HC Deb 28 March 1917 vol 92 cc524-70

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


(resuming): I have pointed out that while we believe it is-possible to introduce and pass a Bill from which is eliminated all the contentious questions—and which, therefore, could have united support—it is impossible to support these proposals as long as they include such contentious matters as women's suffrage and questions of that kind. I ask myself why I should change the opinions I held a year ago—opinions-founded on conviction—and I fail to find any answer to that. It has been suggested that war work justifies these proposals. I do not see what war work done by women—and no one admits more willingly than I do the magnificent work that has been done—I do not see what that has to do with the question whether or not they should have votes. What were the ideas of the Prime Minister and the ex-Prime Minister before this War began as to what women would do in time of war? Did they think they would sit down with folded hands and do nothing, and are they surprised to find that the women have done their duty as part of the people of this country? They have done their duty, as men have done their duty, but I do not see that that has anything to do with the question of obtaining the vote. My wife and four daughters are at work. Some of my daughters are making shells in munition factories. I should have been ashamed of them if they were not. I do not say that there is anything wonderful in it. If they had not done it I should have been ashamed of them, but if they claimed the vote because they had done it, I should be still more ashamed of them.

We have to consider what this would mean. Is it for the good of the country that women should be included in the franchise? My opinion is that it is not. I speak as one who pledged himself in the first Parliament to which I was elected, that of 1895, to vote for a Woman Suffrage Bill which was introduced at that time, and I did vote for it, because I had given the pledge, possibly without going into the question as I should have done. I did not then realise its far-reaching importance. Since then I have realised that it would be the most disastrous and revolutionary measure that could be conceived, let alone introduced into the House of Commons. You had in this country at the beginning of the War 1,400,000 more women than men. Roughly, you may say that as a result of the War 500,000 men will be killed before it is over. I am told that after the South African War 340,000 men emigrated. They were men who had been in agriculture or factories and who were not going back to that work after the wild life of warfare. If out of the minute Army we had in South Africa, as compared with the Army we have to-day, over 300,000 men emigrated, what number will emigrate at the end of this War? You may put it at another 500,000. That means that at the end of this War there will be about 2,300,000 more women than men in this country. Nobody, not even the Prime Minister, will dare to suggest that if you limit the age at which women may vote to thirty-five, you can eventually, at any rate logically, refuse women the vote on the same terms as men. If you limit it for the moment it will only be for a short time—a month, a year or five years. Then the same arguments will apply, the same unions will come into being and agitate until they get the vote extended in the same way that it is extended to men and you get adult suffrage. That will be the greatest revolution which has ever happened in any country of the world. Hon. Members speak about some of our Colonies and some other small countries which have given the vote to women. That is quite a different thing, because the women there are in a hopeless minority. No nation has ever been ruled by a majority of women. That is the state to which this country would be reduced. We all admire women, but, after all, I like to see them on a pedestal, and not on a footing of equality. If you bring them down off the pedestal and put them on an equality with men you will kill the best spirit of chivalry which exists to-day and put the Government of the country into the hands of women who are not fitted for it by nature and temperament. It would be the most destructive and dangerous thing ever done by this House of Commons. For these reasons I for one support the Amendment and hope that the Government will be guided into the path of wisdom and will reject the contentious parts of this proposal and bring the remainder into operation as quickly as may be.


I rise to put briefly what has been decided by the great organisations representing labour in its political sense in this country. The speech to which we have just listened, while it reminded one that the prophet is not honoured in his own country, was not less lavish in its prophecy than was the case in years gone by. We have heard of the awful consequences that would follow the giving of the vote to the women of this country. We can cast our minds back to similar forecasts which formed the body of speeches made in this House and in the country on every occasion when it was proposed to extend the franchise to anybody except the privileged persons who happened to possess the vote at that time. The fact is that in a very considerable number of cities and boroughs to-day women are the deciding element in elections, or could be if they desired to unite as a sex and cast their vote on one par- ticular line because they are women. There are hundreds of thousands of women on the municipal register, yet town and county council government has not in any way suffered on that account. It is a delusion, for which men should be ashamed, for them to conclude that if we give votes to these millions of women it is certain that they will all act and vote alike as women and that there would be no difference of opinion on the great and varied questions with which they would have to concern themselves. History, experience, and the general working of politics and political parties show that women are no more likely to be agreed upon such questions than men. If, with the vote, women would be absolutely unanimous as a sex, one might well ask, "How is it that without a vote they are not so united?" Women are divided now in politics, in labour organisations, in Liberal and Conservative organisations—indeed, I believe it is to be found that some twenty-seven or twenty-eight separate organisations for women already exist with the particular purpose of getting the vote. The very number of those different organisations is a proof of the inherent quality of difference in the case of women, as in the case of men.

Organised labour has a very definite point of view7 on this question, and has maintained it for years. It is that women should enjoy the same rights of citizenship as men. Their functions only differ from ours. It cannot be said that they are of less service than men are in the eye of the State, and war experiences have proved to us that the great reserve force of women's labour has had to be called in in order to replace the men who necessarily have been taken for the Army, and in the performance of their work they have done not only great credit to themselves but immense service to their country. Indeed it is doubtful if the soldiers now in Flanders, France, and elsewhere could carry on the War—could carry out their orders—if it were not for the hundreds of thousands of women who, even at midnight to-night, will be working in the scores or hundreds of munition factories throughout the country. Their service there is only different in kind, and not necessarily of less value or of less necessity than that of men.

But I would claim that even if they had not rendered this great service to the country in war-time their rights are still as strong and their grounds of claim as good as that of men. They are answerable to the law. We commonly say that people who have to obey the law and observe the general conditions imposed upon units in the community should have some voice and share in the making of these laws and how it is that we have been able for so long to leave to women the right to vote in local elections and withhold it when we come to the larger business of Parliament passes comprehension. But the question has been the subject of heated controversy now for many years past. Public opinion to a very great extent has ranged itself behind the claim of the women. Their service during the War has been the occasion of quite notable conversions to the women's claim. There is not now very much of that opposition in the country which existed prior to the War, and I regard this as a most opportune moment for extending to the women the franchise rights which cannot possibly be long delayed. As to the exact point at which we should begin and how far votes are to extend as a beginning, that will be hereafter for the House to decide and we on these benches welcome the intimation from the Prime Minister that legislation is to follow what we expect will be a quite convincing demonstration in the Lobbies to-night in favour of this long delayed measure of justice to women. It is not on grounds of service that the women should have equality of treatment before the law and should possess any power or privilege which men possess for the making and the shaping of the destinies of their country. This I regard as a quite opportune moment for giving effect to this ever-growing national movement.

The argument is used that while this War is on no controversial question should be introduced or discussed. Had that doctrine applied ever since the War began we could not have gone on with the War at all. Many scores of highly controversial questions have had to be introduced and have been settled by legislation, some of them on a basis of compromise. Indeed, the War period has been used, and I think rightly used, in many quarters in order to try to compose and conclude differences which we found it difficult to discuss or settle during times of peace. For instance, I the recurring quarrels between employers and employed in this country are a matter for grave regret and a source of great national loss, and suggest to us often the desirability of trying whatever can be done to make it impossible that these quarrels should occur. War-time is pointed out as being supremely the moment when workmen and employers should come together and try to settle this question, so that after the War they can jointly work in the national interest and for the common good. There is no more controversial question that I can think of than the question of the differences between employer and employed. That is a much more controversial question and it divides men more severely than even does the division between man and man or woman and woman on any franchise question. I could mention a dozen different important topics which we are asked during war-time to come together and try to settle, and the reason is really the same reason one might apply to the claim for the women or for any of the changes suggested in the Speaker's Report. It is that the War is producing every month its own crop of problems which cannot be settled during war-time. We can only prepare to settle these questions, and there are scores of committees engaged on that work of preparation and getting ready to settle and solve the difficulties which war-time has created.

The other reason is that after the War, in additions to these questions which the War has produced, it is unlikely that the country will be in the frame of mind for a long time to deal with anything except the products of the War, and now, while Parliament has time, and while the War is being waged, is the time when those of us who have differed keenly upon these questions should, on lines of give and take, upon the broad basis of the compromise suggested in this Report, bring to an end a controversy which will continue to be waged until it is settled. In face of the fact, which common sense dictates, that some settlement is inevitable, the concession of citizenship to women is a matter which cannot long be delayed, and I suggest that this is the best and not the worst time to face facts and try to come to a conclusion. Facing the matter from that standpoint, organised labour convened a great Conference only just over a week ago, attended by more than 400 delegates and representing, generally speaking, the organised workmen and women of the country. At that Conference there was a large body of opinion still determined to press upon Parliament for the full measure of our claim—the establishment of adult suffrage, and many other franchise and registration reforms which we have long demanded. But, after mature consideration, the Conference unanimously resolved to approve legislation, if introduced early and passed into law, on the general lines of the Speaker's Conference Report, thereby forfeiting our demand for the time being for complete adult suffrage and for those other reforms to which I have alluded. Broadly, the reason is that a period of compromise is, after all, possible to us in this country, that while War is being waged in other lands we here, in what might be termed, in a certain sense, a state of peace, can use that condition to give and take, and to settle on lines of compromise those highly controversial questions. Men must not think that this is solely their topic, for, whether you admit the right or not, women will persist actively to clamour for their rights until those claims are met. On the lines, then, of the Conference Report, we are not only prepared to see but we eagerly welcome legislation which will make a handsome beginning in the case of women and which would in the case of men remove many injustices and anomalies that now exist in regard to electoral conditions.

