§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Sir GEORGE KEMP
I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill, which differs in two points from that read a second time by this House last year —first in point of title, and second in the fact that the £10 qualification has been omitted. The title has been so altered now as to admit of free amendment. It is quite true that it has not been so amended as to admit of the inclusion of more men than are already enfranchised; but that is not the object of the Bill, and it was not for that purpose that the Prime Minister gave his pledge that facilities should be given during the present Parliament for effectively proceeding with the measure. The £10 qualification has been omitted in order to meet the objections of those who felt that under it there might be an increase of plural or faggot voting. Both those two alterations have been made to meet the objections of avowed supporters of Woman Suffrage. The object of the Bill is to remove once and all the bar of sex so far as the Parliamentary franchise is concerned. During the discussion last year on that Bill the Prime Minister said that he did not understand on what principle the Bill was framed. This Bill has been framed on what appears to me a clear principle—to give the franchise to women who are householders. Those who are connected with the framing of the Bill thought that that was a satisfactory line on which to proceed, because the household qualification is one which has not been in debate between various parties in this House. And it was felt that the householder had some right to consideration if the head of the household was a woman, because she has to deal with the daily difficulties of the household, she comes into touch with the rough and tumble of the world, she is responsible for carrying on the household, and she is responsible for the rates and taxes in respect of the house. She has, in fact, to deal with the problems of life. This is a non-party Bill. In it an. attempt has been made to meet the views of all parties in the House. The Liberal and Labour parties were anxious that in any Bill to give the franchise to women no special advantage should be given 739 to the propertied classes. They were anxious, as also were many Members on the other side of the House, to have a democratic Bill. Those who are responsible for this Bill believe that it is a democratic Bill. They have obtained figures, which I believe have been put before every Member of the House, showing exactly how many women of each class in the country would be enfranchised. They took Dundee, a purely industrial and manufacturing centre, and Bangor and Carnarvon, more residential centres. Those figures show that the vote would be granted in fair proportion to all classes in the country.
Some figures can be disregarded, but these figures cannot, because they have been taken under the supervision of responsible men—mayors, town councillors, and overseers—and so far, I have not seen any argument to show that, they do not accurately represent the state of the case in any of the towns in question. The figures show that something like 80 per cent. of those proposed to be enfranchised will be women who either earn their own livelihood or are the wives of working men. That disposes of the argument put forward in the earlier stages of the controversy that the Bill was to give the vote to the propertied classes, to ladies, and to ladies only. Another argument advanced has been that the people enfranchised under This Bill would be poor, dependent, and illiterate. The two arguments are mutually destructive. The Unionist Members of the Committee, and Unionists generally who are in favour of the principle, were anxious that the Bill should proceed on moderate lines. Nobody will deny that this Bill has been so conceived. Indeed, it has the unanimous support of the Conciliation Committee. They also had in mind that "the man in the street," who has a rough and ready sense of justice, feels that some consideration should be given to those women who pay rates and taxes. I do not think that much time will be spent to day in considering the alterations in the Bill. Nor do I believe that, after the exhaustive discussion of last year, any new arguments will be brought forward, either for or against the Bill; and I must ask the indulgence of the House in the fact that in the remarks I have to make I shall be going over entirely old ground. We have to-day five hours for the discussion of this question. It would he inadequate if we were discussing the matter for the first time, but I believe the whole house will 740 be with me when I say that the time will be sufficient for the reaffirmation of the principle.
I will briefly state the broad grounds on which I support the Bill. I believe we ought to give the vote to adult women because they are the preponderating number of people in this country. Their grievance is accentuated by the fact that they suffer certain disabilities. Opponents of the principle will hardly deny that such disabilities exist—disabilities with regard to the pay they receive for their labour, to the number of posts they occupy under Government, and to the marriage laws. One small point occurs to me now. No woman owning, managing, or directing a newspaper, is allowed to come into this House to take a record of the debate now going on. I do not argue that if the vote is granted to women the wages of women will be directly and immediately advanced, though I believe that those in Government employ would probably gain an advantage in that respect. It is probable that they would be able to compete for more posts under Government than at present. In the last Debate it was ably argued by the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith) that under the marriage laws women occupy a preferential position in some respects. But they do not ask for a preferential position. They ask for a fair field and no favour. In the labour market they ask for unrestricted competition with men; and if, under those conditions, they prove themselves unable to do what men do they will have no call to complain. But putting the disabilities aside, supposing women were in exactly the same position as men as far as the law is concerned, we who support this Bill contend that there is a great cause for granting the franchise to women on other grounds First of all, they own an enormous stake in the country; secondly, they are subject to the laws of the country; and thirdly, they pay a great proportion of the taxes of the country. I know I am liable to be met with the argument that taxation does not necessarily go with representation. A man who buys a packet of tobacco is not thereby entitled to have a vote. But in this country we pride ourselves on the spirit of compromise. We pride ourselves that we do not press every argument to its extreme logical conclusion, and we remember that although there are millions of women paying millions of pounds of taxation there is not one single vote in respect of them. 741 Under this Bill it is proposed to enfranchise something like 1,000,000 women; that is, one woman as compared with seven men will have a vote—not an extravagant measure.
One of the main arguments last year was that if we give the vote to these women now, sooner or later—probably sooner—we shall have to give it to every woman in the country. I do not agree. That is the "thin end of the wedge" argument. It would be as reasonable to say that because we admit the expediency of an Income Tax of is in the £ we are necessarily committing ourselves to a tax of 10s., 15s., or 20s. in the £. And I submit that if this argument as to the "thin end of the wedge" had been applied to any measure of reform that has ever been brought into this House it would have been fatal. The test that we ought to apply to this Bill, as to every other is: is this particular Bill, at this particular time, conducive to the general good of the country? We are told that it cannot be conducive to the general good of the country, because it is supported by Members who hold entirely different views even in regard to the franchise. That is quite true. The Conciliation Committee has no united view with regard to adult suffrage. Personally, I am afraid I hold views that are probably held by nobody else in this House with regard to the franchise. I think it would be good for the country if the franchise were to be given on an educational basis, such an educational basis as would be possible to be fulfilled by anyone who had gone through the elementary schools of the country. I believe—possibly because I am getting rather old—that nobody should have a vote until they attain the age of twenty-five. Those are only my personal views, but because I hold these personal views, which commit nobody else but myself, am I to refuse the support of those who enthusiastically desire adult suffrage? H that were to be a bar to the passing of this Bill, what would have happened in 1832, 1867, and 1384 Were there supporters of adult suffrage then? Was there no difference of view in regard to the extension of the franchise at that time? Was it any reason because there were supporters of these Bills who believed in adult suffrage to deny the vote to those men who were enfranchised on these several occasions?
Another broad reason that I have for supporting the Bill is, that I believe that at the present time the nation suffers a loss by the exclusion of capable women 742 from the power to select Members of Parliament. I have been connected with business all my life. I have come to the very commonplace conclusion that we have no extra talent to throw away. If we want to compete successfully with other nations we wish all those who are fitted to take part in any process to be able to do so without any restrictions. We cannot afford to do without them. I believe that principle holds alike good in the selection of Members of Parliament. We want all the talent that we can get in the selection of Members of Parliament. Few who oppose this Bill will deny that women have special spheres in which they have expert knowledge that men do not possess. There is the further advantage, and perhaps a more palpable one than that. I believe we shall gain greatly in the administration of the laws if we allow women to vote. So long as there is a distinct sense of grievance and injustice in any considerable portion of the community so long you will not have zealous co-operation in carrying out your laws. Women feel that they are not consulted in the making of the laws. Are you to expect them to be as loyal as they otherwise would be in carrying them out when they have had no part in making them? Once give them some share in the making of the laws, and I believe you will have no more loyal, zealous, and keen coadjutors in their administration than the women throughout, the country.
I do not want to put too great a weight on the result of this Bill if it is passed into law. I do not believe that we shall at once have "a new heaven and a new earth." I do not believe that there will be a very particularly discernable change in the general trend of party legislation. But that is no reason for denying the vote to women. I believe there are a great number of minor points that arise in almost every Bill—for social reform, at all events—which is brought before this House, which are not so carefully dealt with as they would be if women had the vote. Perhaps we shall be told that the women's cause has made good progress without the vote, is making good progress now, and that men are prepared to deal with any injustices or any question particularly affecting women as adequately as if women had the vote. I quite admit that since the present agitation has assumed the proportion that it has assumed, that points affecting women have been much more carefully considered and dealt with then they were before. But why should 743 we stop short at the vote? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) in debate last year made it quite clear that he thought that women were quite fitted to influence votes, but were unfitted to exercise votes—that it was natural for them to do the one, and that it was unnatural for them to do the other. Who is to be the arbitrator? It is a matter of opinion! I believe that the real reason, the real reluctance, to give the vote to women is due to something which has its roots far hack in the ages. From time immemorial women have occupied a subordinate and dependent position. Perhaps that has been largely due to the fact that religion—or, rather, I should say the accretions of religion—and sentiment have induced men and women to think that that was the course of nature. Long standing usage has had much to do with it. And I believe that it is because the vote is the last outward and visible sign of this subordination and dependency that we have this extreme reluctance to grant it to women. I have never met any argument to show that this state of affairs has been due to anything but physical force in the first instance. Who is going to argue in this House at this time of day that we ought to make physical force the basis of our laws? Traditions of that kind die hard. It was with great difficulty that only a comparatively short time ago the slave trade was abolished. Very few people were directly interested in it, but what difficulty there was in abolishing it! How great the difficulty here. There are not a few here. But from their point of view the male head of every household will, if this Bill be passed, to some extent suffer a diminution of the supremacy which he has hitherto enjoyed. I do not think that this argument would hold good at this time of day. We have changed in England in our views happily. It is not so very long ago since it was thought a right and natural thing that every man should remain in the class in which he was born. Now we believe every scope should he given to talent, and men can rise to any position and hold the highest offices in the State if they have the talent to carry out the duties inherent in these offices. All parties in this House believe in the unrestricted use of ability. Why are we to exclude women from this belief. Perhaps it might be said that that argument would carry me too far, and would allow women to become eligible to sit in this 744 House and to hold positions as Cabinet Ministers. I am not going to say what my opinions upon these questions are, but there are many considerations which would lead me at once to hope that they might sit in this House. But let us look at it from the point of view of the supporters of this Bill, and not from the point of view of some of us who believe they might sit in the House now.
It has been our custom in England to proceed, as I believe rightly, by gradual stages in any reform brought before the House. Let women have the vote for a certain number of years, and let the further question whether they should sit in the House or hold the positions in the Cabinet be decided by our children or by our children's children, or earlier if necessary. I hope this Bill will pass by no less a majority than the Bill passed last year. That majority was sufficient to pass any great measure, even the greatest reform, no matter what. But the result was ineffective. Six times have measures in support of Woman Suffrage passed this House, but without effect. I suggest the reason is because the support of this Bill has been found not upon one side of the House only, but in every portion of the House, and it is merely due to the accidental geographical position of the supporters of this Bill that it does not become law.
Suppose we imagine a foreigner comes to this country, and asking what the opinion of the House of Commons is in regard to Woman Suffrage. He would be told the question was debated in this House for forty years. He would be told for the last quarter of a century it had a permanent majority in this House. He would then say, very likely, "I suppose this is a democratic and representative assembly. Can you explain to me why this does not become law?" He would further ask, "Are members sincere in their opinions? Do they really believe this, or do they merely express a belief which they are reluctant to carry into effect." I think that is a charge of insincerity which this House ought to take the first opportunity of removing. I believe the Prime Minister, who is a frank opponent of this Bill, has realised this state of the case, and though he is opposed to this Bill himself, yet in his sense of fair play, and his anxiety for the continuance of the democratic principle, he feels that this House should be allowed to deal with this 745 question effectively, and therefore he has given a clear and distinct pledge that we shall have facilities during the present Parliament to proceed with the Bill if it gets a Second Reading here to-day. Perhaps I may take this opportunity of saying, suppose the Bill, gets a Second Reading to-day, those responsible do not propose to proceed in the same manner as last year with regard to the further stages. Last year they desired it to go for consideration to a Grand Committee, but the sense of the House was obviously opposed to that. They now feel they are right in giving way to the general sense of the House, whose wish was that the Bill be considered not in Grand Committee but on the floor of the House and that is the course they propose to pursue. Furthermore, should this Bill become law I am authorised to say that those responsible for the Bill and the Woman. Suffrage Societies would not demand a dissolution after the passing of the Bill—they would be quite prepared to wait until the next General Election. With regard to the position I have the honour of taking up to-day, I thought it only right I should consult my Constituents, and I have every reason to believe they are entirely with me in this respect, and I am encouraged in thinking that not only in the support of those who represent the same city as myself, but by the fact that the City Council of Manchester passed a resolution last year by an overwhelming majority— more than four to one—not only in favour of the Bill, but in favour of giving facilities for the further progress of the Bill. These are indisputable figures.
I heard to day of a petition signed by 50,000 men and women, and we have heard of figures and seen figures of persons supposed to be in opposition to the Bill. All these figures, both for and against the Bill, may be liable to suspicion unless taken under official supervision. You cannot say that with regard to town and city councils; there are sixty-seven or sixty-nine of them in this country that passed resolutions in favour of the Woman Suffrage and of effectively proceeding with it. You cannot get over these figures. These councils are representative of the people, and if you believe in representative Government you must believe this is the desire of the representatives of the people in this country. Even if I had not the support of the Constituency I have the honour of representing I should still feel it my duty to do all I can in favour of this Bill, which I believe to be a just Bill. I 746 have always been in favour of giving the vote to women. There is an obvious sense of discontent and unhappiness throughout the kingdom, and I believe now it is our duty to deal with the disorder effectively and not to drive it underneath the earth. I believe that women possess qualities which men do not possess. I believe that they have a keener sense of intuition, a more subtle sense of perception and a greater capacity for self-sacrifice. Perhaps they do not see so much as we do the value of compromise, for they have higher ideals. I think we in this House might sacrifice a certain amount of the spirit of compromise if only at the same time we raise the level of our ideals.
§ Mr. GOULDING
I desire to second the Motion which has been moved in a speech of such lucidity and power by my hon. Friend. The fortune's of the ballot may secure the Second Reading of this Bill founded on reason and justice to-day, but it also assists the Government to easily give effect to the pledges given by prominent, Members of the Cabinet previous to the General Election. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs said last November, in reply to a deputation: —That next year (1911) if the House remains of the same mind, facilities ought to be found for the proper discussion and further progress of the Bill.The Chief Secretary said:—When Parliament meets next year this question will have to be derided.I venture to say that no such specific statements should be made unless they are intended to be fulfilled. The question is ripe for settlement. The demand is going to increase, and not decrease. Parliament after Parliament have declared in favour of the reform. It is absurd that large numbers of the community should not be consulted in the making of laws they have to obey because they are women. It is intolerable that a growing portion of the wage-earners of this country should have to labour under conditions regulated by politicians of another sex. It is unjust that you should tax women for public purposes and give them no voice in the expenditure. Believe me, you can no more prevent the intrusion of women into fields of industry and politics than men were able to prevent the use of machinery a century ago. In the interest of men, it cannot be of advantage to have male labour displaced by female, because it happens to be cheaper; while if women are enfranchised, they will see that woman is no longer underpaid and men driven into idleness to make room for underpaid 747 women. I believe that wages are influenced to a large degree by political status, and I am confident that questions affecting women would be largely modified if they were possessed of a vote.
