HC Deb 04 July 1893 vol 14 cc813-4
MR. W. S. B. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in the event of the Amendments to Clauses 6 and 7 of the Government of Ireland Bill, standing in the names of the right hon. Member for the Bodmin Division and the hon. Member for the Crewe Division, which raise the question of the right of duly-qualified women to vote for both branches of the Irish Legislature, not being reached by 10 o'clock on Thursday, he will afford facilities for the Committee to express its opinion on the subject in some other way; and, if this be impossible, whether he will promise that the House shall have an opportunity of considering it on Report?


I have not asked my right hon. Friend what answer he is prepared to make; but I am myself of opinion that the subject-matter of the question does not come within the scope which the Government intend to give to the Bill.

Subsequently, when Mr. GLADSTONE had taken his seat,

Mr. W. M'LAREN repeated his question.


The question as to who shall make proposals and what proposals shall be made upon the Irish Government Bill is not a question altogether within our jurisdiction. If it had been, the probability is that a very different set of proposals and in very different numbers would have been made. If my hon. Friend means that the question of Women's Suffrage is a question for the discussion of which it is the duty of the Government to obtain or give special facilities, I am bound to say I cannot agree with him for two reasons. If there are any questions that should be treated as Irish questions, I think the question whether women should vote is one of them. The question of the admission of women to the suffrage, considering all that it entails, is one of the greatest questions, most subtle questions, most far-reaching questions that ever can be submitted to Parliament; and on that account it would be very inconvenient to attempt to have a serious discussion upon it in connection with a Bill which, Heaven knows, is already sufficiently overweighted.

MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he considers that this is a question which can properly be solved only by the priests and people of Ireland?


It appears to me that for Ireland it ought to be solved by the Irish Government. The definition of "priests and people" is one supplied by the hon. Member himself only, and I cannot be expected to assent to it.