§ (1) A woman shall be entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector for a constituency (other than a university constituency) if she has attained the age of thirty years, and is entitled to be registered as a local government elector in respect of land or premises in that constituency, or is the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered.
§ (2) A woman shall be entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector for a university constituency if she has attained the age of thirty years and would be entitled to be so registered if she were a man.1812
§ (3) A woman shall be entitled to be registered as a local government elector for any local government electoral area where she would be entitled to be so registered if she were a man: Provided that a husband and wife shall not both be qualified as local government electors in respect of the same property.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) (in Sub-section (1) after the word "she" to insert "(a)") is not a substantive Amendment. I see his purpose, and if he succeeds with his subsequent Amendment, the necessary lettering will be done when the Bill is reprinted.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "has attained the age of thirty years, and."
The decision arrived at by the House yesterday was that some women, at any rate, should be admitted to the register of Parliamentary voters. The question now raised by the Amendment standing in my name and in the name of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) raises the point as to who among these women are to have the vote and how many. It has always appeared to me that to attempt to deal with numbers by proposing an age limit of thirty years is absolutely arbitrary and illogical, and I contend, as an opponent of the wholesale grant of votes to women, that it would be quite ineffective. At the Speaker's Conference every age from twenty-five to forty was suggested, and every age had certain adherents. I do not think it can be said that the age of thirty represents any considered and final judgment of any member of the Committee, apart from the question of what was suggested by the Speaker's Conference upstairs.
I was glad to see the name of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University attached to my Amendment, because after very carefully perusing his speech of yesterday I see that he is strongly in favour of the granting of suffrage to women upon some terms and conditions, and no doubt the Committee will hear what terms and conditions he considers are the most appropriate. I notice that the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University voted in the large majority last night, whereas I voted in the small and select minority of 55. Therefore, it appears evident that there 1813 must be arguments from both the point of view of opponents and supporters of the suffrage for women in favour of the Amendment now before the Committee. I notice the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University based a considerable amount of the arguments in his speech yesterday upon the security which he said it was necessary to give to women who will be engaged in industrial work after the War. I would like to quote a word or two from the Noble Lord's speech. He said:We want to have the ordinary security given to women engaged in industrial work—the ordinary security that the vote gives—that they shall not be neglected or oppressed by Parliament.As the Noble Lord holds those views I can well understand him supporting the Amendment we are now considering, because it is obvious that the vast majority of women engaged in industrial work, and likely to be engaged in it after the War, would not have this protection of the vote if the age limit of thirty years was imposed, because, as the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs told us later in the Debate:The proposal is to give the vote to women of thirty and over. The effect of that undoubtedly will be that the very large majority of those who will be enfranchised w ill be married women. It appears to me—and I press this on those hon. Members who have a dislike to women's suffrage, but agree with the Attorney-General that woman suffrage is inevitable that that is the extension of the suffrage which ought to be most in accordance with their views.According to this argument, those very industrial workers about whom the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon) are so much concerned, will not be enfranchised, but those enfranchised in the main will only be married women, who do not form the bulk of our industrial workers, but I must leave that intricate question to be settled between the two Noble Lords. Under these circumstances, I claim the support of those two Noble Lords in favour of my Amendment.
I want to deal with another aspect of this question, and it is an argument addressed from all parts of the House, in favour of women's suffrage based upon the argument of reward, and that the vote ought to be given because women have done war work. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow said that although it will not be appreciated by the female sex to say that the vote should be regarded as a reward, yet the work they have done during the War is 1814 a proof of their fitness. Upon that point the right hon. Gentleman came into conflict with the hon. Member for the Tradeston Division of Glasgow (Mr. MacCallum Scott) when he was quoting what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) had said in the Debate on the Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow said in his interruption:I do not want to involve anybody else. I draw a distinction between these two arguments—one that women have bought the vote by the services they have given, and the other the fact that women can render such services shows that they are capable of being responsible citizens of the State.4.0 P.M.
That is the second part of the argument, but it was the main argument addressed by the right hon. Gentleman, and therefore the whole of that goes by the board, and so does the whole of the arguments of hon. Members who dealt with the rearrangement of industry after the War on the assumption that it would include a large number of female workers. I think I have shown the grounds on which I urge that if any extension of the franchise to women is to be given that this limitation of the age to thirty is the moat inappropriate that can possibly be devised, and is in opposition to all the arguments that carried the most weight and which insured such a great majority yesterday. There must, therefore, be a very large body of opinion amongst hon. Members in favour of women suffrage, and also among those who are against it who are in favour of the abolition of this artificial and illogical restriction. I do not attach the slightest importance as an opponent of the wholesale grant of the franchise to women to those ridiculous sand castles that have been erected. I do not believe they will have any permanence, and they are not any barrier to the complete granting of the suffrage to women on equal terms with men. Addressing myself to the argument that those who are to be enfranchised are to be in the main married women, I say we have not got one single particle of evidence before the Committee that working men as a body in the country desire to see their votes neutralised or duplicated, as the case may be, by the votes of their wives. Therefore, on that ground alone, if we are to grant the franchise to women at all without any idea of the opinion of the women or the men in the country, we could not select a body of women about whom there is more probability that their inclusion 1815 will be resented by the very people whom hon. Members thought to conciliate by the vote given last night. If we give the vote to any women, it should, in accordance with all the arguments which have been addressed to the Committee, be given to those who have been doing war work during the War, and who will be the great accretion to the army of workers of whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon) spoke yesterday, namely, the younger women, the women who are not yet married, the women who have got their own way to make in the world, and the women who have got to defend themselves, and who therefore need the protection of the vote and the power which it will give them over legislation in this House. If all had the vote equally—men and women —there would be approximately about two million more women voters than men. It therefore becomes clear that, approximately, there are two million unmarried women, and they are the women in the main who make the demand for the vote, and who, I believe, have a real legitimate grievance in being kept off the register and not being allowed any voice in the election of Members of Parliament. The inclusion of those women would satisfy practically all the genuine grievance that has ever been shown by the arguments addressed from outside to Members of the House. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in the appeal which he made yesterday to his Friends, urged that by only including women over thirty we should be including what he termed the Conservative element. There again I find him in direct conflict with the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, who told us that there was a very great difference between keeping people off the register and including them, because, as he said very pertinently, a person who has not got the vote cannot exercise it, whereas a person who has got the vote may very easily not exercise it. I would, therefore, put this consideration: The women who do not want the vote, and the vast majority of the married women of the country have never asked for it—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must protest against anything in the nature of a review of yesterday's Debate. We came to a decision, and our discussion to-day must be subject to the decision the Committee then arrived at by a substantial majority.
§ Mr. PETO
Of course, I bow to your ruling, but I will show that the point I am making is precisely on this question of the age limit. If we keep this age limit of thirty and enfranchise married women, we shall be admitting a very large number of women who have not any desire to exercise the vote and who are therefore precisely the women who, as the Noble Lord said yesterday, if they were given the vote, may very easily not exercise it. This particular limitation upon the number of female voters is about the worst, the least permanent, and the most illogical that could possibly have been devised. It has been grafted on to the local government register; it really has nothing whatever to do with the inclusion of women who are on the local government register, and as far as I am concerned I want to remove this restriction to begin with, in order that the Committee may be free to see whether it can devise, if it is necessary to do so, some more permanent and logical restriction on the number of women to be given the franchise.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I do not take the slightest exception to my hon. Friend moving this Amendment although he was a member of the Conference. It was understood, with regard to the whole question of women's suffrage, that every member of the Conference was perfectly free to act or speak as he thought fit when the matter came before this House. At the same time it ought to be understood that the proposals in this Bill were just as much the result of a compromise as any other part of the recommendations of the Conference. They were not a compromise between all the members, as was the case with the recommendations that were passed with unanimity, but they were a distinct compromise amongst al those members who, being in favour of some measure of the enfranchisement of women, were anxious to produce a scheme which they could all support through all its stages, and one which they thought therefore would command the general consent of the country. I only mention this in order to appeal to bon. Members on both sides to remember that whether we restrict or whether we enlarge the proposals that are now in the Bill we shall find that the actual success of women's suffrage is materially endangered.
The Amendment must rather have struck the Committee as astonishing. The hon. Member professes, unless my ears mislead me, to be anxious to remove this 1817 age limit of thirty and to allow women below thirty to have the vote, thereby largely increasing the number of women who would be enfranchised by this measure. I hope I am justified in calling attention to the immediately succeeding Amendment which is in the name, not only of the hon. Member himself, but also of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), who has rushed from the other Lobby to his rescue on this particular Amendment. These two hon. Members propose, first of all, to strike out the words "has attained the age of thirty years," and then later on to strike out the words "or is the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered." Those two proposals taken together mean that although the hon.. Members concerned are willing to reduce the age to twenty-one for those persons who are entitled of their own right to an occupation franchise on the municipal register, they are at the same time going to cut off all the married women who, under the proposals of the Conference, are to have the vote in right of their husband's occupation qualification. That really means that the Amendment we are now discussing is to grant the suffrage to women on practically the same lines as those of the Conciliation Bill—that is to say, to give the Parliamentary vote only to those women who in their own right have an occupation qualification. We all know that means spinsters and widows and a few other women who have their own businesses, and so forth, and they at the present moment number about 1,000,000. That is the sum total of the effect of the two Amendments. I do not think that the Committee, when they understand them, will listen to those two Amendments. It is perfectly clear that the decision yesterday meant that the House was willing to enfranchise women on at any rate a larger basis than the well-known old basis of the Conciliation Bill, and to enfranchise more women than 1,000,000 spinsters or widows.
I should like to explain what were the reasons which brought it about that those members of the Conference who were in favour of women's suffrage devised a scheme which, of course, is open to a great deal of criticism, and which undoubtedly cannot lay claim to a logical basis all the way through. My own view has always been that adult suffrage is the only right thing. I do hot think that a democracy can be based on any other suffrage than a suffrage which extends to all men and to 1818 all women; but in the Conference, as elsewhere, we found members who held very different views, and we thought we were bound to give those views very earnest attention and very sincere respect. Adult suffrage would mean an addition to the present electorate of from 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 men and from 12,000,000 to 14,000,000 women, and the immediate result would be that the old electorate of 11,000,000 men would be absolutely swamped by the new electorate. And, what is more, the number of women would very largely outnumber the number of men. Personally, I am not afraid of that. I see no reason, if there are more women in the country than men, and if we agree that women have a right to the suffrage as well as men, why we should hesitate in giving the vote to more women than to men. There are, however, a great number of Members who take a different view, and it is one to which we are bound to give the utmost respect. It would be a sudden change and a great upheaval, and no one wants to bring about a vast upheaval in our electoral system. It would be giving to women the suffrage much more rapidly than it has ever been given to men. Men have gradually grown into their present rights of enfranchisement, and I can quite well appreciate the weight of the argument of those who say that women also should go step by step before they obtain absolutely what we may think are their full rights.
There is another argument which must be remembered. It is that, as a matter of fact, the great proportion of women have not yet by their education or by their experience in life attained that insight into political affairs which would justify Parliament perhaps in putting them at once into possession of political rights. Those are not my views, but they are the views of other hon. Members with whom we wish to act and for whose opinions we have respect. We were able to see the weight of those arguments. That was how we came to face the problem, and I hope to solve it, because we tried to find what we could all agree upon.
If we accept the position that it is not wise to enfranchise all women at once, we have to find some system by which they can be enfranchised slowly and partially. It is very difficult, of course, to differentiate. It is almost impossible to find a really logical system upon which you can lay down a rule under which one woman could be enfranchised and another could be 1819 refused the vote. But one can arrive at two fundamental principles—first, that whatever representation you give to women must be adequate in point of numbers, and, secondly, that it must be representative so far as all classes of the community are concerned. As regards numbers, there are 14,000,000 women above the age of twenty-one years. Suppose that we think it is a fair measure of enfranchisement at once to enfranchise about one-half that number. That is practically what the supporters of woman suffrage agreed upon at the Conference. They were prepared to enfranchise from 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 women. How can that be done? There are 14,000,000 women over twenty-one, 12,000,000 women over twenty-five, 10,000,000 women over thirty, and there are 7,000,000 women over forty. If we take age alone, which is the simplest test —although there is not much logic about it —and are not prepared to enfranchise any more than 7,000,000 women, we must put the age at forty. No one thought that forty was a reasonable age to allow woman to begin her political life and enjoy, for the first time, political privileges. If we choose an age like thirty—we discussed the various ages, as the Committee knows —there again we find 10,000,000 adult women above that age. Therefore, although many of us would have liked to have laid down the simple rule that every woman over thirty should have the vote, which, of course, would include wives, spinsters, widows and everybody else, we found ourselves faced with the position that we should be enfranchising more women than a good many of our more prudent colleagues were willing to accept.
There is the other consideration, namely, that we must find a system which is representative of the different classes. The present female municipal vote is by no means representative of the various classes, for the reason that the vote is restricted to the class of women who occupies a house in her own right—that is to say, the spinster or the woman who is carrying on her own business or something of that kind. The great mass of married women will be absolutely unenfranchised by a system like that. No other country that has given woman suffrage has ever hesitated to give the vote to the married woman in the same way as to the single woman. There is no reason why we should deprive the married woman of the vote. In fact, there is every reason 1820 why you should give her the vote even before the younger and unmarried woman. The married woman is the woman who, in my opinion, has the most experience of life, and has perhaps the most stable views as to the ordinary economics of life. She is the woman who represents, if she is going to have the vote in right of her husband's qualification, all classes of the community, from the highest to the lowest. By giving the woman a vote because of the occupation rights of her husband you thereby bring about a system under which the man belonging to the great mass of the working classes—indeed the very poorest person—can get a vote for his wife. By introducing that device—it is really not much more—of bringing to the Parliamentary vote not only the woman who is entitled to occupation qualification in her own right, but also the woman entitled to an occupation qualification in the right of her husband, you are bringing in 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 women, who represent fully the different classes of the community. By that means, short of giving the vote to every woman in the country, I believe you will get a very fair system of representation of women. It practically comes to this, that under this scheme you do not give the vote to servant maids, daughters and other people in that position in a family, but you give the vote to the head of the household. You practically give to women what the men were first of all given in former years; you give them a household franchise. The head of the house, the mother of the family in every family, rich and poor, would have the vote.
Although I quite recognise the force of the observations made by my hon Friend the Member for Devizes, that the women who have been working in this country are very largely, if not mainly, drawn from young unmarried women, and that you will not be able to give them the vote by this measure, you nevertheless give it to their mothers, their sisters and the women who know what they have been doing and who are quite as well capable of exercising it in their behalf as themselves. Therefore I believe that under this system you get a woman suffrage which will not only represent women as a whole, of all classes, but which will be representative of the most experienced and stable views of the community. That is what led the Conference to propose this scheme. The Government have put it exactly as it stood into this Bill. I hope that my hon. Friends, especially those who naturally 1821 sympathise with the observations made by the hon. Member for Devizes just now in regard to the enfranchisement of younger women, and who would naturally be inclined to vote for a large extension of woman suffrage, even adult suffrage, will not think it amiss on my part if I urge them to abstain from taking that very extreme and dangerous step. I may say that the great majority of the women's organisations in this country have given the fullest consideration to the proposals of the Conference, and to the proposals of the Bill, and they are fully in agreement with them. They do not wish us to go beyond the proposals, because they are anxious to carry them through this House, and, what is still more dangerous, through the other House of Parliament. I believe that as it stands woman suffrage can be put on the Statute Book of this country. If we alter it, one cannot say what will happen. Last night we had a remarkable display in favour of the principle. We have also had a display which shows that the general lines of this Bill commend themselves to the majority of Members of this House. I therefore hope the Committee will be satisfied with the proposals as they stand in the Bill, and that we shall have the votes of those who are in favour of the Bill as it stands, as well as the votes of many others who, no doubt, would like to have some extension, and also the votes of those who would like to see the scheme more restricted.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) with that respect and attention which all his utterances demand from the Committee. He made a very specious defence of the compromise proposed by Mr. Speaker's Conference. The twistings of the special argument which he used were rather curious. He began by arguing against the Amendment, not on the ground of the Amendment as it stood, but because of certain subsequent Amendments, with which I am not in the least concerned and which I have not studied, because he seemed to think that somehow or other they were bound up with this one. From that argument, by which he bolstered up his opposition to this Amendment, he proceeded on another course altogether. His next step was to show very elaborately that he was entirely in favour of the principle embodied in the Amendment and that he himself would like to go even 1822 further than the Amendment. From that point he followed an entirely different course. Having said that he was entirely in favour of the principle embodied in the Amendment, he occupied himself with showing the weight of the argument against such an extension. He said that such an extension, however much he sympathised with it, must be made slowly and gradually, that it must be done with caution, that women must be educated up to the level of the franchise and that they must not get it too quickly. My right hon. Friend used an argument which I certainly have never used when I have ventured to oppose woman suffrage. It never was my view that because the intelligence of women was inferior to that of men that they must be gradually and slowly educated up to the franchise and that any extension must be cautious, slow and gradual. That is not my view.
I must, of course, speak in regard to my own attitude. I have no wish at all to go back upon the decision of yesterday. I accept it. But I must take my attitude with regard to the franchise as I look upon it and as most hon. Members of the Committee will look upon it, naturally, from the point of view of my own Constituency. My position is this, and I have frequently stated it to my Constituents, that if the female university graduates had their case considered alone, that case was unanswerable. They were entering upon the same professions, they were qualified in exactly the same way and there was no logical reason to be asserted against them. On the other hand, I always urged, frequently with some persuasiveness, that this was a matter which could not be dealt with only from the point of view of the university constituencies, but that it must be dealt with as a matter affecting the nation as a whole, and that by the nation as a whole it must be decided. I accept last night's decision as indicating, I hope, the general opinion of the nation. The change is very considerable and very startling, and my fears are not removed by that vote, namely, that I do not think the extension of the suffrage to women will be a great gain to women, and secondly, because I am by no means convinced, and all the evidence presented to me tends in one way that the great majority of women are in favour of it. I wish to have that settled, and it was on that ground that I should have preferred to be able to vote on the 1823 Referendum. But I am asked now to Accept what seems to me an extremely illogical position on account of the sacrosanct character of the compromise. I do not wish to say a word against the compromise. It is too late. But I cannot really allow it completely to overcome all my sense of logic and of justice, and when I look at it as it affects not only my own Constituency, but chiefly my own constituency, I cannot see that either logic or common justice is satisfied by the compromise as proposed. I must look at it as it affects university constituencies. I have hundreds of women graduates amongst the thousands of my constituents. There may be women who have taken the highest honours, who are entering upon precisely the same profession—the doctor's profession or the teaching profession—for which their fellow students of the male sex are preparing. They must wait for nine years before they exercise the suffrage. There are thousands of men, on the other hand, who slip through the pass degree by the skin of their teeth. The moment they get through it they, at twenty-one, have the vote.
