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Opposing life peers: Jennie Lee (1904-1988)

It was the clause in the Bill relating to women peers that caused greatest agitation in the House of Lords. One horrified peer, Lord Glasgow, exclaimed that 'this is the only place in the kingdom where men can meet without women. For Heaven's sake lets keep it like that!' Others felt that women were sneaking into the House through 'the Trojan Horse of life peers'. But a notable advocate on behalf of women was Viscount Astor, whose mother had been the first woman MP. Lord Salisbury remarked that if it was true that women had not been a success in the Commons, the same was true of many men.   Lord Chatfield, an admiral, said it was absurd to exclude representatives of half the nation as unfit for membership.  An amendment to exclude women from the House was defeated at committee stage by 134 votes to 30.

When the Bill reached the House of Commons in early 1958, the Labour MP Jennie Lee moved to delete the clause allowing women life peers. This she did in protest that the Government had made no plans to create hereditary peeresses and seemed unconcerned about admitting women to the House on an equal footing.

Jennie Lee took a life peerage herself later in life, and became Baroness Lee of Asheridge.


Jennie Lee, Baroness Lee of Asheridge

Catalogue number

Parlliamentary Archives, PUD/F/1281