§ Miss RATHBONE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he is aware that a committee of the House of Assembly of the Colony of Bermuda was appointed in 1919 to prepare a Bill to extend the franchise to women; that this committee never reported and no Bill was ever introduced by it, although a promise was made in 1923 by the committee that steps would shortly be taken to carry out the instructions of the House, and although the women of Bermuda have taken every step open to them to call attention to the disabilities imposed on them; and will he take all the steps in his power to see that some action is taken in the matter;
(2) whether he will consider the advisability of appointing a commission of inquiry into the constitution of the Colony of Bermuda, in view of the facts that it has undergone but slight modifications during the past three centuries, no change having been made in the number or distribution of seats in the assembly since the year 1691; that out of a population of 30,884, of whom 15,556 are white persons and 15,328 are coloured persons, only 1,377 persons are entitled to vote, 216 of these being plural voters possessing from two to eight votes apiece; and that women, irrespective of their colour, education and stake in the country, are completely excluded from its legislature and franchise, whether parliamentary, municipal or parochial?
§ Dr. SHIELS
My Noble Friend has recently received through the Governor 2129W of Bermuda a Memorial submitted by the Bermuda Women Suffrage Society on the subject of the local franchise and other matters relating to the constitutional affairs of the Colony. This memorial is now receiving my Noble Friend's consideration, and until there has been time to consider it fully I shall not be in a position to make any statement on the points raised in the hon. Member's questions.