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Encyclopedia > Cat and Mouse Act
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A poster attacking the Liberals government's role in the Cat and Mouse Act.
A poster attacking the Liberals government's role in the Cat and Mouse Act.

The "Cat and Mouse Act" (formally the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913) was an Act of Parliament passed in Britain under Herbert Henry Asquith's Liberal government in 1913. This is a list of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament during that bodys existence prior to the Act of Union of 1707. ... This is a list of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament during that bodys existence prior to the Act of Union of 1707. ... This is a list of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament during that bodys existence prior to the Act of Union of 1707. ... This is a list of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament during that bodys existence prior to the Act of Union of 1707. ... This is a list of Acts of Parliament of the Scottish Parliament. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Ireland for the years up to its dissolution in 1800. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1707-1719. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1720-1739. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1740-1759. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1760-1779. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain for the years 1780-1800. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1801-1819. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1820-1839. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1840-1859. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1860-1879. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1880-1899. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1900-1919. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1920-1939. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1940-1959. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1960-1979. ... This is an incomplete list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 1980-1999. ... This is an list of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the years 2000 to the present. ... This is a list of Acts of the Scottish Parliament. ... This is a list of Acts passed by the Parliament of Northern Ireland. ... This is a list of Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly passed by that body during its existence between 2000 and 2002 when it was suspended. ... The is a list of Orders in Council for Northern Ireland which are primary legislation for the province when the it is being directly ruled from London and also for those powers not devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. ... Statutory Instruments (SIs) are parts of United Kingdom law separate from Acts of Parliament which do not require full Parliamentary approval before becoming law. ... The is a list of Church of England Measures which are church legislation Church of England. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (508x795, 593 KB) scanned from old poster in family possession This image is of a historical political poster, button, flier or banner, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the creator of the poster or the artist... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (508x795, 593 KB) scanned from old poster in family possession This image is of a historical political poster, button, flier or banner, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the creator of the poster or the artist... In Westminster System parliaments, an Act of Parliament is a part of the law passed by the Parliament. ... The Right Honourable Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, PC (12 September 1852–15 February 1928) served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. ... The Liberal Party was one of the two major British political parties from the early 19th century until the 1920s, and a third party of varying strength and importance up to 1988, when it merged with the Social Democratic Party to form a new party which would become known as...

Contents

Background

To attain the goal of universal suffrage, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU, known colloquially as the suffragettes) engaged in acts of protest such as the breaking of windows, arson, and the "technical assault" (without causing harm) of police officers. Many WSPU members were jailed for these offenses. Universal suffrage (also general suffrage or common suffrage) consists of the extension of the right to vote to all adults, without distinction as to race, sex, belief, or economic or social status. ... The Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU) was the leading militant organization campaigning for womens suffrage in the United Kingdom. ... Suffragette with banner, Washington DC, 1918 The title of suffragette (also occasionally spelled suffraget) was given to members of the womens suffrage movement in the United Kingdom. ...


In response to what the organisation viewed as brutal punishment and harsh treatment by the government at the time, imprisoned WSPU members embarked on a sustained campaign of hunger strikes. Some women were freed on taking this action, but this rendered the policy of imprisonment of suffragettes futile. A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt or to achieve a goal such as a policy change. ...


So, the government turned to a policy of force feeding hunger-strikers by nasogastric tube. Repeated uses of this process often caused sickness, which served the WSPU's aims of demonstrating the government's treatment of the prisoners. Force-feeding is the practice of feeding someone against his or her will. ... A nasogastric tube (NG tube) is a plastic tube, inserted into a nostril through the nose, into the throat, down the oesophagus and into the stomach. ...


The Act as a response to suffragette hunger strikes

Faced with growing public disquiet over the tactic of forcefeeding, and the determination of the jailed suffragettes to continue their strikes, the government rushed the Act through Parliament.


The effect of the Act was to permit the release of prisoners who were suffering illness for them to recuperate; however, the police were free to re-imprison offenders again once they were better. The intention of the Act was to counter the tactic of hunger strikes undertaken by jailed suffragettes and the damaging consequences for the government's support among (male) voters by the force feeding of women prisoners. Suffragette with banner, Washington DC, 1918 The title of suffragette (also occasionally spelled suffraget) was given to members of the womens suffrage movement in the United Kingdom. ... Force-feeding is the practice of feeding someone against his or her will. ...


Unintended consequences of the act

The ineffectiveness of the act was very soon evident as the authorities experienced much greater difficulties than anticipated in re-arresting the released hunger-strikers, many of whom eluded the police with the help of a network of suffragette sympathisers. The inability of the government to lay its hands on high-profile suffragettes transformed what had been intended as a discreet device to control suffragette hunger-strikers into a public scandal.


This act was aimed at suppressing the power of the organisation by demoralising the activists, but turned out to be counter-productive as it undermined the moral authority of the government. The act was viewed as violating basic human rights, not only of the suffragettes but of other prisoners. The Act's nickname of Cat and Mouse Act, referring to the way the government seemed to play with prisoners as a cat may with a captured mouse, underlined how the cruelty of repeated releases and re-imprisonments turned the suffragettes from targets of scorn to objects of sympathy.


The Asquith government's implementation of the act caused the militant WSPU and the suffragettes to perceive Asquith as the enemy — an enemy to be vanquished in what the organisation saw as an all-out war.


A related effect of this law was to increase support for the Labour Party, many of whose early founders supported votes for women. For example, philosopher Bertrand Russell left the Liberal Party , and wrote pamphlets denouncing the act and the Liberals for making in his view an illiberal and anti-constitutional law. So the controversy helped to accelerate the decline in the Liberals electoral position, as segments of the middle class began to defect to Labour. The Labour Party has been, since its founding in the early 20th century, the principal political party of the left in the United Kingdom. ... Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell OM FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, and mathematician. ...


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Cat and Mouse Act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (329 words)
The "Cat and Mouse Act" (officially, the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913) was passed in Britain by Herbert Henry Asquith's Liberal government in 1913.
This act was seen to be a means of suppressing the power of the organisation by demoralising the activists, as women in this movement would perform acts of protest such as the breaking of windows, arson, and the "technical assault" (without causing harm) of police officers, who were summarily jailed.
The so-called "Cat and Mouse Act" was passed to release prisoners who were suffering illness for them to recuperate; however the police were free to re-imprison offenders again once they were better.
Suffragette - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (518 words)
Many of her fellow suffragettes were cruelly imprisoned and went on hunger strikes, during which they were restrained and forcibly fed lots of horrible foods such as garageroot - a poisonous herb.
The so-called Cat and Mouse Act was passed by the British government in an attempt to prevent suffragettes from obtaining public sympathy; it provided the release of those whose hunger strikes had brought them sickness, as well as their re-imprisonment once they had recovered.
Political movement towards women's suffrage began during the war and in 1918, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed an act granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who were householders; the wives of householders; occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5; or graduates of British universities.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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