A person shall not be disqualified by sex from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to any civil or judicial office or post, or from entering or assuming any civil profession or vocation, or for admission to any incorporated society (whether incorporated by Royal Charter or otherwise), and a person shall not be exempted by sex from the liability to serve as a juror:
I beg to move, after the word "sex," to insert the words "or marriage."
This question has two aspects. The first object of the Amendment is to make the Clause apply in cases where there might be some legal disqualification imposed on women by marriage. It might be that there would be a survival of an ancient law under which the mere fact that a woman is married might disqualify her from an office which otherwise she would be entitled to hold, and it is desired to snake quite sure that such disqualifications shall not exist. But in addition to that the Amendment has a much wider bearing. Clause 1 of the Bill opens to women all professions. They can exercise public functions or enter or assume any profession or vocation and among those are the public services. The ordinary rule in the Civil Service is that a woman has gut to resign on her marriage, and I ask the Government to consider whether it is a good thing that that rule should be continued. The only grounds on which its continuance might be defended would be those of the interests of the State or of the woman or of her family. As far as the State is concerned as long as the woman serves the State properly she ought to be entitled to carry on her work after being married as well as before being married. It is well known that in private occupations married women form the very best servants of their employers. Why should not the same rule be applied to public services? Assume that there is some unknown disqualification which marriage imposes then if a woman is the worse public servant for marriage let her be displaced for inefficiency and not for the mere fact that she has married. Then as far as the woman herself is concerned it is well known that the rule acts with great hardship. It acts as a bar to marriage. It is very hard on a woman that she should be put to the very difficult choice either of not marrying a man whom she wants to marry or of giving up her employment, and I do submit to the Committee that the restriction is one which is not in keeping with the feeling of the age, and that the time has come to remove it.
Now I come to the objection on which the House would feel most strongly. It may be said that this restriction is imposed in the interests of the children. I want to be quite sure that it is, and that we have not got any more reprehensible motive in wishing to continue the present system. I am not at all sure that behind the exclusion of married women there is not a certain wish to restrict competition and preserve for men places which women have filled in the past. I am sure that in a question of this sort great weight should be given to the views of the women them selves. All the women's organisations, who certainly have got the interests of women and children deeply at heart, support the removal of this bar, and I do very earnestly ask the Government whether they think that that is a matter to rule out. The work that men and women do is not the same, but the two spheres are equally large and equally valuable, and if you exclude women on marriage you exclude a great many women who would be most valuable and you restrict the choice of the State. The time has come for the Government to deal with this question with the new mind which the War has brought about and to sweep away this very damaging restriction. They will, I am sure, not regret it if at one stroke they sweep away all these bonds. In the interests of the women themselves, of the State and of the family, it is of urgent importance that these restrictions should be removed.
I had intended to have accepted this Amendment without qualification, indeed almost without a speech, but a ground on which the hon. Member has moved it has indicated to me that I ought to say a few words before going further, because I have to qualify the sense in which I intend to accept it, and to deal with matters which arise at a later stage of the Bill. This is really a very important matter. In the interests of the Bill I feel it is right to insert "or marraige" in the same way as those two words have been used consistently in all the Acts that I have looked at—the Act of 1906, the Act of 1907, and the Act of 1914. I want to give an assurance not only to my hon. Friends that this Bill is a sincere Bill intended to effect its purpose, but also to indicate to all persons outside that this is a real effort on the part of the Government to meet a difficulty and to fulfil pledges given. For those reasons I am quite ready to put in the words "or marriage," but if it is said that this Amendment is to rule out Amendments which I will have to introduce later, then I cannot accept it. The hon. Member has quite fairly put the difficulty. He has indicated that he has a sort of misgiving that in the Departments there is, a tendency not to give a fair opportunity to women. For my own part I shall be-very sorry if that view is shared in any quarter of the House. I had an opportunity while I served as Controller of a small Department, where there were certainly over 100 women employed, to see how they worked, and I wish to bear my testimony to the very high standard of work which they did and how extraordinarily useful they were. I do not, therefore, approach this matter from any hostility to the women's point of view. As the hon. Member has said, it has been, the system in the past to insist upon resignation on marriage, for reasons which I think will commend themselves to the Committee. When the Bill was given a Second Reading I prepared the figures of persons who are employed in the Departments. I find that the Post Office is quite the largest employer of women among the Departments. There are in the Post Office 86,500 women employed; in other words, in the Post Office two-thirds of the persons employed are women.
That figure is not given. In other Departments there are employed 80,500 women. Let me take the Post Office first of all. It is a matter on which the Committee will not mind if I speak frankly. One has to consider the service of the State and of the family. From the point of view of the State we have to consider, when women are married, the period both before and after child-birth, and it is necessary to consider whether or not you can employ women in the interests of the State under circumstances which might be a severe temptation to remain childless. The figures of the Registrar-General which have been published only recently would indicate, I think, that this Committee would be very reluctant to place any temptation before women at the present time to remain childless. If that be so, you have to consider another question. During the period before and after child-birth can they adequately discharge their duties to the State? After all, the interests of the State have to be considered. Lastly, and by no means least, one must consider the interests of the children. Is it in the interests of the children that women should be employed and by that means not be able to render their full service at home? Do not let us make up our minds too hurriedly on this question. I do not want to make a full speech on this subject, because when we come, to the proviso (a)I shall have to deal with it. Any hurried judgment might lead members of the Committee to go wrong. You must consider the interests of the State, the position of the woman herself and her capacity to render service, and you have to consider also the question of the children at home. I do not want to detain the Committee too long over that point, in order that I may make it perfectly plain that so far as any post that is open by Clause 1 should be open in spite of marriage, I shall be perfectly ready to accept the words "or marriage." I hope the hon. Member will fully understand that when we come to the question of the proviso I must, in the interests of the State, put matters before the Committee which I hope the Committee will agree with. Let me add this. I rather wish the hon. Member had given me one illustration of a case where marriage is a bar under the Bill. I cannot myself think of a case where at the present time the exercise of that function is excluded by marriage or the woman is debarred by marriage.
Before my right hon. and learned Friend accepts the Amendment will he tell us what is the proviso he proposes to move? Some of us may regard with a little suspicion and fear the wholesale admission of women in every office of the State, especially if they are married and their duties should e at home to their children and their husbands. I cannot see that proviso on the Paper. I think the Committee ought to know what is the effect of it before they accept this Amendment.
I am quite ready to deal with both points at the same time, although it is not very convenient. I can hand my right hon. Friend a copy of the proviso (a) as I hope it will read when I have amended it. In the unfortunate circumstances of last week it was impossible to put down Amendments on Friday, as I had hoped. Not unnaturally, I was surprised at being deprived of that opportunity. Otherwise, the Amendments would have been on the Paper and the Committee would have seen what I desired to move. What the Bill proposes to do in proviso (a)is this—
Notwithstanding anything in this Section his Majesty may by Order in Council authorise Regulations to be made prescribing the mode of admission of women to the Civil Service of His Majesty, and the conditions on which women admitted to that service may be appointed to posts therein, and providing for the exclusion of women from admission to any branch of the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's possessions or in any foreign country.
That, I think, goes unnecessarily far in the matter of exclusion. I am prepared to make Amendments that will give an assurance to women that they may have a fair opportunity of securing posts. The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin has an Amendment down to leave out that particular proviso and to insert a different proviso. That, to my mind, goes too far on the other side. The effect of what I propose to do is that a woman will not be debarred by marriage from holding any office, but that it will be necessary to make regulations in the interests of the woman and of the State that she shall retire on marriage, subject, of course, to the gratuity which she receives, but preventing a married woman, for instance, who is childless, from having an opportunity of seeking employment, and also enabling the Department to make regulations in the interests of the State, of the women, and the children, in order to prescribe how far marriage shall involve disability. I shall not discuss the matter fully now. I will hand my right hon. Friend a copy of my Amendment, and later I will ask the Committee to accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, after the word "function," to insert the words "including that of sitting and voting in the house of Lords."
I think that common sense and courtesy alike dictate that this Amendment should be inserted, and one must feel a little surprised that this bill should have come from another place without this Amendment. Apparently the House of Lords is perfectly prepared to pass a Bill entitling women to sit in the house of Commons, while they are not prepared to do so with regard to their own House. That is a position which is indefensible, I think. They have declined to afford similar facilities to sit in their own Assembly. We have Accepted the principle in the Franchise Bill that women and men, at any rate at the age of thirty years, should stand on a franchise equality, and that a woman is as much entitled as a man, provided she gets the people to vote for her, to sit in this House. It seems to be wrong that women should be debarred from sitting in the House of Lords, particularly as women hold peerages in their own right. It is a matter of common sense and common fairness and the putting as far as possible of the two Houses on a Parliamentary equality that women should have the right to sit in the House of Lords.
I rise to support this Amendment, not that I am particularly anxious for the continuance of the second Chamber as at present constituted. The House will remember that a few months ago a Bill was introduced by the party to which I belong and passed through all its stages in this house. In that Bill this particular point was definitely dealt with, and this house, by a fairly decisive majority, agreed that women should have the-same right to sit in the House of Lords as we think they should have in the House of Commons. After that very definite expression of opinion so recently, I hope that the Solicitor-General will see his way to accept this Amendment. It is not only a matter of courtesy and common sense, but one of elementary justice. It is not a point I need labour, and therefore I formally support.
My hon. Friend who moved said that the House of Lords was willing that women should sit in this House but did not wish them to sit in the Lords. This House, legislating for itself, passed an Act which permitted women to sit here. Very few women have availed themselves of that privilege, and I have not seen any in the House. The Lords are masters in their own House and the House of Commons are masters in theirs. If the House of Commons liked to sit with the fair sex in their midst, and continuo their deliberations assisted by beauty, that is for the House of Commons to decide. It is a very different thing for us to say, We desire that ladies should sit in the House of Lords. That is a matter surely for the House of Lords. I was one of those who voted against the admission of women into this House, as I thought it would be a mistake for reasons into which I need not now enter. For goodness sake let us leave one of the Houses with the old tradition, and let there be one House where the deliberations are conducted by men and not by women ‡ I hope that the Solicitor-General will announce that the Government have irrevocably decided that the House of Lords shall choose its own representation.
