Westminster Matters

Westminster Matters

By Albert Owen MP/AS, Ynys Môn

February 2018

Celebrating Votes for Women & Working Class Men - with a Welsh dimension.

In Parliament I joined the celebrations of votes for women with the centenary of the Representation on the Peoples Act 1918. This was a significant Act of Parliament that gave some women in Britain and Ireland the vote for the first time. The vote was not given without a fight, the bravery of the Suffragette movement is well documented as they made their case, often with direct action against the male establishment.

The 1918 Act only gave the vote to women over thirty, it wasn’t until a decade later that women were politically equal to men. I have supported the fight for equality and while we have seen much progress over the last century, more needs to be done. 

I pay tribute to the pioneers that led the votes for women and campaigned for women to be able to be MPs. In 1929 Anglesey elected Megan Lloyd George, the first woman to represent a Welsh constituency in the UK Parliament, showing the radical side of the Island community. 

Megan Lloyd George

The Representation of the Peoples' Act also gave the vote to working men over 21, prior to this only men who owned property and their workers could vote. This was a major step and the electorate was extended by some 14 million, with constituency voting being introduced on the same day. It shaped the terms of our democratic system today. All this came against the background of the First World War, when women ran our industry as men from communities across our country, mostly working class, went to war. They deserved a vote to have a say in the Country's future. We should never forget their sacrifice and suffrage. 

Personally, I believe in compulsory voting, based on our rights and responsibilities. I know this is controversial, but when you see the struggle people went through to get that right to vote in the last century, I think it's our duty to use it. 

As Chair of the Welsh Grand Committee in the House of Commons it was an honour to be the first to officially use the Welsh language in this unique committee. I pay tribute to all those across the parties who campaigned and took part. I also hope to secure and lead in the Welsh Affairs debate in the Chamber of the House of Commons on St David's Day. It's worth noting the first St David's day debate was introduced by Megan Lloyd George in 1944, so I'm in very good company.

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