I give only two recent instances. Is there a single Member who thinks that a Government, except under great financial pressure, would dare to reduce the wages of their male employés by 25 per cent.? Yet Lord Haldane and this Government, with an overflowing Exchequer, did not hesitate last year to reduce the wages of the female machinists at Pimlico by this amount on service trousers—namely, from 3d. to 2¼d. per pair. Again, I desire to ask the House, do they for one moment believe that if similar charges recently made in connection with the treatment of the women's deputation were made in regard to a deputation of men, the matter would remain where it is? Of course not! This House would have been stirred to action by the influence of the votes of the men, and it would have insisted on a searching inquiry; and in saying this, I neither associate myself with or against the charges made; but I ask the House to note the fact. I am told that the majority of women are opposed to their own enfranchisement, and that a certain canvass made gives colour to this assertion. Neither a Referendum to women nor a partial canvass carried out by partisans should determine our decision. We know that when the franchise was extended to the agricultural labourer in 1884 it was only a very small proportion of these labourers who actively worked for the extension, and when the vote was obtained it was with much difficulty they were at first induced to use it. This indifference is confined neither to sex nor race. What happened in the United States when the emancipation of the negroes took place? It is a remarkable fact that on the eve of the abolition of Negro slavery in the United States the greatest obstacle was found in the majority of the slaves themselves. When you enfranchise women there will be kindled a keener interest in the requirements of women, as there was with the extension of the franchise to working classes in towns and to the agricultural labourer, and all the political parties will stir themselves up in friendly rivalry and competition to cater to the wants of women and to try and remedy some of the evils of which they complain. I am certainly not going to say that this 748 House when legislating does not to the best of its ability try to remedy those evils, but in the past, man-made law has often failed to appreciate the claims of woman. Take the question of children. The woman suffers risk of life in the birth of the child, yet the law deprives the mother of the control or even of the right to the custody of the child. The father is the sole guardian. He has the right to name the child, to determine the education, to decide on the religion, and to settle the careers of the children, boys and girls alike. We have had a striking instance of this recently in the McCann case. Her two young children were taken from her by the husband to avoid the religious influence she might impart. The Chief Secretary's only answer to this scandalous position was that by the laws of the country the husband was entitled to the custody of the children. Well might the senior Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) declare the best thing the House could do was to alter such a monstrous state of affairs without delay. It is surely right that as education and civilisation are all tending to efface the influence of the law of force on character, and replace them by those of justice, recognition of the rights of the mother should be established so that she may exercise it wit bout delay during those years when the character of the child is formed. Again, may I recall what took place in passing what is called "the Children's Charter." In what an inadequate manner did the House consider the position of woman A mother who has the care of her child when she wants refreshment may not take her child into the public-house, and consequently you may to-day see women drinking on the pavement when they have a child with them; or, if it is wet, the mother goes inside and leaves the child outside. I say without hesitation if women had had votes, that Act would never have become law in its present form. Provision would have been made for women, and the country would not have waited until to-day without those restaurants which we see abroad, where a man and woman of any class can go with their family and get ordinary refreshment. I read of magistrates ordering that women were not to have more than one glass of beer served them by publicans as if they were not adults and independent beings. I consider the economic dependence of woman is tragic among the working classes. Let me quote two recent cases. 749 This year a widower with a family, after a period of long unemployment, got a job a long distance from where he lived. He had to engage a housekeeper to look after his house and young family, and, as he had no money, the stipendary magistrate granted him £1, to be paid at the rate of 5s. a week to pay for the housekeeper. When this was stopped, he told the missionary of the court that he had married the woman as he could not afford to pay her out of his wages, treating her thus as a mere chattel. If a man was treated thus, he would consider it scandalous. I heard of a case in London where a man lost his thumb in the machinery of one of our great London newspapers. He wanted to stay on, but the proprietors preferred the wife with a thumb, and she took his place, he receiving £100 compensation. This man has never ceased complaining that he has no control over the money, and that his wife is absolute master. That case is an exception, but the case of the woman is general. The case of the woman among the working classes is that of chronic dependence upon the husband. Another objection urged against women having the vote -is that they might by their vote help to bring about a war in which they would not bear their personal share of risk. This applies to the vast majority of men voters, but it also is not correct to state that women would not participate in the war. They take part as nurses, and Lord Haldane stated recently:—In time of war all who took part helped their country, and women have never been called on so large a scale as at present for the territorial army,The administrative capacity of woman cannot be denied. Their record of service on the local bodies in this country is well known, while in the example of Queen Victoria, and also in the ruling families; of India, where the mother by birth or adoption is the Regent by right, their prudence and ability to govern well has been established. In Eastern States when a child is under age the mother by birth or by adoption is made Regent, and record after record can be produced from India to show that in every one of these cases rule by women has been beneficial, and they are established as some of the best administrators in that distant land.
Finally, I desire to draw attention to one further point. We are told that, women who get the vote will cease to pursue those avocations which are classed; as natural to women. It is a remarkable fact that in those countries where women 750 have the vote not only is the rate of marriage greater, but the birth rate is higher, and the Registrar-General in his report points out that in countries like New Zealand and Australia, where the vote has been possessed by women for a long time, the mortality among infants under twelve months is lower than that which obtains in this country. I am aware that there are some weak people who consider that woman, besides being the source of happiness, is the foundation of sin, and was the cause of man's banishment from Paradise, and that if woman got the vote she might soon get here, and, as Whip, seduce Members to vote against their consciences. No such danger has arisen where women have the vote. This danger has never arisen in any of those public bodies where women act today. Everyone there bears record of the work that they do, and I for one to-day support the extension of the suffrage to women because I have knowledge of the splendid work that they have done on those bodies. I have served with them. I know the ability and industry they bring to bear in the administration of their duties, and I shall support this Bill because I believe that by the extension of the vote to women we shall, at all events for this generation, safeguard Bible teaching in our national schools, and at, the same time woman's influence will tend to the better government of our country.
§ Sir MAURICE LEVY
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now" and to add at the end of the Question the words "upon this day six months."
I do not propose to enter deeply into the question whether a woman should or should not have the vote. I propose to confine myself almost exclusively to the Bill as it is printed. It would be somewhat interesting to follow my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill into the reasons he gave why it should become the law of the, land. His first reason was that there is a preponderating number of adult women in the country; the second was that they own a great stake in the country and pay a great proportion of the rates. Having said that, one would imagine the hon. Member would have carried his argument to its logical conclusion and would have supported a Bill to confer the franchise, unlimited and unrestricted, on every woman in the land. But his courage failed him. He said: "The woman must own 751 property." I think, therefore, I am justified in saying he is no supporter of Woman Suffrage, but he is a supporter of a limited franchise being extended to women who own property.
I am not going to follow the hon. Member for Worcester in his argument. He seemed to base his claim for this Bill on the fact that the mother bears the child and that the father has the control, and human nature being what it is, I hope and pray that the responsibility for the custody of the child will always rest with the father and not be imposed on the mother. As for his argument that it would be a great advantage for our educational system because he felt sure that women would always maintain that the Bible should be read and taught in the schools of this land, I venture to believe that a great many who are in this House who are not supporters of this Bill are equally anxious that religious teaching should be given to children in this country, and they are also anxious that the denominations should give it at their own expense out of school hours. My hon. Friend may rest fully assured that you are not going to endanger the religion of this country by refusing to extend the franchise to the women of the land.
This Bill claims to provide that woman shall not be disqualified by her sex. I think both opponents and supporters of the Bill will agree with me that neither the mover nor the seconder have substantiated that claim, for the Bill immediately proceeds to make provisions which exclude practically every woman from the register unless she is rich enough to provide a qualification for herself in a constituency in which her husband does not reside. Such of the poorer classes as would be enfranchised by this Bill are, in the main, widows—probably old, we will trust mostly old. In rural districts, and also in many urban districts, these women are largely in the power of the propertied people in this country, and consequently you will be placing on the register a very dangerous element of electors. The charms and fascinations to the supporters of this Bill appear to be founded on the fact that you are only going to enfranchise one woman out of seven. My hon. Friend who proposed the Second Reading quoted figures. I am not going to follow his example, others may do so. But I do say this, he has made the statement that 80 per cent. of those who would be enfranchised under this Bill would belong to the 752 industrial classes, and I believe it would be practically impossible to justify that statement—
§ Sir MAURICE LEVY
You can answer the question yourself by asking whether 80 per cent. of the women on the municipal registers are working women. I do not think that they are. If the promoters of this Bill are in earnest in their desire to enfranchise the women of this country, why have they brought in so exclusive a Bill? Who are these women they propose to enfranchise? Women who live apart from their husbands in different constituencies; women who live their own lives; women who are the mistresses but not the wives of men, and I venture to predict that everyone will agree that a more unfair, unjust, and lop-sided addition to the registers of this country in the interests of property, widowhood, and immorality, has never been seriously proposed in this House. In my judgment, to apply to these proposals the stock phrase of the extension of "citizenship on the same terms as men" is an abuse of the English language. If the people who are promoting this Bill are really sincere in their argument that they desire to have the experience and wisdom of women of this land to guide and direct them in times of election, why this narrow Bill? Why do they exclude from this measure the wives and mothers of this nation? Surely the wives and the mothers must have greater experience than any other class of women in this country, and therefore it appears to me unreasonable that they should be excluded. If, on the other hand, the promoters of this Bill honestly believe that the enfranchisement of women is essential in order to protect them from the injustices and oppressions resulting from "man-made'' law, surely it is those who are most dependent upon the protection of the laws who most need the vote.
Under this Bill the great bulk of the women of the industrial class who undoubtedly suffer most from faulty laws are excluded. To them a badly regulated drink traffic, inefficiently enforced industrial regulations, artificially enhanced prices of the commodities they require, and many other matters under the control of Parliament mean not merely a temporary inconvenience, but a life-long misery. But all these people are systematically, carefully, and intentionally excluded from the scope of this Bill. These people are 753 all to be denied the blessings which the promoters say the Bill will conifer upon women. These people, who in my judgment form the majority of the women of the land, are to believe that they are different from other women. These women are invited to remove their political interests from the care of their fathers, their husbands, and their brothers, and hand them over to the safe-keeping of the propertied women of this country, and in my view they are asking the women who form the industrial classes of the land to take their political interests out of the hands of the men of this country and place them under this Bill, as they would be, in the care of the propertied women of this country. In the past the men of this country have absolutely safeguarded the interests of the women of this land. No charge can be laid against the men of having neglected legislation in the interests of the women. Some people may say that women suffer. Of course women suffer. Men suffer also. We know that there has been a great agitation and that there will be a great agitation to improve the social condition of the people in this land. That agitation is on behalf of the men as much as it is on behalf of the women, and the men of this country have never been unheedful or careless of the well-being of the women. The supporters of this Bill appear to me to set up a discrimination which I, as an opponent, have never claimed that men possess, an intellectual superiority over women. I say that women possess a physical inferiority which never can be altered, and for that reason it appears to me that men must always be more or less the ruling spirit in every country, but the supporters of this Bill practically imply that there is intellectual inferiority in one certain class of women, and they proceed to discriminate, their discrimination being practically based on wealth.
In my judgment, women whose judgment, knowledge, and experience may prove beneficial to the nation, are not to be found exclusively in one class of the community, and if they are smaller in one class than another, it is in my judgment in the class which it is proposed by this Bill to add to the electorate. The Bill also appears to proceed on the false assumption that the woman who fulfils the ordinary and normal function of womanhood is really unrepresentative of her sex, and is less likely to know and appreciate the needs of the women of the country. It sets up in my judgment absolutely in- 754 defensible distinctions, and it seeks to enforce unjust, unreasonable, and entirely illogical discrimination between women. That is defended by the promoters, who say the Bill has been so drafted that Amendments may be made as we go through the Committee stage, but what Amendments can be made? The supporters of the Bill are not prepared to have, in my judgment, any truly democratic Amendment made. Some claim, and I think many will support this Bill in the belief that they can make it an Adult Suffrage Bill before it passes through the House. I think I can show from extracts from the speeches of some of those who are supporting this Bill that their position as to an Adult Suffrage Bill is extremely vague. Let me read an extract from a speech by the Mover of this Bill (Sir George Kemp). He said, speaking some little time ago:—That nine out of ten of the persons who opposed the Bill were under a complete misapprehension as to the proposals it contained. Were it to pass it would only enfranchise about a million of women, whereas there were seven million and a half of male voters already on the register. It was said by their opponents that the Bill was the thin end of the wedge of manhood and womanhood suffrage. Certainly, he himself did not support it with any such idea, for he was opposed to universal suffrage.I only read that to try and induce hon. Members on this side not to be led into the belief that they can, if this Bill is read a second time, transform it into a measure for Adult Suffrage. Let me read what that persistent supporter of the movement, Lady Frances Balfour, says:—Woman Suffrage would most certainly act as a harrier against some of the extreme measures which are-the hope of the ultra-Radicals, adult suffrage for instance.Then Mrs. Drummond says:—Personally, I am strongly in favour of giving the vote only to those women who have a property qualification, and so a stake in the State; but I feel exactly the same concerning manhood suffrage—that is to say, I think the vote is now given to many men who should not have it, because they have no stake in the country.Mrs. Pankhurst says:—We don't expect to obtain votes for married women unless thy happen to possess a distinct qualification of their own.Mrs. Fawcett says:—We do not wish for adult suffrage.That is the case which they put before the country. They are agitating with persistency in favour of this Bill, because they believe if they got placed on the Statute Book a limited and restricted Bill they will for the time being and for many a long day have made it impossible for the extension of the franchise finally to be carried out in a complete form for the benefit of women. 755 I know many people believe there is a great force behind this movement. Personally, I believe the agitation is mainly, if not entirely artificial. There is, I know, a persistency and a pertinacity which induces many of these people to put pressure on Members of Parliament, but I believe the great majority of the women of this country are entirely averse from this Bill. They do not believe it would be beneficial to the country to be governed by women. They prefer the sovereignty and the authority of man. I think figures easily prove that. The great majority of men and women, I believe, in every constituency, are opposed to this Bill, because they know full well that there is no real advantage which would accrue to the nation by extending the electorate by placing upon the register, against their will and without consultation, an entirely new element, and I think the men in this country will demand that before such a new element shall be placed on the register that question shall be submitted in a clear and definite form to the country, and shall not be submitted in the form which this Bill proposes.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
I desire to support the Amendment for the rejection of the Bill.
