Eva Gore-Booth had moved to a working-class part of Manchester in the 1890s. She came from a wealthy Anglo-Irish family, but empathised strongly with the poor women that surrounded her. She set up the Barmaids' Political Defence League to fight against Clause 20;
"THE LICENSING BILL.The clause was eventually dropped from the Licensing Bill. As you probably could have guessed, given that they've always been around in pubs. It would have been a sad day had they been nbanned.
Lord Robert Cecil and Partisan Benches.
A meeting organised the Barmaids' Political Defence League was held Holborn Town Hall yesterday. Miss Eva Gore-Booth occupied the chair, and read a letter from the Bishop of Manchester, expressing his concurrence with the objects of the meeting. She said that many barmaids were unable attend that meeting, because London was so full at the present time, and the barmaids were conseqnently too busy.
Mr. Wilfred Ashley, M.P., said they were protesting against the power of saying that women should deprived of their means of livelihood being placed in the hands irresponsible and non-elected justices. It had been said that the census showed that there were only 28,000 barmaids employed, but there were 96,000 licensed houses, and, therefore, thought that the estimate 100,000 barmaids was well within the mark. But the Bill affected not only the barmaids, but every female worker on licensed premises whether they were charwomen or chambermaids. If conditions under which the barmaids worked were insanitary, the hours were too long, then that was good argument for reforming the conditions or shortening the hours of labour, but was no argument for the total abolition that phase of employment. Mr. Ashley moved the following resolution:-
That this meeting protests against that portion Clause 20 of the Licensing Bill which relates women, because it involves closing trade which has hitherto absorbed a large proportion of female labour: they resent the stigma that such legislation casts on the honest employment of an enormous class of working women, and they dread the future result on the already over-crowded labour market, the competition of the 100,000 women workers who would naturally enter this trade.
Lord Robert Cecil, M.P., who seconded the proposition, said that did not think that it should entrusted to benches of justices to say whether particular avenue of employment should be closed to women. Many of these benches were violently partisan, and were not to be trusted in this matter. The Clause was arbitrary and tyrannical. If an employment was forbidden to women because was demoralising, why should it not forbidden men on the same grounds? Part of the support the Clause was due to a despicable jealousy of the work women. Such a proposal would never have bean brought forward if women had had the vote. The resolution was carried."
Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Friday 15 May 1908, page 2.
There's an excellent article here on Eva Gore-Booth and her struggle to defend barmaids.