115.We are in no doubt that a representative and diverse House of Commons is beneficial for the effective functioning of a parliamentary democracy. We want to see fair representation of many different groups of people, including women, ethnic and religious minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, disabled people and more. Our focus on women in this report should not be taken as a lack of interest in diversity more generally; we consider that achieving equality in terms of gender will help to achieve equality for all.
116.Our Parliament should be a world leader in women’s representation, but it is clear that there is much to do before we achieve this. We have outlined some of the actions the Government, political parties and the House of Commons itself can take. Our overarching message is that there is no room for complacency; laudable aspirations unattached to practical action will not achieve the scale of change that is needed, nor will trusting in long-term trends without intervention to accelerate their pace. In particular, we are concerned that positive trends could reverse or stagnate in 2020 as an unintended consequence of the planned reduction of seats in the Commons.
117.Political parties bear the lion’s share of the responsibility for ensuring that this does not happen: they must recruit and support talented women and put them in positions from which they can win seats. We look to the leaders of those parties to imbue these efforts with the urgency and priority they require. We ask the Government to put in place the means to hold them to account for their performance, and to be prepared to mandate change where the challenge is not met voluntarily.
22 December 2016