The Speaker’s Conference on Parliamentary Representation was established by the House of Commons to look into the reasons why there are not more women, disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities in the House of Commons. The Speaker’s Conference launched an online forum on 12 May, seeking views from the public on the following questions:
- Why do people think that to succeed in public life they have to hide aspects of themselves?
- What would persuade you to represent your community?
- What is the best way to increase the representation of under-represented communities at Westminster?
The forum can be accessed here or via the main website. It ran until 23 June 2009.
Comments from the forum were considered by the Conference as it looked to find practical ways to tackle under-representation.
The Speaker’s Conference was convened under the leadership of the Speaker, Mr Michael J Martin. Its membership was as follows: Miss Anne Begg (Vice-Chairman), Ms Diane Abbott, John Bercow, Mr David Blunkett, Angela Browning, Mr Ronnie Campbell, Mrs Ann Cryer, Mr Parmjit Dhanda, Andrew George, Miss Julie Kirkbride, Dr William McCrea, David Maclean, Fiona Mactaggart, Mr Khalid Mahmood, Anne Main, Jo Swinson and Mrs Betty Williams. It had to:
identify any particular difficulties people in these groups face in becoming Members of Parliament,
to recommend ways of supporting them; and
to recommend ways of tackling those barriers to their success.
A Speaker’s Conference has been established from time to time to investigate issues relating to the franchise and electoral law.