I take this movement to be serious. A good deal of avoidable irritation has been caused in the country by the way in which a certain number, at any rate, of those who are opposed to this Bill—perhaps not the most thoughtful of them—have treated it. We are bound to take seriously a movement which has so long a history as this, and which is supported with such obvious and genuine enthusiasm as this movement has behind it. I can quite conceive a condition of society in which the objection which I feel to this proposal would be removed. If men at any time come to approximate more to the condition of angels with the progress of society then I see no reason why we should not give women votes. I would ask the House to bear in mind the contrast that there is between the conditions under which this Bill is being considered this year and the conditions under which it was considered last year. I do not want to draw undue conclusions from a fact which must be patent to everyone, but I think it should be noticed that whereas we had then crowded benches, full Front Benches, noteworthy speeches, and not a little interest, 756 I might almost say excitement, in the Lobbies outside, this year we are in a placid condition indeed. I believe that is very largely due to the effect of the Debate last year. I believe for the first time, at any rate in the recent history of this movement, the promoters in that Debate came up against a real opposition. Before that time no large number of people had troubled to think the matter out and to present the opposition to this movement, which sooner or later necessarily had to be presented. I wish to note the changes in this movement owing to what took place a year past. We have had reference made to the suspicion which falls, very naturally, on the statistics available as to the views of people in this country on this question, but the mover adduced the resolutions passed by a number of town and city councils. There is an element of suspicion in that. You are dealing with men who have had experience of the local voting of women, and very naturally to a certain extent they are biassed by their experience and by the matter which they have specially in view. My contention will be that the Imperial vote is something very different in its nature from the local vote.
On the other hand there have been canvasses carried out by societies chiefly opposed to granting this vote. I quite agree, when a house-to-house call is made it is probable that you often get the answer which is desired. I know, also, that it is urged that in the case of what to me is a more satisfactory method of taking a canvass, the postcard, you may have a joke perpetrated by the men in the family in the shape of a reply sent on behalf of the woman to whom the postcard was addressed. But when you are dealing with many tens of thousands of these postcards I do not think, if we treat the matter reasonably, it is probable that in any very serious number of cases this kind of fraud has been perpetrated. I think, so far as the evidence goes, I admit it is not complete, but it seems to me to be conclusive that you have a large body of apathy among women on the subject, and a further large body of distinct opposition, and that you have, I believe, a smaller, although I admit a very enthusiastic, body of support for the proposal. In a speech by Lord Selborne, made recently, and circulated widely, in favour of granting this suffrage, I find it argued that those women who do not want the vote need not use it. The objection of the women who do not wish to use the vote, if granted, is that in their 757 opinion—I do not say at the moment whether they are right or wrong—the granting of the vote would so alter the condition of women as, in their opinion, to constitute an actual depreciation of their present position. You have no right to grant an advantage to one body of women in order to inflict, as they believe, a disability on a further body of women. I say that is quite different from the extension of the franchise in past times to additional classes of men. Women, except those who are competing industrially, are not a class. They belong to all classes, and the issues that are raised, if you look at the matter calmly, must surely be something wholly different in their nature from those raised by the extension of the franchise to bodies of men who had not previously exercised it.
This Bill differs from that of last year in the matter both of the title and the provisions. The title of the Bill has been so altered as to permit of almost any Amendment dealing with the franchise of women. I venture to say that no one can quite tell if this Bill went to a Select Committee, in what form it would emerge. For all practical purposes what you would send up is the title. We have already heard from the hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading that the Conciliation Committee themselves are not united in regard to the conditions of the franchise. It was observable by all present that, at any rate, one section of the supporters of the Bill below the Gangway were in favour of a very much further extension of the franchise than that proposed here. We have further in documentary evidence that at the present moment there are Members of this House who are prepared to move Amendments to this Bill to a very large extent indeed. This is not the only Bill for the enfranchisement of women at present. There is another Bill. I find that the Bill now before us, embodying the proposals of the Conciliation Committee, would enfranchise about one-tenth of the adult female population. The Bill which others are proposing would enfranchise nearly one-half. We have no security whatever that the hon. Gentlemen who are proposing that other Bill would not be able to give some effect to the views they hold when this Bill was passing through Committee.
The promoters of this Bill arc, of course, up against a fundamental difficulty, namely, that they are seeking to avoid the fact that there are a great majority of women in this country. It is a very great 758 difficulty for them to face, because I believe it drives them on to the horns of a dilemma. Either they must grant the franchise on some qualification of property with some class result, or they must find that marriage is a disability. One or other of these difficulties is before those who promote the Bill. Last year they brought in a Bill which would have granted the franchise to far more married women than this Bill. But that Bill was objected to because it was said it would have granted the franchise to an undue extent to ladies—to those who had a certain property qualification. Having seen that Bill founder on that difficulty, they now bring in this Bill, which I venture to say incurs rightly the charge at the other extreme of the argument that they have rendered marriage a disability. It, is admitted that the effect of the two changes which have been made in this Bill, as compared with that of last year, will be to give the vote mainly to spinsters and widows. We have heard the argument of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill in regard to the care of children. I admit that many widows would be able from their experience to vote having that in mind. But surely what you are up against is that the defence you urge for granting the vote to these spinsters and widows is, if I may so put it, an economic defence. It is because they are in competition with men that you claim that they should have the vote, because you say that they have similar burdens to men. In other words, you are claiming that it is the woman who is taking upon her the part of the man who should have the vote, and not the woman who specifically represents the part of the woman. You are proposing to give the vote to the widow incidentally who has some experience because she is the head of the house, because she is bearing financial burdens, and because she is competing with man. You refuse it to the married woman who has pressing on her quite other considerations than those which are pressing on the woman who is the competitor with man.
I wish to say incidentally that one matter happened during last year which shows that those who are opposing this movement are not in a purely negative attitude. The organisations which are specially interested in this opposition have very carefully prepared two Bills which some Member will in due course introduce to facilitate the access of women to local bodies, and to which access for married women. 759 especially is very difficult at present. It is because we regard the local vote as something very different from the Imperial vote that that is to be done. I wish to deal with the arguments put forward in support of this Bill which should enfranchise those women who are in competition with men, and practically no others. The first argument is that they hear similar burdens to men in the way of taxes. Adopting a phrase of the Prime Minister, I venture to think that there is a little sloppy thinking about that. The hon. Gentleman said that we in this country deal in compromises, and do not press arguments to the extreme. Let us look at the matter broadly. No man in this country has the right to a vote by virtue of paying Imperial taxes. So far as the household franchise is concerned, he has a vote because he pays local taxation. When you speak of Imperial taxation and local taxation you are dealing with two perfectly distinct things. Why is the Imperial vote given to the local taxpayer? I venture to say it is not on the ground of a theory as to ally connect ion between representation and taxation, but because you in that way select a large body of men in the country who on the whole are qualified to give strength to the State. That after all is the fundamential idea involved in the exercise of the Imperial vote.
The object with which you give the Imperial vote to the householder is not because he is a sharer in the burdens of the country, but because in that way you select what without any wish to be invidious, I would call the most respectable and responsible body of men in the country. The idea is totally disconnected from representation accompanying taxation. In this matter, surely, we may pass by the details which were put forward just now as to the Pimlico case. Surely the position of women workers under the State is, after all, though important, a very small reason to urge for so vast a change which would alter the basis of our society. I turn to the argument that because these women are in competition with men, therefore they must be allowed to defend their interests and secure the best conditions of work for themselves. That is, if I may put it so, the argument of the spoils to the victors. That puts aside Imperial politics, which I cannot admit for one moment. We have too much at the present time of this claiming from the State rather than ren- 760 dering duty to the State. I know that hon. Gentlemen here and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) have urged during the past autumn that after all this question is not of very great importance. I want to show that it is of importance.
Assuming that the reason you give the vote is that women are in competition with men, the argument is advanced that men and women will be divided in politics as in everything else. But you have given this vote to these women because they are competitors with men, because for this purpose they are a class; and they will league themselves together, as they are leaguing themselves together, to get the vote in order to use the vote. In any constituency in which the two parties are nearly equally divided, any small body of electors who are willing to place one single object before all others, will try incessantly to sell the votes, not, of course, for cash, but for legislative promise. Take the condition of the House at the present moment. The benches below the Gangway on our side are occupied by those who have one object only in view, and subordinate all other questions of politics to that one object. The fact that this is so is one which influences the whole course of politics and of affairs in this country at the present moment. If you grant the vote to these women, who are competitors with men, you will have to face the very great and almost immediate result that an organisation aiming at special objects in constituencies where votes are very nearly equally divided will be able to exercise very considerable influence on the politics of this country.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
That is log-rolling, and we have got a great deal too much of it at the present time. Consider the countries which have granted the franchise—Australia, New Zealand, and the Western States of the United States. There you have got a considerable majority of men, and the economic conditions are wholly different from those in this country, where you have more than a million more women than men.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
The point I wanted to put in regard to the Imperial vote has been put most shortly by Lord Selborne, 761 in the speech to which I referred, which is a very able presentment of the case in favour of this Bill, and it has been put, of course, without the object to which I intend to turn his phrase. He says, "If there were any connection at all in men's franchise between voting and fighting, then the argument might command our respectful attention." We have heard that argument before on the other side. He assumes that the fighting which we think of, when we speak of sovereignty in connection with the Imperial franchise, is necessarily fighting on behalf of the nation, and not within the nation. There is a second phrase which he uses, which I think very shortly puts the question closely to us. He says, "It is a very dangerous thing for half the people to try to coerce the other half." We are always doing a dangerous thing in this country in that way. We do not recognise it, because up to the present, fortunately, we have had no such recent issue as has forced us to consider the matter. They have had in the United States. The sanction, I venture to say—I know it is not a popular view in some quarters of the House—of party government is civil war. The final fact behind party government is that there must be the possibility of civil war.
You have two parties very nearly equal to one another—say nine-twentieths and eleven-twentieths of the country—but to the party which is in a very bare majority, by the Constitution of the country, you entrust t he command of the whole physical force of this land—power over the Army and Navy, and power over the citizens themselves in the matter of Government prosecutions and what not. Anything which would turn the minority into a bare majority, though that turning force is votes, and has no physical force, and is no part of what Professor Dicey calls the political sovereignty of the country, is placing you in a very dangerous position. If by any organisation, which I venture to to say is probable, given the conditions under which you are now offering the vote to the women competitors with men rather than to the mothers of the men, where you have a near balance of votes you get that organisation used to turn the minority into a majority, then throughout the length and breadth of the land there will be a spirit of revolt in regard to the majority, and especially in regard to those great powers of coercion which you are placing in the hands of that majority so constituted.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is impossible to carry on a Debate if hon. Members interrupt in this manner. The hon. Member will have a chance later on to reply to the arguments now being advanced.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
The hon. Gentleman asks is it not possible that a minority may be a majority? Lord Selborne says it is a very dangerous thing for half the people to try to coerce the other half. If you consider that those whom you feel you can overthrow you can disregard, then there will be a great danger that your constitutional Government will break down, and that the ultimate sanction which lies behind all our constitutional Government will be resorted to. I know that we have enjoyed internal peace for many a long year past. I know hon. Gentlemen treat this as not practical, but the practical position we have to face is that we are taking a step, if we accept this Bill, which will influence the whole future of this country, and not merely the present condition of things. Repeatedly in the past you have had the overthrow of democracy because you allowed the legal sovereignty of the country to control the real sovereignty. You cannot in this world separate conventions too widely from realities without running very great risk of failure. In the commercial world, as is obvious to everyone, we have built up a great structure of credit based on cash payments, but there comes a time when cash payments have to be resorted to, and if that comes too rarely, then you may have a credit super-structure of an unwieldy character, and in a dangerous condition, and the fall will be the greater. There are many of us who believe that the Constitution of this country will be peacefully worked only if we recognise those fundamental facts which he behind the conventions that have grown up in the course of generations. The speech to which I refer, which is a mine of information on this subject, epitomises all the arguments on both sides in an admirable way. The question to which it addresses itself is the Imperial and not the local franchise. One question Lord Selborne puts is:—Will the new voters you propose to bring in or will they not add to the stability and strength of our country?2.0 P.M.
It is conceivable that married women, with a totally different view of life from 763 what men necessarily take, thinking of home and family, and, if I may venture to say so, thinking of spending the money rather than earning it, may—in so far as they are not competitors of men in men's sphere—have something to say in this matter. But the whole question surely turns on the overvaluing of the vote. We have heard a great deal of argument in regard to the position of married women, but we are entitled to put the argument of the influence they can exercise along side the argument for granting the vote. A vote is a cross marked on a piece of paper; it is not an unladylike thing to make a cross on paper, any more than it is an unladylike thing to sign a cheque, but the cheque is useless if you have no money in the bank. A vote is a cheque or draft on power, and, ultimately, on physical power. Influence is a totally different thing. Influence is addressed to those who have the physical power. I believe the whole history of democracy has consisted simply in that you recognise force, that you recognise human passion, that you recognise the facts of all society, and that, by giving the vote, you seek to obtain the acquiescence of those who have power in the government of the country; by addressing arguments to them you seek to influence them to allow their power to be used in the way you think right. I can see nothing incompatible with the full dignity of women or men in exercising that influence and yet not having the vote. The vote from my point of view is quite an inferior thing—a reckoning with the lower side of humanity. Influence is a higher thing, and it is for that I value the influence of women. It is said that the whole position is one in which we are dealing with an inevitable movement—a sweeping tide. I make a final quotation from this speech of Lord Selborne:—I believe the great question for the future of my country is the existence and the sacredness of home, and I believe that on both these great questions women should not only he heard, but I believe from my experience that they feel more deeply than men.Taking the average woman—and not simply the woman engaged in competition with men—taking the average woman in her home, she is devoting her thought to deeper influences, to higher things, and to things that matter more than the earning of bread in the rough-and-tumble competition of the world. I want to maintain that difference, and I refuse to regard the coming of this change as inevitable. The 764 tide comes as something inevitable as long as it flows, but there comes a time when it turns, and I am not in the least convinced that this great movement is going to place women alongside men. I do not believe that we are yet in the least in a position to say that the women themselves who are leading the movement will end by demanding the granting of this vote. I believe that if you do grant this vote it will do very great harm to men in their relations to women. I believe that the whole history of society has lain in this, that woman has succeeded in placing the burdens upon the shoulders of man, and I think she ought to keep them there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] I know I shall be quoted by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and that I shall be reminded of the fact that this ideal breaks down in connection with many a home in this country. I, for one, wish to prevent that, and to remedy it. I regard it as discreditable to us that a large number of our women should he earning their living instead of attending to their homes, and I shall do anything in my power to remove them from that position. In so far as European society has removed us from savage conditions, it is due to the fact that slowly and through the ages women have converted men from being the irresponsible creatures that they are by nature, and tied them down and made them the leaders of the home, the maintainers of the livelihood, and the protectors of their wives and children.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
T respectfully congratulate the hon. Member (Mr. Mac-kinder) on the manner in which he has dealt with this subject, and on the arguments and facts he has adduced. I should like first of all, however, to deal with the point which constituted a powerful portion of his speech—that the vote only represents the power behind it, and that it must is the last resource rest on physical force want the House to realise that that argument might be perfectly sound and true when the nation fought as it used to fight centuries ago. But at the present moment it is, I think, rather out of date to say that the growing mass of men and women this country who have the vote would be capable of fighting, even if they were called upon to fight. I think the hon. Member must recognise that the whole theory and practice of fighting is altogether changed. Nowadays it does not need a physically strong person to manipulate a "Dreadnought" or a maxim gun. 765 I venture to say that the women who manipulate the machinery in the cotton fields of Lancashire could just as easily manipulate the machinery either of a "Dreadnought," a submarine or maxim gun. I also beg the hon. Member to remember that the physical force of the individual does not count to-day as it did centuries ago, and that in the age when a horde of barbarians marched across Europe their women marched with them, as Olive Schreiner states in her book. It is perfectly true to say that the march of civilisation has been one in which women and men have gone side by side as comrades. At this time of day I venture very respectfully to say that the hon. Gentleman's whole argument rested on an entire fallacy from the point of view of the progress that has been made in the methods of conducting war and fighting generally.