I cannot in the least agree with the hon. Baronet who has just spoken that it is for the Lords to decide who should be members of the other Chamber. That is essentially a matter for the country as a whole. I think it is equally clear that the country as a whole has decided that women are henceforth to take an equal part in the legislative affairs of this country with men if they desire to do so and if they show themselves equal to that work.
That may be. As long as we have a House of Peers it is only a matter of deference to the views which are now prevailing throughout the country that women should be allowed to sit in the House of Lords. The present position seems to be that a peeress is eligible to sit in this House but not to sit in the other House.
I am going to ask the House to devote a little more serious energy to this Bill than the discussion of this question which is one in which 1 think we shall serve our own dignity best by leaving to the House of Lords. This Bill has come from the Lords, and the Lords have not put in any such Amendment. The Amendment relates to the votes of something like a score of ladies and no more. I am going to ask the House to consider some very important Amendments, and I cannot help thinking that the right course for us to adopt is to say that this is a matter which really belongs to the privileges of the House of Lords, and that it is far better that we should not invade their privileges. I am not saying that we have not the right to do so, but I would ask the Committee not to accept the Amendment.
May I say that this Amendment is regarded by those who have proposed it as an Amendment of real importance. This is an Act placing both sexes on an equality in this country, and those with whom I am acting feel strongly that this is a point of substance and not merely a specious point. At the same time I appreciate that if this Amendment were persisted in it might possibly lead to a conflict of opinion between the two Houses, and I quite admit it is not a convenient point on which to take an issue if that kind. Under those circumstances I beg to ask leave to withdraw.
Perhaps I treated the Amendment rather shortly. Let us remember that this Bill has to go back to the House of Lords, and if an Amendment of this sort were accepted we should be disagreeing with the other House on what after all is a comparatively small matter. There are a number of anomalies in the constitution, and for us to take a serious step in this matter is to my mind showing a rather want of dignity on our part. The Bill is a very important Bill, and we have a number of very important Amendments, and I do hope that under those circumstances the Committee may allow the Amendment to be withdrawn.
We have been told twice that this is a matter which concerns some twenty ladies, but that, I submit, is an entirely wrong view of the matter. It is, to my mind, extremely important that the women's point of view should be heard, and as directly as possible, in all legislative matters in the Houses of Parliament. In this House the woman's point of view is represented by people who have been elected pledged to that point of view, and it may at any moment be represented by women themselves. As long as the House of Lords retains its hereditary character there is only one possible way in which the women's point of view can be heard in the other House, and that is by Peeresses sitting there. Therefore I contend that this is much more than a question affecting twenty ladies, but that it is a question affecting the whole woolen's point of view in the legislation of this country. Legislation which is debated here from the woman's point of view should no longer go to the Lords without women having an opportunity there to represent the woman's point of view. Therefore I sincerely hope that my Friends will divide in favour of this Amendment.
I am extremely sorry the Solicitor-General takes the line he has taken. In the last few days we have had what was supposed to be a crisis, which has been adjusted because of the international matters involved. This question does not involve any international matters. A great many Members of all parties in the House feel quite strongly on this question. I do not want to go into details, but if women are to be admitted to public life, as Parliament has already decided they shall be, and the country has generally accepted, the obvious logical conclusion is that they should be represented in the other place. I am not prepared to vote against the Government, and all that several of us can do is to abstain, if we do anything at all, but we shall certainly not support the Government in the attitude which has been announced by the Solicitor-General. I ask the representatives on the Treasury Bench to consider that there are Members of the House who are pledged, and who have views on this question, and we are not prepared to take the old line which has held good for so many years. I hope the House will support the Amendment.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
|Division No. 114.]||AYES||[5.32 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral||Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York.)||O;Neill, Captain Hell, Robert W. H.|
|Gwynne, R. S.|
|Adamson, R. Hon. William||Hail, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Hall, R.-Adml. Sir W. R. (Lpl, W. Derby)||Parmer, major G. M. (Jarrow)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hallas, E.||Parkinson, John Alien (Wigan)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hartshorn, V.||Perkins, William George|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Hayward, Major Evan||Pownall, Lt.-Colonel Assheton|
|Birdied, Major J. D.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A.||Pratt, John William|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Preston, W. R.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hinds, John||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hirst, G. H.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.||Remnant, Colonel Sir James|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Greece, Major C. E.||Hogge, J. M.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Briant, F.||Holmes, J. L.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hood, Joseph||Rose, Frank H.|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Hope, Harry (Stirling)||Roudell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.|
|Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonel A.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Rowlands, James|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Cairns, John||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Royus, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Inskip, T. W. H.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Casey, T. W.||Irving, Dan||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill||Jephcott, A. R.||Seager, Sir William|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Johnstone, J.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Fortar)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Short. A. (Wednesbury)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Sitch, C. H.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Kelly, T. (St. Stephen's Green)||Sturrock, J. Lang|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Kenwerthy, Lieut.-Commander||Sugden, Lieut. W. H.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Kenyon, Barnet||Suriees, Brig General H. C.|
|Davies. Alfred (Clitheroe)||Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Davies, Mired Thomas (Lincoln)||Kiley, James Daniel||Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)|
|Davison, J. E. (smithwick)||King. Commander Douglas||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Knight, Captain E. A.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Coml. H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Dockrell, Sir M.||Law, A. J. (Rochdale)||Thorne, Colonel W. (Plaistow)|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Tootill Robert|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Waddington, R.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lunn, William||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Edwards. J. H. (Glam., Neath)||Lynn, R. J.||Waterson, A. E.|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Stirling)||Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||M'Laren. Hon. H. D. (Bosworth)||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Forrest, W.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Gange, E. S||McMicking. Major Gilbert||Wignall, James|
|Ganzonl, Captain F. C.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wild. Sir Ernest Edward|
|Gardiner, J (Perth)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Glanville. Harold James||Malone, Major P. (Tottenham, S.)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Glyn, Major R.||Martin, A. E.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Mond. Rt Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wood. Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Gould, J. C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Grayson. Lieut.-Col. H. M.||Morrison. H. (Salisbury)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Young, Lt.-Corn. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar||Newbould, A. E.||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Greig, Col. James William||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, M'ddx.)|
|Griggs. Sir Peter||Nicholl. Com. Sir Edward||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Gritten. W. G. Howard||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Spoor and Mr. Tyson Wilson.|
|Grundy, T. W.|
|Archdale. Edward M.||Dawes. J. A.||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Denison-Pender, John C.||Hildor, Lieut.-Colonel F.|
|Barker, Major R.||Duncannon, Viscount||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Barnston. Major H.||Elveden, Viscount||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Eyres Monsell, Commander||Hurd, P. A.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.|
|Bell. Lt.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Jesson, C.|
|Bird, Alfred||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Jodrell. N. P.|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)|
|Brassey. H. L. C.||Gardner. E. (Berks, Windsor)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Gibbs. Colonel George Abraham||Lowe. Sir F. W|
|Carew. Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Gilbert, James Daniel||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gilmour. Lieut.-Colonel John||Macmaster. Donald|
|Cheyne. Sir William Watson||Gray. Major E.||McNeill. Ronald (Canterbury)|
|Churchill Rt Hon. Winston S.||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Mildmay, Col. Rt. Hon. Francis B.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gretton, Colonel John||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Hacking. Captain D. H.||Murray, Maj. C. D. (Edinburgh. S.)|
|Crack. Rt Hon. Sir Henry||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred. (Dulwich)||Neal, Arthur|
|Curzon. Commander Viscount||Hanna, G B.||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Dalziel. Sir Davison (Brixton)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chichester)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Raeburn, Sir William||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)|
|Ramsden, G. T.||Tickler, Thomas George||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.||Townley, Maximilian G.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Rees, Sir J. D.||Waring, Major Walter||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton)||Weston, Colonel John W.||Younger, Sir George|
|Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Samuel, Right Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Stanton, Charles Butt||Wilson, J. H. (South Shields)||F. Banbury and Major E. Wood.|
I beg to move, after the word "to" ["being appointed to"], to insert the words "or holding." It might possibly be held that a married woman could be appointed to an office and be excluded from holding it, and it would be an absurd position that a married woman could be appointed to an office but if she had married after appointment she could not hold it. I do not want to argue the whole question of marrying in the Civil Service, but this is an Amendment which, I think, might be accepted. It is really a drafting Amendment, so that if a woman is appointed to any office she shall be qualified to hold it.
If this is merely a drafting Amendment, there is no objection whatever to accepting it, but I rather wish the hon. and gallant Gentleman had explained it a little more clearly, because do not quite see how, as the Clause stands, a woman who had been appointed to any office would be disqualified from holding it, and I do not see how it is a matter of mere drafting. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will give me an illustration of what he means. I imagine he has given a good deal of attention to the matter, and come to the conclusion that the words are necessary to fill the gap. If he would kindly explain it to me, I should be glad to accept it, if it would make the Clause more workable and watertight. I have some feeling that it may be quite unnecessary.
I am very sorry if I did not make my meaning clear. Unless you have the words "or holding," this very absurd position might arise. A married woman applies to be admitted to some public office and has got to be admitted. Another woman is appointed who is unmarried, but subsequently marries, and she is told that there is no phrase in the Bill which authorises a married woman to hold an appointment. It is purely a technical point, and I am sure there could not be anything so unreasonable that, whereas a married woman was entitled to be appointed, a woman who subsequently marries might not be able to hold the appointment.
I am not sure I am yet convinced that it would be necessary to insert the Amendment, because I still think she would be held to be exercising a public function. But, as my hon. and gallant Friend seems to think it is necessary, I will accept the Amendment, although I may possibly have to add some words to it on Report. But, subject to that, and with the reservation as to the proviso, I accept the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move to leave out the word "or" ["entering or assuming"].
