HC Deb 23 October 1918 vol 110 cc785-857

I beg to move, "That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that a Bill be passed forthwith making women eligible as Members of Parliament."

This Resolution is the natural consequence of the action taken by Parliament earlier this year in enacting the enfranchisement of women. It has now been decided that sex is not to be a bar for citizenship, and it follows from that, I suggest to the House, that sex ought not to be a bar against taking part in Parliamentary life. You cannot say that 6,000,000 women shall be voters, but that not one shall ever be a legislator. By our deliberate action in passing the Representation of the People Bill we have given up the old narrow doctrine that woman's sphere was the home and nothing but the home. We have given up the old theory that woman's interests were not on a level with man's interests, that woman, in fact, was nothing but an adjunct to man, or, as it has been well expressed, the doctrine which laid down that woman was not a noun but an adjective. That principle has been frankly surrendered, and I would suggest to hon. Members that the risks which have been faced in enacting that women may be elected to Parliament would be far less than those which were deliberately undertaken when we enacted the enfranchisement of women.

For my own part, I have always been in favour of the principle of women's suffrage. I have held the view that the perfect State would include both men and women as its citizens. Life is on a two-sex basis. You cannot put politics only on a one-sex basis. But for many years I had doubts whether the degree of public interest which had been taken by women on the average made it safe at that time to enact a large measure of woman suffrage. The War, however, has brought great changes. It has made women familiar with many aspects of public life. It has drawn the attention of vast numbers of them to questions of industrial employment, of prices, of international politics, and of many matters on which previously they had held aloof. And many of us have been ready during the War to modify our previous view, and to join in the enfranchisement of women. To those, however, who are still doubtful as to the wisdom of the enfranchisement of women and to those who think we have taken, as undoubtedly we have, considerable risks in adding this vast new electorate to citizenship, I submit this argument, that when you deal with enfranchisement you cannot discriminate. You deal with a class in the mass. You have to take into account the capacities of the average person. But when you deal with representation you are not dealing with the average woman. You are dealing with the exceptional woman, and you have to take into account the capacities and character of the woman who will be elected, not the average of the many millions who may be brought in under an Act of Parliament, but the particular qualifications of the individual woman who has such capacities as to command the support of some great party or some body of supporters in a constituency, and, having first been adopted as a candidate, has then won the suffrages of some 10,000 or 15,000 of her fellow countrymen and women. That differentiates the proposal for woman representation from that for woman enfranchisement, and many of those who regard with alarm the sweeping measure passed earlier in the year must realise that this further proposal involves fewer risks and no dangers in comparison with that which has already been adopted.

We, however, in this House, I hope, are a very practical body. The British nation prides itself sometimes on not being logical. If we were to base this case solely on the ground of logic, it might receive short shrift at the hands-of the House and of the country, but we have to consider also whether the measure is in itself desirable, and I would submit to the House that anything which renders this body more thoroughly representative of the nation, anything which enables every point of view to be fully and freely expressed here within these walls, strengthens the House of Commons and adds to its utility to the country. Its representative character is its strength, just as the lack of representative character is the fatal weakness of the other House, in spite of the many high qualities which its membership possesses. Women undoubtedly have their own distinctive point of view, and their distinctive point of view ought to be expressed in Parliament and not expressed at secondhand by men who, with the best will in the world, cannot appreciate in its fulness the woman's point of view; it should be expressed by representatives of women themselves. Many of us realise now, however much the idea would have been scouted by our ancestors, that this House gains greatly by the presence here of direct representatives of labour who can, when labour questions arise, state the workmen's standpoint from the workmen's own experience. It is the same with respect to the distinctive standpoint of women. Particularly do I believe that the presence of a certain number of women within these walls would be of advantage in assisting the work of our Committees.

The public at large, misled by descriptions in certain organs of the Press, are under the impression that the real work of the House of Commons consists in a long succession of rhetorical debates, variegated from time to time by disorderly scenes. They do not realise the immense mass of work which is performed week in and week out, year in and year out, in the many Committees that sit upstairs. It is a weakness of our Select Committees that they cannot be so thoroughly representative as the Departmental Committees which are appointed by Ministers. We are accustomed in these days to the examination of any question of difficulty by a Committee before action is taken. Sometimes it is a Departmental Committee, and sometimes it is a Committee of one or the other House, or a Joint Committee of the two Houses. Whenever a Departmental Committee is appointed to deal with any question touching closely the lives of the people, one or more women are always appointed to it, and most useful members they are of Departmental Committees; but if a matter is to be referred to a Select Committee, the Select Committee cannot be representative in an equal degree, because women can be given no direct representation. That is why on many occasions—I speak with some experience in these matters—it has been found necessary to appoint not a Select Committee, although it was known that the House of Commons was interested in the matter, but to appoint a Departmental Committee in order that women should be appointed upon it.

4.0 P.M.

Recently, indeed during this Session, we have made a new precedent in the case of the Select Committee on National Expenditure, and authority has been given for the appointment of outsiders on its Sub-committees, and the same course was adopted in the case of the Luxury Tax Committee, where one or two women were appointed on a Sub-committee of the Select Committee. [An HON. MEMBER: "They resigned!"] Nevertheless it was thought necessary that they should be appointed. It is not obligatory on me to go into the unhappy domestic history of that Committee, but the fact remains that in that case, and in the case of Departmental Committees, it is found desirable that women should be appointed, and if women were Members of this House they would increase the authority and strengthen the representative character of those Committees. This would be particularly the case if women rendered service both within these walls and in the Committee Rooms, in dealing with the new tasks which will devolve on Parliament in the days that lie before us in an ever-increasing degree, with reference be questions closely affecting the lives of the people. Health, housing, education, child welfare, employment, the cost of living—all these matters will occupy a great deal of attention in our Parliamentary life. They occupy, and increasingly so, the foreground of our politics. The old controversies which used to rage are passing more and more into the background. Ecclesiastical and constitutional controversies, questions as to the growth of our Empire, the extension of commerce and industry, these matters will no doubt play their part in the future as they have done in the past, but in a decreasing degree compared with matters affecting the condition and life of the people. In earlier centuries our politics have centred round the Church, Parliament, the Colonies, commerce. In future our politics are likely to centre more and more around the home. It is for that reason essential that the assistance of women should be invited, not only in the electorate but also in the representation.

For many long years past we have, experimented with respect to local governing bodies. Women have been made eligible for membership of local governing bodies and they have served on a very large number throughout the country. For my own part I have been for many years a member of an association which has been formed to promote the election of women on these bodies, and I was fortunate enough, when I was President of the Local Government Board, to secure the passage through Parliament of a Bill which removed the last of the barriers to the election of women to town councils. I think the universal experience of those who have made a study of this matter is that women on these local bodies have rendered most valuable service. Hon. Members who have served on town councils, members of the London County Council, and other bodies, will I am sure unanimously bear testimony to the value of their work on those bodies and on their education and other committees. At this moment a woman occupies the important office of deputy-chairman of the London County Council. I think there is no one who for a moment would consider a proposal for the repeal of the law which allows women to serve upon local government bodies.

My complaint is rather that there are too few who have yet come forward for election and have secured scats on them. I submit that that is the danger that we are likely to be faced with here. It is rather more probable that too few will be elected to this House than too many. I am well aware that some of my hon. and right hon. Friends take a different view and look with alarm to the prospect that these benches in the future may be tenanted largely or even mainly by ladies. I am not going to argue whether that be desirable or not, for I think the common sense of the House and of the country will agree that it is not in the least likely to happen and that the number of women who are elected in the near future is, I am afraid, likely to be fewer than many of us desire. In any case the matter is one which, as I will point out later on, should be properly left to the decision of the electorate itself. There is one other argument that may be advanced in this Debate by the opponents of this Resolution. It will be argued, no doubt, that even if the principle of the proposal is sound it is at all events premature, and that right as it may be in theory it is wrong in time. It will be said that we are proposing this measure too soon and that women having been so recently enfranchised we should digest the one meal before we are asked to consume another. It will also be pointed out that this change was not proposed in the recommendations of Mr. Speaker's Conference, that it was not raised on the Representation of the People Act, and that in any event this is a moribund Parliament and it ought to be left to our successors to decide a question of so much importance. From the approval these remarks have met with, I gather I have correctly interpreted the idea in the minds of those who are opposed to this Resolution.

With respect to Mr. Speaker's Conference, I would remind the House that this matter was wholly outside the terms of reference, and could not therefore in any case be considered by that Conference; and with regard to the Representation of the People Act, this question was outside the scope and title of the Bill and any Amendment raising this point would at once have been ruled out of order. There are several replies to the contention that this proposal is premature. In the first place, it is certain that at the next General Election, whether it comes sooner or later, the matter will be put to the test. There is no Statute which regulates the inadmissibility of women to Parliament. There is no recorded law case, I believe, which decides the matter. It is regarded by the Law Officers of the Crown as part of the common law that women are not eligible to sit in Parliament, and I am informed that it will be the personal responsibility of any returning officer to decide whether or not a nomination paper handed in on behalf of a woman shall be accepted. If he refuses to accept it he will be liable to legal proceedings. In this way the matter will be put to the test. I would suggest to the House it ought not to leave this matter in a state of uncertainty now that we know that it is certain that the question will be raised in practice. Neither should it be left to the decision of the Courts. This is not a matter of law. It is a matter of policy. It is not proper for settlement in the Courts, but it is proper for settlement in Parliament. Further, it is equally certain that if this Motion should be rejected to-day, or if no Bill is passed by this Parliament making women eligible for Parliament, it will be made a test question in every constituency at the next General Election. I think one can safely prophesy the result. It is a foregone conclusion that a vast majority of the candidates will promise their support at the next election, and when the Parliament comes into being a Bill in the sense of the Resolution which I am moving will be passed into law. But this will mean that women will be excluded from the next Parliament—unless they get in afterwards at a by-election. The General Election would result in the return of no women if it were held they were not eligible. But it is in the next Parliament especially—the Parliament of Reconstruction—the Parliament which will deal with so many of these questions of home policy and social reform, that the assistance of women would be of especial advantage.

