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Conference member: Robert Bannatyne Finlay

Robert Finlay was a Scottish Conservative MP and lawyer, and a strong opponent of women's suffrage. In 1913 he acted for the Law Society in the Court of Appeal in Bebb v the Law Society, the important test case for women in the legal profession, successfully opposing the application of Gwyneth Bebb to become a solicitor. Women were unable to enter the legal profession until 1919.

Finlay withdrew from the Speaker's Conference on being made Lord Chancellor on 10 December 1916. As Lord Chancellor, he was then responsible for piloting the Representation of the People Act 1918 through the House of Lords. However he spoke and voted against the Conference recommendation on votes for women, arguing there was no evidence women wanted the vote, and it would be a ‘leap in the dark'.


Robert Bannatyne Finlay, 1st Viscount Finlay (1842-1929)


After Henry Tanworth Wells



Catalogue number

Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA 2443