The hon. Member said that it is a very dangerous thing that you should have one half of the community coercing the other half. He drew a picture of the state of things which might happen in certain constituencies where the new force might enter in and change the minority into a majority. I beg to point out to him that if the Plural Voting Bill brought in in the last Parliament is introduced and carried, that that very condition of things will happen even with regard to men's franchise, and that another new factor will have arisen, and that the very thing he deplores may happen even with our very limited franchise of men. That certainly cannot be an argument against giving votes to women, because you already have to face it. He also told us that he believed that the object with which the vote was given was to strengthen the State. I rest my whole case for granting women's votes on that principle. If it were not that I believe the granting of the vote to women would of itself strengthen the State from top to bottom, I should not be here to advocate it this afternoon. The hon. Member also enunciated another fundamental truth, which I believe in very thoroughly, and I wish it was stated more often in polities than it is. It is this, that in using the vote and in taking our place as citizens of the community we should consider always, first and last, what it is we can give into the community rather than what we can take out of the community. It is also because I believe women are more apt to adopt that principle, that it is more the theory of life that appeals to women, that I want to bring them in to take their share in get- 766 ting it spread over the community. Any man who is a father, or who has been a son in a big family must know that the mother and wife in those families always has to exercise very much more unselfishness than either the men or children have to exercise, and therefore she naturally comes to the consideration of questions from an unselfish point of view. The hon. Gentleman told us, also, that we were not united in what we wanted. Of course we are not. Is there any party in this House that wants anything that is entirely united on their ultimate ideals? Of course we are not. That is no argument, and I thought it was rather unworthy for the hon. Member to have dragged it in in the fashion in which it was introduced.
The real thing is this, that for forty years this question has been before this House. More than forty years ago this House divided in favour of Woman Suffrage, and we say that women have knocked at that door long enough and that the time has come when instead of asking them to wait longer if we cannot get the thing which many of us want, then, as in so many other questions, we are quite content to get as much as we can at the present moment. We are told women do not want the vote. I am old enough to have gone through two or three Suffrage campaigns, and with very great respect I would ask the hon. Member if he has not done so already, to turn up the speeches of former Members of this House like the late Robert Lowe and those of the. "Adullamites," and also what the Members said against granting the vote to the working men in this country. They used exactly the same kind of argument, that they were uneducated, that they did not understand peace and war. I do not say that the hon. Member could have taken part in that agitation, but whether he did so or not he will not deny that the fundamental argument against the extension of the franchise was that you were going to give it to a set of people who were ignorant, who did not understand the Empire, and who generally would play ducky and drakes with this nation of ours. Experience has proved altogether the reverse. Then it was also said, and I commend this to the Liberal and Radical Members who are here, that if the vote was given to those men that the men would all vote Radical, and that the Monarchy and goodness knows what would be pulled down. I have lived long enough to know that there are Conservative working men, and when the men were enfranchised 767 instead of voting all one way they voted in different kinds of ways on the different kinds of questions. Therefore, there is no reason to imagine, as the hon. Gentleman does imagine, that if the women got the vote that all of them would come together in one mass. There is nothing in the argument about civil war, if the ultimate of it is not that the women are going to organise definitely against the men.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
My argument was slightly different. It was the turning of a minority largely consisting of men into a majority owing to the addition of a certain number of women against what was originally a majority consisting mainly of men, that then the fight would be between two bodies of men, and that they would he brought to fight by reason of the women.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I dealt with that argument a moment or two ago. If you drive that argument to its logical end I think it is exactly what I said, that in the end what it really means is that the women will be combining for their interests as against the men. Personally, I think that that cannot possibly happen. I am not going to argue as to whether this Bill is the best kind of Bill or not, but I am going to argue this, that those who are opposed to any extension of Woman Suffrage, if we brought in the most perfect Bill here, would be opposed to it, and therefore that is quite beside the point. Why is it we attach so much importance to the vote? Because it is the sign and symbol of man's domination in the community. It is that which stamps man, as the hon. Member frankly said, as the sovereign in the State. I believe that the State can be carried on effectively only by the sovereign in it being both man and woman, each recognising his or her limitations, but both working in their own way for what is best for the whole community. The hon. Member seems to have forgotten some things which have happened in connection with the vote. Is there anyone here who will deny that the working classes generally, as represented by men, have been immensely improved, intellectually since they have had the vote, and have had to think about it? Will anyone deny that great masses of men who thought about nothing at all before the vote was granted to them now take part in trade unions and political and social organisations that were totally unknown years ago? Is there any reason to 768 fear that women will not do the same? The only reason they do not do it now is that you rule them out as a kind of semi-dependents.
All the nice things the hon. Member said about woman, about providing her with a home, and carrying the burdens for her, are beside the point. Even if they were true, they would not justify her exclusion from the franchise. It is said that woman has nothing to complain of, that men have guarded her interests, looked after her, and managed affairs for her. The streets of this end of London reek with conditions which show that at any rate some men have not dealt very decently with a large number of women. In the East End of London the same kind of horror exists, mainly because of the helplessness of the women, and because they have had no part or lot in definitely framing the conditions of life under which they have to live. The Divorce Laws are, in my judgment, the most iniquitous that it is possible to make women live under. Then there is the question of the children. A barbarous thing has happened, not a century ago, but under the law of the land to-day. A woman is deserted by her husband, and her children are taken care of by the board of guardians, who have given her notice that they have taken over the custody of the children, and are going to send them to Canada or anywhere they please. I say that a woman who bears children ought at least to have some eight in owning them. But at present that is not the case.
It is said to be all right to give women the vote for municipal affairs, because they can administer. That, I think, is rather an absurd argument. Surely if women are capable of administering laws they ought to be able to advise the community as to the kind of laws they shall administer. What is the record of women in this respect? I speak with some knowledge on the subject, having served on local authorities for many years. Take the Royal Commission, to which reference was made yesterday. Who were the most brilliant members of that Committee? Who were the two people who took the greatest part in building up both the Majority and the Minority Reports? The two persons who were most industrious and gave the most help on that Commission were Helen Bosanquet and Beatrice Webb. But these two women are ruled out from having a vote as to whether their propositions shall be carried through. 769 They have to leave the matter to the tender mercies of men who have not troubled to think about the question at all, and who will probably vote in accordance with Party Whips. Take the London County Council, the biggest administrative body in the world, a body which has to govern and administer some 5,000,000 people. Who are the people who do the most effective work there? I say, without having any sort of political regard for her, that Miss Susan Lawrence is far and away one of the ablest of the county councillors. Yet she is ruled out of having a vote as to who shall represent her in making laws for the county council to administer. That is the most extraordinary condition of things that can possibly be argued for.
The hon. Member spoke about building up businesses. I know women in business. Within the next month or so we all hope that a law is going to be passed under -which women and men who employ people are to pay so much for insurance. You are going to put more Income Tax on these women. But you do not allow capable business women to vote in any sort of way as to the laws or the taxes to be imposed upon them, or as to any of those matters upon which every man present agrees that men ought to be consulted. I do not understand how this can be said to be just or fair. The hon. Member said, "Yes, but let the men take care of the women." I am speaking now of the million women for whom there are no men to take care of them. Unless the hon. Member is going in for bigamy—(laughter)—hon. Members laugh, but I saw an article the other day, written by a girl, in which it was pointed out that it was very easy to talk about the men taking care of the women, but that in this country, where monogamy is practised, there are not enough men to go round, and therefore women are hound to get their own living. Whey should these capable business women and efficient administrators not be allowed the right to say under what laws they shall live? The hon. Member spoke about women competing with men. I quite admit that they do compete with men, and I am certain that when they get the vote they will not allow to prevail the condition of things by which a woman, because she is looked upon as inferior to a man, shall be paid less wages than a man would get for exactly the same work. Hon. Members may twist those words in any way they please, but 770 that matter is only another sign of sex domination—another token that women are looked upon as something inferior to men.
I would ask hon. Members to look up the evidence on the Poor Law. A minister who came down from Liverpool spoke strongly to the effect that women were displacing men in typewriting, accountancy, and so on, and he appealed to us as to what could be done. When, under cross-examination, he was asked whether these women did the work as efficiently as men, he said "Yes; the employers say they are more efficient; that they do the work better, and that generally they are more acceptable for the particular tasks imposed upon them." The next question was, "Do they get better wages than men, since they are so much better?" The answer was "No, certainly not." That proves conclusively that the average man thinks that a woman is not worth as much as a man under the same conditions. In the East End of London, and in every industrial centre, the hulk of the women who will get the vote will be working women, or women who have to go to work. You have no right to make laws to govern them without giving them a voice as to what those laws shall be. That is an argument always applied in regard to men. The terrible disasters that the hon. Member opposite thinks will follow the giving of the vote, and that would bring men and women into hostile camps is not borne out by the evidence before our eyes. It is not borne out in Australia. But this is borne out, that the Government is less corrupt, that the administration is less corrupt, because women are there! I at least do not think that any woman would have tolerated the War Stores scandal that this House tolerated in regard to the South African war. They, I think, would not have bought donkeys for horses and mules for cavalry chargers. These things would not have happened. The evidence with regard to Australia is that the Government is ever so much purer. The great United States which is one of the bugbears and bogeys of our opponents. [An HON. MEMBER "Canada."] Yes, I know, they talk largely about Canada, but the United States only this year has passed in its Senate by thirty-two votes to five, and in its House of Legislature by fifty-five votes to twelve, a Motion that is going to the States to say whether or not woman shall be admitted to the franchise. In the Kansas Legislature the same thing has happened, as well as in Oregon and 771 Nevada. Votes in favour have been carried in Michigan. Miss Sylvia Pankhurst has been allowed on the floor of State Legislatures to argue the matter before them of Woman Suffrage. The same thing has happened in Iowa, in Montana, Illinois, and Maine, and one other State.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It is very different local government to what we understand by local government. [An HON. MEMBER: "State Government."] It is to make laws for the government of the State. It is not merely to administer, but to make the laws. The full suffrage was granted in Washington last November by 52,000 votes to 29,000 votes. I think that if these States can give a vote of that sort it says much in its favour. The advantage of women having the vote is proved even now by what has happened in Washington, where the mayor has been removed from office because of the things which he did and ought not to have done—removed by the action of women, a thing almost unheard of before. But it proves my point that where women have had to take a hand in making the laws or in the administration of the laws, they have done ever so much better, or at least in some respects very much better, than men. We point to these things when hon. Members tell us that if women have the vote families will be broken up, and the State will be in danger of being broken up. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—that terrible disasters will happen. You might have said, "Hear, hear," if we had not had the experience of other countries, and if we were taking a leap in the dark. We are doing nothing of the kind. You have the experience before you, and this experience is all the other way.
I want to say a word on the question of facilities for this Bill. For some reason or other the two Front Benches have stayed away. [A laugh.] Well, it might be good diplomacy, but I would like to point out that some of us—and I think I can speak for a large number of hon. Members sitting around me—are not going to be content with merely carrying this Bill this afternoon, and then burying it for another year or two. We are rather tired of seeing majorities registered year after year only. A Government that can give all the time that has been given to 772 the discussion of the Parliament Bill should at least be able, if we are willing to sacrifice time and energy for that Bill, to give us enough time to carry this Bill through. I remember the Noble Lord who generally sits in the opposite corner (Lord Hugh Cecil) saying in regard to the Parliament Bill that another two days at the end of the Session would not matter, so long as you did not have the gag or the guillotine. For my point, I want to say that some of us will be prepared to sit here for three months, if necessary, to get this Bill carried through. The minority in this House have no right to coerce the majority against carrying this Bill. If Ministers were here I should have made an appeal to them for facilities. But Ministers are not here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Neither side can jeer the other about, their leaders in this matter. But we at least, who are in dead earnest about the suffrage, ought to say to the Leaders in this House: "If we are to be called upon often to give time and energy for measures that do not very much matter, then, when there is an important thing like this before the House which concerns millions of women in the community, we say to the "powers that be" that we want the time to carry this Bill through, and unless we get it we may take some other means of getting our way. I think the very least the Liberals who are in this House and believe in the suffrage can do is to join with hon. Members on the other side who believe in the suffrage, and the hon. Members who sit about me, so that we may tell the Government that we are prepared to face obstruction and opposition, and give all the time necessary to give this little tiny piece of justice to the women.
Standing, I think, just about here, John Bright, during the Crimean War, said—this may not appeal to some minds, but it does to me:—Let the House remember that the Angel of Death, is abroad in the land.You may laugh at these women as you will, you may think their tactics as ridiculous as you will; but I know very well that this House has it in its power to carry a message of hope to millions of women the world over. This House has it in its power to carry a message of despair to millions of women the world over. If you refuse to earnestly carry this Bill to-day, if you refuse this Session to pass this Bill, we are going to have all the old, hideous not noise and disorder. Yes, you are bound to have it. Men fought in. that way. Women 773 are outside your Constitution. You keep them outside. You are putting them under laws that they have had no part or lot in framing. They are rebels against that condition of things. For my part I glory in the magnificent fight that they have put up on behalf of themselves and their sex. If this House can settle the not and disorder in Ireland by the grant of Home Rule, next year as you are going to settle the disturbances there, not by dragooning, not by refusing to give justice, but by giving it, let the House give to these talented women, many of them educated, many of them having talents that none of us have, let it give to them at least this tiny measure of justice. Let us do it because we believe that women are of as much value in the community as men; because at present they are dominated and kept down under conditions which every man ought to be ashamed of. The giving of the vote will at least prove that this House, which stands for the redress of grievances, is determined that this grievance shall no longer obtain.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
I have hitherto given only a silent vote on this and similar proposals, but I have always gone into the Lobby against them, and I shall go into the same Lobby again to-day actuated by convictions quite unimpaired by any arguments I have heard in the course of this Debate, and by convictions, if I may say so to the hon. Member who has just sat down, quite undeterred by those peculiar methods which have been adopted on behalf of this cause outside this House, and often just outside. My opposition to this Bill is based on exactly the same ground as it would be if the Bill came to us in the larger form of a Bill granting adult suffrage, which would place women voters in a material majority over men voters in this country and would be attended with other results to which I shall refer in a moment. This undoubtedly, and I think admittedly, is the thin end of the wedge. I do not quite understand the attitude the hon. and gallant Gentleman took up who moved this Bill, or the relevance of his illustration from the Income Tax. To my mind the Income Tax affords the most dangerous illustration that could he taken, because if you grant the principle of the Income Tax at all you do not know where it is going to lead you. And that is the whole of our argument, that if you break down what has been called the sex harrier, if you abandon the principle of sex difference, the principle that the political power of 774 the State ought to be in the hands of men, say you will have no logical position from which to resist complete adult suffrage, which is bound to come in the ultimate development of the democratic principle this country.
