COMMONS

Women in the House of Commons after the 2020 Election

09 August 2016

Will there be fewer women in the House of Commons after the 2020 election? The Women and Equalities Committee launches a new inquiry.

Boundary Commissions reviews

In response to the four Boundary Commissions reviews of Parliamentary constituencies in the UK, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee is launching an inquiry into the impact on female representation of having fewer Parliamentary constituencies.

Of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, men hold 458 (70%) and women 192 (30%). The inquiry will look at the action being taken to help ensure a more representative gender balance is achieved in the House of Commons. In particular the Inquiry will be focusing on how political parties' selection processes are responding to the impact of boundary reform. The inquiry will also examine proposals emerging from The Good Parliament (PDF 1.03 MB), the recent report by Professor Sarah Childs..

Chair's comments

Announcing the inquiry, the Chair of the Committee Maria Miller MP said:

"Nearly 100 years on since the first female MP took their seat in the House of Commons we have seen just 451 female MPs elected. There are more men in the House of Commons now than the total number of women MPs ever elected. We need to see proper diversity in public life – an important part of this is making sure the House of Commons is representative of the nation at large. Encouraging women into politics is an important first step but much more could and should be done to improve the retention of women MPs. If the number of seats in the House is reduced we need to ensure that it is not at the expense of a representative, modern Parliament. Our new inquiry will build on the work of The Good Parliament report and explore issues surrounding female representation in the House of Commons."

Call for written submissions

The Committee's inquiry will consider three key areas:

  1. What should the Government, political parties, the House of Commons and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority be doing now to ensure better female representation in the House of Commons in 2020 and beyond?
  2. What are the political parties doing to ensure that female representation will increase at the next general election given the impact that the 2018 Boundary Commission Review could have
  3. What further changes are needed to improve retention of women MPs?

Written evidence should be submitted addressing the themes outlined above, and the following specific issues to the Committee by 12 September 2016. 

  • What steps are and should be being taken to increase the percentage of women MPs in the House of Commons in 2020 and beyond? Is there a need to reach out to certain groups of women and how can this be done most effectively? What targets and what methods should parties be using for selection? What are the key timings?
  • What is the likely expected impact of the 2018 Boundary Commission Review? Have parties made the impact of this on female representation enough of a priority?
  • Are parties giving sufficient attention to female representation at other levels of political life, including Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners?
  • What additional issues relating to retention of women MPs need to be considered? What are the parties doing in response to the Administration Committee’s 2015 and 2016 report on interview studies with women MPs and leaving MPs? How can a consensus be reached on emerging proposals from The Good Parliament report?

Send a written submission via the Women in the House of Commons inquiry page.

If you would like to submit evidence to the inquiry, please read Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

Background

The APPG on Women in Parliament's Improving Parliament report (PDF 3.8 MB) was published in July 2014, which made a wide range of recommendations on how to tackle challenges in the supply, selection and retention of female parliamentarians, one of which was the creation of the Women and Equalities Committee. The APPG's report built on a number of recommendations made in the Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation report (PDF 998 KB), published in January 2010. 

The Boundary Commission announced a review of parliamentary constituencies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in February 2016. An initial set of proposed boundary changes will be published on September 2016. A final recommendation must be made to Parliament by September 2018. 

Professor Sarah Childs of Bristol University published  The Good Parliament report (PDF 1.03 MB)  in July 2016. The Administration Committee published findings of an interview study with Members on women's experience in Parliament (PDF PDF 442 KB) in August 2015 and findings of an interview study with Members on leaving Parliament (PDF 762 KB) (PDF PDF 702 KB) in April 2016.

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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