In page 1, line 27, to leave out the word 'alderman.'"—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
, in moving the omission of "aldermen," contended that it did not form part of the constitution of the new boroughs. He rested his case on two grounds. In the first place, he objected to aldermen altogether; and, in the second place, there were special reasons why aldermen should not form part of the constitution of the new boroughs. The institution of aldermen was for the supposed purpose of securing the services of men of greater knowledge, weight, and experience, who would not offer themselves to a constituency. His answer to that was that there was nothing which could compensate for the absence of direct contact with the constituency, and no argument had been used in favour of "aldermen" which was not applicable to the other side of the question. If there were persons so fragile and delicate that they could not bear the brunt of a popular election, he thought that they might dispense with, their services. The real 724 fact was, that aldermen would be taken from a class of men who had neither the time nor inclination to attend to the business for which they had been co-opted in these councils, and that was shown by the experience of the London County Council. There were hard-working aldermen on the London County Council, but as a, member of that body of some years' standing he (Mr. Pickersgill) had come to the conclusion that the labours and distasteful work of the committees was not discharged by them to the same extent that it was by the elected members. It had been said that the position of aldermen was an attractive one, and that by retaining that position they were able to secure the services of men who had a greater knowledge of local government, whom they would not otherwise secure. That might be so, but how long would the position continue to be attractive after the Measure now before the House had become law if his Amendment was lost? He did not exaggerate when he said that this Bill would bring 500 aldermen into creation, and the largeness of the number would not only make the institution ridiculous, but accelerate its extinction. The probable effect of including aldermen in the new counties would be that the best men would lay by, instead of coming forward as candidates for election, in the hope that they would be co-opted as aldermen, and the legislative council would be inferior in its character to what it would be under a different system. The people of London as a whole did not like a number of indirect elections. Their experience of indirect elections had not been fortunate. They still remembered the Metropolitan Board of Works, and when that indirectly-elected body was proposed to be established precisely the same argument in favour of that peculiar mode of constitution was advanced then as now.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The honourable Gentleman seems to a certain extent to have forgotten the example set by the municipal corporations throughout the country. There is no movement of any force or volume that I know of to get rid of the institution of aldermen in county boroughs, or, indeed, in any municipal borough outside the limits of London. Criticism has, indeed, been passed upon 725 them, chiefly owing to the fact that in certain cases their presence has unduly prolonged the preponderance of a particular Party in the Council; still, I think the general experience of those interested in local government is that the institution has, on the whole, worked successfully, rather than the reverse. And, Sir, legislation in this House which has dealt so much with local government during the last 10 or 15 years is in favour of the course the Government now proposes to pursue. We deliberately instituted aldermen in the case of the London County Council, and we deliberately instituted aldermen in the case of Councils in the rest of the country.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
We have not done so in Ireland for many reasons, which I will not go into now. There may be here and there cases in which borough councils will elect as aldermen persons who have never been popularly elected to serve as councillors, but the experience of county boroughs, which is the nearest analogy to the present case, indicates, speaking broadly, that the aldermen will be chosen from among the number of councillors. I think we may take it that human nature is very much the same in London as it is in Manchester, Liverpool, or Birmingham, and that it is extremely unlikely that any large number of alder men will be elected, except among the councillors themselves. Under these circumstances, I think the danger which the honourable Member points out is an illusory danger. On the other hand there are many persons upon these councils, whose services are perfectly invaluable to the locality, who are perfectly prepared to go through the trouble of one, two, or three popular elections, but are not prepared indefinitely to undergo that labour in addition to the work of administering their district. Well, Sir, I have great sympathy with those persons. I think those persons' services are of extreme value to the community, and I should be very sorry if we were to deprive ourselves of those services by rejecting, on rather shadowy grounds, an institution which has been proved to be of great practical utility in relation to the administration of local affairs.
§ MR. HALDANE
In the case of district councils, the most recent analogy, Parliament deliberately went away from the principle of co-optic aldermen. It seemed to him, moreover, that the argument of the right honourable Gentleman did not apply at all satisfactorily to the bodies which the right honourable Gentleman proposed to constitute by his Bill. In the case of the London County Council it was no doubt right that it should be left open to the Council to co-opt those whom it had co-opted to take a more or less prominent part in the administration of the affairs of the Council. They had the whole of London to choose from; and he should regard the concessions of some value if the right honourable Gentleman had allowed Whitechapel or Bethnal Green to co-opt somebody of financial experience who would be willing to undertake the missionary enterprise of going to the East End and there bestowing the benefit of his experience and knowledge upon the body to which he was co-opted. But the provisions of the Bill restricted the qualifications of aldermen to that of a borough councillor, and therefore it was impossible to get that kind of assistance which could be got from London as a whole. The East End boroughs would have to be co-opted from men who had not had the opportunities which had been enjoyed by the sort of class who had been co-opted in the County Council. In the interests of she East End constituencies rather than the West End, he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. LOWLES (Shoreditch)
appealed to the right honourable Gentleman to reconsider his decision. Of seven Amendments in identical terms to that before the Committee, three came from the Ministerial side of the House, and, singularly enough, one stood in the name of his honourable Friend who shared with him the representation of Shoreditch. These might be taken to reflect the feeling of those who were in daily contact with their constituents in the East End. It would be especially difficult in that part of London, for a variety of reasons, to co-opt men of the character of the aldermen on the County Council. There was no analogy between aldermen in county boroughs and aldermen in London boroughs. He strongly felt that 727 the non-representative character of these aldermen, who as the Bill stood would form a ridiculously large proportion of the whole council, was in itself an objection to the inclusion of the aldermen in the Bill. What they all desired was not to perpetuate anomalies but to secure the better administration of local government. He believed that the only way to secure it was to make every person directly responsible to the electorate; and if, therefore, the Government insisted on the inclusion of aldermen he should have to go, in the Division, into the other lobby.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said the honourable Member for Bethnal Green quoted quite accurately the Report of the Royal Commission over which he had the honour to preside, but he admitted that for his own part he had a perfectly open mind on this subject. The whole question was whether aldermen were likely to be efficient and worthy members of the body to which they were co-opted, and on that point the experience of the country showed that they had been very useful members. With respect to the London County Council, he believed the experience there was that it had been strengthened by the admission of aldermen selected from without, and he understood that they formed a very useful element. His vote on the subject would be influenced very much by what his right honourable Friend the Leader of the House might say on the subject of how these aldermen would be brought into the councils in these districts. He could not conceive why the Committee should object to the extension of the choice of aldermen beyond that to which it was apparently now restricted. Under the Bill as it now stood he was inclined to think that women were eligible as aldermen or "alderwomen," and if women were brought in there would be the possibility of a valuable addition to those bodies. If they could introduce in the election of aldermen some provision which would make them correspond to the different divisions of the Council which co-opted them, so that there should be no machinery for increasing or perpetuating the strength of one party, he thought the argument in favour of aldermen would be greatly strengthened. He should certainly be disposed to support 728 the Bill as it now stood, if the First Lord of the Treasury would give an assurance on one or more of three points, namely, (1) that aldermen should be eligible as aldermen, even if they had not the qualification necessary for being elected as councillors in the particular district for which they were willing to be chosen as aldermen; (2) that women should be eligible to be co-opted, as well as men as aldermen, and (3) that there should be some provision to secure in the choice of aldermen a representation proportionate in weight and numbers to the different sections of opinion among the elected councillors.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
My right honourable Friend behind me and the honourable and learned Member for Haddingtonshire on the other side have made an appeal to me, and perhaps it will conduce to an agreement on this subject if I were to say that there appears to me to be a very strong case for a wider qualification as regards both aldermen and councillors, and I shall certainly be prepared either to accept some of the Amendments on the Paper or to propose words myself carrying out that idea.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said the Member for Fife (Mr. Birrell) had declared that he could find no poet, from Shakespeare to Kipling, who had sung the praises of aldermen. Poetry was usually associated with the tender passion, whereas aldermen were more associated with unusual abdominal development and turtle soup. He (Captain Norton) had consulted the encyclopædia and he found nothing with reference to aldermen, except the fact that in Anglo-Saxon times they were persons of great importance, second only to the king, and acting sometimes as viceroys. But how had they fallen from their high estate. In attempting to give the suggested dignity to these new bodies, they would be clashing with the genuine aldermen of the City of London. The genuine alderman of the City of London was an individual of importance. He represented a great historical centre, isolated though it was from the remainder of London. Again, the new aldermen would be brought into contact with the aldermen of the London County Council, who, in their turn, represented 729 the élite, in some sense, of the citizens of London and a population of 4,000,000. Moreover, they were going to bring them in by a back-door, and if they did this if would bring about, in many instances, a continuity of bad policy. They had in London, in these new borough areas, a migratory population, and the men who might be selected as aldermen might be in another part of London before the next election came round. What an absurdity the creation of such a large number of aldermen to the degradation of the aldermen of the City and the aldermen of the London County Council. It would further lead to a distinction being drawn between aldermen and aldermen. They would have the unfortunate aldermen of the East End boroughs, since their position would not enable them to indulge in real turtle soup, known as Block turtle aldermen of as calf's head aldermen, and the result would be to degrade in the eyes of the English people the honoured title of alderman.
MR. ROULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
said that in his evidence before the Commission of 1894 he was opposed to aldermen for the new corporations which it was thought might then be established. Experience, however, had show that his judgment in that matter was probably wrong. At the time when he spoke the elections to the vestries were not held, as the elections to the corporations would be triennially. He did think it was most important that aldermenn should be elected for a term, in order that the whole body might not disappear simultaneously. Experience in the London County Council had know that aldermen who were left in at the time of elections gave great assistance when the new body came into operation. He must confess he was a little surprised at the languages used by the honourable Member for Bethnal Green when he spoke of the "select private door" which it was proposed to open to allow those alderman to come in; and the honourable Member who had just sat down spoke of it as a "back door." He would like to know what the London County Council would have been at this minute without that back door by which several gentleman who had been defeated at the polls were brought into the Council and several of them very worthily held seats. Among these 730 were Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Hoare, the well-known banker, and last, but not least, a gentleman whom everybody knew, Sir Algernon West. The honourable Member or Bethnal Green had spoken as if the aldermen were merely ornamental, and did not do much work; but that was not his experience. They did a fair share of the work, and at this moment Lord Welby was acting as Chairman, an office which was no mere sinecure, and certainly not a bed of roses. He hoped the Leader of the House would accept in some form the Amendment of the honourable Member for Chelsea, which would carry out the proposal of the honourable Member for Haddington, that the boroughs could be able to go out of their own area and bring in aldermen from the outside. If that were done the whole objection to aldermen would pass away.
§ MR. STUART
rose to disabuse the mind of the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House that what he had suggested, namely, that the aldermen should have no qualification in the boroughs, met with the general approval of Members on that side of the House. He believed that that would make matters worse and not better. The whole theory of the local government which the right honourable Gentleman was constructing was that the ratepayers should elect persons who were responsible to them, and who would have certain qualifications which would make them feel that where they spent the rates badly they would feel it in their own persons. That view extended throughout all the municipal government of England. They wanted to encourage local life in these districts, but if these small honours were to be given to those outside the districts, where was the argument for the intensification of local life? What they would encourage would be a species of dilettante aldermen from the West End who would come down to the East to indulge in a species of philanthropy. He was entirely opposed to aldermen. Nobody had ever asked for them; no local body that he knew of had asked for them. On the contrary, he had seen a letter addressed by the Secretary of the London Municipal Society to a lady who had asked whether the society would support women being made aldermen. The 731 answer was that they supported women being in the councils, but that they did not expect aldermen would be in the Bill at all. The Conference at Westminster did not suggest it. The Bill which was drawn up under the auspices of that Conference did not suggest it. Where, then, did the suggestion come from? They were altogether at a loss as to why London should be gifted with 400 or 500 alderme, who had never been asked for.
§ *SIR M. M. BHOWNAGGREE (Bethnal Green, N. E.)
said that in putting down the Amendment which stood in his name he had only tried to give expression to the feeling which existed in his constituency as to aldermen. The main reason which influenced many honourable Members as well as the public generally in their opposition to the adoption of the aldermanic principle was that persons who did not command popular approval, or who could not make their way into the borough councils by popular election, might get in by a side door. He must say that the concession of the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury did not meet the case. If they restricted the election of aldermen from among those who were elected as councillors, then the fears which underlay their objection to the clause as it stood would be removed. The concession that had been made was practically valueless, and if the First Lord of the Treasury did not make a further concession in the direction he had indicated he would go into the Lobby against the clause.