The last point which I would address to the House in answer to this contention, and indeed on the case generally, is this, that in essence it is not for Parliament to decide whom the people shall elect: it is for the people themselves to decide who their representatives shall be. The Legislature has its functions, vast and important as we know them to be. But it is the function of the electorate to decide who shall be its members. There are indeed some agreed conditions which must necessarily be imposed by law, and which will give rise to no controversy. For instance, felons should not be members of the Legislature, nor undischarged bankrupts, nor unnaturalised aliens, nor persons suffering from insanity. These are matters proper for legislation. What we claim is that in general the electorate should be free to decide for itself whether or not certain individuals should be returned, and Parliament would be going beyond its functions if it were to say, "It is for us to decide whether you shall elect a particular class of persons to this House." Whenever Parliament or the law has overstepped these lines it has always been compelled by the people to withdraw. There was a Parliament long ago, called "The Unlearned Parliament," because, wisely or unwisely, it was decided that no lawyer should have a seat in it; and I remember occasions on which my right hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) has treated with proper scorn the un-wisdom of the legislators of that day. That rule was very soon abrogated. There was a period not long afterwards in the fifteenth century when Parliament enacted that no one should be elected for a county who was not "a gentleman born." I presume that borough representation was regarded in those days as being beyond redemption. There was a famous Statute in the reign of Queen Anne which provided that no one should be elected to this House for a county constituency who had not a qualification in land of £600 a year or should become a borough Member who had not a qualification of £300 a year. There have been attempts to exclude Catholics, Quakers, Jews, and Atheists. There was the famous case of John Wilkes, whom the House endeavoured to exclude on the ground that he published a seditious libel. In all these cases the people have resented the action of Parliament and have insisted that it was their function and not the function of the Legislature to decide the classes which should be chosen by them to represent them in Parliament. In every case the usurping attempt has been defeated.

All these barriers have now been swept away, whether class or religion or political opinion, and but one remains, and that is the barrier of sex. It is that barrier which I ask the House this afternoon to decide shall be abrogated also. There is nothing compulsory in this Motion. We do not say that women shall be elected to Parliament; we merely leave it free to the constituencies to elect women if they so desire, and those who oppose this measure would put fetters on the electorate and say that "even if you wish to elect women admirably qualified to be legislators by a long career of public service and after long experience on local authorities, holding opinions agreeable to the constituency, women of capacity, common-sense and energy—even if you have such women among you, you are not free to send them here to Parliament, and shall not be permitted by law to do so." I submit to the House that that is an impossible position to take up, and that you must leave it free to the electorate to decide who shall be or shall not be their representative.

I trust there will not be any attempt to limit the choice, if it is decided that women are to be eligible, in the way that women have been admitted to the electorate only beyond a certain age limit—a limit of thirty years. That obviously is an artificial and arbitrary distinction made in order to prevent too large a number of women being enfranchised in the first instance, and to prevent the number of women electors being greater than that of men electors. But the fact is that we recognise that these distinctions are arbitrary and artificial. In accordance, with the principle which I have submitted to the House that the electors should be left free to choose as their own representatives whom they desire, I urge that the age limit should not apply in this case. In an earlier period, it was the law that persons could only be elected who were themselves electors, but that has been for many generations repealed. I was myself a candidate for Parliament some years before I was a voter, and probably other Members of this House are in the same case, and what is the rule with regard to men should also be the rule with regard to women. These are the arguments on which I rest the case for the Resolution, which I now beg to move: In the first place, that it has been recognised by the law that sex is not a ground for exclusion from political life, and that the rule which applies to citizenship should also apply to representation. Next, that this House would be strengthened and rendered more efficient for its work if all points of view were represented here, particularly the point of view of the womanhood of the country, and that the work of the Committees would be more valuable if details of Bills and questions had the discriminating attention of women as well as of men; that the politics of the future will more and more centre around the home, and that on these matters women are particularly qualified to speak. The experience of all our local governing authorities amply justifies this further extension of the sphere of women. The House should not leave these matters uncertain, to be decided by Courts of law. Neither the Courts nor the Legislature should decide who are to be chosen as Members of Parliament. That the electorate should be left to its own free will to choose its own representatives is the first essential principle of democracy, which all parties are now, happily, loudly declaring to be the one sound rule for the government of nations.


My right hon. Friend, in moving this Resolution, stated that as the House had given women the power to vote it naturally follows that they should be allowed to sit in this House. I do not deny that there is considerable force in that argument, which I myself have advanced in times gone by. I stated that if women were given the vote it would have to be followed immediately by a demand that they should sit in this House. That is the statement I made so far as my recollection goes. I have not looked up the Debate, but that statement, at the time, was denied or minimised by those Members who were in favour of giving the vote to women. It was said that the two things did not go together, and that it did not follow that because women received the vote they would be permitted to sit in this House or even in your Chair, Mr. Speaker. I think there is some force in that argument, and I will give reasons very shortly why I think the House should resent this Motion. I do not want to go into the question as to whether or not it is right or wrong to extend the franchise to women. That has been done. But I do not think anyone would deny that it was a very revolutionary proceeding. I am not using the term "revolutionary" in the bad sense; I mean it would have very far-reaching results. It has already added to the number of voters more than was anticipated when the Bill was before the House. No one knows, not even my right hon. Friend (Mr. Samuel), or my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil), what the result of this great change will be. It may be a change for bad, no one knows; this House does not know what will be the result of giving women the vote, and I venture to say that we should not proceed further in great changes of this sort. It may be the result of giving the vote to women will be such as to return to the House extremely capable, able women who would assist the House in very excellent legislation. But it has not been shown why giving the vote to women ought also be a reason for women being returned to this House. Until we have ascertained what is the result of extending the franchise to women, I submit that the true policy would be to wait and see. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman on my left will support me in waiting to see what the result of this great change may be?

Further, there is constitutional objection to which my right hon. Friend did allude, though very gingerly, namely, that this is a moribund House, a House which has already greatly extended its life, and I submit that it ought not to enter upon far-reaching questions of this description, which might entirely alter the character of this assembly. It ought to be left to the new electorate to decide as to whether women should be brought into Parliament, and whether measures of this kind ought to be passed. My right hon. Friend alluded to the work which women had done on local bodies and local councils, but he made no mention of how many of these women have been elected to those bodies; I noticed that my right hon. Friend very carefully avoided giving the number, but if I am correct in my surmise I think the number is so few that you really cannot draw any conclusion from the work of these particular women. You cannot draw from a small number, any inference as to what the result would be if a large number of women were returned to this House. I saw in the "Times," to-day, a very curious argument. I do not know whether it has any weight with right hon. and hon. Members. The argument was that this has already been tried in the Parliaments of Australia, and a lady named Miss Eva Goldstein, had already tried to get returned to every Parliament in Australia, and had been rejected. No steps for any legislation had been taken on the ground that no women would be elected even if it were passed. Are we going to pass this Motion because we are quite certain that no woman will avail herself of it and come forward for election, or are we to pass it because we think that no woman ought to be in this House? Whether that argument is correct or not, I hope hon. Members will vote against the Motion on the ground that we have already had a great revolution of this sort, and that this proposal ought to be carried out by the new Parliament or not by this Parliament. My right hon. Friend laid great stress upon women being voters, and the right of the voters to return such people as they think fit; but all women are not voters, No woman under thirty is a voter, and yet my right hon. Friend wishes younger women to sit here. But why does he wish to have younger women sitting in this House? Is it on the ground that they have greater experience? The older the woman the greater her experience.

But I will not go into that proposal of my right hon. Friend, who desires younger women to be Members of this House. The fact that women under thirty are not allowed to vote is a block to that proposal. I myself, when the Clause was under discussion on the Franchise Bill, said that if you admit women you cannot limit the age to thirty, and if you reduce the age to twenty-one, and make them the same as men, the result will be that you will have more women voters than men voters. That is a fact which cannot be gainsaid. My argument was met by saying that nobody wished to do that, and that thirty was the proper age; but the moment the Bill has become an Act my right hon. Friend comes down to this House and desires to have younger women to sit by him, and the result of such a course, if adopted, would be that the age of the women voters must be also reduced, and we should have a larger number of women voters than of men voters. That is a prospect which, with all my respect for the other sex, I do not look forward to with very great confidence. I have endeavoured to put before the House a few arguments, which seem to me reasonable arguments, and should lead to the rejection of this Motion by the House on the ground that it is premature. I do not put it on any higher ground than that it is premature, and that this House is not fit, by the very fact of the extension of the franchise, to make such a great revolution, and it should be left to the next Parliament to make such a revolution should it so desire.


