Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons (Visitors)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Peter Archer Mr Peter Archer , Rowley Regis and Tipton 12:00 am, 20th July 1966

asked the Lord President of the Council if he is aware that admission under the Gallery is not open to women without special permission; what is the reason for this discrimination; and whether he will take steps to admit women on the same terms as men.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

Under the Gallery is intended primarily for expert advisers and those having a direct interest in the debate and if a woman comes within those categories arrangements can be made for her to be admitted.

Photo of Mr Peter Archer Mr Peter Archer , Rowley Regis and Tipton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that to secure the admission even of a woman expert, it is necessary to obtain the certificate of the Chief Whip on either side of the House? Would my right hon. Friend explain why his need is greater than that of other hon. Members?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

The history of the admission of women under the Gallery goes back to the eighteenth century. There is a very good reason for it. I would remind the House that both Mr. Speaker's and the Serjeant at Arm's Galleries are reserved for women only.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell:

Will the Lord President undertake a complete review of the allocation of seats in the public Gallery? Is he aware that many hon. Members have been told that there is not a single seat left today, yet we look up there and see a whole row of empty seats? Is he further aware—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot call attention to the presence or absence of strangers without risking serious consequences.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

May I partly thank the right hon. Gentleman for his information? Is he aware that who sits in various Galleries in other parts of the House is nothing to do with the right of women to be admitted under the Gallery as experts? The whole procedure to get women's rights established as experts has been abominable. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I was thinking of establishing myself a wayleave under the Gallery in order to protect our interests?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

There is no difficulty whatever about a lady being given permission to sit under the Gallery if she is an expert and is advising any hon. Member within the House on a private Member's Bill or on public business.