With regard to the thin edge of the wedge; if you could cut the thin end off and leave it there and throw away all the other and larger part of it I do not know that the passing of this Bill would do any great harm. I think it would remain as a blot upon our system, because it would be a confession that there is some particular class, or section of a class in this country that man-made law is insufficient to deal with. That is a proposition I do not for a moment admit. But what is more important to my argument is, that it would be a serious blot in the eyes of the supporters of the movement themselves, because it would leave the protection of interests which they say can only be protected by female suffrage to a small minority of females composed for the most part of widows and spinsters. I do not think it can be suggested for one moment that that would be the end, or that the supporters of female suffrage would be content with that small measure of success. Therefore, I think this Bill itself shows that we must stand upon the principle involved, the principle which I have described as sex difference. And once we abandon that principle it would be impossible to resist the largest and fullest operation of the counter principle of the equality of the sexes.
As many hon. Members wish to speak, I shall only put two or three propositions forward, and I trust the House, if I limit myself to these, will credit me when I say that I have 100 other objections to this measure and to the great change which it would bring about. We have heard a good deal said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of this Bill about city councils, and so on. I want to ask this House to say frankly can it be pretended for one moment that there is anything like a majority or even a respectable minority, of the present electorate in this country in favour of this great and fundamental change? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Very well, I will take the answer of those two individual Members. I myself have seen and know of no evidence that would establish such a proposition for one moment, and, so far as I can speak in a representative capacity—the hon. and gallant Member referred 775 to his Constituency—and refer to my Constituency, I have had ample evidence that the great majority of my Constituents, three-fourths of whom are working men, are strongly opposed to the Bill, of which they have had very adequate explanation by demonstrations within the Constituency. I do not believe you could get any evidence that there is a majority, or even any appreciable minority, really in favour of this great and fundamental change.
Is there really a, majority amongst the women of the country who would be enfranchised in favour of this Bill? I have seen no evidence of the kind. All the evidence I have seen pointed the other way. But I should argue, even if there was a majority of the women in favour of the change that would be no real reason why we should grant it if we do not believe it to be useful or helpful to the State. Every change made in the legislation in this country has been made by those who already held the power. Every extension of the franchise has been made by those who already possessed it, and it would be a complete reversal of our Parliamentary constitutional history if we were to say that because a single class of people decide they want a thing done, therefore those who have the power must necessarily do it. If you could show, as I believe you cannot show, a majority of women in favour of this proposal, I do not believe it would be a final reason for our making such a great change.
In the next place, I want to ask what you really propose to get by this change that you have not already got? It seemed to me that the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow that you would in certain cases reach a position of antipathy and rivalry between men and women which does not now exist, was really established by the speech of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). He said that the women of the country cannot get their rights, and if you give them the vote they will force them out, of man. Is that the position you propose to set up between the sexes in England? Is it necessary? Has there been any period in the history of this country during which the whole position, status, influence, and opportunities of women have been so high as they are at the present moment? Has that been achieved by giving them the vote? Is there any country in the world where women stand higher in all the posi- 776 tions from which they can influence their country than they do in England? Do they stand higher in Finland, in Sweden, or in Australia? Perhaps they stand higher in a certain sense in America; but in the United States—in spite of the instances which have been quoted by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, which are instances of places which, by their peculiar characteristics and their extreme eccentricities, are the exceptions that prove the rule—the Women's Rights agitation, which was started fifty years ago, and is now going on all over the whole country, in proportion to the growth of the population, it is more hopeless than it was fifty years ago. I say that with confidence.
But this matter cannot be decided as a woman's cause alone. If we give women the franchise we are giving them a voice, and ultimately, I maintain, we are placing in their hands the interests of the country and the nation. To what advantage Is there any period in our history so marked by ameliorating legislation in all respects, in all directions and forms which women might be expected to make their own as the last forty or fifty years, during which time they have not had votes. Only yesterday, only a few hours ago, in this House, we saw the women workers of this country included in what I will call the great and beneficent insurance scheme put forward by the Government. Was that due to the female franchise or the vote having been granted to women? I say you have nothing to gain by this great change, but on the contrary I suggest that you have an enormous lot to lose. I have never denied for one moment the intellectual fitness of women for the vote, but at the same time there is the sex barrier. If you once allow women the vote, if you once break down the sex barrier, how can you prevent people with those qualifications from crossing the Bar of this House and taking their seats on these benches.
Does this country really want to see a mixed House of Commons composed of men and women? There is no denying that this must be the natural consequence of giving women the vote. Mr. Gladstone held that view strongly. There is only one step further in this March to Finchley—under which name Hogarth depicted, if I remember right, one of the maddest comedies respectable citizens and their womenkind could indulge in. If women sit on these benches they are bound to sit on that Front Bench; and if they are Members they are bound to be Ministers.
777 And that is the spectacle of which we are asked to set up the first scene to-day. Is it really possible that we should contemplate making such a spectacle of ourselves to the civilised world? We are a nation of men which—with all the honour in which it holds its women, all the immeasurable debt it owes and is willing to pay to their ennobling influence, their high example, their pure and lofty inspiration—has yet become great and glorious under man's government, and strong and prosperous and happy under man-made laws. What are we now asked to do, as the ultimate result of making this Bill into law? To say that this England, this Empire, this nation of men, is to be governed by those who—by the inexorable and unalterable decree of Nature—cannot execute the laws they will make, and cannot defend the country whose destinies they will control!
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
I have listened with very great interest to the arguments which have been adduced by the opponents of this measure. I do not think they differ very much from the arguments we have heard on other occasions except that there appears to be a growing seriousness in relation to this question. I am glad to note that hon. Members have not used any of those flippant and entirely irrelevant arguments with which we were at one time only too familiar. There was one feature of the Debate which very forcibly impressed itself upon me last year. As I listen to hon. Gentlemen opposed to this measure it always seems to me that they are not so much giving us the reasons which have brought them to the conclusion that they should oppose Woman Suffrage so much as finding excuses more or less plausible for themselves as well as for others for the conclusions to which they have already come. One thing which shows itself convincingly is the extraordinary degree to which the arguments brought forward, not only in this Debate but in the Debate of last year, annihilate one another. I remember it used to be an old reproach against women that they were unfit to exercise political power. I remember last year an hon. Friend, who I think moved or seconded the rejection of the Bill, founded his whole case against Woman Suffrage on the theory that women were too logical, and were incapable of compromise. Then we had it seriously put. Forward—and we have had an echo of it to-day—as a reason for refusing women the franchise that they cannot bear arms. I have also heard it put 778 forward as a reason why they should not have the franchise, that they can bear children. It is said women are so different from men, that if they obtained a majority of votes—and the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken fully expects they will ultimately obtain a majority of votes—they will use their power to overthrow the Constitution.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
I did not say so. I did not draw any conclusion. All I wished to establish was that in the march of democracy you will have manhood suffrage, and, if you have manhood suffrage, you would have adult suffrage, in which case the women would have the majority of votes.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
I quite agree. I say it is argued women are so different from men, and their interests in some respects are so opposed to those of men that there is a great danger to the State in their admission to the suffrage lest you should create a rivalry that does not exist at the present time. At the same time it is argued, and very often by the same speakers, so seriously are the interests of men and women intertwined, that there is no necessity whatever why women should be directly represented in this House, and exercise the franchise. Men can do all for them they could possibly do for themselves. It must be perfectly obvious these arguments are mutually destructive, and one can only feel they were admirably summed up in a couplet written many hundreds of years ago:—We men have many faults,Poor women only two:There's nothing right they say,And there's nothing right they do.Out of all this mass of contradictory arguments, I only propose to examine two that have been very prominent in this Debate. They are perhaps the most substantial and most plausible reasons that, can be alleged against the Bill. The first of these is that a majority of women are not themselves in favour of Woman Suffrage.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
I shall deal with that point in a moment. Secondly, it is urged women are already sufficiently represented by the male vote. Those are the two substantial points that have been urged to-day. I am bound to say I believe we have a majority 779 of Members of the Irish party in favour of Woman Suffrage, but we shall see that in the Lobby presently.
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
If my hon. Friend will allow me, that does not in the least influence my opinion. Even if it were true that the majority of women were not in favour of the suffrage. I should still think it right to confer it. I do not think that. because A does not wish to exercise political power is any reason for refusing it to B, and no one can deny the unparalleled sacrifices and the extraordinary ardour which at any rate some women, be they a majority or a minority, have shown in the prosecution of the claim to female suffrage. The Seconder of the rejection of the Bill referred to what I think he called the "over-valuing of the vote," and he suggested that after all the vote was rather a poor thing, and hardly worth having. I do not think that can be seriously contended, or that it is seriously held by any large body of people. It is quite true that, except in the case of a few constituencies, you cannot say the possession of a vote is of very great value to the individual. I believe in some cases it has some small monetary value; but, speaking generally, one does not say the individual benefits by the vote. Does anybody seriously say, however, that a whole class, say the agricultural labourers, or the artisans, do not benefit and have not benefited in the past by the exercise of the franchise, or that if it were taken away from them they would not feel it a most serious loss? Yet I can quite believe individuals may not always realise how much they owe, in point of fact, to the exercise of political power. I daresay the early history of the trades unions would show how difficult it was for the leaders to make the mass of the people understand where their own true interests lay. It would not surprise me in the least if you had a very large body of apathetic, indifferent, and it may be even hostile opinion among women against the franchise. I have no doubt you have, but that does not in the least alter my view of the fundamental wisdom of giving the franchise.
There is a third reason, and I think even a better one. Hon. Gentlemen are very fond of saying the true place for women is the home, and that they have 780 no concern with politics. It is not possible to separate the two. It is impossible for women even to be good mothers unless in some really deep, true, and serious sense they are also politicians. How can a mother really train her sons in those conceptions of justice and equity that he at the root of all sound political thinking and of all true and good legislation if she herself is entirely and absolutely untrained, and you say to her, "These matters are too high for you, and they are of no concern to you." That seems to me the strongest ground on which women can possibly claim the vote. If you place upon their shoulders the responsibility for a part in the government of the State, it must add to the life of a woman as it adds to the life of a man, a deeper seriousness and a greater interest. Therefore, not for their sake alone, but for the sake of their sons and of the race as a whole, it is of vast importance you should accustom women as well as men to think politically.
I come to the other argument which I said I would take. It is suggested that home is woman's sphere and politics man's sphere, and that woman is not concerned with them, because she is adequately represented by man. I say that this is an utterly unreal and arbitrary distinction between the two spheres. It is quite impossible really to make any such distinction as that. I have suggested to the House how the home influences politics; how it must do so, because in the home our future politicians and statesmen are trained. With equal truth it may be maintained that politics impinge continually on the home. No session passes but that we enter on legislation in this House directly, intimately, and immediately concerning women and their work in the home. Our factory legislation, our homework legislation, our Children's Acts, all these things affect women, and last, but not least, the scheme of insurance introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, which embraces many millions of wage-earners, equally affect s them. It is said, "Men are already looking after the interests of women; what more do you want? Does it not show that this House is fully alive to the wants of women, and ready to meet their views?" I do not suggest for a moment that this House is not actually well disposed in regard to these questions. It is well disposed so far as the individual goes. But the women claim that in justice they should be allowed to take their share in these things. Surely 781 we are not proposing here to abolish the distinction between the sexes? Whatever we may do in this House sex will remain our perilous joy, our dearest danger. If crinoline and poke bonnets, if mutton-chop whiskers and peg-top trousers could not banish love, Woman Suffrage will not do it. To the end of time men and women will desire one another.
I would appeal to hon. Gentlemen whether in all this they are not unconsciously indulging in an outworn habit of thought. In the eighteenth century people thought in classes and categories, Catholic and Protestant, Slave or Free, pauper or independent citizen, and rich or poor. How was it that good men so long supported the institution of slavery; why were Catholic disabilities and Nonconformist difficulties so hard to break down? Why did men see nothing shocking in the spectacle described by Hood:—Rattle his bones over the stones,He's only a pauper horn nobody owns.''Why did they see nothing ridiculous in the cry, "God bless the squire and his relations, for giving us our daily rations"? Because they thought only in categories, because life was every-where hedged in by privileges and caste, by artificial barriers of all sorts between man and man and woman and woman. But we have been slowly breaking down those barriers. The one great, fruitful idea of the French Revolution, "La carriére ouverte aux talents," has permeated all our thought except in just one little corner. We have abolished slavery; we have got rid of religious disabilities; we no longer treat paupers as beyond the pale of humanity; by degrees these artificial disqualifications are disappearing. We have opened our universities, we are introducing more humane methods into our prisons and workhouses—methods which recognise the individual rather than the class. Only in one sphere does the old habit of thinking still linger, and that is in the sphere of the sex. So far as that is concerned, there is a perfectly rigid and arbitrary conception of the place of women in life and in politics, and I would appeal to hon. Members to try and detach their minds from that fixed and arbitrary method of thinking. Let them examine the matter afresh, and consider whether really there is any such difference in this particular matter between men and women as should cause them any longer to deny what is claimed as a matter 782 of justice by so large a number of women. For myself, I believe we ought courageously to take this step, because only by taking it can we new-base society as it should be based—upon broad principles of equality, comradeship, justice, and equity.
§ Mr. HAVILAND-BURKE
As regards the relations of the sexes, concerning which we have heard a good deal this afternoon, I have only this much to say, that I think they will not be best regulated by cheap sentiment. They will be best regulated by mutual esteem and respect, and speaking from my knowledge as a man of the world which is fairly long and varied, I will say that I have never trusted in my life any man who was addicted to the practice of habitually speaking in a sneering and disrespectful way of women. I never could trust him, and I am bound to add that if there is one class of woman in the world whom I do not trust, of whom I am absolutely certain that some way or somehow she has a mental or moral kink in her, it is the woman who makes an affectation of speaking of man as a necessarily inferior sex to her own, and of never missing an opportunity of making mean, cheap, and sneering remarks aimed at the sex to which their own husbands, brothers, and fathers belong. Leaving that part of the question aside, however, I must congratulate the Seconder of the Bill upon the admirable fashion in which he let not one, but a multitude of interesting cats out of the bag. Towards the end of his address the Seconder dwelt upon some of the dreadful wrongs that fell upon women owing to their non-participation in the election of Members of this House, and therefore to their nonparticipation in the making of the law. But what did the Seconder bring out? His first hideous wrong arose out of the McCann case in Belfast. These are the arguments of our Members on these benches who are going into the Lobby in support of the Bill.
