I know I won’t be the only person keen to hear what John Bercow says in the Hansard Society’s Speaker’s Lecture this week entitled “Reform in a new Parliament: Reviving the Chamber“.
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I want to see if he will keep his word about the need to increase women parliamentarians which was reviewed recently for Speaker’s Conference – only the sixth to have taken place in the modern history of Parliament. It recommended that if political parties failed to make significant progress on women’s representation at the 2010 general elections (there was only a small increase of 16 women, read this link for full details), Parliament should give serious consideration to the introduction of prescriptive quotas. With political parties beginning candidate selection within 12 to 18 months of the election, these selections will be important for securing cultural change within parties and the House of Commons, and a decision should be made about this now.

Despite all party leaders giving evidence to the Speaker’s Conference in support on more women MPs, where is the evidence to show they meant it? It is now time to put their rhetoric into action. The Centre for Women and Democracy is also very concerned that the issue is  being ignored as none of its recommendations appeared in the new Government Coalition Agreement.

When women are more equally represented, it makes perfect sense that half the Cabinet are made up of women, as Harriet Harman suggests, and they will be there on their merit, just like their male counterparts. I believe it’s only a matter of time before this happens, and would estimate around 15 years, at least three governments, if John Bercow is proactive about encouraging more women MPs as part of his reform plans for reviving the Chamber.

Unless a government is truly representative of its people, how can it be in tune with the experiences of the people it serves?

I’m a member of Hansard and hope to go attend the lecture and will ask the Speaker about this if I get the opportunity.