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Candidate Diversity: Democratic Process

Volume 738: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2023

2. What steps the Government are taking to help increase the participation of minority ethnic groups in the democratic process. (906692)

15. Whether she has had discussions with stakeholders on improving the diversity of parliamentary candidates. (906705)

The Government have worked hard to remove any material obstacles to democratic participation for all eligible groups. Registering to vote is quick and easy, taking as little as five minutes. Any elector without an accepted form of photographic identification can apply for a voter authority certificate from their local authority free of charge, or alternatively they could vote by post or proxy.

I have a thriving British-Albanian community in my Chipping Barnet constituency, making a really positive contribution to our culture and economy. What more can the Government do to encourage them to be involved in campaigning at elections, voting in elections and standing as candidates in elections?

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s efforts in ensuring that everyone participates in the democratic process. I agree with her, but it is ultimately for local registration teams to ensure as best they can that all eligible electors in their area are correctly registered to vote. We want to ensure that all parts of the UK are equally represented in politics and the democratic system where they are eligible.

With almost a quarter of the UK’s population registered as disabled, does the Minister agree that all political parties need to try harder in the run-up to the next general election in selecting a diverse group of candidates, with perhaps slightly less emphasis on nepotism and more on the representation of ordinary voters, including those from all ethnic minority backgrounds?

The hon. Lady asks an excellent question, and I thank her for all the work she does campaigning for women’s rights. She has been at the vanguard of some contentious issues. She is quite right to raise candidate selection. All political parties have to make the very best of efforts in ensuring that a meritocracy exists and helping those including disabled people who might need additional assistance in participating through some of the difficult selection processes. I highlight again how diverse the Conservative party is, and the Cabinet in particular. That is testament to the fact that meritocracy works. We hope that others will learn from our example.

The Labour party has more women and ethnic minority MPs than the rest of the political parties put together. We know that that leads to better outcomes for British people, but there is always further to go. That is why we have committed to enacting section 106 of the Equality Act so that all political parties would be required to be transparent about the diversity of their candidates. Why will the Government not do the same?

At the end of the day, it is the electorate who decide who gets to represent them. The hon. Member might be cherry-picking statistics on which party is the most diverse. We can do the same and talk about how the Conservatives have had three female Prime Ministers when Labour has not had even a single leader. If she wants to dive deep down and be granular, we have more black men in our party than in all the other parties combined. This splitting hairs is not helpful; what we need to do is ensure that the process is as meritocratic as possible.