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Parliamentary Press Lobby: Diversity

Volume 632: debated on Thursday 7 December 2017

7. What progress has been made on implementing the recommendation of Professor Childs’s “The Good Parliament” review to publish information on the diversity of the members of the parliamentary press lobby to whom passes are issued. (902816)

Professor Childs recommended a target of a representative parliamentary Press Gallery—Lobby journalists—such that neither women nor men should be in receipt of less than 40% of Lobby passes by 2020. As of 6 December, 25.6% of the 246 valid Lobby passes on issue were for women. As a result of my hon. Friend’s question, I will seek the best means of publishing those figures on a regular basis.

Diversity matters in our democracy— both in this House and also up there in the Press Gallery, among those who create the lens through which our politics is viewed. I am glad that the Commission will look to publish diversity data on the journalists covering Parliament, but I encourage it to implement recommendation 4 of “The Good Parliament” review in full by publishing data not only on gender, but on other characteristics; by breaking down the data by media organisation; and by setting clear targets so that, by 2020, men and women each have no fewer than 40% of passes for the journalists’ Lobby on the estate.

My hon. Friend may be aware that currently neither the Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion, nor the Commission, has considered the recommendation of “The Good Parliament” report. However, following her question, I will certainly ensure that they do as soon as possible, and I will look specifically at ensuring that the extensive level of detail that she has requested is reflected in future reports.

I think that “The Good Parliament” report will come to be seen as a pivotal and seminal publication in the history of the reform and modernisation of this place. Will the right hon. Gentleman say a bit more about how its recommendations, including those relating to the Press Gallery, are being taking forward, and how the Commission is considering them in the light of other opportunities to renew and restore this place, including in the northern estate?

One of the measures of the importance that is being placed on the report is the emphasis that Mr Speaker and the House of Commons Commission are putting on it. This is clearly something that Members of Parliament are actively tracking. I am therefore confident that both the Commons Reference Group and, indeed, the Commission, will want to ensure that due priority is given to the recommendations of “The Good Parliament” report, and that they are implemented as soon as possible.