I should like to say a word or two in answer to my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury), from whom I differ always with the greatest possible reluctance, but unfortunately the occasions multiply when I have to experience that reluctance.


It was not always so.


I know that my hon. Friend never says in this House what he does not honestly believe to be true, and what does not honestly represent his opinion His presence in the House indeed is of the highest possible value, because he represents a particular point of view, a point of view with which the majority of this House generally disagrees, but one which certainly ought to be stated in this House, that ought to be representative of all classes and of both sexes. What is my right hon. Friend's argument? It is purely an appeal for delay. He says we have given the vote to women, and let us see how that works. How long are we to wait? He does not seem to think of the time that has elapsed since the experiment of allowing women to be elected on local governing bodies, and how that has turned out. That has been in operation for twenty years, or something of the kind, and are we to wait twenty years more before we proceed to let women come into this House? The truth is that the argument is not one which really has any validity, and my right hon. Friend knows that very well. His object is to stave off the evil day as long as he can.

The real thing that we have got to consider in this case is whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. If we think it is a good thing, then the sooner it is done the better; and if we think it is a bad thing, then it ought not to be done at all. I venture to apply the same kind of answer to his argument that this is a moribund Parliament. It is a Parliament, it is a House of Commons, it is the constitutional Legislature, and as long as it exists it cannot, without neglecting its duty, refuse to express its opinion on any matter that is brought before it. It has no right to say: "Because we are at the end of a Parliament we will refuse to discharge what is our constitutional duty." Here, again, I think, the only question we have to consider is whether this is a proper thing to do, or whether it is not. If it is, then the fact that this Parliament has been in existence for an unduly long time should not prevent it from expressing an opinion. I do not think that there is any constitutional objection which prevents Parliament from extending the franchise, or doing anything else during its existence. The only other argument used was that it is not proposed to impose an age limit of thirty in this case. Why was the age limit imposed in the case of enfranchisement? It was imposed entirely to meet the fears of people that otherwise there would be a danger, and I thought it was a very absurd fear, that the male voters would be swamped by the female voters. No such danger applies to the question as to whether women of thirty or younger are to sit in Parliament. The number of women who will come to this Parliament will depend entirely on the number of women who are able to secure election; that is the approval of the majority of the electors in any constituency. It does not in the least matter where you put the age.

I confess my difficulty is in really understanding what possible argument, what reasonable argument, except, if my right hon. Friend will pardon me for saying so, the purely reactionary point of view, can possibly be suggested against this proposal. I confess I look in vain for any such argument. I understood the argument against woman suffrage. I understood the point of view that you had a very large number of women who were not willing to exercise the franchise you were about to give wholesale to the women of the country, and that that was an improper extension of so important a public duty. But here what are you going to say? All you are going to say is that there may be some women in the country whom it would be desirable to see in this House, and that we do not desire to exclude those women from sitting in Parliament. If you are against this proposal you must come to the conclusion that there are no women in the country who would be capable of exercising the function of the least satisfactory Member of the House of Commons at the present time. That is the proposition you have got to maintain.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] —That, at all events, seems to me to be the proposition that underlies any possible objection to this proposal. To my mind that is an absurdity. I do not think that a very large number of women will be elected to Parliament, at any rate, for some considerable time, as a result of this change. But I do believe, and I certainly hope, that some women will be so elected. I think it of great importance that some women should be in the House of Commons. My right hon. Friend said just now that those who supported woman suffrage used to deny that it would lead to the election of women to the House of Commons. I do not think that I ever was so foolish as to do so. Certainly I agree with the earlier opinion of my right hon. Friend, that once you have given them the vote you cannot refuse to them the right to sit here. To my mind, the great and important thing you have got to look for in the interests of this House is to see that every kind of opinion, as far as may be, shall be represented in the House. I believe that is true very largely of the male population of this country. I think it is true that if you want to find somebody who knows a great deal about any particular subject, that you will find him amongst the Members of this House. I believe there is scarcely any subject as to which you will not find someone who is in the nature of an expert in this House. The one thing you have not got here is the woman's point of view. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland pointed out, there are many questions such as those affecting children, affecting food, affecting pensions and the treatment of soldiers and sailors, all of which intimately affect women and the domestic economy of the home. Those are just the kind of subjects on which there are certain women in this country who would speak with greater authority than any man. Those are the kind of women we ought, I think, to allow the voters to choose, if they so desire.

That is the case for this change, and it seems to me to be absolutely overwhelming. I cannot at present understand on what ground this Motion should be rejected. I do understand of course the broad lines on which objection is taken. But the whole attitude of society has changed and has done so progressively. No doubt there were times when some ecclesiastical opinion doubted whether women had souls, and there were certain times when lawyers treated women as mere chattels. They were undoubtedly under the earlier Roman Law very little removed from the condition of slaves. Then came the period in which the attitude that they were lower than animals was abandoned, and it was recognised that they were human beings. But it was thought that they were either incapable or dangerous and all sorts of restrictions were put on them as to the management of property, and all sorts of provisions were made, sometimes with the best possible intentions by which their activities in earning their own bread were limited. There was also that group of legislation which forbade them to exercise any public functions, even that of a Parliamentary voter. I understand that point of view which rests on distrust of women. I think the House has definitely broken with that point of view, and now I think we should treat them as human beings with absolutely equal rights to men and with no disqualification in consequence of their sex. I should have liked, I confess, to have seen this Resolution go much further and sweep away all the disqualifications which at present prevent women from competing on equal terms with men, even in my own profession, and also in the profession of solicitors, as to which I believe their case is absolutely overwhelming. I should have liked to have seen this Resolution extended to cover all those cases, but at the very least I do urge the House to do away with this absolutely indefensible position that because a woman is a woman she is incapable of exercising the duties of a Member of Parliament and of giving advice to fellow-Members on questions in which she is particularly interested.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made one or two statements which I think require some answer. He said that my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) produced no argument except the purely reactionary argument. I desire to put before him one argument, whether it has been brought forward or not inferentially in the speech of my right hon. Friend, and which I think he will agree has a certain amount of weight. We have heard the arguments advanced so eloquently by the Noble Lord and by the right hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) for the women who want to come into this House, but we have not heard any argument on behalf of what I regard as probably 90 per cent. of the womanhood of this country, who have not the slightest desire to enter this House or to be ruled and guided by members of their sex in this House. There is a later Motion on the Paper showing the trend of mind of those who are in favour of these revolutionary proposals in a very small matter, namely, the opening of all the galleries of the House equally to men and women. In that Motion, as in the main Motion, there is no regard paid to the great mass of womanhood who appreciate and value their position, and who have not the slightest desire either to sit upon the bench below between the right hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) and the right hon. Member for Cleveland, be their age that of nineteen or any maturer age, or to have the rights and privileges of their particular place in the Galleries of the House invaded by what used to be termed the "sterner sex." This House was elected eight years ago, when there was no thought of war, and composed of Members whose duty it is to represent equally the rights of the women who did not contribute to their election as of the male voters who returned them to this House. I say that until the women who are now enfranchised have this question of the right of women to sit in this House before them as one of the questions at at least one General Election, if not more, we Members of this old House of Commons have no right whatever to decide that women are eligible to sit here."

The Law Officers of the Crown have given us their decision that, so far as there is any law on the matter, the law is that in their opinion women are now ineligible to be elected, and I submit it is for the men and women now enfranchised to have the opportunity of saying whether they desire to see that changed. I do not want to dwell on the question which it seems to me must be present in the minds of every hon. Member, and that is how extraordinarily incongruous it is that we should be debating this question at the present time. It is quite true, as the right hon. Member for Cleveland said, that the Conference over which you, Sir, presided, had not got any authority to decide this question. That is true, but I venture to say that, if the majority who were in favour of the enfranchisement of women at that Conference had had it in mind that it was to be taken as an axiom almost that sitting in this House must logically and inevitably follow from the decision that women were to vote, then the voting upon the question of whether women would be eligible as voters would have been very different from what it was. We had, it is true, only to consider the question of the franchise, and if we had had in mind that it was certain that the claim would be not only put forward but immediately met, and that legislation would be asked for and agreed to by this House during the continuance of the War before any woman had had an opportunity of registering a vote, that they were to have the right of sitting here, I think that the right to vote would never have been granted to women during the present Parliament.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hitchin made use of one other argument to which I want briefly to refer. He said that those who are opposed to this measure say, in effect, that there is no woman in the country as capable of sitting in this House as the least satisfactory male Member of it. I venture to think that that shows that the right hon. Gentleman is not only right honourable but learned, because that is specially a legal argument, and it is really in the nature of special pleading. Surely some of us may say that, although we frankly admit there are women of great and outstanding ability, there may be other reasons, beyond the fact that we maintain that they are not as capable as men of legislating, which make it undesirable that they should be here in this House acting as legislators! I am quite sure my right hon. Friend can realise at once, without my saying it, that there are a whole number of arguments, with which perhaps he does not agree, that would make it perfectly tenable to say that, although a woman may be quite as capable as a man of exercising all the duties and responsibilities of a Member of this House, yet in the public interest it might be exceedingly undesirable, and in the interests of the home it might be undesirable, that they should be here as Members of this House. He says that really our arguments mean that we distrust and despise women. I say the absolute opposite of that. I say that it may well be, and it certainly is my argument, that I not only do not distrust and despise women, but I honour and admire women, and I want to be quite sure that they are not brought into all this dirty business of politics, and that if, as the right hon. Member for Cleveland said, our political questions are to centre more round the home in future it shall not be taken, as he takes it, as a necessary corollary that we should drag the home into all the political arena over which we dispute in this House.

