§ MR. HUGH MASON
, in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the Parliamentary Franchise should be extended to women who possess the qualifications which entitle men to vote, and who in all matters of local government have the right of voting,said: Mr. Speaker, I must, in the first place, express my regret that the introduction of this Motion has not fallen in the present Parliament, as it did in the last Parliament, upon my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney). I regret it for the sake of the House, and for the sake of the question itself. But, having accepted Office under the Government, a substitute has had to be found for my hon. Friend, and that substitute has been found in myself. In only one thing do I profess to equal my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, and that is in my sincerity, and my earnestness in hoping that this question maybe brought to-night to a successful issue. In all other respects I have to confess that I am very unequal to the task which has fallen 665 upon me, as compared with my hon. Friend; but if the House will be so good as to grant me its indulgence for a little time only, I will endeavour to place my arguments before it as concisely and as clearly as it is possible for me to do. While I feel regret on the one hand, as I have just said, I have considerable encouragement on the other hand derived from the fact that the question I have undertaken to bring before the House is not a Party political question. There will be no irritable spirit of partizanship aroused on either side of the House by the discussion on this question. In former Parliaments, when this question was brought forward—for this is the first time in the present Parliament in which it has been introduced—many right hon. Gentlemen who now sit on the Treasury Bench were found to be warm supporters of the Motion I now propose, and many who sat on the Treasury Bench in the last Parliament have also proved themselves to be its warm supporters. The Motion has had the support on a previous occasion, and will have the support again to-night, of every section in this House—of Tories, Whigs, Radicals, the Fourth Party, Home Rulers, indeed, Members from every part of the House will be found amongst the ranks of those who support this Motion. On the eve of the introduction, many of us hope, of the new Reform Bill by the Government—not in this Session, but in the next Session—it does seem fitting that this question should be debated in the course of the present Session; for in my humble judgment a Reform Bill would be an incomplete measure, unless provision was made in it for granting Parliamentary votes to women ratepayers who are spinsters and widows. I wish to bring this phase of the question very clearly now before the House. An impression, I dare say, has gone abroad, and may exist in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen present, that my Motion covers a much wider field than I, for one, have any conception of. I repeat that the words of my Motion are intended to cover women ratepayers who are spinsters and widows. I have not the slightest sympathy with those who advocate the conferring of this vote upon married women, or upon women who are not ratepayers; and I, for one, would wash my hands of this question now and for ever, sooner than I would be a party, in 666 any degree whatever, to conferring a vote upon any class of women, except the two classes I have named. Now, what does my Motion mean? It does not mean in any sense a degrading of the franchise, it does not mean the conferring of any fancy franchise which at present is unknown to the Constitution; but it simply means the giving of Parliamentary votes to those women who already possess votes for Municipal Councils, School Boards, Boards of Guardians, Overseers, Churchwardens, Surveyors of Parish Roads, and some other Bodies. And it does seem to me—I will not say illogical in the law, for in my opinion there is nothing logical in the British Constitution—it does seem to me a great act of injustice to the women who discharge the duties of citizenship, who pay rates and taxes, and in many other ways fulfil the obligations which are imposed upon them by the law; it does seem to me a great act of injustice that the voting power which they possess shall stop short of allowing them to vote for Members of the House of Commons. I am asked the question again and again—"Pray where do you mean to stop?" [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] Well, at all events, I have a notion where I mean to stop. I do not mean to make Members of Parliament of women. [Mr. WARTON: Why not?] I do not mean to make them soldiers or sailors, or railway stokers, or colliers, or to give them occupations of that kind. But I invariably answer, when I am asked by a man where I mean to stop, having made those reservations, that I do not intend to go beyond the Throne. In this country we have had women as Monarchs wielding the sceptre, and discharging the highest functions of the State, wisely and conscientiously, and patriotically; and surely if women are competent to perform those high duties, in the way which I have described, they are worthy of having conferred on them votes which it is the object of my Resolution to confer. Now, I said women are in a very unjust position. We must either go backwards or forwards. We cannot possibly stand still. I am quite aware that some hon. Gentlemen have expressed their doubts and fears as to the consequence of conferring this vote upon women. They have said to me—" Do you wish to make them spouters upon every political platform in the coun- 667 try? Do you wish them to turn their backs upon their homes and their families, and to neglect the discharge of those important domestic duties for which they are highly qualified?" I have no fears whatever of that sort; and the way in which women have hitherto exercised the suffrage in the election of Town Councils, and other Bodies, I think ought to be accepted as complete evidence that they will not abuse or misuse the trust which some of us wish to put in their hands. Now, I hold an opinion that the qualification for giving a vote is very much more one of the heart than of the head. Though I do not at all agree with the people who say that women are intellectually or scientifically inferior to men. I will only ask those who take an interest in education to look at Girton and Newnham, and see the positions young women in those important educational institutions hold. I will also ask them to look at the Profession of Medicine, and ask them to recall the fact that women are making their mark in this important Profession, in which, they will, in my opinion, continue to make their mark, thus showing that they are well qualified for the discharge not only of duties of this character, but of duties of an equally responsible kind in other vocations. Now, we are always told when a reform is sought that there is no demand for it on the part of those who will be benefited by it. Now, that cannot be said in regard to the women on this subject. For many years they have been very well organized. They have most ably conducted their organization; they have carried on with great ability a public journal, which many hon. Members, I know, read every month; and they have managed their organization with an amount of economy in funds which, I must say, puts to the blush many organizations conducted by men. And we are also told—I will not say whether there is any truth in it or not—that the Parliament of England never yields anything to reason or argument, but that it yields only to fears, and threats, and intimidation. Now, we have never seen the women resorting to threats or intimidation; but their organization, their agitation, has been conducted in the most Constitutional and the most lady-like manner—they have brought no stain whatever upon their sex, or 668 upon the purity of their minds by using expressions or adopting means which would be a disgrace to themselves or to the question with which they are identified. We are told that if votes are granted to women they will simply become tools in the hands of the priests—that they will be the victims of the priests. I venture to think that even if that were true—which I deny—it is entirely beside the question. The question really is—Is it just to give them a vote? not—How will they use it; or, if they have it, will they become the tools of designing men? I will reply to an accusation of that kind by asking—"Do not we see men the victims of priests? Do not we hear a great deal about strong-minded women? "And I myself think, judging from the experience—the limited experience, perhaps, I may have had in that direction—that women are as little liable to be victimized by the priests as the men who make the accusations are. Now, I have been told in my own borough, by some of my best friends, to use their own emphatic language—" That if I succeed in achieving this reform for the women it will be at the risk of my seat, for the women will all turn Tories." It has been said to me—"You are giving yourself the greatest slap in the face that you could possibly receive at a future election." Now, that does not concern me in the slightest degree. What alone concerns me is not will the women be ungrateful—not whether, if they obtain the franchise, they will use it for the first time against myself and against the other hon. Gentlemen who will support my Motion tonight; but whether they are justly entitled to the vote. I recollect a memorable instance of a large body of men, in the shape of compound householders, proving very ungrateful. When the compound householder was enfranchised, mainly through the exertions of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), at the very next election, which happened in a short time afterwards, my right hon. Friend, who then sat for Manchester, was turned out by the very compound householders whom he had laboured to enfranchise. Manchester has had its punishment since that day, for it has never recovered that proud political position which it then held in the estimation of the country. Now, take the illustration as to the 669 qualifications of women in regard to the teaching of the young. My right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella), if he were here, would confirm what I am about to say in regard to the board schools at Saltaire. I went through those schools with my friend Mr. George Salt. I saw, in every class room, mixed classes of boys and girls; I saw that every teacher in every class room was a woman; and my friend (Mr. G. Salt) told me—if the House will pardon the expression—that the head master of the school was a woman, and that the managers found very much more progress made—not in education alone, but in good manners and in every respect which is important to the training of the young—under the teaching of women than they had formerly experienced under the teaching of men. As another illustration of the injustice sanctioned, by law with regard to women, may I mention the bribery which took place at the last General Election of 1880; and especially may I refer to the town of Macclesfield, which, I am sorry to say, is in the North of England, for there bribery prevailed to such an extent that more than half the voters were proved to have been bribed, and that not a few of them had received bribes from both sides. A Royal Commission was sent down. Many days were spent in the examination of the cases of bribery; the Members were unseated, and some of the lawyers who had been agents were imprisoned for the part they had taken in corrupting the electors, and many thousands of pounds were saddled upon the ratepayers of Macclesfield. Who paid those thousands of pounds? Did those corrupt men? No. In the town of Macclesfield there were registered electors 5,500, and there were women ratepayers to the number of 1,589. Those innocent women, being ratepayers and householders, had to pay a considerable portion of the charge which had been levied upon the town of Macclesfield for the bribery and corruption of the men. Is that not a great case of injustice sanctioned by the law? I am quite aware that the injustice falls upon the pure electors just as much as it falls upon the women; but then the pure electors or voters, at all events, had some compensation and some power which hitherto has been denied to the women. Now, there is another illustra- 670 tion which comes nearer home to myself. I have known in manufacturing towns, where I have resided all my life—I have known many cases of honest women having drunken and worthless husbands, who neglected their work, neglected the feeding and clothing of their families, neglected their families' education, and who by their vices had considerably shortened their own. lives. I have known those men die; and I have seen their widows left with a number of small children, not one of them possibly able to work; I have seen those women, I will not say manfully, but heroically facing their distressed circumstances, working hard for their children, gradually clothing them, gradually bringing beds and fresh furniture into the houses, for in many cases the furniture in their former homes had been taken away to gratify the vices of their husbands. I have seen them pay their husbands' debts, keep a roof over the heads of themselves and families, educate their children, pay the rent regularly, and yet, because these persons are women, and incomparably superior in every respect to the worthless husbands they had lost a short while before, they are not allowed to give a vote, while the worthless husbands had been allowed that privilege. Will any person venture to tell me that if anyone should have been deprived of the vote, it should not have been the man who so neglected his family and duties, but the woman? Surely, under such circumstances, instead of being deprived of the vote, the woman who had proved herself fully competent to discharge all the duties of citizenship should have all the rights of a citizen conferred on her. Now, cases of this kind are continually coming up. The more I see of them, the more I am convinced that this question is a righteous question. The question is making progress. A great many of the Town Councils in the country, and in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, have expressed their approval by Memorials and Petitions. The Town Councils of the cities of Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Exeter, Hudders-field, and other towns have expressed their wish by Petitions to this House that the vote shall be no longer kept back from women who, I have already said, now possess the right to vote in many other cases. I do sincerely hope, 671 that as regards the limitations of the question, I have made myself perfectly clear; and I hope that the present Government, in the course of the next Session of Parliament, when they bring on what many of us are expecting—namely, a great Reform Bill, will be bold enough to include in it the conferring of the franchise upon women who are qualified in the way I have stated. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