The three Amendments in my name all hang together, and, if agreed to, the Clause would run as follows—
A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage—
I am omitting one or two Amendments which have been made—
from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to any civil or judicial office or post, or from entering, assuming or being engaged or employed in any civil profession or vocation or industrial occupation.
I want cleared up a latent ambiguity on the face of this Bill. What is a vocation? The object of the Bill is to enlarge as far as possible women's work in the future, and I assume it is the desire that not only civil professions, but all industrial occupations fitted for a woman shall be open to her. The word "vocation" is perhaps a little ambiguous, and my Amendment makes it clear that industrial occupation is meant as well. If the Bill does contain what my Amendment suggests, well and good. If it does not, then I suggest it ought to. If it does not apply to industry, then it is not extending to a woman her right to share in employment of all kinds. There is nothing in the title of the Bill which says that it shall only apply to any civil profession. It says, "An Act to amend the Law, with respect to disqualifications on account of sex." It must apply to a very large number of women, because before the War there were something like 4,330,000 in industry, and we shall have to provide now for a good many more—certainly 450,000 women
who are partially supporting their husbands, another 150,000 to 200,000 widows, partially supporting their children, 100,000 women who will have no opportunity of marrying owing to the number of men killed, and 1,500,000 women who made up the excess of women over men before the War. In order that all these women shall have the opportunity, if they desire it, of going into industrial pursuits, I want to make it quite clear on the face of the Bill that there is nothing to prevent them. Of course, I shall have the assistance and support of Labour Members opposite, because the whole object of this Bill is to widen the scope of women's employment.
I waited to learn what this Amendment really means. So far as I know, I cannot think—and I will ask any hon. Member to assist me—of any industrial occupation from which a woman is legally disqualified by her sex, unless it be in certain what is commonly called Factory Legislation, in which a provision is made that a woman shall not be employed in certain extremely arduous and onerous work, and that provision is made in her own interest. I use the term "Factory Legislation" broadly for the purpose of being able to call attention to specific cases, but my impression is that there has been in legislation passed in the latter part of the nineteenth century a certain number of cases in which an absolute bar was made to the employment of women because the employment would be wholly unfit for them. So far as I know, that is the only case of disqualification by law. Otherwise the whole area of industrial occupation is open to women. And I should he very sorry indeed to put in words which I do not understand, and which, so far as I can see, will not serve any useful purpose. But I hope any hon. Member who can point out to me that my view is wrong will do so. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment certainly did not give a single illustration of the necessity of removing a bar which otherwise existed, and, in the absence of more information, my tendency at the present time is to invite the Committee to say that these words ought not to be inserted, because they are unnecessary, and therefore may be harmful. But if some hon. Member will convince me, on the other side, I am prepared to wait for a final decision until I have learned that there are some cases where a sex bar ought to be removed in order to enable a woman to go into an industrial occupation.
Perhaps I can make myself a little clearer on the point. With regard to the factory legislation, I was quite prepared to move later on in the Bid to insert:
Provided further that nothing in this Act shall alter or remove any restriction on the employment of women imposed by the Factory Acts.
That would quite cover the point raised. By law at the present time women are precluded from going into certain industries under an Act which we passed this Session. Under the Pre-War Practices Act, certain customs in certain trade unions were made rigid law, and by those customs women, on account of their sex, are excluded. That Bill, I believe, extends only for a year. It was suggested that the matter should be settled by agreement with the trade unions, but we are not prepared to accept that. I want to secure under this Bill that women who are precluded by legislation which makes these customs law shall go into those industries in spite of those customs. Perhaps the Solicitor-General may now realise that there are disqualifications on the ground of sex imposed by our law.
I am very much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend, and I apologise if I seemed stupid beforehand in not appreciating fully what he said. But, as the matter stands, he agrees with me that it would be necessary to put in some qualifying words later on to prevent any repeal of what might be called Factory Legislation.
Therefore he agrees that he does not want to remove the bar by which women are prevented, in their own interest, from engaging in very arduous toil. He is going to safeguard that by another Amendment. What is the purpose then of the present Amendment? So far as I can follow it is that we should repeal the Pre-War Practices Act. I am not prepared to invite the Committee to repeal an Act passed so recently. That is really not the purpose of the Bill now before us. It would be quite wrong to accept an Amendment really to take away the effect of the Pre-War Practices Act passed a few months ago. Under these circumstances, the matter now being fully explained, I am afraid I cannot accept the Amendment, and I propose to ask the Committee to endorse that view.
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the words "or assuming" ["or assuming any civil profession"], to insert the words "or carry on."
This manuscript Amendment is of the same character as the last one. The effect of it would be that a person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from entering, or working in, or carrying on any civil professional avocation. The point is the same as the last Amendment.
I accept these words with the same reservations as before.
Amendment agreed to.
The following Amendment stood on the Paper in the name of Lord ROBERT CECIL and other hon. Members: In Subsection (1), after the word juror ["liability to serve as a juror"], to insert the words "and the wife of a husband qualified to be appointed justice of the peace or to serve as a juror shall herself be qualified to be appointed justice of the peace and to serve as a juror."
On a point of Order. The title of the Bill is "An Act to amend the law with respect to disqualifications on account of sex." The effect of my Amendment would be to allow a woman whose husband was qualified to act as a juror to sit herself as a juror. I submit that at present that that woman is disqualified, and, therefore, that my Amendment is strictly within the title of the Bill. The woman is now disqualified, and we are removing the disqualifications of sex. Are we outside the scope of the Bill in removing a further disqualification from which women now suffer? The juror qualification in its practical effect means a property qualification, and unless this Amendment is carried a very large number of women will not be qualified.
I have satisfied myself by looking very carefully into this matter as to the effect of these words. I am afraid the effect would be that where the husbands were disqualified, the wives would be disqualified too. I think in the interest of the Bill, and of bringing in as many ladies as possible to be jurors, these words ought not to be accepted. The effect of them, I am afraid, would be disastrous from the women's point of view.
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out paragraph (a), and to insert instead thereof the words,
(a)Until Parliament otherwise determine, special provision may be made by Order in Council regulating the admission of women to any branch of the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's overseas possessions or in any foreign country. Provided that the draft of any such Order shall be laid before each House of Parliament for not less than thirty days on which such House is sitting, and if either Hone before the expiration of such thirty days presents an address to His Majesty against the draft or any part thereof no further action hall be taken thereon without prejudice to the making of any new draft Order.
In moving this Amendment I desired to express the regret I feel that the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil), who is associated with the Amendment is not here to move it instead of myself, as this is an Amendment very much after his heart. But he is ill. In a few words may I say that the
object of this Amendment is to omit paragraph (a) and to substitute for it the words of the Amendment, so making the conditions of the Civil Service exactly the same for women as for men—with this one small exception: We purposely exclude from the scope of our Amendment admission to the Civil Services connected with India and the Overseas Dominions. We think that special considerations may apply to these spheres of activity, and it is not for this House to impose new conditions upon the admission of what is, I believe, rather special services. Apart from that small reservation, the object of this Amendment is to break down all the special barriers that differentiate between men and women in respect to admission to the Civil Service.
I listened with some regret to the remarks which have just been made by the Solicitor-General in reply to the Amendment moved earlier by the hon. and gallant Member for Durham. He implied that it is his intention to move a series of Amendments to paragraph (a), which would perpetuate the differentiation between men and women in respect to the conditions of entrance to the Civil Service. I wish to wipe away one and all of these special conditions—conditions on women in respect to the entrance that are not imposed on men. In moving this Amendment I may say I think I have behind me the great body of opinion of professional women in the country. Practically every women's organisation that represents professional women is in favour of these restrictions upon the entry of women into the Civil Service being removed. Apart from the view of organised women's opinion in the country, there is the further consideration that to continue any special restrictions would be altogether anomalous in view of the abject and the Clauses of this Bill. If members of the Committee will look at the first section of the Bill they will find that a woman may become a Member of this House, and—in view of the Amendment which we have just carried—of the other House. She may become a Cabinet Minister. She may sit on a jury. So far as I understand the Bill, she may obtain degrees at any university. By what process of logic or reason, then, when yon allow a woman to become a Cabinet Minister, can you refuse her the right to become a second division clerk? Why if no exceptional treatment is required if she wishes to sit on a jury, or to hold some high appointment in the State, should you desire to continue to impose restrictions upon he. when she wishes to enter, probably by competitive examination, the minor ranks of smile Government Department?
It was suggested by the Solicitor-General that there were special reasons which made it necessary to impose special restrictions upon women. The questions, for instance, of marriage, childbirth, and so on. I reply that women are just as well qualified to express their opinion upon these subjects as he is. All organisations of women's opinion had all those views in their minds when they declared that they wished the Government to carry out its pledges, and to remove in deed as in word, the special disabilities from which women now suffer in reference to entrance into the Civil Service. It is very necessary that we should not leave this question to Orders in Council, or to any Department to decide. I am quite certain, and every Member of this House knows the attitude of the bureaucrats, that they will set their faces against the free admission of women into Government administration. I say that with some justification. For several years it fell to me to serve upon the Royal Commission that inquired into all the Departments of the Civil Service. In practically every Department one came up against a solid opposition against the entrance of women in any large numbers. If we leave the matter to Orders in Council—which in actual practice means the officials of the Treasury—to decide, what are to be the conditions of the entry of women, I am confident they will hedge those conditions around with every kind of restriction, and make it impossible for women to enter save in exceptional cases. That, to my mind, would be a calamity. Even before the War I was convinced that no restriction was necessary, and that the doors of the Civil Service should be thrown open to women. With the experience of the War I believe that generally is the opinion almost of every hon. Member of this House. The Solicitor-General himself paid a well-deserved tribute to the Department over which he himself so ably presided during the War in this respect, and his experience has been that of all those who have had direct knowledge of the value of women's work. With that experience in mind it does seem to me to be in every way objectionable to continue this differentiation between the two sexes, and leave to Government Department to [...] what should be the conditions of [...] of women into the Civil Service, because by doing that you make it much more difficult for women to enter the various ranks of the Civil Service than it is or will be for men. This is particularly so at the present moment, when the House and the country are embarking upon new fields of legislation and administration in which the help of women may in many instances be more valuable than the help of men, such as the establishment of a great health service.
