of the agricultural labourer, and against the admission to the franchise of artizans in the towns, 17 years ago, and I say that the very reason urged against their admission constitutes the real ground on which they ought to receive the franchise, because I observed that the moment the artizans were admitted there was a general disposition to elevate and improve their condition; and I believe that if you admit women, to the franchise, there will be the same attentive consideration on the part of both Liberals and Conservatives to the improvement of their position. I will give a second reason in support of this clause. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryre) challenged us to produce a practical reason why women should have the franchise. Now, I have always struggled to pro- mote three things since I became a politician—namely, peace, soberness, and education; and I know that if the women of England received the franchise, they would constitute a powerful addition to the strength of the Radical Party for the attainment of those objects. For these reasons I am in favour of giving the franchise to women. So far as my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle is concerned, I avow myself, in opposition to him, as no opportunist. I can understand Ministerialists being opportunists, and I can understand the opportunism of those passing along the dangerous road to Office. But what I desire to see here below the Gangway is a Radical Party which prefers on all occasions principles to opportunism, a Party which will vote against the Ministry when it believes that Ministry to be in the wrong.


Sir Arthur Otway—I desire to express an opinion which I think is shared by many Members of the House as to the embarrassing position in which those who have hitherto opposed the principle embodied in the clause of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, have been placed by the particular turn of the argument used by the Prime Minister in dealing with it on Tuesday last. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion addressed his observations almost entirely to those who are in favour of this Bill and who are supporters of the Government, and rather left out from his consideration those who sit on this side of the House, who do not support the Bill and who do not support the Government. If this question is put to the House as one of confidence in Her Majesty's Government—if it is put to the House as a question of "aye" or "no" in favour of this Bill—I am bound to say that it puts a very great difficulty in the way of many who would otherwise be anxious to oppose this proposal and support the Government in resisting it; and I know that this feeling has been largely prevalent on this side of the House. Still, although I do not love the Bill, and although I am not particularly anxious to maintain Her Majesty's Government in power, I am unwilling, either for the purpose of embarrassing the Government or of defeating this Bill to vote for a proposal which I believe to be subversive of the whole social system of the country. But I do not rise only to say that, because the position I have always taken with regard to this question will have made it clear what line I should be likely to take in dealing with this particular proposal. But I do wish to know whether we have heard the last word on this subject from the Ministerial Bench. I see upon that Bench the Secretary to the Treasury and the Postmaster General, and I know that the eyes of this House, the eyes of all England, and especially of those confiding women whose confidence has been placed in them, are turned upon those Members of the Government, and that they will be expected to make some explanation of the course they are about to take on the present occasion. A politician, as we know, is supposed to have a supple conscience; but it was always believed that there were two men in whom women could trust—that they could always rely upon the austere rectitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster General (Mr. Fawcett) and on the stubborn independence of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney). In them, at least, their old associates and present opponents have been prepared to place a confidence which it appears they have not deserved. I believe that when the Prime Minister spoke of encumbering this Bill, and of the necessity of throwing something overboard, he had to balance in his mind considerations which must have occurred to him, as to the result which might follow from the opposition of Gentlemen who sit upon the Treasury Bench; he had to balance the Attorney General against the Secretary to the Treasury and the Postmaster General, and the right hon. Gentleman, I think, very wisely decided that the Attorney General was worth more than the two Gentlemen put together. And I wish to render this tribute to the Attorney General, because I think that of all the Members of this House he has pursued, with regard to this question, the most intelligible and most conscientious course; he has always put his foot down, so to speak, in reference to this question; and I have no doubt that if its principle had been accepted by the Government, it would have cost the Prime Minister the services of one of his most valuable adherents. In this matter the Prime Minister knew with whom he had to deal; he knew the hon. and learned Gentleman was in earnest, and he knew how great was the earnestness and sincerity of the Postmaster General and the Secretary to the Treasury. It is upon that balance struck by the Government that the fate of this Amendment is to be decided; and I only hope that before the Division is taken, we shall hear the reasons which hare led those two Gentlemen to take up a position involving an abandonment of their principles.


