Debate 1910. “That this House approves of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement.”

AH. Kemm, the Hon. Proposer, hoped the House would disregard all prejudices and would give his arguments careful and impartial consideration. First he asked if it was fair that the whole female population, which is considerably greater than the male, should have absolutely no voice in the government of the country. There are many questions on which women have far greater knowledge and experience than men.  In ancient times women never took part in politics because they were not educated.  But now man has chosen to educate woman, and it is entirely his fault if she desires to interest herself in politics, as he alone gave her the power to do so.

Then a scare is continually being raised by anti-suffragists that if the vote is extended to women they will finally obtain seats in Parliament.  But this assumption is quite without foundation.  In Australia, for example, women have had the vote for twenty years, and not one has yet succeeded in obtaining a seat in Parliament.  As a matter of fact if a few women did get into Parliament, they could not do much harm, and being of course the best of’ all their sex, they could probably do much good.  Surely then on a closer examination the cause of Women suffrage was supported by all justice and reason.

A. C. G. Lonsdale, the Hon. Opposer, said that if the franchise was extended to women they would become masculine and would be completely outside their proper sphere Woman was ill tended for the home, and her education helped her to improve the home, and did not compel her to participate in affairs in which she was out of place. Again, the majority of women did not want the vote, and would not know how to use it if they had it. It must then be an unwise policy to give them a thing which they did not want and which they did not know how to use.  Again, if the franchise was given to women, who, as the Hon. Proposer himself said, are much more numerous than men, then the women would outvote the men, which would be all absurd state of affairs.  In such a case the men would be greatly tempted to obtain their own way by force, which would of course absolutely upset the Constitution.  Another disadvantage of woman’s suffrage is that it would form another political party.  All women would naturally support a woman candidate against a man, regardless of any political views.  Finally he warned the House that woman’s suffrage  would upset  politics  and  lead  to  the deterioration of the  weaker sex.

The motion was carried by 7 votes to 6.

‘Some good and convincing arguments were adduced, and the Society in some part made up for the delinquencies in the previous debate’

The speakers

AH Kemm, Radley College Prefects 1910

Archibald Kemm was a Junior Scholar, Prefect and member of the Gym team.  He won an Exhibition to Merton College, Oxford. He worked for the Indian Civil Service from 1914-1932, serving with the Indian Army on the North-West Frontier from 1916-1918.  He was awarded the Military Cross in 1919.
Arthur Lonsdale also spoke against Women’s Suffrage in the Debate of 1908. He was a Junior Scholar, Prefect.  Left in 1910 and went to Trinity College, Cambridge.  Joined up on the outbreak of WW1 and was killed in France on 13th March 1915.  WW1 commemoration

ACG Lonsdale, Radley College Prefects 1909