Responses to the Speaker's Conference (on Parliamentary Representation): Final Report of Session 2009-10 - Speaker's Conference (on Parliamentary Representation) Contents

Appendix 8: IPSA's response

Thank you for providing us with the report of your inquiry into increasing the diversity of representation in Parliament. The timing of the publication of your report was particularly helpful for us as it coincided with the launch of our consultation on a new scheme of expenses for Members of Parliament. You will have seen that one of the principles set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which we allude to in our consultation paper, is that arrangements for expenses "should be flexible enough to take account of the diverse working patterns and demands placed upon individual MPs, and should not unduly deter representation from all sections of society."

We take that principle very seriously, so the Conference's report is of great assistance to us in that clearly a great deal of work has been done in assessing what impact a scheme of expenses can have on the diversity of representation of MPs. We are also grateful to the members of the Conference for making themselves available for what has been a very helpful series of meetings and discussions; our scheme will without doubt be shaped by what we learnt from discussions with yourselves.

As I know you understand, we are not yet in the position to respond to your detailed recommendations—the great majority of which are of course not for IPSA in any event. We have concluded our consultation on the new expenses scheme, and are now in the throes of working through the responses so that we can report on the outcome of that consultation (and of course produce the new scheme itself). Our intention is to treat the Speaker's Conference report as a contribution to that consultation exercise and include a consideration of your recommendations in our report on the consultation. We will also be producing an Equality Impact Assessment which will be greatly informed by your report.

This would most likely be concerned primarily with your recommendations in the area of disability, where it is within IPSA's power to deliver what has been recommended, and not with other issues raised such as maternity and paternity leave or childcare vouchers—all of which are things IPSA would subsequently consider if we are granted the power to determine MPs' salaries and pension arrangements, as is envisaged in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill which is currently before Parliament.

Ultimately, your report makes clear that the task of increasing diversity of representation is primarily a task for political parties and the House of Commons as an institution—and of course the electorate. But we are entirely alive to the dangers of creating further barriers to entry into Parliament, and we will strive to avoid doing so as we finalise our new scheme.

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