I would only refer to one point, and that is the conclusion of the Conference in sweeping aside all the other conditions and qualifications by which men have been hampered in their claims to vote in years gone by. One had to be an occupier or a tenant or a freeman or a lodger. All these different distinctions in one way or another set up the right to a vote. The right that a man has for a vote is that he is a man, and the right that a woman has for a vote is that she is a woman. The conditions of citizenship should be made more equal as between the sexes. We have decided to accept this great change in principle and in conditions—the change that a person merely residing at a particular place is a qualification for a vote, instead of all these other complicated and unfair conditions that have Formerly prevailed. The reduction in the term of residence is also viewed with the greatest favour by organised labour, because conditions of work, especially those conditions which the War has enforced, have occasioned the removal of hundreds of thousands of men from one part of the country to another. In the case of anyone who is driven in search of work, or because he has secured work, or because of the general economic and social conditions, to move from town to town and city to city, it is extremely unfair that that condition of industrial life should deprive any man of his right of citizenship.

Into many of the other details and recommendations I will not go, but I would like to say that the House at such a time as this ought to seek out its points of agreement more than its points of difference. That is something which is very often overlooked. The War, and what has accrued from it, has certainly lessened in number and reduced in intensity the points of difference that prevailed before the War in this and other Assemblies. Those of use who had the privilege to sit in this House before the War are bound to recognise that the temper and the form of individual mind that dominated us, even on occasions when one would expect or at least desire to see the greatest harmony and agreement, has changed. The War certainly has tended to compose a great many of our differences and to impose upon us the sense of a common cause for the common good, and as women have taken so large a part in war work their right has been established by service, and as millions of men who never had the vote have had to shoulder their rifles and take their chance of death, you can depend upon it that neither men nor women will permit this House any longer to delay the scheme of justice to which they are entitled.


Deplorable and unwise as I think was the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Liverpool (Colonel Chaloner), I think on the whole it is a good thing it was delivered. It did something to clear the air. It showed that with whatever degree of moderation certain speakers have addressed the House, there is in certain quarters a disposition to take up an attitude of complete immobility with which I, for one, have no sympathy whatever. The hon. and gallant Member asked why should he change his opinions. However much he may have studied the question since he came into this House, I think it would be better on the whole if he did not change his opinion. The more important question, for me at all events, is why I should change my opinion. After all, there are opinions in all quarters of the House, as there are in all quarters of the country, on this question, and I see no reason why, if parties on one side of this question—and I think the majority—are asked to consider changes, there is any presumption that the change should be all on one side. None whatever. I do not seek to repeat the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. Mackinder), who spoke so finely on behalf of his Unionist friends in Scotland, but I would say that so far as I know the opinion in Scotland he made a fair and reliable statement on which the House can depend. My conviction is that the general feeling in Scotland, not merely amongst Unionists, but amongst all classes and all shades of opinion, is that questions so great and so grave will shortly be pressing upon us for consideration that we do not wish—there is no general wish—to spend more time in discussing mere questions of machinery or to take up the attitude that we think that the tests which were applied to voting qualifications thirty, fifty, eighty, or a hundred years ago are the tests which in reason should be applied now. I think the right angle of observation from which to approach the question of voting fitness is this: that any man—I may add any woman, for I have always thought so—who is leading a reasonably settled industrial life, and who has not disqualified himself or herself by default of some kind; and in the case of a man I would say, who is willing and able to take his share in the obligation of defence, is prima facie entitled to a vote, and qualified for a vote. The property qualifications, as I understand them, were applied fifty years or a generation ago, because they offered us the most easily applied test of the same fitness which we wish to apply now. I do not like them very much, and I think it would be better for ourselves, and would save us a great deal of trouble in the process, if we adopted other qualifications. I know that in a good many quarters there would be regret if university Members were no longer to appear amongst us. But admirable service as many of those gentlemen have rendered, and convinced as I am that a man of education is entitled to, and probably always will, have rather more influence in the community than a man who has not those qualifications, I am not prepared to say that there is only one way in which his full weight can be given to him in the community. There are many other ways.

I think some of those who have in the past attached a good deal of importance to the right of plural votes, treble votes, and quadruple votes, should reconsider their position. In the first place, I think it is only fair to remind them that this House, rightly or wrongly, has made up its mind upon that point. I am not prepared to say that it acted very fairly in the way it did so, but there is the fact, and I am not prepared to spend much more of my time in discussing whether a man is entitled to four votes, or three votes, or two votes. I do not think there is enough substance in the whole thing to justify spending any more time upon it. I do not care about it very much. I do not very much care whether university representation is continued or not, and I do not think that the question of proportional representation is of itself of sufficient importance that this whole scheme of electoral reform will break down because proportional representation drops out of it. I was quite prepared to agree to the adoption of a limited and reasonable experiment in regard to proportional representation, but if it drops out of this scheme I do note very much mind. On one rather important point the Secretary of State for the Colonies I think misunderstood what the hon. Member for Camlachie said, certainly what he must have meant to say, and I think reference to the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow will bear out my view. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, referring to certain qualifications which appear in the words of the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend and myself and others, was rather inclined to think that the reference to Ireland and the reference to the reform of the House of Lords were meant to suggest that, if these matters could not be properly and satisfactorily dealt with at least simultaneously with the general question, that our Amendment was aimed at securing, or, at all events, contemplating a delay in dealing with the other matters. That is not so at all. It is quite true that my friends and myself think that if we could obtain a settlement of certain difficulties surrounding the Irish aspect of the question we would rather have it, and in the same way if we could secure the promised reform of the House of Lords we would be very glad to do so, particularly with reference to the last question, because we feel that if we had the balance wheel of the Constitution in better work- ing order than it is now we should be safer. We do not feel that we are in a very dangerous position, but certainly we should feel it safer to face whatever share of risks these very considerable changes may carry with them.

That is the sense in which these additions to our Amendment were made, and they were made in no other sense. If we cannot have these matters dealt with we are content not to have them dealt with, but we do think that having secured such general agreement as has been secured, it would be a thousand pities to lose the fruits of Mr. Speaker's Conference. I think that it is a great reproach to the country, both England and Scotland, that after two generations of public education, there should still be such a measure of doubt as to whether our citizens are fit to exercise the franchise or not. If that doubt remains at the end of another generation, or even ten or fifteen years, I would then regard it as indeed a very serious reflection on those with whom power has lain for the last four or five generations. We heard a good deal this afternoon about compromise. A genial humorist once described compromise as an arrangement by which all parties concerned got what they did not want. It is obvious from the speech made on behalf of the, I think, rather discredited remnant of a certain section of those who really hold the view that it is unsafe to grant votes to women, that at least they have realised that their share in this compromise is something which they do not like. They honestly say so. But when I admit the honesty of their contention I have really said all that I can say in its favour, because I listened with genuine dislike and a feeling of great indignation to the speech which was made by the protagonist of that particular cause this evening. I cannot say that I was altogether surprised, because I received a written statement not many days ago which bore his name, and which no doubt states his views at greater length. I am sorry that my hon. Friend is not in the House, but I cannot help it. In that communication I was told that it would be on my part a flagrant departure from political honesty if I were a party to this constitutional revolution.

Who is to be the judge of my political honesty? In the first place, I suppose my Constituents. My Constituents have always known my views, and I know theirs. They are not unanimous. They know exactly where they are with me and I know where I am with them. Why, therefore, the question of political honesty? After all, if I take one view of the matter, my hon. Friend takes another. There is really no presumption that I am dishonest and that he is honest. I may be quite wrong. He may be quite right. But I entirely challenge the right of any man to lecture me in this way as to ordinary political honesty. He went the length of suggesting, and I think of saying, that the constituencies had never been consulted. There may here and there be constituencies whose Members have not consulted them. All I can say is that I believe that at all events nine out of ten Members in this House have a reasonably correct idea of where they are with their Constituents upon this point, and I regard it as a piece of unspeakable impertinence for any of my fellow Members to send me a letter telling me that if I take a particular view of this matter I shall be guilty of a flagrant departure from political honesty.

There was more in this precious communication than that admonition. I confess that I was amazed beyond measure to read the statement, over the signature of any man in this House or in public life to the effect that "wages and not the vote is the appointed payment for the services of women." I think that that is an unmanly and an unmannerly gibe, and cowardly beyond any power of expression in words at my command. The hon. Member said that he was anxious to make a handsome acknowledgment of the services of women, and yet he tells us that wages and not the vote is their appointed payment. I do not share, I never have shared, what has always appeared to me to be the somewhat exaggerated expectations which I think most women entertain of the reform and the advantages that will accompany the securing of the vote. I think that they overrate these matters. I have always thought so. I think that many of the arguments that have done much service in the campaign on both sides are touched with a good deal of unsoundness. I always get back to the fundamental point that if women have a claim to the vote it has simply been on account of their womanhood. If they are the same as men, I could understand the argument that if men have the vote that is enough. If you cannot say that, if they are different from men, then you cannot use the argument that the possession of the vote by men covers the case of women. The Amendment is a compromise. I think that what we have heard from the late Prime Minister this afternoon and from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, as a matter of practical politics, very nearly ends this argument.

