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CHAR 22/155 Official: Cabinet: papers 51 to 80.

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CHAR 22/155/119

Printed memorandum by WSC marked 'secret' in which he argues against the extension of the franchise. He discusses the extension of the franchise over the last century, arguing that its negative impact on the Conservative vote has been masked by the withdrawal of Irish votes and the splitting of the anti-Conservative vote. He urges caution in extending the franchise at the present time for "the good of the nation", arguing that there is no forceful public support for further extension of the franchise although "The decision to enfranchise 5 or 6 million additional electors, and finally to transfer the control of our affairs to a majority of women, is surely one of the greatest events of our history". WSC discusses statements of Conservative policy on the issue, specifically a pre-election pledge by the Prime Minister [Stanley Baldwin] of equal political rights for men and women and a conference of all parties on the issue and subsequent discussion in Cabinet and in Parliament, including undertakings made "beyond Cabinet authority" by the Home Secretary [Sir William Joynson-Hicks, later 1st Lord Brentford]. WSC urges the government to restate its position and to set up a conference, arguing that it would not be committed to accept or implement the recommendations. He concludes by summarising the available options either to set up a conference (in which case he favours not agreeing "to anything beyond the compromise proposal of an equal residential qualification at 25 and an equal occupational qualification at 21 for both sexes") or to embark on universal suffrage with a Redistribution Bill.

Copy No 27.

1 pamphlet ([1], 2-8 p)
08 Mar 1927