On a point of Order. The question of the university franchise is dealt with on Clause 4. Are these points in order on the present Amendment?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member mentioned that point to me a few moments ago, and I said if it was raised here I should take it as governing Subsection (2) of Clause 4, and that we would not have it twice over.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I fully understood that. I am supporting this with absolute honesty and sincerity. It may be that the compromise weighs so heavily with the Committee that they will do nothing to disturb it. If so, I accept their decision. But as a voucher for my honesty I may say that if this Amendment were carried I should be enfranchising several hundreds of constituents in my own Constituency who have no reason to be grateful, and upon whose inveterate opposition I might count in any future contest. They know I have been a consistent opponent of the principle. But whatever may be the effect upon my own political future, I am? bound to argue that these hundreds of young female graduates have the full right, if 1824 men and women are to be put on an equal foundation, to exercise their vote and, if they choose, to vote against one who, like myself, is opposed to the question generally. But, more than that, however old I may be, I am still a believer in the efficiency of youth. I do not think you will get all the enthusiasm and all the vigour of political principle if you confine your vote only to those who are over thirty. There is an immense number between twenty-one and thirty who will exercise the vote honestly, sincerely and enthusiastically, and, however mistaken I am, those who voted with me last night may be in thinking the position of women will be injured when you have taken a grave and irreparable step in putting them on the same foundation, and a step which will be against the views of what I believe to be the majority of women in this country, yet I assert most decidedly that if you are going to do this, and if you are going to extend the vote to women, you should not exclude those younger women fresh from, their university course, filled with more public spirit perhaps than the older women who have fallen into the routine of domestic life, who are filled with new ideas, and I think have a very good right to be consulted on this question, and if their elder sisters are to have the vote they also should have it. Looking at the question from a more general standpoint, surely the women who have assisted with munitions and other war work are largely women of a younger age. If you wish to give them a recognition for the work which they have done do not minimise it and give it in a grudging way by limiting the age, as you propose to do. By all means, if the majority are determined to hold to the compromise, we must submit with a hearty spirit, as we submitted to the decision yesterday. But I most earnestly ask the Committee to reconsider this question, and consider whether it is wise to fix this illogical and unjust limit.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
I do not propose to argue the question, either for or against, as though it were an abstract proposal. We are limited by the conditions in which we have to act at the present moment. I believe almost without exception the women's organisations have accepted this compromise. I do not think it is necessary for any suffragist in this House to 1825 be more Royalist than the King. Those suffragist organisations have judged the expediency of accepting this compromise. They have accepted it, and I think those who are trying to work in accord with them had better accept their judgment and co-operate with them and stand by the Bill as it stands. I can well understand the anti-suffragists and the opponents of the Bill voting for this Amendment. I do not understand suffragists pushing an abstract devotion to their cause to a point at which they sacrifice their common sense. A very large majority accepted women's suffrage in principle last night. We got that large majority on the underlying assumption that it was this proposal which was going to be made. Under the circumstances, I will ask the true friends of women suffrage to oppose this Amendment and not to be content with abstaining, but to vote against it.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir G. Cave)
I think the Committee will like to know as soon as possible the position which the Government take on this important question. The Government offered to leave a particular question to the House, namely, whether or not the House would accept the proposal made by the Speaker's Conference with regard to women's suffrage. That proposal included the local government qualification and a certain limit of age—a specified age, as it is called in the Committee's Report—and they gave as the choice of two ages, thirty and thirty-five. The Government thought it right to put in their Bill the lower age of thirty, and with these modifications, the limit of qualification and of age, the proposal has been accepted by the advocates of women's suffrage as a fair compromise. A proposal is now made of a very different nature indeed. It is proposed to reduce the age from thirty to twenty-one. The proposal is made and supported so far only by strong opponents of women's suffrage.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I am speaking of the Debate. It is supported on the Amendment Paper by strong opponents of the Bill, and I think from those two statements one may infer what the purpose of the Amendment is. I want to say distinctly that I look upon this proposal, by whomsoever accepted and supported, as an Amendment moved against the Bill. 1826 The view the Government take is that they must take a definite line on this Amendment, and they call upon every supporter, either of women's suffrage or of the Bill as a whole, to oppose it. If it were accepted, I need hardly say the Government would have to consider the whole position with regard to the Bill, and I do not think I could be responsible for its further conduct. I say that as clearly as I can.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
My right hon. Friend takes up an attitude which is not very easy for me to understand. The question of women's suffrage in itself, the question we decided yesterday, was left an open question, but the question of what particular limitations or conditions and what particular method should be adopted of granting women's suffrage is a matter vital to the Bill. There seems to be a sort of lust of irrationality The hon. Member for St. Pancras, quite with unctuous pride,' how irrational he was. He explained that this was a compromise, and therefore irrational, and that we ought to accept it partly because it was irrational. It is true that very great feats of statesmanship have been illogical in form and have nevertheless been wise, but you want something more than illogicality to prove wisdom. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of a story told, I think in Macaulay, of a Scottish minister who was whipped for theft, and who, when the punishment was over, stuck up on his chapel:Thirce was I beaten by rods, it ml five times received I forty stripes save one.It was pointed out to him that it takes more than a whipping to make an Apostle, and it takes more than unreason to make statesmanship. What is the position? Yesterday we decided and cordially welcomed the decision that we wanted women's suffrage in some form. The Debate was what we should generally call a Second Reading Debate on the question of women's suffrage. Personally, my own view, and I should think the view of a good many of the Members of the Committee, was that sex is not an important consideration in relation to the suffrage. That is my view, and I need not go into it again. What then remains to be considered? It is perfectly true that women are not precluded from exercising the suffrage because they are women; and they are also obviously not qualified because they are women. The 1827 question of whether they are men or women should be left out of sight altogether. What we have to consider is whether, because they are human beings, they can wisely in these circumstances be enfranchised, in what numbers, and the like. That seems to me to be the fair way to look at the situation, and if that be the problem, can there be a more foolish, a more unsound, and a more unstable condition than the condition of age? It is not merely illogical; it has no rational bearing on the problem at all. You might as well give votes to women who have red hair and make hair-dyeing a corrupt practice. It is not commonsense. We are quite truly told that it was a compromise between different schools of opinion. What were those schools of opinion? There was the school of opinion that wanted adult suffrage, and also the school of opinion which did not want to make a franchise change of too revolutionary a character. Then, obviously, the line of your compromise must be such as to secure in some form or another the conservative interest of the country—I am not using that word in the party sense, but in the sense of avoiding all danger of a revolutionary vote. I quite agree with the argument that to enfranchise an enormous number of electors, whether women or men, at a given time, and especially at a time when everybody's mind is a little unstable and everybody's nerves are very much upset, is imprudent. Especially if the decision remains regarding proportional representation, you are, if you have such a large quantity of new electors, peculiarly exposed to the danger of what is called in America a land-slide.
I quite agree that you want some limitation of numbers, but it must be founded on some rational principle. I have suggested one lower down on the Amendment Paper, and though the hon. Member for St. Pancras speaks scornfully of it, it represents by his own account a settlement which, six years ago, he would have thought not ideal but perfectly acceptable. There are many other principles on which to base the franchise, but what you should try to do is to make a settlement so far reasonable that it will be for a number of years stable. The hon. Member who has just spoken told us without a smile that the advocates of women suffrage accepted this proposal. Of curse, the more extreme would gladly 1828 accept it because they know quite well that it is a restriction that can never last, and they accepted that, probably, being advocates of adult suffrage. This is of the nature of a rotten parapet which does not afford protection though it seems to do so, and which when you lean against it gives way. You cannot limit the franchise, even temporarily, except on rational principles. It is unfortunate from my point of view that we are obliged to discuss, under the inevitable order of procedure, this expanding proposal before we can consider whether other restrictions cannot be put in. I would rather have done it the other way, but it is quite accurate to say that the true interest of Conservatism is never bound up in making an artificial, unreal, and unstable protection. Nor does this line correspond, as it is supposed to do, even roughly to any distinction that might be called arguable. We are told it means married women, but it does not. There are a large number of unmarried women over thirty, and a large number of married women under thirty, while the great majority of women who do not marry before they are thirty do not marry at all. An immense number of married women, therefore, who are not less fit for the franchise will be cut out by this proposal. Personally, I do not think marriage is the real thing to look at. What I think is the real thing to look at is some security of a sense of responsibility, so that these new voters—because it is as new voters I am apprehensive of them and not as women voters—shall not take some fit of excitement and go voting in a landslide one way or the other. I think that would be a danger and deplorable! You will not be protected by the age limit.
If you make the franchise so that there is something in the circumstances of a person's life that suggests responsibility, then that is a restriction which is worth having, but mere age does not affect the matter in the least. The vast majority of these women of thirty who are married in working-class families will vote with their class. I do not think husband and wife will often vote against one another. That will be very rare, but nevertheless the wife will influence more after the franchise the husband's vote than she did before. Probably before the Bill was introduced women did not pay much attention to the husband's vote; and now there will be that modification. Is there in that prospect of the vast doubling of 1829 votes anything to reassure the conservative mind; is there anything in it which would really give to any thoughtful Conservative a sense that he is protected against the dangers of some revolutionary landslide of opinion? I say there is nothing, and therefore I strongly urge the Committee, on conservative grounds, to get this done. No doubt we shall have to have some restriction. I believe in the one to which I have referred, and other hon. Members believe in other means, but this restriction will not work. It is not sense. It has not the glimmerings of reason about it on which a temporary settlement could be based. The argument put forward is that if we do not accept this extraordinary and unreasonable proposal, women's suffrage, and, indeed, the whole Bill, will be in danger. If the Government thought that women's suffrage was essential to the Bill, and that the Bill was essential to the Government, I do not know why they did not support women's suffrage yesterday as a Government. As a matter of fact, women's suffrage after last night's Division stands in a position very much stronger than that in which it was before.
As to the Bill, do the Government think it wise, or ultimately possible, to carry a Bill that will only stand like an inverted pyramid? You must base all strong legislation on rational foundations. It is all very well to talk of a compromise, but you will not, and you ought not, to carry a compromise which has nothing to be said for it except that a number of politicians have on no reasonable principle come to an arrangement about it. Let us then assume— surely after the experience of the last two days it is not an unreasonable thing —that the Bill will not pass if it is not wanted and that it will pass if it is wanted, and that if there is a very considerable force of opinion behind it on its merits that will carry it, whatever we think about women having the vote before or after they are thirty. Let the Government have a little faith, not in their principles, because I do not think they have any principles, but in their political support. Let them go forward, strong in the sense of political apathy, happy in the inattention of the public, sure that they have, at any rate, an organised Government with the ordinary organised apparatus of government at its disposal, and that there is so little public notice and so little Parliamentary 1830 interest that any nonsense they talk will go down. That is the advantage of breaking Parliamentary understandings, and legislating about great domestic questions in time of war. I put it to the House that if legislation is to be reasonably conducted, this House must have a voice in deciding, at any rate, on the details of this Bill. This is one of the details of the Bill. It is a detail of a proposal that until this afternoon we were told was an open proposal. We sit like; dogs, picking up the crumbs of liberty that are allowed to fall to us from the Government's table. We were allowed to hope that with regard to women's suffrage we were free, but now the Government are, apparently, so conscious of some difficulties before them that they dare not give us that freedom. I insist that we should have the liberty that belongs to a legislative assembly, and that we should either reject this proposal or have some good reasons advanced for it; while in. that proposal there should be that security that is necessary in enfranchising a number of new electors, although, I hope we agree that the distinction of sex is not a distinction that is of vital importance.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Colonel Sir R. WILLIAMS
I was extremely sorry to hear the Home Secretary say what he did just now with regard to this Amendment. I do not now want to go into the whole subject of woman suffrage, because I can do so on the Motion for the rejection of the Clause. What is the present condition? This Bill comes from the Conference, and was accepted by the Government as an agreed compromise upon franchise questions, even upon proportional representation, but absolutely unagreed upon the women's question. I was at the Conference, and I know that we discussed a good many things in the Conference. We came to a sort of compromise, but we also came to an understanding that, whereas the members of the Conference were in honour bound to vote for everything in the compromise because it was carried unanimously, on the women's suffrage question every member was to be absolutely free to vote without a single condition. I think I shall be able to show that it was under a great misapprehension that the House voted last night that women should have votes, on no conditions whatever but simply that they should have votes, and now the Government come down and 1831 make it a Government question and say that they are going to throw the Bill over altogether if we do not adhere to what— to an agreed?—no, to an unagreed measure on which the only agreement was that every member of the Conference should be perfectly free to vote exactly as he liked. Yet, as I say, the Government are, as a matter of fact, going to make this a Government question. I do not think the Government are really going to treat women's suffrage as a Government question after all, when they would not put the Government Whips on last night. We are told they are going to put the Government Whips on this, but is not the House going to know what sort of limitation there is to be? A great many who voted last night might feel the other way to-night—in fact, I know many Members who said they did not care very much; they would rather they got rid of the suffrage. Even the right hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) is going to change his mind and I feel that I would like to change my mind, and I would not consent. I beg the Home Secretary to reconsider whether they are going to make this a Government question. This part never came from the Conference at all; it was an unagreed part, and it was understood that every Member would be free to vote exactly as he chose. I cannot understand after that compromise it is to be taken altogether seriously. This question was left over to the House by the Speaker's Conference, and in the middle the Government come down and say we have changed our minds. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO!"] If I had thought the Government were likely to have taken controversial action over it, I should have had something to say at the Speaker's Conference, but we understood that it was to be freely and fully left open—that is, the adoption of the women's vote. It was a temperate Bill we wanted not a question like women's tsuffrage, which divides parties almost equally. Probably everybody on the Speaker's Conference had preconceived ideas in their minds, but they voted unanimously for the new Franchise Bill, and on that Bill I intend to support them, although there is much I do not believe in. To tell me that the women's question is going to be made a Cabinet question is incomprehensible, and I should like to move the Adjournment of the. House to ascertain exactly what is the 1832 position. If they like, one way or the other, to let the Government advance this measure, or let the Cabinet decide, I should be inclined to say we will chuck the whole thing.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I could not entertain such a motion. On the statement given to the Committee there is no case for it.
§ Major HUNT
I hope after the Home Secretary's speech, telling us that he will be no longer responsible for the Bill if the first Amendment is carried, that we-shall not hear any more about the Bill being an agreed Bill, or that the Government is not using pressure on the question of women's suffrage. Unless this Amendment is accepted, the Bill will-cut out all those women under thirty who have served abroad, and in many cases have had their lives in danger, under the Admiralty or the War Office. You will cut all these women out, and, in my opinion, after the well-known agreement of the Government not to bring in controversial legislation during the War, the only women we are justified in enfranchising are those who have been, out and helped in France. So I shall certainly support this Amendment. I would add to that that I think women develop more quickly than men, and if they have votes at all the young ones should have votes as well as the old. There is not much probable doubt about this, that when women get the vote they will come into this House. I should certainly like to have the young ones here as well as the old. (Laughter.) I have explained my reasons, and I shall be glad to support the Amendment.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I wish to point out how gratifying the Debate this afternoon is to women's suffrage. I looked at the list of those who voted against the-suffrage last night. I find that of those-twenty-five, some of them, at any rate, are of opinion if you are to have it at all, you cannot have too much of it, and women above the age of twenty-one are better than those of thirty. I think that ought to make the foundations of women's suffrage a little suspicious. It is legitimate to them to hold a view that 1833 they should not be admitted at all, but if admitted the vote should apply in a certain way, but when I find the views expressed in the House by Members who are opposed to women's suffrage, I do not think it can be intended to further the cause. The Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) is not opposed to women's suffrage, but he is opposed to the Bill. When I look at what happened I think there is a good deal in the advice given us that there is much that goeth against the grain. 'Still, if we desire to keep Clause 4 as an integral part of this general scheme, we are not asking in the real interests of women's suffrage if we take the plea from the opponents of women quite at their face value. There is to be limitation. What sort is it to be? In reply to this there must be a limitation, but on my part—
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am not quoting an argument. I am in part advancing one. To say there is to be a limitation, say limitation A is open to the course of criticism to which the Noble Lord referred, it is a bad case, perhaps, but "what other limitation is suggested?
§ Sir J. SIMON
Is it admitted that we cannot apply women's suffrage to the whole of a very large new electorate without some limitation? Limitation of age seems to be better than any other which can be suggested. If you apply any other it must be to character and to reference to property. If it is objected that some women are poor, it appears to he a restriction which, if you are going to exclude the many classes of women who for the whole of their lives will continue poor, that divides the woman voter from the weakening influences I have mentioned. If, however, there is a reference to property, or work, it gives -a fair opportunity of having different classes or minds of women included in the Act. If you confer the vote on women over thirty you will be conferring the vote on large numbers of women representing all kinds of interests.
That, I think, ought to be our object, if indeed we must have a limitation at all. The argument of the Noble Lord for 1834 extending women's suffrage more widely, seeing that we have accepted the principle, is an argument which on the ground of logic I find it difficult to meet. Though I regret, that we should have to have such a limitation, I do, in the interests of women's suffrage and in the interests of the Bill, ask the friends of women's suffrage to acquiesce in this limitation, which, if we must have limitations, is the least objectionable.
§ Sir J. LARMOR
I rise to express my very great surprise at the attitude which the Government have taken in this matter. As a member of the Speaker's Conference, I am persuaded that, after considerable debate, no recommendation in any shape or form came from that Conference with reference to the ages of either thirty or thirty-five. The question was discussed at length, but the proposition to name an age limit was hardly taken seriously except by the professed advocates of women's suffrage. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Simon) has been pointing out that the people who are supporting this Amendment voted against women's suffrage yesterday. I was in the majority yesterday, but I was not in the majority in order to swallow all these things which were not involved in that majority. My view in this matter is that I am prepared to grant the franchise to women on a limited scale. I am prepared to have as many new women electors added as there are men electors added, but if the question comes to be a matter of doubling our electorate by adding 2,000,000 men and 6,000,000 women, then to my mind it assumes a very different form. It is a leap in the dark to an extent to which at the present crisis of the country's history I cannot give a consenting vote. If anything could induce me to tolerate such an extension it would be that the proposals of the Speaker's Conference should be carried out in those regards in which they were unanimous. If we are to lose the safeguard of proportional representation, which has gone without the Government making any protest whatever, then I think that this matter, in regard to which the House has had no recommendations whatever from the Speaker's Conference, except from the part of it that were keen supporters of women's suffrage, in which the other side acquiesced in any sense at all, we have come to matters of very serious consideration as regards the future of this portion of the Bill.
§ Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
As one of the fifty-five who had the courage of their convictions and went in the Division Lobby yesterday, I should like to reply to the very ingenious and disingenuous speech of the right hon Gentleman (Sir J. Simon). He finished up by what he called the dishonesty of people going into the Lobby and voting against women's suffrage and now coming to propose an enfranchisement of a larger number of women than is proposed in the Bill. My reply to that is that the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters know perfectly well that if you grant the franchise to women at all it will only be a very short time before the franchise must be granted on the same basis as it is granted to men. They dare not bring in a proposal to enfranchise women on the same basis as men now, because they know it would be realised throughout the country that women would be in the large majority. Therefore, they prefer not to make such a proposal because, having once got the principle of women's suffrage, they will use that fact in due course to reduce the age to the same age limit as that for men. I shall also certainly vote for the Amendment on other grounds, because from the evidence of members of the Speaker's Conference this proposal to put on the Government Whips is distinctly dishonest. It is a breach of the understanding come to by the Speaker's Conference. What I want is to get the country governed in the best possible way during the War. We want to win the War. The life of this Parliament was prolonged illegally and unconstitutionally.
§ Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I will pass over that. I am not allowed to say that this is unconstitutional, but I will say that it is against the agreement of the Speaker's Conference, and that the vote given yesterday was given under a misunderstanding. It does not represent the views of this House. Three-fourths of the Members would have voted against this at a secret sitting, and I honestly believe that they would have voted against it as it was yesterday if they had had the courage which the fifty-five had and devoted themselves to legislation for the sole purpose of winning this War.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Meysey-Thompson) has any right to make such a charge as that against a considerable number of Members. I think the explanation which was given by the hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Larmor) really explains, the matter as regards the very large number of those who went into the Aye Lobby last night. There were amongst those men those who held widely different views as to the precise character of the-suffrage to be given to women. I have, as some hon. Members know, taken a very active interest in this question for a good number of years. I was associated with all the Suffrage Bills introduced into this House, some of a very limited character and some of a more ambitious character, and the difficulty we have always experienced was in finding a sufficient amount of common ground to unite the majority of Members in favour of a measure of women's suffrage. We had those who believed in enfranchising a fairly considerable number of women but not a number sufficient to allow it to swamp the electorate, and we had those, represented in the speech of the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil), who wanted a very narrow extension of women's suffrage based upon a property qualification. I believe the Speaker's Conference succeeded in doing what the friends of women's suffrage in this House-had so long attempted to do and failed to-accomplish. They succeeded in uniting these different views which had hitherto been held as to the form that women's-suffrage should take. It was a compromise, and I believe that if there were any change made in the nature of that compromise the unity which manifested itself so magnificently in the Division Lobby last night would be at once dissolved. I am in favour of the very widest measure of enfranchisement for women. I have always been an adult suffragist, but, as a practical politician, I have never refused to take any measure of women's suffrage, however moderate it might be. I take up that position in regard to the proposal now before the Committee. I do not recede from my desire, and I shall not lessen my efforts in the way of agitation-outside this House to secure the ultimate enfranchisement of all women in this country on the same terms as men. But I am going to oppose this Amendment for the reason I have just indicated, that I believe that if there be any breach of the terms of this compromise it will, for the 1837 time being, defeat women's suffrage altogether. I am very anxious to get this measure of women's suffrage, which is a very good start. I shale the views of the hon. Member who spoke last that, having conceded this measure of women's suffrage, it will be impossible for Parliament in future to resist the demand for further extension
The Home Secretary stated that if this Amendment were carried the Government might be left to reconsider their attitude on the whole Bill. I rather regret that he made that statement, because it seems to be a departure from the attitude of neutrality on this question of women's suffrage which had been understood to be the position of the Government. If I were convinced that there were honest, sound, and a genuine majority of Members in favour of adult suffrage for women, I would support an Amendment to that effect, but I do not believe that there is. I am sure that any Amendment which aims at incorporating that in the Bill now cannot be an honest and genuine one, and the effect must be to destroy the Bill. Still, I do not think it was the duty of the Government either to say that or to take up the position of threatening to withdraw the Bill in the event of such an Amendment being carried, especially after their action in regard to proportional representation. Proportional representation was the unanimous decision of the Speaker's Conference, and the Government departed from the terms of the Conference when they refused to accept proportional representation, though they accept other parts of the Speaker's Conference recommendations. For that reason I do not think the Home Secretary was justified in threatening the loss of the Bill if this Amendment were accepted. That, I think, ought to be left to the unfettered and unprejudiced decision of the House.
I have been very much interested in listening to the speeches which have been made. This War has worked some wonderful transformations, but surely it has worked no greater miracle than that of an hon. Member for one of the Scottish universities appearing in this House in the character of a revolutionary democrat and dissociating himself from the whole history of Toryism in regard to the question of franchise reform. The hon. Member for one of the Scottish universities twitted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras for his lack of democratic faith and enthusiasm, 1838 but the right hon. Gentleman has to my own knowledge spoken these principles persistently and consistently in this House for a very long time, and it does not lie in the mouth of the hon. Member to twit the fight hon. Gentleman with any lack of democratic faith and ardour. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University appeared to support this Amendment on grounds totally different from those of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. I understood the mover of this Amendment to desire to see a larger number of women enfranchised than would be enfranchised under the Bill as it stands. But the Noble Lord supports the Amendment with the idea that it would reduce the number of women who would be enfranchised under the Clause as it stands.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The hon. Member was in favour, as I understood him, of enfranchising all women between thirty and twenty-one years of age. He referred particularly to women who were engaged in industrial occupations. It would be a matter of inquiry, but I should be inclined to think that the change which he proposes would enfranchise a larger number of women than are enfranchised under the Clause as it now stands. When we contrast the different purposes expressed by those who have supported this Amendment we are justified in asking what does it all mean and where is it leading us? We have, for instance, such a long consistent opponent of woman suffrage as my hon. Friend (Mr. MacCallum Scott), and he is going to support an Amendment in favour of the enfranchisement of all women over twenty-one years of age. My hon. Friend yesterday favoured the House with a philosophical discourse on the relations that govern physical power and the political franchise. I was intensely interested in his speech as I always am in his speeches, but I must confess that I did not understand a single word of what ho was saying, and I do not know what he means.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If we are to make any progress at all, hon. Members must not review their own speeches or the 1839 speeches of yesterday. After all, the Committee has come to a decision on yesterday's question, and this is a detail.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I certainly was not either reviewing or repeating my own speech. I have not before spoken two minutes either on the Second Reading or the Committee stage of this Bill.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I was anticipating what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. MacCallum Scott) is going to say when he rises. The hon. Member's objection to the inclusion of women at all is that it will upset what he calls the balance of physical force. But he is now in favour of enfranchising all women over twenty-one years of age. Therefore be is in favour of enfranchising a larger number of women than of men, and by that means altogether upsetting his theory as to the balance of political power. I mention these things to show what a combination of members, with altogether different objects, is supporting this Amendment. By their vote last night they declared that they considered the enfranchisement of one woman to be an evil, and by supporting the Amendment to-day they say that if they are to have an evil they want as much of that evil as they possibly can get. Adult suffragist as I am, I am going to oppose the Amendment. There are a great many things in this Bill with which I disagree, but I accept the compromise. Of course, I believe that the compromise will enable us to get later on a measure of electoral reform which it would not be possible to get except under the conditions of the compromise. Therefore I should consider that I was doing a thing that was almost criminal if by any act or vote of mine I were to do something that would endanger the maintenance of the compromise.
§ Colonel ORMSBY-GORE
I desire to explain the reason why I think it important that we should keep the age at thirty, as proposed in the Bill. I was one of the original Conciliation Committee as it was called, which managed, I am afraid, to conciliate nobody, when I first came to this House, when the first Suffrage Bills were introduced. Those Bills one after another failed, because we failed to arrive at a compromise which could secure the support of the majority of this House; 1840 and I think that the compromise now suggested is the only possible one which would secure that all those Members who are pledged to woman suffrage, or are in favour of it in one form or another, can unite upon it. Now, I have always been impressed by one argument, and one argument alone, of the anti-suffragist party. That is that, in the special circumstances of the country, adult suffrage would give a larger electorate of women than of men, and I do think that we have to consider it as a very weighty argument, and it has always been, in my mind, an overwhelming argument against adult suffrage. It may be illogical, but there are many things in our constitution which are illogical, and I think that one of the reasons why the English are among the people best adapted for self-government is that we are not inclined to go to the extreme lengths of reason, but are ready to agree to some compromise or working arrangement that suits the particular conditions of the country. And, having regard to the particular conditions of the country, and having regard to the part of women in our civilisation, I believe that no more suitable compromise and no more practical working method of enfranchising women could be proposed than by limiting the age of voting to those over thirty, and for that reason, and because I believe that it is a barrier against adult suffrage, which in the circumstances of the country would be a great danger, I shall vote against the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
My right hon. Friend expressed surprise that out of the fifty-five Members who voted yesterday all who have spoken have spoken in favour of the Amendment. As one of the fifty-five I may point out that we were actuated first by principle and second by common sense. We thought that it was wrong to give the vote to women, and we still say so. The question which was raised, and was raised by myself, was not a question as to whether the age of thirty or any other age should come in, but whether or not women were entitled to have the vote. I still hold that view, but the Committee has decided otherwise. Therefore, in what position am I? The hon. Gentleman below the Gangway opposes the Amendment not because he disagrees with it, but because he is sure that it is going to come into law in a short time, but that if it comes into law just now it may lead to something else. I do not hold these views. The thing is right or wrong. If it is right we ought to support 1841 it. If it is wrong we ought to vote against it. That is the principle upon which I have always acted and upon which I am going to act. The Committee has agreed that women are not to be disqualified, by reason of sex, from having votes. Then on what earthly ground can anybody contend that they should not have votes on the same terms as men? If the hon. Member will move an Amendment that men are to have the vote at thirty years of age, I will support him. That is logic. Let men and women have the vote, if women are to have it, at the same age.
Two reasons against accepting Amendments have been given by the Government, one was that the Conference was sacred. Now we have been told by an hon. Friend of mine behind and by two hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Conference were not agreed on this point and that every member of the Conference agreed to vote on this question as he thought right. Therefore, the sacredness of the Conference disappears. The other argument was that it was necessary to settle these matters now, so that after the War we could deal with other questions, and that these old questions of franchise which had exercised different parties in this House should be done away with. Then we have the hon. Member below the Gangway who says that as soon as this matter is settled he is going to start a further agitation in order to extend the franchise to women. That looks like all "these questions being settled in order that after the War we may go to other matters. I shall certainly vote for this Amendment and shall do so for this, among other reasons, that there are thousands of women under thirty years of age who occupy houses as bonâfide tenants and whose husbands have been killed in the War, and those women will not have the vote while the wives of the conscientious objectors, men who have done no good either for their wives or themselves, are to have the vote. There is no common sense or logic in an arrangement of that sort. The only common sense or logic is that if you allow women to have a vote it should be given to them on the same terms as those on which it is given to men.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
My hon. friend the Member for Blackburn has always, even when he thought I was most profoundly wrong, looked upon me with a benevolent, even if a critical eye, and I have never found that his criticism left any sting behind it. I 1842 will not follow him into matters which are related strictly to the Debate on yesterday, but I will make a reference to one criticism which he made. He suggested that there was something illogical in my yesterday opposing the grant of woman suffrage on the ground that it would disturb the balance of physical force in the State, or disturb the machinery for calculating on which side the physical force was, and yet to-day I shall vote for a large extension to women, for bringing in a much larger number of women. He asks would not that be a much larger disturbing element? I venture to suggest that it would not. I would far rather trust the average, ordinary woman in any political matter than I would trust a selected number of women, selected on some fancy and irrational franchise. If you select the number of women who are to vote on some fancy irrational franchise, you are much more likely to turn the scale against what would be the decision of the majority of men than you would do if you called in women as a whole. In this case there is safety in numbers. On the whole, barring accidents, there is likely to be a fair amount of agreement on political questions among men and women, and if you trust the average, ordinary woman in this matter there is less chance of getting disagreement and variety.
I want now in the first place to refer to one very remarkable pronouncement which has been made on behalf of the Government. I am not sure of all that it involves. We were told by the Home Secretary that the Government had come to a decision, to-day I understand, with regard to this Clause. Yesterday they were prepared to leave the principle to the House, but now that the principle has been decided they have determined to make ii a Government matter to resist all demands to change, amend, or improve the Clause. They will adhere to the words of the Clause as they stand, because they say that will be adhering to the compromise arrived at by the Speaker's Conference. I could quite understand the Government coming to a decision to make this Clause a Government matter on its own merits. The Government are entitled not only on this, but on any Bill, to come to a decision on a question of general policy, and to say, "We adhere to this; we intend to do this and to stand or fall by it." But they are not entitled to put it on adherence to some compromise arrived at by 1843 the Speaker's Conference. There was no compromise on this matter. There was a compromise with regard to proportional representation. The question of proportional representation played a vital and an essential part in the compromise which was unanimously arrived at in the Speaker's Conference. It played a part which I regarded as essential, and which induced me to consent to some other things which were embodied in the Bill. Has the Government stood by that? It has turned its back upon it. It has left it to the unfettered decision of the House. But here we come to a proposal which is not the subject of any compromise in the Speaker's Conference between the opponents and advocates of women's suffrage. If there was any compromise at all, it was between the various sections of the advocates of women's suffrage and not between those who were opposed and those who were advocates of it. Therefore, I protest in the strongest way against the attempt on the part of the Government to bolster up not merely the principle, but all the minute details of this Clause by reference to some alleged compromise arrived at by the Speaker's Conference. I hope to show, before I have finished, that so far from this being part of the compromise of the Speaker's Conference, it is really a deliberate attempt to defeat the compromise which was arrived at in the Conference, arid is so intended to be.
My hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) speaks on this Amendment as a good man in difficulties. His heart is with the Amendment. It expresses the policy of which he is in favour. He has told us that he has always been an advocae of adult suffrage and is so still. Why does he oppose it now? He has to search far for a reason. His reason is associated with my Noble Friend opposite. He looks down the list of some dozen or two dozen Amendments further down and he sees another Amendment in the name of my Noble Friend. He is opposed to that other Amendment, honestly opposed to it, and then he says, "Because my Noble Friend has an Amendment down to which I am opposed, I cannot vote with him in an Amendment with which I am in agreement."
The Noble Lord has supported here an Amendment which, as it stands on the Paper, is an adult suffrage-Amendment. It removes entirely the restrictions with regard to the age of women, and as it stands gives the vote to every woman reaching the age of twenty-one. That is an adult suffrage Amendment. The Noble Lord at a later stage proposes another Amendment quite distinct and different, which strikes out the married women—a perfectly distinct and different principle to that which we are now discussing, although the Noble Lord may put them together in his mind. Therefore, I suggest that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras is giving a very weak and a very poor reason for opposing this Amendment, with which he is in agreement, when he says that his reason is that the Noble Lord has later on an Amendment with which he is in disagreement. Why did he not apply that yesterday? Yesterday he voted in the same Lobby with the Noble Lord. Why did he not say, "Oh, the Noble Lord is-against the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, therefore I refuse to vote with him in the same Lobby to-night, although I happen to agree with him"?
My hon. Friend had to search far for reasons when he was forced to adopt that attitude. We shall presently have a strange spectacle. We will have the advocates of women suffrage, the Members who profess to reprobate the attitude towards women of those who are opposed to women suffrage, because it involved disrespect to women and because it involved disrespect to the value of the work done by women, because it involved a belief in the intellectual and the moral inferiority of women, because it involved a belief that women were less capable than men of forming a political judgment —we will have the advocates of women, suffrage who attributed these views to the opponents of women suffrage all flocking into the Lobby to assert those views. Women, they will say, are intellectually and morally equal to men. They are as capable of political judgment as men, but yet they cannot be trusted to exercise it until they are thirty years of age. I think this shows clearly that the women suffrage organisations have been right all through their agitation when they have directed their chief criticism and energy not to the opponents of women's suffrage, but to the pretended friends of women suffrage. In all the opposition which I 1845 have given in the past to the principle of women's suffrage I have never received anything but courtesy and fair treatment from the women's suffrage organisations. They have never hampered or harassed me in my meetings. They recognised I was advocating a view which I sincerely held and that I voted straight. The whole of their anger and criticism was directed against the pretended friends, the friends who would not support them in the Lobby, the friends who, when they did give a vote, were influenced not by principle, not by conviction, but by fear of the consequences—the men who were terrorised into the Lobby, who are now going into the Lobby to assert that women are unfit to vote, cannot be trusted to vote, dare not be allowed to vote until they are thirty years of age, whereas every man can be trusted to vote at the age of twenty-one.
There is another reason why I support this Amendment. We have heard a great deal of the part which women are playing in industry—a very great part before the War, a still greater part during the War. We are told that the vote will be a protection to them, will enable them to secure political protection for their interests in industrial matters, and yet the vote is denied practically to the whole of these women who are engaged in these industries. It is only given to the women who have a different interest altogether, who as married women may be supposed to have the same industrial interests as their husbands, and therefore if the scale were loaded against the industrial women in the past, when we had only the men voting, it will be doubly loaded against them when we call in this additional proportion of women over thirty whose interests are not identical with those of the women engaged in industry. I suggest that what we are doing now is more likely to imperil the interests of women who are engaged in industry than would the Bill if it had left out women's suffrage altogether.
My last reason for this Amendment is that this limitation of age to thirty which is embodied in the Bill is designed for the purpose of neutralising and defeating the democratic proposals contained in the other parts of the Bill. In regard to men, we have secured a great democratic advance—we have secured a suffrage which is based upon the principle of residence. That suffrage was obtained at the Speaker's Conference as part of an agreed compromise. This proposed introduction of the woman's 1846 vote with an age limit of thirty is an effort to defeat the compromise arrived at. For proof of that I need only go to the speech of the Minister of Blockade delivered last evening, and which was very frank, as his speeches always are frank. It was a speech which illustrates clearly that the purpose of this age limit is to defeat and destroy the democratic tendencies of the vote which has already, under another part of the Bill, been given to men. He said:Do any of them doubt that a franchise which was extended to men of thirty and upwards would he, in the best sense of the word, a conservative franchise? Does lie not agree that to give the vote to the men who have some experience of life, who have made their homes, who have, in the old phrase, a stake in the country, is really a most conservative form of franchise? For myself, being, as I. hope I am, a genuine Conservative, a genuine believer that rapid and violent change is dangerous—also a genuine believer that resistance to all change is perhaps even more dangerous —holding that position, which I take to be the Conservative position, I do think that this Bill, which is a compromise Bill, would be very one-sided indeed and would list heavily on the Radical side if you struck out this provision for extending the vote to women over thirty."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, col. 1737, Vol. XCIV.]You have given residential suffrage as the result of a compromise which includes a large number of plural voters. Yet the Noble Lord says that this compromise lists so heavily to one side that in order to defeat it and to defeat the purpose of the franchise given to men he introduces and insists upon this age limit to the votes to women when they obtain the suffrage. I see that the Home Secretary has now returned and I would ask his attention to this special point. He said that the Government were going to insist and stand by the Clause as it stood because it was part of the compromise arrived at by the Speaker's Conference. I pointed out that it was not part of the compromise and that the only compromise was contained in the agreed Resolutions.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I did not say it was part of the compromise arrived at by the Speaker's Conference. I said that a majority at the Speaker's Conference had agreed to recommend a certain provision for woman suffrage and because it was only accepted by a majority the Government decided it would leave to the House the question or not whether that recommendation of the majority should be adopted. We did not agree to leave it to the House the question whether some totally different reform should be adopted. We agreed to ask the House whether they 1847 wished that recommendation of the majority to become part of the law of the land.
I understand that the Government are taking up the contentious and controversial proposal which was adopted by a majority of the Speaker's Conference and are standing by that and are making it a question of confidence in the Government, not on its own merits but because it was passed by a majority of the Speaker's Conference. I object altogether to the dragging in of the Speaker's Conference which is most unfair and bears no relation to the facts. I was pointing out that this, so far from forming a part of the compromise arrived at, was really intended to defeat the purpose of the Conference. This proposal is avowedly an attempt to defeat and destroy the compromise which was arrived at by a majority of the Speaker's Conference, and in justification of that I quoted from the speech of the Minister of Blockade in which he stated that the unanimous Resolutions of the Speaker's Conference listed heavily to the Radical side that he must insist on redressing the balance by having in this controversial and contentious proposal about the age limit to women. So that the Government in adhering to this policy have declared their adherence to a proposal which is intended to defeat and to destroy the objects secured at a compromise arrived at unanimously by the Speaker's Conference. I put that to the right hon. Gentleman and press that view upon him. My hon. Friend is an adult suffragist. He is a believer in democracy, but in order to secure for the purpose of this Clause the support of people who differ from him in toto and whose aims are perfectly distinct and divergent from his own, he is willing to sacrific democracy. He weaves a democratic web by day but by night he unravels it and destroys the work that he has done. I think this shows that the democratic principles which he holds are not based upon any scheme of politics or of public life or of public conduct, but are based on mere temporary expediency.
§ Sir CHARLES HOBHOUSE
The Home Secretary in a speech a little time ago, with some little heat as we think, told us if this proposal was defeated he would himself withdraw from the conduct of the Bill and, as I understood, withdraw the 1848 Bill altogether from the cognisance of the House. I think I am not misrepresenting what he told us.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would withdraw, and I suppose he meant he would resign his office and perhaps the Bill and the Government would disappear. I confess I am profoundly unmoved by that threat for a reason which I will give later. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman this very simple question. He has told us that the Government take up this attitude because the Speaker's Conference recommended a particular course with regard to woman suffrage and in addition recommended two particular ages which the House or the Government might choose as being the limits below which the suffrage was not to be granted to women. I beg the Committee to notice this: Upon the important question of whether women were to receive the suffrage or not the Government tell the House they are to be at perfect liberty to vote as they please, but upon the lesser question the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues develop a tenderness towards the Speaker's Conference which they have not hitherto shown. On the main question of giving the suffrage we are at liberty to vote as we please, but when it comes to the vital question of whether or not the vote shall be given to a person of thirty or thirty-five or below thirty, we are to be in chains, which we cannot break except at the price of dissolving the whole tie. What is the logic of that argument? The weakness of it is extraordinarily visible. What is the logic of it and what is the meaning of it? When I turn to the Bill itself I find on the back of the Bill the names of a number of Gentlemen, of right hon. Gentlemen, who, I think, with one exception, were all convinced adherents of woman suffrage before this question was introduced. The name of the other right hon. Gentleman—that is the exception—is of one who has pronounced himself a convert upon the ground that the War has made a difference to his attitude—that is to say, his attitude as far as the vote is concerned, although on principle his conviction remains still entirely against the grant of woman suffrage. I think that fact explains the whole of the agitation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite at 1849 the idea of the House reversing the judgment which the Government have come to as to the age at which women are to be enfranchised.