May I refer to one or two questions that the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Motion dealt with. He said it might be thought that if we opened this Chamber to women as Members the bench on which he sits will be crowded with women, and he said that was not the least likely to happen. I quite agree, but that argument appears to me to be a most extraordinary argument. I agree with it, because only the other day I was speaking to the representative of New Zealand in this country, who has great experience of politics there, and he told me that for twenty-five years women had not only been voters, but had been eligible to sit as Members there, and that so far not a single one had been elected. But that does not really appeal to me as an argument why, at the present moment, we should consider any question that is brought before us at the present time, moribund or not, and that therefore, because in New Zealand, for example, in twenty-five years no single woman has entered the Legislature, although empowered by law to do so, the matter is of such urgency that we must now pass this law, when the best argument that can be put forward for it is that it is not likely to make any difference in the representation of the people at all. If that is so, surely it is better to wait at any rate until the women themselves, whom we have so recently enfranchised, have had some opportunity of expressing their opinion on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman said he thought it was a conclusive proof of his argument for this Motion that it had been attended with the most admirable result that the direct representation of labour by Members who are specially able to put the labour point of view in this House is now an accomplished fact. May I ask whether hon. Members who specially represent labour would all agree that though they can represent the wage earner they are quite incapable of representing the wage-earner's wife, and whether we are to really to carry this sex question so far as to assume that there must be always another point of view of the wife of the wage earner that is unrepresented in the vote of her husband? I would ask this House very seriously to consider not only the point of view of whether it is opportune that this Motion should be brought before us at all and that a day should be given to its debate, but to consider the point of view that the acceptance of this Motion involves the introduction of a Bill, because that is what the Motion asks for, and consequently not only one day, but probably several further days of the time of this House being spent upon it.

If the matter were confined to the time of this House, I might agree that since it has been decreed by those who control our time here that a day can well be spared for this preliminary canter we might still spare three or four days in the course of the War in passing the necessary legislation, but the matter will not end there, and I ask the House to take into consideration the further view that we have never had put before us the strong opinions and the rooted objections of what is undoubtedly the vast majority of the women of this country to this forcing of them, by a small minority of the sex, into the political arena. We should be utterly overstepping the limits of our authority, our rights, our duties, and our responsibilities if at this time we said to the women of the country, "Whether you like it or not, you will have women candidates put before you, and if any of your sex vote for them, be it on a side issue or a main issue, and they get a majority of the votes, they will be entitled to come to the House of Commons and on a close Division cast the absolute casting vote, except the equal division casting vote which it is your privilege, Mr. Speaker, to give, and may absolutely decide, yea or nay, whether certain legislation should be the law of the land or not." Indeed, it is obvious, from the nature of the Motion, that the matter would not be confined to that. Once admitted to this House, there is no possible reason why a woman should not be the Speaker or the Speakeress of the House as well as occupy any other position. I am certain that this matter has not been given really the thought that it ought to have been given by Members of the House except those few who are keenly interested, and I do not believe there has been any real consideration as to what would be the absolutely revolutionary upheaval, not only in our politics, but in our homes, and in the whole constitution of the country, and in our individual life, if this great change were made; and when you think how vast the change is and what is really involved in the point of view, I am certain hon. Members will hesitate on this, one of the last days of a Parliament that has long outstayed its mandate, to pass one of the most revolutionary proposals that has ever been put before the House.

5.0 P.M.


I rise to support the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland. So far as I know, there is no opposition to it from any of those organised forces which for years conducted a campaign against the enfranchisement of women. We have listened to speeches this afternoon in opposition to this Motion, but so far as I know—at all events, no communications have reached me to that effect—they do not reflect any widespread opposition on the part of those large numbers who opposed the grant of the franchise, but who, once that was granted, regard this as the inevitable consequence and view it either with approval or with indifference. How has that result come about? This battle was fought and was decided in the Reform Bill of last year, and it was fought and decided on an intelligible principle. I think my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin has done us who fought that battle less than justice in saying that the principle on which we joined issue was that we despised and distrusted women. That was certainly not our standpoint, but if I may summarise our point of view then it was this, that there were two extreme points of view of the position of women in society and in the State. There was the Oriental point of view, which made of her an inferior and in some respects a servile being, and there was the advanced radical and feminist point of view, which made her in all respects the complete social and political equal of man. Our point of view in the series of battles which was terminated last year was that you had to make a boundary somewhere between those two extremes—that somewhere, so to speak, between the Woolsack and the harem you had to draw the line—and that the line which human nature dictated and public policy demanded was the line which separates Imperial from local and municipal affairs. That was a logical and an intelligible case. It was considered by the country and debated in Parliament and Parliament decided otherwise. When Parliament has so decided, what use is there to retreat to a perfectly untenable line of trenches in the rear and take up a position utterly inconsistent with everything which we have ever said? We have always pointed out that the concession of the vote would carry with it the right to have a seat in Parliament. Mr. Gladstone foresaw it, and uttered it in memorable words, and I have listened in vain to the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London and those who have opposed the Motion to-day for any principle on which you could intelligibly oppose something which flows directly from what was done last year. If I may refer to one point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who made this Motion, I noticed with interest, but without any surprise, that he abandoned the age limit of thirty, in so far as women Members of Parliament are concerned. It cannot be defended, but it was only done, I think, for the purpose of getting the measure through Parliament. If I may make a humble suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman, it is this, that if he succeeds in making women over the age of twenty-one eligible for Parliament, he should proceed to the next step, and make women over twenty-one also entitled to the Parliamentary vote. Those being, so far as I have been able to ascertain and collect them, the views of those, or many of them, who were opposed to the grant of the franchise last year, we feel that further resistance would be ungenerous, would be futile, and would be based on no intelligible principle, and that we are accepting nothing more than was decided already in principle by Parliament last year.


The hon. Member who has just sat down said he spoke for an organisation which opposed votes for women. He is as perfectly aware as I am that that great organisation is now broken up. He has no right to assert, on behalf of that organisation, any such unanimity of opinion, which, to my mind, is certainly not the case. I have been in communication with many of those who were the strongest advocates of votes for women. They have told me—they were certain persons of weight—that they would rather have some two or three years' delay. I know I am speaking as one on the side which is not the popular side in regard to this question. If I were to study probabilities of election, I would probably remain silent. I have many graduates in my Constituency, and I know that they never can think I have been in Parliament a strong advocate of votes for women. But I pay them the respect of thinking that they will choose between me and another candidate for other reasons. There are abundant and most satisfactory reasons which they may find for preferring another candidate to myself, but I am quite certain that they will take it on broad issues, and they will not respect me more if I try to make, at the last moment, a palinode of Stesichoros. The Noble Lord stitting on the Treasury Bench committed what I might almost call an outrageous libel on his fellow Members by attributing our opinions to the fact that we looked down upon women. That, I can tell the Noble Lord, is an absolute falsehood in my case. It is not right that any Minister standing from that bench should attribute motives of that sort to Members who happen to hold different opinions from himself. I remember the Noble Lord himself—if he will pardon my recalling early days, when we were sitting as colleagues opposite—making a speech to the effect that he had no decided opinion on the question of votes for women—and I can bring forward the OFFICIAL REPORT to prove it—but that his conduct would be decided by whether he thought the women would support him or not. He cannot deny that, because some two or three years ago I put the passage in his hands.


My right hon. Friend's recollection of the passage is quite inaccurate.


I assert again, my recollection of the passage is absolutely accurate. I am prepared to justify my action on this question to my Constituents. I opposed votes for women for one reason and one reason only—a reason which has moved the women of France never to ask for them—because it would derogate from the influence of women and would injure, not help, them. I may be wrong. I try to learn new lessons, but I would be very sorry that the repentance should take place so rapidly as is reflected in the change of opinion on the subject in this House. That is a sort of repentance which I should be inclined to call cataclysmal rather than sincere. But I have taken the situation as it now stands. I am quite ready, and with every respect for them, to welcome women into the new position as a powerful element in our elections. I shall go to them not on my past opinions on one question. My Constituents are not such fools as to decide great questions on that ground. I shall go before them on the broad question, whether they think my services to my Constituency have been consistent, whether they think I am worthy to represent them, and whether they hold the same opinions on broad questions that I do. But what I say now is that this new proposal is offered to us at the most inopportune moment. Surely we have had a rich, full and overflowing meal of constitutional change. The right hon. Gentleman who proposed the Motion said he wished further changes—a change from thirty to twenty-one. Did he support me when I made a Motion to that effect and was defeated? Had I any real support in this House when I moved that Motion? A handful only voted for me. Now the right hon. Gentleman repents again.


My right hon. Friend is mistaken. I said nothing about the franchise.


I understood the right hon. Gentleman to refer to the restriction of the women as a thing that might be changed.


I was suggesting that if this change we are now proposing were carried out, it ought not to be limited to women over thirty, as is the franchise.


