§ A person shall not be disqualified by sex from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to any civil or judicial office or post, or from entering or assuming any civil profession or vocation, or for admission to any incorporated society (whether incorporated by Royal Charter or otherwise), and a person shall not be exempted by sex from the liability to serve as a juror:
§ Provided that—
- (a) notwithstanding anything in this Section His Majesty may by Order in Council authorise Regulations to be made prescribing the mode of admission of women to the Civil Service of His Majesty, and the conditions on which women admitted to that service may be appointed to posts therein, and providing for the exclusion of women from admission to any branch of the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's Possessions, or in any foreign country; and
- (b) any judge, chairman of quarter sessions, recorder or other person before whom the case is heard may, in his discretion, on an application made by or on behalf of the parties (including in criminal cases the prosecution and the accused) or any of them, or at his own instance, make an Order that having regard to the, nature of the case and the evidence to be given, the jury shall be composed of men only or of women only as the case may require, or may on an application made by a woman to be exempted from service on a jury in respect of that case by reason of the nature of the evidence to be given or of the issues to be tried, grant such exemption.
§ Commons Amendment: After the word "function," insert the words "including that of sitting and voting in the House of Lords."
The Lords disagree to the Amendment made by the Commons for the following reason:
Because they do not consider that this alteration in the Constitution of the House of Lords should be made at this time or in this manner.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir E. Pollock)
I beg to move, "That this House doth not insist upon its Amendment to which the Lords have disagreed."
An Amendment was inserted in Committee in this House under which a person would not be disqualified by sex or 1842 marriage from sitting or voting in House of Lords, and it is with that-Amendment that the Lords have disagreed. They have agreed with all the Amendments which were made in Committee and on Report, save and except this particular one. They have only made one alteration in another, which, also, I shall ask the House to agree to later on. I know some hon. Members attach importance to this Amendment on the ground that it was a matter of principle, and therefore, pressed it to a Division. All told, there would be only some twenty ladies who, it was presumed, might ossibly have an opportunity of sitting and voting in the House of Lords, but the number is even less, for on inquiry it was found that of the ladies who hold peerages eleven hold thorn by patent, and the patents in their case were special patents granted in the case of distinguished soldiers and persons who had rendered great service to the State, and as they had no male heir, the patent designated their daughter as the particular person to whom, the peerage should devolve, but even then provided that after the designated female holder the peerage should pass into the male line and it can only be held in the male line. The peerage, as drawn up by patent, expressly gave no right of place, seat or voice to the designated female holder in the House of Lords, and therefore it is not a matter which comes within the ambit of a, Bill to amend the law with respect to disqualification on account of sex because the particular disqualification in these eleven cases arises by virtue of a particular patent, and the general alteration of the law would not affect those cases. There remain nine cases and no more to which it would be possible for this Amendment to apply. The Vote the House has just taken may be interpreted in this way. After listening to the speeches I think the determination of the House was that it would be unwise to deal with this matter of the constitution of the House of Lords in a piecemeal fashion or with regard to particular cases. It would be better to leave it to be dealt with as a whole as and when the reconstitution of the House of Lords is taken up, as we hope it will be in the immediate future. The House of Lords give, as their reason for disagreeing with the Commons Amendment that they do not consider that this alteration in the constitution of the House of Lords should be made at this time or in this manner. If I interpret rightly the 1843 vote just given, I think I am on strong ground in asking the House to accept the Amendment which has been made by the House of Lords, But J would also beg the House not to create a disagreement with the House of Lords. This Bill has now, been amplified. It stands as a Bill which gives a very large measure, almost a complete measure—I only introduce that qualification because I am conscious that some of my hon. Friends wish to go even further—of relief on the question of sex, and it would really be disastrous that, after we have got this Bill as complete as it is, we should engage in a controversy with the other House which might imperil the measure. I very much hope the House will agree with the Lords Amendment, because I regard this Bill as one which all quarters of the House desire to be passed, and I should deprecate any action which could in any way endanger its subsequent fortunes.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOARE
I do not agree altogether with what my hon. Friend has said as to the Bill removing all sex inequalities. I am sorry another place has insisted on deleting the Amendment that we passed in this House. There was considerable debate upon the question, and it went strongly in favour of throwing open another place to women. The Government Whips were taken off, and we carried the Amendment by a large majority. On that account I very much regret that another place has taken this action. At the same time I do not attach very great importance to this provision. The importance I did attach to it I placed upon it because I regarded it as an outward expression of sex inequality as long as women do not sit in another place. Apart from that, I quite agree that it is not an Amendment of any great importance. At the same time, I quite honestly think it is one of those questions which must be considered as part of the general reform of the Second Chamber. From my own point of view, therefore, as one who followed the Bill with close interest when it was here before, and did what I could to extend ifs provisions for making it easier for women to enter the liberal professions, the Civil Service and other branches of public life, I am not prepared to enter into a constitutional conflict with the House of Lords upon this point, and whilst I regret that they have taken this action I am not prepared to press it to a Division.
Commons Amendment: At end of Clause add the words,
Rules of Court may be made as to the procedure to be adopted on any application under this Section relating to service on juries, and the Rules may require or authorise the application or any Order thereon to be made in interlocutory proceedings.
