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Dame Vera Baird QC backs call for action to tackle women MP numbers

13th January 2017

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC has welcomed a report by the Women and Equalities Committee concluding that political parties must be held to account for the lack of women MPs at Westminster.

As well as reducing the ‘democratic deficit’ in future, the report calls for parties to publicly set out their measures for tackling the problem.

The UK Government is now facing calls to legislate, to ensure at least 45 per cent of all representatives in parliament and  local government are women by 2020.

At present only 30 per cent of MPs are women, and the UK ranks only 48th globally. This new report places increasing pressure on parties who are ultimately responsible for choosing the candidates they put forward for general elections.

Dame Vera, who is also Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners is a long-standing equality campaigner and  was recently  appointed a Dame in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for services to women and equality believes the current representation is not acceptable. She said: “Women make up more than half of the population, but less than a third of MPs. This under-representation continues to happen at all levels of British politics and as this report rightly indicates – it’s not good enough and stronger measures are essential if we are going to deliver real change.

“We know quotas and special measures that are appropriate and effectively implemented can bring about the change we need so legislative action must be taken. There is no doubt that as a country we can greatly benefit from enhanced diversity of input. We need absolute commitment from all parties to tackle this – under-representation must be made a thing of the past.”

Committee chairwoman Maria Miller said: “A global ranking of 48th is shockingly low. We must rise to the challenge of being a world leader on women’s parliamentary representation. We are calling on political parties to publicly set out the measures they plan to take to increase the proportion and number of women parliamentary candidates in 2020. We must ensure that previous positive trends do not stagnate or reverse. There is no room for complacency.”