Ann Begg MP, Vice-Chair of the Speaker's Conference, opened a debate in Westminster Hall on its recent report on the representation in Parliament of women, the disabled and those from ethnic minorities. Maria Eagle, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice responded to the debate.
Welcoming the debate, Anne Begg said:
"The fact is that, in most cases, it remains more difficult for a candidate who does not fit the 'white, male middle-class' norm to be selected, particularly if the seat is considered winnable. Our recommendations are aimed at putting that right, and we hope this debate will highlight the need for government, political parties and Parliament to implement these changes."
A Speaker’s Conference is convened by the Speaker of the Commons and brings together MPs from all parties to examine electoral issues.
The Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation was set up in November 2008, to look into the reasons why women, disabled people and people from ethnic minorities are under-represented in the House of Commons, and to recommend ways in which the situation can be improved. The Conference is also looking at issues of representation relating to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It published its report on 11 January 2010.
Westminster Hall debates
Westminster Hall adjournment debates allow MPs to discuss issues of local or personal interest which rarely have time to be debated in the main Chamber of the House of Commons. MPs can discuss a variety of issues and receive a response from a government Minister.