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House of Lords vote against allowing votes for women
'When she gets it, what will she do with it?'. The House of Lords have rejected a bill that would enable women to vote. Photo: The Lepracaun Cartoon Weekly, National Archives of Ireland, CSO RP 1914/7527

House of Lords vote against allowing votes for women

Published: 7 May 1914

The House of Lords in London has rejected the Women's Enfranchisement Bill by a majority of 44 (104 to 60).

The bill would have extended limited voting rights to women, although even its supporters acknowledged that they wished for something more.

Lord Willoughby de Broke said that he believed the interest of the state was served by admitting women to the parliamentary franchise. He also argued that the women’s movement was ultimately bound to succeed and that it would be wise to accommodate that fact.

These views were supported by other speakers, but the reaction against the bill from certain peers was extensive and determined.

(L) A report on distrurbances caused by Suffragettes in the Protestant Cathedral in Belfast, April 1914. (R) Document showing total number of electors on the register for 1914. (Images: National Archives of Ireland, CSO RP 1914/67357 & 1914/Box 5473/435)

Lord Weardale said that there was no proof that the majority of women wished to vote. Indeed, he said, the great mass of women was indifferent to the question.

The Marquis of Crewe said that he was not inclined to view with enthusiasm a large addition to the mass of individual voters for parliamentary elections; in fact he is of the opinion that there were already too many.

Lord Lamington said that he did not object to women expressing their opinions, but suggested they should have a chamber of their own, in which they might show the nation what their views were on any subject. What he did object to, he said, was the opinions of women being mixed up with those of men.

Outside of parliament the campaign for suffrage continued unchecked. In Dublin, the Irish Women’s Franchise League has organised for Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to speak in Dublin. This has been welcomed by the Transport and General Workers’ Union: ‘Mrs Pethick-Lawrence is not only a great Suffrage leader, but also a well-known worker in the cause of labour.’

‘Her practical interest in the Dublin lock-out induced her to take six children from the Dublin slums to her beautiful cottage in Surrey, where they were kept in health and happiness during the worst weeks of the Dublin industrial struggle.’

The union urged its members to support the visit and the cause: ‘Dublin workers ought to turn up at the meeting in the Sackville Hall, next Thursday, to give Mrs Pethick-Lawrence a rousing welcome to Dublin, and show their appreciation of what she and her husband have done for the oppressed.’


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.