Sir, I confess myself in favour of the enfranchisement of those women who occupy a responsible position in their sphere; therefore, I need not apologize for intervening between the Committee and the Division. I think we may have a test of the disposition of the House as regards this question by a momentary reference to the Division which took place last year, and from which it is clear that about one-half of the Members of the Liberal Party are generally prepared to give the vote to women householders. But what was the position of the Conservative Party when this question was last tested? Including Peers, 29 Members of the great Conservative Party were in favour of the enfranchisement of women. In view of that fact, I feel bound to ask myself, what is the cause of the sudden conversion of that Party? I am quite satisfied that if the Prime Minister and the Government had not left this an open question, there would not have been the tenth part of the zeal which we have seen to-night on the opposite Benches. And I would say one word to the women of England, with whom I have been associated in pushing forward this question—namely, that they should beware of what will be the outcome of this sudden conversion. The object of the Conservative Party, I am convinced, is not to secure to women the vote; it is to destroy the Bill which will enfranchise the men of this country. I do not hesitate to confess that I have been waiting for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, before I finally decided as to how I should vote on this occasion; and if I had been able to gather from him that the inclusion of women in the proposal of the Government would, in his judgment, have insured the passing of this Bill in "another place," then, Sir, in spite of the difficulty in my path, I should have been preparad to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. But it has been made manifest by his speech, and by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton), that the support offered to that Motion is nothing but a trick and a trap, which has been laid in order that the great Liberal Party may fall into it; and therefore on this occasion, no more than when my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) brought forward a Vote of Censure on the Government, will I be a party to go into the same Lobby in support of a Motion with hon. Members who vote for it with a diametrically opposite motive and intention. Sir, I shall vote with the Government—I confess with reluctance—but I am satisfied that in so doing I shall be meeting the wishes of the great majority of my own constituents, who, I believe, would infinitely prefer that this question should be postponed for a time, rather than that we should jeopardize or destroy a great measure of enfranchisement. I have no doubt as to the eventual realization of the object which the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent has in view, because, with the Prime Minister, I believe that whatever is just, expedient, and necessary will be more easily secured for the people of the country when this great measure of the enfranchisement of 2,000,000 people shall be placed upon the Statute Book.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 135; Noes 271: Majority 136.