So far as I know, nine out of ten of those who do not like giving votes to women are prepared to follow the Secretary of State for the Colonies and say that they are not very sure about it, and to let the matter end—that if it is a mistake they are not to blame. But by those who do not like this we are told that we are to be faced with a bitter continuation of the struggle. The more speeches that are made in the country of the kind we have listened to this afternoon, in my view, the shorter this struggle will be. I would like to hear one every day for a month in my Constituency. I do not think much of the political consistency, or the principle either of a man who says that he is opposed on principle to giving the vote to women, and then goes on to say that if there were a referendum he would give it. I do not think much of a principle of that kind. My hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke appealed to us not to divide the House or to divide the nation. On the other hand, I make the same appeal to him as he makes to me. There would be no division of opinion if those who feel so strongly did not stir up division. I am as much entitled to appeal to the hon. Member not to cause a division as he is to appeal to me. Although I feel very strongly upon the subject, if it were a choice of standing still, and doing nothing, and spending twenty years fighting a rearguard action, then I would say at once grant adult suffrage immediately, for I would then feel very much safer. My hon. Friend and those who think with him seem to think that they have a monopoly of devotion to any good cause. He thinks one way and I think another, but that is not evidence that I possess a smaller share of devotion than he does. I call arguments of that character special pleading, and not of a very good type. I listened to one speaker after another, hoping to hear contributed some arguments on the merit of the proposal, and I confess that my impression of the speeches was rather disappointing. I do not think that the subject requires any special pleading of that kind, which really will not bear very close examination when it is read to-morrow. Having listened to all the speeches hostile to the settlement suggested, to me they appear to have missed the point, and I think there will not be found in them a single argument against the merits of the proposal. You will hear such arguments as that the time is inopportune and that this proposal or the other is not liked. I have listened to every one of the speeches hostile to the compromise, and not one of them has given reasonable statements against the proposals on their merits, and it appears to me that the arguments which have been advanced are much more germane to questions relating to opportunity.


That will come on the Bill, and not now.


We will see when the Bill comes, but it seems to me right that those who dislike these proposals should be prepared to argue them on their merits a great deal more than they have done. I think they have made out an uncommonly poor case, and I have not the least hesitation in saying that the feeling in Scotland is practically unanimous. We wish to be done with expenditure of time on mere questions of machinery, questions of a little privilege here or there. We want to be ready to lay our hands to the plough, and to apply our minds to the large questions which undoubtedly will come before us.


I desire to join hon. Members in their expression of appreciation of the value of the services rendered by Mr. Speaker in having presided over this Conference, and also in having succeeded in obtaining an almost unanimous decision from the members of that Conference on the subject submitted to them for consideration. It certainly could not have been an easy task. The problems he had to consider were very difficult, and they were of a very contentious character. The members who composed the Conference were selected from different parties, and from different groups of the State. Nevertheless, he has succeeded in presenting to us a series of recommendations which we understand, with few exceptions, were almost unanimously adopted by the Conference. I would like at starting to say that, notwithstanding—


May I point out to my hon. Friend, for I think I ought to say so, that, at the time when those conclusions, or many of them, were, as the late-Prime Minister said, carried unanimously, three members left the Conference because they did not agree with what was taking place.

9.0 p.m.


I said almost unanimous, and I was aware that three of the Members left the Conference because they disagreed with the conclusions. Notwithstanding that the recommendations in the Conference were almost unanimously adopted, I do not feel, and I do not say, that the Members of this House are necessarily under any obligation to agree with the findings of the Conference. We all have a right to express our opinions, and to be bound by our own convictions, and the fact that a committee or conference recommends us to adopt a certain number of conclusions at which they have arrived as a compromise does not seem to me to be any sufficient reason why we should necessarily agree with all those recommendations. The position in which we are placed, I must say, is a very difficult one, particularly after the speech, the extremely eloquent speech, of the Prime Minister, who almost represented that the proposal of the Conference was to be regarded as a Government proposal. I am quite certain that the great majority of the House will not desire to vote directly against any proposal which tomes from the Prime Minister as a Government proposal. But apart from that there are, I must own, very strong reasons for the postponement of this proposal. It is a very strange thing that only very recently, within the last few months, we have been told that during the War, and under present circumstances, it is most undesirable to introduce into this House any strongly contentious matter which would divide different parties in the State. To-night, both on the part of the late Prime Minister and of others who have spoken, the very opposite proposal has been placed before us. We are reminded that we are in a state of war, and that, therefore, this is the most opportune time to introduce the most contentious matters into Parliament. Consequently, we have brought before us in this Report not a single matter which has divided opinion for many years, but a whole host of questions which cannot be said to be otherwise than of a most contentious character. I am not prepared to say which of those opinions is correct. Whether the fact that the War is going on is a sufficient reason for adopting without much discussion matters of a most contentious character, or whether during the War all contentious proposals should be set aside.

I am quite willing to admit that many of the suggestions contained in the Report are very valuable as containing new principles of electoral reform, which have been before us on other occasions, but which we have never been urged so strongly to adopt as in the speeches that have been made by the Prime Minister and by the ex-Prime Minister jointly. I am willing to admit that some of the proposals in the Report would be likely to be acceptable without much discussion in this House and in the country, and I believe that we should be prepared to give to those proposals an almost unanimous assent. I think, taking all the circumstances into consideration, we are disposed to agree to a very large extension of the present franchise. We are also of opinion that our soldiers and sailors and those who have fought for us ought to be allowed to vote, but that a new franchise law which would enable them under existing conditions to have the franchise extended to them would open very widely the gate to the franchise involving proposals to which we might or might not be able to assent. I think we are all agreed that the conditions of registration ought to be simplified very much in the manner suggested in the Speaker's Report, and, further, that the expenses of elections ought, if possible, to be decreased. The expenses attendant on an election for a university constituency are not large, but the expenses attendant on elections for other constituencies are often abnormally large, and I am sure the whole House would agree that it is desirable under present conditions that those expenses should be reduced. Then, again, we, the Unionist Members of the House, have often said that any proposals for an extension of the franchise ought to be attended with measures for the redistribution of seats. Therefore we cannot say that we are opposed to any general proposition for the redistribution of seats. Redistribution of seats is one of those proposals to which the Unionist Members of the House have always assented, because when accompanied by a large extension of the franchise it seemed to be one of the means, of giving equal value to votes. It will be seen, therefore, that the Report of the Speaker's Conference contains a number of proposals to which I think general agreement might be given It is to me a matter of regret that the members of the Conference went further than those suggestions which were likely to carry general agreement.

There was another proposal of very great importance introduced into this Report, and that was the question of proportional representation, a proposal which governed, I should say, a very large number of the other proposals connected with registration. The question of proportional representation runs through the whole of the Speaker's Report. In order that proportional representation may have a fair field, it was thought desirable to create large constituencies of two, three, or four Members. I do not think that any measure could have been introduced into a Report of this kind, which was to obtain general agreement, which is of a more contentious character than that of proportional representation, with the various devices for giving minorities representation in this House. I must own that it is with considerable satisfaction I heard from the Prime Minister this afternoon that he did not think in any Bill that might be introduced into the House, embodying the proposals of the Conference, the question of proportional representation would necessarily find a place. That, I think, was one of the most satisfactory conclusions which were made.


It can be put in.


It can be put in, of course. It did not say it will not be put in, but I understood that it is not likely to be put in any measure introduced by the Government. Proportional representation is a radical reform. The other matters to which I have referred as those on which general agreement might be expressed only involve principles which already exist in our franchise law and require some extension. But the question of proportional representation is absolutely new to our franchise law, and is a radical reform, which in my opinion would alter entirely the constitution of this House, and is by far too revolutionary to be introduced at the present time. There is another very important matter on which I understand opinion was divided in the Conference, and that is the question of giving votes to women. As to that question I should say I have always been opposed to the extension of the franchise to women. But I must own, and one regrets to have to own any change of opinion, that I do feel very much in sympathy with the statement made by the late Prime Minister. I do feel that in consequence of this War we must look at things from a different angle, and see things in different proportion, and the question of the admission of women to the franchise is one of those questions. I must admit that I had no idea that women would have been able to make themselves so useful in the prosecution of the War as they have shown they have been, and I cannot possibly avoid coming to the conclusion that I have no right to say after the War in which they have participated, and through which they have incurred such painful losses, that they should have no voice in the future policy of this country.

One of the strongest objections I have to the prompt introduction of reform on proposals based on the Speaker's Conference, is that there is a question of a very controversial character, which, it seems to me, has a prior right to be considered by this House, and that is the question of an Irish settlement. Personally, I look upon the Irish question, I must own, a little differently from what I did prior to the War, and I am most desirous of seeing a settlement of the whole question arrived at shortly and promptly. I think it would be a very dreadful thing for this country if we were to alter entirely our system of franchise, if we were to extend the franchise very largely and to admit women, and if at the same time we were to make no alteration in the conditions under which the Irish Members at present hold their seats. The Irish Members themselves very often say that they do not have the advantage of governing their own country, but for many years, in consequence of the undue representation of Ireland in this House, they have really governed England, and through England the Empire. I sincerely hope that prior to the consideration by this House of the very contentious matters that are involved in the proposals of the Speaker's Report, the Government will take the necessary steps, and will do all they possibly can do to arrive at a definite settlement of the Irish question which will be satisfactory to the Ulstermen and to the Nationalists.