I rise to second the Resolution which has been proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Mason); and I think that the fact of my doing so affords sufficient evidence that this is, in. no sense of the word, a Party question. If other evidence of that were required, I could give it in the fact that, in the year 1866, Mr. Disraeli expressed himself on this important question in these words—A woman having property ought now to have a vote in the country in winch she may hold Manorial Courts, and sometimes act as churchwarden.Now, Sir, those words are clear and definite enough, and they emanate from the late Head of the great Party to which I have the honour to belong. But, if we want still further evidence of how little this question is mixed up with Party considerations, we shall find it in the fact that, in the same year in which the late Mr. John Stuart Mill introduced this question of electoral reform—namely, in March, 1869, Mr. Disraeli said—What we desire to do is to give to everyone who is worthy of it a fair share in the government of the country by means of the elective franchise.I think there can be hardly any dispute that the word "everyone" includes women as well as men; and that, in the few words in which the great statesman expressed himself, he clearly showed that he considered it an act of injustice to withhold the privilege of the franchise from women. Sir, I should like to preface the few observations I wish to make, by asking the House to consider why the passing of this measure has been so long postponed? I venture to think that the reason may be, perhaps, the fact that those who sit with me on these Benches have sometimes considered the change 672 too Radical, while some hon. Members on the other side of the House have considered the change too Conservative; so that, between the two considerations, the supporters of this question have found themselves on the horns of a dilemma. Those who are justly entitled to the privilege which they do not now enjoy are the sufferers by the diversity of opinion. Now, I admit that the argument of the hon. Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway on the Ministerial side of the House is a very plausible one. For, of course, it cannot be denied that the admission of women to the privilege of the franchise puts an end once and for ever to any question of manhood suffrage. But, still, I cannot help thinking that this will scarcely be an argument against it. I, however, do not propose to discuss the question this evening from the point of view of its possible advantages and disadvantages to the Party to which I belong, or to the Party opposite All I wish to do is to state, I trust clearly and fairly, the arguments which weigh in my mind in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. Sir, it appears to me that one of the principal arguments why women have not been admitted to the exorcise of the electoral franchise is, that the men who make the laws of this country are apt to confound the word "power" with the word "superiority." It is undoubted that men, as the governing body of the country, and governing voice of the nation, have the power to withhold that franchise from women which they themselves enjoy; and is it not equally true that they are apt to find excuses for withholding that privilege, on the ground of supposed superiority, which exists, I am bound to say, purely in their own imagination? Let me, for a moment, consider the arguments which have been used against this measure. I may begin by saying that I was, indeed, delighted to hear from the hon. Gentleman who proposed this Motion that he did not intend to include married women within its scope. I am entirely of his opinion. I would simply grant the franchise to widows and spinsters; and I think, by so doing, both he and I would disarm, to a great extent, those hon. Members who urge, as an argument against this Resolution, that women would be departing from the province of 673 their sex, would be called away from the duties which belong essentially to women, if married women were allowed to exercise the franchise, and thereby to be carried away by the heat and strife of Party politics. But what my hon. Friend proposes to do—and it is a proposition with which I entirely agree—is, that those women who have already a right to vote in municipal elections and school boards, where they can also sit, being widows and spinsters, should have a further extension of that privilege, and be enabled to vote for the persons they may think fit to represent them in the House of Commons. Sir, I am well aware that those who are opposed to this measure use as an argument against it an alleged inferiority of the reasoning powers of women and their inadequate education; too prone to adopt the view expressed by Shakespeare, when he said—I have no other than a woman's reason;I think Mm so, because I think him so.That argument, supposing it to hold good in the days of Shakespeare, supposing it to have held good in a period nearer to our own, cannot be used in the present day. The educational progress of women is, perhaps, greater than that of men; and the development of that educational progress has arisen mainly from the fact that many of those barriers, which were felt alike by men and women, have been removed. Women have now the advantage of going to the great Universities. Have they destroyed the character of those Universities? Certainly not. They have raised their own position; they have developed their own intelligence; they have shown that they are equally gifted with men. They have shown, now, they have the advantages they did not have formerly; that they are capable of engaging with men in a fair contest of educational warfare. If that be the case, surely it, in itself, speaks volumes in favour of the extension of the suffrage to women. We are apt to consider women by the light in which they were regarded in the days of our forefathers; we are apt to remember how the women of 100 years ago had not opportunities for education; but devoted such energies as they might possess to strumming on the spinnet, and exercising their culinary powers in making syllabubs and preserving 674 fruits. All this is changed; it would be bad indeed if we were now obliged to substitute the simple maiden, in the shape of Clarissa Harlowe, for the intellectual giantess, George Eliot. As a matter of fact, these two examples illustrate the difference between the women of to-day and those of 100 years ago. And if we admit that women are intellectually superior to-day to what they were 100 years ago, why should we deprive them of the privilege which we enjoy ourselves? What possible argument can be used against it? Why should they not be allowed to express an opinion as to the men who are best fitted to represent them in Parliament? They have a stake in the country; they have intelligence to appreciate their duties and responsibilities to the State. What can possibly be urged against the extension of this privilege to them, which we, as men, hold and enjoy? Another argument which is used against the proposal is, that it is the thin edge of the wedge; that if we allow women to have votes for Members of Parliament, the time will not be far distant when they themselves will aspire to the position of occupying seats in the House. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: Hear, hear!] My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge cheers that idea. I myself should be the first to oppose anything of the sort, to oppose it strongly; and I am bound to say I do not think it in any way follows that, because a woman exercises her right to vote for a Member of Parliament, she would, as a natural sequrtur, claim a right to sit in the House of Commons. I would remind my hon. Friend that, although beneficed clergymen have a right to vote, still they are not allowed to sit in this House; and, surely, the same power which gives and confers aright to vote to beneficed clergymen, and withholds from them the privilege of a seat in this House, could grant to women the right to vote subject to the same restriction; otherwise, it would follow that whatever might be the profession in which a woman might directly or indirectly engage, she would have the right to claim the highest posts in it. Take the case of the Army; would anyone say that, because a woman like Florence Nightingale devoted the best years of her life to alleviating pain on the field of battle, she would have the 675 right to aspire to become a General in the field? Would anyone say that, because women have risked their lives at sea, like Grace Darling, and more recently like the brave women at the Mumbles Head, that those women may aspire to be Admirals of Her Majesty's Fleet? You might just as well say that, because women of the present day pass many weary hours in copying for law-stationers, they, therefore, may aspire to become Lord Chancellors. [An hon. MRMBER: They are lawyers in America.] I am reminded that women are lawyers in America; but it depends entirely whether clients choose to employ them. I do not see why they should not be lawyers here, if they choose. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge, very possibly, has in his mind's eye the case of Portia. Of course, the success of women in the Legal Profession entirely depends upon whether people are willing to employ them. I recollect that, some years ago, a similar objection was urged with the same persistency against women being allowed to enter the Profession of Medicine. At the present day, there are many ladies who follow with great success the Profession of Medicine. It is said that is unwomanly and unnatural. It is said that a woman should not be called in to attend a sick man. But they are called in to minister to their own sex, and called to great advantage. I well remember the time when the question was raised whether women were eligible for places on the School Board. I recollect a meeting being held to protest against women sitting upon the School Board, and I equally remember what has been the result. Who is more qualified than a woman to endeavour to educate the young; who more qualified than a woman to look after the training of infant minds? The women who have been elected to our school boards have proved, unquestionably, the fallacy of the arguments of those who opposed their election. All these things, however, do not in any way necessitate the election of women to this House. Government is carried on here, as in all countries, by the men of the country. And it does not follow at all that, if a woman is duly qualified, and holds similar qualifications to men, she should be debarred, because she is a woman, from exercising the privileges which 676 attach to those qualifications. We know that in the course, probably, of this Parliament, a largo measure of electoral reform will be introduced. Now, what is the nature of that reform? Broadly, it is to extend the franchise now existing in boroughs to labourers in the counties. We may assume that the labourers in counties are not as highly educated as men in the same walk of life in the boroughs. Still, it is intended to extend the franchise to those men; but, at the same time, to refuse to extend the franchise to those women who may be landowners in the country, and who may actually employ those men. Why is that? Simply because they are women. You give the vote to yokels, but you refuse it to the educated women, on whose bread they live. A greater absurdity can hardly be conceived. In point of fact, these women who own land are of a very considerable number. In England and Wales, according to the Return of owners of land in 1872, called The New Doomsday Book, the number of women, who were landowners of one acre and upwards, was given as 37,806 out of 269,547, a proportion of one in seven. In Ireland the proportion is somewhat loss; it is only one in eight; and if we assume the proportion of women householders to men householders to be the same in the non-municipal and the municipal areas, we arrive at a total of between 300,000 and 400,000 women, who, being householders rated for the relief of the poor, would be rightly entitled to this vote. These figures appear to me to speak for themselves. I believe the fact is not disputed that a very large proportion of women are landowners in this country. They have the same stake in the country as men, they pay the same rates, they have the same responsibilities, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne pointed out, not only have they the same privileges in some respects, but they are subject to the same penalties. They have, in other matters, the same penalties without the privileges, as was shown by the hon. Member to be the case when they were called upon to contribute to the expenses of a recent Election Petition; but you withhold from them, on account of some inscrutable reason, the privilege which might, to some extent, outweigh this penalty. Well, Sir, I think that, in advancing 677 these few arguments, I have shown that there is no just reason for withholding the suffrage from women, but that there is very great reason indeed for giving it to them. I consider that men enjoy the high honour of a seat in this House as the trustees of the people. Members have, in trust, the privileges and the rights of the people; and the system by which they are entrusted with those rights and privileges is based on the principle that those who have a stake in the country are those who are most anxious to preserve the integrity and the honour of the country. It has never been assumed that women are less loyal than men—in fact, history has shown us in this country, as in every other country, that women are loyal, patriotic, and self-sacrificing. Facts have shown us that they are educated and intelligent; and I wish, Sir, to know what possible reason there can be, in the face of the facts enumerated, why the British House of Commons should withhold from women privileges and rights to which they are, in my mind, equally entitled with men?
