The Speaker's Conference has called for political parties to be required to make public the number of women, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people who come forward for selection as parliamentary candidates.
In an interim report published today (Wednesday 25th November), the committee of MPs looking into ways to encourage a more diverse range of people into Parliament says it will table a new clause to the Equality Bill, currently going through Parliament. If enacted this would require political parties to report every six months on the diversity of their candidate selections and to publish those reports on-line.
The Conference concludes that the political parties are "effectively the gatekeepers to the House of Commons" and its report follows evidence given by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and two other main party leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg. In their evidence the leaders agreed that the diversity of representation within their parties was neither what it should be, nor what they wanted it to be.
The House of Commons continues to be largely white, male, middle-aged and middle-class: people from under-represented groups who are putting themselves forward for selection are still proportionately less likely to be selected, or to be selected for a seat the party thinks it can win, than their counterparts.
Commenting on the report Vice-Chairman of the Conference Anne Begg MP said; "Unless the performance of the different parties can be compared with each other, or with the performance of parties throughout the world, there is likely to be insufficient pressure for the political parties to pursue the cultural change which is needed from them before we can have a House of Commons "fit for the 21st century"."