Aberdeen South MP, Dame Anne Begg, secured a Back Bench Business Committee Debate to highlight the lack of diversity in Parliament and call for more positive action to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in Parliament.
Introducing the debate, Dame Anne said:
“It is interesting to note just how topical this debate is. A few weeks ago, almost every newspaper in the land carried the picture of the all-male Government Front Bench. I wonder whether it will go down in history, and be as iconic as the Blair’s babe’s photo, which I was proud to be in. I am not sure whether those on the Government Front Bench were quite so proud to be in their photo.”
Dame Anne, who was Vice Chair of the 2010 Speaker’s Conference on Parliamentary Representation which made a commitment to discuss representation in Parliament every two years, went on to say that that:
“There is no silver bullet or magic wand to wave which will change the makeup of the Commons. It would be an enormous missed opportunity if the Parliament elected in 2015 is less diverse than this one.
“It will require all political parties to accept they have a role to play in fostering talent and in candidate selection. The government can play a role too, in providing leadership and encouraging a cross party approach as we have seen with the Access to Elected Office fund. But Parliament has to be more welcoming too.
“Our democracy is precious, too precious to be wholly in the hands of a narrow elite. We can make this a Parliament for the 21st century but we can only do it together.”
You can read the full debate on Hansard here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140227/debtext/140227-0003.htm#140227-0003.htm_spnew24
For more information about the debate, you can also read here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-26367343