§ *LORD E. FITZMAURICE (Wilts, Cricklade)
said that the high authority of the memory of Lord Melbourne's and Lord Russell's Government at the time of the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act had been quoted in favour of the appointment of aldermen. It should be remembered that when the Municipal Corporations Bill was sent up to the House of Lords there were no aldermen in it. They were inserted by the House of Lords, and Lord Melbourne and Lord Russell's Government accepted that Amendment very unwillingly. He wished to suggest to the Committee that there was an answer to the argument from experience of the county councils and municipal boroughs, and that was that the powers given by this Bill to the 732 metropolitan boroughs were exceedingly small as compared to those given to the county councils and municipal boroughs. So far as he could make out, the new boroughs would have nothing whatever to do except to look after the streets in their districts, and some minor matters of sanitation. They would have nothing to do with main drainage, with tramways, with electric lighting, or with the large and most important class of business which municipal boroughs had to do with. Surely it was not necessary to bring in aldermen from the outside to discharge such duties as were conferred on the new boroughs. As to the argument of continuity, that might be obtained by giving the elective councillors a longer term of office, and doing away with the objectionable clause in the Bill by which a certain number were to go out of office every year. In 1888 the President of the Board of Trade hesitated a long time as to whether he would insert aldermen in the London County Council Bill or give the councillors a longer period of office. He always regretted that the President of the Board of Trade did not take the second alternative, and he suggested to the Government whether it would not be better to drop aldermen altogether and give to the councillors a longer period of office.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
said that the honourable Member who had just sat down had stated that the new boroughs would have nothing to do with electric lighting. That was not so. The present local authorities in different parts of London were getting Provisional Orders to carry out electric lighting in their districts, and the feeling was spreading every day that the local authorities should furnish the electric lighting rather than companies. He could assure the Committee that there would be plenty of work on which these boroughs could exercise their best intelligence. The new boroughs were, as far as possible, to have equal powers with those of the municipal boroughs in other parts of England. He could hardly imagine a mayor without aldermen; they might just as well have a bride without bridesmaids.
§ MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said the purpose of the Government in putting aldermen into the Bill was, it was alleged, to get the very best 733 men possible to take an active part in municipal life and work. But he thought that the Government would have attained that object without having aldermen upon the new borough councils. He knew that at the present time it was impossible to get good local men to contest vestry election. In the first place they detested the word "vestry," and the very fact of altering the name of vestry to borough council would induce better men to come out without having aldermen on the councils. The fact also that the chairman of the borough, council would be a mayor would induce the very best men in the East End of London to come out and contest an election. His chief reason for objecting to aldermen was this: At the present time Members of Parliament had to go through a very severely-contested election, and the same applied to the members of the London County Council. They all knew by experience that a contested election meant worry, anxiety, sleepless nights, and considerable expense; but if aldermen were to be retained in the Bill, the first duty of those who had undergone all the worry, anxiety, and expense of a contested election would be to elect a number of aldermen who had taken no part in the worry, anxiety, and sleepless nights, nor even in the expense, and these aldermen would come in and take a position which was supposed to be more dignified than that of the councillors. He was inclined to say that if gentlemen aspired to dignity they ought to take some share in the responsibility in securing that dignity, and if any men were entitled to dignity they were those who had gone through an election contest. They had been told that the London County Council was greatly indebted to certain of the aldermen on that Council, although these men had been defeated at the polls. That might be true. As for their taking a fair share if the work, they might attend on the Tuesdays, but the municipal work of London was not done at the general meetings on Tuesdays, but in the committee-room; and if the attendances of the aldermen, as compared with those of the councillors elected under responsibility to their constituents, were analysed, it would be found that the aldermen were very low down in the scale as far as real work was concerned. He 734 thought the honourable Member for Chelsea could tell the House what work he had himself seen in the committee-room as an alderman. It had been said that it would have been a great loss if certain gentlemen like Mr. Dickinson, who were defeated at the polls, had not been chosen for the Council. But it did not follow that if these gentlemen were defeated at the polls at one election London would have lost their services unless they had been chosen as aldermen. At the last General Election two leaders of the Liberal Party were defeated at the polls, but constituencies were found for them, and they were still Members of the House. The same thing would apply to men like Mr. Dickinson. No doubt, rather than lose the services of such an able man, another constituency would have been found for him in another part of London. The First Lord of the Treasury had stated that no movement had been made to get rid of the aldermen. That was quite true, but it did not follow that a principle which was good many years ago was good for to-day. Why, even Conservatives had turned Liberals, and Liberals Radicals. Now was the time and the opportunity when defects in the legislation of the past could be remedied, lie did not suppose for one moment that even Her Majesty's Government would have inserted aldermen in the London County Council Bill had they foreseen the result of the recent elections to the London County Council. If Her Majesty's Government were to speak the truth, he believed they very much regretted inserting aldermen in that Bill. There were no aldermen in the Local Government for Ireland Act, and he maintained that legislation which was good for Ireland was good for London, and that London was not entitled to any more privileges than Ireland. In conclusion, he had no objection to any man being on the borough councils provided he was duly elected by a constituency. He might be a Member of the House of Lords or any other House, so long as he was elected by and represented the people. Then he would have to bear the responsibility, and account to the people for his work. At the present day in the London County Council an alderman, although bearing a title higher than that of councillor, could please himself 735 as to what work he would do, and could stay away from the Council, for he was responsible to no one. He believed in everyone being responsible to his constituents. Because of that consideration, he trusted that the First Lord of the Treasury would delete aldermen from the Bill.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said he had no objection to the creation of aldermen on the new councils with the reservation, which he thought was a wise one, that they should be selected from amongst the councillors returned by the electors. He could not help thinking that the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury to allow aldermen to be appointed from outside the area would not work well in London. If they were elected from the councillors they would possess local knowledge, and would be trusted by the electors. The title was an honourable one, and it came down to them from Anglo-Saxon times. No doubt 500 appeared a large number of aldermen, but compared with the vast population of London, he did not think it was larger than the number of aldermen in Manchester, as compared with the population of that city.
§ *MR. J. SAMUEL (Stockton)
expressed his surprise at the alacrity with which the right honourable Gentleman, the Leader of the House had accepted the suggestion in reference to co-opted aldermen, which he thought was a dangerous and undemocratic principle. The aldermen in some of our municipal boroughs were very unpopular because they did not represent the ratepayers directly, and some of those boroughs had already adopted resolutions in favour of the abolition of aldermen. If the Committee adopted this suggestion, men who lived in the West End could become aldermen for Whitechapel and other places in the East End, where the council would become very unpopular in consequence. There was no comparison between the co-opted members of these boroughs and the County Council, because in the latter case they were all residents within the county of London, and were liable to the county rate. He did not think men should be elected to serve as aldermen and become responsible for the expenditure of money towards which they would not pay a single fraction. In the municipal 736 boroughs, at the present time, those elected as aldermen must be councillors or qualified to elect to the office of councillor. He protested against this suggestion being adopted, and he was more than surprised that it should have been made from the Liberal site of the House, because of its anti-democratic spirit. Although he was an alderman himself, he was opposed to the creation of any new aldermen by fresh legislation, and if they were to have aldermen they should be resident within the district, and be qualified to be elected as councillors. The idea of co-opted aldermen was against the spirit of the age, and, therefore, he hoped the Government would reconsider their position before adopting the suggestion that had been made.
§ *MR. H. H. MARKS (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said the honourable Member for Stepney had pointed out that the disadvantages which existed in the present system were due to the indisposition of the better class of men to take part in local affairs owing to the bad repute which attached to vestries, and he went on to say that this indisposition would disappear when the vestry gave place to the borough. He thought that argument was a very high and just commendation of the Bill before the House. The honourable Member went on to say that the better class of men who were not willing to take part in vestry work would be found quite ready to take part in borough work, because those who were not ambitious of serving in the office of chairman of the vestry would be anxious to serve in the office of mayor. The mayor would be selected from the aldermen, and if the best men were anxious to serve as mayor, they would also be anxious to serve as aldermen. Under those circumstances, what became of the suggestion that it would be difficult to get aldermen of the right class? He should support the retention of aldermen, but he objected to selecting them from outside the district. Such a proposal would create a class of carpet-bag aldermen, migratory aldermen, going from one part of London to the other in order, to give preponderance to either one Party or the other. It had been said that aldermen were not responsible to the people, but if they were chosen from the representative 737 men of the constituency, although they might not be directly responsible, the fact that they were elected from their own district would be a check and a restraint upon them in the performance of their public duties. They would, at least, be answerable to and dependent upon the opinion of the people among whom they live. But what became of that restraint if the aldermen came from a distance to serve in a district where they were not known, and where they had nothing in common with the residents of the borough upon whose council they served?
§ MR. BURNS (Battersea)
admitted that he shared some of the views of the honourable Member who had last spoken as to the disadvantage of having peripatetic aldermen, but he was going to vote against all aldermen, lock, stock, and barrel, from either the north, south, east, or west. The Member for St. George's-in-the-East said this Bill would attract a, better type of men than could now be secured. This Measure would reduce the number from 120 to 70, and if they brought in the co-opted person and the peripatetic aldermen from outside, they would find the humbler, industrious men who possessed local knowledge and took an active interest in the work, would be out-voted by vagrom aldermen from the West End. The local life of a district was not the kind of work which the aldermen of their provincial boroughs indulged in. The type of aldermen whom they had elected were men who had lived in the district and who had served for a long time as councillors, and consequently they possessed a minute knowledge of the local affairs of their district. The conditions of local life in London did not tend to the production of the same type of aldermen, because it was possible for a man to know nothing of Mile End, and yet know a good deal about drainage, markets, electric lighting, and other matters with which provincial councils had to deal. What they had to recognise was, that if local life was to be stimulated, it could only be done by attracting the best men in the locality themselves. If the peripatetic aldermen were encouraged he knew what it meant, for they would be used by the electric lighting companies to get Provisional Orders through. Those young 738 gentlemen of light and leading from the West End would not be understood in local life, but would be used by large metropolitan vested interests in pulling the councillors the wrong way, and their service would not be based upon local knowledge, but upon metropolitan interests perhaps of a suspicious character, which the local authority ought to have nothing whatever to do with. He thought this proposal was detrimentally opposed to the interests of local life, and was not for its improvement in any shape whatsoever.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
reminded the Committee that the East End of London had elected quite a number of distinguished men as County Councillors who came from other parts of London, and he did not know what fault the honourable Member for Battersea had to find with the votes of those gentlemen. He thought that was conclusive evidence that the people of the East End, far from resenting the inclusion of persons outside their division, were only too grateful when they could get persons of great influence and education to concern themselves in the administration of the local affairs of the East End of London.
§ MR. COHEN
said they were nevertheless people outside the division. He denied altogether the charge that the aldermen of the London County Council had neglected their duties on the committees of that body, and the honourable Member for Stepney was singularly unfortunate in the illustration he had chosen. Some of the best member and some of the most industrious men on the Council had been aldermen, and he was quite sure that if his right honourable Friend accepted the Amendment to be moved by the Member for Chelsea, which, while enabling aldermen to be members of the borough council, no matter where they resided, it would be conferring a very great boon, of which the council would take advantage.
§ MR. BILLSON (Halifax)
said the whole object of the Bill was that local wants should be properly looked after. Therefore it seemed most natural and proper not only that every councillor should be required to have a qualification in the 739 constituency, and that every alderman should not only have a similar qualification, but should also previously have been a member of the council itself. At a later stage he should propose that this be provided for in the Bill.
