§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD STRACHIE)
My Lords, the object of this Bill is to extend the qualification for membership of county and borough councils. It provides that notwithstanding anything in the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, or any other Act, any person of either sex shall be qualified to be elected and to be a councillor or alderman of a county council or of a borough council, and may be nominated for election as a councillor if that person has resided within the county or borough, as the case may be, during the whole of the twelve months preceding the election. The Bill does not extend at all the qualification for voting and will not increase the voters list by one person. But, on the other hand, the Bill will, as I have said, enable persons of either sex who have been residents for twelve months in the district to be elected to a county or borough council.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Lord Strachie.)426
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I should like to say one word in support of this Bill. It is, as the noble Lord has pointed out, a Bill for the removal of an anomaly, I believe an accidental anomaly, in the state of the present law, but an unfortunate anomaly in so far as under it married women are prevented from being elected to and serving upon borough and county councils, except, I believe, in London. They may be elected to, and may serve upon, district councils, parish councils, boards of guardians, and other smaller units of local government, but on the larger and more important bodies they are prevented from serving. I am one of those who have given, and will continue to give, an unhesitating opposition to the granting of the Parliamentary vote to women, but I have always held that local government, which administers an immense mass of law dealing with such questions as sanitation and disease, the care and education of the young, the care of the sick and destitute, and matters of that kind, is emphatically a sphere in which the activities and services of women may appropriately be utilised; and of all women capable of serving in such capacities married women, by reason of their experience, are the most fit. For my own part, therefore, though I am an anti-suffrage man, I welcome the proposal contained in this Bill, and I do not imagine there is any one on this side of the House who will dissent from what I have said in the matter.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª.
§ Committee negatived: Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Bill read 3ª, and passed.