Any Order in Council made under this Section shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith and, if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after the Order is laid before it, praying that the Order or any part thereof may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Order or that part thereof and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done there under.
Lords Amendment to Commons Amendment: After the word "made" ["Rules of Court may be made "] insert the words
('(a) prescribing the manner in which juries are to be summoned and to be selected from the panel: and
(b) exempting from attendance as jurors any women who are for medical reasons unfit to attend; and
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
These Amendments which have been made by the Lords are for the purpose of making the Bill more effective in dealing with one or two matters which have been overlooked in this House. May I explain exactly what the House of Lords has done, because it is by no means easy to follow in view of the practice of the two Houses as to the printing of Bills. In order to follow one has first of all to obtain the Amendments which were made to the Bill as it went to the House of Lords, and then to obtain the Amendments which the Lords made to those Amendments, and although I hoped that another system would prevail under which the Bill would have been reprinted, I was told the practice which prevented that hope being fulfilled, and therefore I have been at pains to work out what the result of this Amendment is. It is provided that "Rules of Court may be made as to the procedure to be adopted on any application under this Section relating to service on juries, and the rules may require or authorise the application, or any order thereon, to be made in interlocutory proceedings." After we had provided that ladies should sit upon juries, it was necessary to take steps to meet 1845 the point that was properly raised by the hon. and learned member for the Bassett-law Division (Sir E. Hume-Williams) that it would be very inconvenient if some lady asked to be excused from a jury, and then it was found that an insufficient panel had been obtained. Therefore, we provided that rules should be made to meet this difficulty, and that application should be made with regard to the composition of the jury at what we call interlocutory proceedings; that is, proceedings before the case actually comes into Court. So far so good. That practice has not been altered by anything that the House of Lords have done. But the House of Lords felt that we had not adequately provided for seeing that juries were properly drawn from men and women alike. It is quite obvious that if women are going to undertake the duty of acting upon juries there must be no discrimination either in favour or against them. The Juries Act, 1825, provides, by Section 26, that when a panel of jurors has been tabled the jury that is to sit is to be drawn by a ballot taken by an officer of the Court, who has to write the names on a piece of paper or parchment, put them into a box, and then draw out the names of the persons who are to form the jury. Unless that is provided for it might be said that some discrimination had been made whereby the jury had been composed of so many men and so many women, and the women or the men might be in greater numbers. It is very necessary that the system of ballot should be made legal, and should apply to the Act which we are now passing. The House of Lords have provided for that being done.
Two other points remain. It was pointed out that in the case of a woman it might be very necessary to give them the liberty to be excused in certain circumstances. A woman far advanced in pregnancy might desire, and rightly desire, to be relieved. A woman shortly after childbirth, when she was nursing her child, might also desire to be excused, because if the case took some time it is quite obvious that both she and the child might suffer. Therefore, the House of Lords have put in the power to make rules and provision for these two cases. They have also dealt with another point which is highly technical. Under the Juries Act, 1825, the ballot which has to be taken applies to assize cases and to civil cases, but does not apply to cases which are tried at Quarter Sessions. It is just as important that the juries at Quarter Sessions 1846 should be drawn without any discrimination as to either sex, as it is important that that should be done both In civil cases and in assize cases. Therefore, it is necessary in the rules that are to be drawn up to give facilities for drawing juries indiscriminately both at Quarter Sessions, assizes, and in civil cases. For that purpose in reference to the jurors who are to be drawn for criminal cases at Quarter Sessions there is a body in existence, called the Rules Committee, appointed under the Indictment Act, 1915. That Committee consists of the Lord Chief Justice of England and another judge, a recorder, a chairman of Quarter Sessions, and, I think, a Clerk of Assize. There may be one or two other persons also who have due knowledge of the system and practice of our Criminal Courts. Dealing with these matters the House of Lords have added to what we have done. Incorporating their Amendment the provision would read:Rules of Court may be made—That deals with the question of women in a particular condition.
- (a) prescribing the manner in which juries are to be summoned and to be selected from the panel, and
- (b) exempting from attendance as jurors any women who are for medical reasons unfit to attend."(c) as to the procedure to be adopted on any application under this Section relating to service on juries—That was our own rule.and the Rules so made may require or authorise an application to be made under this Section, or any Order thereon, to be made in interlocutory proceedings—That was part of our own rule.and shall have full effect notwithstanding any existing Rules of law or practice to the contrary. As respects any Criminal Court in England the expression 'Rules of Court' means Rules made by the Rule Committee established under the Indictments Act, 1915.That incorporates all the matters dealt with. The Rules by these Amendments will become much more effective. The selecting of men and women from the panel will be by ballot, and no exception can be taken to it. These Amendments carry out and amplify the intention expressed in this House, and I ask the House to agree to the Lords Amendments.
§ Lords Amendments to Commons Amendment:
§ Leave out the words "and the Rules" ["and the Rules may require"], and insert instead thereof the words "Rules so made."—Agreed to.1847
§ Leave out the words "application" ["authorise the application"], and insert instead thereof the words "an application made under this Section."—Agreed to.
After the word "proceedings" ["interlocutory proceedings ", insert the words
and shall have full effect notwithstanding any existing rule of law or practice to the contrary. As respects any Criminal Court in England the expression 'Rules of Court' means Rules made by the Rule Committee established under the Indictments Act, 1915.
§ —Agreed to.