During the inquiries of the Standing Committee upon the Health Bill, I was struck over and over again in regard to the question of the administration of health, by the opposition of the bureaucrats to the throwing open of the doors of the Ministry of Health to women. My Amendment does not raise any question of bringing women into the Civil Service and keeping out discharged soldiers, for it merely puts women upon exactly the same footing as men. If the Government wish to encourage the entrance of discharged soldiers into the Civil Service they may do so on its own merits. I am aware that to bring women into the Civil Service may possibly keep some men out, but that is not differentiating against discharged soldiers. I hope I have said enough to show that the time has come to go over the heads of the bureaucrats in Government offices and insist upon the free admission of women into Government offices on the same conditions as men. As far as I can read pledges the Government is pledged to take that action, because in the manifesto of the two leaders of the Coalition, issued upon the eve of the Election, they declare that
it will be the duty of the Government to remove the existing inequalities of tug laws as between men and women.
Here is a case in point. Here is a disability under which women undoubtedly suffer at the present moment. Let the Government keep their pledge and remove this disability. Let them also remember that upon three separate occasions this House has declared its desire that these disabilities should be removed. In the last Session hon. Members of the Labour party opposite introduced a Women's Emancipation Bill, and that measure, in one of its Clauses, removed the disabilities that now differentiate between the two
sexes as far as the Civil Service is concerned. That Bill passed its Second Reading by a big majority, and it went through Committee with the willing approval of hon. Members without any Amendment at all. It came back here, and in the teeth of the opposition of several members of the Government it was carried by a significant majority. I ask this Committee not to allow its decision, three times given a few months ago, to be stultified by action in another place, and not to allow this measure to be made ineffective by the bureaucrats in Whitehall. I hope I have said enough to commend this Amendment, which 1 hope the Committee will carry, and thus take one more step towards the complete emancipation of women.
Sir J. D. REES:
With all that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down has said about the principle of this proposal, and the attitude of this House, I heartily agree. I should, however, like to have some explanation as to the effect of this Amendment before I can support it. Clause 1 Sub-section (a) provides
That His Majesty may by Order in Council authorise regulations to be made prescribing the mode of the admission of women to the Civil Service.
That does not contemplate exclusion, but it contemplates their admission to the Civil Service, and I see nothing to take exception to in that proposal. Then come the words to which my hon. and gallant Friend objects, namely,
Providing for the exclusion of women from admission to any branch of the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's possessions.
Those words are not found in the paragraph which my hon. and gallant Friend would substitute for that in the Bill. Supposing the Committee, in pursuance of the general principle which has been laid down, accepts this paragraph in place of that in the House of Lords Bill. I would like to know what happens as regards the Civil Service of India or Ceylon.
Sir J. D. REES:
This paragraph reads:
Regulating the admission of women to any branch of the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's overseas possessions.
That does not reserve the power to exclude them whereas the paragraph in the Bill does. I should like to be quite clear on this point. It is not my business to suggest the method. I have been in charge of one of these Departments right through the War with 500 women in it, and I am profoundly convinced of the capacity of women to serve in the Civil Service, and I will support their claims to do so. I should, however, like it made clear that there is power to exclude them from appointments in the Indian Civil Service. I do not think this paragraph is perfectly clear that the power is reserved to His Majesty to exclude women from India and Ceylon where we do not yet wish to see them sitting in the seat of justice where men alone have sat for so long and carried on the business of the country.
Major O' NEILL:
I rise to support this Amendment, and in doing so I do not intend going over the ground which has already been covered. Why to my mind it is of such importance that this Amendment should be carried, if it is carried it does away with the possibility of bureaucratic interference as regards the conditions under which women should be admitted to the Civil Service. It may be said, as has already been indicated, that the Government Departments do not in fact put any difficulties in the way of women being admitted into the Civil Service on the same basis as men, and possibly it will be of interest to the Committee to give a specific instance where a woman member of the Civil Service is suffering disability by reason of the fact firstly, that she is a woman, and secondly, that she is a married woman.
I raised this question before on the Report stage of the Ministry of Health Bill, which provided that the National Insurance Commissioners for Ireland should be established and placed upon a permanent footing as Civil servants. Previous to that they had merely been appointed from year to year by the Treasury. The National Health Insurance Commissioners for Ireland consists of three men and one woman, a Mrs. Dickie, who is universally acknowledged to be one of the leading women Civil servants in the United Kingdom. She has been in the Civil Service for years, she has risen to the high position of National Health Insurance Commissioner, and she has discharged her work with great ability and satisfaction to the Department by whom she is employed.
When the question of the establishment of the Commissioners arose, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury stated on the Report stage of the Ministry of Health Bill that he was quite willing to place these appointments upon a permanent footing, but with regard to Mrs. Dickie, that was impossible owing to a Regulation which precluded a married woman from such establishment; but he promised that she should be granted a term of some length. She could not be put on the same basis as the men simply because she was a married woman. Further than that she is also suffering by reason of the fact that the Treasury, although they always pay her the same salary as the other Commissioners, will not give her the same pension as the male members of the Commission. That is a specific instance where a woman is suffering simply because she is a woman and because she is a married woman. The reasons given for this differentiation do not apply in this case because there is no question of child birth or anything of that sort, and, therefore the Treasury cannot fall back upon excuses of that kind for treating the woman in this way and differently from the way the men are treated. I do feel most strongly about this particular case. If we leave this question entirely to Orders in Council, as I understand is proposed by the Government, we shall get cases in which women of this kind, women of the highest character and the highest integrity in the highest offices of the Civil Service, will continue to be placed in positions of inferiority by reason of the fact that they are women, and married women. I do hope that this House on this Amendment will once again repeat the decision at which it has arrived upon the Women's Emancipation Bill, and will by this Vote record its adherence to the principle that in the Civil Service women and men who give equal service and who are equally efficient shall receive as they ought to receive, absolute equality of treatment.
I do not wish to say anything about the English Civil Service, but I do wish to support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) has provision must be made in this Bill chat women are not admissible to the Indian Civil Service and the Civil Service in Asiatic countries. The question there is quite different. I, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to see to it that sufficient precaution is taken in this Bill to provide that the Indian Civil Service and the Civil Service in British Asiatic possessions are not opened to women.
This Amendment raises perhaps the most important question, or at least one of the most important questions, in the Bill, and I am going to ask the Committee to give me their attention while I put before them some facts and materials without which I am quite certain that they would not be able to form a just judgment. I am in full accord with the general spirit of the Amendment as indicated by the speeches that we have heard. I do not want to exclude women from the Departments; I wish to give them ample opportunity. Those hon. Members who were here earlier will have heard from me the testimony that I have offered from my own experience as Controller of the Foreign Trade Department to the excellent work done by women in high positions there. I know that we relied upon them in several Departments, and they undoubtedly earned, and justly earned, tributes from all those with whom they came in touch. You cannot, therefore, deal with this question simply by saying, "All the doors must be open to every woman and there must be no sort of differentiation as between men and women." You cannot in that way really solve the question, and you cannot meet even the qualifications which my hon. Friend himself suggested, namely, that women who do equal service and are equally efficient should have equal opportunity. If that is one of your tests, then there must be some sort of limitation to give effect to it.
I am going to invite the Committee to consider very carefully what are the conditions with which you have to deal, and I do beg them to pay full and earnest attention to the facts that do concern and vitally concern the public service. First of all, let me point out what is the difference between the Bill as it stands and the Amendment that is proposed. In the Bill as it stands power is taken to make an Order in Council, and that Order in Council is to prescribe the mode of admission of women to the Civil Service of His Majesty and the conditions under which women admitted to that service may be appointed to posts therein. That deals with the sort of conditions which at present apply to men and are binding throughout the Civil Service, such as the examinations conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners. It also provides—this is how the Bill runs—"for the exclusion of women from admission to any branch of the service in any of His Majesty's Possessions"—we mean overseas, and I am prepared to deal with that point—" or in any foreign country." I think it is agreed by all persons that it would be impossible to appoint women on the same terms as men in the Civil Service overseas, more particularly in India, and it may be Ceylon, and we want to safeguard ourselves there. I do not think that there is any real difference between us. The hon. Baronet (Sir R. Hoare) wants to put in a different Amendment. His Amendment is that, until Parliament otherwise determines, special provision may be made by Order in Council regulating the admission of women to any branch of the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's Overseas Possessions, but it specially takes away the power which is contained in the Bill of regulating the admission of women to the Home Civil Service or any of the Departments at home. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear ‡"] My hon. Friends are good enough to say that I am properly explaining their Amendment. I wish to do it every justice.
