HC Deb 22 April 1913 vol 52 cc213-4

I beg to present a petition by representatives of certain societies having Women Suffrage as one of their objects, not including the Women's Social and Political Union, asking that they may be heard at the Bar by such number of representatives as your Honourable House shall deem proper in support of their claim for Women Suffrage. I desire that the same should be read by the Clerk at the Table.

The CLERK of the HOUSE (Sir Courtenay Ilbert) read the Petition, which was as followeth

"To the honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled.

"The humble petition of the undersigned representatives of Woman Suffrage Societies and Societies, having Woman Suffrage as one of their objects, respectfully showeth:

"That Mr. Speaker, having informed us that it is in the power of your honourable House to pass a Resolution whereby women shall be granted permission to appear at the Bar of the House, we pray your honourable House to pass such a Resolution to enable us to lay before the House the special claims of women to enfranchisement.

"Because women, being bound to obey the laws and pay the taxes in like manner as men, ought to have a direct voice in the election of those who make the laws and impose the taxes.

"Because women have always shown themselves capable of discharging competently any public duty entrusted to them.

"Because women already take a large part in the political life of the country, often at the request of honourable Members of your House, but are debarred from any constitutional and responsible exercise of political power.

"Because women's point of view in regard to many subjects is different from that of men, and therefore no Legislature can satisfactorily enact laws for both sexes unless it represents both.

"Because in all matters of social reform, and particularly in questions relating to the education of children or to domestic economy, the point of view of the woman deserves at least as much consideration as that of the man.

"Because in many cases working women are mercilessly sweated and exploited, and suffer from other grave injustice arising out of laws and conditions imposed on them by a Legislature elected by an exclusively male electorate.

"Because hopes of their enfranchisement have repeatedly been held out to women, of which they have been as often disappointed under circumstances which have not redounded to the credit of Parliament.

"Because the inequity of the present state of affairs is causing growing discontent among the women of this country, who as a sex have shown themselves far more patient and law-abiding than their male fellow citizens.

"For these and other reasons we therefore ask that we may be heard at the Bar by such number of representatives as your honourable House shall be pleased to direct."