Questioned on the Mark Wilks case in Parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted the ridiculous condition of the law, but was prepared to enforce it again in the same fashion to enrich his Treasury. In the House of Lords, with even greater cynicism and dishonesty, Lord Ashby St. Ledgers denounced Mr. Wilks’s action as “in the nature of a political demonstration,” and said that “this imprisonment was intended to be a deterrent, a result to a great extent achieved, as other husbands were not likely to put themselves to the same sort of inconvenience.” He admitted “illogicality” and “a certain substratum of hardship,” and “something especially out of date,” in a husband being imprisoned for failure to pay his wife’s taxes. The Lord Chancellor agreed that the laws were full of anomalies, but appeared to think change even more dangerous, and involved himself in the following luminous remark:— “They would have to be very careful lest in making changes they stumbled into the temptation to take advantage of provisions which belonged to a past state of law, while at the same time taking advantage of changes which had been made in quite another direction.”
Dr. Elizabeth Knight, hon. treasurer of the W.F.L., was “hauled up” before the Justices of the Peace for non-payment of dog license at the Hampstead Petty Sessions, Rosslyn-hill. Writing this in time to go to press, we do not know the result; but if our treasurer is penalised for this time-honoured protest against the upkeep of an unrepresentative Government, the W.F.L. members, we are certain, will rally strongly to a great demonstration in support of her action.
Mrs. Fyffe’s protest was a great success, a procession marching from Roxborough-mansions, Kensington, to the auction rooms at Westbourne-grove. Miss Constance Andrews carried the W.F.L. banner and moved the following resolution:—
That this meeting protests against the seizure and sale of Mrs. Fyffe’s goods, and is of opinion that the tax-paying women of this country are justified in refusing to pay all imperial taxes until they are allowed a voice in deciding how these large sums of money shall be spent.
The John Hampden banner and other colours were carried, and speeches were made from a carriage decorated in the brown and black of the W.T.R.L. by Mrs. [Anne] Cobden Sanderson, Miss [Constance] Andrews, Mrs. [Louisa] Louis Fagan, and the Rev. Charles Baumgarten.
Women Writers’ Suffrage League.
…An extraordinary general meeting was held on … Mrs. Rentoul Esler in the chair.
Business: To confirm the election of Mrs. Flora Annie Steel as president of the society (vice Miss Elizabeth Robins, resigned). On the agenda: “Whether the W.W.S.L. should, as a society, resist the new insurance tax and refuse to insure their secretary, with her full consent to their so doing?”
A brief report from the Stamford Hill branch noted that “Mr. Mark Wilks’ reception was well attended by our Branch, and the crowded meeting testified to the high appreciation we all feel of his and Dr. Elizabeth Wilks’ plucky protest against the vagaries of Income-tax Law.”