That the word 'aldermen' stand part of the clause.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 245; Noes 140.—(Division List, No. 103.)741
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F||Curzon, Viscount||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)|
|Aird, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. E.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton|
|Arrol, Sir William||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Donkin, Richard Sim||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Doughty, George||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George|
|Baird, John G. Alexander||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers||Kemp, George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doxford, W. Theodore||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Wm.|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Duncombe, Hon. H. V.||Kimber, Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Knowles, Lees|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn.G. W.(Leeds)||Egerton, Hn. A. de Tatton||Lafone, Alfred|
|Banbury, Frederick Geo.||Elliot, Hon. A. R. Douglas||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Cornwall)|
|Barry,RtHnAHSmith-(Hunts)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Fergusson,Rt.Hn.SirJ.(Manc'r||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Finch, George H.||Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)|
|Beach.Rt.Hn.SirM.H.(Bristol)||Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset)|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Fisher, William Hayes||Loder, Gerald W. Erskine|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Fison, Fredk. Wm.||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Lopes, Henry Y. Buller|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lorne, Marquess of|
|Biddulph, Michael||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bill, Charles||Folkestone, Viscount||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Forster, Henry Wm.||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Bolitho, Thomas Bedford||Fry, Lewis||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Bond, Edward||Garfit, William||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Boscawen, A. Griffith-||Gedge, Sydney||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Maclure, Sir J. William|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gibbs, Hn. A.G. H. (C.of Lond.)||McArthur, C. (Liverpool)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans)||McIver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||McKillop, James|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Gilliat, John Saunders||Marks, Harry H.|
|Butcher, John George||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Carlile, Wm. Walter||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gordon, Hon. J. Edward||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton|
|Cayzer, Sir Chas. Wm.||Goschen,RtHnG.J.(St.Geo.'s)||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Cecil, E. (Hertford, E.)||Goulding, Edw. Alfred||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Graham, Henry Robert||Monk, Charles James|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Moore, Wm. (Antrim, N.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||More, R. J. (Shropshire)|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Gretton, John||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gull, Sir Cameron||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gunter, Colonel||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Halsey, Thos. Fredk.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo||Myers, William Henry|
|Clarke, Sir E. (Plymouth)||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Heath, James||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Henderson, Alexander||Northcote, Hon.Sir H. Stafford|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Hill, Sir E. Stock (Bristol)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W.||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Hobhouse, Henry||Penn, John|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Holland, Hon. L. R. (Bow)||Percy, Earl|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Houston, R. P.||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Howell, William Tudor||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Howorth, Sir H. Hoyle||Platt-Higgins, Fredk.|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Curran, T. B. (Donegal)||Hughes, Col. Edwin||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt. Col. Edward||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Webster,SirR.E.(I.of Wight)|
|Purvis, Robert||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Pym, C. Guy||Smith, J. P. (Lanarks)||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Smith, Hn.W.F.D.(Strand)||Whiteley, Geo. (Stockport)|
|Renshaw, Charles Bine||Spencer, Ernest||Whitmore, Chas. Algernon|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson||Stanley, Edw. J. (Somerset)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Williams, J. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Stephens, Henry Charles||Willox, Sir J. Archibald|
|Round, James||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Russell,Gen.F. S.(Cheltenham)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.||Wodehouse,Rt. Hn. E.R. (Bath)|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Ryder, J. Herbert Dudley||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley||Wylie, Alexander|
|Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Yerburgh, Robt. Armstrong|
|Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles||Thorburn, Walter||Young, Com. (Berks, E.)|
|Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.||Tomlinson, W. E. Murray||Younger, William|
|Savory, Sir Joseph||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Seely, Charles Hilton||Valentia, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Sharpe, Wm. Edw. T.||Ward, Hon. Robt. A. (Crewe)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Shaw-Stewart, M.H. (Renfrew)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Allen, W. (Newc.-under-Lyme)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Asher, Alexander||Harwood, George||Price, Robert John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. Henry||Hazell, Walter||Reid, Sir Robt. Threshie|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hedderwick, T. Chas. H.||Roberts, J. Bryn (Eifion)|
|Austin, Sir J. (Yorkshire)||Holden, Sir Angus||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. B.(Clackm.||Holland, W. H. (York, W.R.)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Horniman, Fredk. John||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire)||Hutton, A. E. (Morley)||Samuel, J.(Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Billson, Alfred||Joicey, Sir James||Scoble, Sir Andrew R.|
|Birrell, Augustine||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Scott, C. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Brunner, Sir J. Tomlinson||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)||Shaw, C. Edw. (Stafford)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Kay-Shuttleworth,RtHnSirU.||Shaw, T. (Hawick Burghs)|
|Burns, John||Kearley, Hudson E.||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Burt, Thomas||Kinloch, Sir J. Geo. Smyth||Spicer, Albert|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kitson, Sir James||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)||Steadman, William Chas.|
|Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow)||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Strachey, Edward|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Lewis, John Herbert||Sullivan, D. (Westmeath)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lloyd-George, David||Tennant, Harold John|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lough, Thomas||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Crombie, John William||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Curran, Thos. (Sligo, S.)||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, D. A. (Merthyr)|
|Dalbiac, Col. Philip Hugh||McArthur, W. (Cornwall)||Trevelyan, Chas. Philips|
|Daly, James||McKenna, Reginald||Wallace, Robt. (Edinburgh)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||McLeod, John||Wallace, Robt. (Perth)|
|Davies,M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Maddison, Fred.||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hn. Sir Chas.||Maden, John Henry||Warner, T. Courtenay T.|
|Dillon, John||Mappin, Sir Fredk, Thorpe||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Weir, James Galloway|
|Douglas, C. M. (Lanark)||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Duckworth, James||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Morley, Charles (Brecknock)||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Woodall, William|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Woodhouse,SirJ.T.(Huddersf'd|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Brien, J. F. X. (Cork)||Woods, Samuel|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||O'Connor, A. (Donegal)||Young, S. (Cavan, E.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Gold, Charles||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Gourley, Sir E. Temperley||Pease, A. E. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Grey, Sir E. (Berwick)||Pease, J. A. (Northumb.)||Mr. Pickersgill and Mr. Lowles.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Philipps, John Wynford|
Another Amendment proposed—
In page 1, line 27, after the word 'councillors' to insert the words 'provided that no woman shall be eligible for any such office.'"—(Mr. Boulnois.)
That those words be inserted.
§ MR. BOULNOIS
said he might seem ungallant, but someone must have the courage of his convictions in this matter, and although it might be unpopular for him to take this line, if not in that House, at all events, out of doors, he felt very strongly on the subject, and hoped the House would take advantage of that occasion to come to some definite conclusion upon it. The reason why he thought women should not be allowed to sit on these new borough councils was that women were not adapted to the work which those new councils had to carry out. Much of that work would necessarily be distasteful to them. The elections to the borough councils would be conducted largely on political lines, and the proceedings of the councils would also be to a great extent political, and, in his opinion, it would be a pity to drag women into the turmoil of an election on political lines and cause them to live afterwards in a political atmosphere. It was all very well, and, indeed, quite proper that women should devote themselves to work on boards of guardians and school boards, where they could do excellent womanly work. If they once allowed women to sit on these new councils they would not be able to withhold from them the Parliamentary franchise nor the right to sit and to vote in the House. Women had not at present the right to sit on provincial corporations, but if they were once allowed to sit on these new metropolitan councils a similar privilege would have to be extended to women in the provinces.
§ SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said he agreed with the honourable Member in the discreditable circumstances of the contradictions of former Acts, which left in the hands of the courts of law matters which Parliament ought to have dealt with. He maintained that Parliament was now bound to settle this question in clear and emphatic language so that none of those doubts could possibly arise after- 744 wards which had arisen under other Acts of Parliament. The honourable Member said that women made excellent members of boards of guardians and of school boards, but they could never make suitable members for sanitary authorities. But the very powers which the honourable Member had read out to the Committee were merely the ordinary powers of sanitary authorities which existed not only in London, but throughout the whole of the sanitary authorities in the country, while women were found to be doing most excellent work as district councillors, and were exercising the whole of these sanitary powers throughout the rural districts of the country at the present time. Parliament had already given women the right of membership, not on town councils, but on other bodies exercising precisely similar functions. They were elected by popular vote to these bodies, of which they made most useful members; no question of principle was involved, and he was bound to ask the Committee to extend to London the same eligibility of free choice to the electors that they had extended towards the rural districts. He would give reasons why he believed that under the Bill as it stood at present women were eligible not only as councillors, but also for the higher offices of mayor and aldermen in the proposed metropolitan boroughs. The Government were relying on clause 2, sub-section 3, of the Local Government Act of 1888, under which a woman could not be chairman or alderman of a county council, applying to this Bill. But the Local Government Act of 1888, by section 2, sub-section 1, and section 75, applied the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882. By section 15, sub-section 1, of that Act, the mayor was chosen from "aldermen, councillors, or persons qualified to be such," and, by section 14, sub-section 3, an alderman must be "a councillor, or qualified to be a councillor." Thus, anyone could be mayor or alderman of a borough or chairman or alderman of a county who was "qualified to be a councillor" of the borough or county, and the only reason why a woman could not be chairman or alderman of a county council was that given by the judges when they decided that Lady Sandhurst was not qualified to be a councillor. He submitted that clause 2, sub-section 3, 745 could not make the qualification to be mayor or alderman of a metropolitan borough, depend on the qualification to be a county councillor, that was, the being "burgesses" or "county electors." There were no burgesses or county electors for metropolitan boroughs. The sub-section would be held to mean that, just as county chairmen and aldermen must be persons qualified to be county councillors, so the metropolitan mayors and aldermen must be persons qualified to be metropolitan councillors. This included women.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I rise on behalf of the Government, not to give any guidance to the Committee on the subject, but to say that the Government, as a Government, are incapable of giving any guidance upon it. As a matter of fact, when the Division conies it will be found that this Bench does not always go into the same Lobby, and there is a difference of opinion on the subject, which it has never been found possible to bring within the ordinary rule and compass of Party Divisions. My own view, for what it is worth, is, on the whole, against the Amendment of my honourable Friend. I entirely agree with him and the right honourable Baronet that the question should be put out of doubt one way or the other, and the Bill was introduced in its present shape, not because we supposed in that shape the question was decided in a clear and specific manner, but because we were distinctly of opinion that it was expedient not to lay down any line in the Bill for the reason I have already indicated, but that the House should be left to determine one way or the other what the position of women was to be on these future borough councils. The House ought to lay that down, one way or the other in the most explicit manner and ought not to leave it to the chances of the courts of law to interpret what the right honourable Gentleman has told us is a very obscure question. Of that I think there can be no doubt. If the state of the law with regard to the existing vestries had been similar to the law with regard to borough councils outside London, I confess I should have been disposed, on the general line adopted in drafting the Bill, to follow the example set by the borough, councils outside London, and I should not have 746 thought it necessary or desirable to make any change in the position of women in connection with them. But, as a matter of fact, Parliament has, to a, certain extent, prejudged this question. No longer ago than the year 1894 we deliberately resolved that women were proper persons to exercise the administrative functions which, in the main, are the very administrative functions which are to be given to these borough councils. If, therefore, we adopt my honourable Friend's suggestion we, rightly or wrongly, go back upon the decision to which we have already come, and this Bill would be so far a disfranchising Bill. I should be rather reluctant that this Measure should be in any respect a disfranchising Measure. We have to deal with a state of things already in existence and already working satisfactorily. I am rather reluctant, therefore, to make any change in the backward direction, just in the same way as I should have been rather reluctant to make any change in the forward direction had we found that the privileges of women in regard to London vestries had been identical with the privileges on these borough councils outside London. I am the more reluctant to make the change because I am given to understand that where women have been elected on vestries, the work they have done has been very effective and most beneficial; and it does seem rather hard that when the sex have been engaged in a particular work and have carried out that work in a satisfactory manner the House should take the occasion of a great reform to restrict their sphere of usefulness where their action has been so satisfactory' up to the present. That is the broad ground upon which, personally, I shall vote against my honourable Friend's Amendment. But he threw out one argument upon which I think I ought to say a word, though perhaps it is not a proper argument for this House to deal with in detail. My honourable Friend said that this was the thin end of the wedge, that the maintenance of women in the privileges they have already got in the case of the vestries would practically facilitate the extension of the Parliamentary franchise to women, and ultimately to the power of obtaining seats in this House. I do not argue whether it is right or wrong that women 747 should have the Parliamentary franchise, or a seat in this House, but I am inclined to think that the granting of the privilege of a seat upon these new municipal bodies is rather antagonistic to the claim of women to the Parliamentary franchise, and would rather militate against their obtaining that franchise than otherwise. The reason I think so is this. I am in favour of extending the Parliamentary franchise to women, but I have always felt that one of the dangers of that course is that upon the possession of the franchise women might found a claim for a seat in this House—a state of things which, personally, I should regard as absolutely intolerable. It is quite evident that every case in which the House having already granted the franchise to women adds to it the right of women to sit in the bodies for which they vote makes the argument which frightens moderate women suffrage advocates like myself all the stronger, and, while I do not think the House should be unnecessarily influenced by the effect of that argument, personally, I think the admission of women to seats on these borough councils does very much frighten the more timid and weak-kneed of the supporters, among whom I rank myself. I have not the slightest idea how the Committee will vote on this Amendment. I have not been able to form the slightest conjecture as to how the balance of opinion on the question goes within these walls. But if my honourable Friend is defeated, it may be some consolation to him to think that the effect of that defeat will probably be to weaken the support of many of those who are in favour of the extension of the political franchise to women. I do not think it is necessary for me to say more on the subject. As I have said, I have spoken simply as an individual, and in no sense as the representative of the Government, and the Committee must decide this important and interesting question without the advantage or disadvantage—I do not know which it is—of Government assistance.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
I am glad to find myself on this occasion in agreement with the First Lord of the Treasury, because in days gone by we had taken many different views—I do not know that either of us have changed our 748 minds upon the subject—as to the expediency of granting the Parliamentary franchise to women; and I take a note for further use of the important admission of the right honourable Gentleman that, though he is in favour of extending the Parliamentary franchise to women, he cannot contemplate with anything but horror the presence of women as colleagues in the House.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I think the position of the right honourable Gentleman in the matter was illogical, and I take a more logical view, I think. If women were qualified to vote, they ought to be qualified to be elected; and, sharing as I do the right honourable Gentleman's terrors in regard to the prospect of female competitors for seats in the House, I take the best course to prevent that state of things by opposing the extension of the Parliamentary franchise to women. That being so, I wish to say as to the Amendment, that I cordially agree with the right honourable Gentleman that it would be intolerable to have women sitting in this House. I think if it were carried it would be reactionary in its character, because it would dispossess women of a right they at present enjoyed, and which they exercised with advantage to the community; and believing, as I do, that it is most desirable and most useful in every way to have the influence of women in municipal work, I shall vote with what I believe to be the great majority of this House in favour of the Amendment.