I have spoken of the various matters which are of a contentious character, and which I regret were introduced into the Speaker's Report. There is one other matter, of small importance, I own, but in which I personally, of course, am deeply interested, and that is the question of the university franchise. I must own that I am very grateful to the Conference and to the Speaker for the recognition of the importance of the principle of the university franchise, and for their proposal for increasing university representation, but at the same time that proposal was accompanied by considerations which, so far as my own university is concerned, would have taken away its chief merit. I cannot for one moment understand how any Members cognisant with university education in this country could for one moment have suggested that it was a desirable or even a possible arrangement that the University of London, with a history of over eighty years, a university which has enjoyed representation in this House for a period of fifty years, should have been grouped in future in its representation with eight new universities, none of which have hitherto enjoyed representation, and one of which is not situated in this country—I mean the University of Wales. The Members of that Conference must certainly have been very uninformed as to the essential characteristics and the aims and purposes of the University of London, for they differ in many respects from those of any other university in the United Kingdom. They differ from the aims and objects of Oxford and Cambridge, and they differ essentially, and must always differ essentially, from those of any local university. I do not propose at this time, before we even know that any Bill is going to be introduced, to urge reasons against that proposal, but I may say that the university does protest against it. The Standing Committee of Convocation have sent in letters protesting against it, and if such a proposal were part of a Bill the graduates of the university, who are scattered throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, would, I am certain, urge upon their Members to do all they possibly could to prevent such a proposal being carried into effect. In these circumstances, I think you will agree that it is a contentious proposal which ought to be omitted from any Bill.

The House may like to know what I propose to do with regard to the Amendment which has been moved, and here I must own that I find myself in considerable difficulty. The very fact that the Prime Minister has decided that the principle of proportional representation is not likely to be embodied in any Bill makes me feel rather differently towards the whole proposal than I did some few days ago. At the same time, I do feel that it would be a good thing if this question could be postponed so that no contentious matters should be introduced into the House during the War and I am strongly of opinion that it ought to be postponed until after the Irish question is settled. I may say this, that if the Government, after carefully considering the question, do decide to introduce a Bill to give effect to these proposals, I must warn them that they cannot expect for the Bill a happy or easy passage through the House, seeing that every Member will consider it his right to express his convictions with regard to those proposals which are of a contentious character, and that there may be lengthy discussions and Divisions upon some of those proposals. At the same time, I feel that the responsibility of introducing the Bill, subject to the warning which I have ventured to offer, must lie with the Government, and under those circumstances I am not disposed to vote against the Motion.


I shall not speak for more than a few minutes. There is no time to-night properly to discuss the question of female suffrage, but I may say this, that as far as I can find out opinion outside, if not inside, this House is largely changing in favour of giving women a vote as soon as possible, and no doubt that is largely owing to the excellent work which they have done for us and for the country during the War, and I think we should all be willing to acknowledge their great services, especially to the wounded. The Motion, of course, covers the Report of Mr. Speaker's Conference, but I do not take it that we are bound to everything in that Report if we do vote with the late Prime Minister, because we have had no opportunity so far, or very little, of bringing this matter before our Constituents in order to hear what they might have to say in the matter. Anything that we may therefore say in regard to matters in the Report must not bind us as to the details in future when we come to consider the Bill. If the proposals in the Bill are carried out, they will materially alter the position of my Constituents, and I want, therefore, to be very careful, not having had the opportunity of consulting them upon the matter, to see that I do not bind them in anything that I am going to do.

Electoral reform is a subject we have had before us for many years, but we have never done much in that direction. Everyone has admitted that our system of registration is the most absurd that ever existed. We give with one hand and take away with the other. There are a number of things in connection with registration which we all admit ought long ago to have been reformed. Consequently, most of us are thankful to Mr. Speaker and his Conference for having in a practical way shown us how to consider most of these questions. I also agree with a good deal of what has been said in regard to legislation during the War. We have allowed things to go through during the War with an anxious desire to help the Government. as much as possible, no matter which Government it might be, but there is no doubt we have agreed to a good many things to which we would not have agreed under ordinary circumstances. Therefore it must be borne in mind that what you call compromise during war-time ought not to give anyone the opportunity of rushing through the House bad legislation. That is not to be thought of. It is our duty, I think, and I have endeavoured to follow it out with regard to party-politics, to give any Government of the King our active, united support in successfully prosecuting the War to an end as soon as possible. That is my idea of our duty at the present time. I do not, therefore, think that any electoral matters; should get in the way and make for dis-unity in any shape or form. I hope that we shall at the proper time, whenever it comes, make the necessary reforms with regard to the franchise and other matters.

I want to make it thoroughly understood in regard to registration that I have not yet made up my mind. My Constituents have not had the opportunity of discussing these proposals. We have been told by our leaders that we have now got a political truce and that we ought not to introduce party political matters during the War. That is an honourable understanding which most of us have endeavoured to carry out. That leads me to say that questions of this sort, if put before a constituency, might tend to break the political truce. Moreover, constituents, at any rate, mine in Sutherlandshire, would probably tell anyone that they wanted the land question settled and that they were willing to give you any franchise that would settle the land question. Consequently, I have not had the opportunity of putting before them these proposals or even of getting copies enough of the Report to do so. I want to take care that they are not injured in any way by anything I may do or say. Consequently, I claim the right later to have the opportunity to know the mind of my Constituents. I hope, therefore, that we may some day be agreed as to these matters, but I am not certain that we ever shall. In normal times you will find that you get a much more satisfactory conclusion when matters are debated, not only in this House, but outside amongst our constituents. I do not want in any way to bar mine At the present time we are supporting the Government—and doing it, I hope, properly—to successfully prosecute the War to a victorious end. We are trying to do that in the best way we can, and I shall stick to it as long as I can. We have passed so much legislation that otherwise we do not like at all that almost every scrap of liberty has gone. If, however, it ends in the successful finish of this violent and cruel war we shall all be satisfied. We shall all be satisfied that we have given up our rights and the rights of representation for the good of the country.

Major E. WOOD

I hope that the hon. Member and those who think with him will not think that those of us who are unable to support the Amendment which he supports—


I did not say that I supported the Amendment.

Major WOOD

Then I apologise to the hon. Member.


I hope I did not in any way make a mistake, but what I said was that I was going to support the Resolution of the late Prime Minister on the understanding that we were not bound to every detail or to redistribution; but the Amendment I have nothing to do with.

Major Wood

I apologise, and I am extremely pleased to find that the posi- tion of the hon. Member corresponds substantially with that of my own. I hope that those who do support the Amendment will not feel that those who sit on this side fail to appreciate the strength of the arguments they have put forward. As I understand it, the object of this Debate has been to elucidate two points The first is whether this House wants a scheme of electoral reform at all, and, if so, whether it wants it now or at some later date. On that point it appears to me the Debate has proved two things. The first is that this is the only conceivable, logical scheme if you mean to touch the matter at all. The Prime Minister proved that conclusively—if it required proof! The second thing is that the trend of the speeches which have been delivered in this Debate have to my mind furnished proof that this is the only possible basis upon which all the differing opinions in this House can find agreement if that be so, the only question that we have to ask ourselves is whether we wish to carry this scheme now or postpone it to some later date, as my hon. and learned Friend would have us do? I, however, cannot take that view, and that for these reasons. Nobody feels more strongly than I do that the supreme effort and task before us is the War. But I am not able to take his view that the Army in France would feel that if this House tackles this task they will be playing the Army false. My experience of the Army in France would lead me to believe that it only demands one thing—that this House should support loyally and avoid interference with those who are charged with the conduct of operations. The work of the Government, as I see it, in war-time is rather to administrate than legislate. I am not saying for a moment that this House is not busy with necessary legislation, but what I do say, without any fear of being contradicted, is that it will be far busier in the post-war period than it is now, when its work ought to be confined to supporting, as loyally as it can, a vigorous Administration

I would direct the attention of hon. Members who do not agree with me to this: he Prime Minister outlined some of the tasks that will await this House after the War. As I see it, besides all the problems of reconstruction that it will have to face, it will also have to do what I consider imperative, and that is to reassert its control over the Executive. You cannot do it in time of war, when the control of the Administration over the Execu- tive is bound to lie dormant, but we want to reassert it as soon as we can, especially in the realm of finance. The third thing is that this House ought to regain the leadership of the nation, which, in my opinion, it is in danger of losing. Therefore, I would go so far as to say that at this moment a bold scheme of reform is the foundation stone of your post-war policy. The House of Commons can only command, as the Prime Minister said, the necessary confidence to do all these things after the War if it is prepared at this moment to place itself fearlessly at the head of all the new forces that are afoot in the country. If you postpone this scheme, what will happen? In the first place, all chances of a great scheme are gone. From that it follows that party feeling will supervene. We shall again have this question that has been—I do not say it has not got other merits—one of the most directly party political questions for years. It has been put off and off mainly on party interests, and your new House of Commons when you get it will lack the force to grapple with all the work that lies before it. Let us be quite clear about this. It is not surely likely that, if you put it off till after the War, this House will be able to deal with it between the conclusion of the War and an election. If it does not, you will have a new House of Commons elected, as we have been told, on some sort of register, and unless that House in its unrepresentative condition is to tackle all those things, you will be faced with another election, with more waste of time and delay in getting to work with legislation of which this country has need. I know a compromise pleases no one. There are a lot of things in this scheme I do not like, but do let us take in this matter a longer view. Let us look forward to the possibility of new co-operation between men of parties in this House, which once you let party feeling intervene will become impossible, and if you get that co-operation there is no limit, to my mind, to what may lie within the bounds of possibility. Postponement spells failure, and the indefinite postponement of reform spells delay, and inevitably increased difficulty for all the wider causes that, in my view, at this moment really are based upon, and hinge upon, a bold measure of reform.


