Category Archives: Speaker’s Conference

Labour Politicians Call for Measures to Encourage Disabled People to Stand for Election to Holyrood

During Dame Anne’s recent Parliamentary debate on representation in Parliament she called for the Scottish Government to follow Westminster’s example and establish their own ‘Access to Elected Office Fund for Disabled People’ to ensure standing for election to Holyrood and Scottish Councils are more accessible for people with disabilities.

Dame Anne said:

“It is important that more disabled people are elected to public office, be that Councillor, MP or MSP. But major barriers still exist in making this an easy process, not least the extra costs involved. That’s why the Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund is so important as it helps towards levelling the playing field for disabled people.

“It is also important that political parties play their part in encouraging disabled people to become active in their party and then to put themselves forward for candidate selection. We know the electorate are happy to vote for candidates with a disability but obviously can’t do this if disabled people haven’t been selected.”

Following on from the debate, Scottish Labour’s Equalities spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP lodged the following motion in Holyrood:

Access to Office for Disabled People 

That the Parliament notes a recent debate in the House of Commons, led by Dame Anne Begg MP, which called on both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to increase support for disabled people to access elected office; understands that The Independent Living In Scotland Report,Politically (in)correct– representation of disabled people in Politics, called on the Scottish Government to establish an “Access to Office for Disabled People Fund”; notes with regret, however, that such a fund has so far not been established; understands that one in five people in Scotland are disabled; believes that the Scottish Government needs to be more proactive in giving disabled people a voice and ensuring that financial support is in place to assist disabled people in becoming members of representative bodies, and hopes for rapid progress to be made on what it considers this very important issue.

You can also see the motion here:  http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Simple&DateChoice=0&MSPId=1783&SortBy=DateSubmitted&ResultsPerPage=10

 

Debate on Lack of Diversity in Parliament and the Need for Positive Action

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.”

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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