§ EARL PERCY (Kensington, S.)
said that in his opinion, if the female element was imported into the borough council, the effect of that would be to make the Act absolutely ridiculous. It had been pointed out in the course of a discussion that the desire was to assimilate the new boroughs to existing corporations, and bring the whole system of the corporations of London into line; but in none of those corporations were women allowed to sit at the present time. There were only three broad grounds upon which the introduction of the female element into these new councils could be allowed. One of those reasons was 749 that by excluding them, women would he deprived of a right that they already possessed. A second was that they had some peculiar fitness for discharging the duties which they would have to perform, and the third was that suffrage and representation ought to go together. The third reason was not arguable, in his opinion, because it was not followed in practice; and he instanced the fact that the clergy were allowed to vote for Parliament, but that they were not allowed to sit in the House; and the same reason applied to the county councils. With regard to the first suggestion, that they would deprive women of a right which they at present possessed, that was an argument against most of the reforms that had been brought about during the past half-century. The only real strong argument for rejecting the Amendment was that women had sonic peculiar qualification for the discharge of municipal duties. He had great sympathy with that view, and he thought that women had performed very good work upon the vestries in the past in various ways, and if it were thought inadvisable to deprive them of the opportunity of rendering public service on the new councils, there was no reason why they should not be co-opted on various committees, such as the library committee and the public health committee. There were two very strong arguments against the direct election to the borough councils. He failed to see if women were elected to the council how they could prevent them from being appointed aldermen or mayors. The really strong argument in support of the Amendment was that direct popular election, whatever it might be in the case of men, was not the best method in the case of women to secure those best qualified for service. It might very well be that women who were well qualified to perform these duties, whose modesty would not permit them to go though the turmoil of a contested election, and those women would be disqualified altogether. If it was proposed to elect them as aldermen, he could see no reason why they should be directly elected. He hoped that the majority of the Committee would vote against the inclusion of women by direct elections in favour of their inclusion by the more indirect process of co-optation.
§ *MR. COURTNEY
was afraid that he was unable to agree with the noble Lord. It appeared to him that the noble Lord's speech was governed more by sentiment than by reason, and he hoped he would be forgiven if he said that the noble Lord in his remarks was too much the slave of logic on the one side, and a little wanting in experience of elections in which women took part on the other. The noble Lord had admitted that women had done good work in local affairs in the past, and he was not disposed to do anything to make their position in that work more difficult. He was not disposed to interfere with the organisation of school boards, still less would he interfere in any way with their election to boards of guardians, and in these matters it was absolutely essential that women should go through all the difficulties of a contested election, and that they should obtain the suffrage of their fellow citizens. Did not experience, therefore, dissipate the anxiety he had that the fair reputation of women would be injured by their participation in these contests in order to arrive at the work they did upon these bodies? The noble Lord admitted that he would not say a word against those who had gone through a contested election, and had been successful, and all that he could urge was that there were other ladies equally, or perhaps better, suited to fulfil the positions, who shrank from contests, and who would be unable to take a share in the municipal work if they were required to go through this ordeal. He claimed, when he had the privilege of submitting to the House an Amendment, that no woman should be disqualified from being chosen as an alderman, the vote of the noble Lord, and if by that vote his Amendment could be carried, they would secure places both for women who were capable of facing the contest, and for superior ladies who were unequal to the struggle of a fight. The noble Lord said if women were made eligible to serve as aldermen under this Bill, then it would have to make them eligible for the position of mayor. That was a question which, he thought, would have to be determined by utilitarian arguments drawn from experience. The advantage on the one side would have to be balanced with the disadvantages on the other. The noble Lord admitted 751 the expediency and desirability of making women eligible as aldermen by co-optation, but he disapproved of them being made mayors. That fact alone showed that his logic was faulty in assuming that because they were eligible for aldermen they must be eligible for mayors. There was one really good reason why women should not be eligible to be made mayors, and that was that a mayor was a justice of the peace, and had therefore totally different functions and totally different duties from those appertaining to either an alderman or a councillor. Looking at the matter logically, he thought that women should be eligible both as elective members and non-elective members of the new bodies. He was glad that this Amendment had been brought forward, because it was necessary that the matter should be cleared up. In the Bill as it stood he had good reason for believing that women were eligible to serve both as aldermen and mayors. In the Act of 1894 there was an express provision that no person should, by reason of sex or marriage, be disqualified from acting as a councillor, and if the provision under that clause as it now stood applied to aldermen as well, there was a strong presumption for the conclusion that under the Bill as it now stood no woman would be disqualified from acting as an alderman. He wanted to have the matter made plain, and he hoped that an opportunity would be given by-and-by of voting upon the question. He recalled the experience of 1894, when the Government of the day endeavoured to deal with this question, as the Government were doing now, by frankly declining to express their opinion on the subject. On that occasion a direct instruction was moved and carried against the Government that no person should be disqualified by reason of sex or marriage. The experience they had had since demonstrated the wisdom of that act. They need not go into any a priori arguments, nor need they talk about sentiment, or what women were fitted for according to the conception obtained from books. They had got experience of women in actual life, and they proved their own use, and they were now going to try and take away the capacity for work which they had already got, and which they had exercised so much to the good of the community and themselves. But they could 752 not take away what had been already given. And the real question was whether they should be eligible as aldermen as they were eligible under the Bill, and as they would continue to be under the Bill, as councillors. When the question came up again, he would look with confidence to the Committee agreeing by a large majority to the proposition that women should be made eligible to sit as aldermen as well as councillors of these new borough councils.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir K. FINLAY (Inverness Burghs)
said he did not rise to discuss the legal question involved as to whether women should be eligible to sit as aldermen and mayors, and he thought it would be an inexcusable waste of time for the Committee to argue the question. It would be absurd for the Bill to go out in a form in which any subsequent doubt could arise, and therefore it was not perhaps out of order, as this Amendment covered the whole ground of councillors, aldermen, and mayors, to say a few words with reference to those positions. With regard to councillors, they found the women in possession, and he was told that they had done very good work, and that they had done it well. If they had been starting afresh, he would say, perhaps, it would have been better that women should not be eligible, but he was not so strong upon that subject as to say that he should vote for their being turned out of positions which they had occupied for some years, and where according to the confession of everybody, they had done good work. The only objection he had heard to the service of women on these bodies was that of his noble Friend the Member for Kensington, who said it would be unbecoming that they should stand the racket of a contested election.
§ EARL PERCY
said what he had pointed out was that some women would be qualified to stand it, and others would not.
§ SIR R. FINLAY
said that objection would not apply to their being aldermen, if there was a power of co-opting aldermen. He thought his noble Friend's argument went to show that there was no substantial objection to 753 their being aldermen if they could come on by co-optation. He confessed that there was a certain grotesqueness in the application of the term "aldermen" to women, but after a few years he supposed they would get used to it. It would certainly be a little ridiculous if women could be councillors and could not be aldermen. He agreed with his right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin that different considerations were involved in the case of the mayor, who was a magistrate ex officio. It seemed to him that the simpler course would be to say that women should not be qualified to become mayors, although they should be qualified to be councillors and aldermen. Under all the circumstances, he intended to vote against the Amendment, but he certainly was not prepared to vote in favour of women being admitted to the rank of mayor.
§ MR. HALDANE
said he thought they would be well advised in keeping the controversy within the narrowest limits. There was one observation of the Solicitor-General with which he entirely agreed. Whatever view might be taken as to the legal construction of the Bill, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that women were in possession, and that the Amendment proposed to turn them out. The local government of London, as far as the field which they were trying to cover by this Bill was concerned, was at present to a very large extent in the hands of women. They sat upon the vestries, they took their part on the district boards, they sat upon the school boards, and if the Amendment were adopted they would be disfranchising women to a very large extent. What they had to decide was whether they would or would not accept an Amendment that would deter women from a number of the functions, they were at present performing, which was quite a different question from the much larger one of the franchise, which had been debated in the House with great diversity of opinion, and which seemed to involve still larger considerations than those which were before the Committee. What reason was there why they should turn women out of the functions they were performing? Had those functions 754 not been performed usefully? The work that had been done by women, on the school boards especially, had been of the very best description.
§ MR. BOND (Nottingham, E.)
said he held very strongly to the view that the Parliamentary franchise should not be granted to women, but he did not on that account consider that, women were, or should be, disqualified from performing certain public services, which, he thought, they could perform with great advantage to the community. He would be ungrateful if he, who had been a School Board member and had had the opportunity of seeing how zealously and efficiently lady members performed their duties, did not lift his voice and say that, for certain branches of public work, they were admirably qualified. With regard to sanitary matters, which his honourable Friend the Member for Marylebone seemed to think the delicate mind of a woman would never be brought to give its attention to, if his honourable Friend would carry his mind back to the details of his own household administration he would find that the greater part of the work was really guided and directed by the women of the household. Their public spirit carried them through whatever was disagreeable in connection with these matters, and they were admirably fitted to go into the tenement dwellings in London, and where anything was wrong put the law in motion and use their personal influence in getting the occupants of those dwellings to set matters right.
§ *MR. SPICER (Monmouth, Boroughs)
said it had been admitted in Committee that night that every position which women had already been elected to fill had been filled with discretion, judgment, and tact. This was not only the case in connection with local government, but there were a large number of other bodies where in recent years women had been admitted, and had been allowed to occupy positions, and where their influence had been distinctly good. The duties to which allusion had been made as unsuitable for women were, after all, simply analogous, to what 755 the great bulk of women were carrying on every day of their lives, and doing with great advantage to themselves and the community. They would be robbing the new boroughs of great opportunities of usefulness if they deprived the electors of the right of electing women. They wanted, whether they approved of every clause of the Bill or not, to draw out the best of the local life of the proposed new districts. He maintained that in the metropolis there were a large number of women who were qualified by their training to render very effective service. In fact, there were some great social evils in connection with the metropolis which would never be even minimised until they had more women on their local bodies, who would go into those matters and bring wholesome and healthy influence to bear. He believed that the advent of women to those municipal boroughs would not only lead to the strengthening of those boroughs, but would infuse life and wholesome influences which would be very much for their advantage. They would be depriving those bodies of a great source of usefulness if they deprived the electors of the right of electing women.
