The Ministers for women hosted a reception with the Fawcett Society on
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Despite all the progress, there are still only 97 Labour, 17 Conservative and 9 Liberal Democrat women MPs, and the Fawcett Society estimates that it will take at least 200 years to get anywhere close to having 50:50 representation. All-women shortlists have helped in our case, but those provisions contains a sunset clause and are due to end. What more can we do to ensure that we get closer to having 50:50 representation in my lifetime, rather than in the lifetime of my great-granddaughters?
I thank my hon. Friend for that question and for her work in this vital matter. There is no doubt that the 98 Labour women MPs vastly outnumber the women on the Opposition Benches. I would like to see more on the Opposition Benches —[Interruption.] I said more, not enough, and that means some of the men have to move off those Benches. [Interruption.] There is no point in getting into an argument about that. We need the Opposition parties to take the issue seriously and to put their votes where their mouths are. We will—
Order. I want to call some more lady Members. Fiona Mactaggart.
There is an area of public life where women's representation is even worse than it is in Parliament—local government. Following the Councillors Commission report, have the Ministers responsible for women and equality had any conversations with their colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government about what action will be taken to promote more women councillors, given that every piece of evidence shows that they are the most effective councillors in representing their communities?
This matter is very close to the Government's heart. We are doing what we can to increase the number of women councillors, in particular the number of black and Asian women councillors. We hosted the largest annual gathering in the Houses of Parliament for regional black and Asian ethnic minority women, which focused on the need for more women from different communities to become councillors; the Women Take Part campaign, which was launched by Ministers in October, is working on the same issue; and the Prime Minister has launched the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group. We are trying to ensure that more women come through in local government, because that is the seedcorn for Parliament.