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the Parliamentary Franchise should be extended to women who possess the qualifications which entitle men to vote, and who in all matters of local government have the right of voting,"—(Mr. Hugh Mason,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. E. A. LEATHAM
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend who made this Motion has just told us that the question is making progress. Now, I have watched the question in this House for many years, and I cannot congratulate my hon. Friend upon the fact that it grows any stronger as it grows older. When my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) had charge of it, and the hon. Member who followed him—I do not know whether I ought to say, in the championship, or in the chaperonship—it used to assume the robust proportions of a full-grown Bill. Then it sunk to the dimensions of a Tuesday's Motion—and a Tuesday's Motion which was always coming on, 678 and did not. And latterly it has dwindled down to the lowest form which a Motion can take, to be a Motion at all; I mean a Friday's Motion on going into Committee of Supply. Nor can I remember a single question which has taken so feeble a hold of its sponsors. They are, at best, biennials. They flourish for a couple of years, and then they disappear. Now, why is this? Is it because hon. Gentlemen do not like to be thoroughly refuted more than twice? "What has become of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, who used to advocate this question with marked ability? He has abdicated long ago. It will be the turn of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton under Lyne (Mr. Mason) to abdicate next year. But, although the faces of the advocates of women's suffrage in this House are always changing, there is no change in their expression. They all come up smiling. Nothing can exceed the cheerful confidence with which they ask us why we refuse to make women the political equals of men? Just as though it were the most natural thing in the world to do so. The simplicity is positively touching with which my hon. Friend invites us to ignore the universal practice of mankind in all countries and in all ages. I see that doubts were thrown upon my Radicalism by a daily organ of the Press this morning, because I oppose this Motion. But I venture to think that the man who turns his back upon the immemorial experience of mankind is much more than a Radical—he is a Nihilist. Now, my hon. Friend has taken great pains to prove to us that this Motion has no reference to the votes of married women. I differ from him. I speak under correction, for there are many lawyers in this House; but I maintain that if this Motion were embodied in a Bill, it would admit married women, qualifying under the Married Women's Property Act, to the franchise. And, whatever my hon. Friend may say, many of his supporters are anxious to extend the franchise in that direction. It was only this morning that I received, through the post, a printed letter signed by Mrs. Bright, in which this view was put forward with considerable eloquence and force. And reference was made to a measure which some time ago was introduced in this House, and which we are 679 informed by the writer of the letter was "carefully drawn so as to include married women." Now, Sir, but for the protestations of my hon. Friend, I should have supposed that this Motion was "carefully drawn so as to include married women." But whether this Motion goes this length or not, so far as it goes it is based upon the principle of the political equality of the sexes, or it is based upon nothing. And let my hon. Friend consider a few of the things which he has to do before he is entitled to proclaim this principle. In the first place, he has to repeal no inconsiderable portions of the law of the land. This clearly decrees the subordination of the sex, at all events in marriage—and marriage is the normal state of woman—for Miss Becker, who knows this question if anybody does, declares that—Every woman regards marriage either from the side of experience or of expectation.And the subordination of the sex in marriage is based upon the declarations of Holy Writ. My hon. Friend, therefore, before he has his way, must expunge certain well-known passages of Scripture. But when he has revised the Scriptures, and amended the law of the land, he will only have reached the beginning of his task. He must proceed to revolutionize the pursuits of woman. These are not at all political, but eminently domestic. It is the pursuits of man which take him away from his home—the robust life of the street and the Forum; the only life, remember, which qualifies for politics. Is woman prepared to join in the rude tussle of the streets? Is she to become more and more masculine every year? Human nature revolts from the idea, and, most of all, that womanly nature which is both the safeguard and the glory of the sex, and which I believe to be invincible. Before my hon. Friend has any right to come down to this House with his unpretending Resolution in his hand, he has to perform one of the labours of Hercules—he has to convince and convert women. For women—I speak of the sex—do not ask for the franchise. This is an undoubted fact; and we see letters in the newspapers from indignant ladies bemoaning the apathy of their sex. What I would ask my hon. Friend, then, is this. Is this franchise of England so cheap and mean a thing that it is to be 680 flung, not to those who ask for it, not to those who will prize it, but to those who sit aloof—surprised, annoyed, amazed, that so many generations of Englishwomen should have lived amongst us, and yet that any man should be so ignorant of then tastes, and wishes, and hopes, as to start up in his place in Parliament and demand for them an ambition which they resent, and a character which they scorn. But no doubt my hon. Friend will say that he does not propose to enfranchise the sex, but only a woman here and there—a few spinsters and widows of a certain standing. Yes; but, so far as he goes, he bases his proposal upon the political equality of the sexes; and the fact that he only proposes to enfranchise one woman in 40, and precisely those women who are the least representative of the sex, only shows how illogical his proposal is. In America, which is the home and birth-place of this movement, the women who agitate this question are the logical superiors of my hon. Friend. They demand that women should sit in Congress. They demand the enfranchisement of half the American race, and they naturally speak of sex as an accident, and of marriage as a superstition. But my hon. Friend does none of these things. He does not demand the enfranchisement of half the English people. He does not ask that women shall be admitted to this House. He still clings to marriage as a Divine institution; and he thinks that when a woman is married she should renounce politics and await the nursery. He has told us to-night that if it were proposed to enfranchise married women he would at once wash his hands of the whole question. And he calls this namby-pamby wishy-washy advocacy of Woman's Bights the removal of the electoral disabilities of women. And why are we to enfranchise these women? It cannot be because, as we used to be told, questions affecting woman cannot otherwise be solved fairly by this House; because we have just passed a Married Woman's Property Act, and thus removed the grievance of the sex. And it cannot be because women are taxpayers, because we are no longer living under the Plantagenets; and taxation and representation have long ago shaken hands and parted. In these days of indirect taxation, the 681 man who, for his means, mates the most munificent contribution to the Exchequer is probably the habitual drunkard, of whom my hon. Friend has just spoken, and who has no vote at all. And it cannot be because they are ratepayers, for why should a municipal obligation, already recompensed in kind, confer an Imperial right with which it has nothing to do? And it cannot be because they are owners of property. If property be the basis of the franchise, and the possession of an acre is to give the vote, surely the possession of 10,000 acres ought to give 10,000 votes! The fact is, that none of these things give the vote. They are simply restrictions, and restrictions of the most arbitrary kind, devised from time to time, in order to secure, if possible, the independence of the voter. The suffrage has always been a manhood suffrage in this country; but a manhood suffrage limited to men who were free. Every free and independent man voted in ancient times—the freeman in his borough, the freeholder in his county—and, latterly, when Parliament found that in its desire to enfranchise it had stepped beyond the area of independence, what did it do? It brought up the independence of the voter by giving him the Ballot. What is essential is that every voter should be a man, and that every man who votes should be free. But my hon. Friend jumps to the conclusion that it is the restriction which is the qualification, and he thus overturns the immemorial franchise of the country. But my hon. Friend says—"You have broken through the principle of sex already in the municipalities." I know it, and deplore it. But because we have made one mistake, the consequences of which may be trivial, is that any reason why we should make a second and much more serious mistake, the consequences of which may be enormous? The municipal franchise was given to women by a few words slipped into the Municipal Franchise Act at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning, when everybody was asleep. The whole question is better understood now; and I venture to think that my hon. Friend will not catch the House napping a second time. "But," says my hon. Friend, "you have broken through the principle of sex again. You have given the School Board franchise to women." Unfortunately for my hon. 682 Friend, this is not a case in point at all. You were of opinion that women should sit upon school boards, in order to superintend the education of girls, just as they sit upon any other committee which regulates matters specially affecting their own sex. And, having decided to give them the right of being voted for, you were bound to give them the right of voting. For the right of voting implies the right of being voted for. But my hon. Friend does not propose that women should be returned to this House; therefore he has no right to propose that they should vote. So the very illustration by which my hon. Friend proposes to bolster up his argument demolishes it. Sir, I do not think that I need say much more. My hon. Friend, and those who act with him, are fond of posing as the friends of woman. It is they who are to elevate and ennoble the sex. I am one of those who think that the true woman—pure, faithful, modest, and shrinking from all undue publicity—is noble enough already. Let her aspire to fill the high place to which Revelation and the respect of all good men entitle her, and she will never have cause to sigh because she is forbidden to dabble in the mire of a political election.
§ MR. INDERWICK
I propose to say a few words in opposition to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. My hon. Friend has said that this is not a Party question in the sense of being a Party political question, and he has said that on previous occasions expressions were used, which, to say the least of it, were not complimentary to women. I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that, as far as I am concerned, they will not hear a word from me which can be considered in any way offensive or disrespectful to the women who are connected with this movement or their friends. It is a question, undoubtedly, of a serious political character, which must be discussed fairly and properly; and if we agree to the principle, I must express my opinion that if the political franchise ought to be granted to women we ought to grant it to them, not grudgingly or with a sparing hand, but with the same free and open hand that we should grant it to men. I would desire, as little as possible, to say anything which may appear disagreeable to any 683 persona who are connected with this movement. But, after all, the question is not whether we should desire to extend to women what in men every Member of this House must admit to be the legitimate object of an honourable ambition; but we have to consider whether in granting this franchise, whether in taking this step, which is an uprooting of the ancient landmarks and institutions of the country, whether in adopting a policy which has been repudiated by every civilized nation in the world, we shall be doing that which is for the advantage and benefit of this country, in whose prosperity and advance we are all so much interested. My hon. Friend the Member for Ash-ton-under-Lyne has brought before the House this particular Resolution. I confess, with my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), I had some difficulty in coming to the conclusion whether he intended his proposal to extend to women generally, or whether he intended it simply to be extended to women who in matters of local government have a right to vote—that is to say, whether he intended that women generally who have the qualification should vote everywhere, or whether he proposed to extend the franchise only to those women who are now entitled to vote in municipal boroughs. I understand my hon. Friend means to restrict his Motion to women who are entitled to vote in municipal boroughs; and then I should like to ask my hon. Friend, and his Friends who support him in his proposal, why are Members for boroughs to have the privilege of having women amongst their constituents, and why is not the privilege to be extended to counties where women have the qualification? I do not want to be too critical.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
I am sure my hon. and learned Friend will not wish to misunderstand me. I wish to extend the privilege equally to the counties.
§ MR. INDERWICK
I quite understood from what my hon. Friend opposite said that that was his view; but I was simply referring to the words of the Resolution which gives to the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Ash-ton-under-Lyne a very limited and restricted application. Some objection is usually taken—and I dare say it will be 684 taken by someone to-night—that we are taking what you call the limited and restricted privilege which is proposed, and upon that discussing the general principle of the political enfranchisement of women. It is not competent for my hon. Friend to bring before the House a proposal of a very limited character—it may be limited to the very smallest degree to which it can be limited—with the view of obtaining the assent of the House, and, if that proposal is based on a broad principle, to say we are not justified in discussing to the fullest extent the question of the principle upon which the proposal is made. My hon. Friends have brought before the House what I consider to be a fancy franchise. It may suit some of them to say that that is all they desire; but we know perfectly well that it is not what their clients desire—it is not what is desired by the women who are associated with this movement. We know perfectly well, from what is stated elsewhere, and from what one hears from Members of this House, that the foundation of this proposal is not a limited franchise of this kind, but a general franchise of women who have property and pay rates. That being so, the question we have to discuss—and the question I propose, with the permission of the House, to say a few words upon—is the question of whether, under any circumstances whatever, it is desirable in the interests of this country that the political franchise should be extended to women? With regard to the argument that is brought forward about women voting at municipal elections, and having a right to discuss the mode in which the money is spent in these municipal boroughs, if that argument is based on the ground that the money so spent is contributed to by them, and is expended in respect of their property amongst others in these municipalities, then the sort of proposal which should have been made to the House would be that they should have the right to vote for Members of Parliament, so long as the duty of these Members was confined to voting on the expenditure of public money. But we know perfectly well that the House is not always in Committee of Supply, and is not always voting away the money of widows and spinsters. There are other important obligations on Members of Parliament, with regard to which also women 685 must have a right, if they are to have a right at all. I do not know whether the House entirely appreciates the magnitude of the question now under consideration. According to the Census in the year 1881, there were in this country 17,000,000 men from whom the electorate is taken. I do not know exactly what the number of electors is at this moment, but it is some millions; and it is proposed, by extending the franchise in counties, to increase that number very considerably. With regard to the women, according to the last Census, there were 18,000,000 women; and that is the body of persons from whom the future electorate, as it is proposed here, is to be chosen. That electorate is limited exceedingly now by my hon. Friend; but it would never bear that