§ *SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said he thought the Committee were indebted to the honourable Member for Marylebone for enabling them to come to a clear decision on the question, instead of leaving it to the judges to say what they thought Parliament meant. Anyone who knew anything about the existing forms of local government in which women were able to take part knew that their services had been much appreciated. Upon what ground was it sought to place this disability upon women? Women were called upon, with other citizens, to pay rates and contribute to the burdens of local government, and why should they not be allowed to take their own part, not indirectly through them, but directly and through themselves, in the administration of local affairs? All the same objections had been raised to the right of women to vote in local affairs, but the vote had been conceded, for it seemed to him to follow as a corollary that they should have the right to administer local matters in their own districts when they 756 fulfilled the same conditions as men and had similar legal and proper qualifications. Objection had been taken that the work to be performed was not suitable for women, but the chief work was sanitation, and the source, the unit, of good sanitation was, after all, the home, the house in which women were the most potent factors in relation to such matters.
§ *MR. HUBBARD (Lambeth, Brixton)
thought it was impossible for honourable Members to say that this was only a matter of detail. It had been said that women were in the position of councillors at the present moment. But that was not the case. Women were allowed to sit on vestries, but not on municipal councils, and it seemed to him that there was a great distinction there. It was impossible for anyone who was cognisant with the organisation of the political bodies in the metropolis to ignore the fact that the new municipal bodies would, whether honourable Members liked it or not, be run on political lines. He entirely agreed with those honourable Members who had borne testimony to the excellent work that women had done as members of boards of guardians and other public bodies, and he was prepared to recognise that fact by allowing women to remain eligible by co-optation for any particular committee on which they might wish to serve, and on which their assistance might be specially useful. But it appeared to him that if the Amendment were rejected it would be regarded outside the House as a deliberate affirmation of the principle that women should enter political life. He was one who viewed with the utmost reluctance—he might say with horror—the intrusion of women into political life. Moreover, he did not think it right to impose on women duties which he did not believe the great majority desired to perform.
That these words be there inserted.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 101; Noes 127.—(Division List No. 104.)759
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)|
|Allhusen, AugustusHenryEden||Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Morton,ArthurH. A.(Deptford)|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Finch,George H.||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Arrol, Sir William||Flower, Ernest||O'Connor,Arthur (Donegal)|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Folkestone, Viscount||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Forster, Henry William||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Garfit, William||Percy, Earl|
|Barry,RtHnAH.Smith (Hunts||Gibbs,Hn.A.G.H.(City ofLond||Phillpots, Captain Arthur|
|Bartley, Gorge C. T.||Gibbs,Hon.Vicary (St.Albans)||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Beach, RtHnSir.M.H.(Bristol)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Priestley,SirW. Overend(Edin.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Green, Walford L.(Wednesbury||Purvis, Robert|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Cavendish, V.C.W.(Derbyshire||Hamilton,Rt.Hn.Lord George||Ritchie, Rt. Hon.Chas. Thomson|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. M.|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J.(Birm.)||Heath, James||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Chamberlain,J.Austen(Worc'r||Henderson, Alexander||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hill,Sir Edward Stock(Bristol)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Clarke, Sir Edward(Plymouth)||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Collings, Rt. Ron. Jesse||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Stock, James Henry|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Tomlinson,Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Knowles, Lees||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cox,IrwinEdwardB. (Harrow)||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Cornwall)||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Long,RtHn.Walter(Liverpool)||Williams, JosephPowell(Birm.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lorne, Marquess of||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Doughty, George||Macartrey, W. G. Ellison||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Marks, Harry H.||Mr. Boulnois and Mr. Hubbard.|
|Doxford, William Theodore||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert B.||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Allisen, Robert Andrew||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kemp, George|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Fisher, William Hayes||Kimber, Henry|
|Baird, John George Alexander||FitzGerald,Sir Robert Penrose-||Lafone, Alfred|
|Baker, Sir John||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn.A.J.(Manch'r)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Lea, Sir Thomas(Londonderry)|
|Bethell, Commander||Gladstone,Rt.Hn.HerbertJohn||Leese,SirJoseph F.(Accrington|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Leuty, Thomas Richmond|
|Bigwood, James||Gold, Charles||Lloyd-George, David|
|Burns, John||Korst, Rt. Hn Sir John Eldon||Lowles, John|
|Burt, Thomas||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lyell, Sir Leonard|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Gourley, SirEdwardTemperley||Macaleese, Daniel|
|Caldwell, James||Graham, Henry Robert||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||McArthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||McKillop, James|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Haldane, Richard Burdon||McLeod, John|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Harwood, George||Maddison, Fred.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hayne, Rt.Hon. Charles Seale-||MiddlemoreJohnThrogmorton|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Edw.T. D.||Hedderwick, Thos. C. H.||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H||Hogan, James Francis||Monk, Charles James|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Holden, Sir Angus||Morton,Edw.J. C.(Devonport)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Holland, Wm. H.(York, W R.)||Northcote, Hon.SirH.Stafford|
|Daly, James||Hornimam, Frederick John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Davies,M.Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Houston, R. P.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Denny, Colonel||Howell, William Tudor||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Dillon, John||Hutton, Alfred E.(Morley)||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Dunn, Sir William||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Dyke, Rt.Hn.SirWilliam Hart||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Woodhouse,SirJ.T(Hudd'rsf'ld)|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Woods, Samuel|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Thorburn, Walter||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Younger, William|
|Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Spicer, Albert||Weir, James Galloway||Mr. Bond and Mr. Lough.|
|Steadman, William Charles||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Williams John Carvell (Notts.)|
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interal—
Another Amendment Proposed—
Clause 2, Page 1, line 27, after 'councillors,' insert 'Neither sex nor marriage shall be a disqualification for election or appointment to any office under this Act.'"—(Mr. Lough.)
said it was agreed by everybody in the Debate just before the adjournment that words should be inserted here to make the meaning of the House clear in regard to the position of women in those boroughs which they proposed to create. He thought the wores were, perhaps, the best that could be suggested for that purpose, and they had also been put down on the Paper from the other side of the House by his honourable Friend the Member for Hackney. They raised the issue clearly, and dealt with women not only as councillors, but as aldermen and mayors, and as eligible for all appointments under the Bill, The honourable Member for Marylebone was treasurer of the London Municipal Society, which had officially stated that its policy was to include the eligibility of women to serve on municipal councils; and he thought it strange that the honourable Member should have moved an Amendment in the opposite sense. It had been pointed out that they might prejudice the question of the Parliamentary franchise for Women by deciding the issue in the Bill before the Committee. He did not think any attention should be paid to that fear. He did not suppose that those who opposed the Parliamentary franchise for women did so as much on principle as from expediency. There was another principle than expediency in giving women the full municipal franchise. He would like to remind the Committee that in the English Districts Councils Act of 1894 women were made eligible 760 for these boards, and even to be appointed chairmen of the boards, although a clause was inserted which precluded them from being justices of the peace when elected chairmen. If necessary, some such clause could be inserted in the present Bill. The Irish Local Government Act passed last year also admitted women practically to the same rights which they asked for them in London. He found that under that Act four women had been elected to urban district councils, and 27 on rural districts councils, and 82 as poor law guardians. Therefore, all the precedents were in favour of adopting the course he now suggested.
Attention having been called to the fact that there were not 40 Members present, the House was counted, when 40 Members being present—
§ MR. LOUGH
went on to say that several women had been appointed in Ireland as chairmen and vice-chairmen of councils under the recent Act. There were already 17 women serving on vestries and district boards in different parts of London, and he did not believe that there could be found in London 17 more efficient representatives. There were large departments of work in the new borough councils in which women could render the greatest possible service—for instance, in the development of baths and wash-houses, one of the most excellent institutions which the vestries had planted in London.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
did not think the honourable Member need devote himself to that part of the question. The Committee had already decided that women were eligible as members of the councils; the only question now was the form of the wores in which the decision of the Committee was to be put.
That those words be there inserted.
§ SIR R. FINLAY
said that, of course, as the First Lord of the Treasury has stated in the Debate on the last Amendment, this was not really a Party question in the ordinary sense of the word, and in anything he might say he was not speaking on behalf of the Government, but only expressing his individual opinion. The Committee had just negatived an Amendment which would have excluded women from holding any office whatever under the proposed Act, but it did not follow from that decision that women should be eligible for all these offices. So far as his own individual opinion was concerned, he agreed with the honourable Member for Bodmin that it was not desirable that women should hold the office of mayor. He thought that the office of mayor should be reserved for the male sex only, and he suggested that the Amendment should run—No woman shall be eligible for the office of mayor; but neither sex nor marriage shall be a disqualification for the office of alderman or councillor.
§ MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said that women might be very useful in regard to bath-houses and libraries, but he ventured to think that the new borough councils would be in rather an anomalous position according to English ideas if women were to be admitted to either the office of mayor or alderman. They had gone so far in America that he understood there was one corporation in which there was not a single man. He hoped that the Government, in the interest of their Bill, would take steps to prevent women being either aldermen or mayors, and he would move to exclude them from the office of alderman as well as mayor.
*MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
said he could not for the life of him draw a distinction between the position of women as councillors and as mayors. The principle adopted should be, Trust in the good sense and discretion 762 of the electors. If the electors were fortunate enough to have among them a woman fit to be a mayor, he did not see why Parliament should deny them the right to appoint her a mayor. Whenever a woman was fit to occupy a public office, or to discharge a public duty, the law should not interfere to deprive the woman of the opportunity of doing This was a Measure for the extension of Governmental rights, and it ought not to be made use of as a means of depriving women of offices in the new boroughs which they had already occupied in existing bodies.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
At the beginning, to insert the words 'no woman shall be eligible for the office of mayor, but:'"—(Mr. Herbert Robertson.)
§ MR. STUART
hoped the words would remain as they were in the Amendment proposed by the honourable Member for Islington, so as to leave all the offices open to women. One of the grounds on which they allowed women to remain as councillors, and therefore as aldermen, was that they were at present eligible as councillors. There was a general opinion expressed in the House that they should not disfranchise women, and that eligibility as a councillor carried with it the right to be an alderman. One reason why it was peculiarly suitable that women should be elected as aldermen was that there were many cases in which some women who could do good work on the councils would not go through the turmoil of an. election. He would remind the Committee that under the law at present women were eligible as chairmen of vestries and local boards, which were now about to be turned into borough councils. He quite admitted that a larger question was opened up by the fact that those who were mayors of the new borough councils would have a right to sit on the bench as justices of the peace. But under the present law, women, were excluded from sitting on the bench, although they were chairmen of the local bodies. The same exclusion could be carried into the new 763 borough council, leaving the women, although deprived of the right to sit as justices of the peace, to retain the right of taking the chair and acting as mayor. The Amendment asked that women should be eligible for the various offices under the Act, but they had very little specific information as to what women were doing on the London vestries and in offices other than those of aldermen and councillors. He did not know whether the Solicitor-General was aware that in the vestry of St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark, there was a lady inspector who had been appointed for measuring up and carrying out the registration among the lowest class of houses, and in seeing that the regulations known as the tenement by-laws were carried out. She had been at work for a couple of years, and the result, as far as he was informed, was that she had abundantly justified the action of the vestry concerned in appointing her. She had been very successful in the overcrowding cases, and she had been obliged to take only ten overcrowding cases into court, and in every case she obtained a conviction. He could not see why the position of mayor should not be filled just as well by a woman as by a man, especially when they saw the class of work the women on the vestries had been carrying out. Under exceptional circumstances a lady might be a most suitable chairman. In the parish of St. Martin's a lady was one of the most respected members of the vestry. She served on the general purposes, the parliamentary, the finance, and the lighting committees, and she had been appointed by the vestry as an overseer. There was also an extremely important committee upon which ladies had sat with great advantage called the reception house committee, the house being a building for those families who came from one-and two-roomed tenements while their rooms were being disinfected. The system used to be very hateful to the inhabitants, and was objected to just as much as the workhouse until it was conducted by the women on the vestry, who had made such arrangements now that it was readily used by the people concerned. Those were a few instances of the work of ladies on the vestries. In London there were something short of 20 women on the various vestries, and 764 in all cases he thought they had the complete confidence and esteem of those on the vestry.
§ SIR R. FINLAY
, interposing, said he thought the question of other officers was rather out of order in the discussion of the clause dealing with the constitution of the councils.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
The only question now before the Committee is the Amendment to the Amendment, that is to say, whether women may become mayors.