I have listened with the deepest sympathy and with the greatest admiration to many of the speeches made on behalf of the Resolution of the late Prime Minister. I feel, as every Member feels, the force of much that has been urged by the present Prime Minister. I feel that if we could reach a compromise upon this point I would be ready to do it. I realise the good spirit that animates them and the strong reasons there are for us to follow their lead. At the same time, I cannot but conscientiously express the feelings of deep doubt as to the wisdom of the course proposed. Just let me look at one or two of the points. The present Prime Minister urged as strongly as possible that to touch the question of the Second Chamber would be merely fiddling with the question, and that it was impossible at the present time. Immediately after him there arose the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Mackinder), who said the Motion of which he had given notice embodied as did his speech the view that the reconsideration of the whole question of the Second Chamber was an essential hypothesis of his support of this Motion-Is not that a very serious point? We were urged by the hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Pollock) to cast aside any meticulous points, and, above all, not to look at the matter as it affected ourselves individually. Honestly I can say no man in the House is more anxious to look at this from an entirely impartial point of view, and I was rather sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for London University raised the particular question as to the seat for London University. If you consider it on the whole better for the nation that the university seats should go, let them go by all means. I think there are objections to that course. But I am not going to defend them, or enter into that question at all, and I do not think that is the point of view from which we ought to discuss this proposal.


I only referred to that question as showing the proposal introduced contentious matter.


Well, I wish the hon. Member had not referred to it at all. I will say that I look with the greatest respect upon the source of these proposals in the Speaker's Conference. I look with respect on the weight of authority that has supported those proposals in this House, and I feel moved, as I have already said, by the speeches delivered. I am not concerned to dispute the particular proposals. I am quite prepared to say that these proposals may serve admirably hereafter as a basis for a compromise, and I am quite ready to consider them, when the time comes, as a compromise, and, so far as I can, to bend my own political opinions in support of anything that can be a satisfactory compromise. I only say of it at this moment that it is inopportune, and when I am asked to take a compromise when so offered I often think that it is a sort of bait held out to us to get us to acquiesce because of threats of what we may get hereafter. I want the best, and am not going to acquiesce in any bribe that may be half-best. I am afraid that compromise is a poor way of settling great national questions, and, however we may compromise, remember that an immense weight of opinion in this country may not be behind us in any such bargain.

Just observe that the proposals of the Speaker's Conference, however weighty and important, were not unanimous and were not complete, and they failed to reach an agreement upon two most difficult questions—one Woman Suffrage and the other the question of Ireland. On that subject I would welcome any conciliation. But with regard to women there is one argument that weighs very heavily with me, and it has not been referred to once in this Debate, and it is that you should not give the suffrage to any class when you are not sure that the majority of those to whom you are giving it are not absolutely opposed to it. I am of the opinion that the majority of women would be opposed to giving the suffrage, because they think their work is better done in other ways, and I do not think the majority against woman suffrage is in any way confined to those who have not done work for the War. I think the majority of them are ready to say, "We doubt whether it is wise to accept the vote." Even if we accepted the proposals without dispute, do you think the country will silently accept a compromise on a vast scheme like this, involving the whole political constitution of the country? Can you compromise that question because a committee gives certain opinions and you agree from political expediency to accept those opinions? Is there not something behind you stronger and more difficult? If there were great changes necessary in this country, if we were curbed under a military or bureaucratic autocracy or an aristocratic or Imperial autocracy, it might be necessary to do what our great Ally in Russia has done—out those chains by revolution. But does anyone think at this moment that this country has its political instincts curbed or its liberties checked? Is there anything more than merely a slight quickening of the movement that is required? Do we think that this country's democratic interests are being set aside? [An HON. MEMBER; "Yes!"] Do we think the great feeling of the country or the mind of the country is not fully expressed in this national Government at this moment, which is largely composed of the Labour party? Does anybody raise the argument that at this moment the country is checked under a tyranny from which it must set itself free before it can do anything. On the contrary, our country, under the stress of war, at this moment has all its social and economic conditions in a state of fusion. We cannot see what they will be after the War, but it would be anticipating the problem to try and settle matters at this moment. We know that after the War things will be changed, and nothing will be as before. Do you think that by a patched-up compromise before peace is attained you can arrive by a compromise at an arrangement which will be best for the country? Is it not best to wait until you have peace and until you have seen what is the outcome of the War, what elements you have to shape, and how these will be best organised? I am told that one argument against our plea for delay and for not plunging into disputes which will check our energy in war and turn attention from the great problem of the War is that you cannot have a register without doing this. Is it the case that you cannot pass a simple Registration Bill giving votes to the sailors and soldiers, but that you can pass a larger Bill, embracing the whole franchise and electoral arrangements of this country? Are we to be told we are jeopardising this smaller Registration Bill because we are trying to prevent this House from rushing upon very much larger questions involved in Mr. Speaker's Conference?

Do let those who oppose us give us credit for honest feeling. We are as anxious as anybody to try a compromise on these questions, and not resume domestic quarrels, but at a moment like this, when the fate of the nation is in hazard, we think it is not only a crime but criminal folly to plunge this House and the country and every constituency into an angry controversy which will turn their attention from the affairs of the War. You say you can do it by compromise, but do you forget that you are going to abolish some sixty constituencies and largely to change a vast number of others. Do you think these constituencies will not be restless, that they will not interfere and stir up controversy all over the country. I say that you should try to pass a simple Registration Bill giving the vote to soldiers and sailors and merchant sailors and munition workers who are now by accident ousted from their political rights. Do that as far as you can, but do not jeopardise the peace of the country by plunging us into these enormous controversies which, whether you will or not, will inevitably raise disputes in every part of the country.


As one who in the ordinary course of things would be greatly dissatisfied with the recommendations of this Conference, I should like to say why I support the Resolution which has been moved by the late Prime Minister, and why I am entirely opposed to the Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend opposite. We are told that the influence of the War should dominate everything. Of course, that is perfectly true, but I would point out that were it not for the War this Conference would never have been held. But for the War many of us, myself for one, would never have accepted the recommendations of the Conference. But we have a war, and we know therefore that we must accept in these times things which we should not be prepared to accept in normal times. We are told that if we bring in a measure to embody these Resolutions we shall split the country apparently from end to end and that we shall earn the reproaches of those who are fighting in the trenches, because we are merely politicians thinking of our party politics and not of the War. It is perfectly true that the men in the trenches may be watching us, and may form their opinion, and there are certain people who are politicians first and in favour of fighting the War afterwards. If they do come to that conclusion, it will not be those supporting the Resolution who will be accused of being politicians, but it will be those who are supporting the Amendment. Just consider what is the position. Here you have questions which admittedly are questions of great controversy in normal times. You, Sir, in your letter to the Prime Minister, described them in terms upon which I cannot improve, showing how very controversial they were.

10.0 p.m.

There was set up, without a word of complaint in this House and without anybody putting any limitations upon the suggestion, a Conference consisting of men respected and trusted by all parties and all groups of parties, men described by my hon. and learned Friend himself (Mr, Salter) as well chosen representatives and good samples. They have come to an agreement. In normal times they might have sat months and months without coming to an agreement, but under the influence of the War and under the influence of the stress of circumstances in which we live they have come to an agreement. What do you think the country will say, what do you think the men in the trenches will say, if some of those who are dissatisfied with the recommendations say, "We will not support them; in spite of the agreement of the Conference, we will put dissent on the floor of the House of Commons and oppose them"? Personally, I would have been glad to see if those with whom I think had got much more out of these recommendations. In 1912 we, as a party, had a Franchise Bill before the House, and even that did not go so far as I should have liked, but there there would have been an opportunity to move Amendments and to support Amendments carrying the Bill even further. To-day circumstances are changed, and I feel—I may be wrong, but this is the way I look at it—that I and those who think with me are giving up more than those who would have opposed our Bill in 1912. There was hardly of them who would have suggested keeping the status quo ante of our electoral position. Every person who has spoken today has admitted that some reforms are necessary, and that something must be done. Everybody I have heard speak has admitted that something must be done at once, and the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend himself shows that something has got to be done at once. Why should we pass over recommendations upon which trusted and chosen representatives have agreed, and instead of these recommendations accept a suggestion which has been tried and has failed and which would fail again? When this War is over we shall have many things which will require our most earnest attention, and in the work of reconstruction and in the work of restoring the conditions in which we hope we may live for many years, there will come before this House, and before the country measures and proposals of a highly controversial character. We cannot suppose that we can go through that work of reconstruction and that we can remedy the ravages of this War without having many matters of keen controversy between us. Let us at least remove as many as we can before that time comes. Here is an opportunity of removing from our midst one of the most controversial questions, and a question which must be settled before we can come to any of the other great questions which we shall have to face. As a Radical, as one who is strongly in favour of the widest extension of our franchise, as one who is in favour of adult suffrage—I say that the poorer and humbler the individual the more necessary it is that he should have the vote—I would sweep away everything which directly or indirectly would amount to a disqualification; but in spite of that I am ready to accept the recommendations of this Conference. When I say that I mean, if a Bill were brought in embodying these recommendations, and an Amendment were moved of which I entirely approved and which suggests matters which I long to see introduced, then I should feel in honour bound to vote against it. I do ask my hon. and learned Friend and those who support him not to stand in the way of a settlement of a question which has got to be settled before we can tackle those great projects which we must tackle in order to remedy the ravages of this War.


