The struggle for equality in 1923

1918 was just one step on the way towards womens’ equality.   To give a sense of the state of debate just 5 years later in 1923,  here’s a report from hustings held by the Reading Society for Equal Citizenship for Men and Women on Monday 3rd December 1923 just before the election on 6 December 1923. This is from the weekly Reading Observer on 7 December 1923.

Major Cadogan was the Tory candidate, Somerville Hastings for Labour and F Maddison for the Liberal Party.  Somerville Hastings was elected although he lost his seat in the election held in 1924 before regaining it in 1929.

Candidates Replies to Questionnaires

Under the auspices of the Reading Society for Equal Citizenship for men and women (non-Party), a mass meeting for women was held in the Town Hall on Monday evening, when the three candidates attended and answered questions on the Society’s programme. Miss Robie Uniacke presided over the meeting. Each candidate attended at different times and gave his answers to the questionnaire. The answers and replies are set out

Q 1  – Equal Franchise – If elected, will you urge the Government to introduce, adopt and carry legislation to extend the Patliamentary franchise to women on the same residential qualification and from the same age as to men? Will you make a statement to this effect in your election address and in your speeches?

A – Major Cadogan: In regard to the first part, yes: and in regard to the second part, I have already done so.

A – Dr Somerville Hastings: I believe in the absolute equality of man and woman before God and the Law. I believe in equal franchise not only for Parliamentary but also for local government purposes.

A – Mr. F Maddison: My answer is simply yes. I have dealt with it in my election address.


Q  2. – Equal Pay and Opportunities – If elected, will you (a) support legislative and administrative measures to secure in the Civil Service, under local authorities and elsewhere (1) Full professional and industrial freedom and opportunities for women with equal rights of training, entry and promotion? (2) Equal Pay for Equal Work (i.e. that men and women shouldi be paid at the same rate, whether is is to be computed by time or by piece in the same occupation or grade)? In particular will you urge the Government to give effect to the resolution passed in Parliament in August 1921 to review the question of equal pay for equal work between men and women in the Civil Service?
Will you support legislation to make illegal the compulsory retirement on marriage of women employed by the State or by local authorities?

A – Major Cadogan: Yes. With regard to the latter part of the question, I oppose compulsory retirement in principle, but I consider that each class should be treated on its merit.

Dr Hastings: In answer to the first part yes. Part 2: I have always maintained that, and so has the Party which which I am associated. I am prepared to support legislation [against?] compulsory retirement of married women employed by the State or local authorities.

Mr. Maddison: As I understand the first part of the question, I am in favour of it. In regard to the second part, I am also very much in favour of it, but when you come to its application there are great difficulties which tell very much against women unless you are very careful. I shouldhave to approach the details with care and consideration. With regard to compulsory retirement of women on marriage, I am not able to agree to that. For this reason, first of all it is wise to leave that question to the State and local authorities, especially local authorities.

Q3 – Unemployment – If elected, will you urge the Government to make provision for women as well as for men in any scheme for the training or relief of the unemployed, in proportion to their number, and will you pay special regard tot those, whether men or women, who have dependents?

A – Major Cadogan:  Yes
Dr Hastings : Yes
Mr. Maddison – Yes


Q 4.  League of Nations – If elected will you do all in your power to urge the Government to strengthen and develop the existing League upon such lines as shall secure the inclusion within it of all nations?
Further, will you urge the Government to include women among the full voting delegaties it appoints to the League (or to any bodies under) in connection with the League?
A  – Major Cadogan: Yes
Dr Hastings: Yes
Mr. Maddison: I am entirely in favour of the principle.

Q 5. – Equal Guardianship of Children – If elected, will you do all in your power to urge the Government to introduce and to carry a Bill on the lines of the Guardianship of Infants Bill, 1923, which gives to mothers equal rights and responsibilities with fathers as regards their children?

A. – Major Cadogan: Yes
Dr Hastings: That must of necessity follow equal rights. It is for us to equalise things and divide equally the power over the offspring.
Mr. Maddison: I am entirely in favour of the principle.2015-05-07 21.37.03


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