limitation if the principle were once adopted. If this proposal is, in fact, adopted by the House, the result will be that the House will commit itself to the principle of the political enfranchisement of women; and, having committed itself to that principle, there is no reason and no argument that I can understand for stopping short at the point at which the hon. Member for Ashton under-Lyne now says he is prepared to stop short. If I am not much mistaken, there are other Members in this House who will probably vote for my hon. Friend's proposal, who would be ready now to stand up in the House and advocate a greater extension. [Cheers.] The cheers of my hon. Friends say that that is so; and they show that what we are really practically discussing now is not the limited proposal of my hon. Friend, but the great question whether women, for political purposes, are to stand on the same basis as men? One of the great arguments in favour of my hon. Friend's proposal is the fact that women enjoy the municipal franchise. If the House will permit me, I should like to say how it is that they enjoy that franchise. It is generally suggested, and stated in the House, that women obtained that franchise under the Act of 1869. To a certain extent that is correct; but it is not the whole of the statement. The fact is this—that in some Corporations—in fact, in most Corporations of the country before the Reform Act of 1835—women, who were the wives and daughters of freemen, had certain privileges. They could make 686 freemen of their husbands; and widows of freemen, on marrying again, had also the same privileges. In certain circumstances, these women at one time, and for many years, had a right to vote at the municipal contests. When the Municipal Reform Bill was introduced in 1835, and passed with the general assent of both sides of the House, that franchise was taken away from the women. It was not passed over without debate. It was debated in this House to this ex-tent—that, on Report of the Bill, one hon. Member proposed that the word "male" should extend to "female," and said there were numbers of women who might be disqualified, principally, I believe, in the City of Bath, which has always, from the oldest days, been celebrated for a considerable number of widows and spinsters; and he made a proposal that a clause should be inserted to that effect. There was no debate on the Motion. Nobody supported it but the hon. Member; a Division was taken, and it was rejected by a majority of 66. The matter there ended; and in that Bill of 1835 the municipal franchise which existed in the hands of women was swept away by the general consent of both sides of the House. Then this state of things happened. The Local Government Board have the power to grant certain Charters to new Corporations, and in granting these Charters they gave power to women being ratepayers in the municipalities to vote; and as these Corporations increased this anomaly occurred—that there were, in certain parts of the country, certain Corporations where women were permitted to vote, and certain Corporations where they were not permitted to vote. The Government of the day thought it desirable that they should be put on the same footing, so that the anomaly might be done away with, and a Bill was brought in for that purpose in 1869, 35 years after the Municipal Reform Act. It passed through this House without any debate whatever. I have looked through Hansard for 1869, and I do not find that there was a single line of debate in this House with reference to that Bill. My hon. Friend says there was. He may have been in the House at the time; but so inconsiderable was the debate, if any, which took place, that not one line of it appears in Hansard. There was a debate on it in the House 687 of Lords, and, as far as I can judge, it occupied the space of about 10 minutes. One noble Lord made some objection to the Bill. The Earl of Kimberley, expressly guarding himself against committing the House to the general principle of women's suffrage, pointed out the anomalies of the system; and thereupon Earl Cairns stated, in a few words, the reason why the franchise should be granted. Earl Cairns said that as an unmarried woman could dispose of her property, and deal with it in any way she thought proper, he did not know why she should not have a voice in saying how that property should be lighted, and how it should be watched, and have a voice in controlling municipal expenditure to which that property contributed. It is clear the reason for granting that franchise to women in municipal boroughs who had property in them was to enable them to have a voice in regulating that expenditure to which they contributed in respect of that property. When the Bill was passed no reference was made to Scotland or to Ireland. Certain hon. Members from Scotland who took an interest in this question were told that the women of Scotland did not care about the municipal franchise, or they would have called for a Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), who exercises some inscrutable influence over the ballot box, immediately balloted for a day, and brought in a Bill to extend the municipal franchise to women in Scotland, arguing that, it having been granted in England, there was no reason why it should not be granted in Scotland, and thus succeeded in getting rid of the argument which was thrown at him with regard to Scottish women. I venture to express the opinion that had it not been for the question of woman's suffrage being agitated throughout the country at the time, we should not have heard a word of the Scottish Woman's Municipal Franchise Bill. Under the circumstances, I ask the House how can it be said that the House has committed itself to the political franchise of women in passing that Bill without opposition? None of the arguments upon which this question is upheld are new, as I have said. We have had an argument from the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry De Worms) which is not a new one, and, indeed, it cannot be expected 688 that throughout the debate there can be anything new; because the subject has been so long and so often before Parliament and the country that it is impossible to say anything new upon it; yet it is, of course, desirable that when a question of this kind is brought forward it should be debated, and we cannot give our votes altogether without speech. The hon. Member said the higher education of women, which qualified them for holding certain positions, likewise qualified them to exercise a political vote. They do hold certain quasi-public offices, which they have held by right immemorial and by Act of Parliament, and he says there is no reason why you should not go a step further and give them a right of voting for Members of Parliament. He gave as an instance that women might be churchwardens and overseers, and I will add to that, they may be parish constables, and they may even be High Sheriffs, which, under certain circumstances, might entail the office of public executioner, and one or two other offices a woman may hold; but I think these offices were allowed them in the past as much for the opportunity of extorting fines from them as for anything else; and if we find, as a matter of fact, that they never do hold such offices, what are we to think? It is one of the stock arguments that the Sovereign power can be held by a woman, and I do not say it is not a fair argument; but the power of the Sovereign is so bound down by Constitutional limits, that it is very little power that can be exercised by the Crown. Now, there is one reason brought forward why we should give the franchise to women. It is this—there are, it is said, as many—in fact, more—women in the country than men, and, therefore, they have as many or more social interests than men; and, inasmuch as Parliamentary control is in the hands of men, men are likely to be unfavourably disposed towards women, and to treat them unequally in legislation, dealing with their property and their social position. That is the statement made; and I should very much like to see whether, in the result, women have suffered any substantial injustice under the law of this country. I will first take the case of women of property. Can any hon. Member now, in this year 1883, say that any woman in the country has not absolute 689 control over her own property? She has. It was a misfortune discreditable to this country that for many years she had not that control. It was discussed by a Parliament of men, and a reform was brought about. It was not obtained suddenly; it has been done gradually and with due consideration; and we have the result that, at the present time, it is impossible to say that any woman is not sufficiently protected in her property. And I will venture to say that women of the upper classes were fairly and reasonably protected before; for it has been the habit of this country, from time immemorial, when property was left to women, to make such arrangements by settlements that women had a great protection for their property, and this was not sufficiently recognized at the time of the debates in this House. It is said, apart from this, that there are legal disabilities attaching to women in regard to the devolution of property by death or otherwise. Let us see how that is. If a man dies possessed of personal estate and leaves no will, then his heirs, men and women, share alike; but if he holds real estate, then the eldest son takes the real estate to the prejudice of the rest of the family. But it prejudices the brothers quite as much as the sisters; it is not a sinister prejudice against women; it is the position of the heir-at-law, a position which, however, in my opinion, ought to be altered. My view is that in devolution of property in cases of intestacy, real property should go in the same way as personal property. But after all this is not a large question, for very little property descends in that way. We know it has been debated from time to time in the House; and, no doubt, if any hon. Member brings in a Bill bearing on the case, it will receive very careful consideration, and probably arrive at a second reading. And now let me take the personal protection of women. Our laws are very stringent even now for the protection of young 'women, and the other House have recently passed a measure to increase the protection for young women. In addition to that, there are provisions by which protection is thrown over women who work in factories and mines that they shall not be employed beyond their powers. And there is another principle in our law which must not be left out of sight. If a man and wife 690 are joined together in the consummation of a crime, the fact of their acting together does not acquit the woman of the crime, but it absolves her from the penalty. This is a kindly and merciful provision of our law from time immemorial, and must not be left out of view in considering the effect of legislation on the position of women. Now, under the Married Women's Property Act, there is power to the husband or wife to prosecute each other for theft. Objection was made in both Houses that this clause was not expedient or desirable in the interest of married persons. Now, I cannot exactly vouch for the correctness of it; but I read in the papers a return of the number of convictions of married persons under the Act of stealing from one another, and out of 15 such convictions, in 14 cases they were women, and in one case a man. If that is so, it only shows that, to some extent, a mistake was made in removing the protection which before that time had proved of a kindly nature. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne has referred to the question of married women; there has always been a difficulty how to deal with them in relation to this matter, and the difficulty has never been met in a reasonable, or even a plausible, manner. Why, if you give the franchise to women at all, should you, under such circumstances, exclude married women? Some supporters of the proposal do not want to exclude them; but my hon. Friend says nothing would induce him to admit them to the franchise, and the general impression is that they should not be admitted. Why? Is it on account of property? Certainly not, for if a married woman can hold property, can own a house, and she and her husband occupy it, there is no reason why she should not have a vote on account of property for which she pays rates and taxes. It is her own property, with which she is as free to deal as if she had been a single woman, and yet my hon. Friend says he would not admit a married woman to the franchise! They say you must not invade the sanctity of the hearth and home. Well; but all married women do not live with their husbands; some have husbands serving their country, or fulfilling duties abroad, some are apart under directions of the Court, some under deeds of separation. Many wives live apart from their hus- 691 bands, just as single women might, occupying their own house, living upon their own money; but you say you would not give a vote to these married women. Why not? If marriage is not a disqualification to men, why should it be to women? Here a difficulty arises, and my hon. Friends are discussing it among themselves, some saying—"Let them have it;" and others saying—"Under no circumstances whatever." Let me put this suggestion to the House, and ask how you would deal with it. We heard a few years ago a good deal about fagot votes; it means that a man may give to a friend, or a person in whom he has confidence, a cottage and a piece of land to qualify him for a vote. Now, under an existing statute recently passed, a man may assign a cottage or house to his wife, and by this means make his wife a fagot voter; and if he agrees with his wife he will have two votes, and if not he will be disfranchised. It may be right or it may not; but if allowed, there will be an addition to fagot voters far beyond any now existing in any county in England. I bring forward these matters to show the House how this question is surrounded by difficulties. As to a seat in this House, so far as I am personally concerned, if I had to choose between two evils, I would very much rather see one of the intelligent women connected with this movement sitting in the House and taking part in the debates than I would consent to give the franchise to the whole of the sisterhood. But this is not the view of my hon. Friends, for they stand up and say, under no circumstances would they allow women a seat in the House; and I must say it is exceedingly ungenerous of my hon. Friends to say—" We will accept your votes at the poll, but we will not give you ours in return." I have alluded to these matters of difficulty; but I do not say that because there are difficulties a proposal should be rejected or passed over. It is the duty of statesmen to get over difficulties, or to go round if they cannot get over, if the object is desirable. But when you find a question of this kind surrounded with difficulties—when, from whatever point of view it is regarded, some obstacle stands in the way—then I think the House must say, as I now say, although I know I shall not get much assent from my hon. Friends 692 near me, this is a question not within the range of practical politics. There is one matter which I believe presses on the minds of hon. Members, and is supposed to have originated with the late Lord Beaconsfield—it is the argument that female suffrage is the best, if not the only, effectual barrier to an ever-increasing Democracy. It is said that as we go on the franchise cannot be raised; it must be lowered; and we shall go lower until we get to men of bad and revolutionary passions, and we shall be tempted to make overtures to them, and to deal with them in a way not for the interest of the country, and we shall find the franchise of women a check and a control upon that, and the anticipated evils may thus be met. I admit this is an agreeable and a seductive argument; but it is founded on a fallacy. If you admit the principle of political franchise for women, you must treat them on the same footing as if they were men; and as you lower the franchise to men, so must you lower it to women; and how, then, are you to control or oppose the bad passions of a low class of men by adding to them, as you must, the bad passions of a low class of women? Do you think, if you consider the class of persons to whom you would give the franchise—greatly extended, as it must be in course of time—that the House would not come to a right conclusion if they decided that it is not desirable to extend the franchise in the way now proposed? I shall, of course, vote against this proposal. I believe, myself, that extending the political franchise to women would be a calamity to this country. It will add thousands, if not tens of thousands, to that now too numerous class of electors, who never know their own minds from time to time, and who are swayed by the sentiment of the moment; and we know, from the great revolutions of political feeling which are increasing in the country, that it is this class of electors that renders the task of government more and more difficult, because they impede a continuous policy so desirable, if not necessary, in legislation and in the conduct of foreign affairs. There are many of my Friends who I know are interested in this movement, and I feel that in giving my vote I shall be helping to deprive them of an opportunity of political triumph; but, at the same time, I 693 am satisfied that to adopt this principle would not be for the permanent advantage either of the country or of the sex on whose behalf it is proposed.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