The difference, therefore, between us is this: In the Bill as it stands the Government take power to regulate conditions, to apply at home as well as overseas, and they also take power. to exclude women overseas, whereas in the Amendment there is no power at all to regulate the admission of women to the Home Civil Service; there is only power to regulate admission to the service overseas. The Government at present is a very large employer of women. I have had the figures taken out, and I want to place them before the Committee. In the Post Office we have 86,500 women employed, as compared with 126,000 men, or about two-thirds of the number of men employed. Taking the other Departments together there are over 85,500 women as against 115,500 men. It is quite true, and I want to make it plain, that those are in the lower ranks, and I want to provide for the admission of women to the highest—the very highest—classes of the Civil Service. It is impossible, however, when already you have that very large number of persons employed, to sweep away all details or conditions of employment, and
at once, by Statute, without regulations, to open a free door through which women and men shall pass. Let me add this, in the interests of the women themselves, if you put woolen without any qualification or condition on the same terms in competition with men, I am not at all sure that you will safeguard their ultimate interest as well as if you apply conditions of employment which give them a fair and equal opportunity. Let us disabuse our minds of the sort of word which has been used more than once in the course of the speeches of the Mover and supporters of the Amendment. I refer to the word "bureaucracy," as though the Civil Service was all concerned in keeping out women. I do not think that is true. I have had an opportunity of consulting with some of those who are in charge of the matter, and I have found that they have taken a strong view, and insisted, as I have done, upon the valuable services which have been rendered by women, and that they are determined to secure that a good opportunity shall be given to them for employment. I therefore ask the Committee to leave aside words like that, which are really words of prejudice. Let me tell the Committee also some of the details, which are not unimportant, regarding the present conditions of employment. At the present time it is fair to say that the whole question of the employment of women is in a fluid state. Everybody knows that the Gladstone Committee reported in April of this year, and the conclusions of the Gladstone Committee, which some women have asked should be carried into effect, really amounted to this:
Other women witnesses, however, felt that it would be a long time before women, if introduced along with men into the lowest grades of Class 1, could become qualified by training and tradition to exercise any real influence over the decisions of Departments. In these circumstances, the witnesses thought that the employment of women in administrative posts should be experimental in the first instance, and that the experiment should take the form of earmarking for them certain posts in higher as well as lower grades and recruiting candidates for them, not by open competition (which, as things are, would not be likely to produce the most suitable candidates) but by a system of special selection.
Those women witnesses took that view. I pass to another passage:
In the consideration of the evidence our views have taken shape, and we present them in the hope that they may be of assistance in the solution of a problem, the full difficulty of which only appears on close examination. It is easy and natural to formulate principles based
on the equality or interchangeability of the sexes, but we are required to base our conclusions on the experience of Departments during the War. The evidence which we have taken on the subject convinces us that having regard to the existing differences in the opportunities of education and in the general mental equipment of young men and women it would be unsafe to introduce women forthwith as interchangeable with men throughout the various Departments, and that a readjustment of this kind needs to be worked out by gradual processes and carefully tested stage by stage.
Just one more passage, and I have done:
We accept the general principle advanced by the Royal Commission that the end in view should Le, not to provide employment for women as such, but to secure for the State the advantages of the Services of women wherever those services will best promote its interests.
Lastly, they say that it would not be possible to treat women
as interchangeable with men until experience has demonstrated only that they c[...]n rill these poets satisfactorily, but that in the same proportion as men they will be competent to carry wit the higher administrative duties for which junior administrative work constitutes the regular and necessary training.
The upshot of that is that the employment of women is undergoing developments and that at the present there is no adequate experience upon which to base the conclusion that it would be safe to open the door, without any conditions at all, to men and women alike, it would be unfair to the women from some points of view. For instance, in the lower divisions boys are examined between the ages of sixteen and seventeen, and it is found, so far as our experience goes, that the boy of sixteen or seventeen is a more powerful competitor and more like to succeed than a girl of sixteen or seventeen. The girl probably matures from the point of view of her capacity for examination at a later age, and at the present moment it is proposed to have two parallel classes in which, instead of putting young women upon an equality with men, we give to the women at the age of eighteen the examination which boys of sixteen or seventeen have to pass, and because they are older to take them on in employment at a slightly higher rate of wages, so that you give the girls a better opportunity of lacing selected than they might have if put upon terms of strict equality with the men. With regard to the higher grade in Civil Service examinations, the young man who passes the examination has the right to choose what Department he will go into. He may choose the Home Office, the Foreign Office, or any other Office. If you are to safeguard the employment of
women in the Civil Service overseas, in India, Ceylon, or elsewhere, you must give some power to regulate, unless you say that they are to have the right to be selected for services in which I believe it would be unwise to employ them. The hon. Member for Leicester (Colonel Yate) and the hon. Member for East Notts (Sir J. D. Rees) have a closer knowledge of Indian affairs than I have, but so far as I know there is hardly any dispute in regard to the employment of women overseas. I think the Amendment of the Noble Lord contains words for their exclusion from services overseas. Under these circumstances you must have some condition.
We then come to what is the difference between the two points of view. The Amend neat provides that in regard to the proceedings by Orders in Council a draft of the Order is to be submitted to this House. I am quite prepared to lay the Orders in Council upon the Table of the House for the purpose of convenience, but I am not prepared to lay the draft. What I want to do is to do exactly what was done in the case of the Orders in Council under the Treaty Act and to lay thorn upon the Table of the House when they have been made, and to provide that if a Motion is made within twenty-one days to abrogate them either wholly or in part, then that part can be annulled. It is only the question of whether you should place the draft on the Table or whether to give the House the opportunity to annual any Clause that may be criticised. The Order in Council which I propose is one which is more commonly used at the present time.
Certainly. The Order in Council both as to the foreign service and as to the home service will be laid upon the Table of the House. I hope I have carried the Committee with me. First of all, there must be some latitude to the Government in this matter of employment, whether in the interests of the women and in consequence of the experimental stage at winch the employment of women now rests. There must be some latitude and some conditions must be imposed, and that applies to the home Civil Service as well as the foreign Civil Service. I want to have the power to differentiate somewhat in favour of women in order to give them a better and more equal opportunity than they have at the present time. Instead of desiring to perpetuate a system of bureaucracy I want to make the position of women one of equality of opportunity, and for that purpose you must give a certain amount of latitude to safeguard the women themselves. Owing to the present system of education, if you left it simply as a matter of open competition the probability would be that the men would succeed by reason of their equipment at an earlier age than the women. With regard to Class 1, I am very anxious to give women every opportunity to reach high positions in the Civil Service. There is very little experience at the present time to show whether you can, in their own interests, allow them to suffer equal competition with the men at the same age, because you would find that a young man and a young woman at the same age the man would generally succeed as against the woman. There is still one point to be dealt with, and that is the question of marriage. It is very easy to say that marriage ought not to be a bar to the employment of women. In order to make it quite clear that this Bill is intended to be as wide as possible I have accepted two Amendments including the word "marriage," so as to provide that women shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage. When we come to consider. the employment of married women we have the experience of the Post Office and other Departments. How could you arrange that they should he employed on the same terms as men, when in the interests of the State it is right and proper that married women should bear children, and certainly in the interests of the children both a certain time before and after child-birth it would be right to provide that the women should be released from duty? That arises very largely in the case of the Post Office, where 80,000 women are employed. Is it possible to lay down rules or to provide by a Clause in an Act of Parliament to revise the law by which we can adjust, I will not say the inequality but the difference in the disability of the sexes? If you simply say that there must be no difference under any circumstances in regard to the employment of men and women then you are doing a very grave injury to the State and it may be to the married woman herself, and to the coming generation.
I am anxious to show that I can modify the Clause in the Bill very considerably. A certain amount of suspicion has sprung up about this Clause because it 'says, "provide for the exclusion of women from admission." I think that goes a little too far and I can use words which would retain quite sufficient power and yet not be so strong. The Amendment I have drafted would read—
Provided that notwithstanding anything in this Section His Majesty may by Order in Council authorise Regulations to be made providing for and prescribing the mode of the admission of women to the Civil Service of His Majesty.
It was pointed out to me that they might "prescribe" in a manner to exclude. Therefore, in the words I now propose I provide for as well as prescribe the mode of the admission of women to the Civil Service
and the conditions on which women admitted to that service may be appointed to or continue to hold posts therein—
That is in order to safeguard the limitation imposed in the case of marriage—
and giving power to reserve to men any branch of or posts in the Civil Service in any of His Majesty's possessions overseas or in any foreign country.
I put in the word "overseas" to show that the exclusion there is to apply to the Indian or the various other overseas services. That cannot be confused with the Home Civil Service. Finally, I am prepared to submit the whole of these Regulations to the treatment of the House by means of Orders in Council—
Any Order in Council made under this Section shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith and if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after the Order is laid before it praying that the Order or any part thereof may be annulled his Majesty in Council may annul the Order or that part thereof and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
May I venture to hope that I have offered a solution of this very difficult problem? I know the strong view that the hon. Member for Durham has always taken, and also the hon. Member for Chelsea, and I should be the first person to agree with them in principle, but when you come to look into the question, and have before you the material for exercising a judgment it is impossible to be, shall I say, the mere "whole-hoggers" that my hon. Friends are. There are discriminations. that must be made, and with that purpose-I have tried to meet the difficulties, and to give as large a measure as possible to women in order to give them equal opportunity, and at the same time to ensure that that equal opportunity may not be rendered illusory by putting them on precisely the same terms, which, so far as I can judge from the material before me, would place them at some disadvantage. I would ask the Committee to think over this matter very carefully before they decide to cast aside the suggestions which I have made. It is absolutely essential that we should preserve sub-paragraph (a). We cannot accept the hon. Baronet's solution. We have looked into it very carefully, and I trust the Committee will feel that the work that has been done has not been done without good purpose.
