This week’s quiz focuses on women and the House of Lords. As regular readers will know, women were first admitted to the House of Lords in 1958 under the Life Peerages Act passed in that year. Women now comprise 22 per cent of the membership (the same proportion as in the Commons, where women were first admitted in 1918) and the number continues to grow, not least because of the work of the Independent Appointments Commission. Women have been prominent in leadership positions in recent years, not least as Leaders of the House (since 1997: Baronesses Jay, Amos, Ashton and Royall). The first Lord Speaker was Baroness Hayman and her successor is Baroness D’Souza. (we have yet to have a male elected as Lord Speaker.) The first black female member of the Cabinet was drawn from the Lords. We have some leading public figures, such as Joan Bakewell (pictured) and literary figures such as Ruth Rendell and PD James.
The questions relate to the admission of women to membership, or attempts at membership, though with a bonus question unrelated to membership. The first two readers to answer correctly the first five questions will be the winners, but there will be a prize for the first person to provide the correct answers to all six.
1. On the death of my father, I was by special remainder able to inherit his title - I became a Viscountess – but not able to sit in the House of Lords. I challenged this, relying on the provisions of the recently passed Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, but the Privileges Committee of the House of Lords decided that I was not entitled to a writ of summons. Who am I?
2. Women were able to become members of the House of Lords under the Life Peerages Act 1958, but in what year did the House of Lords first vote in support of the proposition that women should be admitted?
3. I was the first woman to speak in the House of Lords as a member, to sponsor legislation in the House, and to move the Loyal Address. Who am I?
4. I was one of the first women life peers to be created. I was already an hereditary peer in my own right. My father was very grand – ‘a most superior person’ - and almost became Prime Minister. Who am I?
5. I was one of the first women peers and the first to affirm rather than take the oath. Who am I?
And the bonus question:
6. What did some determined women do in 1739 (adopting ‘methods anticipatory of the suffragette tactics of the twentieth century’) that affronted their Lordships?