I had not intended to take part in this debate; but the observations of the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down induce me to say a few words, not on behalf of the proposal of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne—for I have not heard the exact tenour of his Motion—but in support of the general principle of admitting women to the franchise. Now, the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Inderwick) concluded a speech of considerable interest by a statement that the main objection he had to this proposal was that it would increase the class of fluctuating political opinion in the country. Now, in that view I do not for a moment agree. I do not believe it would increase the amount of fluctuating political opinion. I differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman; and I think the views of women on the great social and economical and moral questions of the day, which are really of more importance than the so-called political questions, are far more stable than those of men. I cannot but think the hon. and learned Member must have been somewhat unfortunate in his experience—I do not say it in a derogatory sense—he must have been somewhat unfortunate with regard to those women whose views he has had an opportunity of learning. So far as I have had the advantage of hearing the opinions of women on any definite subject, I have found them devoted—continually, consistently, permanently devoted—to what I may describe as the reformation of the human race. [Laughter.] I must beg the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Willis) to restrain himself. Women are devoted to the cause of temperance, to the cause of morality; they are devoted to the improvement of the condition of the poor, and with more or less, though not quite equal, intelligence to the cause of education. They are a refining and elevating influence in all the social relations of life. These are my general reasons for differing from the hon. and learned Member's statement. But I have a special reason for supporting this Resolution to-night, which is, as far as lies in my power, to remove from the question of women's 694 suffrage the stigma of being represented entirely by a section of the House, in which I am sure, as a rule, women take a very small amount of interest. It appears to me this question can be regarded from several aspects. If you regard it from a logical point of view, it is clear nothing can be said against it; it is absolutely impossible to avoid recognizing the claim of women to the franchise. In almost every other sphere of life they possess rights and exercise onerous duties on a full equality with men. Women are allowed to occupy the most distinguished position in the State; the illustrious Lady who has ruled over these Realms with so much advantage for 40 years discharges functions far more important than any it is proposed to bestow on women by the Motion of the hon. Member. To the amplest extent they hold and administer property; they can be guardians and executors. You allow women to enjoy the municipal suffrage, and you allow them to take part in all the more important and difficult functions of life; they are now allowed to enter upon the Medical Profession, and with general benefit. It is perfectly clear that, from a logical standpoint, you cannot possibly refuse them the Parliamentary franchise. I admit there is some difficulty about proceeding to a further stage and giving them a seat in this House. I am quite prepared to allow that the position of a lady of great ability, and possibly of great attractions, as Prime Minister, might occasionally be open to some objections that must occur to any hon. Member. But I do not think an argument of this sort is worth much; it is the reductio ad absurdum; and we need not consider it. This is only a stage of progress. It does not follow that because we confer on women the Parliamentary suffrage that they would be admitted to that Bench—though, at the same time, I am free to confess they would adorn it very much more than some of its present occupants. Then there is the sentimental point of view. What can be said against it from that point? We are told it will be a horrible thing to divide families and give rise to divergence of view between husband and wife—they would surely fall out over the exercise of the franchise. Well, I think that a very considerable amount of divergence of view exists occasion- 695 ally at present, and I do not think it would be very dangerously increased by giving women the franchise. The world would not be happier or more rational if all husbands and wives held a dull consensus of view upon every subject. But there is another reason that can be urged in support of the Motion which I have rather suggested than stated definitely. It is obvious that to confer the suffrage on women is essentially a Conservative measure. ["Oh, oh!"] The principle of Conservatism is to defend and secure all that is good and stable in our social and political Constitution. Women are devoted to the same objects, and therefore they must prove a Conservative force in the State. A quotation was made from a remark of a very great and illustrious man, now no more, by the hon. and learned Member who spoke last. He quoted an expression of the late Lord Beaconsfield in favour of this extension of the suffrage; and, if I had any doubt about it before, that quotation would be sufficient to induce me to view the question with favour. I therefore urge this last as an additional reason why hon. Members on this side should support the Motion. I feel I have supported the cause very inadequately, for I had no intention of intruding myself on the House when I came down; but I have given a few reasons why I think the suffrage should be extended to women, and, with the permission of the House, I will sum them up. It cannot be denied to them from a logical standpoint; there is nothing of real weight, from a sentimental point of view, to induce us to refuse the franchise; and it would be a Conservative measure, which has had the recommendation of the greatest statesman of this century.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
I am sorry that the House should be so empty; but we all know that those who generally may be expected to be seen here are engaged at present in an amusement which is thought to be more congruous to the portion of the human race in whose favour you are called upon to-night to legislate than to Senators. I was rather amused at the refreshing and candid speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down. After a few observations about fluctuating political opinion, and so on, he candidly confessed that he voted for this measure 696 because he thought it was a Conservative one. Well, I own, Sir—and I think the House will believe in my sincerity—that, deep as my political convictions may be, I desire on this matter to vote without any regard to the chance of success, on one side or the other, of the Bill, treated as an electioneering measure. There is something even deeper and nearer to the heart than Party politics, and that is the politics of patriotism and of nature; and I believe that to these politics belongs this question of the enfranchisement of that half of the world which no doubt are quite equal to us—very likely much superior to us—but who are different from us, that difference being the eternal one, which, in spite of sentimental theorists, will exist to the end of the world. I say that the consideration of this enfranchisement belongs not to Party, but to patriotic considerations; and, belonging as it does to patriotic and to natural politics, it is found to exclude the project from the category of healthy and possible innovations. Well, and what are the reasons for it? I have been amused to-night at the vagueness of the arguments which have been urged, and which are not more vague than the premisses on which they are based are far-reaching. The female guardians, the female householder—these form the pretext; and all the arguments tending to the emancipation of the woman—whether householder, whether freeholder, whether married or single—are based on these phenomena, though the Married Women's Property Act in the Statute Book destroys the limitation on which the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Mason) insisted with such candour and sincerity. I cannot really believe that this proposal, if it were carried, would not go beyond the limited class for whom it in this House and for this night appeals. I cannot for one I instant believe in the comfortable pre-| dictions which have been adventured. It is, and it always has been, a question not of the female ratepayer, but of the woman. I appeal to the pamphlet which on a former occasion I quoted, I believe, rather largely in this House. I do not mean to quote it to-day, though there are some passages in it which might be instructive and diverting to those who have not read it before—it was the opinions of 100 women of intellect and of 697 ability, and some of them of conspicuous position, brought together by the Women's Suffrage Society. If this pamphlet happens to have been sent round again on the present occasion, I very much commend it to those who have not read it, to see what are the prospects, the expectations, and the arguments brought forward by those who really are at the bottom of the agitation, and who do not, like my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry De Worms), dally about the question with the tips of their fingers. It is really worth while to consider what the state of affairs now is. We have heard in various directions that there is in the air, somewhere or nowhere, a very large scheme for the enlargement of the franchise—great masses of people will be brought in who have not hitherto enjoyed the vote; and upon that scheme, as if it were a parasite hanging on to it, we are asked to engraft the enfranchisement of women. Well, now, what is that but universal suffrage, and universal suffrage in a sense in which no one has ever openly announced it? My hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich ventured a remark which puzzled me at the time, and I have not yet quite made out whether it was an argument, as it came from his mouth, or a joke—if a joke it was rather a good one, if an argument not so good—but it was to the effect that this enfranchisement of women would at least get rid of manhood suffrage. It would get rid of manhood suffrage, for it would become manhood and womanhood suffrage; it would be like the gentleman engaged in the shoe trade, who trumped his neighbour's advertisement, Mens conscia recti, by the superior announcement, Men's and women's conscia recti. When it was objected that this legislation would expose us to see women in Parliament, the question was gravely asked—Why should we not see women in Parliament? The hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) drew a very pretty and picturesque picture of a Prime Minister on that Bench who is to come to some strange, mysterious fate—I suppose it was marrying the Leader of the Opposition and forming a Coalition Government. But depend upon it, if we have women admitted to the franchise the claim for them to be in Parliament 698 simply follows as a matter of course. Do we not see that on the Benches of that mimic Parliament which plays so conspicuous, and on many occasions, I have no doubt, a very useful part—the London School Board—there are lady members on that, and would not the argument be very strong indeed from that fact that there could be no objection to their sitting here? It is a subject on which, of course, one can draw a great many amusing pictures; but really it is almost sickening, in a matter of this sort, in which the interest of the country, in which the peace of Europe, in which the happiness of those vast Colonies—that vast Indian Empire that belongs to us—in which the whole of the future of the world is concerned, to have to deal with grotesque propositions like this—propositions grotesque in themselves, but full of grave evils for those for whom the future of humanity, for whom the true mission of the world is not a matter of political calculation, not a matter of cynical amusement in the articles and paragraphs of current journalism, but is the source of very grave and serious thought. To bring forward a suggestion like this one at the eve of a possible Reform Bill, at a time when opinions are seething and agitating, at a time when all kinds of—I must use a phrase which is, perhaps, not Parliamentary, but which must come out in this debate—at a time which is the reign of omnipotent "fads," to bring forward the idea of enfranchising that charming portion of mankind, whose influence is so beneficent because it is felt, not seen, is one of the most preposterous and, at the same time, one of the most revolutionary suggestions that could possibly be agitated.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has urged upon the House that this subject should be treated as a very serious business and entirely upon an argumentative basis; but he has allowed his uncontrollable sense of humour to triumph over his logical aspirations; and he has favoured us with one of his very amusing, but, so far as I am concerned, I must say, not very convincing speeches. I have no wish to deal with this question as a joke, either for or against women. The question—whatever the decision of the House may be to-night, or, perhaps, two or three Ses- 699 sions hence—is a question which, sooner or later, will have to be faced; and I think that in coming to a decision tonight, we should see whether there is any sound logical reason for this proposal, and whether there is any sound logical reason against it. Now, the two hon. Members—my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) and the hon. and learned Member for Eye (Mr. Inderwick)—seemed to me, in their very able and interesting speeches, never to touch the principle on which the franchise in this country is based; whether it be right or wrong, the franchise in this country has been for centuries past, and to-day certainly is, coexistent with either the ownership or the occupation of property. The English Constitution recognizes no question of fitness, as far as intellectual qualification is concerned—the English Constitution, in conferring the franchise, recognizes no principle of social position, of intellectual fitness, or of moral culture. The franchise in this country is given in counties to the owners or occupiers of real property, and is given in boroughs to the occupiers of real property. Of course, no one will suppose that I am overlooking the fact that persons disqualified by the commission of crime are excluded; what I say is, excluding that obvious disqualification, that whether the voter be immoral or moral, whether he be good or bad, if he owns property, and discharges the obligations of the State in respect of that property, the law of the land confers upon him the right to vote in the selection of Representatives in Parliament. That is the principle of the English Constitution. Now, we have admitted in our Constitution a class of owners and occupiers of property of the female sex; and it rests upon those who object to their being entitled to all the advantages, so to speak, of property, to show why they should not enjoy them. It has been put to-night—"Why should women have the franchise?" I rather put it—"Why should they not?" Why should not a spinster, or a widow, a woman discharging all the obligations of the State, paying all the required taxes to the State—why should she not enjoy the right of her unit voice, as far as directing the policy of the State is concerned? We have two contradictory theories from the Benches opposite in 700 reference to this question—first, the theory of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Eye; and, secondly, the theory of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope). The hon. and learned Member for Eye stated that women were entitled to the municipal franchise simply and solely because Municipal Councils spend money, and rates are paid by women. As a matter of fact, the duties of Town Councils are not confined to spending money. Their function is the local administration of the whole of the affairs of the borough, and year by year Parliament is extending, and enlarging and elevating, the duties which are confided to our various Town Councils. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down drew an appalling picture of the politics of Europe being involved in the exercise of this franchise, and held out the prospect of some great national decision, which might be fraught with divers consequences to the Empires of the world being controlled to some extent by female voices. I am quite willing to meet him upon that ground. He must first tell us that women, quâ women, are morally and intellectually inferior to men. I deny that proposition. We were told we were asking for political equality. I say, prove the moral and intellectual inequality—I say, take any question of the politics of this country or Europe, whether it be a question of peace or war; and I say that the opinion of the intelligent woman is just as good as the opinion of an unintelligent man, and a great deal better. The interests which control the decisions of Parliaments affect women quite as much as men. They have, in respect of their personal feeling as well as in respect of their property, a large stake in the prosperity and progress of the country; and unless you can show that there is a public danger from entrusting them with the ordinary consequences of the ownership of their property, I think that the onus probandi rests with the opponents of the Motion rather than with those who advocate it. I am not going to weary the House with a long speech on this question; I want to put the syllogism, so to speak, as shortly and as concisely as I can. Taxation and representation go together; women are taxed; women ought to be represented. There is no public danger 701 in allowing women to enjoy that representation. Now, I know what the answer to me will be—that under the Married Women's Property Act of last year, married women are put into the position of the absolute ownership of their own property, and that, therefore, they ought to be entitled to be put on the same footing as single women. The position of married women is this. A woman by marrying has, deliberately, with her eyes open, surrendered certain advantages—if you like, certain privileges—which would belong to her as a single woman, and she, as a married woman, has no right to complain of the consequences of her marriage. This appeal that is made to Parliament is not made on behalf of married women. Married women are content to leave these interests in the hands of their husbands; and I believe that to introduce a question of political differences into the home would be a step of very grave public danger and disadvantage, and I, for one, should strenuously oppose it. It is not for that that my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne is pleading to-night. It is proposed to extend the franchise to women who, equally with men, are separate, individual owners of property, who discharge all the duties of property, and who, therefore, claim all the rights of property. One word more. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) referred to the legislation in which women are concerned, and said that that legislation had full attention in this House, and that everything they could desire was carried out. I very much doubt that proposition. I think there are a large number of instances in which this House neglects and overlooks questions in which women have the deepest interest, an interest affecting themselves personally, affecting the happiness and progress of their children as well as of themselves. It is because I believe that the extension of this franchise would not be a political danger, but a political benefit; I believe not in its Conservatism or in its Radicalism, but I cannot ignore the historical fact that the influence of women for the last 50 years of the country has, on the whole, been on the side of progress, on the side of the good and true; and therefore I should be glad to see women brought within the pale of the Constitution.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the hon. Member had ended his remarks with a political watchword—Progress. He was afraid that in his dull Constitutionalism he should be obliged to answer that by the question, "Whither?" His objection to this proposal was that it struck at one, and not the least, of the remaining Constitutional foundations of the franchise. While he was listening to the eloquent Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry De Worms) he said to himself—" Has the Semitic race forgotten the difference between a man and a woman? "He was not aware that the unenfranchised women of this country had ever been treated as slaves. He was the surviving collector of the majority that carried the Ten Hours' Act for the protection of women and children in their labour. If anything were said in derogation of women, he would ask—" Have we not a Queen? "We were not afraid of placing women in the highest position when we believed that they had an hereditary right to fill that position. But he had to look to society. He had to look to the constituencies as a whole, and to bear in mind that politics involved a mental, and, too often, a moral, sometimes a physical, warfare; he should no more think of voting for the embodiment of battalions of Amazons, because we had a Queen, than he should of voting for the enfranchisement of women as such. Let hon. Members consider the weight to be attached to the arguments about property as the basis of qualification for the franchise. He (Mr. Newdegate) asserted that, according to the Constitutional history of this country, there was a condition antecedent to the occupation or possession of property, and that condition was fitness. He had seen an hon. Member expelled from that House because he was not of sound mind. He was not fit. Bankrupts were not fit. Women were not fit. Priests were not fit. The Leader of the Irish Members, though nominally a Protestant, was inaugurated, he might say appointed, by a Roman Catholic Archbishop. He could understand his Irish neighbours' reason for advocating the extension of the franchise to women. He believed the priests had too much influence over the men in Ireland, and they would have still more influence with the women. Hon. Members must forgive his having accepted a 703 French teacher—M. Michelet—on this subject. The experience of France had not been wasted upon him. It could not be shown that this House, elected by men only, had neglected the interests of English, Scotch, or Irish women. Had it not years ago passed the Ten Hours' Act for the protection of women and children of the labouring classes? It had also more recently passed Acts giving women more command over property. There was not a particle of evidence that Parliament had become so unmanly; that it knew not how to respect, as their forefathers respected, the position and the privileges of women. He thought sometimes that some hon. Gentlemen opposite had taken their views of the rights of man from the writings of Tom Paine. He was not prepared to accept that kind of teaching with respect to the supposed rights of women, which, he believed, would involve most serious evils. He, moreover, trusted that the men of England felt, as the men of the United States had felt, that the enfranchisement of women might make them more negligent than they had been of the due position and privileges of women.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, during his long career in this House, has always been advocating failing causes. I have been present at almost every debate that has taken place on this question, and I have always noticed that the matter most dwelt upon has been the question of married and unmarried women. Those who are most concerned about married women with Parliamentary qualifications may be satisfied, I think, with the declaration of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Mason); but, at the same time, I have never concealed my opinion on this subject, or that of the Women's Suffrage Associations throughout the Kingdom. It is true that these Associations have been founded by men and women who take a far more unassailable position than the line adopted by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. Their principle is electoral equality, and when they say that, they mean that any qualification established by Parliament which gives a vote to a man should give a vote to a woman, and they do not ask the question whether she is married or unmarried. What 704 gives prominence to this question at the present moment is the fact that in the next Session of Parliament the Government will endeavour to extend the franchise. Those of us in favour of the Motion before the House strongly object that the franchise should be extended as it has hitherto been extended. We say that if you have household suffrage it should be real household suffrage, and that those houses where women are at the head should not be passed over as if there were no human beings there with rights to defend, or with interests to protect. It is said, and I think it is true, that something like one house in seven has a woman at its head. Who are these women? One may be a woman of property, another may be eminent in art or literature, another will be a benevolent woman acting as a ministering angel to the poor and needy around her, and others will be persons in humble life, working year by year to maintain their families. The question we put is this—Why are these houses to be passed over? I do not think that question has been answered to-night in a manner to satisfy the people of this country; certainly not in a manner to satisfy those excluded from the franchise. This evening, in the Lobby, a distinguished Member of the House came to me to speak on the subject. He said—" You know I have always been opposed to you." I said—"Yes; I know. How is it you always oppose this measure?" "Well," he said, "there is only one reason why anybody can oppose it. I oppose the giving of the franchise to a woman because she is a woman." I said—" Do you think that reason will long suffice to maintain their exclusion? "He said—" I doubt if it will." Sir, I doubt myself whether that reason will long hold good. My hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) has another reason. When I look at his Amendment I see he tell us that, from time immemorial, only men have voted. But, Sir, women have recently discovered that from time immemorial they have suffered from their exclusion. I ask my hon. Friend to answer them when they make that declaration. Women are said to be ignorant. If the measure indicated were to pass, undoubtedly a considerable number of ignorant women would be enfranchised—women almost as ignorant as the men 705 enfranchised. I think it will be in the recollection of the House that when the Ballot Act was passed we took considerable pains to legislate to enable ignorant men to vote. It appears that on this side of the House this measure is opposed because it is regarded as a Conservative measure. Of course, action of that sort is inconsistent with Liberal principles. We do not desire to exclude people from the ballot box even if they are Conservatives. We, surely, on this side of the House, do not intend to say we will admit only those who assist our Party. There is one thing anybody can see with regard to women. No one can accuse them of leading disorderly or criminal lives; nobody can accuse them of drunkenness. If there were as little drunkenness amongst men as there is amongst women, if there were as little crime amongst men as there is amongst women, we should want fewer policemen, fewer prisons, and there would be less burdens and rates on the people. We hear in this House a good deal about Radicalism, more especially from these Benches. That term has never had any great charm for me, and for this reason—that I have often found it dissociated from ideas of justice. A remarkable speech was made in Birmingham the other day by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. I read that speech with much interest. It was read with great pleasure by extreme politicians in this country. I heard men say it was one of the best utterances of the gospel of Radicalism. That may be true; but I have my doubts whether it was an adequate expression of the gospel of Justice. The right hon. Gentleman took a prophetic view of what may happen some years hence. He told us that every person not a criminal and not a pauper was to have a vote, provided that person was of the masculine gender. There was no suggestion that for all time to come a woman should have any Constitutional influence over those who made the laws which she is called upon to obey. The right hon. Gentleman advocated, as I understand, that Members of this House should be paid for their services. Six hundred and fifty salaries are to be added to the present expenditure. He did not tell us from what fund this was to come. I do not know that there is any public fund to which women do not 706 contribute their portion; and I doubt whether it would be just to tax women for services in this House in regard to which they cannot have the least control. Reference has been made to the old maxim that taxation and representation should go together; but my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield treats that principle with something like contempt when it comes from the mouths of women. But there are other and greater reasons than those involved in the question of taxation why women should have some influence in the House. This House sometimes passes laws which apply to women only. It sometimes inflicts grievous penalties upon women which would be intolerable to men. It interferes with the labour of women, perhaps sometimes advantageously to them; but at other times with considerable danger to their interests. Supposing some Assembly were to legislate for men over which men had not the least control. I undertake to say there would not be one man in 1,000,000 who would not see the monstrous injustice of such a state of things. It is somewhat comic that the "time immemorial" argument should be relied upon on these Benches. Many things have existed from time immemorial. The Established Church and the political position of Bishops have existed from the remotest times; and I should like to know, if the hon. Member for Hudderstield were to stand up and recommend important changes in these respects, what he would say if the argument of "time immemorial" came from the opposite Benches? If we had always adhered to what had been consecrated by time, instead of now being the for most nation in the world, we should probably be a group of painted savages. The hon. Members for Hudderstield and North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) have told us women can get what they want without the franchise. That used to be said of working men; but since they have had a vote Members in every part of this House have had a generosity and sympathy and courage with regard to all matters affecting working men which they never had before. Precisely the same effect would follow if you gave women the franchise. I admit that women have gained much without the franchise, and I will tell the House when that gain 707 began. It began with the introduction of the question of women's suffrage to the House, and the gain has been mainly due to the awakening intelligence of women on political questions, owing to the widespread agitation and the demand for women's suffrage. They have gained without the franchise municipal votes, school board votes, the right to sit on school boards, the magnificent Act of last year—an Act which ought to confer lasting fame on the present Lord Chancellor—I mean the Married Women's Property Act. And, owing to the untiring energy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), they have succeeded in inflicting a blow on an Act of Parliament more unjust to women than any which has ever been passed—a blow from which that Act will never recover. These things they have gained without the franchise. But who will toll me that they would not have gained them sooner, with less heart-breaking labour, if they had had the political franchise? I contend that to declare women incapacitated to vote, whatever property they may have, whatever may be their intellect and their character, and yet to declare men capable of voting, however wanting they may be in the qualifications to which I have referred, is to degrade women in their own estimation and in the estimation of everyone else. To give the franchise to men is to raise and to strengthen them. It would have the same effect upon women. Universally, to possess political influence is to command respect, and if women were more respected they would be less open to injury of every kind. We are going to enfranchise the farm labourer. Why, I ask, should, we not also enfranchise the farmer? I believe it has already been shown by the hon. Member who moved the Resolution (Mr. Mason) that a very large number of women are farmers—as many as 10 per cent of the farmers in England and Wales being women employing farm labourers. If we are going to enfranchise the labourers, is it right that the women who employ them, who pay their wages, and who have all the responsibility of the enterprize on their shoulders, should be treated as political cyphers? Again, one-seventh part of all the persons holding land of one acre and upwards are women. On what ground can we refuse to give 708 them a vote? Five per cent of the lay patronage of the Church of England is in the hands of women. Those women have a right to appoint the spiritual pastors of large and small parishes, and yet they are not allowed to perform the very humble function of giving a vote for a Member of Parliament. There is no greater delusion than to imagine that a high qualification is necessary in order to give such a vote. The instincts of the people, as a rule, enable them to decide which is the ablest or the most trustworthy candidate. In conclusion, I shall merely say that clever speeches, from whatever side of this House they come, will not subdue this agitation. In spite of what my hon. Friend the Member for Huddorsfield says, indications come to me which show that this agitation grows because women believe that its object is just; for God has planted the passion for justice in every human heart—and not less in the hearts of women than of men.