The Prime Minister asked us whether we did not consider that the majority of the House was in favour of some such proposal as was outlined in the Report of the Conference, and whether we thought that he should follow the opinion of the majority or of the minority. The laugh which supervened when he made that remark showed that a large number of the Members of the House thought he meant that he was going to follow the opinion of what he conceived to be the majority. I think the right hon. Gentleman forgot a pledge which was made by the Government, of which he was a member, on 3rd February, 1915, when the present Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, said: All our efforts and our energies as a people are concentrated upon the War, and we are all in absolute agreement that it behoves every man among us, here or elsewhere … to subordinate every other interest to the one over-mastering purpose. It would not only be idle, but I think it would be offensive to the good sense of the nation to proceed at such a time with controversial legislation or with the more or less academic discussion of possible social and political reforms. The Government, by this Motion, are asking private Members to give up their usual opportunities, but in return private Members are entitled to demand from the Government that so long as this Order is in force they will introduce no legislation of a party or a contentious character, and that they will indeed confine, as we propose to confine, their legislative proposals, unless in some exceptional case in regard to which there is general agreement, to such measures as may be found necessary to facilitate, financially and otherwise, the successful prosecution of the War."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 3rd February. 1916. cols. 40–7, Vol. LXIX.] There is no mention whether the majority or the minority were in favour of any particular measure—the passage was perfectly clear. It was expressed in language which I wish I could command, and it left it beyond any doubt that the Government of which the Prime Minister was then a member was pledged not to introduce any legislation of a controversial character during the War. Let us consider for a moment what is the position of this House. It is a moribund body. It ought to have come to an end a year and four months ago. Its life has been prolonged-—not to introduce social legislation, not to introduce reforms in the franchise, but to carry on the War, and, therefore, I say it is entirely beyond its province when its life has been prolonged for that purpose to seek to use an advantage it has been given for one purpose only to introduce legislation which, in ordinary times, would undoubtedly be controversial.

The hon. Member who last spoke made great play with the statement that these proposals of Mr. Speaker's Conference were unanimous. It is true that, technically, they were unanimous, but it must not be forgotten that four members of the Conference—four of the original members of the Conference—left it in the middle of December. One of them was the Lord Chancellor, who had been chosen by some members of the Conference as their leader. The other members who left were Lord Salisbury, the hon. and gallant Member for East Down (Colonel Craig), and myself, and we yrote a letter to Mr. Speaker, in which we gave our reasons for leaving the Conference. As the proceedings of the Conference were confidential, I cannot go into those reasons. But at any rate it is clear that all the original members of the Conference did not agree to the proposal now before the House. I have no objection to our letter to Mr. Speaker being published, and neither has Lord Salisbury, and I see no reason why I should not state that we left the Conference because we did not agree with what was going on.

Let me point out one result which I do not think has been mentioned by any of the speakers in this Debate. I do not intend to go into the merits or demerits of the proposals. This is not the time for that. My objection to the Motion is that the time is inopportune. But I would like to say this: There is a proposal to introduce woman suffrage. Have Members of the House considered what that proposal means? The proposal in the Report is that women who are married and whose husbands have the qualification or women who are unmarried and have the residential qualification are, if they are thirty or thirty-five years of age, to have a vote. I would like to ask the House whether they really consider that, any such proposal can be maintained seriously when brought before this House. Personally, rightly or wrongly. I am and always have been against woman suffrage I do not believe it would be wise to give a vote to women. But if you admit that women are qualified for a vote and if you do away with the sex disqualification, how on earth can you say that vote shall only be given to women who are thirty or thirty-five years of age? The thing is impossible. Once admit that a woman is entitled to have a vote, then she is entitled to have it on the same terms as men.

What does that mean? The present electorate—I am not quite certain if my figures are absolutely accurate—consists of between seven and eight million men. Supposing the proposals of this Conference are carried, you will add somewhere about three million men and nine million women. Your electorate will consist of some twenty millions as against eight millions now. These figures may be wrong, perhaps to the extent of half a million. But nowadays when in dealing with finance we forget even a hundred millions it cannot matter if in dealing with twenty million voters there is a difference of half a million. I want the House to consider and to bear in mind that if a Bill of this sort is introduced this question will come up, and although I admit I have always been against woman suffrage—and I should vote against it again yet if I am beaten and if it then becomes a question whether a woman of thirty-five shall have a vote or a woman of twenty-one, in all logic I shall have to vote for giving it to the woman of twenty-one. I shall vote against the extension of the franchise, but if the extension is agreed upon, then I suggest it should be carried out in a logical and reasonable way.

My other objection to the proposals are that Ireland is not included. I do not think I am divulging any secret when I say I did not like the idea that Irish Members should sit and vote for certain things being done in England when those things are not to be applied to Ireland. It seems to me absolutely illogical. If a thing is good for England, it is good for Ireland. If it is not good for either England or Ireland, then Irish Members ought not to come down and vote that it shall be applied to England when they do not choose to have it for themselves. I understand that the Leader of the House is about to wind-up the Debate. I thought I would rise to explain my position. I did not want to give a silent vote. I hope a large number of Members will support my hon. and learned Friend in the Lobby. I do not think it will be necessary to trouble the House with a second Division. It will be quite enough to take a Division on the Amendment, and I trust that it will receive the support of many hon. Members.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)

Probably I may understand better than my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the motives and feelings which underlie the speech to which we have just listened, for to some extent no doubt—I do not quite know to what extent—I share not only the views but the prejudices of my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury). [An HON. MEMBER: "To a very small extent!"] In reality no question of this kind, where anything in the nature of a compromise is involved, can come forward without party interests rising to one's mind. Let those who do not belong to the party of which I am a member picture to themselves what would have been said three years ago if anyone had ventured to prophesy that a Bill would be introduced giving practically manhood suffrage and a very large measure of female suffrage and that it would be introduced by a Government in which the Unionist party was largely represented! If you start with that assumption, you will understand how strong is the natural feeling of dislike on the part of my hon. Friends to many of the proposals in this Conference. But I think every one—and this Debate has shown it—has realised that whatever other changes have been made in the War, an immense change has been produced in our feelings on the subject. So far as I am personally concerned, I have always held the view and have often expressed it—this is not the result of the contamination of the Friends with whom I now work; it is original sin—I have always held the view that a Conservative party which was not a national party might as well go out of business, that we must be able to appeal to the nation, and I myself have never felt that questions of a little less or more about the way you manipulate the franchise would make any great difference to any party in the State. If that was true before the War, it is still more true now. We are going to have a new world when this War is over, and this, at least, is certain, that no party need attempt to exist which cannot hope to win the support of the men—they are the bulk of the nation—who have saved for us the liberties of the Empire. I have seen and I have studied calculations which show how many seats would be lost to our party by this arrangement. I do not in the least believe in any such calculations. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister quoted the experience of Mr. Disraeli. I have had given to me a speech he made when he was carrying through his Franchise Bill. He said: He had a contempt for those prophecies. Then he went on to say: If we are to consider the interests of party, I am perfectly convinced that however wise we may think ourselves in these conclusions, we shall find that the experience of a few years will baffle all the calculations we make. If that is true in ordinary times, how much more true is it in the immense convulsion which is taking place now in our time? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed to one feature of this discussion which greatly interests the House. He warned us of the problems which we should have to face immediately the War was over. I do not need to elaborate them. Everyone realises them. I myself believe that, difficult as is the task which is undertaken by any Government carrying on this War, the task of the Govern- ment which has to deal with the problems that will arise when the War is over will be infinitely more difficult than the task in which we are engaged to-day. Think what it means. There are immense possibilities for this country after the War is over. The War has shown what the possibilities of production are, and, in spite of the immense expense—I am thinking now of money and not the expense of a different kind which can never be replaced—and the load of debt which we are piling up, I believe that if there can be a better understanding between the classes in this country by which all classes will recognise that an increase of production is for the benefit of all, we can recover quickly from all the devastation of this War. My right hon. Friend pointed out, too, the pleasing picture which was presented by speakers in regard to this Resolution. Every contentious subject is to be postponed. We are to begin them all the moment the War is over. What a prospect that is for dealing with the reconstruction problem ! And in this connection I should like to say that, in my judgment, one serious disadvantage of not adopting the course which is recommended by the Resolution is that Conferences of this kind would be condemned for the future. People would say here was a Conference in which representative men of all parties took part; they arrived at definite conclusions; they Had as their Chairman you, Mr. Speaker, who are known outside, though hardly known to us, as a representative of the Conservative party; and they would say, "If such a Conference as this comes to nothing, we may give up all hopes of settling any problem by means of such an arrangement for the future."