I have listened with very great disappointment to the speech of my right hon. Friend, and I am absolutely certain that it will be received with more than disappointment in the country. I do not think my right hon. Friend knows the passion for equality which is held by women to-day. He seems to me to look at the matter from a very wrong and very mistaken standpoint. The whole of his long and closely-reasoned speech seemed to me to start from wrong assumptions. I do assure bins that women do riot want any sort of protection; they ask for no special privileges. I assure him that that is not their demand. Their demand is for a free field. If it should happen that free competition hurts women, they have said over and over again that they will suffer that hurt, and do not want these special privileges and special examinations and special terms differentiating them from men. Part of the Solicitor-General's speech was occupied in describing how deeply he had the interests of women at heart, and how, in imposing these restrictions—which he admitted were restrictions—he really was acting in the interests of women. As far as his own action is concerned, I entirely accept that, but I would ask the Committee to observe that, in every single case in which the Solicitor-General has nominally acted in the interests of women, he was restricting their entry into the public service. First of all, with regard to Class 1, he said that it was not fair to allow women to compete on equal terms. I was very glad to hear that; I thought we were getting along. But, in the next sentence, his idea of increasing the fairness of competition is to rule out women from a large part of the posts in Class 1. If we accept the Amendment of the Government, I assure the Committee that it will mean that all the higher paid posts in the Civil Service will continue to be reserved to men. [HON. MEMBERS: "No ‡"] They will; that is absolutely certain, and that is the point we are fighting. That is the point on which we join issue with the Government.. Further, it is now the privilege of men who pass the examinations and win the top places in the list to choose which branch of the service they will go into. I believe the usual choice is the Treasury. Again, there are special Regulations which provide for admission to the Foreign Office. The Solicitor-General was very frank indeed about that. In his anxiety to protect the interests of women he is going to exclude them, I understand, from the right to choose the Treasury and from the right to go into the Foreign Office. It is worth while pointing out that, even in war time, when things were abnormal, a woman was employed by the Foreign Office in a high post in Syria. A woman for seine time acted as Governor of Baghdad in war-time, and I believe it was the intention of my Noble Friend, if he had continued in the high office which be held to appoint that same lady to a high position in the Foreign Office here. How can the Solicitor-General say that women are entirely unfitted for posts in the Foreign Office? If we go through all the exceptions which my right hon. Friend makes, they are all exceptions that operate against women. All of them, I know, are made with the best intentions, but that is the effect.
And now I come to the real crux of the question. My right hon. Friend spoke as though the admission of women to the Civil Service just meant the admission of any women that chose to come along, whether educated or uneducated, fitted or unfitted. The Committee knows that the facts are quite different. I do not think thy right hon. Friend told the Committee quite clearly that there arc now very strict examinations which regulate the admission of men to the Civil Service. All that the women ask is that they shall be able to sit for those examinations on the same terms as men. They do not ask for free entry in any further sense than that. If my right hon. Friend says that the examinations are not a fair test, I would say, "Alter the examinations." I know of nothing to differentiate between a man and a woman as regards the test of an examination. If by examination you can pick the best men—and our Civil Service proves that you do pick the best men—surely by examination you can pick the best women, and you can allow competition to operate, and allow either the men to beat the women or the women to beat the men‡ Here again I say—and it cannot be repeated too often—that the demand of the women is not for special privileges, not for special favours, hut for the right to try their own power, to feel their own feet. If it happens that in competition with men they cannot hold their own they will be the first to admit that the Civil Service should be abandoned to men. Until they have that chance they do not admit that. All they ask is the chance of proving their merit. The real crux of the question is this: If you sweep away the standard of examination, the standard which we have built up after a good many years of effort and failure, what is my right hon. Friend going to put in its place? Who is going to say what woman is suitable for what post? I defy anybody to do it. It passes the wit of man to say that for this post this woman is suitable and for this post that woman is suitable. You will have decisions of the most wildly contradictory character, and you will have results of the most unfair incidence. What is to be put in the place of the examination? As a matter of fact, it will be the decision of some bureaucrat sitting in Whitehall. All the paraphernalia of this Bill comes down to this, that somebody whose knowledge of his office is probably greater than his knowledge of the world will decide a question which has occupied the thinkers and philosophers of all times, namely, what the special qualities of women are; and he is to write down that certain posts are suitable for certain women.
I really think that my hon. and gallant Friend is misinterpreting me. I have not said that the examination is to be swept away. I have not suggested that at all. What 1 have said is that, in the case of the examinations for the lower grades, the intention was to have an examination for women of eighteen as against young men of sixteen or seventeen. I do not know why my hon. and gallant Friend assumes that a new system of selection of women is to be set up apart from examination. I never intended to convey that, and so far as I am aware I do not think I said it.
In the first place, if my right hon. Friend intends that women of eighteen shall compete against young men of seventeen, I do not believe that women want that—in fact I am sure they do not. I am sure they are quite prepared to meet, the men on equal terms at equal ages. If lie does not allow women to sit for examinations on the same terms as men now sit, on what terms are they to be admitted to the Civil Service? Somebody has got to decide; some standard has got to be chosen. Who is to decide, and what is the standard to be? I do ask the Committee to recognise the position the Government are in. We are asked to buy a pig in tile blindest of pokes, and we are asked to give them an absolutely free hand to settle this enormous question, which has swept Western Europe for the last generation. And they are to settle upon their own lines, without reference to this House, except by the extremely inept machinery of Orders in Council, what the women of the country are to do in regard to the public service, and who is to serve and who is not to serve. You must have some simple rule, and the only acceptable rule is equality. As soon as you sweep that away you get into all sorts of difficulties. If we accept the Government Amendment it will mean that the people who are interested in keeping out the women will be the judges as to who comes in and who does not. I make no charges against Government officials, but no man should be judge in his own cause.
My second point is that, unless the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) is accepted, the Government will be universally considered to have broken their election pledges. Let there be no mistake about that. Absolute equality between the sexes does not mean the exclusion of women from our immense public service. You cannot talk of equality and at the same time shut women out who will have passed the examinations that qualify men—you cannot shut them out on the ground of sex and sex alone, and then call that equality. Lastly, unless the Amendment of my hon. Friend is accepted women would rather have no Bill at all, for they regard this as a Bill which would be a sort of sop to public opinion and would prevent a real enfranchising Bill being passed. I do not believe the Government wish to antagonise the vast body of opinion which their action will antagonise unless the Amendment is carried. I am not speaking of what I do not know. They will bitterly antagonise all the women. They will have struck a cruel blow at their prospects, and especially at the prospects of those who have gone to the expenditure of educating themselves. I hope it is not too late. We all know who are the real authors of this opposition. The same thing occurred on the Health Bill. The House of Commons is flouted, and someone behind the scenes rules what is to be done. I am certain it is not the wish of the House. We shall certainly go to a Division on this, and I hope the Committee will support us.
In answer to the last Observation of my hon. And gallant Friend, as this Bill was adjourned from august, and as he had told me of the misgivings he had about this Clause, I personally insisted that figures should be taken out and that I should have the matter placed in my hands. I said inquiries ought to be made, and I determined that I would have figures and materials on which the Committee could form their judgment. I was impeded by no one. At the end of last week in order to meet views which had been presented by other members of the Government, who indicated that the present Clause went rather too far, I personally drew this Amendment in order that we may get to this new proposal that I have made, and it is quite unfair to say that any person has imposed his will upon me. I have endeavoured sincerely to find a solution of this matter, because I am just as keen as my hon. and gallant Friend that we should find one, and I have every confidence in the ability of him, and I am only sorry my hon. and gallant Friend should say, with all there is in this Bill and all we have put into it and all I intend to accept and put into it, that on some particular point the women would rather have no Bill at all if they do not get their own way in the way my hon. and gallant Friend asks that they should. I cannot believe that the women could be so unreasonable. I rose in order to take away any stigma on anyone who might be supposed to have coerced me. On the contrary, I have endeavoured by these words to place before the Committee what seems to me a fair and adequate solution of what my hon. and gallant Friend admits is a very difficult problem.
I rise to support the Amendment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Hills) referred to the fact that two ladies had taken a prominent part in the government of Baghdad and Syria. I used to think that really women ran the Cabinet, but, having listened to some speeches to-day, I am inclined to think there is no truth in it, because if women were behind the Cabinet and giving it instructions or even advice we should not be wasting our time in this manner. It is discreditable to the House of Parliament that it should spend a whole afternoon in dealing with a Bill of this character, a
Bill which could have been brought in in one Clause and one sentence, simply putting women and men on an equality. It seems absurd at this time of day that we should be splitting hairs with regard to points which the public want settled. I think the general public are in favour of women being treated in the same way as men, as far as public affairs are concerned, and I think this House should realise what the public feeling is, and because I feel that we ought to treat women simply as we treat men I rise to support this Amendment.