Alexander, Major-Gen. Caine, W. S.
Allen, W. S. Cameron, C.
Arnold, A. Cameron, D.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Carbutt, E. H.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Christie, W. L.
Bateson, Sir T. Compton, F.
Beach, W. W. B. Courtauld, G.
Bective, Earl of Cowen, J.
Biggar, J. G. Cubitt, right hon. G.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Dickson, Major A. G.
Blake, J. A. Dickson, T. A.
Boord, T. W. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Bourke, right hon. R. Donaldson-Hudson, C.
Bright, J. Douglas, A. Akers-
Brooks, W. C. Eaton, H. W.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Ecroyd, W. F.
Bruce, hon. T. Elliot, Sir G.
Bulwer, J. R. Elliot, G. W.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Elton, C. I.
Ewing, A. O. Miles, Sir P. J. W.
Fellowes, W. H. Milner, Sir F.
Finch, G. H. Morgan, hon. F.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. Moss, R.
Mulholland, J.
Fletcher, Sir H. Nicholson, W. N.
Flower, C. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Folkestone, Viscount Northcote, rt. hon. Sir H. S.
Forester, C. T. W.
Fowler, rt. hon. R. N. Northcote, H. S.
French-Brewster, R. A. B. O'Connor, A.
O'Connor, T. P.
Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S. Patrick, R.W. Cochran-
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Giffard, Sir H. S. Pemberton, E. L.
Giles, A. Pennington, F.
Gore-Langton, W. S. Phipps, P.
Gorst, J. E. Price, Captain G. E.
Gourley, E. T. Pugh, L. P.
Grantham, W. Puleston, J. H.
Gray, E. D. Rankin, J.
Greer, T. Read, C. S.
Halsey, T. F. Richard, H.
Hill, Lord A. W. Rolls, J. A.
Hill, A. S. St. Aubyn, W. M.
Hollond, J. R. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Hopwood, C. H. Scott, M. D.
Houldsworth, W. H. Severne, J. E.
Kennard, C. J. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
King-Harman, Colonel E.R. Slagg, J.
Stanley, E. J.
Knight, F. W. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Knightley, Sir R. Storey, S.
Lawrance, J. C. Strutt, hon. C. H.
Lawrence, Sir T. Summers, W.
Lawson, Sir W. Taylor, P. A.
Lea, T. Thomasson, J. P.
Leamy, E. Thomson, H.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Thornhill, T.
Lennox, right hn. Lord H. G. C. G. Tottenham, A. L.
Tyler, Sir H. W.
Lever, J. O. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Long, W. H. Warton, C. N.
Lowther, hon. W. Watkin, Sir E. W.
Lusk, Sir A. Williams, S. C. E.
Lymington, Viscount Wilmot, Sir. H.
Macartney, J. W. E. Winn, R.
Mackintosh, C. F. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Macnaghten, E. Wyndham, hon. P.
M'Carthy, J. Yorke, J. R.
M'Laren, C. B. B.
Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R. TELLERS.
De Worms, Baron H.
Master, T. W. C. Woodall, W.
Acland, rt. hn. Sir T.D. Barran, J.
Agnew, W. Bass, Sir A.
Ainsworth, D. Bass, H.
Allman, R. L. Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.
Anderson, G. Beaumont, W, B.
Armitage, B. Biddulph, M.
Armitstead, G. Birkbeck, E.
Asher, A. Blennerhassett, Sir R.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Bolton, J. C.
Baldwin, E. Borlase, W. C.
Balfour, Sir G. Brand, hon. H. R.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Brassey, Sir T.
Balfour, J. S Brassey, H. A.
Barclay, J. W. Briggs, W. E.
Baring, Viscount Brinton, J.
Barnes, A. Broadhurst, H.
Brogden, A. Fowler, W.
Brooks, M. Fry, L.
Brown, A. H. Fry, T.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Gabbett, D. F.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Gladstone, rt. hn.W. E.
Bryce, J. Gladstone, H. J.
Buchanan, T. R. Gladstone, W. H.
Buszard, M. C. Glyn, hon. S. C.
Buxton, S. C. Gordon, Sir A.
Campbell, Lord C. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Campbell, Sir G. Grafton, F. W.
Campbell, R. F. F. Grant, Sir G. M.
Campbell -Bannerman, H. Grant, A.
Grant, D.
Cartwright, W. C. Grey, A. H. G.
Causton, R. K. Guest, M. J.
Cavendish, Lord E. Gurdon, R. T.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Chambers, Sir T. Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.
Cheetham, J. F.
Childers, rt. hn. H.C.E. Hardcastle, J. A.
Clark, S. Hartington, Marq. of
Clarke, J. C. Hastings, G. W.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Cohen, A,
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Ceilings, J. Heneage, E.
Collins, E. Herbert, hon. S.
Collins, T. Herschell, Sir F.
Colman, J. J. Hibbert, J. T.
Commins, A. Holden, I.
Coope, O. E. Holland, S.
Corbett, J. Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.
Cotes, C. C.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Howard, E. S.
Craig, W. Y. Howard, G. J.
Cropper, J. Howard, J.
Cross, J. K. Hubbard, right hon. J. G.
Currie, Sir D.
Dalrymple, C. Illingworth, A.
Davenport, H. T. Ince, H. B.
Davey, H. Inderwick, F. A.
Davies, R. Jamea, Sir H.
Dillwyn, L. L. James, C.
Dodds, J. James, W. H.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Jenkins, Sir J. J.
Duckham, T. Jenkins, D. J.
Duff, R. W. Johnson, E.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Jones-Parry, L.
Earp, T. Kennard, Col. E. H.
Ebrington, Viscount Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Eckersley, N. Kenny, M. J.
Edwards, H. Labouchere, H.
Egerton, Admiral hon. F. Lambton, hon. F. W.
Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Lawrence, W.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Leake, R.
Evans, T. W. Leatham, E. A.
Fairbairn, Sir A. Lee, H.
Farquharson, Dr. R. Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.
Ferguson, R. Leigh, hon. G. H. C.
Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B. Lloyd, M.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Macfarlane, D. H.
Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W. Mackie, R. B.
Fitzwilliam, hn. W. J. Macliver, P. S.
Floyer, J. M'Arthur, Sir W.
Foljambe, C. G. S. M'Arthur, A.
Foljambe, F. J. S. M'Coan, J. C.
Forster, Sir C. M'Intyre, AEneas J.
Forster, rt. hn. W. E. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Fort, R. M'Minnies, J. G.
Foster, W. H. Maitland, W. F.
Fowler, H. H. Mappin, F. T.
Marjoribanks, hon. E. Russell, G. W. E.
Martin, R. B. Rylands, P.
Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story- St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Samuelson, B.
Mason, H. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Maxwell-Heron, J. Sellar, A. C.
Mellor, J. W. Shaw, T.
Molloy, B. C. Sheil, E.
Monk, C. J. Sheridan, H. B.
Moreton, Lord Shield, H.
Morgan, rt. ton. G. O. Simon, Serjeant J.
Morley, A. Smith, Lieut-Col. G.
Morley, J. Smith, A.
Morley, S. Smith, E.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. Smith, S.
Stafford, Marquess of
Mundella, rt. hn. A. J. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Newdegate, G. N. Stanton, W. J.
Noel, E. Stevenson, J. C.
Norwood, C. M. Talbot, C. R. M.
O'Briene, Colonel F. Talbot, J. G.
O'Brien, Sir P. Tavistock, Marquess of
O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The Tennant, C.
Thompson, T. C.
Ouslow, D. R. Tillett, J. H.
Paget, R. H. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Paget, T. T.
Palmer, C. M. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G.O.
Palmer, G. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Parker, C. S. Vivian, A. P.
Pease, Sir J. W. Waddy, S. D.
Pease, A. Walker, S.
Peddie, J. D. Walter, J.
Pender, J. Warterlow, Sir S.
Philips, R. N. Watney, J.
Phipps, C. N. P. Waugh, E.
Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L. Webster, J.
Portman, hn. W. H. B. Whitbread, S.
Potter, T. B. Whitworth, B.
Powell, W. R. H. Wiggin, H.
Pulley, J. Williamson, S.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Willis, W.
Ralli, P. Wills, W. H.
Ramsay, J. Wilson, Sir M.
Rathbone, W. Wilson, C. H.
Reed, Sir E. J. Wilson, I.
Repton, G. W. Wodehouse, E. R.
Roberts, J. Woolf, S.
Roe, T. Wroughton, P.
Rogers, J. E. T.
Rothschild, Sir N. M. de TELLERS.
Roundell, C. S. Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.
Russell, Lord A.
Russell, C. Kensington, rt. hn. Lord

Motion made, and (Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."— (Mr. Gladstone.)

Motion agreed, to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.