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Parliamentary Representation

Volume 512: debated on Monday 21 June 2010

8. What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the implications for the House of the recommendations of the Speaker’s Conference on parliamentary representation. (3029)

The Government wholeheartedly agree that we should take all the steps that we can to increase diversity in Parliament, and that there is a real need to make political parties reflective of the communities that they serve. We are considering the Speaker’s Conference report and recommendations very carefully as we develop policies and agree priorities. As part of our coalition agreement, we have already made an early commitment to introduce extra support for disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials—one recommendation of the Speaker’s Conference.

Women now make up 22% of the House—notably, the majority are Labour Members. At the start of a new Government, perhaps we ought to look at the issue with fresh eyes, so will the Deputy Leader of the House look again at the over-representation of middle-aged, middle-class white men in the House?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. I have to say that my party is, very sadly, under-represented in terms of women in the House, and we deeply regret that. The ministerial responsibility for the issue lies with the Minister for Women and Equalities, and I hope that she will make very swift progress on bringing proposals before the House.