Government's response to the Speaker's Conference
Women and Equality
Maria Eagle (Minister of State (also in the Government Equalities Office), Ministry of Justice; Liverpool, Garston, Labour)
Today I am laying before the House "The Government's Response to the Speaker's Conference" (Cm 7824), which sets out the work Government have done to increase diversity of representation in political and public life and responds to 20 of the Speaker's Conference's 71 recommendations to Government.
Copies of "The Government's Response to the Speaker's Conference" (Cm 7824) are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and also on the Government Equalities Office website at: www.equalities.gov.uk.
The Government welcome the landmark report of the Speaker's Conference and the comprehensive and detailed examination of the political and parliamentary landscape it sets out.
We will continue to act to increase diversity in parliament. Fair representation is not only just, it is necessary for the legitimacy of our democratic institutions. For decisions to be made that meet the needs of all parts of society, the people making them need to bring diverse experiences to bear and be representative of the wider population. Since 1997, women in Parliament have championed flexible working, the extension of childcare and legislation to tackle domestic violence, and forced marriage.
The Equality Bill currently before Parliament contains a number of specific measures to tackle under-representation, for example by extending the time available to political parties to use all-women shortlists to 2030, and increasing the options open to political parties and public bodies to tackle under-representation, for example by reserving places on electoral shortlists for those with a protected characteristic.
The Government welcome and accept the recommendation that political parties should be required to publish diversity data in their candidate selections, which is why we tabled an amendment to the Equality Bill to give it legal effect.
The Government's response includes commitments to examine progress on women's representation following the 2010 general election and consider further options if sufficient progress is not made; to find time for a debate in Government time on the implementation of the Speaker's Conference recommendations; and to consider establishing a democracy diversity fund to support the work of developing talented individuals from under-represented groups.