Furthermore, what did t he hon. Member the Seconder argue? He said we must alter the present system of parental control—he argued, in fact, that we are to adopt a policy which has been before this House under which the whole parental authority over children is to be shattered, and a sort of legal tribunal is to be set up by which in the event of the mother and father differing as to what school the child is to go to, they are to have a kind of legal reference to settle their disputes. 783 I cannot conceive anything more calculated to shatter the respect of children for their parents, or the proper control of parents over their children. I will leave that part of the discussion with this remark, that I totally disagree with those hon. Members who say, and I have friends among my own colleagues who use the same argument, that we have nothing to do with what use these ladies will make of their political power if they get it. If a man asks me to put a weapon in his hands I am entitled to have some guarantee as to the way he will use it—rightly or wrongly; and when we have a whole mass of proposed legislation deliberately intended to reduce the institution of Christian marriage to the status of a civil contract practically determinable at will, and when we find from time to time the very women who have taken a leading part in this agitation breast-high for that legislation, no man who has any conscience and honour will put that consideration aside and say that, simply as a matter of abstract justice and as a principle of abstract logic, he is going to give votes to women. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Reading talked of the varied support received for this Bill. He claimed as a great merit for it the fact that men of all parties were supporting it, but that is a two-edged argument, because there are men of all parties opposing it.
He asked us why have resolutions in favour of Woman Suffrage been passed six times in this House, and why has nothing been done to carry them into effect? The answer is very obvious: because this question has no real public backing in the country. Because it has great social influences at its back, because it has wealthy and fashionable women at its back, it has got a large amount of support. But let me make myself clearly understood that, however much I may condemn the horrible charlatanry and vulgarity which has defaced one part of this movement, I do not forget the large number of earnest, thoughtful, and good women who are demanding the suffrage. I can only regret that these women—these senior and responsible leaders of the Suffrage movement—have been impudently hustled aside by the cuckoos of Caxton Hall, and that the direction of the movement which they built up and for which they supply the most valuable illustration, has been taken out of their hands. They seem to have, 784 unfortunately, no longer any authority or control, and have condoned, if they have not actually approved, some of the measures employed to bring offensive and threatening action upon individual Members of this House. There is one other point to which I wish to allude. There is much talk about corporations in England and Ireland. But I could point out that corporators are human beings and quite as slow to do anything to needlessly jeopardise their seats as a Member of this House will be to do anything to needlessly jeopardise his place here, and I must say that these corporators have in most cases a keen eye to their ward registers, and to the female voters which those registers contain. In the corporation of Dublin, consisting, I think, of eighty members, after endless wire pulling, log rolling, interviewing, circularising, and letter writing, only twenty-nine members, out of eighty, voted for this petition.
Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
What I ant informed occurred was this. The Resolution in favour of this Bill was carried unanimously. Subsequently there was a proposal made in the Corporation that the Lord Mayor should come and present a petition to Parliament, and that was carried by twenty-five. The original proposition in favour of the Bill was unanimously carried, I think.
§ Mr. HAVILAND-BURKE
The most impressive step taken in asserting the City's right to appear at the Bar was only carried by twenty-nine votes out of a total of eighty. I do not think that result at all impressive. I do not want to be selfish upon this occasion. This Bill will go into Committee, and I shall have further opportunities, and I shall not be too bashful about availing myself of them to oppose the further progress of this Bill. Every extension of the franchise that has been granted has been the result of many years of popular agitation, which has reached such a pitch that one party or the other in the State has been compelled to take up that question and make it part and parcel of its policy. The Reform Bill of 1832. Mr. Disraeli's Bill of 1867, the enfranchisement of the agricultural labourers in the eighties, these were all measures for which men have been struggling for a generation. They were a test question at elections. they were made planks in the platform of one of the great parties in the State.
785 But the supporters of this Bill are making really the most extraordinary proposition that was ever made to a legislature in the whole world, because at a time when business is congested, when great statutes are contemplated, they go to the Government of the day, a Government without a shadow of a mandate to take this question in hand, a question which was not before the electors at the last General Election or the General Election before that, and they say to the Government, "Do not consult public opinion, forestall public opinion, pass a Bill creating a brand new electorate, estimated to be composed of a million women, and, having created this new electoral force, pigeon-hole it, put it aside, to come into force at a General Election, which may not be upon us for another two or three years. "Did any hon. Member ever hear of a proposal to extend the electoral franchise of these countries being introduced on such a principle? It is absolutely unconstitutional and absolutely without precedent, and I think, although not intended as such, a positive insult to the intelligence of the electorate, who are not even to be consulted before this new and powerful, and probably disturbing, influence comes into play. There is one thing more I have to say. One of the so-called concessions that is trotted out as being of such enormous value to the opponents of the Bill, consists in the Clause which says a husband and wife shall not both be registered as voters in the same Parliamentary borough or county division. But the husband may have one qualification and the wife, if she has a qualification in a neighbouring constituency, can vote there. What have hon. Members opposite been complaining of for years past? That has been one of their grievances, and a just grievance. I agree with them that the only place in which a man should vote should be the place in which he actually lives. but under this Clause no guarantee is given that if there are two qualifications between them they cannot vote in two adjacent constituencies. As a matter of fact I do not attach much importance to the question of the wife not having a vote as well as her husband. If you pass this into law I do not see why a married couple should not both have a vote. Although we have a modern school of women who make an affectation of asserting that the only way for a woman to display her dignity is to contradict her husband, and that, school has a good many 786 disciples, still it does not represent the-sex at large.
In my experience, and I think it will at once flash across the mind of most Members wherever they sit, it is an extremely rare thing, as a matter of fact, for a husband and wife to take very diametrically opposite views in politics. I have met such cases, but they have been extremely rare. The result, therefore, will be that if you have a by-election to-morrow in a London constituency, and both married people were entitled to vote, if there were a thousand Liberal and a thousand Tory married couples, the extra women's votes would balance one another, and no harm would be done. But under this Bill, as it stands the two qualifications would be separated. I need hardly say I cannot conceive of a man on the register making over his first duty as a citizen to his wife, no matter how much he respected her. If he abandoned his right to vote in her favour, and appointed her to act as deputy for him in one of the first ditties of public life, he would not be a man at all. He would be a miserable caricature of a man. I do not think any Bill that passes through this House should leave such an opportunity for discord open as between man and wife. I think, on the contrary, it should not deprive a married woman of her vote because she is married, except at the expense of degrading her husband, by insisting on him making over his vote to her.
For my part I have exactly the same opposition to this Bill as I had when it was last introduced. The modifications are of no value whatever, except as they afford us opportunities for giving further trouble to the promoters in Committee. From that point of view they are useful, but from no other. I look upon this, as I looked upon the Bill in its original shape, as a property Bill, a Bill upholding the very test for the franchise that the progressive forces, both here and in Ireland, have been year after year trying to beat down. It is a Bill also that practically means the exclusion of married women from the franchise. This is a Bill in the main for the enfranchisement of spinsters and widows, a Bill under which a young woman with property in her own right will have a vote until she marries. After she has had a few years' experience as a married woman, during which time she has no vote at all, the husband dies, and then she, perhaps in her dotage, may exercise the franchise. I look upon the Bill as inconsistent, as contrary to the 787 principles of policy and justice, and, above all, as an attempt to get in by a side-wind, on absolutely unprecedented and unconstitutional lines, a vital alteration in the franchise upon which the electors of Great Britain and Ireland have not had the slightest chance of making their opinions known or their voices heard.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
The hon. Member (Mr. Haviland-Burke) has stated his opposition to the granting of the vote to women in a strikingly contradictory speech. I do not propose to follow him in what, to some of us, were glaring contradictions, but I do ask the attention of the House to two points which he endeavoured to make against those who support the giving of the vote to women. The first was the criticism he offered of the methods by which the agitation in support of the vote had been conducted. I think he described those who were carrying on, or, at any rate, leading the agitation as the cuckoos of Caxton Hall. It struck me very forcibly that, coming from the quarter it did, coming from a member of the party to which the hon. Member belongs, any criticism of the methods appeared to be entirely out of order. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why."] For the simple reason that they know all too well that, in order to make strong the case which they hope is soon to fructify in a measure of extended self-government to Ireland, there have been peculiar methods which they themselves have felt it necessary from time to time to adopt. The second point which the hon. Member urged twice in his speech was in regard to the doctrine of the mandate. Again it seemed to me that was a weapon which at the present moment it was dangerous for any Member of the party with which he is connected to play with. I could have imagined that that argument would be very powerful in the hands of the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) because he is always reminding us that we have no mandate for one question or another. With him it would be absolutely consistent. But it is very dangerous for a Member of the Nationalist party, speaking against the proposition to give the vote to women, to say that there is no mandate and that the question has not been properly submitted to the country. The probabilities are that he has been providing a weapon which can be frequently praised in days to come against the cause 788 which is very dear to his heart and to the hearts of his colleagues.
I rose to state a different point of view from that which has been urged by all the supporters of the measure now before the House. I have been requested to speak, not for my colleagues in connection with the Labour party—because like most other parties on a question of this description we have no hard and fast lines as to which course ought to be followed—but for a number of Members who sit on these benches on this side of the House who are strongly convinced that the vote ought to be given to women. Everything that has been said by the promoters of the Bill as to the justice of the case made out for extending the vote to women we accept. The fears that have been urged by those opposed to the Bill we do not accept. But notwithstanding that we approach the consideration of this Bill from rather a different point of view from those who have to-day spoken in its support. We must confess that we are apprehensive as to the consequence of this Bill should it pass into law. I think I shall be able to show from the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill (Sir G. Kemp) that our apprehensions as to the consequences are not entirely groundless. What were some of the arguments he advanced? He endeavoured very rightly to make out that Liberal and Labour Members were anxious that no advantage by this Bill should be given to property. I think he endeavoured to make out also that they had succeeded in drafting the Bill in such a way that no advantage would be given to property.
If I read Clause 2 correctly it seems to me that, if it becomes law in its present form it will give a property qualification to this extent, that only those who are in a position to have more than one house—one of which would carry the registration of the husband, and the second of which would carry the registration of the wife or daughter—only those who are in a position to have this dual qualification will be able to take advantage of Clause 2 of the Bill, and to that extent it seems to come within the category of a property qualification. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London would be able to deal with the question of plural voting when addressing the House a little later. I have a still stronger point to make as a ground for the apprehension felt by many of us who to-day are supporters of the Vote for Women. We are apprehensive that the power this Bill will confer should 789 it become law will be used by those who are enfranchised by it to prevent the enfranchisement of the greater number of the sex for whom the promoters of this Bill have been so eloquently pleading today. May I call the attention of the House to the position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of the Bill so far as this point is concerned? He told us in his speech that he probably held opinions which are not shared by any other Member of the House. He told us—and I want some of my hon. Friends who are more strongly in favour of the Bill than I am to take note of the fact—that he was recommending that the franchise should be placed upon an educational basis.
In a speech in the country made as recently as 22nd of last. March the Mover of this Bill used these words: "He believed that some of those present agreed that women who were heads of households aught to have the vote, but some of them were afraid that their enfranchisement would only be the thin end of the wedge and would lead to universal suffrage." "In reply"—this is the point I want you to notice—"to that he could only say that, speaking for himself, he was strongly opposed to manhood and womanhood suffrage." Here are one or two other references of a similar character which I am quoting for the purpose of showing that we have ground for our apprehensions as to what might follow if this Bill passed into law exactly as it stands to-day. This is a speech that was made by a lady speaker at a meeting of the Glasgow Women's Unionist Association. "They were not asking that every woman should have the franchise. Neither did they approve of adult suffrage. The franchise was too low already and the granting of the suffrage to qualified women was consequently"—here is the point—"the best bulwark against adult suffrage that could be desired." Here is a quotation from a speaker at a Unionist Women's meeting at Bolton. "Her opinion was that if they granted to women what they wanted in this Conciliation Bill it would keep back adult suffrage for at least fifty years." Here again I think we have good ground for apprehending that if this Bill passes into law as it stands, it is going to retard instead of expedite the extension of the vote to women as those of us who support adult suffrage desire to see it.
If we agree, as we undoubtedly do, with all the good things that have been said from all quarters of the House, and let me 790 say that nothing could have exceeded the excellence of the case for the vote for women that we had in the speech by the proposer of the Bill, in support of the extension of the vote for women, that does not blind us to the danger that there may be in enfranchising those who will use their power not to extend the vote to their own sex but to retard it. Therefore I say we should very carefully consider its provisions before we give our unqualified support to the measure now before the House. There is one very hopeful feature in connection with the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced the Bill. He asked us to-day to reaffirm the principle of Woman Suffrage. Those for whom I am speaking are prepared to reaffirm that principle. We can do so the more freely in view of another statement in his speech. He consoled those of us who might have any apprehensions by the information that if this Bill passed its Second Reading to-day and became law, the promoters would not ask for a dissolution. That is a comfort; I think we have had so many dissolutions lately, that there is no section of the House anxious to have another, so it was consoling to hear that the promoters of this Bill were not going to ask for a dissolution, and that it was not to come into operation until another General Election.
We are going to vote for this Bill, and in Committee, so far as we can exercise any influence, and so far as we can Command any support, we shall seek to extend the measure in the only consistent and logical direction that we ought to go, namely, the recognition of the claim of all women to have a vote instead of the 1,000,000 women who are included in the scope of this measure. If we fail in getting the Bill extended we shall very seriously consider our attitude on the final stage of the measure in this House, and I think that is a position perfectly consistent with the ideas that we have as adult suffragists. Therefore, I sincerely hope that those who are connected with the People Suffrage Association will all vote in favour of this Bill, with the reservation that at the final stage we shall give our votes in accordance with the position that the Bill shall then be in.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
There seems to me something grimly ironic in the fact that this House should be sitting here discussing a measure like this which it does not he in its exclusive province to decide, but which will meet its fate elsewhere, and 791 at the same time we should have looking down upon us this remnant of the zenana and the harem, this grille which this House, if it desired, could remove of its own will and on its own initiative. I think there is something extraordinary that it should be left to one who is an opponent of Woman Suffrage, not merely of this Bill, but of the whole principle and intention. of Woman Suffrage, to make the first protest in this Debate against this relic of barbarism.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I congratulate the Mover of this Bill on the very able, very moderate, and very candid spirit in which he introduced it. In the course of his speech he stated that while he was in favour of women having the vote, or at least some women, he was altogether opposed to women being returned to and sitting in this House.