If the right hon. Gentleman thinks women are worthy to sit in this House surely, à fortiori, they are worthy to be given a vote. But I do not propose to ask that the whole question should be reopened. Is legislation to be of such a break-neck fashion that before a few months are past, before a single step has been taken to carry the Act into operation, we must at once revise a great constitutional change of this sort, at a moment when our minds arc, or ought to be, otherwise occupied It is a far stronger view that I wish to urge upon the House very earnestly. I am not discussing this matter of women's votes on its merits just now. That is finished. I have said all that I could say. I have bowed my head to that decision. I have cordially welcomed my fellow voters of the other sex, and I shall ask with perfect confidence, and I shall go before my Constituents for their judgment. I want to point this out. Before women have yet had the opportunity of taking part in politics to any large extent, you are going to force upon them the most serious part of politics. What sort of women will be representatives at first? Do you think they will be women who are most worthy to represent the womanhood of England? What opportunity had the vast mass of women—women of wisdom, of moderation, of calmness, who have exercised in other spheres a very strong and an effective influence—what chance have they of showing what part they can play in public life? How long will it take before they have played such part in politics that they can assert their position, that their weight and value as political advisers is readily recognised and admitted, and they have proved that they are really worthy of the confidence of their fellows?

The next election will be taken when the nation is occupied with the War. Can Members run over in their minds those women who are likely to be representatives? Will not the militant suffragette, who is no great favourite one side or the other, be in that position, and do you think the women of England want to be represented by them? [An HON. MEMBER: "They will not be!"] I do not suppose they will, but is it fair to start in this way with women candidates whom the great mass of women of this nation would not support? Would it not be likely to inflict a wound to the chances of women hereafter winning seats in this House? Would it not be better to delay until certain women of character, influence, ability, large powers of influencing their fellow-men and fellow-women have begun to assert themselves? When they come forward, then, I think, women will look upon it in another light. They will look up to these outstanding and influential ladies. They will be glad to see them as their champions, and they will give their votes under much less prejudice than they would if they were forced to give a vote amongst the very noisiest who are likely to remain powerful for a time. I am performing an unpleasant and rather invidious task in rising in a House where I fancy that deep in their hearts more Members have a little lingering sympathy with my views than they are inclined to give vocal utterance to. It is unpopular, it is disagreeable, it is invidious to do so, and if I have by anything I say forfeited the approval of constituents I cannot conceive anyone so constituted as to derive pleasure from a scat which he thinks he holds from his constituents only because he cringes to their opinion. I do not think my Constituents are framed in that way, and, if they are, I am afraid I cannot claim the pleasure of continuing to represent them. I have done my best for them, and I have based my position on the coincidence of my general views with theirs in the past. I have taken part in controversies not from any such motives as those attributed to me by the Noble Lord the Under Foreign Secretary (Lord R. Cecil), but because honestly, though perhaps mistakenly, I thought this change would injure the position of women. In that I was judged to be wrong. I accept fully that judgment, and nobody will accept women's suffrage more loyally than myself. But for the reasons I have stated, the inopportuneness of time, the injury it will probably do to the progress of woman's representation, we ought to be spared the hurry of a new upturning and reopening of the grave constitutional questions we settled so fully last year.


I was one who for many years, within the knowledge of the House, opposed the extension of the suffrage to women, and I must associate myself with the protest of my hon. Friend the Member for West Herts (Mr. A. Ward), a few moments ago, against the suggestion that those of us who took that line did so, either avowedly or in spirit, to use the language of my Noble Friend who spoke a few moments ago from the Treasury Bench (Lord R. Cecil), because we despised or distrusted women. That was not my argument, nor, so far as I know, the line of argument taken by any responsible opponent of woman's suffrage. I do not wish to go back—it is totally irrelevant to the present Motion—to any argument for or against the extension of the suffrage to women, except to say that so far as I am concerned I never failed to point out to this House, and whenever I had occasion to allude to the matter elsewhere, that if you once gave the vote to women, you could not possibly, logically or in policy, refuse to those whom you had enfranchised the power to be eligible to sit in this House. The one step inevitably involved the other. It was just as though, when the Parliaments in past days extended the franchise among what are commonly called the working classes when they removed the various property qualifications and disabilities which excluded a large number of our fellow citizens from the power of the vote—it is as though when they had granted that measure of enfranchisement they had continued or revived—as a matter of fact I believe the property qualification for members had already disappeared—they had revived that property qualification. When once you have declared that a class of persons is worthy and qualified to exercise the franchise, I cannot see any possible reason in logic or in policy why those persons should not be entitled, if they can get constituencies to elect them, to sit in this House. [Sir F. BANBURY: "What about the clergy?"] My right hon. Friend refers to the clergy. I should not in the least mind qualifying the clergy. I believe it would be perfectly logical to give the clergy the right to become candidates for Parliament, but I doubt if many would be elected.

The principle is perfectly simple, and seems to me to be one the application of which cannot possibly be mistaken. If you say a person or class is fit to exercise the franchise, you must at the same time say "You are fit to be a representative." It does not seem to me that the case really admits of contention, and the only argument that has been advanced is that brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury)—an argument not dealing with the merits of the case, but urging that it was inexpedient because it was premature. In support of that argument he pointed to the fact, the undoubted fact, that this Parliament has several times prolonged its existence, and is what is popularly described as "moribund," and ought not under these conditions to sanction further constitutional change. That is an argument which might be and was used with considerable effect against the legislation of last year. But a Parliament which holds itself qualified to extend the electorate by eight or ten millions of electors cannot be held to be disqualified from, at the same time, or in immediate sequence, supplementing it by action which all considerations of justice and expediency show to be desirable, by extending to persons who are qualified to vote the right to represent those who are enfranchised.

Talk about the old simile of the gnat and the camel! You have the camel; you ought not to strain at the gnat. I will say one thing more. I have myself the greatest possible faith, and always have had, in my fellow-citizens that they will not choose in the long run unfit persons to represent them in this House. Sometimes they make mistakes; sometimes they make very serious mistakes, but my hon. Friend the Member for the University (Sir H. Craik) has used a classical phrase—they compensate for it by what he called a "cataclysmal repentance." In that case they reverse the decision which they had made in a fit of impetuous but misguided enthusiasm. So it will be in this case, and I have not the faintest fear that these new constituencies, with their infusion of women electors, will show themselves less qualified than constituencies have in the past to send to tills House persons to represent, not merely particular classes of interests alone, but people who are really qualified to speak on the great matters of legislation with which this House deals. There is a dilatory plea, but there is no argument against this Bill. The dilatory plea is disposed of by what the House has already done, and I should be glad if this Resolution were unanimously carried.


I have no occasion in supporting this Resolution to stand in a white sheet or to make a deathbed repentance, cataclysmal or otherwise. I have the easy conscience of one who is now supporting the views which he has always expressed in this House. I have during the years I have been in this House had occasion to make a number of speeches in opposition to woman's suffrage and on almost every occasion when I have made such an opposition I have expressly stated that I saw no theoretical objection whatever to women being elected as Members of this House and to their taking their seats in this House like any other elected person. Opposition in the past to women being Members of this House has come, not from the opponents of woman's suffrage but from the advocates of woman's suffrage I am happy to have a very apposite quotation in regard to that on this occasion. In the first year in which I was a Member of this House there was a Woman's Enfranchisement Bill introduced by Sir George Kemp. Speaking on that Bill on 5th May, 1911, I said, "In the course of his speech he, Sir George Kemp, said that while he was in favour of women having the vote, or at least some women, he was altogether opposed to women being returned to, and sitting in, this House. Sir George Kemp then interrupted me, and said, "May I contradict that? I did not say that. I said that at the moment it was not under discussion. I might have views in regard to it. I did not intend to oppose it." I continued: The hon. Member at this point prefers not to venture an opinion, and that is significant. I, as an opponent of woman's suffrage, say that I see no theoretical objection whatever to women being Members of this House."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1911, col. 791, Vol. 25.] I do not know whether any individual in this House has ever done me the honour of giving his attention to the case which in the past I have endeavoured to make against woman's suffrage. If there be anyone who has done me the honour of giving his attention to that case, he will not think there is anything paradoxical or anything self-contradictory in the attitude which I now adopt. The argument against woman's suffrage was not an argument which applied to the question whether women should sit in this House, and whether it was valid or whether it was invalid, it could have no such application. The two cases are quite distinct. The two functions are quite distinct; and the reasons why women should or should not exercise the vote were quite other reasons from those whether they should or should not sit in this House. It is a familiar and cherished delusion on the part of many of the advocates of woman suffrage, including the Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) who spoke from the Front Bench a while ago; a delusion, I say, of theirs, that those who opposed woman suffrage in the past based their opposition upon some supposed intellectual or educational inferiority on the part of women on some supposed incapacity of women to form a political judgment. If that had been the objection to women suffrage, if there had been any ground for supposing that there was a universal, intellectual and educational inferiority on the part of woman, I agree that that would have been a valid argument against women sitting in this House. I agree also that those who hold that view might have been properly described in the language of the Noble Lord as despising and distrusting women. But that was not the view held by us who opposed women suffrage in the past. That is a view which is humiliating and disrespectful to women; and it was that very view which the Noble Lord described as the view of those who distrusted and despised women, it was that very view which dictated that humiliating and disrespectful provision in the Representation of the People Act which prevents women from exercising the vote until they have reached the age of thirty. That very view was introduced into the Act, not at the request, or not with the support of those who opposed women suffrage, but entirely at the instance and with the support of those who advocated women suffrage.


