On 12 November 2008 the House of Commons agreed that the Speaker's Conference "shall consider and make recommendations for rectifying the disparity between the representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons and their representation in the UK population at large; and may agree to consider other associated matters ".
The Conference is looking for information and views on the following:
- Are problems caused by the unbalanced representation in the House of Commons of different groups in society? If so, what are those problems?
- Is there a relationship between these levels of representation and voter attitudes to Parliament?
- What are the reasons why more women, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people do not become members of Parliament:
- Why don't more people from these groups consider standing for election?
- Or, if they do, why aren't more of them selected?
- Or, if they are, why aren't more of them elected?
- What are the problems and practical difficulties encountered - at any point in the process of selection and election - by members of these underrepresented groups who are looking to become MPs?
- What actions could be taken by the Government to address disparities in representation?
- What actions have been, or could be, taken by political parties, campaigning groups and others to address disparities in representation?
- What actions have been taken elsewhere in the UK and overseas, and by whom, to address similar concerns?
- How can the success of such actions be measured?
The Conference invites written statements by Monday 26 January 2009.