§ MR. STUART
argued that if the Amendment to the Amendment was before the Committee he would not be in order in supporting the original Amendment.
THE CHAIRMAN COMMITTEES
I have only put the Motion that no woman shall be eligible for the office of mayor.
§ MR. STUART
said if his remarks were not in order in reference to the other offices he would not continue his criticisms, but would resume them later on. In the vestries and district boards they had already admitted that the women were not to be struck, off, and he did not see why they should now exclude them from being mayors; but whilst leaving that point open let them attach to the position the same disability which was attached to it at present, namely, that they should not be justices of the peace by virtue of that office. He hoped the Amendment would not be carried, and that upon the new bodies this question would be left as it was at present.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
thought this was a most revolutionary House of Commons, because what they were proposing to do practically meant the changing of the whole system of election. They were now in the extraordinary position of debating whether a woman might be a mayor. It seemed to him most extraordinary that they should introduce such a proposal in this extraordinary fashion. He supposed if a woman was fit to be a mayor she was also fit to be a town clerk, a parish constable, or anything else they liked 765 to name. It seemed to him to be absurd to raise those questions. He hoped this Measure would raise the dignity of the position of the local authorities of the metropolis, but he thought it was bringing the question almost to ridicule to discuss seriously whether they were going to have lady mayors. They would next be asked to discuss whether Mr. Speaker should be a woman.
§ SIR J. WOODHOUSE (Huddersfield)
said they wore not going to decide whether women were to be eligible or not, because the Bill proposed to apply the same qualifications as the existing vestries already possessed, and under the law as it at present stood a woman might be the chairman of a vestry. Under these circumstances, what reason could there be for saying that because they set up a borough council and called the chief officer of that body a mayor the law should be altered? He respectfully submitted that the First Lord of the Treasury, by his own argument, had himself disposed of the question whether a woman should or should not be eligible to fill the chair of the council.
§ MR. LOUGH
stated that he fully recognised what had been said, and he did not want women to be mayors. What he did want was that anybody whom the councils thought fit to choose should be made mayor. He did not want to impose any disabilities upon them at all. Why should they make any restrictions with regard to women? This argument had already been laid before the House at considerable length, and he would not further discuss it beyond saying that on the whole it placed a disability on women, and therefore he could not accept it.
§ MR. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
said the honourable Gentleman asked why they should impose a disability on women. He contended that it would be absolutely impossible for a woman to conduct the business of a mayor in a municipality. As they were all perfectly well aware the work was one of great difficulty, and one which required great knowledge of men, and an acquaintance with all matters which came forward, and it would be 766 absolutely absurd to suppose that any woman could carry out such duties in these new municipalities. The object of this Measure was to improve the government of London, and they did not want to jeopardise the success of the whole Bill by making this new departure. It would, in his opinion, be impossible for a woman to discharge the functions of a mayor, for they must have a man for the office who could control and manage the whole body of the council.
§ COLONEL MILWARD (Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon)
wished to add one word in favour of the argument of his honourable Friend, and that was that he desired to know how far they were going that night. They were going to change the vestries of London into municipalities, and what had been proposed was being done by a side issue. They were proposing, in the course of a few minutes Debate, to make this enormous change in the law for the metropolis, and if they did so they would be called upon to make the same change in regard to the municipalities and county councils all over the country, and he was sure that that would not be a wise policy. It had been decided that women were not eligible for county councillors, and if they were going to make this great change, at all events they should give time to the municipalities and the county councils to consider what they were now proposing to do.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)
said the Debate which had taken place illustrated to a certain extent the disingenuousness of the whole aspect of this Bill. They had this Amendment before them to exclude women from being mayors, and they had been told from the opposite side that the proposal to allow women to be mayors was absurd, and that they ought to exclude the possibility of such an absurd thing happening by this Amendment. He submitted that if this was a perfectly absurd idea surely the Government who were setting up those authorities could trust the authorities themselves to settle the matter from their own point of view. If it was absurd, then those who voted for this Amendment were practically voting for 767 the proposal of the Government to set up authorities which they could not trust, and he submitted that the whole argument was one which marked the proposals of the Government as disingenuous.
§ MR. BAYLEY
contended that when once they established the principle that women were to be allowed to have seats upon these councils they must allow them to be aldermen, or alderwomen, whichever they like to call it. He hoped his honourable Friend would go to the Division, and if he did he should support him.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
said he desired to correct the Member for North Islington upon one point, for he had
§ stated that this Amendment handed over the government of municipalities to women. It did nothing of the kind, for it simply allowed the municipalities to exercise their own discretion, which the honourable Member desired to deprive them of.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
held that whoever might be the candidate for the mayoralty, the council themselves were the best judges whether or not a woman should be selected.
That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 179; Noes 77.—(Division List No. 105.)769
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W. R.)|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Donelan, Captain A.||Howell, William Tudor|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Donkin, Richard Sim||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Doughty, George||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Doxford, William Theodore||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch'r)||Drage, Geoffrey||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George|
|Balfour,RtHnGeraldW.(Leeds||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Kemp, George|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Fardell, Sir T. George||Kimber, Henry|
|Barry,RtHnAH.Smith-(Hunts||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Knowles, Lees|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Finch, George H.||Lafone, Alfred|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Beach,RtHn Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Cornwall)|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Flower, Ernest||Lea, Sir Thomas(Londonderry)|
|Bethell, Commander||Folkestone, Viscount||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Forster, Henry William||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Bigwood, James||Galloway, William Johnson||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Garfit, William||Long, Rt. Hn Walter(Liverpool)|
|Bond, Edward||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Gibbs,HnA.G.H(City of Lond.||Lorne, Marquess of|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans)||Lowe, Francis William|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Lowles, John|
|Butcher, John George||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J.(Birm.)||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc'r||Gourley,SirEdwardTemperley||McArthur, William (Cornwall)|
|Chaplain, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||McKillop, James|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Green, Walford D. (Wednesb'ry)||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Clarke, Sir Edward (Plymouth)||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Marks, Harry H.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gunter, Colonel||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Collings, Rt. Hon Jesse||Hall, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Hardy, Laurence||Monk, Charles James|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Cox, IrwinEdwardB.(Harrow)||Heath, James||More,Robt.Jasper(Shropshire)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Henderson, Alexander||Morton, Arthur H. A(Deptford)|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hill, Sir Edard Stock (Bristol)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Curzon, Viscount||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Hobhouse, Henry||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Denny Colonel||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Pease,HerbertPike(Darlington)||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Percy, Earl||Seeley, Charles Hilton||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Webster,SirR.E.(Isle of Wight)|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Pollock, Harry Frederick||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Priestley,SirW.Overend(Edin.||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Williams, JosephPowell (Birm.|
|Provand, Andrew Dryburgh||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Pryce Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Wilson,J.W.(Worcestersh, N.)|
|Purvis, Robert||Stock, James Henry||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Pym, C. Guy||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Young, Commander(Berks,N.)|
|Renshaw, Charles Bine||Strauss, Arthur|
|Ritchie, Rt.Hn.Chas. Thomas||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Robertson, Herbert(Hackney)||Talbot,Rt.Hn.J.G(Oxf'dUniv||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Thorburn, Walter|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Baker, Sir John||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Balfour,RtHn.J.Blair(Clackm.||Harwood, George||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hedderwick,ThomasCharlesH.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hogan, James Francis||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Billson, Alfred||Holden, Sir Angus||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Horniman, Frederick John||Spicer, Albert|
|Burns, John||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Steadman, William Charles|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Caldwell, James||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen,E.)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Thomas,DavidAlfred(Merthyr)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Kinloch, SirJohnGeorgeSmyth||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Colville, John||Lawson,SirWilfrid(Cumb'land||Ure, Alexander|
|Cotton-Jodrell,Col. Edw.T. D.||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Walton,JohnLawson(Leeds,S.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Daly, James||Macaleese, Daniel||Williams,John Carvell(Notts)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||McLeod, John||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Maddison, Fred||Wilson,Frederick W.(Norfolk)|
|Dillon, John||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Woodhouse,SirJ.T.(Hudd'rsf'd|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morley,RtHn.John(Montrose)||Woods, Samuel|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Morton, Edw.J.C.(Devonport)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Moss, Samuel||Younger, William|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Yoxhall, James Henry|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Gold, Charles||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gourley, SirEdwardTemperley||Philipps, John Wynford||Mr. James Stuart and Mr. Lough.|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
Another Amendment proposed to the Amendment—
To leave out the words 'election or appointment to any office under this Act,' and insert the words 'the office of alderman or councillor,' instead thereof."—(Mr. Herbert Robertson.)
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment
§ Put, and negatived.
That the words 'the office of alderman or councillor' be added to the proposed Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment to the Amendment—
To leave out the words 'alderman or.'"—(Mr. E. G. Webster.)
§ MR. WEBSTER
said that the very term alderman implied a man, and did not apply to a woman, and although the House of Commons could do many things it could not change a woman into a man.
That the words 'alderman or' stand part of the proposed Amendment to the Amendment.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 124; Noes 155.—(Division List No. 106.)773
|Asher, Alexander||Gold, Charles||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Baker, Sir John||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Balfour, RtHnGeraldW. (Leeds||Graham, Henry Robert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Balfour, RtHnJ.Blair(Clackm.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Harwood, George||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Bigwood, James||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Billson, Alfred||Hobhouse, Henry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bond, Edward||Hogan, James Francis||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Holden, Sir Angus||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)||Spicer, Albert|
|Burns, John||Holland, W. H. (York.W.R.)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Burt, Thomas||Horniman, Frederick John||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Caldwell, James||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Thomas, Alf'd (Glamorgan,E.)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Jones,William(Carnarvonshire||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Kemp, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Kinloch, Sir J. George Smyth||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Colville, John||Lafone, Alfred||Ure, Alexander|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.,|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Wills, Sir Henry William|
|Dairymple, Sir Charles||Lough, Thomas||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)|
|Daly, James||Lowles, John||Woodhouse,SirJ.T(Huddersf'd|
|Davies,M.Vaughan-(Cardigan||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Woods, Samuel|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Macaleese, Daniel||Wylie, Alexander|
|Dillon, John||Macdona, John Cumming||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||McArthur,William(Cornwall)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Dunn, Sir William||McKenna, Reginald||Young, Commander(Berks, E.)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||McLeod, John||Younger, William|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Maddison, Fred||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Monckton, Edward Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fry, Lewis||Monk Charles James||Mr. Herbert Robertson and Mr. W. F. D. Smith.|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Morley,Rt.Hn.John(Montrose|
|Gladstone,Rt. Hn.Herbert J.||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Moss, Samuel|
|Acland-Hood, Capt, Sir Alex. F.||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Forster, Henry William|
|Allhusen, Augustus H. Eden||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Garfit, William|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Gibbons, J. Lloyd|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cornwallis,Fiennes StanleyW.||Gibbs,Hn.A.G.H.(CityofLond.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Cox, Irwin Edw. B. (Harrow)||Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Giles, Charles Tyrrell|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cruddas, William Donaldson||Gilliat, John Saunders|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Godson, SirAugustusFrederick|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Davenport, W. Bromley-||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Barry,RtHnAH.Smith-(Hunts||Denny, Colonel||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Goschen,RtHnG. J. (StGeorge's|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Donelan, Captain A.||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Beach.Rt. Hn. SirM. H. (Bristol||Donkin, Richard Sim||Green, WalfordD.(Wednesbury|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Doughty, George||Greene,HenryD. (Shrewsbury)|
|Bethell, Commander||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Gretton; John|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Doxford, William Theodore||Gunter, Colonel|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Drage, Geoffrey||Gurdon,Sir William Brampton|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Butcher, John George||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Hamilton, Rt.Hn.Lord George|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Hardy, Laurence|
|Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.||Finch, George H.||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Chamberlain, J.Austen(Worc'r||Fisher William Hayes||Heath, James|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Henderson, Alexander|
|Clarke, Sir Edw. (Plymouth)||Folkestone, Viscount||Hill, Sir Sdw. Stock (Bristol)|
|Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J.||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Howell, William Tudor||Milward, Colonel Victor||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Moore, Arthur (Londonderry)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Sidebotham, J.W. (Cheshire)|
|Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.)||More, Rbt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Jessell, Capt. Herbert Merton||Morton Arthur H. A. (Deptford)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham(Bute||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Stock, James Henry|
|Kimber, Henry||Myers, William Henry||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Knowles, Lees||Nicholson, William Graham||Strachey, Edward|
|Lawrence, Sir E.D.(Cornwall)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Strauss, Arthur|
|Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Talbot,RtHnJ.G.(Oxfd Univ-|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Parkes, Ebenezer||Thorburn, Walter|
|Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset)||Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Percy, Earl||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Webster, Sir R. E. (IsleofWight)|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Pierpoint, Robert||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Lowe, Francis William||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pollock, Harry Frederick||Williams, Jos. Powell (Birm.)|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Purvis, Robert||Wilson,J.W.(Worcestersh.N.)|
|McKillop, James||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Maple, Sir John Blundell||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Marks, Harry H.||Russell, Gen. F. S.(Cheltenham||Mr. R. G. Webster and Mr. Boulnois.|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
That the words 'the office of councillor' be added to the proposed Amendment to the Amendment
§ Put, and agreed to.
