Chronology of the 1918 Reform Act
The gures for parliamentary votes are those given in the ocial record of debates, which in the case of
the house of commons do not include the two tellers in each lobby.
12 July 1916 The prime minister of the coalition government, Herbert Asquith, tells the
house of commons that the cabinet has been unable to nd a practical solution
to the issue of compiling a new electoral register and the possible extension of
the franchise, and suggests that the House set up a select committee.
16 August Walter Long, the president of the local government board, proposes a
‘representative conference’ be held under an impartial chairman.
1 October The Speaker of the house of commons, James Lowther, accepts the invitation
from Asquith to chair the conference.
12 October First meeting of the Speaker’s conference.
30 November The government withdraws its proposed Special Register Bill.
6 December David Lloyd George replaces Asquith as prime minister and forms a new
26 January 1917 Final meeting of the Speaker’s conference, after 26 meetings.
27 January The report of Speaker’s conference is sent to Lloyd George.
6 February The cabinet considers the report, but is unable to decide on the best way to
26 March The cabinet decides to bring forward a bill based upon the report’s
28 March The house of commons debate on the report opens: Asquith’s motion to thank
the Speaker for his services and that ‘legislation should promptly be
introduced’ is carried by 341 to 62. During the debate, Lloyd George indicates
his lack of enthusiasm for proportional representation, but strong support for
29 March Lloyd George meets with a deputation of suragists and says that women’s
surage is ‘an open question’.
15 May The rst reading of the Representation of the People Bill is passed without a
22 May The second reading debate in the house of commons begins, and is passed on
23 May, by 329 to 40.
6 June The committee stage in the house of commons begins.
12 June The single transferable vote scheme is defeated by 149 to 141 in a division to
amend the instructions to the boundary commissioners.
18 June After the continuation of the debate from 12 June, the amended instructions to
the boundary commissioners are approved without a division; these give them
exibility to avoid creating constituencies ‘inconvenient in size or character’
and instruct them to proceed on the basis that proportional representation will
not be implemented.
The Parliamentary History Yearbook Trust 2018