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Conciliation Bill

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Title: Conciliation Bill  
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Subject: First-wave feminism, Black Friday (1910), Teresa Billington-Greig, Edith How-Martyn, Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom
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Conciliation Bill

Three Conciliation bills were put before the House of Commons, one each year in 1910, 1911 and in 1912 which would extend the right of women to vote in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to around 1,000,500 wealthy, property-owning women.

While the Liberal government of H. H. Asquith supported this, a number of backbenchers, both Conservatives and Liberals, did not support the bill for fear that it would damage their parties’ success in general elections. Some pro-suffrage groups rejected the Bills because they gave the vote to only some women; some Members of Parliament rejected them because they gave some women the right to vote (these people did not want any women to receive this right). Liberals also opposed the Bill because they believed that the 1,000,000 who would be allowed to vote would be Conservative voters so it would not be in the Liberals' interests to pass the Bill.

Conciliation Bill 1910

This contained over 250 000 signatures. Prime Minister Asquith agreed to give the bill parliamentary time after pressure from the Cabinet, however the general election intervened and this did not take place.

Conciliation Bill 1911

The Second Conciliation Bill was debated in May of 1911 and won a majority of 255 to 88 as a Private Members Bill. The bill was promised a week of government time. However in November Asquith announced that he was in favour of a manhood suffrage bill and that suffragist could suggest and propose an amendment that would allow some women to vote. The bill was consequently dropped.

Conciliation Bill 1912

The Parliamentary Franchise (Women) Bill was again introduced on 19 February 1912 and set down for Second Reading on 22 March,[1] although the debate was later delayed to 28 March. However this time the Bill was defeated by 208 to 222.[2] The reason for the defeat was that the Irish Parliamentary Party believed that time given over debating votes for women would be used to prevent Irish home rule; however the Women's Social and Political Union blamed Asquith as the eight members of the Government who had voted against the Bill would have overturned the result had they voted the other way.[3]

The Franchise Bill, for universal manhood suffrage, was introduced in 1912 but was strongly criticised, and made no progress.


External links

  • Extracts from MPs who debated the passage of the Bill
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