All that influences me, but I am bound to say for myself that if that were all I should not have agreed to the course which, as my right hon. Friend has announced, the Government has arranged to adopt. What may happen after the War may well be vital for the future of this country, but at this moment we are fighting for our lives and we have not won the fight. I should be no party, whatever the advantages in the future, to initiating or taking part in any avoidable controversy in the position in which we are now being placed. I, therefore, agree entirely with the views expressed by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Salter) that we should have no controversy. I appreciate the cheer with which that statement was received in the House, and if my hon. and learned Friend had shown us any method by which we can avoid controversy, I should at once have adopted his proposal. But there is no such method. By general agreement we recognise that unless constitutional and Parliamentary government is to come to an end altogether there must be some methods of appealing to those outside who send us here. Everyone seems to be agreed that the present register is hopeless for that purpose. I am not quite so sure. I think that the feeling in this country is so widespread that whatever the form of the electorate, the verdict of the country would pretty well represent the feeling of the people as a whole. In my opinion, there are two alternatives: one is the course which the Conference suggests, and the other is to leave our register alone until the War is over, and, if there must be an election, which we all hope to avoid, let it be on that register. I think that is a counsel of despair, and I think so for this reason, that Parliament has passed an Act which only enables a Parliament elected on this register to exist for two years, and if an election takes place during the War the new Parliament will be unable to deal with the register, and we are thus faced with a vicious circle which makes it imperative, if it is possible, to obtain some register which will really represent the feeling of the people of this country. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Salter) thinks that it would be quite easy to do this. He suggested that we shall have something which he calls a register to avoid the danger of raising the franchise problem. My hon. Friend (Sir F. Lowe), who seconded it, put this quite clearly, that if there is to be controversy, let us have the old register and nothing more. That is a possible course, but I do not think it is a course which many hon. Members would be willing to adopt. My hon. and learned friend took a different view. He said, we have a register, and we will call it a Register Bill, and we will give votes to soldiers, mine-sweepers, and to merchant and other seamen. That is only a name. The moment you give the vote on account of service that is a Franchise Bill, and the fact that you call it a Register Bill does not make the position a bit easier. Suppose the Government of the day tried to bring in a simple register. What would happen? In judg- ing this question I wish the House would do what I have done myself. I have tried to look at the alternative possible courses. Suppose the Government brought in a Register Bill pure and simple, which was not an extension of the franchise, immediately some hon. Member puts down an Amendment to extend it to soldiers and sailors, and so on, and the House would carry that, as a matter of fact, if it were put down. There are not many members of the Government, and certainly I would not be one, who would be prepared to vote against it. That is franchise. Some other hon. Member puts down an Amendment to extend it to munition workers and to others engaged in essential trades. There is a difference between the men who are risking their lives and those who are engaged in any other way in National Service; that is quite true, but if that were debated on the floor of the House, and if it were shown, as it is a fact, that when recruiting was voluntary these classes sent men to the front in as large proportions as any other class, and that therefore we may assume that the bulk of them were ready to go, nobody could oppose an Amendment that the franchise should be given to them also. Mow I come to the third point. I suppose that it is women's suffrage, so far as I can judge from speeches which has raised the greatest amount of opposition. What is the position? The last Franchise Bill, which the late Government of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith) tried to pass, was really rejected almost unanimously by this House, not so much on account of its demerits, although I heard a great deal about them, but because it was introduced in a form which did not enable the House of Commons to make any additions to the franchise. That would not be tolerated again. Immediately a Motion is introduced to give the vote to women—I am not looking at this from the standpoint of what would happen—I am perfectly convinced that in this House, at least, no Bill of any kind which extended the suffrage to men could pass this House of Commons which in some shape or other did not give the franchise to women. That is my belief. Unlike some of those who have spoken, unlike my right hon. Friend, I have always been in favour of female suffrage, but. I have not made any sacrifices for the cause. So much so that the other day I received a letter from a lady saying that she was so much impressed by the speech I had made against woman suffrage that she wondered if I could go to her town and make another. Well, of course, I never did make a, speech against woman suffrage, but I did hold the view that there were other things I did care for more, and I was not going to make that attempt and divide our party on a question which at the time I did not think of so much importance as some others. Well, I confess that the War has altered my view on that subject. I do feel more strongly about it, and I myself would think it wrong and would do my best to prevent any extension of the suffrage to men which did not also extend it to women. Many reasons were given by my right hon. Friend who spoke of what women had done, of their courage, of the fact that it could no longer be said that they are useless in war-time. Party feeling of all kinds is very deep. I have even found it so during the last three years, and it is deep among those who are fighting for woman suffrage. But since the War began they have refrained from the kind of agitation which alienated people from their cause. They have adopted a principle which I think is fair. They have said, "So long as there is no extension of the franchise to men for new qualifications we will say nothing, but the moment there is an extension of the kind we will fight for ours." I think that that is very fair, and I think that they are entitled to receive consideration for their attitude. There really is the problem, as I see it, in a nutshell. You cannot avoid this controversy. I wish you could. You have got to have it any way. My hon. Friend's Amendment was an extension of the franchise really almost as great as that represented by—


Might I interrupt for one moment? I think the idea was that soldiers and sailors and other people absent on War service should not be disfranchised, but that none of them should be enfranchised who would not be otherwise entitled to it.


I have already pointed out that that was the attitude of my hon. Friends, but it was not the speech of my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Salter). The speech, as I have already explained, was an extension of the franchise almost as complete as that represented by the Conference, and it was more democratic. He suggested a three months' qualification. That was the only difference except the exclusion of women. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a remark which was criticised by my right hon. Friend who has just spoken. He said that if the Government had to choose-between getting the support of a majority or a minority—I do not know that he said it, but he made it plain that he would prefer the majority. Is not this a fact, that if you realise that there is going to be a controversy, then the question is—is; the controversy likely to be less if you take a measure introduced either by the Government or by somebody else which every Member of the House is free to deal with as he pleases, or if you have behind you whatever guarantee of general agreement is likely to be formed in the fact that we base ourselves on that Conference and attempt to carry through a Bill on those lines? I think that there is little doubt from the point of view of controversy that we will get less by the methods which we have suggested.


You would get still less if you did not introduce it.


Then my right hon. Friend does not want legislation until the War is over. I think in that he is in a minority of one. There is only one other subject with which I wish to deal in connection with my right hon. Friend's speech. He quoted the speech of the late Prime Minister, that at this time it would be criminal for the Government to engage in costly and contentious legislation. What exactly can be meant by a statement of that kind? Surely, it does not mean that everybody is in agreement, including my right hon. Friend. But it does mean that there must be a general agreement on a measure of this kind, or it cannot go through. My right hon. Friend the late Prime Minister said so in his speech. In that case the House must feel that a measure of this kind lends itself to obstruction and delay of every possible kind, and unless there is in a general measure of agreement in this House as a whole, not one party but all parties, unless they feel that something of this kind has become necessary and are prepared to help, it cannot be done. That is the position. I do not think that the House has a right to accuse any of us of wishing to bring in controversy. For nearly three years now we have been passing through the anxieties—and worse—of this War. From the day on which it broke out I realised, and other people took the same view, that we were in a position in which all other things must go by the board, that party feeling must be sacrificed wherever necessary, that opposing interests must be forgotten, and that we must devote ourselves to the War and nothing but the War. It has not been easy for us, it has not been easy for us in the House of Commons. I was leader of the Unionist party for four years, and I did not think it was easy, but it was child's play compared with the attempt, in carrying on the Government, to prevent party feeling from breaking out on either side. The House knows how it springs out every now and then. Let me remind you of the Plural Voting Bill, and the difficulties we had about that. It is not pleasant for anybody to be brought face to face with vital problems on which our existence as a nation depends, when one comes down to the House of Commons, and when it sometimes seemed as if it had been forgotten that a war was going on. I am not complaining of the House of Commons. Members are here to do the work expected of them, and, in the interval of our occupations, they must lead some kind of life, but I do ask Members of the House to realise that there is no Member of this or preceding Governments who for the last three years would not rather have been engaged in some work directly connected with the War than in dealing with political questions. I ask the House of Commons to look at this problem with which we are faced to-night from that point of view. We are not causing political controversy, and the action which we are taking is the least likely of any to engage party or bitter conflict. What the Government intend to do, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, and what we decided, was to come to the House and recommend that it should adopt the Speaker's Conference We came to no decision beyond that. I think the tone of the Debate to-day has shown that the House, as a whole, does desire that an attempt should be made to carry this Conference into effect. That being so, the Government intend to introduce a Bill to give effect to it. As I have already said, that will be perfectly hopeless unless all the Members of the House act in the spirit of my hon. Friend who spoke last but one (Mr. Shortt), and make up their minds what they want—not a Bill exactly as they would like, but a Bill which in the main carries out the terms which were arranged by the Speaker's Conference. That is our proposal. I do not suppose there is any hope of my appealing to my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke. I know—his speech showed it—that he and a great many of my Friends feel very strongly on this question, but I think it must be evident to them that the feeling of the House, including our own party, is against them, and, that being so, is it worth while-having a Division, when it cannot affect the general result that the House, as a, whole, is in favour of the course which has been proposed by my right hon. Friend?