§ MR. RAIKES
I desire to detain the House only a short time; but I am bound to say that it is difficult to abstain from offering some observations in reply to hon. Members who have advocated this Motion. I was particularly struck with what fell from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), who laid great stress on the restricted objects of the Motion, and disclaimed, for himself and his Friends, any attempt to bring about the universal enfranchisement of women which has boon alluded to. The hon. Member pointed out that the Motion is one which extends only to women who possess the necessary qualifications—that is to say, that this question comes before the House to-night, as it has done on one or two former occasions, merely as a question of the enfranchisement of those women—widows and spinsters—who happen already to possess the franchise in local matters. I would venture to remind my hon. Friend that this year that position has become something of an anachronism. A very important measure was passed last Session; and when this House deliberately set itself to the abolition of the ancient relations of husband and wife with regard to the possession of property it took a new departure, which we cannot ignore in considering this question. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) has not dwelt 709 quite so much as he might have been expected to do on that wider view of the question with which he might have concerned himself. It was only to-day that I received, as I presume other hon. Members had done, a printed letter which has been signed and circulated by a lady who has taken great interest in this question, and who is treasurer of the Manchester Association for promoting the enfranchisement of women. In that letter, the writer argues with considerable logical force the case of the general enfranchisement of females, as compared with the partial enfranchisement contemplated by the present proposal. I cannot refuse full assent to the arguments I have seen in that letter. If we agree that women are to be equally entitled with men to the benefit of the franchise, it is impossible logically to refuse the franchise to that large number of women who are living in matrimony, and who have had that experience and knowledge of life, and of the affairs of life, which the position of a wife and mother must necessarily bring. Anything, therefore, more unjust, ungenerous, and indefensible than the exclusion of wives from such a proposal is hardly to be thought of; and I certainly shall do what I can to secure that the married women of this country shall not be ignored in the bestowal of the franchise, if it is to be conferred on women at all. There is another point on which I would briefly touch. Hon. Members, in their anxiety to minimize this enormous change, have told the House that women do not desire seats in this Chamber. This seems to me a more unreasonable limitation than the other. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton has told us that an enlightened woman is at least as qualified for the franchise as an unenlightened man. We are always reading about enlightened women, and hearing much that is said with respect to women on account of their intellectual qualifications. I should be sorry if anything I am about to say should be considered disrespectful to any members of that sex. I think, however, there is much more argument in favour of their sitting in this House than for the enfranchisement of the whole sex, in order that they might vote for the Members of this House. There is no doubt that many women are quite as well qualified for seats in this House as many hon. 710 Members; and no one can deny that there have been, and are, numerous examples of women of great intellectual capacity, and of high cultivation and attainments, who have specific and peculiar knowledge of many questions on which their opinions are entitled to the highest respect. This is, as far as it goes, an argument in favour of their sitting in this House; but I cannot see that it constitutes a valid reason for flooding the register with all the 95 or 96 per cent of other women, who have not the time or the qualifications for the study of political questions. I venture to call attention to what I think the illogicality of the two limitations I have referred to. If we are going seriously to deal with this question, we must be prepared to face it as a whole, and either to enfranchise women generally or to leave it alone. Much has been said as to the importance of the claims of women to direct representation. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) has said that the working men have been able to exercise greater influence on this House since they have had the franchise than before. The hon. Member, however, rather spoilt his argument by what he said in reference to the position of women as regards recent legislation in this House. But I would point out that those who argue from this point of view are arguing from a position unfortunately too common, particularly among those who hold advanced opinions—namely, that nobody can have any interests unless they are antagonistic to those of others; and that, therefore, it is necessary that those interests should be guarded by direct representation. I do not believe this. I believe it is from the calm judgment of the collective community that we got at the best opinions, and that it is not necessary to look to a particular class to vindicate the rights it claims. With regard to women, this idea appears to be a greater delusion than in the case of any other class. I believe that the interests of women, so far from being antagonistic to those of the men among whom they live, are indissolubly bound up with those of the other sex. I believe it is absolutely impossible for any man, who is qualified to take his seat in this House, not to be largely governed by considerations of what is due to women, who so greatly contribute to the 711 happiness of the country; and I do appeal to the House to consider this matter, not so much with regard to questions of foreign politics, or of peace or war, or even as to whether or not the clergy of all denominations may not have or exercise undue influence; but I do press my opposition to this proposal on grounds which I shall always oppose it upon, as long as I have a seat in this House, and which lead me to believe that anything more injurious to the women of this country could not be conceived than a scheme which proposes to put an Imperial, or, at least, a Parliamentary imprimatur on doctrines which lead to the unsexing of women and putting them on a false equality with men. Far be it from me, or anyone in this House, to speak of or dwell upon the general physical and mental inferiority on the part of women. I fully and freely recognize their great moral superiority in other respects. But we are endangering the moral superiority of women if we tell them that their duty in life is not that duty it has hitherto been conceived to be—not that simple round of daily domestic life in which a woman's days are passed. If we are going to detach women from those duties, which reconcile her to the sphere in which her lot is cast, and to ask her to turn her attention to political affairs, to study the columns of the political magazines and daily newspapers, in order to arrive at conclusions on questions which otherwise she could but imperfectly understand, and to expose her to the annoyances which appertain to political and public action; to bring her from that place in which she is so happy, and where she contributes so much to the happiness of the other sex, in order to make her a bad copy of man, the day, I trust, will be long distant when such a result will be achieved. I regret to find that a class of modern politicians is to be found on the public platforms of the country doing that than which nothing-could be more unworthy their position in society. When I see men of great gifts, of high aspirations, and noble example, such as the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), who can find nothing better to do than to go about from place to place to try and catch the cheers of poor, unreflecting, and thoughtless women, by uttering conventional platitudes which they may 712 fully believe, but which are sterile of any good for the country, and exciting au agitation out of which no definite result can be achieved; or when I see their female colleagues ascend those platforms and make public speeches—I wish to speak with all due respect of those ladies and of their public aims and aspirations, and even their ambition—I must say that these things cause to me, and to many people in this country who do not belong to this House, and who are not active politicians, something of a feeling of pain, in the presence of a public scandal which we grieve to witness, especially when I see that this is done at the expense of that sex which we all honour and revere. I apologize to the House for having so long intruded on its attention; but I trust I have explained that, so far from deprecating the well-recognized merits of women, I rather desire to preserve that safe and honourable seclusion which is given to them by nature and sanctioned by Revelation, which up to the present time has been respected by the law of England, and will, I trust, in the future, continue to be respected and protected by that law.
§ MR. COURTNEY
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes), who has just spoken, and also his Colleague in the representation of that University (Mr. Beresford Hope), have insisted that if we granted the franchise to women, we must, in logic, go still further and admit women to this House. Those two speeches are equally remarkable, whether regarded as coming from Members of the Conservative Party, or as the expositions of opinion proceeding from Members having a constituency consisting to the extent of more than one-half of clergymen. But I believe that both—I am certain that one of them—have voted for the Bill which proposes to prevent even unbeneficed clergymen from sitting in this House. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. Raikes) has added some remarkable observations with regard to the position and character of women. He began his speech by saying that it was impossible to accede to this proposition, because if it were acceded it must go much further.
§ MR. RAIKES
the hon. Gentleman has misconceived what I have stated. I 713 did not rest my objection to the proposal on that ground; but I said it appeared to me that those who do not accept the wider view which I have referred to are illogical.
§ MR. COURTNEY
At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman has said that if we accept one proposal we must accept the other. With regard to what I have said as to the constituency of the two right hon. Gentlemen whose speeches I have referred to, I would ask, do they intend to disfranchise the unbeneficed clergymen, because that is the logical deduction to be made from what they have said. With regard to this matter of logic, which requires that women should give a vote in the limited form proposed, as votes are already given to the Universities, I am bound to say it is a strictly moderate proposition. It is based on the following grounds:—We have already given to spinsters and widows, possessed of certain qualifications as to property or occupation, the privilege of voting for Town Councils, Boards of Guardians, and School Boards. We have laid down the principle that, so far as regards these public functions, sex is no disqualification. Marriage remains a disqualification, but sex does not; and the proposition laid down by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) is that as far as we have already gone in local matters we should now go in Parliamentary matters. This is, I think, a strictly moderate and a Conservative proposition. It goes on that principle of politics which we all respect, since it proceeds from experience. We have tried it, and what are the results? Are they beneficial, or are they the reverse? Are they advantageous, whether as regards the constitution of the Boards so elected or the character of the women who form part of the constituency? If they have been beneficial, they are in favour of our going further. No one has said they have produced injurious effects in either direction. On those, then, who oppose the extension of the principle that has been so far successful, the burden is thrown of showing the ineligibility of women for the Parliamentary franchise. I can conceive one reason why hon. Members may refuse to give votes for women being Members of this House. They themselves might be affected by the change. This is, however, a very small reason indeed; and I 714 should like to know what is the real explanation of this singular anomaly—that hon. Members are ready to give women votes at elections in which those hon. Members are not directly concerned, and yet they refuse them in cases where they are so concerned? I confess I should have thought that one of the most hazardous things possible was the giving women votes at elections for Boards of Guardians, except, perhaps, making them eligible for seats on the school boards. One would have thought that the enfranchisement of women in respect of Boards of Guardians might have tended to thwart the operation of the Poor Law; yet, as a matter of fact, a totally different result has been witnessed; and so successful has been the experiment of admitting women, and so strictly and faithfully have they endeavoured to carry out the operations of the Poor Law, that the Local Government Board has used its power of nominating women as Guardians where they have not been elected. If we take the case of elections to the school boards, I ask, is there a single thing that is of more importance to the nation than the education of the Democracy of the future? And yet we give women votes for school boards, and allow them to be elected as members of those boards, because they have to do with the education of girls. In making women capable of sitting on school boards we have supplied them with a strong argument in favour of this Motion, for the work of the school boards far transcends in importance the ordinary questions that come before us at General Elections. Let me point out this with respect to the alleged injurious influence of public life upon the female nature. You find women engaged in the elections for Boards of Guardians, the elections for School Boards, and the elections for Town Councils—the first taking place yearly, the second once in three years, the third yearly; but the General Parliamentary Election, the effect of which is to be so injurious on the character of women, comes on the average only once in five years. But it is said, if you do give women this vote in the restricted form proposed by my hon. Friend, you must go further and give votes to married women too. ["No!"] That is the sort of logic that we have heard over and over again. If you give the £10 householder a vote you must give every householder a vote. If 715 you give every householder a vote, you must give every man a vote. If you give every man a vote, you must give every woman a vote, and so on. Principles of abstract political reasoning are, perhaps, not dealt with by any political Party in this country; but these are principles which I am most surprised to hear from Members of the Conservative Party. I proceed on the lines of experience. [Laughter.] I do not catch the secret explanation of the laughter which is now excited. You have women as electors in local affairs, women who are widows and spinsters and possess the qualifications required by law. Proceeding on that line, I ash why the same class of women, possessing the same qualifications, should run any danger by becoming Parliamentary electors? It is, I dare say, possible that my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) desires to see the franchise extended to married as well as to single women. It is just possible that married women may ultimately demand the franchise too; but that change certainly will not be introduced till after much discussion and deliberation, and with many safeguards. I can see great reasons against it; but I utterly repudiate a line of opposing argument which is unworthy of any person educated in the political history of this country. That line of argument is this. You shall not confer the franchise upon persons who have proved their fitness for it, because you might possibly raise hereafter the question of conferring it upon persons in a different position, and against whose admission there are special and powerful arguments. Sir, the present proposal is, as I said before, simple, moderate, and Conservative; and let me remind hon. Members on the opposite Benches that the proposition received the approval of Lord Beaconsfield, who voted for it again and again. It also received the approbation of another man who was long known in this House, who sat on the Conservative side, and who was most justly respected by every Member. I refer to him not only on account of his position and authority, but because he became a convert to the cause after once opposing it; and he was a man whom certainly no one would suspect of any mawkish sentiment or weak feeling. I refer to Mr. Henley, who sat in the 716 House for years; and after opposing this proposal for three or four years, rose in his place one day and said—I have been voting on this question; I have been watching what has been done; I have observed how women have voted for Local Councils and Boards of Guardians; and I have come to the conclusion that both as regards themselves and the bodies for which they have voted the change is beneficial, politic, and much to be desired.At this hour I will not detain the House much longer. But I must say a word or two in answer to the latter portion of the speech of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge. The right hon. Gentleman protested, in vigorous and powerful language, against the degradation of women which would ensue when some of them were called upon to discharge public functions upon political occasions. And he discoursed also, in still more vehement language, upon what I think he regarded—though his language was uncertain—as the degradation of those ladies, especially, who appear in public to advocate the claims of their sex. Sir, I altogether take issue with the right hon. Gentleman upon those points. I protest that so far from degrading her the bringing of women into contact with the ideas of public life, with the conceptions of national progress, with the development of national character, with the elevation of the people, and with the relation of this nation to other nations, just supplies that want which is necessary for herself, and, still more, which is necessary for her as the companion of man. If you want to have a heroic woman—[Laughter.]—if you want a woman with public spirit, one who shall be the companion and help-mate of the ideal English citizen, you must have a woman who shall understand and sympathize with the ideals and the pains and the life of her husband. I have, on former occasions, expressed in this House what I believe to be a fact—that in too many cases the husband is pulled down from the position which he would occupy, and the aims he would pursue, and from the ideals which he would seek to realize by the scantiness of education, by the limitation of motives, and by the restriction of feelings and ideas in his wife. Unless you develop in woman a power of sympathizing with and supporting man in the developments of political life, you will not only secure a stunted 717 woman, but you will also be punished by finding in her society little of that which will elevate you and her. You will have to reach to another ideal, and you will find society fall away from the standard that you desire to reach; and the national life, instead of becoming richer and fuller in successive years, will become more and more impoverished, poor, and petty. It is said that there are women who do not want the franchise. It is one of the strong points of the opposition that some women do not desire it. I often find that objection brought forward; but I doubt whether it is true. This is a question on which you may get any evidence you like, according to the point you desire to make. Just as you desire the answer you may find it; but the practical experience of political life, so far as it goes, shows that women do exercise municipal functions just as freely, largely, and jealously as men. Those women who tell you in society, as many of them will, that they do not want votes, are, I find, mixed up in politics very zealously; but the politics they pursue are the petty politics of personal relations, instead of the politics of national progress and national development.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