No, no!


But it was. The Noble Lord referred to that matter, and he said that this Clause was introduced at the instance of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. Fortunately I have got here the Division List for that occasion, and I find that the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), along with a considerable number of others who had opposed women suffrage in the past, voted in favour of removing that restriction, and for giving the franchise to women on the same conditions as men and at the same age; whilst on the other hand the Noble Lord who states that that provision was introduced at the instance of the right hon. Baronet, voted in favour of maintaining the restriction of the age of thirty. I say distinctly, on behalf of those who take the other view, that whilst we have been in the past opposed to women suffrage for reasons that we have stated, once the House had made up its mind and had decided the main question—that of principle—we accepted the verdict of the House unreservedly and without equivocation, and all our efforts thereafter were directed to securing that the franchise which had been given to the women should be on the most democratic lines, and should not be a franchise which would militate against and counteract the democratic franchise enjoyed by the men.

I do not propose to enter into any reasoned statement now as to what were the views which led one in the past to oppose women suffrage. I merely state briefly that the view I took was that the right to exercise the franchise should be restricted to those who had the capacity, or the potential capacity, to defend their country in arms in time of danger. The experience through which we have passed in the last four years has undoubtedly enlarged the views of all of us as to the extent to which women are able to serve their country in time of war. It has undoubtedly enlarged the views of all of us as to the extent to which women are able to exercise, and influence the ultimate result, when it comes to the ultimate appeal to physical force. However that may affect the argument which we formerly put forward against women suffrage, it is quite clear that arguments of that nature have no bearing on the question of whether women are entitled to sit in Parliament, if they are duly elected thereto by a majority of the electorate. On other grounds which I can conceive as applicable to the circumstances—on the ground of intellectual and educational qualification, on the ground of practical experience, on the ground of national service, I think that women, if and when elected, are equally entitled with men to sit in Parliament. The argument that women are intellectually and educationally inferior to men I reject now, as I have always rejected it; and not merely in this application, but in its applications to all those spheres in which women claim entrance, whether to universities, the learned professions, or to public bodies. In putting forward that view I merely claim that I have consistently followed the views—which are on record—that I have expressed ever since I entered this House.

Major-General Sir NEWTON MOORE

It is just a few remarks that I propose to address to the House, and on this, the first occasion, I would pay a tribute to the memory of my predecessor the Right Hon. Sir George Reid, whose work in three Parliaments of the Empire will long remain in the memory of the people who had an opportunity of knowing him. The distinction of being elected a Member of this noble House is one which carries with it very great honour, more especially in a time like this, when we are engaged in solving so many very great problems. We are to-night considering a measure which is quite familiar to me. I am not in the position of some hon. Members of having to make an apology for my previous utterances with regard to women's franchise. It is very gratifying indeed, in spite of the pressure on the Legislature of this country during the last four or five years, to find that reform in electoral matters has not been neglected. The vote for women marks a very distinct advance on the restricted franchise which obtained prior to the War. That reform, to my mind, has been long postponed, but it is not on that account the less acceptable to the community. The magnificent work already performed by women during the War, even if that were the only reason—which it is not—is a complete justification for the action taken by Parliament in recognising their claims and extending to them the full rights of citizenship. Bitter opponents have been completely converted. The manner in which the most active members and leaders of the woman's party have put aside their propaganda in order to devote their full energies to any schemes for the prosecution of the War is worthy of our warm admiration. Their actions have gained advocates from amongst their strongest former opponents. It certainly stands to their credit that the cause, for which they had fought so long, was subordinated to the needs of the War. I feel I must take this opportunity of registering my vote in support of the Motion which has been proposed giving women the right to be elected Members of Parliament.

For those who view this reform as something revolutionary I would say, as has been pointed out by the Mover of the Resolution, that we have no occasion to be very much alarmed. In Australia, although the franchise has been in the possession of the women since the inauguration of the Commonwealth—some eighteen years ago—there are not, I think, more than six women who have stood for Parliament, whilst up to the present date there has been no single woman elected to Parliament. Several hon. Members have spoken in appreciation of the work done by women during the War. I have had exceptional opportunities of witnessing the part women have played, whether it has been near the firing line or the casualty or clearing stations; whether they have acted as drivers of ambulances or motor wagons; or whether their work has been nearer, in munition works, or in the great Departments of the State. In all these women have, indeed, played a noble part. We also lift our hats with gratitude to those women at home who often with sad hearts have carried on the duties of their households—very often under circumstances which call for the greatest admiration. While speaking in this connection I should like to take the opportunity of saying how much we appreciate the sympathy and care that has been extended by the women of this country to the gallant lads from the Overseas Dominions. Gratifying indeed as it has been to the recipients, I can assure hon. Members that to the mothers and sisters far away it will be one of the strongest links in the bonds, now more closely woven than ever, between the Motherland and her daughter nations. I am making these observations because of the great advance that has been achieved in the very interesting political position of women. As I say, for twenty years I have advocated and been a supporter of votes for women in Australia, and I have assisted in securing this reform.

The women of Australia have had the vote in the two Houses from the inauguration of the Commonwealth. They have not exercised the franchise as fanatics. It may be interesting to hon. Members to know that in all probability 90 per cent. of these women have voted with their menfolk, have voted the same as their husbands, fathers, and brothers, so that I cannot see that that can be used as an argument against the Motion before the House. To those who are doubtful as to the wisdom of throwing open our illustrious Hall, I would say, as I have already said, that notwithstanding these facilities being granted the women apparently have considered that, all things being equal, the man is the better candidate to represent them. I take it that the women in Australia are not very different from those women electors in this country who will be called upon to make their selection here when the General Election comes. I quite understand that there are some hon. Members who think that these reforms should go slowly, and that women, having secured the right to vote in Parliament, should rest content with that for the time being. In normal times I would have agreed with them, but with the record the women have put up during the last five years we can afford to go further and extend to them the fullest recognition of their rights upon an equality with men. I think the granting of this right is only the natural corollary of the granting of votes to women in the Bill which has been recently passed. There are a number of questions in which women are eminently fitted to act in the capacity of legislators, such as improved health laws, housing legislation, factory and marriage laws, preservation of infant life, and various other social questions. I am aware that in several of these spheres women share the administration of existing laws, and it would appear that they have an equally strong claim to make their voice heard in enacting those laws. Is it too much to hope that such an overwhelming expression of opinion will be given to-day in favour of this proposal as to justify the Government bringing in a measure to give effect to the principle included in the Motion which has been brought forward?

Sir J. D. REES

It is quite evident from this Debate that palinodes are no longer confined to Prime Ministers. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Herts opposite stated a simple fact when he said that the supporting of this Motion was in no way inconsistent with the action of those who have hitherto opposed the granting of women suffrage in this House. I was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Samuel), in supporting this Motion and urging that women should be eligible for election to this House, state that the common sense of the country would prevent the return of women in any large numbers. That seems to me to be a very singular argument with which to support this Motion.


That is not what I said.

Sir J. D. REES

I am within the recollection of the House on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman said that if this Motion is passed and legislation follows there would not be women to the right of us and women to the left of us, but, on the contrary, he said, the common sense of the country would prevent the election of many women to this House. Once you abolish the sex bar you cannot, and should not, hope that there will be few women Members in this House. We live in a new world, and if women are to vote it follows naturally that they should be made Members of Parliament, and certainly it is rather inconsistent to take any comfort from the fact that the common sense of the electors will not allow them to be returned in any large numbers. The hon. Member who spoke last, in his interesting maiden speech, supported this Motion with the fact that in Australia no single woman, and, I have no doubt he meant, no married woman, has ever been returned to Parliamnt. I shall endeavour on this occasion to deal with my subject more in accordance with the rules of logic. My Noble Friend said that the object was to get different interests represented in the House of Commons, and therefore he argued that women should come in. Perish the thought! If women are merely to come here to represent some interest opposed to the interest of men, I think none of us would support them. The fact is that we support them because we regard them not only as our equals, but as our superiors, for we know that there are amongst women as acute intellects and as many different characters and varieties of mind as there are amongst ourselves, and we do not look forward to their being Members of Parliament in order to represent female interests, but rather as a complementary force to men in every interest which comes before Parliament.

My right hon. Friend behind me (Sir H. Craik) seemed more concerned to justify his position with his constituency than to deal with the immediate problem before the House, and he said that he was prepared to go before his constituents on this subject. I believe, as a matter of fact, his constituents are all men. I submit to the House that a man's politics are far more a matter of temperament than argument. Before the late Reform Act was passed, women's suffrage was supported by Radicals, Reformers, Socialists, and Sentimentalists. The last is a large class, for Members incline to fall into the hands of the dangerous Delilah, who is sufficiently strong to shear Parliamentary Sampsons of their sense. It might be supposed, therefore, that those who were formerly opposed to female suffrage would on this occasion be inclined to oppose the Motion before this House. The fact is that they opposed woman suffrage on the ground of sex, but, once that bar is removed, there is no further ground, I respectfully submit, for imposing any bar upon the other sex, as to the offices which they should be able to fill in this country.

