'Women needed on councils'

[From The Luton News: Thursday, March 13th, 1919]

Another educational meeting of the Luton branch of the National Council of Women was held on Tuesday evening at the Town Hall, the Mayoress presiding. A valuable address was given by the President (Mrs Ogilvie Gordon) on 'The Ministry of Health'.

The Mayoress referred to the importance of public health and the necessity of drawing attention to the question in all directions. She mentioned the usefulness of the National Council of Women in this direction.

The lecturer congratulated the branch on its successful inauguration and its growth to a membership of 100. It was the duty of women to rouse themselves to their responsibility in public administration – and the National Council drew together women of all classes and sects in this direction – and to promote a common sympathy. Long before the League of Nations was spoken of there was a League of Women's Councils in different countries, and after peace was signed they would enter into international communications again.

The speaker traced the development of the care of health in this country, and showed that in the Poor Law the first intimation of public health work was seen. She thought that the giving of suffrage to women would put an end to the apathy which had existed in regard to matters affecting the public health.

It was proposed to transfer public health and Poor Law work to the Ministry of Health. There was a feeling that later part of the Poor Law administration would be separated, but at present the whole of the duties of the Local Government Board were proposed to be given to the Ministry of Health.

There had in recent years been enormous progress regarding public health. Large industrial friendly societies had been firmly established, and under the Insurance Act they were allowed power of administration.

The members found out important facts concerning public health, including the necessity for better conditions of living. They found that they were tinkering with the subject unless drastic steps were taken, and so public interest was aroused.

The speaker appealed to women to study this and other questions, to learn for themselves the public necessities. She went on to urge the co-ordination of all health services for combating disease.

Property owners, she said, were interested people, and very often councillors, and so the bad conditions went on. Women on the Town Council would be a powerful influence for good, and women had to see to it that they were represented. Women as well as men were needed on councils, and they had to get their quickly.