The right hon. Gentleman challenged us who opposed the grant of woman suffrage last night to say why, when we opposed the grant of any suffrage to any woman, we should now be in favour of granting the suffrage to all women and to make no distinction as between women of one age and women of another? I will tell him why, and let me add in this connection that I have been not a little moved by the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman accepted the other day from the right hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson), which added to the number of women voters by enabling persons who resided in unfurnished chambers or rooms to become additional voters. So far as my Constituents are concerned, who are entirely industrial, and amongst whom there is no wealth whatever as you count wealth, either here or elsewhere, such a decision as that will enable, the addition of quite a large number of what I called then and still call people of the middle class, but which will not enable the bulk of my Constituents, who are the wives and daughters of men working in the factories and who work in the factories themselves, to put a single woman extra on the register. I am confronted with the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, who has always been a modified suffragist,—modified in the sense that he is excluding the greater number of industrial women from the franchise—has added by his action a considerable number of the middle class. How am I to go to my constituents and say I think there ought to be a distinction drawn between women of one age and women of another which is not drawn between man and man? I am quite prepared to go to my potential or future constituents and say I have been opposed to the grant of the suffrage to any women, but I am not prepared to go down and say that the older and the better off ought to have the vote while the younger, and those actually engaged in industrial life, and who are poor, ought not to have the vote. I am not prepared to say that either to men or to women. Therefore, I hold myself entirely free to vote for this Amendment upon the grounds which I have stated to the House There is only one other thing I should like to say. I see 1850 the hon. Member for Blackburn in his place. He was rather inclined to twit us with the fact that supporters of this Amendment were a strange lot in this House. Well what about the supporters of the view of the hon. Member himself? The moment this Bill is passed he proposes to go down to Blackburn, or elsewhere, and to agitate for the extension of this franchise.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The right hon. Gentleman said just now that I had stated that the moment this Bill was passed I should go down to my Constituency and support an agitation for adult suffrage. I say that no language I used or any words to which I gave utterance could possibly convey that impression.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I am sorry if I said: the hon. Gentleman was going down "at once"—and to Blackburn. Perhaps I misunderstood; but I do not think I was mistaken in assuming that the hon. Member meant to say he was not going to stop here, but was going to get the thing extended as soon as possible.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
Then it is a mere distinction of words. What about the hon. Member who is going to agitate for an extension of the suffrage at once, as soon as he can and of the other hon. Member who said that, of all things in the world, it would be the most abominable to see the extension of the suffrage to anyone else but those covered by this Bill? Are these not rather strange companions in the Lobby? Again, there is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool who does not believe in the thing at all, but who is going to vote for it, and did vote for it last night. He, too, will be a strange companion for my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, who is so ready to find fault with hon. Members here who do not agree with his actions, and who disagree with his arguments! No, Sir, we have stated our position in this matter quite plainly. We 1851 have said that we were against the grant of the suffrage to any woman. Once, how-ever, the House has decided—and it so decided last night by an overwhelming majority—and I see the newspapers say this morning, "with the assent of the country," though I think it would be better to say with the "knowledge" of the country, and not with the "assent," we accept that decision. The House has decided. As long as the House is in existence, if this Bill becomes law, we are prepared to accept it. But we accept the action of the House of Commons last night with this reservation, that there shall be no distinction as between woman and woman which is not between man and man. I claim that in this attitude we are acting with perfect logic and are in a perfectly honourable position.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
The right hon. "Gentleman who has just sat down said, in reference to the attitude of the Government on this Amendment, that he could not see its logic, and its weakness was very apparent. I must say that my view is exactly the contrary. I could not see the logic of the right hon. Gentleman, and I thought the weakness of his attack was apparent. His complaint of the attitude of the Government is that, having acknowledged that the House should have perfect freedom of voting on the question of the suffrage for women, it should not be accorded the same freedom hi regard to the age at which that vote should be enjoyed by the women. I would like to suggest to the Committee what appears to me to be an exactly parallel case. I refer to the question of proportional representation. That also, I believe, was left an open question with the House. I understand that experts in proportional representation can give some 300 examples of the different methods by which that principle can be used in actual electioneering. Does the right lion. Gentleman suggest that if the House had accepted the principle of proportional representation, which was left open, that it would have been necessary for the Government to have allowed any one, or any number, of those 300 different methods to be incorporated in the Bill?
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
My answer is: Supposing the Speaker's Conference had, out of the 300 types of voting, selected and recommended one or two, the House of Commons ought to have been left free 1852 to say which of those two methods should be chosen, as it was left free to accept or reject the principle of proportional representation. Then the parallel would be complete.
§ Mr. McNEILL
If that is the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, it is entirely against his own position. But I am quite willing to accept him upon that. The recommendations of the Speaker's Conference did confine the operations of the suffrage to women between thirty and thirty-five. The Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman is now so strangely supporting is to depart from those two alternatives offered by the Speaker's Conference, and to adopt a totally different one which was not even suggested by the Speaker's Conference. Therefore, my parallel was really complete. What he suggests—to go back to my parallel—is that the Government ought not now to allow the House to introduce any one of the 300 methods by which proportional representation can be given effect to in actual practice. It seems to me perfectly reasonable that the Government should, on the question as to whether women shall or shall not have votes—which has been a very large matter of controversy in the country and in the House—say: ''We will not put on the Government whips, but we will leave the House to decide whether women shall or shall not have votes," and that they should go on to say: "Now that the House by an overwhelming majority has said that women shall have votes, we cannot be made responsible for carrying the Bill forward with any wild-cat scheme that any Member may suggest or desire to introduce for giving effect to that principle." Therefore, it appears to me that the attitude of the Government, so far as that is concerned, is perfectly consistent, perfectly logical, and perfectly reasonable.
It seems to me a very extraordinary circumstance that with the single exception of, I believe, the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, who supported this Amendment as avowedly coupled with another Amendment lower down on the Paper—and therefore standing in a different position—with, I say, that exception, all the supporters of this Amendment are hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who, up till last night—and, I suppose, still—were absolutely opposed to giving women votes. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgton Division 1853 of Glasgow made a speech just now in which he said that the Committee would very soon be confronted with the strange spectacle of a number of the supporters of women's suffrage going into the Lobby against this Amendment. But the hon. Member did not call attention to the much stranger spectacle of himself, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, and others, who have spoken against women's suffrage and who have done all they can to defeat it, going into the Lobby now enormously to increase its operation. I have always understood the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman to be that the introduction of the female vote into our constitutional machinery constituted, or would constitute, a weakness to the State. He thinks it would be dangerous to our Constitution. It is on that account that he vetoed it. Yet the right hon. Gentleman, now that the House has decided that some women are to have votes, wants enormously to increase the dose of poison! He says, if you are going to have a drop of poison, you might as well have a bucketful! I cannot help suspecting that the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman, and many of those with whom he is acting, is governed much more as to the ultimate effect on this question, if they succeeded in carrying this Amendment, than a real bonâ fide desire to see the number of women electors very largely increased in the country.
We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman that he would have a difficulty in going down to his own constituency and explaining to these women voters who under the Bill will be excluded why they were excluded and the others included. That is a very frank declaration. It is a declaration which we had put beside the equally frank declaration of the position of the Attorney-General last night. It is a frankly personal electioneering standpoint which any hon. or right hon. Gentleman is entitled to entertain. But it does not seem to me to be quite consistent—I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman has taken it up— with the view often, at all events, expressed by opponents of women's suffrage that in point of fact the large majority of the women of the country are against it. There was some speaker yesterday, perhaps it was the hon. Member for Watford, who said that he did not believe that one woman in five in the country really desired to have the vote. If that is the case an East Bristol—I do not know whether it 1854 is—the right hon. Gentleman would be in a much stronger position if he went down there and claimed the support of the electors on the ground that he had tried to save them from the disaster of coining into this Bill. He would be able to appeal to that large majority of women in Bristol who never wanted to have the vote, and who wanted to escape from it, and he would only have a small minority of the suffragists voting against him and for some other gentleman who is in favour of women suffrage. He would have the solid support of the bulk of the women voters in his constituency, and all there who had been opposed to this measure. Consequently I really do not think he need have quite so openly disclosed that position; he might have assumed a more disinterested and more statesmanlike attitude.
So far as this Amendment is concerned I think the attitude of those of us who are in favour of women's suffrage is a very simple and a very reasonable one. We have to have regard not merely to the principle of "votes for women," which has now been accepted, as we all know, but we have to have regard to the practical possibility, in a Parliamentary sense, of carrying this Bill, as a whole, on to the Statute Book. I myself am quite persuaded from all that I have heard, both as regards the genesis of this Bill and of this proposal, that we are much more likely to get a measure of women's suffrage by sticking to the Bill as it is than by bringing in these Amendments, which are obviously supported, and almost exclusively supported, by those whose hostility to women's suffrage has never been concealed.
§ Mr. THEODORE TAYLOR
There is one argument which has not been dealt with to-day, but was brought forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University, and which I think deserves an answer. He said that we must have some conservative assurance against the likelihood that this great step forward —it is right to make it quite clear that he did not mean the word "conservative" from a party standpoint—that we ought to have some conservative security against a great revolutionary movement that might follow the introduction of so many new voters. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir J. Simon) was speaking he was challenged by the Secretary for India as to the reason—or was there any reason?—for this particular 1855 division of the age at thirty. I ventured to interrupt, and to say that I thought there was a reason, and that was the wisdom and experience that comes with age. I am one of those who certainly think that there is a very valid reason in fixing the age. If there is no reason, why not fix the age at twenty-one, or at eighteen, or sixteen, or fifteen? There certainly ought to be the presumption that those who are older and who have had some experience of life are wiser. It has been said, as we know, that "there is no fool like an old fool." But unless men and women are a little wiser at thirty than they were at twenty-one they have lived for very little purpose. That applies until, of course, we begin to become childish again. I think that the provision drawing the line at thirty is not a mere abstract idea. There is some sense, some wisdom, between one person voting and another, in drawing the line at age than by any other method that can be conceived. At all events, I have not heard any proposal to substitute any other method of lessening the number of voters to be admitted under this new franchise.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Bridgeton Division twitted those of us— and I am one—who have been lifelong supporters of women's suffrage for having been blamed by the women in times past for not being sufficiently energetic and genuine in support of their cause. There are a good many against whom that allegation has never been made, because there has never been the slightest grounds for it; but as regards the men against whom that allegation has been made—not always truly—it is a very curious thing that now all the women's organisations for women's suffrage are united in asking us to take this partial measure—illogical, we admit, but practical we assert—for securing a measure of women's suffrage, and I for one am not ashamed to admit that although I was prepared to vote for a lower age than thirty, and would have been willing to vote for twenty-five, there is nothing un-English, nothing foolish, and certainly nothing revolutionary in going a step at a time. May I remind my hon. Friends who are afraid of something revolutionary—and I admit it is a great step forward, revolutionary in one respect—that the working men who got the vote in towns in 1867 did not immediately get the vote for their fellows in counties until eighteen or nineteen years 1856 afterwards? And we have got so many questions to go into after the War that I venture to say there will be no immediate move for further admission. Further, I think it is generally admitted that women by nature are more conservative than men, and it is not at all contrary to human nature, when the women over" thirty years of age get the vote, if they are not very ready to admit their sisters who are under thirty years of age.
The Noble Lord said, among other things, that there is no glimmering of common sense in this age limit. I think there is great common sense in it. I cannot imagine any distinction between one class of men and another class of men, or between one class of women and another class of women, that more tends in a conservative direction than the distinction of age. I noticed the Noble Lord also said that marriage had nothing to do with it. Of course that is not at all germane to the present Amendment, but it is all mixed up with it. I think that marriage is a very good school of experience for women. It. has often been said in this House that working women who have to do a great deal with a small amount of money are chancellors of the exchequer in themselves. I do not know a class of possible voters better equipped for taking practical views of expenditure than the working women of the country. While excluding propertied classes under thirty you would exclude also, I think, those who have the least responsibility with the most money, and I do not know that is the class we want altogether to be voting. We want those with a sense of responsibility, and although, of course, having a house of your own gives a sense of responsibility, yet I think those who have been for some years housekeepers and householders, who have had more experience of life, and, as a rule, greater responsibilities, are more likely to make conservative voters. As to nurses and young ladies of that sort, who have been doing very useful work during the War, I am sure for the most part they will be content until they are married, or over-thirty years of age. But my one point is this: I beg the Committee to consider that, although this is a great step forward, it is made on the most conservative lines.
§ Mr. PETO
May I ask the Committee to allow me to make one brief statement with regard to what the Home Secretary said as to the result of the Amendment which I have put on the Paper? The Home Secretary said that if this Amendment were 1857 carried it would make the Government reconsider their whole position with regard to the carrying on of the Bill. I think it is right I should say that, as a member of the Conference, before I put any Amendment on the Paper on this Clause, I consulted Mr. Speaker, not as Speaker but as chairman of the Conference, whether I, as a member of that Conference, had complete liberty to put Amendments on the Paper with regard to Clause 4, and take any course on the women's question which was not agreed to unanimously, in order to try to carry the views I put before the Conference. I was told by Mr. Speaker that I was completely at liberty to do so, and therefore I wish to explain that, so far from having any intention to wreck the Bill by putting Amendments on the Paper, I see with pleasure that the very first Amendment I have on the Paper on Clause 5 has now the Home Secretary's name above mine, and I have put down no other Amendments except such as are calculated to make the Bill agree with the Speaker's Conference. Therefore, I do regret the attitude taken by the Home Secretary with regard to what I was given clearly to understand was a perfectly open, question for the House to decide, and I considered I was
§ doing nothing dishonourable or out of order in putting down Amendments which I had Mr. Speaker's own consent to do.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I did not make any personal attack on my hon. Friend in this matter. I did not suggest for a moment he was not quite free as a member of the Conference to move these Amendments. I only called the attention of the House, as I was bound to do, to the nature of the promise given on the introduction of the Bill. Might I just read what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies said in introducing the Bill?With regard to the enfranchisement of women and proportional representation, the Government feel, as has already been announced by the Prime Minister, that these two questions are in a somewhat different category, and the Government propose to leave them to be decided by the House on the clear understanding that they are to be considered by the House and rejected or adopted as recommended by the Speaker's Conference."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, l5th May 1917, col.1494, Vol. XCIII]I made no attack whatever on my hon. Friend.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'thirty,' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 25.1859
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Bridgeman, William Clive||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Bryce, J. Annan||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling||Bull, Sir William James||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Devlin, Joseph|
|Amery, Captain L. C. M. S.||Burns Rt. Hon. John||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.|
|Anderson, W. C.||Butcher, John George||Dillon, John|
|Archdale, Lieut. E. M.||Buxton, Noel||Doris, William|
|Arnold, Sydney||Carew, C.||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Duffy, William J.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. Douglas G.||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Cator, John||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||French, Peter|
|Barran, Sir R. (Leeds, N.)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert(Herts, Hitchin)||Field, William|
|Barrie, H. T.||Chancellor, Henry George||Finney, Samuel|
|Barton, Sir William||Churchill. Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Clough, William||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W Hayes (Fulham)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Coote, William||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Bentham, G. J.||Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Gilbert, J. D.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Courthope, George Loyd||Ginnell, Laurence|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Goddard, Rt. Hen. Sir Daniel Ford|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred|
|Bliss, Joseph||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Boland, John Plus||Croft, Brig.-General Henry Page||Gretton, John|
|Boles, Lieut-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Crumley, Patrick||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Currie, George W.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Boyton, James||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Hackett, John|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Davies, Ellis William (Elflon),||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hancock, J. G.|
|Hanson, Charles Augustin||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby).|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Samuels, Arthur W,|
|Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth||Scanian, Thomas|
|Harvey, T E. (Leeds, West)||Millar, James Duncan||Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.|
|Haslam, Lewis||Molloy, Michael||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Alisebrook|
|Hendry, Denis S.||Morrell, Philip||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clltheroe)|
|Hewart, Sir Gordon||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Muldoon, John||Snowden, Philip|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney||Newman, John R. P.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Horne, Edgar||Nolan, Joseph||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Norman, Sir Henry||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Norton-Griffiths, Sir John||Sutton, John E.|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Sykes, Col. Sir Alan John (Knutsford)|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Nuttall, Harry||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jackson, Sir John (Devonport)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||O'Dowd, John||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jessel, Col. Sir Herbert M.||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. H. (Antrim, Mid)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Tickler, T. G.|
|Johnson, W.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Tootill, Robert|
|Johnston, Sir Christopher||Parker, James (Halifax)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Parkes, Sir Edward E.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Parrott, Sir James Edward||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Joyce, Michael||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wardle, George|
|King, Joseph||Phillips, Maj.-Gen. Sir I. (South'pton)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Phillips, Capt. Sir Owen (Chester)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Pratt, J. W.||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Locker-Lampson. G. (Salisbury)||Pretyman, Right Hon. Ernest George||Watson, John Bertrand (Stockton)|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brown lee||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lough, Rt. Hon Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.||White, J- Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Radford, Sir George Heynes||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Lundon, Thomas||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Randies, Sir John S.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|MacCaw, Wim. J. MacGeagh||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk.B'ghs)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|MacGhee, Richard||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|M'Kean, John||Reid. Rt. Hon. Sir George N.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wilson, W, T. (Westhoughton)|
|Macleod, John Mackintosh||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Macmaster, Donald||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.||Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Robinson, Sidney||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Maden, Sir John Henry||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Rothschild, Lionel de||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Malcolm, Ian||Rowlands, James|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Rowntree, Arnold||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Manfield, Harry||Russell. Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W.||Beck and Mr. J. Hope|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Hunt, Major Rowland||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas-, Bridgeton)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Lynch, A. A.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Cralk, Sir Henry||Meysey-Thompson, Colonel E. C.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fell, Arthur||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Fleming, Sir John||Molteno, Percy Alport||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Peto and Sir J. Larmor,|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "and" ["and is entitled"], to insert the words "(b) is not subject to any legal incapacity, and."
This will put the Clause on the same lines as the previous Clauses, and I under- 1860 stand that the Government are willing to accept my proposal.
§ Amendment agreed to.1861
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "is entitled to be registered as a local government elector in respect of land or premises in that constituency, or is the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered,'' and to insert instead thereof the words "has the qualification which is required for a man under Section one."
