Women’S Suffrage Centenary

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 6th February 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dawn Butler Dawn Butler Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities 1:14 pm, 6th February 2018

I would like to thank the Minister for sight of her statement. Unfortunately I have not really had time to read it as it was given to me so late—not very sisterly, but never mind.

I was hoping that the Minister was going to make an announcement today that the Government were going to issue an official apology to the women of the suffragette movement or maybe a pardon for those who were wrongly imprisoned and sexually assaulted in their battle to get women the vote. Instead, all we have is another announcement—how utterly disappointing.

The Minister is right: 2018 marks the landmark centenary of when some women received the right to vote. That was also the day when men, wanting to cement their authority and majority, decided to give working-class men the vote, so the men in my office are also celebrating today. Working-class women, socialists, trade unionists and black, Asian and minority ethnic women were still denied a voice.

Labour is the party of equality, with a proud record of advancing women’s rights. We are so proud of our achievements and ashamed of the Tory party’s determination to undo and remove safeguards for women. [Hon. Members: “What?”] Let me explain. Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 had a safeguard for women and employees who might be sexually harassed or abused by third parties, as we saw in the Presidents Club, but unfortunately the coalition Government removed that section in 2013. I hope the Government will reinstate it. Almost every piece of legislation that has improved the lives of women has been introduced by a Labour Government.