That the words 'no woman shall be eligible for the office of mayor, but neither sex nor marriage shall be a disqualification for the office of councillor' be here inserted.
§ MR. T. H. ROBERTSON
said the question had been reduced rather to nonsense, and he suggested that the whole Amendment should therefore be negatived.
§ MR. DILLON
said he did not think the British House of Commons had ever appeared in a more ridiculous light. A noble Lord at an early stage in this absurd discussion brought forward as his chief argument against the admission, of women to these so-called boroughs—they were really district councils—that lie did not desire to see them subjected to the disagreeable incidents of a popular election. That was recognised by most Members of the House as the strongest objection to the admission of women on the borough 774 councils. But what had the House of Commons now done? It had closed the one door by which women could get on to those borough councils without submitting to the unpleasantness of a popular election. In the whole history of the House of Commons nothing more idiotic had ever been done. If women were qualified to discharge the proposed functions, as had been proved, then the House of Commons had stultified itself by saying that they should not be allowed to act as aldermen when it had already decided that they might act as councillors. One speaker the other night thought he had summed up the question when he pointed out that if they had a woman as mayor she might require to have a mayor-consort. Was it so very ridiculous that there should be such a thing as a mayor-consort in a country that was proud to live under a Queen whose duties were shared by a Prince-Consort? When the woman question was introduced the House of Commons seemed to lose all touch with logic, reason, and common-sense.
§ MR. DUNCOMBE (Cumberland, Egremont)
quite agreed that the House of Commons had never before appeared so ridiculous, but that was because of the endeavour to place women in a position in which they ought never to be found.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said he agreed with what had been said by the two speakers who immediately preceded him. Although those gentlemen differed in their conclusions they were, he hoped, agreed in condemning what had happened during the last two hours. He did not wish to exasperate the position or intensify the sense of absurdity of what had happened. The matter was perfectly explicable. They had a Debate rather early in the evening and then a Division about half-past eight upon an Amendment altered at the last moment, and as regarded which it might be said that a great many Members did not quite understand what they were voting upon.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said that at any rate they had a Division and now they had had a further Division, the numbers taking part in which showed how considerable had been the increase in the course of the last ten minutes. Out of those who came in to add to the Division how many knew what they were voting about? He ventured to say the real issue was lost in the confusion. Those who came in at the last moment were quite uninformed and hurried to the Lobby one way or other according to chance. All he ventured to suggest at that moment was this—this was not the the last word to be spoken on the question in relation to the Bill. When they came to the next stage they might hope to have an issue, clear, distinct, and definite. They would then be well prepared; before then they should know exactly what they were going to vote for, and he for one would be quite prepared to face the verdict of the House of Commons when the issue was so presented. He would only suggest at that moment that they might agree with the conclusion, however lame and impotent some of them might think it to be, at which successive votes had arrived, and then await the next, the inevitable stage, when Members would be able to understand the question that would have to be voted upon with a clearer appreciation of what was before them, and when they might hope to have a real expression, not merely of 776 the votes, but of the mind of the House of Commons.
§ MR. BURNS
said two hours ago the House of Commons was almost unanimous that women should be councillors. They were less agreed that women should be aldermen, and they were less agreed still about women being mayors. What did they find now? They found that women as mayors had been eliminated, and women as aldermen had been rejected. He sincerely wished that the House of Commons would not make a fool of itself any longer. It would have been better to have voted upon a clear issue, and to have stated boldly and frankly that, in the opinion of the House of Commons, women were unfit to be mayors, aldermen, or councillors. Not having the courage to do that the House of Commons was now in an ungracious and ungallant way, going to secure by a temporary majority what the mind of the House of Cormmons was directly opposed to a few hours ago. If they did not like women in the sphere of municipal politics, honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House who mostly took this view should be logical, and have the boldness to say they would also deny them the right of election on councils at all. He appealed to the House of Commons to recognise that they were shutting the door to some of the best citizens that they had in that vast city. In many districts in the East End, where one-room tenements prevailed, it was not only not proper, but it was not decent at certain times for male councillors to enter. In regard to disorderly houses, and in regard to many questions of public health administration, women were not only better suited than men, but in many cases they were the only persons qualified to carry on the work. The House of Commons had decided that women should not be dragged through the turmoil of a political struggle, but by being deprived of the right to be aldermen they were subjected to that turmoil. Women were already in the turmoil of political life. What was the Primrose League? Women were now used as the auxiliaries of men in political elections in a way that did them more harm than if they were on local vestries. At the last General Election 777 one would have thought that Battersea was the Court of King Arthur, and that he was Sir Galahad with all the noble dames anxious to help or oppose him. Women were useful to grind the axes of political mediocrities or to help titled nobodies to oust men who devoted their time and interests to municipal life; but when they asked that women should take their proper place in local municipal life they were told that they were degrading English womanhood. That was not true. The curse of English municipal life was that women did not take that interest in local life they ought, but if they were given an opportunity of voting for the ablest of their sisters their apathy and indifference would be broken down. Women had never been identified with jobbery or maladministration, and he asked the House of Commons, on behalf of hundreds of wealthy women with leisure, means, and inclination, who only wanted the opportunity to help their poorer sisters, to rise to its true level and to put underneath the young bloods who, to the permanent belittlement of women, wished to prevent them taking a part in local municipal life.
§ SIR. E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
said that, much as he regretted the difficulty the Committee had got into, he did not think that it had fairly exposed itself to the affronts offered to it by the honourable Member for Battersea, and he thought he would be showing more respect to the Committee if he left some of the honourable Member's observations absolutely without reference. But his right honourable Friend had made a much more serious and practical contribution to the discussion. He did not agree with him, however, that the Committee in the last two Divisions was unaware of the opinion it was expressing. He thought that the majority of the Committee was of opinion, and deliberately desired to express it, that municipal offices could not usefully be filled by women. He, for one, should be extremely glad if the Amendment were now withdrawn, and if the deliberate expression of the opinion of the Committee would be reserved until the Report stage, when there would be plenty of time to consider it. It was perfectly true that a very great deal of work in connection with the administration of affairs in London could best be done by women, 778 but the women who could do that work best and with most devotion and sincerity were precisely the women who would never stand as candidates at the elections, and who had no desire to hold official positions connected with administrative work. There was plenty of opportunity for all local bodies to obtain for themselves the loyal, self-sacrificing, and devoted work of women. They should lose nothing whatever by keeping to the opinion which he thought the majority of the Committee strongly entertained, namely, that it would be a great mistake to permit the candidature of women at municipal elections. He sincerely hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn in order that the matter might be considered on Report.
§ MR. HALDANE
said that the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth had spoken in a very reasonable and temperate way in asking that the ultimate decision of the question should be deferred. He would, however, remind the Committee that there was much more in the Amendment than the mere question of transferring new powers to women. Clause 4 abolished vestries and district boards, but on those bodies women were doing, and had been doing for many years, most difficult work, and it appeared to him that if the Amendment were carried it would not only shut out women from the new councils, but would deprive them of the opportunity for work which they had exercised for the good of London. Women had a record of splendid work on school boards, vestries, and district boards, and they ought not to be deprived of the positions they at present occupied to the great advantage of their fellow citizens. He thought it would be well that this question should be reconsidered, and he entirely reciprocated the sentiment of the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth, that the Amendment should be withdrawn until the Report stage.
§ *MR. MARKS (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said that the honourable Member for Battersea, in his extreme enthusiasm, had allowed himself to be carried away some considerable distance from the point. The honourable Member, he was sure unintentionally, misled the Committee with reference to the vote on the Amendment of the 779 honourable Member for West Marylebone. He said the Committee dealt with it almost unanimously, but it was carried only by a majority of 26. He also said that the vote was given under a misapprehension, but in his opinion the issue was perfectly well understood. It had been contended in the course of the Debate that the bodies which the Bill proposed to create should not be called boroughs. He quite admitted they should not be called boroughs unless they were going to be boroughs. If they were to be then the restrictions which applied to other similar bodies should also apply to them. In the provinces there were no lady mayors or lady aldermen or lady councillors. If they are given a constitution out of keeping with the existing boroughs there will be something more than a colour of foundation for the statement that they were never intended to be boroughs in fact, but were called by the name in order to conciliate a certain body of opinion, and to gild a pill not otherwise easily swallowed.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
As I have already stated, on the question of substance the Government can give no guidance to the Committee, and I am not sure that the Committee is not all the better for it. On the question of form, I do not think there is anything to be gained by prolonging this discussion. It is clear, after the last Division, that the real decision on this subject cannot be arrived at at this stage, but must be reserved for the Report stage, because whatever the decision of the Committee on the Amendment now before us may be, it is impossible for the Bill to stand as it is, for the reason that it leaves the decision whether women can be aldermen to the decision of a court of law. Manifestly that cannot stand. If we mean to exclude women, we must definitely my that women are not to be mayors, or aldermen, or councillors, or we may say that women may be councillors but not aldermen or mayors, or that they may be councillors and aldermen but not mayors. Whatever we say, we must say distinctly, but by the last Division we have precluded ourselves from saying that on the Committee stage. It is obvious that with such a strong division of opinion the subject must come up again, 780 and after the last Division any further discussion on this stage cannot be final or conclusive, and cannot even help to a final and conclusive decision on the next stage. I should, therefore, earnestly suggest to the Committee either that the Amendment should be withdrawn, or that we should now divide on it. Perhaps some honourable Gentleman may object to its being withdrawn, but let the Amendment be either withdrawn or let us divide, as it is clear that any further discussion is really only a waste of time.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I am not surprised that the right honourable Gentleman has risen, because the Committee finds itself in a position of considerable embarrassment and, indeed, bewilderment. We quite understand the reservation that the right honourable Gentleman makes on behalf of the Government as to the opinion of the Government on the merits of the question itself; but the right honourable Gentleman now proposes that we should not continue the discussion any longer, and that we should divide on the Amendment, or allow it to be withdrawn. I would venture to make a strong appeal to the Committee to follow the latter of these two alternatives. I think if we were to vote in our present frame of mind we should do so with the knowledge and intention that our decision would be reviewed and possibly reversed at a future stage. If it is the general opinion of the Committee that neither side to the controversy would accept a decision come to now as final and definitive, then it would be much more dignified and a much more reasonable course to allow this Amendment to be withdrawn, and that we should postpone the whole question, without committing ourselves one way or the other to a later stage. I venture to urge this on the Committee from the perfectly impartial position of one who, being somewhat astonished at the strange regions into which the discussion of the Amendment has drifted, has not taken part in any of the Debates.
§ Amendment, as amended, by leave, withdrawn.781
In clause 2, page 1, line 28, to leave out 'an Order in Council under this Act,' and insert 'the London County Council.'"—(Captain Norton)
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
said that the greater part of the duties set forth in the section were now performed by the London County Council to the entire satisfaction of the areas concerned without friction of any kind. Moreover, those powers were inherited by the London County Council from the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the Council now objected to being deprived of those powers which they had successfully performed. The Council had put those powers into force in the City, and had reduced the wards in connection with the Board of Guardians from 94 to 50, with the entire concurrence of the Local Government Board, and with a. general acknowledgment that it was a step in the right direction. The Council also acted at Clapham to the complete satisfaction of all concerned, and was in the habit of dealing with the various wards of outlying vestries. Surely there could be no body better suited for the work than the County Council, which consisted of elected representatives from every part of London. It was proposed in the Bill to substitute the Privy Council for the County Council, and he thought he was justified in asking what the Privy Council in that instance meant. He presumed it meant that a Committee of the Privy Council would appoint Commissioners to carry out the work. He thought they were entitled to know whom they were to be. Were they to be briefless barristers, roving from one part of London to another, or were they to act collectively. There would be no appeal from the decision of such Commissioners, though there would be an appeal from the County Council's decision to the Local Government Board.
