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Women Suffrage

Volume 52: debated on Thursday 24 April 1913

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I beg to present a petition signed by the representatives of women's organisations representing 24,000 members, praying the House of Commons to pass a Resolution enabling them to appear at the Bar and give reasons why the enfranchisement of women should be enacted, and I desire that the petition should be read by the Clerk at the Table.

read the petition, which was as followeth:—

"To the honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled.
"The humble petition of the undersigned representatives of organisations of working women respectfully showeth:
"That Mr. Speaker, having informed us that it is in the power of your honourable House to pass a Resolution whereby women shall be granted permission to appear at the Bar of the House, we representing 34,500 working women pray your honourable House to pass such a Resolution to enable us to lay before the House their special claims to enfranchisement, feeling that the exclusion of working women from the rights of citizenship is detrimental to the nation.
"Because women as wage-earners occupy a weaker position in the industrial world than men, and therefore specially require the protection of the vote in dealing with industrial legislation affecting women workers.
"Because the majority of married working women who are not wage-earners are deeply concerned as wage-spenders in all industrial legislation and in such social questions as taxations, education, housing, and land reform.
"Because the lives of women are greatly affected by questions of national service and foreign policy, and they should, therefore, have a voice therein as citizens.
"Because so long as women are excluded from the counsels of the nation their capacity for public service is lost to the State.
"Because justice demands political freedom for men and women alike, and the refusal of it to working women hinders them in the struggle they are daily waging to raise the burdens of poverty from their homes and gain a happier future for then children.
"And your Petitioners will ever pray.
"MARGARET LLEWELLYN DAVIES, hon. general secretary, Women's Co-operative Guild.
"MARION PHILLIPS, general secretary, Women's Labour League.
"CHARLOTTE M. WILSON, hon. secretary, Fabian Women's Group.
"ELIZABETH GILROY, secretary National Assurance of Midwives."