Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918

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Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, 1918[1]
Long title An Act to amend the Law with respect to the Capacity of Women to sit in Parliament.
Citation 8 & 9 Geo. 5 c. 47
Introduced by Lord Robert Cecil
Territorial extent United Kingdom
Royal assent 21 November 1918
Commencement 21 November 1918
Other legislation
Repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1983 (RoI)
Status: Current legislation
Revised text of statute as amended

The Parliament (Qualification of Women Act) 1918 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It gave women over 21 the right to stand for election as an MP. It did not alter the minimum age for a woman to vote in an election, which had been 30 since the Representation of the People Act 1918. It was not until the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 that women were given the vote on equal terms with men, at the age of 21.

At 27 words it is the shortest UK statute.[2][full citation needed]


The Representation of the People Act 1918, passed on 6 February 1918, gave about 8.4 million women the vote, and it led to the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act being passed. In the 1918 election to the House of Commons, seventeen women candidates stood to be elected, among them well-known suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, representing the Women's Party in Smethwick.[3] However the only woman to be elected was the Sinn Féin candidate for Dublin St. Patrick's, Constance Markievicz. She chose not to take her seat at Westminster and instead sat in Dáil Éireann (the First Dáil) in Dublin,[4] following the popular Irish political policy of abstentionism. The first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons was Nancy Astor on December 1, 1919. She was elected as a Coalition Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton on November 28, 1919, taking the seat her husband had previously resigned.[5]

As Members of Parliament, women also gained the right to become government ministers. The first woman to become a cabinet minister and Privy Council member was Margaret Bondfield who was Minister of Labour from 1929 to 1931.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Short title as conferred by s. 2 of the Act; the modern convention for the citation of short titles omits the comma after the word "Act"
  2. ^ Guinness Book of Records
  3. ^ "1918 Qualification of Women Act". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  4. ^ "1918 Qualification of Women Act". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  5. ^ ""Our Nancy: The Story of Nancy Astor and Her Gift to the University of Virginia" by Courtney Wilson". Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  6. ^ Heater, Derek (2006). Citizenship in Britain: A History. Edinburgh University Press. p. 145. ISBN 9780748626724. 

External links[edit]