Debate 1918. ”This House deplores the entry of women into Parliament

EJN Wallis, Radley College Prefects, 1919

The Hon. Proposer’ (E. J. N. Wallis) said that he took up his task with trepidation, but he was quite convinced himself, and had very strong opinions on the subject. It was folly that that Parliament, which had listened to Pitt, Burke, Disraeli, Gladstone, and other great men, should receive within its walls women, whose special duty has always been to bear children and take care of the home. Let her continue in that work!

He said that although women had done splendidly in this war, they had never undertaken any administrative work. It was only by necessity of war that they had made munitions or driven trams. The true essence of womanhood had always been one of the brightest lights in this dark world. Homer said that the woman should stay at home, spin, and weave. Woman would not be in her right place in Parliament, and so she would not be a success. In conclusion he remarked that he ranged himself on the side of all the poets and philosophers, Homer, Aeschylus, Plato, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare.

HGC Mallaby, Radley College Prefects, 1919

The Hon. Opposer (H. G. C. MaIlaby) said that it was only through prejudice that we objected to women being in Parliament, but that as “The old order changeth, yielding place to new,” now was a fine opportunity for giving women an effective say in the deliberations of Parliament. A vote was not enough it would not do to give them only half what they deserved. They could be as provident, prudent, wise, and as eloquent as men. Through women we had won the war, and they richly deserved a reward for their patriotism and devotion, and henceforth they ought to have a say in ruling the country. He suggested that an Election Committee of unprejudiced persons should be set up to select suitable women candidates. This committee would not choose women who dressed atrociously, or who would be likely to make scenes, or disrespect the traditions of Parliament. ‘

WBK Shaw, Radley College Prefects, 1919

W. B. K. Shaw, rising to support the Hon. Proposer, drew attention to the results of the entry of women into a Parliament of a democratic state, whose constitution might resemble our own. In Norway women had agitated until nearly all Government offices were open to them. He said that the same thing might happen in England, and imagined women sitting on the Treasury Bench. He agreed with the Hon. Proposer that they would be out of their sphere, and consequently could not be efficient members of the Hous

GP Murray, Radley College Prefects, 1919

The Hon. Secretary (G. P. Murray) argued that as women had proved themselves capable in making munitions and driving trams, so they would prove themselves capable in Parliament.

L Copper, Radley College Prefects, 1919

L. Cooper thought we should consider cases, such as Educational problems, in which women were as interested as men. The entry of women into Parliament would prevent men governing the country {or their own interests. He pointed out the ill effects of the rigorous control of women in Germany, and said that a German professor had laid stress on woman’s adherence to tradition. But, he argued, Parliament is much governed by tradition and women would not let down that tradition.

APH Godfrey, Radley College Prefects, 1919

A. F. H. Godfrey, said he thought that the entry of women into Parliament would destroy the courtesy towards women.

JM Hawker, Radley College Prefects, 1918

The President (J.M.Hawker) said that parliament had changed considerably of recent years and as there were Nationalists and Labour members there to look after their interests, so there ought to be women there to look after their interests. After the war the Government would be formed of different branches, and women certainly ought to be represented on the Domestic branch. He said that History gave examples of many great women. Queen Elizabeth had wonderful powers. Some women were as gifted as men. The Czarina had been very skilled in domestic matters, but she could not keep out of political questions and there she failed. He pointed out that all the poets and philosophers mentioned by the Hon. Proposer were men, and that female writers, Charlotte Bronte for example, were in favour of women having as much power as men.

The motion was carried in the Upper House by 3 votes to 2.
The motion was carried in the Lower House by a show of hands.