|Division No. 115.]||AYES.||[7.20 p.m.|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Forrest, W.||Moison, Major John Elsdale|
|Atkey, A. R.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.|
|Bairu, John Lawrence||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Morden, Colonel H. Grant|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gardner, E. (Berks, Windsor)||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)|
|Barker, Major R.||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir A. C. (Basingstoke)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Barnston, Major H.||Gros, Colonel George Abraham||Murchison, C. K.|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, Maj. C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gray, Major E.||Nall, Major Joseph|
|Bell, Lt-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Neal, Arthur|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar||Newman, Major J. (Finchley, M'ddx.)|
|Blane, T. A.||Gregory, Holman||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Greig, Colonel James William||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Gretton, Colonel John||Palmer, Major G. M. (Jarrow)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Gwynne, R. S.||Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hacking, Captain D. H.||Parker, James|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Hanna, G. B.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Hanson, Sir Charles||Perring, William George|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Briggs, Harold||Herbert, Denniss (Hertford)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Pratt, John William|
|Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonel A.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.||Preston, W. R.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Hope, Harry (Stirling)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Carr. W. T.||Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead)||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Carter. R. A. D. (Manchester)||Howard, Major S. G.||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Cayzer, Major H. R.||Hume-Wiiliams, Sir Wm. Ellis||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hurd, P. A.||Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Inskip, T. W. H.||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill||Jackson, Lt,-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Reid, D. D.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Jephcott, A. R.||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jesson, C.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General R. B.||Jodrell, N. P.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rodger. A. K.|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Craig, Cal. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Roundell, Lt.-Colonel R. F.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Kellaway, Frederick George||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Dawes, J. A.||Knights, Captain H.||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Dean, Com. P. T.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Seager, Sir William|
|Dockrell, Sir M.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Lloyd, George Butler||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N`castle-on-T., W.)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Lowe, Sir F. W.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Elveden, Viscount||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander||McNeill. Ronald (Canterbury)||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Macquisten, F. A.||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Maddocks, Henry||Steel, Major S. Strang.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Martin, A. E.||Stewart, Gershom|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mitchell, William Lane||Sturrock, J. Long.-|
|Sutherland, Sir William||Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)|
|Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Taylor, J. Dumbarton)||Whitla, Sir William||Tate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Tickler, Thomas George||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson||Yate, Sir Alfred William|
|Townley, Maximilian G.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward||Young, Sir F. W. (Swindon)|
|Vickers, D.||Lt-Com. C. (Tavistock)||Young, William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Waddington, R.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.||Younger, Sir George|
|Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)|
|Waring, Major Waiter||Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E.|
|Weston, Colonel John W.||Winfrey, Sir Richard||Talbot and Captain F. Guest.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Agg-Gardnar, Sir James Tynte||Hall, R.-Adml. Sir W. R. (Lpl, W. Dby)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hallas, E.||Parkinson. John Allen (Wigan)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Peel Col. Hon. S. (Uxbriage, Mddx.)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hartshorn, V.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bramsden, Sir T.||Hayward, Major Evan||Rae, H. Norman|
|Briant, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute)||Hinds, John||Richardson, R. (Houghton)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hirst, G. H.||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Cairns, John||Hodge, Rt. H on. John||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Casey, T. W.||Hogge, J. M.||Rowlands, James|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Holmes, J. S.||Scott, A. M. (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Clynes, Right hon. John R.||Irving, Dan||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Coitus, Major W. P.||Johnstone, J.||Sitch, C. H.|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne.)|
|Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University)||Keny, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Sugden, Lieut. W. H.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander||swan, J. E. C.|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Thomas. Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh)||Law, A.J. (Rochdale)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Dixon, Captain H.||Lunn, William||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Lynn, R. J.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||M'Bride, J. M.||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Ferestier-Walker, L.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wignall, James|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Glanville, Harold James||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Gould, J. C.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-||Wood. Major Hon. E. (Ripon)|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Wood, Maj. Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Pontypool)||Mosley, Oswald||Young, Lt.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Griggs, Sir Peter||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Newbould, A. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York.)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Samuel Hoare and Major Hills,|
I beg to move, to leave out paragraph (b). This paragraph deals with two points. The first provides that any judge or chairman of Quarter Sessions may, at his discretion on an application made on behalf of the parties, make an order to the effect that, having regard to the nature of the case and the evidence to be given, the jury shall be composed of men only or of women only; and the second part of it allows women to be exempted from service on a jury by reason -of the nature of the evidence to be given or the issues to be tried. I wish to submit to the Committee that this Clause is 'inadvisable. There are certain unpleasant facts in the world, and they have to be faced. Certain cases have to be dealt with in our criminal Courts. They have to be heard by a jury, be that jury composed of men or of women or of men and women jointly. It seems a reasonable power to give the judge to choose whether the jury shall be of men or of women, or whether it shall be a mixed jury, but when you come to look into the matter I cannot conceive any case—and there are many lawyers of experience in the House who will correct me if I am wrong—I cannot conceive of any case in which a judge would choose a jury of women alone. I can imagine cases where he would choose a jury of men alone. They are cases for, instance, of unnatural offences, but this Sub-section really means that the judge shall have power to decide on trying certain cases by men alone. I know it seems a horrible suggestion, to make to the House that women, and particularly young women, twenty-one or twenty-two years of age, should be brought into contact with the disgusting evidence which is often involved in these cases. But I do ask the Committee to consider this. These things have to be investigated by our Courts of law. Women ask to share the duties of citizenship on equal terms with men. Jury service is an obligation which they do not ask to escape. As the world now stands it is their duty to take their share in whatever unpleasant work has to be done. They must, therefore, serve on these juries. Look at it from another point of view. It is a horrible thing to ask them to do it. It is a shocking idea that women should be asked to share these unpleasant duties. Bet these things do exist. They are equally horrible to men. Somebody has to hear them. Men do hear them now, and i do not understand that they are in the least damaged by so doing. That is not the argument which has been put forward. It may be said that women should be kept more apart, that they should be kept from contact with rough and brutal phases of life. But bear in mind the general trend of things in these days. Bear in mind the insistent demand at women for equality with men—equality of opportunity, equality of sacrifice, equality of duty. That demand is sweeping over the whole of the world. I think a Clause of this sort, although it appears reasonably in consonance with public feeling, is not advisable. I think we should leave men and women to take their share in all these duties.
Sir E. FUME-WILLIAMS:
I have listened with consternation to the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend. Anyone who has experience of some of the terrible cases that have to be tried in our Courts, and the almost revolting evidence that, unfortunately, has to be given—evidence which is almost unfit for any jury to hear—will agree with me that it is impossible that such cases should be tried before a jury composed of women, or partly of men and partly of women. If my hon. and learned Friend desires to leave out Subsection (a), and leave it that a person shall not be exempted by sex from serving on any jury, the result will be that when juries are summoned in the future the summoning officer will summon all people who hold jury qualifications, whether men or women, and some one will have to determine, when they conic to Court, in what proportion they are going to sit on the jury. The jury might be composed entirely of men or entirely of women, or of one man and eleven women or eleven men and one woman. There appears to be nothing governing that point in any way. We do not know how juries will be composed in the future, and in what proportion of sexes. I cannot imagine anything more awful for a judge, counsel, or witnesses who may be concerned in such a case than to have to deal with a jury wholly of women or partly of men and partly of women, in view of the evidence which has sometimes, of necessity, to be given. Indeed, I think it would affect in very many cases the administration of justice. Witnesses would be tempted to disguise the truth, and women on the jury would, in my opinion, be so shocked by the evidence that they would find it almost impossible to act in the case.
Imagine the feeling of the judge who had to sum up the evidence and to hold the scales equally before a bi-sexual jury such as I am referring to. I would be inclined to strengthen the powers which this Bill gives. As the Clause stands at present it appears to contemplate that the only fact which the judge can take into consideration, when he is ordering that a case be tried solely by a jury of men, is the propriety of the evidence to be offered. But I would give the judge further powers when he orders a case to be tried by a jury. It is not only criminal cases that we are dealing with. There are ordinary commercial disputes which have to be tried in commercial Courts before juries, involving questions of commercial customs, breach of contracts, interpretation of agreements, and things entirely in the cognisance and experience of the particular classes of men from whom special juries are usually drawn. I say that in these cases women ought not to serve because they lack commercial experience and, with all their assiduity and all their desire to do justice, they may not possess the required knowledge because they have not the experience. These are cases which the parties would desire to have tried by a jury of men, and we give a judge the power, when application is made for a trial by jury, to say in a particular instance that it shall be tried only by a jury of men.
Take, again, the Divorce Court. I really regard with apprehension the trial of divorce cases before a jury composed of women. There is a great number of women who think—and I am not sure that I do not sympathise with them—that the present divorce laws are unjust, that they do not deal out equal justice to men and women, because to enable a wife to divorce her husband she has to prove more than her husband has to prove, in order to divorce his wife. There is a great number of women who feel that to be a great injustice, and it is quite possible if a woman were on a jury in a Divorce Court she might allow her judgment in dealing with another woman to be warped by what she thinks is the injustice of the existing law. She may think that the tribunal is not dealing even justice between men and women and she may be quite capable of saying to herself, "I cannot exercise an entirely fair judgment on the conditions affecting this particular woman whom I am asked to judge because I think that she is one of a class which is treated unjustly in this case." She is prone to make inferences of this kind, and I do not believe that there is anyone who has had any experience of the Divorce Court in particular who would contemplate without anxiety trying a case before a mixed jury of men and women, and, therefore, when the time comes, I propose to move the Amendment in my name which seeks to go further than tee existing Clause. Meantime 1 hope that the hon. and learned Member whose interest in this question of the privileges of women we all know and sympathise with so deeply, will not press an Amendment of this kind, which I am perfectly certain will shock the sense of the Committee, as I believe it will outrage the sense of the community.
I cannot find myself subscribing to all the arguments which my hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Hume-Williams) has used, but I may say at once that I am entirely with him in his conclusion. I do not think that there is any member in this Committee who speaks with greater authority or commands greater respect in these matters than my hon. and gallant Fried (Major Hills) who moved this Amendment, and I myself have on various occasions supported him, almost without exception; but I am unable to take that course now, for tins reason. He advanced what was a very good logical argument in favour of the Amendment. My answer is that these things are not entirely decided by logic. In our wisdom, and in the wisdom of those who went before us, which I am still sufficiently old-fashioned to attach some importance to, certain conventions have been established by which on the whole it was thought well to mark a distinction, in the sense of protection of women, between the sexes. I know that there may be many Members of this House who think that that philosophy is out of date and of no use in the twentieth century. I am not one of those, because I think that you cannot, without risk of injury, too abruptly sweep away all the barriers by which society has been fenced, and while, if I followed my hon. Friend's argument, I might be disposed to think that the day may come when for a great many purposes we may find ourselves employing the agency of women entirely both as jurors and perhaps as judges, yet I continue to believe that there are, and must be, many cases—my hon. and earned Friend has stated some—in which, at all events at this moment, it is not desirable to employ men and women together at the same time that is, to my mind, a convincing argument why I cannot support the Amendment. My hon. and learned Friend pleaded on the ground that there was to be complete sex equality. Do not let us be missed by words. I do not think that it would be in any sense true sex equality to compel women as we as amen to hear the class of cases to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers. It is a hardship upon any man to compel him to sit through the sort of details that must make up those cases. But if it is a hardship on a man, it is a tenfold hardship on a woman, and I confess that I am at at one with my hon. and learned Friend when he says, as far as he has been able to gauge it, that if we were able to pass this Amendment we should be going beyond the sense of the Committee and running the risk of outraging the common sense, not only of the Committee, but of the whole country.
