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International Women's Day

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:25 pm on 11th March 2010.

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Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, Minister of State (Government Equalities Office), The Leader of the House of Commons , Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 1:25 pm, 11th March 2010

I think it is very important for women not only to have the right to vote, but to be able to vote for women and men to sit in this House of Commons. Therefore, I warmly welcome the proposals from the Speaker's Conference, and I thank the Speaker and his deputy on the conference, my hon. Friend Miss Begg, who is present in the Chamber. The Speaker's Conference proposals will help us make further progress towards equality of representation in this House.

The Equality Bill already extended the power for political parties to have all-women shortlists. We are carrying on with that in Labour's selections in advance of the general election, and 58 per cent. of our newly selected candidates are women. We have accepted the Speaker's Conference recommendation that political parties should be required to report on the diversity of their candidate selection. We need to expose under-representation, so that it can be clearly seen where action needs to be taken. This is not just a matter for our political parties; it is a question of the legitimacy of our democracy through this House.