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Published on Jun 29, 2015
Watch an International Women’s Day talk by historian Helen Langley, with an introduction by Eleanor Laing, about Irene Ward MP.
Before Gwyneth Dunwoody, Irene Ward was the female MP with the longest total service at almost 38 years. She was a formidable and independent-minded backbencher, who secured the passage of a number of private members bills including the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act, 1954, introduced as a Ten Minute Rule Bill. The legislation required a warrant for entry into private premises, except for emergencies. She introduced the first measure of social welfare for the elderly in the form of the Poor Law (Amendment) Bill 1937-8 enabling the payment of pocket money for old people in Poor Law institutions. Irene Ward also promoted the Nurses (Amendment) Act, 1961, and the Penalties for Drunkenness Act, 1962. Dame Irene was an assiduous and formidable attender of standing and select committees. In particular, she was active on the National Expenditure Select Committee throughout the Second World War, carrying out valuable work on difficulties faced by women in war work and the inequity of awarding lower compensation rates for women wounded by air raids, compared to men.
This talk was hosted by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art to celebrate International Women’s Day.