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'Derisory' increase in number of women MPs

7 May, 2010

Thursday's General Election has resulted in the election of  142 women MPs - only 22% of the total 649.

At the dissolution of parliament in April, there were 126 women MPs - 19.5% of the total.

However, when parliament does reconvene it will look different, with significantly more women on the Conservative benches, and fewer on the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches.

The number of Conservative women MPs has risen from 18 to 48 - an increase from 9% to 16%.

The number of Labour women MPs has fallen from 94 to 81 - but the fall in the overall number of Labour MPs means that there is a percentage increase of 4% (from 27% to 31%).

The number of Liberal Democrat women MPs has fallen from 9 to 7 - a decrease from 15% to 12%.

The unusually high number of MPs retiring at this election meant that the loss of Labour women in marginal seats was balanced out by 50% of Labour candidates in seats where the Labour MP was retiring being women. Had this not been the case the number of women in the House of Commons would have declined significantly.

In addition to the women elected for the main three parties, there was one woman elected for the Green Party, one for the SNP, one for Sinn Fein, one for the SDLP, one for the Alliance Party, and one Independent.

None of Plaid Cymru's three MPs are women, and none of the DUP's eight.

Commenting on the figures, Nan Sloane, the Director of the Centre for Women and Democracy said: 'Although there has been a small increase in the number of women MPs at this election, it can only be described as derisory, and the next parliament needs to take clear action to ensure that we do not find ourselves in this situation again. We are well behind the majority of other European countries in this regard, and at the present rate of progress it will take decades - if not centuries - before women are properly represented in our democracy.'

CFWD will be producing a detailed report on women in the election - and the new cabinet when that is formed - over the next couple of weeks.