Shortly, the effect of this Amendment is that every woman above the age of thirty would be entitled to be registered if she had the Parliamentary qualification which a man is required to have under Section 1 of this Bill. The Bill as it stands only gives the right to a Parliamentary vote if the woman has the local government qualification. The effect of my Amendment would be that she would have the vote if she had the same qualifications as a man under Section 1 of this Bill. The effect of my proposals would be to increase slightly the number of female voters, but certainly to reduce the number of female votes. I will explain what I mean. As the Bill stands now a woman is required to have the local government qualification, and that qualification excludes a very large number of women who normally would be entitled to a vote, and, on the other hand, it allows a very large number of women to have votes who would not have them if they were men. For instance, as the Bill was originally drawn the local government qualification was a very restricted one, and excluded lodgers of any kind. The Government, however, accepted an Amendment to Clause 3 which altered its character very materially by including anybody who was an occupier of unfurnished rooms, and that very largely extended the operation of Clause 3. That Clause undoubtedly will very largely lead to the creation of what is sometimes called faggot votes—that is, people who are anxious to obtain votes in a particular borough would share the same room, and they could in this way create ten or twelve votes in a borough in which they do not reside. That cannot be a desirable state of things, and I want to know from the Government why it is that they have inserted here a qualification for women other than the qualification given to men. The reason which has been given is that the Government do not wish to extend the number of women electors, but I cannot understand why they insist upon the local government franchise instead of the ordinary residen- 1862 tial qualification under Clause 1. I cannot see the reason for this, and I think we ought to make the Parliamentary qualification the same for both men and women subject to the limitations we have already passed.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir G. CAVE
It is impossible to accept this Amendment. The effect of it would be to give the franchise to all women over thirty who have been resident for the qualifying period, or who have been in occupation of business premises. The Government have estimated that we are enfranchising some six million women, but if this Amendment were accepted we should be enfranchising ten million. That would make; a very serious change in the Bill, and I think Parliament ought to maintain this Clause in the form in which we were prepared to leave it to the judgment of the House. It was left to the judgment of the House on the condition that it was retained in the shape which a majority of the Speaker's Conference approved, and, if this Amendment were carried, it would be a very serious interference with the compromise agreed on by the majority of the Speaker's Conference. I could not possibly accept it.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not quite answered my point. The undertaking was given in respect of the Bill as printed, but Clause 3 has been altered. The words, "not as a lodger" were distinctly in the Bill as printed, and they were struck out subject to an Amendment saying that it should apply only to unfurnished rooms. That unquestionably, very largely alters the voting power under Clause 3. If those words had remained in a certain number of people occupying unfurnished rooms would have been excluded. Now they are not excluded. I do not know where the right hon. Gentleman has got his figures. Certainly no vote of mine would be given for the extension of the franchise to women. If the Bill passes as it is, the creation of votes will be very largely augmented. A person living outside of any particular borough and occupying a bit of land, however small, in an adjoining constituency will get a vote for the county, but if residence were made the essential qualification it would prevent the creation of these large numbers of votes of people who occupy land in an adjoining constituency or place. I press very strongly upon the Government, if they cannot deal 1863 with it now, to consider this matter which I am putting forward perfectly honestly, because it would be far more logical and fairer and much less likely of abuse than the Bill in its present form.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I desire to support this Amendment. We are now dealing with the second of the restrictions upon women's suffrage. I objected to the first of them, the age limit, on the ground, as stated by the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) last night, that it was intended to be a check upon the very broad and democratic franchise which was extended to men. I object to the second restriction very much more strongly, because it is a check in a much more dangerous direction. The age limit, whatever else it might be, was not a class check. It did not operate in the interests of one class more than another. It cut across ail classes equally. This check which is involved in giving the women the vote not on a residential basis as in the case of men, but on the occupation basis of the local government franchise, is a much more dangerous check, because, in so far as it acts as a check, it acts in the interests of one class, the property-owning class or the wealthier class, as against the interests of the working class. I know perfectly well that the occupation franchise contained in the local government section is a very broad one. There is no £10 limit, and everybody who occupies any premises, whatever may be their value, will be entitled to get the vote. I want to give one or two illustrations from which it will be clear that the operation of this restriction will be to increase plural voting. We will take the case of a man who is in business with his wife. They are partners together, or, whether they are partners or not, her name is inserted in the tenancy agreement for the purpose of getting her the vote. They may have some small hut at a railway station for the purpose of conducting a coal business or some other very small premises under £10 per year in value. The man is denied the business vote for Parliamentary purposes. He says, "Now is my chance for getting a third plural vote for my wife. All I have to do is to have her name inserted in the tenancy agreement, because, although I cannot get it on account of the fact that the premises are less than £10 value, she comes on the local government register and can claim a Parliamentary vote for the premises."
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Is not the point now brought forward by my hon. Friend the same as the Home Secretary yesterday promised to deal with on Report? My Amendment is intended to prevent a woman getting a vote in respect of a qualification which does not entitle the husband to the vote.
It is a point which rises directly out of the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. and learned Friend. I will leave that objection, which is a very real objection, because I understand it is going to be met subsequently. The working man has only one residence, and therefore has only one vote. The wealthy man has a number of residences scattered all over the country. He also is supposed only to get one vote, but, owing to the fact that the women's vote is now based on the local government register, he will be able to get votes for his wife and for all of his daughters by having one of their names inserted in each of the agreements of tenancy of all his houses, wherever they may happen to be. He may have as many votes as he has daughters. The basing of the women's vote on the local government franchise, or on an occupation qualification, instead of on a residential qualification, operates in one direction— namely, to increase the amount of plural voting and to weigh the scales relatively on the side of one class rather than another. The tendency of the Bill in this direction is wholly reactionary. It is intended to defeat and to destroy the compromise which was arrived at in the other part of the Bill. It is intended to annul and neutralise the democratic franchise which was given to men, and on that ground I offer it my strongest opposition, and shall vote for giving the women the Parliamentary franchise on the same residential basis as it is given to men.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I am not able to agree with my hon. and learned Friend in support of this Amendment. The important circumstance is that by giving the vote to women who now have the local government vote you are building on the foundations of experience. You are beginning by giving the suffrage in Parliamentary matters to those women, or nearly the 1865 same class of women, who have already exercised it in municipal matters, and if you give it on the basis of the Parliamentary qualification for men you lose that advantage. In my view that would be an unsound way of proceeding. I would rather start on the simple principle of giving the Parliamentary vote to those who already have the municipal vote. That is the true path of conservative reform. At the same time, I cannot help protesting against the Home Secretary's reference to the Speaker's Conference. Really, after the last Debate, in which three members of the Conference in tones of indignation repudiated their consent to this part of the arrangement, and said that they never meant anything of the kind and would never be parties to it— I quite agree that the Conservative Members appear to have been either morally or physically asleep during a good part of its deliberations—it is not proper to use it as an argument in favour of the proposal in the Bill. Nevertheless, on that undefended ground, I am not able to vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
May I point out to my Noble Friend that my argument was that the local government franchise has been drastically altered by this Bill; so much so that it is no longer a safe basis for such a controversial matter as the Parliamentary franchise. I, therefore, claim his support on that ground.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. BOYTON
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "of" ["in respect of land or premises"], to insert the words "the occupation of."
I want to make it quite clear that the qualification is the occupation of land or premises. I think it is an omission from the Sub-section.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I think that in any case a woman can only be registered in respect of occupation, but this Amendment does make the meaning of the Clause quite clear, and I am, therefore, willing to accept it.
§ Amendment agreed to.1866
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words, "land or premises," and to insert instead thereof the words "a dwelling-house or of land or premises of the yearly value of not less than ten pounds."
This Amendment is distinctly restrictive as the Bill now stands. The difficulty I am in is that I do not know how Clause 3 is going to stand after the Home Secretary has amended it as he promised he would last night. I want to make it perfectly clear that this Amendment in no way affects the dwelling-house franchise for women, but it does distinctly affect the right of a woman to have the Parliamentary franchise in respect of a qualification which does not qualify her husband. I do not believe that even my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) will suggest that that should not be done. If the Home Secretary is going to make that alteration and insert some financial qualification in regard to the occupation of land in order to prevent faggot voting which might occur through the subdividing of the occupation of an allotment, which it is desirable to avoid, I am quite prepared to withdraw my Amendment. The great point is that we should not allow a woman to be enfranchised by any qualification which does not qualify the husband. If the Home Secretary prefers it, I will withdraw the Amendment, till after we see his Amendment to Clause 3.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I should not like to commit myself to any particular alteration of Clause 3, but I did promise in Debate the other day that I would consider Clause 3 before the Report stage in regard to the point which the hon. Baronet (Sir G. Younger) and other hon. Members raised. Of course, I adhere to that promise. That being so, it will be inconvenient to deal with the matter by Amendment now. Obviously, it would be better, if we want to make a change, to put it in the proper Clause and to leave this Clause to operate by reference to Clause 3.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Do I really understand that it does not prejudice me from bringing the matter up again on the Report stage if the right hon. Gentleman fails to meet my wishes?
§ Lord H. CECIL
I think it would be better to insert the words here, because afterwards the Government will have the opportunity of striking them out or putting in more appropriate words. If the Govern- 1867 ment agree in principle to the Amendment, as I understand to be the case, it would be better to put the words in now, and, if the words are not appropriate for the purpose, they can put in better words on the Report stage. If we do not put the words in now, the result may be ultimately disappointing to my hon. Friend (Sir G. Younger). Governments sometimes disappoint those whom they are anxious to meet. It may turn out, after all, if no words are put in here, that in the result the hon. Baronet will not get on the Report stage what he hopes to get. It is far safer from his point of view to put in the words now and leave the Government to strike them out on the Report stage. That would give my hon. Friend the important advantage of possession, which we know is nine points. I hope, therefore, the Amendment will be accepted now. The absurdity of a woman having a franchise on a lower level than the husband should be avoided. This is quite a chance to the Government to make us a concession. We have not had that pleasure very often during the progress of this Bill. They can put in these words, and we shall then have the unexpected and unusual sense of being for the time in grateful agreement with the Government.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I do not quite understand what is in the mind of the Home Secretary, but I am quite prepared to leave the matter to be dealt with on the Report stage. This Amendment is quite impossible. It would restrict the number of women who have the Parliamentary vote far below the number of women who now have the municipal vote. They have the municipal vote without any limitation, but under this proposal no woman would be entitled to have the Parliamentary vote unless the premises she occupied were worth £10, or unless the house occupied were worth £10.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Yes, it does. The Amendment says "dwelling-house or of land," not dwelling-house and land. It does not affect the residential qualification at all.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I will not pursue the matter, except to put in a caveat against the acceptance of the Amendment at this point.
§ Mr. M. HEALY
I can quite understand the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University. (Lord H. Cecil) supporting this Amendment, because it would provide him with what he has been asking for all along. He is a warm supporter of woman suffrage, but he is only a supporter of woman suffrage on the basis of the property qualification. He thinks that this Amendment gives that qualification, and he rushes in to support it and suggest that the Home Secretary should accept it on the spot. I am sure the Home Secretary has no notion of doing anything of the kind. There is nothing in the argument that a married woman gets a qualification as a woman which her husband would not have. It is not true that the husband has a qualification as a resident—
§ Mr. HEALY
Which the woman has not at all. This Amendment would introduce the very thing which killed the Conciliation Bill. That Bill was opposed because it only enfranchised one class of voters, namely, voters who had property. This Amendment does the very same thing. I am glad to see that the Mover shakes his head and thereby conveys that he does not intend it. But that is the effect of it, and that is the reason why the Noble Lord supports it. For that reason I hope the majority of the Committee will not support it.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I agree that the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) has moved a very valuable Amendment, and that it would have the effect of restricting the franchise. The Bill is much wider, and the Amendment introduces a property qualification so far as land is concerned, and therefore goes back to the existing local government franchise rather than to the local government franchise introduced in the Bill as it is at present. I understand the hon. Baronet has had negotiations with the Home Secretary, and has made arrangement for some alteration in Clause 3 whereby he will be satisfied. I did not understand that the Home Secretary ever made a promise to him that he would in any way accept anything like this Amendment on the Report stage. Unfortunately, I could not hear exactly what occurred between them, because they sit so close to one another, but I understand from the 1869 hon. Baronet that a value qualification for land which is occupied is to be inserted. If so, I shall be glad to support it; and if such a promise has been made, I am very glad to hear it has been made. I heard all the Debate on Clause 3, and I did not understand the Home Secretary to promise anything of the kind, and from the motion of his head at the present time I gather that he did not. I should like to know definitely upon what understanding the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs is withdrawing his Amendment. If the Home Secretary has not promised to insert an Amendment providing that land which is occupied for the purpose of getting the local government vote must have a value of £10, in order to prevent the creation of faggot votes on any particular bit of allotment, it is just as well we should understand what the promise is.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
The night before last on Clause 3. The question I raised was the qualification for women and the propriety of putting a £5 qualification on a holding of land. We got rather in a tangle on the Clause. All I ask the Home Secretary is this: I am proposing to withdraw the Amendment now, because I do not myself know how Clause 3 is to stand finally. It is useless to press an Amendment of this kind until we know how we are to meet the other case made two days ago, and the promise to reconsider the drafting of Clause 3 to meet, if the Home Secretary could, some of the points raised. How he is going to meet them, I do not know. All I propose now is to withdraw the Amendment, and that we should wait until we see how Clause 3 stands.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I think the Debate might be allowed to go on for a few minutes. I understand that the Home Secretary has made no promise at all, and that the hon. Baronet is, in fact, abandoning his Amendment altogether.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Perhaps the Home Secretary will explain the position to the Committee. This is the last opportunity we have in Committee of dealing with 1870 this matter, and on the Report stage we have not the slightest chance of getting a concession out of the Government, because when we reach the Report stage they refuse anything they please and we have no power to bring to bear upon them. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs is acting injudiciously in withdrawing the Amendment, and, for my part, I shall claim to vote upon it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I have a drafting Amendment to the last line of the Sub-section. May I ask you to put the Question in such a way as to reserve to me the right to move it? If the words proposed to be struck out are struck out, I shall not have an opportunity.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment has not been handed in at the Table. If the hon. Baronet is quick, and if it is in order, I will attempt to do it.
§ Mr. PETO
An hon. Member said just now that it was a curious thing that I moved a previous Amendment which occupied a considerable time with the object of including a very large number of women, whereas the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) supported it with the object of moving a later one in his own name. I pointed out yesterday that I had these two Amendments, and that, although taken together they were limiting, I was quite prepared to move the first one on its merits, as I have already done, because I attach no value to the retention of the age of thirty years for women voters. I do not believe it will last for any time at all or be a practicable method of dealing with the question. If my present Amendment is carried it will leave the first Sub-section in this way, that the Committee, having already decided on this limitation of age, the only women who would be entitled to be put on the register are women who have attained the age of thirty years and are entitled to be registered as local government electors in respect of land or premises in the constituency. I am sorry we have imposed that limitation of age. I do not believe in it, and it will preclude a certain number of women who, I think, have a genuine grievance. But if I compare the Clause as it stands with the 1871 Clause as it would stand with my Amendment, I am still satisfied that in the vast majority of cases the Clause as amended would provide for the enfranchisement of the greater number of those women who have any real grievance in not being allowed to be voters. It has always appeared to me that the women who have to work for their own living and carve their own way in life, pay their own rates and taxes and occupy premises quite independent of any assistance from the male sex, were the most entitled, and were practically the only people who were entitled, to be placed upon the register. Then when we consider the question of granting of the franchise to women, this Clause, with my Amendment, would probably enfranchise perhaps a little less than 1,000,000 women. Without my Amendment, 6,000,000 women will be enfranchised. If we had not imposed the age limitation we should have added to the register, by enfranchising only those women who are entitled to exercise the local government franchise, about 1,500,000 women, or just about the same addition that we are making to the male register. I regard that as a moderate and reasonable reform, and particularly in this very delicate matter of the extension of the Parliamentary franchise to women, and especially considering the status and authority and age of the present House of Commons and the fact that we have not been able to get any testimony from the people as to what is their wish in the matter—that is the outside that we ought to do. I have been in favour of this ever since I came to an opinion on any of these matters—and that is quite thirty years or more—that those women who had to fend for themselves and make their own way in life by their own efforts, quite independent of any assistance, were entitled to the vote and had a real grievance. But we have not the slightest proof that there is any demand by married women for the vote. I do not believe there is any demand by the men that they should be given the vote, and, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith), the women have to work out their own salvation. In proceeding on the lines of my Amend-men we should be following the lines by which the franchise has been granted and extended, class by class, to the men. We should be introducing a reform and not a revolution, and therefore I am strongly 1872 in favour, as I was when we discussed these matters in the Conference, of extending the franchise to women who were entitled to vote and do now vote as local government electors, and that is a fair beginning and a reasonable measure of change, particularly considering all the circumstances of the time, and in accordance with the general spirit of those Resolutions which have met with so much acceptance from the Speaker s Conference.
I have heard it stated, and indeed the Home Secretary indicated it this afternoon, that some members of the Government view the acceptance of the Majority Resolution, with regard to the 'precise amount of the enfranchisement which women should be granted, as not only essential to this part of the Bill but to the Bill itself, and I have heard it put forward as an argument that unless we grant the franchise to 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 women, the question of enfranchising the soldiers and sailors is out of the question. I cannot follow that argument in the least. Without my Amendment this is a huge enfranchisement of a class which had never had the Parliamentary vote before, to the extent of 6,000,000. All that is proposed in the Bill with regard to soldiers and sailors is to prevent the disfranchisement of a number of men who would certainly have been upon the register had it not been for their military service during the War. What connection is there between those two facts, and how can the Government found any argument for allowing the precise degree of enfranchisement proposed on the lines on which they now proceed to depend upon the part of the Bill which deals with the votes of soldiers and sailors?
§ Mr. MACMASTER
I wish to call the attention of the Committee to a difficulty in leaving these words in. I hops it may be removed in the course of the discussion, but it seems to me that they give an entirely contrary meaning to the whole Clause to what was intended. These words, "or is the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered," are the last words of the Sub-section. Consequently they are to be construed with the preceding portion. It is possible that they are open to the construction that the thirty years' age limit does not apply in respect of the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered, and consequently women of twenty-one years of age and 1873 married would be entitled to the vote. I ask you, Sir, to read the whole sentence in its integrity.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
The point arises at this stage. If you read the whole sentence it clearly appears, it seems to me, that she has the Parliamentary vote if she has attained the age of thirty years and is entitled to be registered as a local government elector in respect of land and premises in that constituency. That is a complete statement of what she is entitled to. Then we have the alternative Clause, "or is the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered." Consequently the age limit in such case would not be applicable.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I recollect now. I pointed out that we could not accept Amendments on the numbering or lettering of paragraphs, but that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's proper place to move it was on the present Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have nothing before me to be moved. It is a question now to put to the Home Secretary, whether these words effect what is understood to be the purpose of the Clause.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Let me answer that at once. The intention is, of course, that the condition of having attained thirty years shall apply to the whole of this Subsection, and if my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Macmaster) thinks there is some doubt about it, I can easily look into it, and, if need be, make the necessary alteration. Probably, as the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Major Newman) suggests, it may be better to put, say, the thirty years in one line under the letter (a) and the rest in another line under the letter (b).
§ Sir G. CAVE
With regard to the substance of the Amendment, that, of course, again is a rather serious change in the proposal, bearing in mind that now the age of thirty has been accepted by the Committee my hon. Friend desires to leave out married women, the result being that instead of enfranchising 6,000,000, as is estimated, we should be enfranchising about 1,000,000. I cannot argue at this point on the merits of that, but I am bound to point out that this would seriously alter the nature of the proposal which has been left to the House, and I must, as far as I can, see that the form of the Clause shall be kept as it is. When we come to, the proposal that the Clause stand part of the Bill I may again leave the House free to vote for or against it. That depends on what form it will take, but I am quite sure that it is for me to see that the effect of the Clause shall be preserved so as to give effect to what the majority of the Speaker's Conference suggested.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
The Home Secretary would otherwise have been depriving the married woman of the vote, and that would be a perfectly monstrous proposition. If I understand that the Home Secretary proposes to resist this Amendment with the Government authority—
§ Lord H. CECIL
What the Home Secretary says about this Amendment is, of course, quite true, but I do not think it is-an Amendment which should be set aside entirely without consideration. That is a proposal which raises the question whether when we are taking this new step of enfranchising women—which I cordially welcome and believe to be in the main a conservative step—we should not be on our guard and take special precautions against the dangers which always attach to enfranchising a large number of new electors. We have got in this Bill into almost the same easy-going way in speaking of millions as we have in the financial discussions in speaking of millions of expendi- 1875 ture on the War. It is really a very serious step to add 6,000,000 to theeletcors, whether they be men or whether they be women, and supposing that you can achieve what is the main purpose, as I can see it, of enfranchising women—certainly it is one which everyone would agree is one of the strongest arguments in favour of it—namely, taking away that bone of bitterness that has been so distressing a feature of our political life for many years now, and getting rid of the idea which has been very bitterly and odiously felt by a number of women, that women are an inferior political caste, and at the same time not run the risk of the enfranchisement of an enormously large number of new electors, that seems to me a statesmanlike course. The electors who have the local government franchise will be a more extensive body than they were in the past. The municipal vote, as the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) pointed out, is enlarged under the Bill.