In the present state of opinion and convention it may not he practicable to have women juries to try certain cases, because of the conven- tions which have grown up by which you may not mention certain things in the presence of a woman; but I would ask this Committee to consider that it is part of the Victorian attitude that apparently while you may not say things to women you may do things to women. For instance, the things nurses have to stand, the things nurses have to do, are far worse than listening to words to which they may not listen under the conventions of sham chivalry which have grown up. Take the case of the women who arc the shame of our streets. Think, if you walk home to-night through Piccadilly or the West End of London, of the things we see, and think—it is a matter of common knowledge—of the 50,000 prostitutes of London, and yet we talk about women being offended if they are forced to hear a certain number of the facts of the world. It may be that it is for the moment impracticable as a general thing, but I wish to remind this Committee that the actual facts of life are far worse and far more terribly hard on women than any of the things which we can ask them to listen to. The attitude all along has been: "Do not mention these things, but surround women, or certain women, with a rosy mist of words, and then you can do what you like to other women." That is not the attitude with which we must go through the coming century, and while the present conventions may forbid us to bring certain evidence before mixed juries, it is a sham, and it is not a protection to women. When you have swept away the shame of the streets, and when, if ever, we forbid women in hospitals to perform the revolting duties which they have to do, then we can come with clean hands and say, "We do not want you to listen to certain rather unpleasant phrases"; but until we do that, and not until then, we shall not have the right to say, "We wish to protect women." Let us remember that hundreds of thousands of women are suffering in their bodies things which we think we are doing something to remove by protecting their ears.
My hon. Friend (Major Wood) put his point in a very charming and chivalrous way, but not, I think, in a truthful way. When one looks at the precise words of the Sub-section which it is now proposed to leave out, it will be seen that they are much wider. I quite understand that if my hon. Friend were taking the case of a woman who asked to be exempted from serving on a jury for obvious reasons there is great force in his argument. But this Sub-section goes a great deal further than that, and so does the Amendment. I should be prepared to support a compromise limited to the case of exempting the woman who wishes not to serve on the jury. But in order to do that we have got to get rid of the very wide words which stand here which give a judge the power to say that women are not to serve. That seems to be going far beyond the necessities of the case and far beyond any qualities of chivalry such as my hon. Friend suggests, and I think he would agree with me, if I suggest that a woman shall have the option of not serving on a jury in such cases as those in which she does not wish to serve, that we shall be doing quite as much as is demanded in the interests of the protection of women. There are these cases which have got to be tried. After all, women are taking up their position in the State largely as a position of equal citizenship to-day. They have accepted that position during the War, and the extension of the franchise itself is very largely the recognition of the position that women have rights as citizens. I know that women are prepared in consideration of that recognition to face the obligations which it entails. My hon. Friend has pointed out other obligations. Therefore, I hope that the Government will accept the compromise and allow the Sub-section to be deleted and then allow this Clause to be put in in a much more moderate form so as to allow a woman herself not to serve on a jury if she so wishes. If the Solicitor-General would accept the deletion of the Clause and between now and the Report stage put in limiting words of that kind he would, I believe, be meeting the wishes of the Committee.
I am rather surprised that the deletion of this Clause is asked for. Speaking from an experience of the criminal Courts extending over twenty years, in my recollection it has always been the practice of judges to ask women whether they wish to retire or not when this class of case is being tried, and T recollect no case where the women stayed. That is testimony as to what women think. Hon. Members claim to speak on behalf of women. I am satisfied that men are revolted by these cases, and as women in one's own experience have always with- drawn on the invitation of the judge, although they have had the opportunity of staying, I hope the Solicitor-General will adhere to the Sub-section as drawn.
I am indebted to hon. Members for giving me their views about this particular proposal, because it is one about which I feel there is considerable difficulty. The history of it is that when the Bill was introduced in another place there was a Clause which enabled a woman to make application, when she had been summoned for service on a jury, in respect of the nature of the case, and that is the portion of the Clause which the hon. Member wishes to be adhered to. It is a portion of the Clause which I certainly think ought to be adhered to. It seems to me terrible that you should make it impossible for any woman to make an application, after she is summoned, that she should be discharged from hearing the class of cases in which the evidence would disgust any honest mind. If you keep that portion of the Clause, as I think most men would wish to do and most women too, what about the rest of it? The reason why the Clause was amplified was this: It was done on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice of England, who wanted to have power in the judge, at his discretion, to direct whether the case should be tried before a jury of women or a jury of men. If I read the Clause aright, it does not say that they shall be mixed; it does not give power to the judge to order a mixed trial. In the ordinary course they would be mixed. It gives power to direct in a particular case that it should be tried before a jury of men or before a jury of women. I am very reluctant to give even the impression that in any way we are cutting down the duty imposed upon women. After all, anyone who has any experience of the summoning or duties of juries knows that the duties of the jury are wholly burdensome. I cannot think of a more miserable type of public service, because it involves so little trying of cases and so much hanging about. Jurymen may be interested to hear my hon. and learned Friend in some bright and sparkling case, but the number of hours during which they will hear his eloquence is about 1 per cent. of the number of hours they will wait up and down the Courts, wondering whether they will, be wanted to-day, to-morrow or next week. The whole service of juries is one which men have found very heavy indeed.
Coming back to the Clause, and in view of the fact that the Clause was inserted at the request of the Lord Chief Justice of England, who must have considered the matter very carefully, I am very reluctant to let it go. I think that, on the whole, the Committee would be well advised to leave it. I am perfectly ready to consider any further Amendment. There is one part of it that I do not like myself, and it is that part which says that parties may apply. I think that rather dangerous. I think, however, it is better to leave the Clause in unless now or upon Report there are other Amendments to be brought forward. One cannot lightly throw aside the experience and discretion of the Lord Chief Justice. There is one difficulty in working the Clause. Having regard to the power of saying that cases shall be tried before men only or before women only, I think it will be necessary for summoning officers to summon a much larger number of jurors than would otherwise be necessary so that provision may be made for any eventuality that may arise as a result of the exercise of the discretion. The practice must be novel. I think it may be necessary here or in another place to give power to make rules of Court or to make some alteration by another Bill. Here we are dealing not with a Jurors Bill but with a Sex Disqualification Bill.
I beg to move, in paragraph (b)to leave out the words
having regard to the nature of the case and the evidence to be given ('make an Order that having regard to the nature of the case and the evidence to be given the jury shall be composed').
I want the Clause to convey clearly that the judge may make this order at the time he orders a case to be tried by a jury. In answer to the learned Solicitor-General, let me point out that the summoning of a large number of people who will not be required for jury duties need not be contemplated, except in criminal cases, because the procedure at present is that either party has to apply to a judge in
Chambers for a case to be tried by a jury, and without such an order from the judge the case is not tried by a jury. What I want to secure is, that the person who has to say whether or not a case is to be tried by jury is the judge who makes that order, and that he shall be allowed to make it at the time that the jury is applied for. Then I would like evidence to place before a judge showing clearly that it was in the interests of the parties and of justice that the case be tried either by a jury of men or a jury of women. Take a case where the sole dispute is as to tile price of clothes or the fit of a dress. County Court judges pass, agreeably enough, a considerable part of their time in determining, on view and on evidence, whether a dress fits or does not fit. Under the direction of a County Court judge the County Court jury have to determine this vexed question. I should think a jury of women would determine it in about half the time and would know a great deal more about the matter than anyone else in Court. On the other hand, there might be a case of a purely commercial dispute involving the commercial customs of London, the interpretation of charter parties, and all sorts of technical terms which the ordinary woman cannot understand. It would be equally appropriate then that the judge, in ordering a trial by jury, should indicate that it should be tried by a jury of men. The only object I have in wishing to delete these words is to make it quite plain that the discretion of the judge shall not be confined to cases where the evidence is of an improper character.
Might I point out that the words which the hon. and learned Member wishes to leave out are not confined to improper cases? They would apply to a badly-fitting dress as well as to anything else.
I agree, and I should be satisfied if the Solicitor-General would tell me that these words are not intended to be confined to cases of improper evidence. Then the whole of my Amendments would become abortive. The words "having regard to the nature of the case and the evidence to be given" did seem to suggest that the intention was to confine the discretion of the judge to cases where women on the jury would be shocked by the nature of the evidence.
The Clause as drawn says any judge before whom the case is heard. My impression is that that would prevent an order being made by anybody except the judge who was actually to try the case. The practice in Chambers is rather different. If the Committee thought it was wise to leave out these words, I would undertake on Report to put in words "before the case is heard or to be heard," in order to make the point clear.
I beg to move to leave out the word "that" ["that case"], and to insert instead thereof the word "any."
As the line stands at present that case would refer back to some case in which an order had been made.
Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: At end insert the words
any Order in Council made under this Section shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after the Order is laid before it praying that the Order or any part thereof may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Order or that part thereof, and it shall henceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder."—[Sir E. Pollock.]
Clause, as amended, agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 2 (Short Title and Repeal) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
With regard to the first of the new Clauses (Amendment of Representation of the People Act, 1918), that is outside the scope and title of the Bill. I think it is drawn under a misconception. The franchise is, according to our existing law, a qualification. The only disqualifications under the Representation of the People Act apply to criminals, lunatics, etc. From the very wording of this proposed Clause, I think it is obvious that the purpose it aims at must be obtained by specific Amendments to the Representation of the People Act.
I have no desire to dispute your ruling, but do I understand that the lack of a vote being a disqualification does not, in your opinion, come within the title of a Bill to amend the law and remove sex disqualification? I suggest that it is a disqualification that a young woman may not have a vote, and on that account I submit that the proposed new Clause comes within the scope of the Bill and is in order.
That is the particular point which I had to consider, and in view of the large interest taken in the matter I thought it right to put my views before Mr. Speaker, and he was clearly of the same opinion, that our franchise laws are based on qualifications, and the only disqualifications are those referred to as legal incapacity.
With all respect to your ruling, men are qualified at twenty-one and women are not qualified until they are thirty. Surely a Clause that would remove that disqualification, which exists only by reason of sex, comes within the title and scope of this Bill, which deals with the removal of sex disqualification‡ Further, an Amendment which we passed earlier to-day entrenched on this particular question, because we have added Members to the Upper Chamber.
With regard to that, what the House did was to remove any common law barrier there may be, but that is quite a different question from this. With regard to the other point, a soldier is given the franchise at nineteen, but that is not a disqualification to a civilian who does not get the franchise until lie is twenty-one. The very essence of our action in 1913 was that we proceeded specifically by way of qualification.