§ Sir GEORGE KEMP
May I contradict that? I did not say so; I said that at the moment that was not under discussion, though I might have views with regard to it. I did not intend to indicate that I was opposed to it.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
The hon. Member on this point prefers not to venture an opinion and this is somewhat significant. I, as an opponent of Woman Suffrage, say unhesitatingly that I see no theoretical objection whatever to women being Members of this House. I object to their having the vote, but I have no objection to their being elected and sitting as Members of this House, so long as they are elected by men. Hon. Members laugh. Hon. Members think that is a foolish statement. I think their laughter and their ridicule is due to the fact that they have never analysed and never understood what is the real fundamental objection to Woman Suffrage. I wish to make that the keynote of my speech and of my opposition to Woman Suffrage. It is a seemingly paradoxical position that I lay down, that I am in favour of women being Members of this House and against their having the vote. But I think it is a perfectly logical and reasonable argument and it is a position that can be held by everyone opposed to Woman Suffrage. I will mention some reasons that are put forward against Woman Suffrage, which 792 I do not hold, and which I think the advocates of Woman Suffrage often waste their time in. knocking down. I remember some time ago, when the Woman Suffrage League was being formed, receiving a paper containing fifteen reasons against Woman Suffrage, by Lord Curzon. I read over those reasons very carefully, and found myself in absolute and complete disagreement with fourteen of them. [An HON. MEMBER: "What was the fifteenth?"] "I reserve that for my chief point." It is contended very frequently that women are not intellectually competent to exercise the vote. I need not say that I do not hold that view. I think they are in every degree as competent or intellectually able to exercise the vote as men are. They are as competent to sit in the House of Commons.
An hon. Member with whom I was talking the other day said he was in favour of the vote, but was against women sitting in this House, because they had not the faculty of judgment. That seemed to me to be an argument against their having the vote. Many of the most prominent women identified with the campaign for and the campaign against Woman Suffrage, women like Mrs. Humphrey Ward, for instance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] —women like Mrs. Humphrey Ward, who is worth many men—women like Mrs. Pankhurst, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, Miss Pankhurst, I would much sooner trust in regard to political judgment and intellectual capacity than I would the average Member of this House. I am not speaking of average women, but exceptional women in exceptional cases. I say, however, that the average working woman of this country, from the intellectual point of view, is fully as competent as the average workman not working in some skilled trade, but working in some specialised department or a trade where his intelligence becomes dwarfed. The women of the household are working at the oldest skilled trade in the world—making the budget every week, planning, and organising, and from every point of view, in regard to mere intellectual qualification, I see no obstacle whatever to Woman Suffrage. In discussing this subject it is often said that a woman's place is in the home. I do not see how giving a vote, say, once in five years would take her out of the home. We also sometimes hear about the excesses of the militant organisation, and it is said that we cannot give these women a vote on account of their frenzied propaganda and the disturbances in which they indulge. It seems 793 to me to be no argument that we should deny the vote to women if they have the right to it, simply because a few women indulge in objectionable practices.
I do not wish to be taken as altogether objecting to the tactics of women suffragists. It is their principles I object to, not their tactics. I think the most effective political work, the most intelligent political work, the best propaganda that we have seen in this country for many years have come from the Woman Suffrage organisation. Barring little indiscretions—I do not call the violent acts which many of them have indulged in great and overwhelming indiseretions—barring these, I think the most valuable and informative advance which has been made in political organisation and political propaganda has been made by women politicians in recent years. What is my real objection to the Bill? My objection is that which is crudely called "physical force" argument. I will crystallise my argument against Woman's Suffrage into one maxim, that the only safe and stable form of government is one in which the balance of political power is in the same hands as the balance of physical force. I lay that down as an absolute maxim with regard to this question. The foundation of states, the guarantee of permanence and stability of states, he in physical force. I go further, and I say that the guarantee of democracy, the sanction of democracy, is physical force. Democracy has built itself up by physical force; democracy maintains itself by physical force. [An HON. MEMBER: "Justice."] Physical force is justice. I put it as a self-obvious fact, that States are built and maintained on physical force. Hon Members laugh—Members with whom I usually And myself in agreement. They have surrendered themselves to some theory, they have never troubled to analyse or to understand.
They laugh at physical force; they tell us it has nothing to do with the Government of the day. How many policemen are attending about this House at the present moment? How many policemen throughout the country are maintaining the majesty of the law? What an army have we guarding this country, and what a navy. Why, this House only a few weeks ago voted £70,000,000 sterling for the Army and the Navy. And then to tell us that physical force has nothing to do with the maintenance of this State. It has everything to do with it. 794 In this connection I would like to refer to something that dropped from the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) in a speech which, unfortunately, I did not hear, because however much one may differ from him, it is always the keenest intellectual pleasure to listen to the Noble Lord. In a previous Debate in this House he stated that when he went to vote and came out of the ballot box—[Laughter]—I have no doubt if the Noble Lord were unfortunate enough to be dropped into the ballot box he could get out of it. He stated that when he emerged from the polling booth he did not mop his brow and say, "This is a man's work." It is easy to throw ridicule on argument by a phrase like that, but. I will put against that another phrase which dropped from the Noble Lord in a Debate which I heard, one of the first I heard in this House, on an Amendment to the Address on Home Rule. There, referring to nationality, the principle of nationality, the Noble Lord offered a definition of a Nation. He said a Nation is that for which one good man might rightly or justly kill another good man. I accept that. In that definition the Noble Lord has touched a profound truth—one which reaches to the very basis of Government and the very basis of States. The State is that for which one good man might justly and rightly kill another good man. That always lies at the back of organised government. Some of my friends are under the impression that political questions are settled as problems of Euclid are settled, or by reference to some abstract code of morals and ethics. I put this question to them. "Take the discussions in this House, say on the Parliament Bill"—and I do not wish to introduce any controversial aspect of that at all—"is that settled by reference to any abstract code of ethics?" [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I agree, certainly not. There are two codes of ethics, two codes of morals, two complete standards of political ethics in this country. Those opposite have one, and we have another, and no amount of talking will take either of us away from our respective standards. How do we settle the matter? [An HON. MEMBER: "Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right."] That also proves my point. Certainly Ulster would fight—the minority would fight—
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
You would settle it by fighting if you thought you had the physical force in the country. Whether we are right or wrong on the Parliament Bill I am not now attempting to discuss, but whether we are right or wrong in that matter, the guarantee for our success is that we have the majority of the physical force units of this country behind us, and that Members opposite have not got that majority. Behind the Army and Navy lies the obligation, the legal obligation, on every citizen in this country in the last resort to be called out in defence of the laws. How has democracy established itself in the past?
How did the Parliamentary party settle matters with King Charles? Did they give him a tract of John Milton's to read? All these references to some ethical code had no avail until they were reinforced by the edge of the axe. Did Rousseau's "Social Contract" carry out the French Revolution? Certainly not—not until those doctrines were embodied in physical force. How are you going to establish democracy in Russia? Are you going to give the Czar Mill "On Liberty," or Mill on "Representative Government" to read? No. Not until the principles of democracy are embodied in physical force in Russia will a new system of government be established there. [An HON. MEMBER: "It. happened in Turkey."] It happened in Turkey because the democratic principle or the reform principle captured the Anny—the physical fighting force of the country. Throughout history physical force has been the basis of government. So long as a minority, so long as an autocracy controls the physical force of a country, so long will it maintain itself in power. In Oriental powers, in undeveloped countries, in uncivilised countries, where people are uneducated, where they have not developed habits of union and co-operation, you will find that the physical force resides in the small body of intelligent, trained men, who are able to organise, combine, and control the physical force of the country. But as men become more educated, as they develop habits of union and co-operation, so far as that process goes on the balance of physical force shifts; and, finally, in those communities like ours, the great Western communities, the balance of physical force is in the main found in the majority of the physical force units. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Germany?"] In Germany that is happening more and more. Habits of union and co-operation are developing.
796 Finally, I wish to put two points. In the first place, although I have listened carefully to the Debate to-day, I have not heard one single argument in favour of Woman Suffrage. I have heard arguments in favour of the provisions of this Bill, but not one single argument in favour of Woman Suffrage as such. I have never heard one. I have tried to pin down advocates of Woman Suffrage to definite arguments, but I have never been successful. The only argument I can imagine is that the right to vote is something inherent in human nature, something inherent in human dignity. If you put it on that absolute basis, my reply is this. If the right to vote is absolute, are you prepared at once, without further delay, to extend the right to vote to India? Every argument that I have heard in favour of Woman Suffrage is an argument in favour of the immediate extension of the vote to India. I hope some day to see India able to govern itself. I do not believe that this is possible at the present time. The people are not educated. The people have not got those habits of union, discipline, and co operation which would enable them to govern themselves, and the result of establishing manhood suffrage in India or the suffrage on the same basis in India as here would be that in the course of a very short space of time, not years perhaps, but months, the Government of India would be in the hands of a small, educated and highly-trained autocracy. India is not able to maintain self-government at the present time. Once the people of India have developed these habits of union and combination, once they have acquired intelligence, and the education that the Western Powers have attained, the people of India would be able to enforce their demand for self-government. It would then be impossible for any one, even the greatest military country in the world, to impose a permanent despotism on India if the people of India demanded the right of self-government. The last point I will make is not altogether directed to the abstract question of Woman Suffrage. It is directed to something which fell from the hon. Member who moved this Bill. He stated that one of the grievances from which women suffered at present was that their wages were much lower than the wages of men, and that the result of adult suffrage would be to increase their wages—
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I am sorry. I misapprehended the hon. Member. This is an argument which is so frequently used that from a phrase which I incorrectly overheard, I imagined the hon. Gentleman was putting forward that argument. We are told that women, in common justice, ought to be paid equal wages for equal work. I submit that to enforce that doctrine would be to inflict an intolerable injustice upon women. The married women of this country, who are in the vast majority, who are rearing children and maintaining homes, are rendering great and useful services to the State. [HON. MEMBERS "Agreed."] How do they receive their share of the world's goods? Through their husbands. They are doing as useful a work as the unmarried woman who is working for a living. In the case of the men wage-earners, what is a living wage—because wages tend roughly to become something about a living wage? It is what will support five persons, the husband, wife, and three children. Therefore in the ordinary labour market competition the wage of the man tends on the average to be what will support five persons. What is the living wage for a woman? In the vast majority of cases the woman worker is a single woman, and the wage for the woman worker tends to work out somewhere about what will keep one woman living alone. That, of course, is more than will keep one person who is a member of a family of five. Therefore the living wage of the woman worker tends to be less than that of a man. If you draw an arbitrary line, and say that in every case for equal work women shall be paid the same wages as men, you will inflict a monstrous injustice on the vast majority of married women in this country, for you will have settled that the single woman living alone shall receive a vastly larger proportion of this world's goods than that which a married woman receives. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question," and "What about a single man?"] An hon. Member asks what about a single man? A single man is building up a home. In the vast majority of cases the single man is building up a home, looking forward to the time when he will be married and supporting a family. The case of the single man and the single woman are not comparable, so I submit that this argument about the inequality of wages of women and men is based upon a complete misunderstanding of the co-relative economic position. And before you can establish absolute equality in these matters you will 798 have to revolutionise the whole of society and the constitution of society, and organise it upon some different basis from-that on which it is organised at present. And therefore I say that this disparity and difference is not an argument in favour of the propositions in this Bill. I am opposed to this Bill because it would introduce a vital flaw into the structure of the. State, a flaw which would become more and more pronounced as time went on, and because I think it would be fatal to the very principles upon which a democratic State is established and would render that State unstable and insecure, and would in the end cause that State to topple over and overturn.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I listened with very great interest to the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down. I am sure he did not forget entirely there was a Bill before the House, the Second Reading of which will be voted on later on. I do not propose to follow him into his varied wanderings in India and Turkey and other parts of the world. I propose to say a few words, as far as I am concerned, upon the relation of this Bill to the people in the land in which we live. How can it be contended by any sensible man in this country-that even if one million voters are added to franchise they would all vote on one side. It is preposterous to suppose that such a thing would ever occur in practical politics. With regard to the arguments we have heard on the other side, there was some pleasant discord of opinion from Ireland. One hon. Member from that country referred to the Dublin Corporation memorial upon the question. I was surprised to hear him charge those who got up that memorial with log-rolling and wire-pulling, and I was surprised to find that his own Irish compatriots were not shrewd enough to defeat any such wire-pulling. But is not this in reality conclusive evidence of the value of the vote for women, that no matter how you may disparage the vote of the sixty-five councils in favour of the suffrage, that wherever women have the franchise for electing town councillors they get this vote in their favour. Is there anything more conclusive than that as showing that wherever they have the vote they can influence opinion in their favour. These sixty-five town councils are in favour of the vote for women, and not one of them is against it.
With regard to my hon. Friends below me who are afraid of the undemocratic 799 nature of this Bill, I may say frankly that I am not very much concerned to enquire how these million women will vote. We must really take something for granted. If the measure is a just one and this extension of the franchise is right, we must leave our fortunes to the future. All we know is that the most shrewd guessers as to what the electors will do have often been wrong in the past. In 1884 the Conservative party thought they were going to be overwhelmed because the franchise was extended to the ignorant, but it turned out that the ignorant voter was their best friend. It very often occurs that the guesses we make about the future as to the way people will show their gratitude to us by their votes turn out to be wrong. We ought to put this consideration entirely out of the question. This is really a Conciliation Bill. The Liberals, the Conservatives, the Irish Nationalists, and the members of the Labour party have all met together and tried to frame one Bill calculated to receive the maximum amount of support in this House. It is said that this Bill is not a logical Bill. May I point out that the measures passed in 1832, 1867, and 1884 provided for extensions which were illogical. Why not make this experiment firsts[...] We are all moderate men on this side of the House, and I am content to put my case in this way. This is a Conciliation Bill arrived at by compromise, and I think my Conservative friends have taken a very liberal view of the situation, and I thank them for assenting to a Conciliation Bill. They have given up the property vote, and the lodger vote, and this is a Bill which on the whole ought to appeal to the two great political parties in the State.