We live now in an entirely new world to that in which we lived when this question which has now been settled was one of acute controversy in this House. That was before the era of social reform and the days when a man's income was more or less his own. It was the time when women were confined to certain occupations. Several hon. Members to-night have been inclined to deal rather with the merits of woman suffrage, but that would not only be wrong on this Motion, but it would be irrelevant. Women have proved themselves sufficiently capable controversialists and powerful antagonists to force woman suffrage through Parliament without even the formality of consulting the country, and it is absurd to suppose that, having got this vote in enormous numbers, they are now going to display patience, not the virtue for which they are most famous, and wait until the House is pleased to give them what is the natural corollary of the vote they have already got, that is the right to sit where they have a right to send others to sit. Is it likely that enfranchised woman will sit like a "Peri at the gate," of the Parliamentary "Eden, disconsolate"? Although I have never voted for women suffrage, I am bound to say now it is here and in operation that it obtained in Finland, which, governed by its Grand Duke, the Czar, was one of the most forward and advanced countries in Europe until it fell under the Bolsheviks, and there women were not only Members of Parliament, but they filled the most important offices, and I am bound to say they acquitted themselves right well—a fact which I have hitherto concealed, until I knew that women had got the vote in this country. I happen to be the head of a large Government Department where we employ over 500 women, and the way they carry out their duties is beyond all praise, and I should feel it a most ungrateful and ungracious necessity, if I felt bound to vote against this Motion. Therefore, it is with the utmost consistency that I feel perfectly justified in supporting the Motion before the House. Many things have changed in the new world. We no longer live in days when Members of this House compose long essays at home and come here to deliver them in the dinner hour, to the complete satisfaction of hon. Members having their dinner elsewhere. Now it behoves us not only to speak closely to the point, but having done so immediately to resume our seats.

6.0 P.M.


The speeches which have been delivered up to the present time have been largely from those who are supporters of the Motion which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Samuel). I desire to associate the members of the Labour party with this Motion. So far as the Labour party is concerned, the opening of the doors of this House to the women folk of this country is simply the logical outcome of all their efforts for the enfranchisement of women. During the years of effort which have been necessary in order to secure the enfranchisement of women, every member of the Labour party has no doubt argued that in securing the vote for women it would at the same time carry with it the right of the womenfolk to sit in this House. I even go further, and I say that when this question of the granting of votes to women was under consideration there were very few Members who had any doubt that it would carry with it the right of women to sit in this House. We have been delighted in every other phase of our national life to have women associated with us. Why should we stop short of opening the doors of this House to them? If there were any section of our people who had any doubts as to the wisdom of giving full political rights to women, I think the magnificent way in which the women of the country have entered into every phase of our national life in the last four years should have largely dispelled those doubts and fears. Hundreds of thousands of women are to-day rendering valuable service in every phase of our national life, and particularly in every part of our industrial system. The entrance of women so fully into industry will give rise to one of the greatest of our after-war problems. When that problem comes to be considered in this House, are we to refuse to allow the women's point of view to be presented? It would be a profound mistake if the House refused an entrance to women and so prevented them putting their point of view on this very great problem. The entrance of women so fully into industry has already to a considerable extent revolutionised our ideas regarding the conditions of the workers. We have had to consider from an entirely new point of view the question of the relationship of the wages of men and women. In many quarters it is recognised that women, when they are able to render equal service, are entitled to equal remuneration for the services so rendered. We have also had set up since they entered the industrial system in such large numbers well-organised canteens where good food well cooked can be secured at moderate prices. That is a great advance on anything that we had previously. We have also had set up welfare supervisors to look after the comfort and convenience of the workers. Rest centres have been established, and many other arrangements have been made for giving a human touch to our industrial relationship. Wherever women have entered the human element has played a much larger part, and I submit, as Parliament is the great welfare supervisor for the nation, that by opening the doors of this House to women we shall be taking the first step towards giving future legislation just that human touch which has hitherto been absent.

Let me for a moment look at some of the problems with which Parliament will have to deal after the War. I place, first, the question of the pensions which are to be paid to the women, the children, and the dependants of our men who have unfortunately lost their lives in the course of this great War. Who is better qualified than our womenfolk to name the sum that will be necessary in order to give the dependants of our fallen men the same degree and standard of comfort as that enjoyed by those who have had the fortune not to be engaged in this terrible conflict? Take next the question of wages. I do not mean that women are better qualified to deal with the question entirely from the point of view of the wages paid to women. I include both the wages paid to women and to men, and I suggest that the women who have filled the positions of chancellors of the exchequer in our homes are better qualified to determine the amount of wages that are necessary for keeping the homes in a degree of comfort than even the men themselves. Then take the question of housing. Women have to spend a far greater portion of their lives in our homes than the men. Consequently, they are in a better position to deal with the type of house and the amount of accommodation that should be provided than the men. I take next the question of demobilisation. It will present many difficulties which will strain and try the industrial relationship of the sexes to a degree hitherto unknown. Surely the House and the country will be all the better for having women here presenting their point of view helping us to deal with the many intricate and difficult questions that will necessarily arise. Again, no section of our people are better qualified than the women to speak with regard to the care of children. There are many other problems with which one could deal if one cared to take up the time of the House in which the House and the country would do well to have the woman's point of view presented, but I have no intention of standing long between the House and the taking of a Division if the right hon. Baronet opposite means to press the matter to a Division. I hope, having heard the House, which almost universally agrees to the proposition, that he will think more wisely of it and allow the Motion to go through without a Division, but should he persist in his opposition I hope that by a very large majority, indeed, the House will carry the Resolution and so pave the way for opening the doors of this House to the womenfolk of the country.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir H. MEUX

Unlike the majority of Members this afternoon, I rise to oppose this Motion. I oppose it not for the reason that I do not love the female sex—I adore them—but for the reason that I do not want to see them here. I do not think this House is a fit and proper place for any respectable woman to sit in. We have heard distinguished Parliamentarians tell us that there are no practical objections to it. I say that there are very great objections. Just consider the routine of the House. We meet at three o'clock, or we ought to meet at three o'clock for prayers, and we go on till eleven or twelve o'clock at night. Is that a thing for any woman to do? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]


Then insist on meeting at a reasonable hour—ten o'clock in the morning, for example—and do not sit till eleven at night.


It is quite true that women sit on county councils and those sort of things, but only for two or three hours, and I say that no woman is fit by her physical organisation to stand the strain of Parliament.


How about all-night sittings?


As the right hon. Baronet says, what about all-night sittings, sitting up till two or three in the morning? "Who goes home?" It will be a question of "Who will take me home?" Do not let anyone think I am not perfectly cognisant of what women have done in this War. They have done marvellously well. I am a pretty good judge, and I say that after the strain through which they have gone, the women of this country are more beautiful than they ever were before. If one goes back into history, it is quite true that there have been many great women, but the more you study the lives of the great women who have ruled as well as reigned—there is a great distinction—the less you are inclined to let those lives be known to a class of Sunday school girls. I have been told, and I have no doubt it is perfectly true, that if I say a word against the women I shall lose a great many votes, and very likely my election. I cannot help it, but I do not believe it to be the case. I know that women are the only real judges of men, and I believe the women of whatever constituency I may stand for will say, "This man is not afraid of saying what he thinks. He is not like a great many Members of the House, who only voted for this because they thought that otherwise they would not get in." We have heard Members say that the women have had the vote in Australia and New Zealand for many years and they have never yet elected a woman. I do not believe that there is a single Member who in his heart of hearts hopes to see a woman sitting in this House. My Noble Friend opposite (Lord Robert Cecil) even does not deny that. I do not know whether he really wants to see women sitting here.




Well, I do not. In all the affairs of life it is the right of women to choose what men shall represent them. Therefore it is perfectly logical to give them the vote. But this is an entirely different thing, and I do not believe the majority of the women of this country have any desire whatever to be represented by women in this House. What women really think about each other in affairs of this sort was well expressed by a very distinguished and versatile woman called Cleopatra, and those who would like to know what she said I refer to Shakespeare. But surely there is a very great difference between a woman choosing what man shall represent her and a woman being asked to vote for women to come into this House! I cannot believe that in the Army and the Navy, which have never been consulted on this momentous question at all, this will be at all popular, and I have certainly not received any mandate from the constituency for which I now stand to vote for it. The, people of the country ought to have been consulted. This has been sprung upon us. I look upon it as political strategy, and I call it political trickery. There was not a word said about having women to sit in the House when the Franchise Bill passed. If it had been said, hon. Members know perfectly well that it would probably never have passed.