The Amendment, therefore, though it is treated as such an extraordinarily restricting one, is not, after all, going further than the Conciliation Bill; indeed, apart from the restriction of age, it is not going anything like so far as that Bill which was accepted by every suffrage organisation in the country, and was supported by all the leading suffragists in this House. One does not know now whether one is able, even with one whom one used to regard as so strong a Conservative as the Home Secretary, to appeal to the normal principles of Conservative legislation, but if one can make such an appeal, and if it be not part of the War legislation that Conservatism does not degenerate into a paradox, then one can say that it is a better plan when you are doing a thing which a very large part of the community regard as a dangerous innovation, to do it in the most moderate, reasonable, and safe way you can. Confessedly, we are none of us infallible. We cannot tell how these people will vote. We cannot tell whether they will be subject, as the anti-suffragists suppose, to very emotional waves of feeling, or whether they will not. All those are matters of conjecture. Would it not, therefore, be wiser to limit the step in the first case to those who are to have the municipal vote? They will be a rather more extensive body than those who have had the municipal vote in the past, and that is a certain advance. 1876 At any rate, a very considerable proportion of them would have already exercised the municipal vote, and they would have had the responsibility which comes from the practice of voting, a very important point. They would also have lost that very dangerous feeling that we always have when we first exercise a vote, namely, that the vote has something magical about it. You would, therefore, be giving this right to a responsible and sober-minded body of constituents who have been tested in a large measure by the previous exercise of the municipal vote. Is not that enough to do in taking this long step forward? Is not it a sufficient step, at any rate for the time? I feel that this argument is typical of Conservative arguments, and I should feel it less strongly if we were not in what we hope is the closing period of a great War.
It is a serious fact—we have talked about it in this Debate, and I am sure the Home Secretary does not disagree with me at all—that the strain on the country has affected people's minds very much indeed. No one knows precisely what the effect of that strain may be. A short time ago it was a very common opinion that the next General Election would be marked by a great Unionist reaction. Since the Russian Revolution, the more common opinion is that it will be marked by a reaction in favour of a policy of labour and drastic social reform. I have no conjecture on the point, but certainly this is a time of anxiety. Would not it, therefore, be better for this election to limit this great extension of the franchise to those who have the municipal vote, and would it not be better to take, to begin with, the more or less tested body of women voters in making this extension of the franchise to women? I think all the arguments we are accustomed to regard as representing statesmanship point in that direction. The Bill as it stands does go an enormous way. It doubles the electorate, and we cannot tell what will become of it. There are other safeguards, to which I will not refer now, which have been struck out of the Bill, and would it not be wise to take this step of selecting a body of people who, we have every reason to hope, would be in the best sense of the word a conservative body of electors, and make them the first body of women to vote? If this first experiment turns out, in years to come, to be a very happy one, it will be easy enough to enlarge it to include a greater number of 1877 women; but I think the first step might be a moderate step, and it is as a moderate step that I support this Amendment.
§ Mr. M. HEALY
The Noble Lord, in effect, asks us whether it would not be wise to go back to the Conciliation Bill.
§ Mr. HEALY
It is the very thing the Speaker's Conference could not do because the Conciliation Bill was deliberately rejected by this House on certain grounds, of which the Noble Lord is well aware. He is asking us to go back on a question which has been judged. I did not rise, however, to argue that general question at all, but to ask the Home Secretary, when he is recasting the words of this Clause, to consider whether, as now provided, it might not, at any rate, be argued to mean the very thing, which one hon. Member proposed, because the words "so registered" at the end may be deemed to mean "so registered" with reference to the first "registered" in the Clause, or it may be taken with reference to the second "registered" in the Clause. If you take the words "so registered" with reference to the first "registered," then that is exactly what the hon. Member proposed, namely, that the Clause should read:
"A woman shall be entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector for a constituency if she is the wife of a husband entitled to be so registered."
I agree, on the whole, that I think that is not the construction that a Court would put on the Clause, but it is open to that construction, and I ask the Home Secretary to read it over again when he is recasting it, as he will undoubtedly do.
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
I have been in doubt on the very point the hon. and learned Gentleman has just raised, because it seems to me that, from the way in which the Clause is drafted, there is an ambiguity about these words "so registered," and that they may either refer to Parliamentary registration at the beginning of the Clause or to local government registration, which appears just above them. I think probably on the whole the local government registration is referred to, but I was going to suggest the elimination of the ambiguity by either saying "registered as a Parliamentary elector" or else "registered as a municipal elector," whichever may be intended. I think 1878 "municipal elector." It may, of course, be that if the Home Secretary does as he suggests, and in the redrafting has the Bill arranged with the letters (a) and (b), this ambiguity will disappear as well as the other. I do not know if that is his view, but in connection with that I venture, if I may at this stage, to ask him whether it would be possible when we have reached the stage at which we hope to finish to-day to have the Bill as far as we have dealt with it reprinted, to enable us to see how these matters stand at the end.
§ The CHAIRMAN
On that point, I have given an order that that shall be done. On the other point, I hope the Committee will not deal with two questions at once. There is an Amendment on the Paper arising on the word "so." Cannot we dispose of the other question and get on with that now?
§ Mr. RENDALL
With regard to what the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) has said in connection with the Amendment, I think it ought to be more clearly understood than it has been that what we are doing is selecting unmarried women and widows for the first vote given to women. I think that is a most extraordinary thing to be proposing now.
§ Mr. RENDALL
The Noble Lord asks why not. I think that at a time like this, during a great war, when marriage and the results of marriage, children, are more than ever essential to the nation, to select a class of women for the vote and to select those who are the least likely to have children and to do as much for their country as married women could, would be a most improper and unjust thing to do. In regard to the municipal vote, we all know it is composed almost entirely of unmarried women and widows. It is an extremely conservative vote, and that is why the Noble Lord is so very anxious to incorporate it in this Bill. That, however, is not a just view to take of our duties and responsibilities. The Conference has suggested, and I think properly, that the municipal vote such as the wives who have municipal votes exercise to-day should be adopted, and we should then get 6,000,000 of whom four or five millions will be married women. It seems to be the only proper thing.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir J. LARMOR
I understand from the Home Secretary that the Government are unwilling to vote for this Amendment. Demands have been made for a more limited portion of women's franchise. When was the proposal made to introduce as many women as men? Is it a reasonable thing? I have always thought that in the present critical position of the country that to double the electorate is something which has never been done before in any of the Reform Bills that have been passed, and it is something of a contentment to our Government that a more moderate demand for military suffrage has had a chance. I agree with what was said by the last speaker. I was not a member of the Conference but I was told that the decision was a compromise. What the particular compromise of plural voting was I cannot understand, but so far as I can gather it means that a conference which deprives a man who has two votes for two different places of his second vote and gives him the vote for one particular place.
§ Lord H. CECIL
In reply to the hon. Member for the Thornbury Division (Mr. Rendall) he says that married women are in a different respect as regards enfranchisement. It is said that where you have a married woman she is indirectly represented by her husband and a single woman is not. I remember that in arguing on another Amendment an hon. Member said that a young woman was represented by her mother, therefore they might be excluded under the thirty years rule. You may argue that a married woman has a husband and has a voice in the representation. This is not a convenient moment to take any notice of my hon. Friend's argument. This is not an Amendment to which great importance can be attached, but I should not like to take the sense of the House at a time when the proof will not be typical. I cannot withdraw it, but I would like to see it negatived so far as I am concerned.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words "as a local government elector."
The Bill will really make clear the meaning of this Amendment. I understand the Resolution was that wives of husbands who are registered as local government electors in respect of land or premises should have the Parliamentary vote. That, I believe, as the Member for Ayr Burghs 1880 (Sir G. Younger) pointed out, landed the Government in the curious position that persons will be entitled to the Parliamentary vote whose husbands are not qualified in a Parliamentary division. But, if you want to make quite clear what "so registered" means, I propose to insert the words "as a local government elector." I notice that the Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) suggested that as Parliamentary electors they might be one, but if it is the intention of the Government to stick to what was certainly settled by the Speaker's Conference, that the wife of a man, who is entitled as a local government elector, should have the Parliamentary franchise, you have another difficulty.
§ Sir G. CAVE
My Friend puts us in a great difficulty, because you would have the franchise given to the wife if, her husband was a local government elector in respect of occupation of premises anywhere. Under this Clause, you have the qualification as a local government elector or the wife of a local government elector in the constituency, and it would not be right to omit these qualifying words.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. MULDOON
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words "in respect of the occupation of premises."
The Bill, as it stands, confers a larger franchise on women than on men. I want to point out to the Home Secretary that a man may be entitled to be registered as a local government elector in respect of land in a neighbouring constituency, and because it is land merely it would not be effective for the Parliamentary franchise. He would be entitled to the local government franchise on account of it being under Clause 3, but if it were land simply he would not be entitled to the Parliamentary franchise while his wife would. I think that is going further than the House intended. I have endeavoured in the Amendment that I have drawn to confine it directly to the rights of the husband where it would confer the franchise on the woman. That is one respect where a woman has got a better franchise than the man. In Clause 3, where a woman is entitled to the local government franchise, she gets the Parliamentary franchise as a result. The Home Secretary promised to look into this. I do not think my Amendment goes far enough, but the second question deals with a constituency where a man's register does 1881 not give a Parliamentary vote but a local government vote and a woman's vote, and under both she immediately claims the Parliamentary franchise. I say that is going beyond what is intended.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I do no think the Amendment as proposed would quite have the effect the hon. Member desires. You have already put in words referring to "occupation," and the effect of the Amendment is to exclude from the franchise the wife of the man occupying land. As to the argument against granting the franchise in respect of occupation of land without reference to value, I recognise, the importance of the point, but the change, if any, would have to be made in the local government clause.
§ Mr. M. HEALY
The husband may have land or houses which will enable him to qualify in respect of that. I think what you want after the word "or" is "not being so entitled," that is to say, if she is not entitled to be registered for land or premises, she may be entitled as the wife of her husband.
§ Mr. MULDOON
After what the Home Secretary has said I will not press the question. It must be made clear that the local government franchise will not in every case confer the Parliamentary franchise upon a woman, where it would not confer the same franchise upon her husband.
§ Lord H. CECIL
This is a very radical Bill as it is, and it would be a thousand pities if the Home Secretary cuts out any class of voters who may be considered to be a conservative element in the franchise. I hope he will not be led by the hon. Member, or any other hon. Member, to restrict the franchise so as to leave out what may be in effect the ownership vote and limit it to actual physical occupation.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member (Major Hunt), to insert the words "provided that the value of the husband's qualification is double that required to enable him to be registered "would not read there.
§ Major HUNT
I do not understand why it will not go in. It is meant in order not to give two votes for one value. Cannot I move that?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Not here, because there is no value in the preceding Clauses 1882 to which the hon. Member's proposal could refer. The next two Amendments on the Paper are covered. The next is that in the name of the hon. Member for Hexham.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Is not the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. Peto) to leave out the words "has attained the age of thirty years,'' in order?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No. It was agreed that we should take the decision on Subsection (1) as governing the two other Sub-sections.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the words, "Provided that a husband and wife shall not both be qualified as local government electors in respect of the same property," and insert instead thereof the words "or where she is the wife of a man entitled to be so registered."
I raise this point, which is of sonic substance, though I think it exclusively concerns the local government franchise and has no reference whatever to the Parliamentary franchise. The effect of what we are doing at the present time is this—we are enfranchising 6,000,000 women for Parliamentary purposes. The effect of Sub-section (3) is to enfranchise about 1,000,000 women for local government purposes. If you ask why the extra 5,000,000 are given the Parliamentary vote, and thereby invested with a higher Imperial responsibility, the answer is because these 5,000,000 women are the wives of husbands who have the local government qualification. If you ask, "Does the local government qualification of the husband carry with it also the wife's qualification for the local government vote?" the answer is, "No, it does not." The reason for that does not seem to me at all convincing. I am very far from saying that it is illogical, but I do not care whether it is logical or not. The British Constitution, as I understand it, has never been logical for several hundred years. I have no pedantic attachment to a logical arrangement. If you begin to make the Constitution logical, I do not know where you would stop. That is not ray ground. My ground is that the local government register, which will be left by this Clause in its present form, will be in a bad state, and I think that these 5,000,000 women who will be invested now with the highest Imperial responsibility ought to be given a vote in the local government of the area in which they live. It is very difficult to say that 5,000,000 1883 women should be entrusted with the duty of reconstructing society alter the War, and should vote on the greatest Imperial questions, and at the same time to say that they must be excluded by virtue of a purely artificial arrangement from the affairs of the district in which they live— questions of the education of their children, sanitation, the construction of the main drainage of the district, water supply, and the rest of it.
I am quite aware that if the Home Secretary presses the letter of the agreement of the Speaker's Conference he can rule me out. I am aware that I am asking him to deviate from the Speaker's Conference. I was not a member of that Conference, but I have heard rather conflicting accounts of the importance which was attached to this particular point in the Conference. If no great importance was attached to it, I hope the Home Secretary can find it in his heart to deviate from the findings of the Speaker's Conference in regard to this matter, if there is no strong objection in the House to it. If, of course, there is strong objection, I shall find it very difficult to press him hard. I quite realise the importance of maintaining this Clause in the form in which the Speaker's Conference left it, and in that case I must submit with all the grace I can. I always have thought that the local government franchise represents a very bad selection of womanhood, and that if you introduce into the local government franchise exactly those persons to whom we are now giving the highest responsibilities, you would do a great deal for local government in the country, and at the same time open up spheres for the married women from which they are at present cut off by the purely artificial arrangement of the Act of 1894. The Act of 1894 says that the husband and wife shall not both be qualified as local government electors for the same property. The theory is that though they may be joint occupiers of a house, they shall not be treated as qualified for local government purposes in respect of such joint occupation, even though it is joint occupation. I should have thought myself that there could not be any divergence of interests between husband and wife in respect of the raising and expenditure of rates in a district. The wife would be likely to be at least as thrifty as the husband in reference to rates, and so far as expendi- 1884 ture went both wife and husband would be equally interested in seeing that the money was properly laid out in respect of health and the proper local government of the district. There are very strong arguments of substance for this change. It seems to follow in the wake of the change that is being made in reference to Parliamentary franchise. I can understand if we had not got the arrangement for the Parliamentary franchise it might be said that we should leave the local government franchise where it stood. But now that the House has by an absolutely overwhelming and decisive majority endorsed this particular arrangement for the Parliamentary franchise, then the local government franchise as regards qualification ought to follow the same lines.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The Amendment which has been moved has the same object as the Amendment which stands in my name further down on the Paper. The Bill as drafted imposes an injustice upon the working-class married woman so far as the local government vote is concerned. The Committee has agreed that the working-class married woman should have the Parliamentary vote, and I see no reason why she should not also have the local government vote. Unless you make the change which is suggested you are going to perpetuate the old idea that property is of far greater value than any individual service to the State. This is, to my mind, manifestly unfair, particularly to the working classes of the country, and is class legislation with a vengeance. I know of nothing more likely to stir up feeling than this at such a time as the present when tilt- working classes of the country have made such great sacrifices to help the State in its hour of need. Unless you give effect to this Amendment you continue to enfranchise a certain number of women simply because they happen to be possessors of property, while the working-class woman is to be refused the local government vote because she is not a possessor of property notwithstanding the fact that she has been giving a very large number of sons to the service of the State in the present great struggle. I am quite well aware that we shall be met by the argument that to give effect to this Amendment would be to increase enormously the number of women to be enfranchised. I am prepared to admit that that is. the case. But having given the Parliamentary vote to these women, I 1885 see no reason why we should withhold from them the local government vote. The good administration of the law is quite as important to these women as the making of good laws. I do not think there is any section of the community whose welfare and well-being are more bound up in the good administration of the law than the working-class woman. I am also aware that we may be met with the argument that to give effect to this Amendment might be a breach of the compromise that was arranged at the Speaker's Conference, and again I am prepared to admit that possibly that is so. But I think that the Amendment is of such importance to the working classes of the country that, notwithstanding that it may be a breach of that understanding, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill is going to give effect to the Amendment, and to give the working-class married woman of the country the same rights that have been given to women of property so far as local government voting is concerned.
§ Mr. HEMMERDE
I desire to identify myself most strongly with what has been said by my two hon. Friends on this Amendment. We have had many Debates in this House on woman suffrage, and one of the most familiar points made time after time by opponents of woman suffrage is that they were quite prepared to give women the municipal franchise, though they were not prepared to give the Parliamentary franchise. Now we suddenly find this position, that they are willing to give the Parliamentary franchise by the Bill as at present drafted but are not going to give the married woman the municipal franchise. I cannot imagine anything more utterly ridiculous nor can I imagine that any conference has power to bind this House to anything so subversive of common-sense. Why are married women not to have a vote in municipal matters? We have often said in this House, and it has often been said in the country, that Parliament is to some extent losing its position. I always think that that is a cry that is rather exaggerated, but certainly it is a novel way of enforcing the cry to say that there may be dangers in giving the vote to women, but we will give it for Parliamentary purposes and will not give it for municipal purposes.
