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Dame Anne Begg, the Labour MP for Aberdeen South who was vice chair of the speaker’s committee, said that some modest progress has been made to improving the representation of women at Westminster. “Labour was emboldened to continue with its all women shortlists which meant that at the last two general elections more than 50% of the Labour MPs elected were women. Because of the historical imbalance that still only means that a third of the parliamentary Labour party are women. But the figures are improving.
“The Tories are much further behind but they had their A list. David Cameron felt he had right on his side to get a bigger variety of candidates into the winnable seats. But looking across the chamber the look of the parliamentary Conservative party is very different from the one pre-2010.
“The one party that didn’t do much was the Lib Dems. That is partly because they are Liberals and will not put in place these top down mechanisms. Liberals are not particularly in favour of quotas, they say we want the best person for the job. Our argument is if the best person hasn’t even applied for the job you can’t get them.”