The suffrage extremists resumed their “militant” policy yesterday with a continuous series of attempts to force a way to the House of Commons in support of a deputation which they knew would not be received.

A crowded meeting was held at noon by the Women’s Social and Political Union in the Caxton Hall.

The following memorial to the Prime Minister was unanimously adopted:– “This meeting of women, gathered together in the Caxton Hall, protests against the policy of shuffling and delay with which the agitation for woman’s enfranchisement has been met by the Government, and calls upon the Government at once to withdraw the veto which they have placed upon the Conciliation Bill for woman’s suffrage, a measure which has been endorsed by the representative of the people in the House of Commons.”

It was arranged that the deputation, about 300 strong, should proceed to the House of Commons in detachments. The first detachment numbering perhaps 20, included Mrs. Pankhurst and other leading ladies, and reached St. Stephen’s entrance at 20 minutes past one. A number of their comrades had for some time been parading the road there with banners inscribed “No more shuffling, carry the Bill,” “There is time if they’ve the will,” and “Down with the Premier’s veto.” A considerable crowd had collected.

The first ladies to arrive were allowed to stand just outside the entrance to the House, and remained there quietly. The crowd pushed forward and covered the road till the police began to clear the thoroughfare. The banner-bearers had now grouped themselves in front of the throng, and as they were being pushed back with the rest their banners went down one by one, apparently snatched by members of the crowd, and were torn and smashed into shreds and fragments. At frequent intervals a woman would disengage herself from the mass and rush across the road, or as far as she could get before a policeman or two gave chase, caught her, and pushed her back through the crowd.

The pavement at the back of the Abbey was now cleared, and presently the crowd was driven right back to Bridge-street. Before that operation was completed, however, a woman rushed at the wall of Palace-yard and tried to climb over. She was captured just in time. One of her comrades, however, slipped through the cordon, got on to the wall, and tried to climb or fling herself down into the yard, a height of 12 or 15 feet. She was apparently unused to mountaineering, or her dress caught on a buttress, and she was saved from a dangerous fall by two policemen, who caught her before she quite reached the ground.

Several of the police had their helmets knocked off in carrying out their duty, one was disabled by a kick on the ankle, one was cut on the face by a belt, and one had his hand cut. As a rule they kept their tempers very well, but their method of shoving back the raiders lacked nothing in vigour. They were at any rate kept warm by the exercise, and so were the ladies who flung themselves against the defending lines.

About half-past 2 a member came out and condoled with the ladies. They complained, among other things, of having “not even a chair.” “We’ll be here every day till we get satisfaction,” said one. “This has ceased to be a Christian country,” said the member. Soon afterwards a police officer came out with the message that the Prime Minister was engaged, but his private secretary, Mr. Nash, would see three members of the deputation. Mrs. Pankhurst hesitated. Would it be on the understanding that a reception of the whole deputation was to be arranged? The officer could say nothing as to that. Mrs. Pankhurst again hesitated. At last she agreed to go in, with two companions, the rest raising a loud cheer: but the three returned in about ten minutes with the news that Mr. Nash had no authority to give any promise and the situation was unchanged. The ladies therefore settled themselves down to wait on the pavement till the House rose.

Meanwhile, the police in front of the gate at the corner of Parliament-street and Bridge-street were kept busy repelling the raiders, some of whom came up smiling every time to the attack, while a few scolded like viragoes and most were simply stolid. They were in every case seized and pushed, sometimes carried, to the other side of Bridge-street. The horse and motor traffic there was not stopped, but was somewhat hindered.

The number of persistent raiders who were put under arrest had risen to over 80 at dusk, but even then deputations continued to arrive from Caxton Hall. Each batch made a dash at the police cordon, and when the House rose, about 6 o’clock, 119 arrests had been made. At that point the police were withdrawn and those women who had not been arrested returned to Caxton Hall, where a meeting was held. At this Mrs. Pankhurst stated that over 20 members of Parliament had visited the deputations during their stay in the vicinity of the House. It was announced that the demonstrations would be repeated on Monday, at 2 o’clock; in fact, every day until the Dissolution.

Among those arrested were Miss B. L. Barwell, daughter of Major-General Barwell and Countess Elsie Leiningen, Miss Helen Craggs, daughter of Sir John Craggs, Mrs. Marshall, of Theydon Bois, daughter of Canon Jacques and niece of Captain Baldwin, the African explorer, Mrs. Massey, daughter of Lady Knyvett, Mrs. Morrison, of Australia, daughter of the late Sir T. Murray, Speaker of the New South Wales Assembly, Miss Wolff Von Sandau, granddaughter of Dr. E. Schwabe, private chaplain to the late Duchess of Kent, Miss K. Streathfeild, and Mrs. Mary Taylor, granddaughter of Mrs. John Stuart Mill.

Mr. H. A. Franklin, one of the men taken into custody, is stated to be a nephew of Mr. Herbert Samuel, the Postmaster-General.

One of the prisoners, while in the Cannon-Row Police Station, broke three panes of glass with stones.

LORD LYTTON, speaking last evening at a Conservative and Unionist Franchise Association meeting at Hull, said the Conciliation Bill was not dead nor was the movement behind it, and to preserve the non-party character of the measure it was necessary that they should secure assurances before the election that in the next Parliament, when the situation became normal, time should be given to settle the question on non-party lines.

Lady Stout, wife of the Chief Justice for New Zealand, speaking on the results of the enfranchisement of women in the Colonies, at the residence of Lord and Lady Brassey, during the afternoon, said she accompanied the deputation which marched upon the House of Commons and she wished to state that the policemen who met the women were the roughest, bloated-looking people she had ever seen in her life. Lady Solomon, who was over 80 years of age, was knocked down and handled roughly by the police. Those she saw were different from the polite policemen who conducted one across the road.

The Times, 19 November 1910, page 10

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