My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment said, and anyone who has seen electioneering in the municipal elections 1886 will certainly, I think, corroborate what he said, that the particular class of women that at the moment has votes at municipal elections is by no means a success so far as municipal elections are concerned. I have heard that opinion expressed by politicians on both sides very strongly. There can be no reason whatever for not accepting this Amendment, except that the Conference decided otherwise. I have loyally supported up to the present all sorts of things decided at the Conference, which seemed to me to be very curious. I do not want to reiterate them now, but certainly at a later stage I shall have something to say on them. Some strike me as being so obvious that I cannot imagine how any body of men ever agreed upon them. But it cannot be suggested that any body of men ever agreed on this, that a married woman should be fit to vote in Parliamentary matters, matters of peace and war and all the greatest questions that can be decided in the country, and yet is not competent to give a vote in municipal elections which are largely concerned with the administration of the law. I hope that the Government will not be hostile to this Amendment. It seems to me to carry out the views expressed in this House yesterday, and carried by an overwhelming majority; and, further, I believe that it carries out the views expressed by opponents of the measure, whom I have heard speak against women's suffrage in this House, who have never disguised from the House the belief, which I believe they hold sincerely, that woman's place is to take part in the administration of the law and of municipal politics, but not to take any part in Parliamentary politics. I do hope that the Government will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. A. WARD
May I say I most heartily agree with the observations which have fallen from the hon. Members who have moved and supported this Amendment? It does seem to me to be one of' the most ridiculous features of the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference that they should propose to enfranchise 6,000,000 women to vote on the supreme issue of peace and war and retain for the local government municipal franchise, which everybody, whatever his views about Parliamentary vote, agrees is a province of women, only 1,000,000 qualified to vote on education, housing, and sanitation. Many of us entertained decided views on this subject long before the Speaker's Conference, and I had the honour of bring- 1887 ing a Bill before this House in 1913 for this purpose, namely, for conferring the municipal franchise upon married women. On the back of that Bill I had the advantage of securing the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson), and I should very much like to learn how it is that in the Speaker's Conference the extension of the municipal franchise to married women finds no place. There are two points with regard to the Amendment on which I think we ought to be enlightened, and the first point is this: If it is proposed to confer the vote upon the wives of male local government electors, ought one also not to propose at the same time to confer the vote upon the husbands of female local government electors? That is the proposal we made in the Bill, and certainly it seems to be fair all round. The second point is this: It strikes me as a weak point in this Amendment that wives are enfranchised unconditionally, without any proof of residence in the locality. Perhaps I might be permitted to read the Clause under our Bill of 1913 which deals with residence, just to show to the Committee that some restriction of that kind ought to be inserted. The Clause in that Bill was,Qualification by Marriage.—In certain cases when the qualifications in respect of which a man or a woman is entitled to be registered and to vote is the occupation of a dwelling-house the wife of such man who has resided in the same dwelling-house as her husband, and the husband of such woman who has resided in the same dwelling-house as his wife during the period qualifying such man or woman to be registered or to vote shall be entitled to be registered and to vote in all elections to which this Act applies.Otherwise you might have wives living apart from their husbands, coming from one end of London to the other or from one town to another to give a municipal vote in localities in which they are not at all concerned. I venture to suggest that words of a similar kind based upon Clause 3 which the Committee has already passed ought to be added to this Amendment, subject to which I heartily support it.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I must acknowledge the serious spirit in which the Amendment has been regarded by the Members of the House who have spoken upon it. But I 1888 want the Committee to consider whether they would be entitled to-day to make so serious a change in the Bill. The proposal is, of course, to add to the 1,000,000 local government women electors about 5,000,000 more. That would be the effect of the Amendment. I am not sure that we are entitled to deal with it entirely on its merits. I want to suggest this to the House, that this is not in the main a Bill to bring into shape the local government franchise of the country. It is in the main a Representation of the People Bill. The whole object of appointing the Speaker's Conference was, if possible, to come to an arrangement on matters affecting election to Parliament, and nothing was referred to them as to the local government franchise. It is true that in considering the wider question they necessarily came into contact with the local government franchise, but I think they purposely dealt with it only so far as was necessary, not to make great and wide changes, but only to ensure that the female Parliamentary suffrage should be placed upon a uniform footing. They dealt with the matter on that principle. Hon. Members must not forget that the Conference dealt with the Parliamentary franchise on a different footing altogether. They made the Parliamentary franchise very wide, having based it in the main on residence, and brought in a large number of women. On the other hand, when they came to the local government franchise they did not propose great changes in it. There is much to be said for the view that the two franchises should be dealt with on different principles. In dealing with the election of Members to Parliament you are dealing with souls or people and they have to be placed nearly on the same footing as one another. On the other hand, in dealing with local government, the question of actual occupation, of local interests, of ratepaying, is of more importance than when you are dealing with the wider question which affects us all. I am not putting that forward as a final opinion of my own, but I think that is the basis on which the Conference has gone, or at all events it is the spirit in which it acted. I do suggest that we cannot at this moment in so thin a House as we have make so great a change in the recommendations of the Conference. I am bound to remind the Committee that the Conference, in express terms, put in this proviso, and did not add the words of the Amendment. The Conference says, '' Provided that a husband and wife shall 1889 not both be qualified in respect of the same residence." They have adopted the very words which have been law since 1894, and they have been repeated in the Conference Report, and now appear in the Bill. It is now proposed by this Amendment to strike them- out and insert words multiplying by six the present number of women local government voters. I do not want to pronounce a final opinion in Committee on this matter, but I certainly feel my responsibility, and I do not think I should be right, being in charge of the Bill, in so thin a House, to accept an Amendment of this kind which makes so great a change. Therefore I am bound to resist it to-day. The Committee cannot make such tremendous inroads into the terms which we are seeking to pass into law. I would just add this: If you adopt this Amendment you do give the women a considerable advantage over the men, because you provide that if a man occupies premises his wife shall have a vote, while if a woman occupies premises you do not give her husband a vote. Therefore you give the women an advantage over the men. That, however, I agree is a detail. I do ask the House to adhere to the terms of the whole arrangement, and not, whatever their views might be on this matter, insist on this important change being made now.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I am too hungry to say more than a few words, but I should like to gratify myself by doing myself the unusual pleasure of supporting the Government. I heard my right hon. Friend with pleasure make, I think, his first Conservative speech for some months. I will not repeat the story of the wandering sheep who is beginning to turn his head homeward. My right hon. Friend must have felt quite awkward in making a Conservative speech, and he did not like to press his point so far as I think he might do. I am able to say quite frankly that I value the provision of the Bill because it maintains something which has worked very well up till now. The real reason— the most important reason—for enfranchisement in dealing with the question of the women's Parliamentary vote was that they had a great grievance which, whether reasonable or not, was, at any rate, deeply felt. In respect to the municipal vote there is no such grievance, and no one is seriously disturbed or vexed about it. Why, then, not leave well enough alone t You have got a settlement in respect of the women's vote in municipal voting which 1890 gives general satisfaction, and why change it? Secondly, I altogether dispute that it is wrong to rest the municipal or, for that matter, the Parliamentary vote on a certain property qualification. It is entirely reasonable, and it does give a certain security of character. I think the existing provision of the Bill is a sound one and one which has worked well. It is a sound Conservative principle of occupation franchise. I hope my right hon. Friend will adhere to the Bill in this point not because the Speaker's Conference recommended it because I think the Conference was a foolish body, and not because the House is thinly attended, as it has been in most of the discussions on this Bill, but because the Bill is in this respect in the right and is framed on right and sound principles and deserves almost for the first time, I think, the support of the adherents of Conservative principles.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I am glad that the Home Secretary has not closed the door against a reconsideration of this question. I quite agree with the Home Secretary that would not be at all right, at this particular stage, to accept such a deviation as is suggested. In the later stages, if he found, as I think he would find, that there was a general consensus of opinion in favour of this Amendment from all parties I hope he may perhaps consider further his attitude. What I think the Conference felt in approaching this question was that it was to be regarded—that is, the local government vote—from a different point of view from that with which we approached the consideration of the Parliamentary vote and that the local government vote was based upon, at any rate, if not the real, the theoretical payment of rates. At the same time, I think the arguments against this Amendment are not conclusive, and if there is a probability of general agreement on the subject, I am glad the Home Secretary has kept his mind open on the matter.
§ Colonel GRETTON
I am glad to think that on this occasion I can support my right hon. Friend, who obviously felt some embarrassment in defending the position of the Government. Hon. Members in all parts of the House disclaim any adherence to logic, and sometimes to reason, and debate their acts from expediency, and after all it is very difficult to defend this proviso as compared with another part of the Bill in which a most revolutionary change has been carried by which the 1891 husband and wife are given the vote for Parliamentary purposes A married man, other things being equal, undoubtedly is potentially doing better service to the State than he who lives in a single state. In that case you give him who is doing the service to the State what is practically a plural vote, and on that basis he is entitled to it. There is no doubt that in the majority of instances husbands and wives will ultimately vote together for the same candidates, and in nine-tenths of the cases the woman's vote may be regarded as a plural vote for the husband who has a wife, provided they have the same qualification. I think this proviso can be defended on very substantial grounds. One of the great principles is that no one should have a voice or influence in the taxation of his neighbour unless at the same time that he imposes that tax he imposes on himself a proportionate burden of taxation. This matter comes home very closely indeed in local rates and government. There is a tendency in local government affairs from time to time towards extravagance, particularly if those who indulge in it are not going to bear any share of the expense. I think on that ground this proviso may well be defended. The State both in Imperial and local expenditure has been very extravagant. Anything which makes for the further preservation of the remnants of economy, thrift, and care in public expenditure should certainly not be abandoned. The proviso does give the wife the local government vote if she has a substantial qualification. I trust that my right hon. and learned Friend will be able to withstand the pressure that will be brought to bear upon him between now and Report stage. A mistake may have been made in a previous part of the Bill, but that is no argument for continuing that mistake in another part of the Bill. I am afraid that the argument of symmetry and the pressure of political opinion may have their effect, and that the Government may be swept off their feet before the Report stage. However, I am prepared to support them now, and to suggest that they should withstand that kind of pressure, and I hope that on the Report stage an opportunity will be given for a reconsideration of the matter.
§ Mr. ACLAND
I only desire a few words in combating one of the arguments which the hon. Member has just used. As 1892 I understand the position of the Govern-men, it is quite a natural one, and I do not complain of it at all. The point I want to make is this, that the argument that the woman has nothing to do in the paying of the rates cannot be seriously advanced by people who know anything about the real economy of the working classes or of the lower middle-class household. In an enormous number of working-class households the rates are not paid separately, but the wife has to put aside, out of the housekeeping money, the money to pay for the rent, which includes the rates. If rates go up rents go up. It becomes a definite hardship on a woman and her children if there is an increase in the rates in the locality in which she resides. To try to divide off the rates as an expenditure for which wives of the sort I am speaking of have no concern, is really not in the least true. They have just as much concern in them as the man, and they realise the burden of them if they go up. The woman has less money for her housekeeping and other purposes, and she has just as much responsibility as her husband. I felt bound to say just one or two words in regard to that attitude, and I do not propose to go into any other argument on the matter.
I hope that the Home Secretary will close the door against this Amendment, which would add something like 5,000,000 of extra voters without the municipality, who have a right to know what is being done in Parliament and have a right to be considered, having any idea that this was going to be sprung upon them.
§ 9.0 P.M.
My object in speaking is to show that there are at least some Members who are most anxious that the door should be kept closed in spite of the pressure that is being brought to force it open. The last speaker referred to the wife taking care of the money in order to pay the rent, and inferred that she was really interested in the rates. As a matter of fact, as most Members of the House will know, in the matter of workmen's houses the rates are compounded. It is a bad system. I trust that some time in this House we shall have time to alter that bad system so as to get the masses of the people really interested in the rates. I think that will be a very good thing 1893 indeed. There are certain Members who are advocating now, or got up earlier to advocate, this grave departure from the Conference, who, because it suits them, are most anxious to suggest this was an agreed thing—that we must carry out this particular Bill wherever it embodies the Instructions of the Conference. The Conference was quite definite on this. I do, therefore, hope that the Government will stand firm and absolutely refuse this sudden enfranchisement in this thin House, after people have gone home thinking that they had got quite through all the dangers and pitfalls of Clause 4—will refuse to spring this, without any warrant, upon the municipalities and upon the country.
§ Mr. GILBERT
The right hon. Gentleman stated that the reason that he was in favour of the voting for the Clause as it was, was the Speaker's Conference did not propose to alter the existing law as regards women for the local government vote. I should like to point out that it is a pity that the Speaker's Conference was not as consistent as we are in regard to the local government vote. They have not allowed a vote for lodgers in London, which was taken away on Clause 3 the other night. Might I say on the question of the local government vote for women, that the Member for Norfolk referred to the fact that in certain elections it was stated that the type of women who had the vote now did not use it to any very large extent. That may be true in certain local elections. I should, however, like to point out to the Committee that one of the strong reasons for the Amendment proposed now is that the type of women who are to have the local government franchise are really, in a great many cases not the type of women who are touched by ordinary municipal administration. If you give a vote to married women, and the wives of the workers, and to the type of woman intimately connected with local administration, I think you would get a great deal more interest taken in local elections by the women themselves. The married woman, may be, has children, and has a good deal to do with the education committee and care committee. In most local government areas to-day you have health visitors, and maternity and other visitors under the development of the public health. All of these in a very vital way affect the life of the married woman in all our municipalities. If you give the 1894 local government vote to the married woman, who is very much affected by the various kinds of administration, you will get a great deal more interest taken by the women than is taken at present in the work of local government.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I beg to support this Amendment, and I am very glad that my hon. Friend has moved it. I might observe in passing that there was an Amendment a little earlier of which I approved, and which, I think, was theoretically approved by him, but which he opposed; and he opposed it in the strongest possible terms as another departure from the strict letter of the Clause, or from the recommendations of the majority of the Speaker's Conference. I do not complain of him being inconsistent in the matter. I am quite willing that he should be inconsistent, so long as he is inconsistent on the same side as myself. The point, however, to which I should like to call the attention of the House is in regard to the very peculiar franchise which is granted to the women for local purposes. It is a danger, and a very great danger, to have widely divergent franchises for local government and Parliamentary purposes. Local government during the last century has steadily been going on and occupying a more and more important part in the lives of the people. It occupies an all important part to-day. The comfort, happiness, health, and well-being of the workman's household in very large measure depend on the efficiency of the local government; and not merely upon the efficiency, but on the policy of the local government being in accordance with the policy and desires of the mass of the population. Just look at the ground that is covered to-day by local government— public health, sanitation, education, all the great public utility services, water, gas and electric lighting, and, more recently, work connected with National Insurance, and even during the War still more and more active and direct control over the domestic lives of the people has been assumed by these local authorities. There has been growing up in the last decade a very grave dissatisfaction on the part of the mass of the people with Parliament and with Parliamentary institutions
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The remarks of the hon. Member so far are irrelevant to the Amendment.
Perhaps I may explain. The fact that married women are given the vote for Parliamentary purposes and are denied the vote for local government purposes constitutes a widely divergent electorate in the two cases, and I think, on an Amendment which is directed to removing that wide divergence and to give us more or less the same electorate for the purpose, one is entitled to call attention to the dangers of a wide divergence of electorate and possibly a divergence of policy on the part of a Parliament elected by one franchise and a local government body elected upon the other franchise. That was the direction in which I was endeavouring to move my argument, and I hope it will be considered in order.
If I show that it is possible that the women by their votes for Parliamentary purposes may pass legislation the administration of which falls upon the local authority, and they are not able to secure the control of the administration by the local authorities by means of their votes, am I not entitled to call attention to that divergence and the means of remedying it suggested in this Amendment?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member had heard the full and ample discussion which has already taken place, it would have enabled him to observe the lines on which it had been running. It is not a general question as to the participation of women, but the question is how far they should be qualified by this Amendment. I must ask the hon. Member to confine his remarks to that.
I do not wish to controvert your ruling in any way, but I want clearly to understand to what extent it limits me. Here is an Amendment affecting 5,000,000 women. By the Clause as it stands they are given the vote for Parliamentary purposes and they are denied that vote for local government purposes.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member will read the Sub-section he will see that is not so. It says, "A woman shall be entitled to be registered as a local government elector for any local government electoral area where she would be entitled to be so registered if she were a 1896 man," and there is a proviso to which I must ask the hon. Member to direct himself.
We are dealing with a portion of the Clause, I understand, which prohibits a woman from exercising a vote in local government affairs for the same property as her husband.
It is a point that affects 5,000,000 women. As wives they are given the vote for Parliamentary purposes, but are denied the vote for local government purposes. I think we are getting into controversy not on a point of Order but of interpretation and the merits of the Bill, and on that I claim that I am entitled to speak. If you rule that I am not entitled to proceed further, I have no option but to accept your ruling; but I want to put it direct to you that I should be allowed to develop the line of argument I have been endeavouring to pursue.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am sorry if I have not made myself clear to the hon. Member, and I cannot add anything to what I have already said. He is not entitled to go into the whole question here of women in local government, but must confine himself to the Amendment.
I will confine myself to the 5,000,000 women who are concerned in this Amendment, for if the Bill passes in its present form we shall have the strange anomaly that these women through their votes may pass legislation in Parliament affecting their daily domestic life, and it will then be entrusted to local government bodies which are elected on a different franchise, over which they have no influence and control If the administration is conducted in a spirit hostile to the spirit of those who pass the legislation, that will in effect defeat the legislation, and you will then have a deadlock between legislation passed by the Imperial Parliament and the administration controlled by a local government authority elected on a totally different and divergent franchise. I would point out that women have a special and peculiar interest in all these matters with which local government legislation is most directly concerned. Who is it that is most interested in questions relating to the home, public health, sanitation, 1897 drainage, scavenging, the supply of water, of light and of heating, the control of the food laws, and the education of children? Is it not the mother in the home who has the most direct and complete knowledge of all these matters as they affect the daily domestic life? If there is one who is more qualified than another to vote in that matter, is it not the mother rather than the father? I submit that women have a special and peculiar interest and claim for this local government franchise, and that it is unjust, unwise, and impolitic to deny them the vote in the manner which is done by the Bill.
My hon. Friend called attention to the fact that the woman is, for all practical purposes, a ratepayer as much as the man. In the working man's household the purse is a common one; everything that comes out of it for rates or for rent is so much less for the mother to spend on the home. She feels the claims of rates and of rent more directly even than her husband feels them, because the usual custom is for him to allot to her a round sum for domestic purposes, and out of that round sum it is she who by her thrift, her economy, her good management, has got to save the money which is necessary to pay both the rent and the rates. So that even from the point of view of looking after the ratepayers' interests it is just and right that the vote should be given to the women of those households as much as to the men. But there is a case other than the mere domestic one in which the Clause, as it at present stands, inflicts a great injustice. Take the ease of a husband and wife who are carrying on a business together in partnership, it may be a little shop in connection with the home, or it may be a little business in the City which they run together as partners. They are joint tenants. Why should the Bill exercise this discrimination and say that the vote shall be given to the husband and not to the wife? If two men or two women enter into partnership for a business they both get the vote, but if a husband and his wife enter into partnership in a business only one can get the vote. Surely that is an absurdity and an incoherency in the Bill which ought to be corrected. Then there is the grave anomaly of saying that these 5,000,000 women are to be entrusted with the destinies of this Empire, and yet are not fit to be trusted with a control of their own county council or 1898 their own town council. That is an anomaly which shows the unreasonableness and the irrationality of the whole of this intricate device with regard to woman suffrage.
The rest of the Bill is logical and clear. The compromise arrived at by the Speaker's Conference is logical and clear, but all these subjects which have aroused the most controversy and divergence of opinion are concerned with those irrational devices which have been adopted by the faint-hearted and unwilling advocates of women's suffrage to enable them to grant the suffrage in the least democratic way in which it can be granted. I am sorry I was not here when the Home Secretary stated the attitude of the Government, but I gather from other speakers that while he is not willing to pledge himself to the definite acceptance of this amendment he says he is willing to give it consideration with an open mind between now and the Report stage, and that there is a possibility of this Amendment receiving the blessing of the Government when it comes to the Report stage. I am most anxious that this Amendment should receive that acceptance by the Government, and, strongly as I am a supporter of this Amendment, I think my hon. Friend would be wise if he did not press it to a Division now, but accepted the assurance of the Government in the knowledge that we shall have another chance of raising the point, and in the hope that we shall find the Government willing to meet us in regard to this matter.
§ Mr. HEMMERDE
I feel most strongly that this is one of the most important Clauses in the Bill and one of the most important Amendments. I have the greatest respect for the members of the Speaker's Conference, and I have supported the results of their deliberations, but I do not understand how it can possibly be argued that on that account we should be landed with a principle which is defended by no party because, not only have Liberals and the Liberal party been pressing for women's suffrage as well as the Conservatives, but even the anti-suffragists have said, "We will support women's suffrage in respect of matters not Parliamentary." Therefore, we are to say that because the Speaker's Conference have arrived at a certain conclusion it is out of our power to come to a definite decision upon a matter which has never been the subject of controversy. There has 1899 never been any doubt on this question as to how it should be dealt with when the time came for extending the franchise to women. This is a question of great importance, because, although I have been a strong supporter of women's suffrage, I have never been able to give a vote upon it because the proposals we have had before us have excluded married women, and when married women have been excluded I have absolutely refused to support a Bill of that kind. Now we are solemnly told that because certain Gentlemen have come to a conclusion in regard to a matter which was not a subject of controversy we are to be precluded from dealing with it.
I accept what the Home Secretary said, that we cannot decide a question of this magnitude in a House of this kind; but I think the right hon. Gentleman is assuming, and other hon. Member are assuming, that this Clause has for its object the enfranchisement of women on the basis of a Parliamentary franchise. If this Amendment is carried it will enfranchise women from the age of twenty-one upwards for municipal purposes, and then there will be a great many more than 5,000,000 women added to the register. I want to say that whatever has been decided by the Speaker's Conference, on the Report stage of this measure I shall move this Amendment, and I shall not withdraw it. I cannot conceive how this House can say, when other countries are giving to their peoples the first elements of freedom, that we are not going to allow married women to have votes, on the excuse that when a woman marries her husband becomes responsible for her, although she may earn more than he does. I do not know why the women should lose their right to individual freedom, and I protest against it. I hope hon. Members in all parts of the House who have been watching the development of municipal affairs, and who realise the vital importance which the influence of women is going to have, will absolutely refuse on the Report stage to accept what is proposed because other people have made some concession on this matter which has never been a subject of controversy. Are we going to leave all the married women out of our municipal affairs because something has been said about a compromise in which we, at any rate, took no part? I shall oppose this Clause, and do everything 1900 I possibly can to oppose the Bill at every stage if it is proposed to leave these women out.