One gentleman of eminence last year took the view that this was an undemocratic Bill, and he said that if you give the franchise to women you must give it to all women. I doubt whether in this House as at present constituted a Bill for the extension of the franchise to all women would pass at all. Really, we are driven to this—that if you are going to give the vote to women at all you will have to give it in some such Bill as this. I have not much sympathy with hon. Members who are too generous to give us what we want and too anxious to give us what we cannot get. I have not much sympathy with that attitude. With regard to the figures which have been collected with great care not inappropriately in Dundee and Carnarvon, I may point out that in 800 Dundee the leisured class is 7.5 per cent., while in Carnarvon and Bangor the percentage is 13. That gives an ample margin to represent the poor and the rich and the middle classes, and it gives us all a chance of securing their votes. I really do not understand those hon. Friends of mine who say women can, without any degradation, speak in public, canvass, and induce electors to vote one way or the other, but that they will lose their womanhood and everything that is proper in them When once they put a cross on the ballot paper. That is a ridiculous contention. This, as compared with previous extensions of the franchise, is a much safer matter. In 1832 the middle-classes, who had never exercised the vote before, were enfranchised; in 1867 the workmen of the town, who had never voted before, were enfranchised; and in 1884 the agricultural labourer, who had never done anything of that kind before, was given the vote. We propose to enfranchise a million of women who since 1869 have done something very similar to the functions we are putting upon them. I heard something said about the proper position of the woman being the home. I have never heard anybody say the proper position of a man after his day's work is the home—but let that pass. You can never use the argument seriously and honestly so long as the social conditions are such that you drive 5,000,000 women out of their own homes to earn their daily bread. It is idle to talk of chivalry and that sort of thing when 5,000,000 women are themselves breadwinners. The hon. Member for Glasgow said he would not give women the vote until men were angels. That seems to me to be delaying it indefinitely. It is a very curious position to take up. I do not see the hon. Member in his place now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, he is."] Well, I am rather astonished to see him. To say that women shall not have the vote till men have wings seems to me a remarkable political attitude, from which I think he will on reflection withdraw.
Why should not widows have the vote? It really seems to me that the unit is the family or the household. Why should the household be unrepresented? I can put cases within my own knowledge where women own great estates. I know of an estate of 5,000 or 6,000 acres owned by a widow. Her gardener and her groom have votes, but she has not a vote. Why in the world should a case of that kind be excluded? For my part, I have no fear of this "thin end of the wedge argument." 801 Let us do what is right for the moment, and trust to others to restrict or extend it as they may think necessary. I really and seriously believe that only good can come from this co-operation between men and women in the affairs of the State. We have seen an organised movement, the like of which has not been seen for a generation in England. These suffrage societies collected last year £80,000 for suffrage work. You may say what you like about their methods, but you cannot have any doubt about their sincerity of purpose, their depth of conviction, and their determination to succeed, and, whatever becomes of this Bill to-day, I honestly believe they will succeed. I believe the sooner the better. Let us not waste time upon organising, let us not be responsible for delay, but let men and women co-operate together in solving the problem of human misery, working together for the joy and happiness of the home.
EARL of KERRY
The hon. Member who last spoke said we ought to accept this Hill without any regard to future possibilities, but this is precisely where those of us who oppose the measure differ from him. I know that the thin end of the wedge argument can be overdone, but, as a matter of fact, nobody who supports this Bill will deny that this is a measure which is intended to lead to greater things in the future. Every supporter of the Bill must admit that whatever may be the immediate results of the Bill in the future there is every chance that this country will be potentially ruled by a majority of women. I do not say we shall be actually ruled by women, because they will not all vote in the same direction, but we shall be eventually ruled by a majority of women who will come into this House and may even have seats on the Front Benches. This Bill will, I suppose, shortly be passed by a majority greater or smaller than that of last year. I should like to consider for a moment the motives of the hon. Members who will vote for it. There are a great many who are honestly convinced that this measure conferring the suffrage on women is for the ultimate benefit of the State. But there are a great number who do not in their hearts approve this measure, but who have perhaps, under the stress of an election, given a rash pledge which they now find themselves compelled to redeem.
Each Member of this House must know one or two other Members in that position. But there are others who think they foresee some advantage for their party in 802 granting votes to women. Of course the opinions as to the result of this extension of the franchise are very divergent. I heard the argument to-day that Woman Suffrage was bound to come sooner or later, and that it was better to shape it, and prevent it taking an extreme form rather than to allow the whole matter to drift until the House had to face the alter native of adult suffrage. That seems to me to be only one way of compounding a felony. But I know there are many who honestly think that this is a measure which should be passed in the interests of the country as a whole, and that it will lead to the greater stability of the State in the future. Of course, this question can be argued either as one of practice or theory, but several hon. Members who addressed the House this afternoon expressly excluded the latter. I notice, moreover, that in an interesting speech delivered the other day by one of the protagonists of the movement, who is on the same side of politics to which I belong—Lord Selborne—at a great gathering in favour of the Suffrage, be said he would not, argue the point of theory at all; he wished to treat it as a matter of practical utility, and as to its having a good practical result in the country. It seems to me, however, that the question must be argued on theoretical or a priori grounds, because after all the whole matter is one of guesswork.
What have we to go by? Where can we see the practical results of Woman Suffrage in working? Only in Australia and New Zealand, but everyone admits that the conditions of those countries are so different to what they are here that they cannot be taken as an example. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have never tired of throwing this fact in our teeth when we suggested Australia as a possible parallel in the ease of the Referendum and the Second Chamber; they would have nothing to do with it, and we cannot allow them, at all events, to rely upon the Colonies in the matter of Woman Suffrage. Therefore I say that the great drawback in my opinion is the uncertainty of the effects which may ultimately ensue. Nothing has been clearer in the Debate which has taken place than that everyone agrees that it is impossible to tell how women will vote in the last resort. Each party expects to get some electoral advantage by the conferring of votes on women, but nobody can possibly tell when women have the vote if their emotional side will not triumph over their practical side. 803 Nobody knows what the effect on the race may be of bringing women into the vortex of political activity. Nobody can say whether or not on some occasions the great majority of women voters may not combine together against the male voters, and we shall in those days be dominated by the women of this country. Nobody can tell whether the right sort of woman will come to the front. Of course, there are many women who could perfectly well take their place in this House, but some of us have grave doubts whether in the rough and tumble of politics the women who would most conduce to the better ordering of affairs in this country would come to the top or whether it would not most likely be the least desirable class of woman, the tub-thumping and agitating sort who have become familiar to us in this suffrage agitation. It is altogether a leap in the dark, and an experiment on which we have every reason to plead for acme delay, more especially from the fact that we are embarking on a very considerable experiment in the constitution of this country. Let us get finished with one before we start on another.
The canvasses which have been organised lately by the anti-suffrage organisations, if they show anything, show that a very small number of women are really desirous of obtaining the vote. I am perfectly ready to make all die necessary deductions from these results on the score it at the inquiry was organised by those who were themselves against giving tie vote to women, but it is quite impossible lightly to dismiss the figures which have been given. It is all very well to say, as has been frequently said, that other reforms of the franchise have not been demanded by a majority of the potential voters. I daresay in the former Reform Bills a great many people did not understand that a vote was going to be given to them, and did not perhaps desire it very acutely, but it is absurd to say that a figure like 20 per cent., the average at which those favourable to the suffrage work out in the various canvasses which have taken place, would have been the figures received if canvasses had been similarly organised before the last two Reform Bills. One of the answers to the argument which is often made by those who support giving the vote to women is that a woman will not he obliged to vote if she does not want to. That does not Lear very close examination. Any potential voter will have to vote on one side or 804 the other, or, at all events, will go through a very bad time if she refuses to vote, and it will be perhaps the line of least resistence for her to troop off quickly to the polling booth and get it done, so as to avoid any trouble in the end. This is, of course, not a party question, and I sincerely hope it never may become one, though perhaps, in these days, that is more or less a counsel of perfection. I have shown that the motives impelling many Members of the House to support the measure are, to say the least, very mixed motives, and that many of them do not bear too close inquiring into. I have also tried to show that the arguments with which it is supported by those who are in favour of it are to a large extent self-contradictory arguments. Some people ask us to vote for it because it is only a little one, and a bulwark against further inroads to adult suffrage, and others just as frankly ask us to support it because it will lead to greater things, and eventually to the complete emancipation of woman and to adult suffrage. The great mass of the arguments on the theoretical side have been directly against passing this or any measure which is designed to enfranchise women, and as far as there are any arguments for watching woman's franchise in practice they are absolutely valueless in this controversy, and do not in any way apply to this country. I shall most certainly support the motion for rejection.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
In the very few minutes which are left I do not wish to repeat the arguments which I submitted to the House last year, but I would like to say a word on the single question as to whether the passing of the Second Reading to-day would necessarily lead to other and more important measures within this House. So far as the further extension of the suffrage is concerned, the question turns on conflicting considerations. I am strongly of opinion that they apply with equal force to men and women. It is obvious, therefore, that no line that is taken on this Bill can possibly commit any person who supports it to support the extension of the franchise where the merits of the question turns on quite different considerations. My view is that the franchise is sufficiently extended among men, and I say that the making of a further extension in the shape of adult suffrage would bring in some whom it is not desirable to adroit to the vote. Then we are told that if we give women the vote we 805 must admit women to this House. That seems to me an astonishing argument. It amounts to this—that if women are fit to take any part in the representative system at all they are competent to take every part. You might as well say that because women are able to take the part of litigants they are also competent to take the position of judges. It does not at all follow that because a woman is fit to be a litigant, she is also fit to be a judge.
To presume that because a person is fit for one position she is necessarily fit for all is not a sound presumption. I am opposed to women in this Chamber not merely because it would be unfitting to mix the sexes in the same assembly, but because it would change the character of the assembly altogether. I object to the driving in of the thin end of the wedge. If there is a wedge driven in it was when we admitted women to take any part in any politics at all. It is generally expected that there will be a majority for the Second Reading of this Bill. The real question is whether the Government mean to give facilities later on for the further stages of the Bill. From the appearance of the Front Benches it would seem that the Olympians have determined to leave the contest and to let the Greeks and the Trojans fight it out themselves. The Prime Minister stated that if the Government were still in power in this Parliament they would give facilities for proceeding with the Bill if it was so framed as to admit of Amendments. I understand that this Bill is so framed. The Chief Secretary said he was strongly of opinion that in the course of 1911 facilities must be given. That is a very strong statement. The President of the Board of Education said his suggestion was that the supporters of Woman Suffrage should concentrate their effort s on a Bill to be introduced as early as possible this year. The Foreign Secretary said: "In my personal opinion if the House remains of the same mind next year facilities ought to be found for the proper discussion and further progress of the Bill." Those were very strong assurances, and I hope that the Government will not disappoint the
§ expectations that have been excited. I have never professed myself that the passage of this Bill is a matter of the first importance, but undoubtedly a great number of people do think it is, and think it very passionately indeed, and they will have just ground to complain if the Government resist the Bill, not by voting against it in this House, if they destroy it not by the votes of a majority of this House or the other House, but by an official decree of the Government themselves withholding from it the time necessary for its passage into law. I think that to do so would be to treat those who, whether judicious or injudicious, are terribly in earnest, very hardly indeed. It would be unfair to withhold from them the opportunity of laying their views before Parliament and having a decision upon them. In a self-governed country this is the right of any great body of the people which is profoundly in earnest, and I hope that the Government, having used such language, will not incur the great responsibility of disappointing those who rely upon the privileges of self-government, and that the House of Commons, to which the Government are always offering incense, though they offer very little besides, and to which they show the utmost respect in words, should be allowed a full and fair opportunity of deciding upon this great issue.
§ Sir GEORGE KEMP
rose in his place and claimed to move "That the Question be now put," but the Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
I do not often agree with the line of argument of the Noble Lord, but I may say that I entirely agree with every word that he has just spoken, except his sneers at the Government. I very earnestly hope that the Government will see that it is their wisest and safest policy to allow time later on for this pleasure to go to a Committee and be thoroughly discussed. I have great pleasure in supporting the Second Reading.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 255; Noes, 88.807
|Division No. 224.]||AYES.||[5.0 p. m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Atherley-Jones, Liewelyn A.||Barton, W.|
|Adamson, William||Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Beale, W. P.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Beauchamp, Edward|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Banner, John S. Harmood-||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)|
|Alden, Percy||Baring, Captain Hon, G.||Bonn, W. (T. H'mts., St. George)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Bennett-Goldney. Francis|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Bentham, G. J.|
|Armitage, B||Barnes, G. N.||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Haworth, Arthur A.||Ormsby-Gore. Hon. William|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Bird, Alfred||Hayward, Evan||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Black, Arthur W.||Helme, Norval Watson||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Boland, John Plus||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Higham, John Sharp||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Pete, Basil Edward|
|Boyton, J.||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Brigg, Sir John||Hinds, John||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Hoare, S. J. G.||Pointer, Joseph|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hodge, John||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Pollack, Ernest Murray|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pryce-Jones, Col. E. (M'tgom'y B'ghs.)|
|Ryles, William Pollard||Hughes, S. L.||Radford, G. H.|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||John, Edward Thomas||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Johnson, W.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Clough, William||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron||Jowett, F. W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Joyce, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Keating, M.||Rollestan, Sir John|
|Crooks, William||Kelly, Edward||Rowlands, James|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Dawes J. A.||Lansbury, George||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Delany, William||Lardner, lames Carrige Rushe||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lawson, Hen. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rl'nd, Cockerm'th)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Leach, Charles||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Edwards, Allen C. (Glamorgan, E)||Lewis, John Herbert||Shortt, Edward|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheree)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Lynch, A. A.||Smith, H. B. (Northampton)|
|Elverston, H.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Snowden, P.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Maclean, Donald||Summers, James Wooley|
|Falk, Bertram Godfrey||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Sutton, John E.|
|Fell, Arthur||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Swift, Rigby|
|Ffrench, Peter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||M'Callum, John M.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Curdy, C. A.||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||M'Kean, John||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||M'Laren, H. D. (Leics.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Furness, Stephen||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Toulmin, George|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Marks, George Croydon||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Gill, A. H.||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Wardle, George J.|
|Ginnell, L.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Glanville, H. J||Meagher, Michael||Watt, Henry A.|
|Goldman, C. S.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Menzies, Sir Walter||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Millar, James Duncan||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Munro, R.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Gulland, John William||Newdegate, F. A.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Williams. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hall, Marshall E. (Toxteth)||Nield, Herbert||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Norman, Sir Henry||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Grady, James|
|Harwood, George||O'Malley, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||G. Kemp and Mr. Goulding.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Archer-Shee, Major M.||Baker, H. T. (Accrington)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Arkwright, John Stanhope||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Agar-Robartes, Han. T. C. R.||Ashton, Thomas Gair||Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)|
|Beach, Hon, Michael Hugh Hicks||Henry, Sir Charles Solomon||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hills, Jahn Wailer||Ronaldshay. Earl of|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hunt, Rowland||Royds, Edmund|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Kellaway, Frederick George||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Kerry, Earl of||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Kilbride, Denis||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Cameron, Robert||King. Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Campion, W. R.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Chaioner, Cal. R. G. W.||Lundon, T.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Macmaster, Donald||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cralk, Sir Henry||M'Mordie, Robert||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Croft, H. P.||Martin, Joseph||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Cullinan, John||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Dewar, Sir J A.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Valentia, Viscount|
|Doris, William||Molteno, Percy Alport||Ward, A. S. (Herta, Watford)|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Nicholson, William G. (Petesefield)||Waton, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Gardner, Ernest||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Gretton, John||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Hackett, J.||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Hamilton, Lard C..J. (Kensington, S.)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Hardy, Laurence||Quitter, W. E. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Harmsworth. R. L.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Maurice Levy and Mr. Mackinder.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.