HC Deb 19 July 1897 vol 51 cc416-7

said he desired to ask the Chairman of the Committee on Public Petitions (Sir C. Dalrymple) a Question of which he had given the hon. Member private notice—whether the Committee had considered the petition presented from the members of the Willesden and Harlesden Women's Association relative to women's franchise, presented on July 7 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin. (Mr. Courtney); whether that petition was couched in becoming, respectful, and temperate language, was free from offensive imputations on the character of Parliament, and was one which, according to the Rules and the usual practice of the House, could be received?


The Committee on Public Petitions at their meeting on Wednesday last had under their consideration the petition presented on the 7th inst. by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin. The Committee were of opinion that the expressions employed in the petition are unusual in tone, and they observed that while no decision of the House was taken at the moment of its presentation, when it was read at the Table these expressions were then the subject of remark and disapproval. The Committee, however, after full consideration decided not to take any further action in the matter. [Opposition cheers.]


May I ask the First Lord of the Treasury, as the Leader of the House, whether he proposes to take action in the matter?


I have just heard my hon. Friend behind me read out to the House the decision arrived at upon this subject by the Committee responsible to the House for dealing with such questions, and I do not think it would be desirable to run counter to the decision arrived at. I am bound to say, however, that I think the petitioners have done themselves as much harm as they possibly could. [Ministerial cheers.]