In spite of the very brilliant and rather discursive speech to which we have just listened, it seems to me there has been nothing really said against the proposal of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Samuel) which needs answering. The Debate has been almost all one-sided. One of the few who would have opposed the Resolution, the hon. Member (Mr. Peto), said he did not want women dragged through the dirty business of politics in order to come into this House. But is getting into this House necessarily a dirty business? I thought this was an honourable House. I thought it was sometimes called the "Grand Inquest of the Nation," and that the ambition to get a seat in this House was a laudable ambition. There may be dirty incidents in getting in here. Let other Members speak for themselves. I do not confess on my own behalf. But when we are discussing whether women should sit here or not we may for one moment remember on what conditions we got in. I looked up the law, when I was first a candidate for Parliament, regarding sanity. I thought it was just as well to be safe, because I had heard many Members before then at heated political meetings described as idiots. I found that to call a Member of Parliament or a candidate an idiot is technically incorrect, because the law, according to Blackstone, is this: An idiot or a natural fool is one who has had no understanding from his nativity, and is by law not regarded as likely to attain any. He is not allowed to be a candidate for Parliament as being incapable of executing the trust. I have thought that over, and it occurred to me that that might be the law, but perhaps it had not always been rigidly applied. Then I found the law draws this fine distinction: A lunatic is one who hath had memory and understanding and judgment but by reason of disease or accident has lost the use of the same. He hath lucid intervals during which he is of sound memory and judgment and sometimes he is not. If in a lucid interval he is a candidate he can stand. The same law applies to the voter. An idiot or a natural fool cannot vote, but the vote of a lunatic during a lucid interval must be received if the returning officer recognises that he is sufficiently compos mentis to distinguish between the candidates, and that takes some doing sometimes. We see to what that comes. One lunatic enjoying a lucid interval may vote for another lunatic who is also enjoying a lucid interval, and the result is a Member of Parliament. How can any hon. Member, knowing that, meet a brilliant, gifted, experienced woman, or even a dull woman if it comes to that, and say, "You are not capable of sitting in Parliament, but a lunatic voted for by another lunatic is capable of sitting if that lunatic be only a male"? It is absolutely unanswerable. As for this not being the right time, which has been pleaded sometimes, now that we are near the end of the great War, no reform was ever timely to those who do not want it. You have only to read Sydney Smith's "Orations," which I recommend to hon. Members for careful study, to find that one of the greatest arguments is, "Sir, is this the time?" A thing may be right or it may be wrong, but it is never the right time to do it. I think this is a very proper time to carry this reform, and I hope to see it agreed to very shortly, without even a Division.


I warmly welcome the Resolution, because I have always advocated equal rights and privileges for women with men. I welcomed the admission of nearly 7,000,000 of women to the electoral roll of this country, and I only wish we had gone a step further and given them the franchise on precisely the same lines as men enjoy it. I welcome this Motion because I think there are many questions to be dealt with in the immediate future in which the women and children of this country are specially concerned, and in their settlement I am perfectly certain it would be an advantage, not only to this House but to the nation as a whole, to have the point of view of intelligent, educated women, whom I am certain the constituencies would only return, superior perhaps in average mental ability to the majority of men in this House, and that that will be an advantage to the country and will add to the progress and prosperity of the State.


The most sensible thing the House has done this evening is to call for a Division, because anyone who has been here throughout the Debate must have felt how entirely unnecessary it was to have the Debate at all. Only a very few speeches have been made against the Motion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir H. Meux) put forward two arguments. The first was that women ought not to be asked to come here and undergo the strain of the long hours which this House has to sit, but he did not think of the hundreds of thousands of women who have to work from morning till night, and very often all night, and he did not think that the House, as long as it has been confined merely to the sterner sex, has not done as much as perhaps it might have done for the women who have to work those long hours. The other argument was that the Army and the Navy had not yet been consulted about this measure. It is news to me, and I am sure it will be to a great many Members of the House, that before we undertake legislation we have to go to the Army and the Navy to ask for their permission. I do not think that is a doctrine which this House could accept for a moment, and I am sure it is not put forward seriously. It has been taken all along that this Motion only referred to making women eligible as Members of the House of Commons, but hon. Members are quite wrong in that. There is nothing about the House of Commons in the Motion. It is making women eligible as Members of Parliament, and the House of Lords is included in Parliament. Therefore the mandate to the Government, if the Motion is passed, will be to bring in a Bill not merely to make

women eligible as Members of this House, but to enable them to sit in the other House as well. I hope it will be clearly understood by those who are going to support this Motion that that is what they are voting for. At this time of the day it seems to me to be absurd for a Government to consider that it is necessary to occupy the time of the House for an afternoon to discuss a Motion of this kind at all. If they wanted to give a little real life to a subject of this kind I would suggest an extension of the terms of the Motion to cover women being made eligible not merely as Members of Parliament, but as members of the legal and other professions as well. I join with the rest of the House in hoping that the discussion, which really ought never to have taken place, may now conclude.

Question put, "That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that a Bill should be passed forthwith making women eligible as Members of Parliament."

The House divided: Ayes, 274; Noes, 25.

Division No. 85.] AYES. [6.30 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Ganzoni, Francis John C.
Addison Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Chancellor, Henry George Gardner, Ernest
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Cheyne, Sir W. W. Gastrell, Lieut.-Col. Sir W. Houghton
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Clancy, John Joseph Gilbert, J. D.
Alden, Percy Coats, Sir Stewart A. (Wimbledon) Glanville, Harold James
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Alfred
Anderson, G. K. (Canterbury) Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Greene, Walter Raymond
Anderson, W. C. Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Greig, Colonel J. W.
Arnold, Sydney Calvin, Colonel Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis J.
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Hackett, John
Barnett, Captain R. W. Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives) Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)
Barrie, H. T. Cotton, H. E. A. Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)
Beach, William F. H. Cowan, Sir W. H. Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.
Beale, Sir William Phipson Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.)
Beck, Arthur Cecil Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, E.) Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Crooks, Rt. Hon. William Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry
Bentham, George Jackson Crumley, Patrick Hayden, John Patrick
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Currie, George W. Hazleton, Richard
Bethell, Sir J. H. Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Healy, Maurice (Cork)
Bigland, Alfred Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)
Bird, Alfred Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Helme, Sir Norval Watson
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)
Bliss, Joseph Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Boland, John Pius Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)
Booth, Frederick Handel Dillon, John Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Doris, William Higham, John Sharp
Bowden, Major G. R. Harland Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir James B. Hills, John Waller
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Duffy, William J. Hinds, John
Boyton, Sir James Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Hoare, Sir Samuel John Gurney
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Elverston, Sir Harold Holmos, Daniel Turner
Brady, Patrick Joseph Esmonde, Capt. John (Tipperary, N.) Holt, Richard Durning
Bridgeman, William Clive Essex, Sir Richard Walter Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)
Brookes, Warwick Fell, Sir Arthur Hope, John Deans (Haddington)
Brunner, J. F. L. Ffrench, Peter Horne, Edgar
Bryce, J. Annan Finney, Samuel Hudson, Walter
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam) Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Buxton, Noel Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham) Hume-Williams, Sir W. E.
Byrne, Alfred Fitzgibbon, John Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)
Carnegie, Lieut-Col. Douglas G. Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Jacobsen, Thomas Owen
Cator, John Flavin, M. J. Jessel, Col. Sir Herbert M.
Cautley, Henry Strother Fleming, Sir John John, Edward Thomas
Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Foxcroft, Capt. Charles Talbot Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Norman, Rt. Hon. Major Sir H. Sheehy, David
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Nugent, J. D. (College Green) Shortt, Edward
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) Nuttall, Harry Smallwood, Edward
Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Jowett, F. W. O'Donnell, Thomas Somervell, William Henry
Joyce, Michael O'Dowd, John Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Keating, Matthew O'Shee, James John Stanton, Charles Butt
Kellaway, Frederick George Outhwaite, R. L. Stewart, Gershom
Kenyon, Barnet Parker, James (Halifax) Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
King, Joseph Parrott, Sir James Edward Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse) Sutton, John E.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton) Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding) Swift, Rigby
Lane-Fox, Major G. R. Pennefather, De Fonblanque Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Law, Rt. Hon A. Bonar (Bootle) Perkins, Walter Frank Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Sir Ivor (S'ampton) Thomas, Sir A. G. (Monmouth, S.)
Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester) Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Pollard, Sir George H. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray Tickler, T. G.
M'Callum, Sir John M. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Tootill, Robert
Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk, B'ghs) Pratt, J. W. Toulmin, Sir George
Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Walton, Sir Joseph
McGhee, Richard Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund Watson, Hon. W.
Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Raffan, Peter Wilson Watson, J. B. (Stockton)
McMicking, Major Gilbert Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Weigall, Lieut.-Col. W. E. G. A.
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Wheler, Major Granville C. H.
McNeill, Ronald (Kent St. Augustine's) Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon) White, Col. G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.) White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Maden, Sir John Henry Remnant, Col. Sir James Farquharson Whitehouse, John Howard
Magnus Sir Philip Rendall, Athelstan Whiteley, Sir H. J.
Malcolm, Ian Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Marshall, Arthur Harold Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham) Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Mason, David M. (Coventry) Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Mason, Robert (Wansbeck) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wilkie, Alexander
Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)
Middlebrook, Sir William Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Molloy, Michael Robinson, Sidney Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Molteno, Percy Alport Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald
Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Rowlands, James Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Rowntree, Arnold Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Moore, Major-General Sir J. N. Royds, Edmund Wing, Thomas Edward
Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dewsbury) Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Muldoon, John Runciman, Sir Walter (Hartlepool) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Newman, Major J. R. P. (Enfield) Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Newman, Sir Robert (Exeter) Scanlan, Thomas
Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir W. Dickinson and Mr. Adamson.
Nolan, Joseph Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Agnew, Sir George William Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J. (K'ton) Stanler, Captain Sir Beville
Anstruther-Gray, Lieut.-Col. William Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk. Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Archdale, Lieut. E. M. Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent. Mid)
Courthope, Major George Loyd Layland-Barratt, Sir F. Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Meux, Adml, Hon. Sir Hedworth Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Dalrymple, Hon. H. H. Mount, William Arthur Yate, Colonel C. E.
Du Pre, Major W. Baring Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Foster, Philip Staveley Samuels, Arthur W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Peto.
Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)
Gretton, John

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, "That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that a Bill should be passed forthwith making women eligible as Members of Parliament."