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Extension of the franchise

23 June 2017

June 22nd, 1917.

THERE was no uncertainty about the vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday on votes for women. By a majority of 330, nearly half the full membership of the House, woman suffrage was agreed to as part of the Representation of the People Bill, only 55 being found to support the amendment for rejecting the proposal. Whether the House of Commons’ vote faithfully reflects opinion outside is open to question. A referendum could have decided it, but the suggestion of taking one was rejected. The war has induced in every country a movement towards further extension of the franchise, and towards the fullest measure of popular control of national policy. The cessation of militancy would in any case have disposed favourably to the women’s movement many who were restrained from manifesting their sympathy with it so long as a few women supported their political aspirations by arson. On the other hand, the splendid response of women to the call for their service has entitled them to a fuller share in the national decisions. And those who still oppose female suffrage can hardly maintain that their spokesmen in the House of Commons made a very brilliant contribution to the discussion of the question.

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