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Keywords:

  • UK parliament;
  • women's representation;
  • legislative recruitment;
  • quotas;
  • gender

At the next general election the percentage of women elected to the smaller House of Commons risks being lower than in the current parliament, where they constitute 22 percent of all MPs. The 2008–10 Speaker's Conference identified many of the barriers faced by women and other under-represented groups and made a series of recommendations, only some of which have been introduced. The Government favours a voluntary approach to Recommendation 24, which calls for diversity data monitoring, whilst Recommendation 25 which calls for serious consideration of legislative quotas in the absence of a significant increase in the numbers of women in 2010, appears forgotten. A second Speaker's Conference should therefore be established; the issue of women's under-representation should be taken up above the party level—with legislative quotas introduced to address the system level failure of democratic representation at Westminster.