I have almost to apologize to the House for intruding now. I have to apologize to the House because I have so often expressed my opinion on this question; and I am only prompted to do so again because I feel so earnestly and sincerely on it, and I shall give a most earnest vote against this Motion. I am glad to think that the mask is at last thrown off. Tonight, for the first time, we know the real intention of the supporters of this Motion. For years they have expressed one view to the public, while their object, and their aim, and their purpose has been a different one. They have told us that their object has been to give a vote to unmarried women only, and by that representation they have secured support. Sir, to-night it is useless for them to tell us that. Add to this Motion the legislation of last Session, and it will be seen that the vote is to be given to every married woman as well. [Mr. HUGH MASON: No.] Let the hon. Mover of the Resolution make his declaration if he likes. It was worth nothing except the word that he gave. He 718 meant, no doubt, what he said; but let this Resolution pass into a Bill, and let the Property Qualification Act, 1882, remain unrepealed, and every holder of a free hold in the country became a voter. Let there be no mistake about this. If this Resolution is drafted into a Bill, and the legislation of 1882 remains unrepealed, you will give a vote to the married woman in the county and deny it in the borough. The husband in the county may enfranchise his wife. Every husband who has the means will have the right to confer a 40s. freehold on his wife, and he can then either ask her to vote with him or against him. Let hon. Members who are about to record their votes understand that this would be the legal result of a successful issue to this Resolution. Now, in that is a plain issue. If you tell me that the difference would be nothing as regards women between the county and the borough franchise, what do you say to the illogical difference between giving a married woman a vote in the county but not in the borough? Notwithstanding what my hon. Friend has said about mysterious qualifications, I want to know what you are going to do about this Property Qualification Act in the case of married women? My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), who has given a most unsound definition of political rights, has said that occupation and ownership should always be represented. According to that view, every house that holds a man has a vote, and not every man who holds a house. Occupation and ownership are to be represented. What does that mean? In a borough a man who pays no rent, but only promises to pay, has a vote. The man who owns a whole town is not entitled to vote; and that is what he calls the representation of occupation and ownership. My hon. Friend says, in effect, that fitness has nothing to do with the right to vote. Does he not know that property qualification is only held to be an evidence of fitness? A short time ago it was thought that no person below a £10 qualification should be allowed to vote. The hon. Member's proposition is that mere ownership, or occupation, or the payment of taxation, gives a right to vote; but the man who has lived 20 years in a house managing the property is not allowed to vote, and why? Why do not you allow them to 719 vote? Because they are not fit. You do not allow persons of weak mind to vote. It is because they are not fit. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton said—" Why not give the franchise to woman, when she is willing to discharge all the obligations to the State?" But is she able to do so? Ought not a person who claims the rights of citizenship to be able to fulfil all its burdens? What is the first duty of a citizen? It is to defend the country in time of war. ["Oh!"] It is a principle which has; Been recognized in every State from the earliest times. Will she do that? There is another duty of citizenship—to assist in the suppression of internal commotion. Will woman take part in that? Will she be a special constable? Will you make of woman a Justice of the Peace? Will you make her a juryman? Will you allow her to be a Bishop? I will not say that the office of a Bishop represents the greatest degree of unfitness for women; but I might mention different offices, none of which they could fulfil. I would ask my hon. Friend, Would he allow women to sit in this House? ["No!"] Why not? Does not fitness come in there? [Mr. H. H. FOWLER: No.] The hon. Member for Wolverhampton says distinctly "No;" and there we have a distinct test of inequality between men and women. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is an old opponent of mine on this subject, and I am sure he will not object if I reply to some of his remarks. He said that both the right hon. Members for Cambridge University opposed women's suffrage on the ground that women could not sit in the House, and yet many of their constituents were clergymen, who could be voters, but were not eligible for election to Parliament. Yes; that is true; but a clergyman is not disqualified. It is his office that disqualifies him. Take off his robe, and take him away from his office, where he is supposed to exercise spiritual duties, which he cannot exercise if he becomes a Member of Parliament, and then that man may come into this House. I have one word more to say to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary. But the woman to whom you are asked to give the vote—and yet exclude her from this House—is excluded by virtue of her being a woman, a condition she never changes. 720 He has made an eloquent, and I know sincere, appeal on behalf of giving votes to women, with the object of raising them up. I should like to translate his views and put them explicitly before the House, in order that you may understand the persons for whom he so earnestly asks for the franchise. These were his own words, expressed to this House on a former occasion—The narrowness of woman's range of ideas is absolutely deleterious in its effect. Our earliest lessons are received from them. Are they not often lessons that we have afterwards to unlearn with great difficulty? We often find a difficulty in freeing ourselves from them, and in emancipating ourselves from the errors of our earliest days.Those are the women upon whom my hon. Friend proposes to confer the franchise. What does my hon. Friend say with regard to married life?Again, of those who enter into the marriage relations of life, how constantly does it happen that the man's freedom of intellect is a thing unto himself, that he is incapable of imparting to the woman, with whom so much of his life is spent, any conception of the range of his thought? He does not find' in her any companionship; but, on the contrary, a drag upon his aspirations.Now, Sir, I understand it is by giving women the franchise that my hon. Friend now seeks to lift them from this condition of weak-minded error. I say that is a proposition of very serious aspect. What period of probation are these women to go through before they arrive at the ideal of my hon. Friend? [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh; but if I have quoted my hon. Friend correctly, where is his answer to the question? If you are going to put these unfit women into the rights of citizenship, are we to sacrifice the interests of this country in the hope that they will improve? I believe that my hon. Friend has approached the subject from a different point of view to that taken by most men. I differ from him even more in his premisses than in his conclusions. If hon. Members look back to the lessons of their earliest years, they will not find anything to lead them to agree with my hon. Friend. The difference is that we did not wish those lessons to be political, and, because they were not political, they were valuable. My hon. Friend wishes the mother and the wife to become a politician; but he makes a great mistake in thinking that the public life will make women virtuous, rather than the 721 private life by which, they have made so many men good. Now, Sir, one word more in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton. What qualifies a man for admission to this House? Have not men experience of all professions? Do we not one and all bring to bear something of a peculiar and particular knowledge? Cannot my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, and others in the same Profession, enlighten us respecting the law? Do not commercial men tell us their views upon trade and commerce? Do not military men give us their experience of armies and of war? To any one of these subjects can woman contribute any experience? She can tell us, no doubt, of her great experience of domestic life; but, unhappily for us, that is not a subject with which we have to deal here. It is useful on school boards, but not in Parliament. When we had to deal with great questions of peace and war, what would result if women took part in politics? We should find them timid in time of panic and violent in time of outbreak. I believe that if a war were proposed for restoring the temporal power of the Pope every woman in France would support it. Whom do you think 'were the most earnest for war when France went into her unhappy conflict with Germany? Why, the women. If they have to decide questions like these, I am afraid the goodness of their nature will stand them in little stead. We shall have the impulses of hearts rather than the reasoning of minds. I am told to-night that the supporters of this Motion have a majority in the House, and that there is to be a great victory for them. Well, Sir, they may, from accidental circumstances and great importunity, have secured for this time a majority; but it will be a very fleeting one. It is easy enough to bring down a few devoted followers in support of a movement which has been well canvassed; but let this once be found a serious question, and there will be deserters on one side and recruits on the other. I am certain of this—that we have forces still in reserve. The women of England have never yet really expressed their opinion upon this question. Were it not for that class of women who are happy in gazing upon, and being gazed upon by crowds, there would be no demand at all for 722 women's suffrage. Those who represent the real feminine feeling of the country do not go to public meetings. The voice of the mob is heard, and the clamour of their loud cry is supposed to represent the voice of the women of England. To-night we, as men of different political Parties, express our view; but there is a class in the country that does not often speak, and yet it has at times determined the state of Parties; I mean those men who take but little heed of political life, who find their happiness at home, and who wish to see this country well governed, and who believe that upon the stability of their homes depends the greatness and prosperity of the country. When once they know that from those homes you seriously mean to take the women who are their light and happiness, they will denounce this measure as an influence that can add nothing to the happiness and the strength of any man's domestic life, and that will bring within the action of public men a source of weakness and of impulse detrimental to the very best interests of this country.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 130; Noes 114: Majority 16.724
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Donaldson-Hudson, C.|
|Allsopp, C.||Duff, E. W.|
|Armitstead, G.||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Eaton, H. W.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Bass, H.||Egerton, Adm. hon. F.|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.||Elliot, hon. A. E. D.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Errington, G.|
|Blennerhassett, Sir E.||Estcourt, G S.|
|Brassey, H. A.||Evans, T. W.|
|Bright, rt. hon. J.||Feilden, Lieut.-General R. J.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.|
|Bryce, J.||Finch, G. H.|
|Bulwer, J. R.||Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W.|
|Cameron, D.||Floyer, J.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Folkestone, Viscount|
|Carden, Sir R. W.||Fort, R.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Foster, W. H.|
|Causton, R. K.||Fremantle, hon. T. F.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Gardner, E. Richardson-|
|Clive, Col. hon. G. W.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Cole, Viscount||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Glyn, hon. S. C.|
|Corry, J. P.||Goldney, Sir G.|
|Cotton, W. J. R.||Gordon, Sir A.|
|Crichton, Viscount||Gower, hon. E. F. L.|
|Cropper, J.||Greer, T.|
|Curzon, Major hn. M.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Gurdon, R. T.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Digby, Col. hon. E.|
|Hamilton, I. T.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Hamilton, J. G. C.||Newport, Viscount|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.||Percy, Earl|
|Percy, Lord A.|
|Hayter, Sir A. D.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Hill, Lord A. W.||Ralli, P.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Holms, J.||Ritchie, C. T.|
|Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.||Roundell, C. S.|
|Hope, rt. hn. A. J. B. B.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Ince, H. B.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|James, Sir H.||Scott, Lord H.|
|Jerningham, H. E. H.||Scott, M. D.|
|Johnstone, Sir F.||Sheil, E.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Kenny, M. J.||Sykes, C.|
|Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.||Thornhill, T.|
|Levett, T. J.||Tollemache, hn. W. F.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Loder, R.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Lyons, R. D.||Wallace, Sir R.|
|Maitland, W. F.||Warburton, P. E.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Warton, C. N.|
|March, Earl of||Webster, J.|
|Marriott, W. T.||Whitbread, S.|
|Martin, R. B.||Willis, W.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Winn, R.|
|Maxwell-Heron, Capt. J. M.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Miles, Sir P. J. W.|
|Miles, C. W.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||TELLERS.|
|Monckton, F.||Inderwick, F. A.|
|Mowhray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Agnew, W.||Firth, J. F. B.|
|Anderson, G.||Forester, C. T. W.|
|Arnold, A.||Fowler, H. H.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Fry, L.|
|Baldwin, E.||Fry, T.|
|Barran, J.||Gabbett, D. F.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Giles, A.|
|Bective, Earl of||Grant, A.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Grant, D.|
|Blake, J. A.||Harvey, Sir R. B.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Henderson, F.|
|Borlase, W. C.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Briggs, W. E.||Hollond, J. R.|
|Bright, J. (Manchester)||Hopwood, C. H.|
|Brooks, W. C.||Howard, J.|
|Burt, T.||Illingworth, A.|
|Cameron, C.||James, C.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Jenkins, Sir J. J.|
|Cohen, A.||Kennard, Col. E. H.|
|Collings, J.||Kinnear, J.|
|Collins, E.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Lalor, R.|
|Cowen, J.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Creyke, R.||Leahy, J.|
|Cunliffe, Sir R. A.||Leake, R.|
|Davies, D.||Leamy, E.|
|De Ferrières, Baron||Leatham, W. H.|
|Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Earp, T.||Lee, H.|
|Edwards, P.||Lusk, Sir A.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||M'Arthur, Sir W.|
|Fawcett, rt. hon. H.||M'Arthur, A.|
|M'Laren, C. B. B.||Roe, T.|
|Macliver, P. S.||Ross, A. H.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Round, J.|
|Morley, A.||St. Aubyn, W. M.|
|Morley, J.||Shaw, T.|
|Morley, S.||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Nolan, Colonel J. P.||Smith, E.|
|O'Beirne, Colonel F.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|O'Brien, W.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|O'Connor, A.||Summers, W.|
|O'Gorman Mahon. Col. The||Taylor, P. A.|
|Thomasson, J. P.|
|Palmer, G.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Palmer, J. H.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Peddie, J. D.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Pennington, F.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Porter, rt. hn. A. M.||Waugh, E.|
|Potter, T. B.||Whitworth, B.|
|Powell, W. R. H.||Williams, S. C. E.|
|Power, R.||Williamson, S.|
|Pugh, L. P.||Wilson, Sir M.|
|Puleston, J. H.||Woodall, W.|
|Ramsay, J.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Richardson, J. N.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Richardson, T.||Mason, H.|
§ Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee upon Monday next.