supported the motion are shaded pink.]
Sir G Cave (proposing)
I may be allowed to put this one question to members who hold strong views on
this matter, namely, whether it is possible for us – having called upon women
for so large a contribution to the work of carrying on the War, and having
received so splendid a response to that call – to refuse to women a voice in
moulding the future of the country which their help and devoted self-sacrifice
have done so much to save?
franchise is doubly necessary now, not just out of gratitude for what they have
done in the course of the War, but I think in mere justice.
One thing that one notices all over the country is that women are now
taking the place of men. When
the men come back the question must arise as to whether the women are to stay or
the men to come in. How those
questions are to be settled I do not know; but I do say that it is only just and
fair that the women should have a voice in settling it.
women preponderate greatly over the men – before the War I think the excess of
women over men was nearly 1,500,000.
Therefore, by giving women the vote, you give them the main political
Members talk about women having earned the vote, but they do not want it.
Why give them something they do not want?
are certainly a number of people who think that men should decide peace and War,
and the preparations you make for them. I do not think it is a matter for women.
is all being done during a time of War, when we have immensely more important
questions to think of.
Lord Hugh Cecil
have already the municipal franchise and their possession of it has not made any
difference in local matters… I do think that the controversy about women’s
suffrage is a miserable one. The
argument is increasingly used as to the controversy between the two sexes; it is
the most intolerable that we can conceive, and a question of that kind is much
better brought to a close as soon as possible.
Sir J Simon
[to women’s suffrage] has largely faded away…
The House really desires to create a House of Commons, representative
both of men and women, which will be the means by which we may make good the
result that will follow victory in the field.
my opinion the case for the extension of the franchise to women has been
enormously strengthened during the last three years.
In the first place, it is due to the conspicuous service that women have
given to the nation during the War… it
would have been impossible to have carried on the War without them.
The second cause which has contributed to this change of feeling, I
suggest, is the total abstinence from those militant methods which, I believe,
did far more damage to their cause then their strongest opponents ever realised.
am aware that the leaders of the movement for women’s suffrage do not
appreciate the achievements of women being regarded as an excuse for granting
the franchise. I received a
deputation, and when I gave that as a reason I was told that women demanded the
vote as a right. Well, I
cannot help thinking that if the great work which women have done in the War has
been the means of converting some of us who were lukewarm, or perhaps even
hostile, then women may well accept support from whatever cause it is
Sir W Bull
have been a suffragist all my life, and I have been a persistent supporter of
Mr Ramsey MacDonald
my point of view I do not believe that the War has contributed one single new
argument in favour of women’s suffrage.
Anybody who has entered intimately into the great concerns of life, the
life of the home, the life of the State, and the life of the citizen, must have
known long ago of the magnificent part and the essential part that woman has
been playing... So far as
service to the nation is concerned, what would our nation have been without the
service that women were giving long before the War broke out?
That is a very tardy recognition of the obligation that this nation is
under to the woman worker, and I am very glad that the War at any rate should be
made the excuse and the occasion for that recognition being embodied in a
Sir H Craik
see great difficulties as regard female suffrage…
We are told: ‘You must accept this because it will end most troublesome
questions’. Do hon. Members
think that if you pass this bill all the elements that draw us one from another
understand that, if the women’s age be fixed at 30 there would be an addition
of 6 million female voters to the electorate.
That, I would say, goes a great deal further than a limited experiment. It
is a very great plunge, and I for one think that the plunge is far too great.
was opposed to women’s suffrage previous to the War… because of the most
unfortunate and disgraceful campaign with which it was urged…
I must confess that the general conduct of women during this War, and the
fact that they have undertaken physical duties which I personally should have
thought it impossible for them to carry out, have caused me to change my view.
Sir F Banbury
is stated that women have done so well in the War that many people have changed
their opinion. Who expected
women not to do well in the War? That
is the character of woman. She
is always like that. When we
are in pain and trouble, when pain and anguish wring the brow, they are
ministering angels, and when we know that in our hours of ease they will be
uncertain, coy, and hard to please, why is it that we are to surrender the
future government of this country into their hands?
have been for many years, I will not say jockeyed, but disappointed by the
various difficulties in this House. Therefore
I feel very grateful to the Government for having put the Clause into the Bill
and freed us from all difficulties of procedure or points of order.
I hope that the House will at last put an end to what has been, in my
opinion, a crying injustice, namely, the total denial to woman of Parliamentary
power in this country.
Col. Lord H Cavendish-Bentinck
do not base the claims for women on the work which they have done during this
War. I base the claims for
women on higher grounds than that. If
our religion has not taught us the equal value of men and women in the eyes of
the Maker, then our religion has taught us very little indeed.
Women have a right equally with men to co-operate in the framing of
society Are we to treat women
as drudges or as citizens? I
feel very strongly that they have a right to be treated as citizens, and that is
why I give my support to this Bill.
Ayes 329, Noes 40
Official Reports 5th Series Parliamentary Debates: Commons
xciiii (Apr 30 – May 25, 1917) cols