§ Colonel SANDERS
I think really this is a storm in a teacup. If the hon. Gentleman opposite wishes to get his wife on the register for the same property as himself he will not find much difficulty in doing it. I have been observing the number of places in this Bill in which you could drive, I will not say a carriage and four, but a whole regiment through its proposals. The qualification is either land or unfurnished premises. Do not let us have any talk about a clever agent not being able to do this, because any fool in the world might do it. Supposing the qualification is land, all that you have got to do, if you want to get your wife on the list, is to have two perches of land let to her under a separate agreement, or, if you cannot get your landlord to do that, to sub-let them to her yourself. Any fool could do it. That is for the counties. Take the municipal qualification. There it is to be premises—I presume some sort of house or building. Surely if you are particularly anxious to get your wife on the register there is no particular difficulty. You have only got to make an agreement, which may run you to the expense of a sixpenny stamp, by which you let her one unfurnished room, or an outhouse, a pigstye, or anything, and then she comes on to the local government register.
§ Colonel SANDERS
According to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon), that is a point about which there is very little difficulty. I have tried over and over again to get a definition of residence, but occupation is already legally defined. If you use premises for any beneficial purpose there is no doubt that you occupy them. If you have a pigstye and keep a pig in it, it is in your occupation and you can get a vote for it.
§ Colonel SANDERS
No; you are the occupier. If you have a field and keep cattle in it, you are the occupier of that field, and the vote comes to you. It is almost childish for hon. Gentlemen of the intellectual attainments of the two hon. Members who have spoken last to think that there will be the very slightest diffi- 1901 culty about getting their wives on the register for the same premises, if they have any wish to do so.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
I do not wish to press the Government any further at this stage. I recognise the open-mindedness with which they have considered the matter, and in the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw, hoping at a later stage that the promise that the point will be reconsidered will result in a satisfactory settlement.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Major HUNT
I object altogether to this Clause, because by bringing in this Bill giving votes to a very large number of women the Government have deliberately broken the well-known and well-understood agreement that no controversial legislation should be brought in during the War. The Government are not only breaking faith with this House and with the people of the country, but they are committing the folly of attempting a huge programme of controversial legislation during the continuance of the biggest war in history, on the result of which depends our liberty and our existence as a free nation. The successful prosecution of the War is the only thing that really matters now, and the attention of the people ought not to be distracted from the War to these very controversial questions. The present Prime Minister a few years ago, when replying to a woman's suffrage deputation, declared that he could not conceive of a revolution of this character being introduced without the opinion of the country being definitely asked for, and the late Prime Minister, when speaking of the difficulty of giving votes to women during the War, was still stronger. He told us, in August last year, that nothing would be more injurious to the best interests of the country, nothing more damaging to the prosecution of the War, and nothing more fatal to the concentration of the national effort than that the flood-gates should be opened on these large complicated questions of the franchise. That shows that the late Prime Minister was then of the same opinion as I am to-day. I suppose at that time he thought he was likely to be Prime Minister for the rest of his life.
1902 Surely it must be wrong to distract the attention of the people from the War, and the Government have no shadow of justification for giving votes to women while the War is going on except to those women who have actually served abroad under the Admiralty or the War Office. I do not suppose anybody would object to giving it to them any more than I suppose they would object to giving it to soldiery and sailors who have actually fought for us abroad. This is not an agreed Clause and this is not an agreed Bill, and it is an outrage to rush it through the House of Commons by the use of the Closure and the suspension of the Eleven o'Clock Rule at the bidding of the majority of a small Parliamentary Committee who really represented nobody but themselves, and only expressed their own personal opinion. There are more than 200 Members of this House who are serving their country, and they cannot attend. Nor have the soldiers and sailors upon whom our safety and our liberty depend, or the men and women of this country been consulted at all as to whether large numbers of women should be given the vote during the War. Ministers do not appear to care whether they keep their agreements or not. The German Scrap of Paper theory seems to have come across to this side of the Channel. I wonder what the Members of this House who are serving at the front, and I wonder what the soldiers and sailors serving at the front will think of a Government that does not keep its promises?
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I do not wish to pursue the controversy which raged yesterday, in which I took no part, whether or not it is desirable to give women the franchise at all. I simply wish to draw attention to the very unsatisfactory state in which the Committee is now leaving this Clause. I assume for the moment that the franchise is to be extended to women, but does anybody sitting in the Committee now know what the qualification is to be for women to vote in a Parliamentary election? Not one of us knows! The Clause is left in this extraordinary state, that a woman is only to be entitled to vote in a Parliamentary election if she has a certain qualification for the local government vote. Upon Clause 3, which deals with the local government qualification, the Government have not yet made up their minds. An Amendment was proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member 1903 for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) this afternoon, which he eventually withdrew because there had been some understanding with the Home Secretary that the Government would consider the words of the Clause as they stand. Assuming that there is no further alteration made in Clause 3—a drastic alteration was made two nights ago which will largely affect it—the matter is being left in this, form, that although a man, in order to get a Parliamentary qualification, has to reside in a place for six months, and can only get a second vote for business premises which he is occupying and which are of the value of £10 a year or upwards, a woman can get her vote by occupying anything, as was pointed out by the hon. and gallant Member for Bridgwater (Colonel Sanders), even the smallest fraction of an allotment garden or the smallest share in a dwelling-house in a town, quite apart from any residence, and, in addition, can have a vote in some other constituency, whether she resides there or not, by an occupation of the same type.
I have listened carefully to the Debate this afternoon, but I have not heard any sort of suggestion why these fancy franchises should be invented for women. I am not dealing with the question whether it is desirable that women should have the vote or not, because I consider myself bound by the decision of last night. Having come to the conclusion that they ought to have the vote, why should these extraordinary franchises be invented for them, which very few people in this Committee understand at all, and which are very likely to be altered by Amendments to Clause 3 on the Report stage? Why should not the franchise be the same, subject to the raising the age to thirty, as in the case of a man for the Parliamentary franchise? Why should the element of residence, which is insisted upon in the case of a man, be eliminated in the case of a woman? The question has arisen whether that would not admit a very large number of women. So far as I can judge, it would certainly not increase the number of votes registered by females, but it might possibly increase in some cases the number of voters, because it would allow people to act in the ordinary straightforward way, and not in the back-door way described by the hon. and gallant Member for Bridgwater. I only 1904 want to call the attention of the Committee to these facts, and I hope that some private Members will consider between now and the Report stage the exceedingly unsatisfactory state in which the franchise is drawn in Clause 4. I hope that, before the Report stage, they will see different people among their own acquaintances who will be disenfranchised by it, and will discuss the means by which the Bill can be evaded and how the kind of votes we do not wish to see encouraged—faggot votes of certain classes—can be easily manufactured by people who are very keen to get the Parliamentary vote for more than one district. I hope sincerely that some attempt will be made to remedy the position before the Report stage.
§ Colonel Sir R. WILLIAMS
First of all I should like to say that I regret the Home Secretary is not in his place, not because I regret that he should be away from the Committee in order to get the dinner I am afraid he wants, but because I should have been glad if he had been here to hear me say how sorry I should be if anything I said earlier in the evening had in any way caused him to lose interest in this Bill. Any such idea was very far from my thoughts when I said what I did. I cannot give a silent vote on this Clause. I want to say a few words to the Committee upon a point which has been markedly left out of the discussion, namely, the principles on which I think the Clause ought not to stand part of the Bill. The whole of the discussion last night turned on trivialities and outside things. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) told us that all that was required of a woman was that she should make a cross with a pencil upon a ballot paper. He called it a trivial thing, as if when you got into the ballot box with your conscience and realised that making your mark meant supporting for good or ill for a particular number of years a particular form of government, were a trivial thing. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) talked of the ways in which women have been dragged out from one thing or another to take an interest in politics and in talking at street corners, as if that were a trivial thing. We have also heard something about the War. Some people think that women ought to have the vote because they have done this or that in connection with the War. They would 1905 not have been Englishwomen if they had not done it. Women have done it because they felt that they were doing their duty, yet some people have talked as if that were a reason for altering the method of elections which has existed for years.
I want to take the Committee back to what the hon. Member for Leicester called "the old days." His old days turned out to be mid-Victorian days. I want to go further back than that, and to ask the Committee if they have considered that what this Clause really asks us to do is to put women in a position of authority and rule over men. It is all very well to speak about other countries, which are half developed places, where men are in a very large majority. Women are in the majority in this country, and the vote of last night, if not reversed, gives women the authority and rule over men. I hope the Committee will allow me to say this. It is not an easy thing to say in the House of Commons. I have tried for some years to study the Divine economy in this matter, and nowhere in that Divine economy do I find a provision that the woman is to be the ruling class over the men. It is male and female, not female and male. I find everywhere that woman is the helpmate of man, and I am thankful to recognise that women have grown up more and more to be the helpmate of men, and the more men have grown in capacity and in statesmanship the more women have grown up to be the helpmates of men. Nowhere can I find that the woman is meant to be the ruling class and the ruling sex. Woman has her sex and her own particular functions and the man has his, and the ruling function is the man's and the other function is the woman's. My Noble Friend (Lord H. Cecil), who has in past days been a real lifter up of our Debates, has ceased to be so in these days when he makes amusing speeches and goes in for obstruction. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] He is much too honest not to know that.
§ Sir R. WILLIAMS
How many Members in the Division last night voted from a real principle? [An HON. MEMBER: "Fifty-five!"] How many voted because they thought they were doing something good? How many voted because the leaders on one side or the other had gone over? How many really faced the position last night 1906 and realised that they were giving up the government of the country to the female sex? If you are a true democracy, if you are going to count heads, if you have a million more women than men in the country the women are the ruling class. Is that really what the House of Commons or the country wants, that we are going to put the women into the position of being the ruling class? The women have wonderful qualities, admirable qualities, helpful qualities, but they are not men's qualities, and never will be, and we have deliberately put the Government of this country into the hands of a sex which has not got that ruling quality, and we are taking away from the men what I believe is the God given quality of being the ruling sex. I hope I have not transgressed what has been the function of the House in referring to these deep matters, but to me they are very deep matters indeed. I did not get a chance of saying them last night, and I thought I could not give a silent vote against the Clause, but must explain some of the reasons which actuated me.
§ Mr. HEMMERDE
For a totally different reason I am not prepared to give a silent vote either upon this Clause, and it is not because the sincerity of my views is in any way less than those expressed so admirably by the last speaker. But I am supporting this Clause with the greatest possible reluctance. I think in a country like this, at such a time as this, when it is claiming to set an example to the world, that it can only make an experiment in me direction of women's suffrage when those women are over thirty is not a very creditable thing. I listened this afternoon to a speech in which we were told that there was no alternative to this proposal, and that if you want to limit the number of women voting you must have some age limit. I do not agree with that at all. I remember there was a proposal put forward some years ago by a very distinguished lady, who has been a very strong lifelong supporter of the cause of women in this country, in which she said, if you want to limit the number of women voters as compared with men, and if you are really afraid during the experimental stages of the opinions of women swamping the opinions of men, the best way to do it is not by excluding any class of women but by making their vote count somewhat less. She said a half at the time, but as a matter of fact, supposing one said now that instead of leaving out all women under thirty we should bring in all women 1907 on the same basis as men, and let their vote count something like from a half to two-thirds, you would get exactly the same position as you have now and you would not be disfranchising a large class of the electorate towards whom all reformers look with particular hope. If you are going to enfranchise women only over thirty you are going to set up a barrier against future developments of women suffrage. I do not think you will get the support of women over thirty very readily for subsequent extensions of the franchise to younger women, and I think it would have been far better to have Drought in all women at the same age as men, and if you are afraid of the result, to limit the effect of their votes in this way. It is partly so in practice. Take an ordinary election. It would not delay the counting of the votes for a moment because you would only have to have different coloured voting papers, and any one could do a simple sum in arithmetic in a moment. I only suggest that as something which has been already suggested by a great woman leader in this country. That seems to me a very much less objectionable method than that now adopted of starting women's suffrage with women over the age of thirty.
I think there are two very great objections to taking that age. One is that you are going to get what the Noble Lord said last night would be a Conservative barrier against a subsequent extension to the younger women; and secondly, I think it is most objectionable that you should start this great reform leaving the younger women out. I think we should now be embarking on educational changes and great university developments, and that we are to leave out all the young women coming straight from the universities until they have reached the age of thirty seems to me absolutely unworthy of a great country which is setting a great example to Europe and the world. I object to the limitation most strongly. I am perfectly prepared, as a practical man, to take what I can get. People seem to assume that those who support women's suffrage have got all we want in this Bill. I want to say perfectly clearly that I support this Clause as, in my opinion, a thoroughly bad clause. I do not think we ought to have two registers at all in this country, and the Bill is based upon an extremely bad principle. I think you should have the same, register for municipal purposes as 1908 for Parliamentary. You are perpetuating the two in this Bill largely because of your difficulty with this Clause in giving women's suffrage. You could have avoided it entirely if you could have limited the effect of the women's votes without limiting their numbers. For that reason I think the Government has taken the wrong turning. But I hope most sincerely that if this Clause is carried to-night, as it clearly will be, so far as the municipal franchise is concerned the Government will take steps to put that in order before it again comes to the House. I think it would be a most monstrous thing if, as the result of all our efforts, a matter that really has never been a question of controversy in this House at all, the question of the extension of the municipal franchise to married women, should be suddenly blocked. It is absolutely deplorable in a country like this that we should leave out women from twenty-one to thirty. I think it utterly unworthy of the country. All the youth and enthusiasm that you could get from these young women will be badly needed in the reconstruction that is coming after this War. I am driven into supporting this Clause by reason of there being a general agreement and a compromise. I regret that there should be such a compromise upon such a question, and I think in leaving out of our counsels during the next few years, perhaps the most difficult years this country is ever going to face, some of the most brilliant ability, some of the greatest enthusiasm for public good in this country, we are doing something that is utterly unworthy of the country and utterly unworthy of ourselves.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The hon. and learned Member who has just addressed the House has made quite clear what we all knew before—namely, that this Clause is not going to settle the controversy with regard to woman's franchise. This is the thin edge of the wedge, and although it may be a fairly thick-thin edge, it is a wedge which those who advocate women's suffrage quite candidly admit outside this House, if they do not admit it within these walls, they mean to drive in much further. The change is a tremendous one. I think there is a great deal in what the hon. and learned Member has just said in advocating the views he holds with enthusiasm and sincerity. At any rate, he certainly uttered one statement which is indefensible, and is an error which would not have escaped him except in the enthusiasm of 1909 his advocacy. He seemed from what he said to hold the view that all assistance to the national cause, all help and enthusiasm in reconstruction after the War, is to be exercised by the giving of the Parliamentary or municipal vote, and that no enthusiasm and no help can be given to the nation in any capacity unless the vote is conferred upon a person who desires to help the country. Of course, that is perfectly absurd. A very great deal of the very best work of the nation is being done by those who take no part in politics. Many are persons who now do not trouble to exercise their Parliamentary vote for the reason that they are not particularly enthusiastic for one or other of the candidates or parties that may be concerned. Many people of that kind work most admirably, and it is quite a delusion to think that the exercise of the Parliamentary or municipal vote is the highest form of helping the State. I will not pursue that line of argument.
I would like to remind the House, before we finally pass to the next Clause and proceed with another Section of this Bill, that there is an aspect of conferring the vote on very large numbers of women, as this Bill is doing, which I have not heard mentioned in the course of this Debate. It relates to questions affecting the alien races which are subjects of the Crown in the far-distant parts of the Empire. I instance India as a case. Matters concerning these great Dominions have to come up
|* NOTE—The number of Ayes reported by the Tellers was as above given; but the actual number in the list is 234.|
§ for discussion and decision in the Imperial Parliament. It must be remembered that Parliament has hitherto been a Parliament of men, giving the counsels of men, and supported by the votes of men; but that in these Dominions where women are not held in the same estimation, and are not counted in the same way, as they are in Western civilisation there will undoubtedly be a shaking of the influence of decisions of a Parliament largely influenced by the votes of women. That is a serious aspect of the case, and I rather wish it had been emphasised earlier in this Debate. I will not delay the House by going over the ground of what is a very old controversy. This Clause is admittedly a most imperfect and most unsatisfactory Clause. No one in this House is satisfied with it, and it can only be adopted as an illogical and unreasonable compromise. It cannot stand. I do not believe it will stand in its present form in some particulars on the Report stage, when we hope to convince the Government that the loopholes and irregularities which exist in the Clause in its present form will enable faggot and irregular votes to be given on a huge scale. We must, above all, take care that the votes given by these voters are votes properly and duly registered, and that they are genuine votes.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 214; Noes, 17.*1911
|Division No. 6o.]||AYES.||[10.1 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Bridgeman, William Clive||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)|
|Adamson, William||Brunner, John F. L.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Bryce, J. Annan||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bull, Sir William James||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby N.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Buxton, Noel||Dillon, John|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Byrne, Alfred||Doris, William|
|Anderson, W. C.||Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Dougherty, Rt. Hon, Sir J. B.|
|Archdale, Lieut. Edward M.||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward|
|Arnold, Sydney||Carnegie, Lieut.-Colonel D. G.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cautley, H. S.||Fell, Arthur|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E)||Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Ferens, Rt. Hon Thomas Robinson|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Ffrench, Peter|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Cecil,Rt. Hon. Lord Robert(Herts, Hitchin)||Field, William|
|Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Clough, William.||Finney, Samuel|
|Barton, Sir William||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||Courthope, George Loyd||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Cowan, Sir W. H.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bliss, Joseph||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Boland, John Plus||Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Gilbert, J. D.|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Croft, Brigadier-General Henry Page||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Goldstone. Frank|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Crumley. Patrick||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Boyton, James||Currie, George W.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Davies, Ellis William (Elflon)||Guest, Capt. Hon. F. E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Macmaster, Donald||Samuels, Arthur W.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hackett, John||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||ScanIan, Thomas|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Nermanton)||Maden, Sir John Henry||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Hancock, John George||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hanson, Charles Augustin||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Shortt, Edward|
|Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Simon, Rt. Hon Sir John Allsebreek|
|Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Millar, James Duncan||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Molloy, Michael||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Hendry, Denis S.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Stanley,Rt.Hon.SirA.H.(Asht'n-u-Lyne)|
|Hewart, Sir Gordon||Newman, John R. P.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hewins, William Herbert Samuel||Nolan, Joseph||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Norman, Sir Henry||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Norton, Griffiths, Sir John||Sutton, John E.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Hope, Lieut.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)||Nuttall, Harry||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Horne, Edgar||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Parker, James (Halifax)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Parkes, Sir Edward E.||Tickler, T. G.|
|Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Tootill, Robert|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Perkins, Waiter F.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|John, Edward Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H,||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Johnston, Sir Christopher||Pratt, J. W.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Jones. William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Radford, Sir George Heynes||Weston, J. W.|
|Jewett, Frederick William||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Joyce, Michael||Randles, Sir John S.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arton)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|King, Joseph||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Kinloch-Cooke. Sir Clement||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon S, Melton)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Robertson. Rt. Hon. John M||Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Robinson, Sidney||Wright. Henry Fitzherbert|
|Lundon, Thomas||Roch, Walter F.||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk.B'ghs)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Younger, Sir George|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Rowlands, James||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|McGhee, Richard||Rowntree, Arnold|
|M'Kean, John||Russell, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Lelf|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby) j||Jones and Sir E. Goulding|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Hunt, Major Rowland||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Mackinder, Halford J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F.|
|Gretton, John||Peto, Basil Edward||Banbury and Col. Sir R. Williams|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
Question put, and agreed to.