I feel called on as a member of the Conference, and in the name of my hon. Friends, to state what our position is. We are whole-heartedly in favour of the Motion of my right hon. Friend the late Prime Minister, and we shall go into the Lobby in favour of that Motion. I will only with a sentence or two deal with a reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) and in previous speeches. He asked why Ireland was left out of this. My right hon. Friend surely knows it is not left out. All the franchise proposals of this Report apply to Ireland equally with England. The only thing that is left out in regard to Ireland is the question of redistribution. By unanimity the Conference left out all allusions to the question of redistribution in Ireland for two very sound reasons. In the first place, you could not change the representation of Ireland without repealing the Act of Union, and the repeal of a great Parliamentary instrument like that was not the work of the Conference. The second reason was that the Home Rule Act is now a Statute of the Realm and that by reducing the Members for Ireland to forty-two settles the question of redistribution even on lines that ought to be acceptable to my right hon. Friend the Member for the City. There is one other observation of his to which I should also like to make allusion. He objected very strongly to the Irish Members taking part in this Conference. As I have pointed out to him, this Conference dealt with very important questions in Ireland—with more questions, candidly, than I should like it to have touched. I would have liked them to have left the question of women's suffrage to an Irish Parliament instead of to this country, because our point of view might not be the same. I will make an offer to the right hon. Gentleman. If he, the next time a Coercion Bill is proposed for Ireland and not extending to England, and all the other Members will leave the House and leave it to the Irish Members, I am quite willing to leave this question to them.


It is not my intention to occupy the time of the House for long, but I should like to support the Prime Minister in the statement he made to the House this evening. [Interruption.] I am the only Member of this House who has come here as an independent representative of the people, and I can thoroughly

appreciate what the Prime Minister said when he told the House that he had absolutely and finally done with the party conduct of affairs of this nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"] I should like to say that I am in complete and absolute sympathy with every word that has been spoken from the Government Bench to-day. I would also like to say that if to-day or at any future date I consider it my duty to exercise my privilege to address this House I shall do so—[Interruption]—and the duration of my speech will be mostly governed by silence and not by hooliganism.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 341; Noes 62.

Division No. 18.] AYES. [10.49 p.m.
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Butcher, John George Fitzgibbon, John
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Buxton, Noel Fitzpatrick, John Lalor
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Byles, Sir William Pollard Forster, Henry William
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Cator, John Foster, Philip Staveley
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Cave, Rt. Hon, Sir George Gelder, Sir W. A.
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Herts. Hitchin) George, Rt. Hen. D. Lloyd
Alden, Percy Chancellor, Henry George Gibbs, Col. George Abraham
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Churchill, Rt. Hen. Winston S. Gilbert, J. D.
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Clancy, John Joseph Ginnell, Laurence
Anderson, W. C. Clough, William Glanville, H. J.
Archdale, Lieut. Edward M. Clyde, J. Avon Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford
Arnold, Sydney Clynes, John R. Goldstone, Frank
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Cochrane, Cecil Algernon Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)
Astor, Hon. Waldorf Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Greig, Colonel James William
Baird, John Lawrence Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones
Baker, Rt. Hon. Harold T. (Accrington) Condon, Thomas Joseph Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William
Baldwin, Stanley Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff) Hackett, John
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Cosgrave, James Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Crumley, Patrick Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Semerset) Currie, George W. Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Dalrymple, Hon. H. H. Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)
Barnett, Captain R. W. Dalziel, Rt. Hen. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Haslam, Lewis
Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick Burghs) Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Hayden, John Patrick
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Hazleton, Richard
Barton, William Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Healy, Maurice (Cork)
Bathurst, Capt, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N. E.)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Devlin, Joseph Helme, Sir Norval Watson
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby N. Hemmerde, Edward George
Beck, Arthur Cecil Dillon, John Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Donelan, Captain A. Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Bentham, G. J. Donovan, John Thomas Henry, Sir Charles
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Doris, William Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)
Bethell, Sir John Henry Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B. Hewart, Sir Gordon
Billing, N. Pemberton Du Cros, Sir Arthur Philip Higham, John Sharp
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Duffy, William J. Hills, John Waller
Black, Sir Arthur W. Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Hinds, John
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Hodge, Rt. Hon. John
Bliss, Joseph Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.) Hogge, James Myles
Boland, John Pius Elverston, Sir Harold Hohler, G. F.
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Esmonde, John (Tipperary, N.) Holt, Richard Durning
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W. Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Hope, John Deans (Haddington)
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Falconer, James Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Fell, Arthur Hudson, Walter
Brady, Patrick Joseph Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Bridgeman, William Clive Ffrench, Peter Hume-Williams, William Ellis
Brunner, John F. L. Field, William lllingworth, Albert H.
Bryce, John Annan Finney, Samuel Jacobsen, Thomas Owen
Bull, Sir William James Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Fisher, Rt. Hen. W. Hayes John, Edward Thomas
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.) Scanlan, Thomas
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness) Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Shaw, Hon. A.
Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey) Neeaham, Christopher T. Sheehy, David
Jones W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney) Neville, Reginald J. N. Sherwell, Arthur James
Jowett, Frederick William Newton, Major Harry Kottingham Shortt, Edward
Joyce, Michael Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Joynson-Hicks, William Nolan, Joseph Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)
Keating, Matthew Norman, Sir Henry Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)
Kellaway, Frederick George Norton Griffiths, Sir J. Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Kelly, Edward Nugent, J. D. (College Green) Snowden, Philip
Kenyon, Barnet Nugent, Sir W. R. (Westmeath, S.) Spear, Sir John Ward
Kilbride, Denis Nuttall, Harry Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Kiley, James Daniel O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Sir A.
King, Joseph O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Starkey, John Ralph
Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Melton) O'Dowd, John Swann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) O'Grady, James Swift, Rigby
Lardner, James C. R. O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Larmor, Sir J. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Outhwaite, R. L. Thomas, J. H.
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Palmer, Godfrey Mark Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Layland-Barratt, Sir F. Parker, James (Halifax) Thorne, William (West Ham)
Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton Partington, Oswald Toulmin, Sir George
Levy, Sir Maurice Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Lleyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.) Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M. Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)
Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) Walters, Sir John Tudor
Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Perkins, Walter Frank Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Peto, Basil Edward Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Lundon, Thomas Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Ivor (Southampton) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
M'Curdy, C. A. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk, B'ghs) Pratt, J. W. Watson, Hon. W.
Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Pretyman, Ernest George Watson, John B. (Stockton)
McGhee, Richard Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Watt, Henry A.
McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Wedgwood, Commander Josiah C.
Mackinder, Halford J. Primrose, Hon. Nell James Weston, J. W.
M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Pringle, William M. R. White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.) Radford, Sir George Heynes Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald Raffan, Peter Wilson Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Macmaster, Donald Rawson, Colonel Richard H. Williams, John (Glamorgan)
M'Micking, Major Gilbert Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Reddy, Michael Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
MacNeill, J. G. Switt (Donegal, South) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.) Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon) Williams, T. J. (Swansea)
Macpherson, James Ian Rendall, Athelstan Williamson, Sir Archibald
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Richardson, Albion (Pockham) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Maden, Sir John Henry Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham) Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)
Mallalieu, Frederick William Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Manfield, Harry Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wilson, Lt. Ct. Sir M. (Beth'l Green, S. W.)
Marks, Sir George Croydon Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Winfrey, Sir Richard
Marshall, Arthur Harold Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Wing, Thomas Edward
Mason, David M. (Coventry) Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Tyneside) Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks., Ripon)
Mason, James F. (Windsor) Robinson, Sidney Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Meagher, Michael Rech, Walter F. (Pembroke) Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Rothschild, Lionel de Yeo, Alfred William
Meehan, Patrick (Queen's Co., Leix) Rowlands, James Young, Edward H. (Norwich)
Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth Rowntree, Arnold Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Millar, James Duncan Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dewsbury) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Mend, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza Samuel. Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Wiles and Mr. Pollock.
Morgan, George Hay Samuels, Arthur W.
Coats', Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin Craik, Sir Henry Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Dixon, Charles Harvey Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.) Fletcher, John Samuel MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Grant, James Augustus Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Bonn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Gretton, John Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Bird, Alfred Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Blair, Reginald Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Haddock, George Bahr Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)
Boyton, James Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Pryce-Jones, Colonel Edward
Broughton, Urban Hanlan Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Burn, Colonel C. R. Horne, Edgar Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)
Cautley, H. S. Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir G.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Ingleby, Holcombe Remnant, James F.
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Rutherford, Sir J. (Lanes., Darwen)
Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth) Terrell, Henry (Gloucester) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Steel-Maitland, A. D. Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford) Yate, Colonel C. E.
Stewart, Gershom Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Sykes, Col. A. J. (Ches., Knutsford) Wills, Sir Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.) Wilson-Fox, Henry Salter and Sir Francis Lowe

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, "That this House records its thanks to Mr. Speaker for his services in presiding over the Electoral Reform Conference, and is of opinion that legislation should promptly be introduced on the lines of the Resolutions reported from the Conference."


Perhaps the House will allow me to express my sincere thanks for its hind appreciation of my services. At the same time I should like to take this opportunity of according to my colleagues my sincere thanks for their cordial co-operation during) the discussions at the Conference.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon, Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

Adjourned accordingly at Four minutes after Eleven o'clock.