June 4, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)



With reference to the question asked by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle in connection with ladies having to wear hats in the galleries, which reads as follows in Hansard of May 29, page 1984:
There is a matter I wish to draw to the attention of the acting house leader, the Minister of Veterans Affairs. It has been the custom not to allow women in the gallery without some kind of head covering. So many women go everywhere now without hats that the observance of this regulation is enforcing indignity on this house . . .
Pursuant to this question I made the following statement:
As the question asked by the hon. member concerns the house. I suggest that she put her question to the Speaker, but not from the floor of the house, as it is against the rule. I shall be very glad to give it consideration.
After a few days of meditation and mature consideration I have prepared the following statement.:
The practice of requiring women to wear hats in the galleries of the House of Commons was probably borrowed from what was until recently the practice in all churches. Indeed in the churches it may very well have been looked upon as a rule promulgated by Saint Paul, both in the first epistle to Timothy, in which he recommends that-

women appear in churches in decent apparel, adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire, and that they learn in silence . . . But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.
[DOT]-and also in his first epistle to the Corinthians in which he ordered:
Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject as also law saith.
The fact that women have now become eligible to the House of Commons and been given the right to speak their minds there,
even if it does involve "teaching and using authority over the man," shows that the church rules need not necessarily apply to parliament.
As a matter of fact I am informed that the Church of England dispensed during the war with the rule that women appear in church with their heads covered, and that it is not apt to be reestablished there. As far as this house is concerned, I have made enquiries and I have found that there never was any written rule about the matter. I am not disposed to adopt any severe decree; for I think it is advisable to leave the decision to the ladies themselves. I am sure that whether they are covered or hatless their presence in the galleries will always be welcome.

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