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause.
§ SIR R. FINLAY
said that the Committee had already decided that the Committee of the Privy Council should determine the question of boundaries, and the proposal of the honourable and gallant Member was that when 782 the new boroughs were set up they should be divided into wards by another authority. He put it to the honourable and gallant Member that that was an extraordinary proposal to make. If the Committee left it to an Order in Council to fix the boroughs, they might surely leave it to the same authority to decide how the boroughs should be divided into wards. The Amendment could not possibly be accepted.
§ MR. BUXTON
said there was a great deal of force in what fell from the Solicitor-General, but he thought there was some force also in the Amendment. When they came a little further on in the clause the Committee would then have an opportunity of discussing whether, where boundaries had to be altered, greater elasticity should not be given. He asked his honourable and gallant Friend not to press his Amendment now, but to move it later.
§ MR. LOUGH
thought that the Solicitor-General did not entirely appreciate the argument of his honourable and gallant Friend. The Amendment did not really conflict with the original setting up of the boroughs by Order in Council. What the Amendment referred to was not the constitution of the boroughs, but that the internal arrangements should be left to some permanent authority familiar with local details. That was really the point in vogue. An Order in Council was very well to do definite work, but it did not continue in existence, and it would not be ready to adjust necessary internal boundaries.
§ LORD E. FITZMAURICE
asked what was the intention of the Bill as it stood. The Committee decided, rightly or wrongly, that the Privy Council should have the fixing of the boundaries. He quite agreed that the authority which in the first instance fixed the boundaries should be allowed to settle the wards, but he could not make out from the Bill what was proposed with regard to any subsequent alteration that might be rendered necessary.
§ SIR R. FINLAY
said he would be rather anticipating a discussion which would arise later by entering into that subject at present. The Amendment had reference to the best authority 783 for dealing with alterations after the boroughs had been constituted, and that would be a matter for subsequent consideration.
§ MR. ASQUITH
There is in the Bill no provision or machinery for subsequent alterations. I would, however, recommend my honourable and gallant Friend to withdraw his Amendment, but I reserve the right to make or support suggestions on the point later.
§ CAPTIAN NORTON
said he withdrew his Amendment on the understanding that Amendments further down would not be prejudiced.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 2, page 1, line 29, to leave out from 'wards' to 'and' in page 2, line 1, and insert 'each of which wards shall elect one councillor.'"—(Mr. H. Robertson.)
§ MR. H. ROBERTSON
said that the Amendment remedied two defects. He felt convinced that if the Government could see their way to divide the districts into single-member wards there would be much more interest in local elections, and each member would have a greater interest in the part of the constituency which he represented. The acceptance of the Amendment would also do away with the election of a third of the councillors every year, and would compel triennial elections. At present they had vestry elections, elections for guardians, elections for the school board, county council elections, and usually a Parliamentary election thrown in, and he was quite convinced that that was one of the reasons which prevented people taking an interest in them. He hoped the First Lord of the Treasury would see his way to have elections only once in three years. He also hoped that the number of councillors in each particular ward would be decreased.
§ SIR R. FINLAY
said he did not propose to enter into the question as to whether elections should be held triennially or whether a third of the councillors should be elected every year, as that would be directly raised by another Amendment. The proposal in the Amendment was that each borough should be divided into as many wards as there were members of the council. 784 Surely that was a startling proposal. If there were 50 or 60 councillors in a borough it meant that number of wards. He would suggest that the proper way to deal with the question was to leave it to be dealt with after local inquiry by an Order in Council.
§ MR. STUART
said that in one of the boroughs which they were creating—Hampstead—there were 10,000 rated houses and 54 councillors, which gave a little over 200 rated houses to each member. In Chelsea there were 12,300 rated houses, which it would be found would give about 240 rated houses to each councillor. To have such a small electorate as that was not a reasonable or hopeful method of procedure.
Another Amendment proposed—
In page 1, line 30, to leave out from the word 'ward' to the word 'regard' in page 2, line 1.'"—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)
§ MR. BUXTON
said that the object of the Amendment was to raise the question whether the whole of the members should go out triennially or only a third every year. It was not a Party question, or a question involving principle. It was purely a question as to the best method by which the municipalities could carry out their work efficiently. The proposal in the Bill was taken from the Municipal Corporations Act. Since that Act was passed there were other Acts passed in which the subject had been dealt with, and the tendency of the House of Commons since had been in the opposite direction. Under the Education Act of 1870 the whole of the members were to be elected for three years. In the Local Government Act of 1898 the House of Commons again decided that it would be better for the County Council to go out every three years instead of having annual elections. What was still more significant was that, under the Act of 1894, guardians were allowed the option of having annual or triennial elections, and he believed, at all events as regarded London, that every single board of guardians adopted the triennial system. Only the other day the House of Commons, without discussion or opposition, gave the same option. The honourable Member for Hackney had well pointed out that there were 785 too many elections in London, with the result that the amount of public interest shown in them was very small. The ratepayers no sooner got out of one election than they were in the midst of another, and the apathy manifested on the part of electors at election times could be traced to the multiplicity of elections. It was needful that some method should be devised to reduce their number. In 1894, for instance, there was a Parliamentary election, a school board election, a county council election, the guardians elections, and the vestry elections. He was aware that the arguments used in favour of the present system was that it conduced to continuity of policy, but this continuity of policy not infrequently meant opportunities for jobbery. The ratepayers should have the opportunity to reverse this continuity of policy on occasion. If honourable Members would take the trouble to read the Debates which took place on the County Council Act of 1888, they would there find that the arguments used by the Government in favour of aldermen was that by their appointment continuity of policy would be secured. Everyone would admit that in the majority of local bodies there was always a sufficient number of the older members left after the election to carry on that continuity of policy which was to the advantage of the locality. Moreover, the existence of aldermen would secure sufficient continuity it had been estimated that the official expenses in connection with the whole of the elections would be something between £10,000 and £15,000. The probabilities were that it would be considerably larger, and in addition there were, of course, the expenses of the candidates themselves. On the ground, therefore, of the saving of cost, both to the rates and to the candidates, he submitted that triennial elections would be an improvement. In moving his Amendment he trusted the Government would treat this as a non-Party question.
§ *MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
opposed the Amendment, but with diffidence, as he felt that it raised a question which it was very difficult to come to a conclusive opinion upon. He admitted the strength of the arguments in favour of triennial elections. He could not con- 786 trovert those arguments, but there were other arguments which, he submitted, in their combined weight rather told in favour of annual elections. If the County Council election took place each year they might get a smaller number of electors to come to the poll, but they would not get a smaller number of electors who were interested in the questions involved. For one thing, if they had a triennial election there was great temptation to make it a means for political propaganda on both sides, and for political agencies to bring their forces to bear and to raise larger issues than ought to be voted upon at these local elections. Again, suppose there was some great wave of popular feeling on one particular question. Surely it would be a pity to get rid of the whole body on account of it. It would be better that in each year any particular subject should be discussed and its value gauged, and that only one-third of the body should be affected by the discussion. The result of triennial elections in the selection of aldermen was another important consideration. There would be much more probability of their being chosen for Party reasons. Triennial elections would give a great impetus to outside agencies and political cries and discourage the quiet men from standing. The County Council election had already become practically a political one, and he did not want the political element to be imported into the elections for the municipal councils. No doubt if the elections were triennial a larger number of voters would be got to the polls, but they would not be got there by legitimate means or for proper purposes, and in that way great damage would be done to that which they all should have at heart—namely, the return of the best men, irrespective of Party politics.
§ MR. BANBURY
said he could not agree with his honourable Friend who had just spoken. He supposed the object both sides had at heart was to promote local feeling, and the question was, what was the best way of doing it? London was at present overwhelmed with elections, and when a voter was asked to go to the poll he invariably replied, "I have no time; I am always voting." By annual elections the apathy of the electors would be perpetuated, but 787 with triennial elections there would be some chance of getting them to take an interest in local matters. There would be no difference in electioneering motives if the elections were triennial. In the majority of the constituencies the annual elections were always governed by politics.
§ LORD E. FITZMAURICE
reminded the Committee of the discussions upon this point in connection with the Bill of 1894. That Bill went backwards and forwards several times between that House and another place, and the arguments in favour of the retirement of all the members of a council after three years were felt to be so strong that a compromise was accepted, and power was given to the councils to decide the point themselves. In the county with whose administration he was connected—Wiltshire—every rural council had adopted the privilege given to them, and they did so at once, and with practical unanimity. He believed that very largely the same state of things prevailed in other counties. That, surely, was a strong proof that retirement of the whole body of members every third year was an exceedingly popular and democratic measure. A good deal had been said about continuity, but the whole argument on that point told in favour of the Amendment. Anyone who had to do with the administration of affairs in rural and urban districts would agree with him that when one-third of the body retired every year they always had the terror of the November election dangled before them, and large and absolutely necessary schemes for the benefit of the locality were constantly liable to be wrecked owing to the enormous temptation to postpone them until after the election; whereas, if the election was triennial—he wished it could be for five years—the candidates would be able to put a policy before the whole of the electors, and, if returned, carry out that policy without obstruction and opposition. The argument with regard to the cost of the elections was also an important one. It cost almost as much to return one-third of the members as it did to return the whole body. The urban council of which he was a member, by the adoption of triennial elections, had 788 saved the ratepayers a sum equal to a rate of a halfpenny in the £. He thought all the arguments were in favour of his honourable Friend's Amendment.
§ THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN, Birnmingham, W.)
I have listened with astonishment to the speech just delivered. The noble Lord says that under the Bill we are going to make an appeal every year to the electors, and he asks us to think what the result will be. The result will be that the electors will have an opportunity of criticising and pronouncing upon the policy of the local authority once a year, and he complains of that.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
Then what on earth does the noble Lord mean by popular local government?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES
No, it is not, but I understand a great man honourable Members opposite are in favour of its being elected every year. It does seem to me a most striking contention on the part of the noble Lord that this proposal is to be rejected because it gives the people an opportunity of pronouncing upon the work of the local authority once in a year. There are two other objections made against the proposal, but, having regard to the experience of town councils in the provinces, I cannot see any ground for them. I deny that it would be possible, as suggested, to make a clean sweep of a council. The utmost you can hope to do is to change two or three places. It leaves open the possibility of continuity, but there is not the temptation to those politicians who regard local government as purely a sphere for political operations. The present; system has been in operation for 60 years, and I do not believe there is anyone connected with municipal government who wishes to change it. With regard to the cost, you would have fewer 789 contests under the system of annual elections than under the system of triennial elections, when every seat would probably be contested. Speaking from some provincial experience, I do not believe there is anyone who would wish to change for the system proposed by the honourable Gentleman opposite.
§ *MR. McKENNA
said he had been consulting the opinions of great men who had spoken on this subject in former times, and amongst others he had turned to the right honourable Gentleman who had just sat down. He found that in 1888 the Secretary for the Colonies had thus expressed himself—The experience of the United States showed that when the people were constantly being called upon to vote at elections, the whole matter fell into the hands of caucuses and machine politicians, a state of things which had never happened in this country, and which he, for one, would extremely deprecate.The experience of the right honourable Gentleman on matters of local government was more recent in 1888 than it was to-day, and he should therefore prefer to accept the opinion of 1888 rather than the directly contrary one which had just been expressed.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
said it was possible that if the elections were triennial more people would take an interest in them. The Local Government Act of 1894 gave boards of guardians the option of deciding whether their elections should be annual of triennial, and every board of guardians in London decided in favour of triennial elections. It had been decided by the Committee to have aldermen, and he thought the mere fact of aldermen being on the boards would ensure continuity of policy. He could not conceive any circumstance by which every old member of a board would be defeated at the election. It was certain that, if not a majority, at any rate a great many of them would be re-elected. It could not be denied that all the municipal elections in London were fought on political lines, 790 and he did not see how they could be more political if held every three years than they were now. He hoped the Government would accept the Amendment, or allow the district boards of the new boroughs the option of choosing for themselves.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. James Stuart.)
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.