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New Poll Shows Divided Views on Quotas

2 Sep, 2010

95% of respondents said that the recent increase in women MPs of 2.5% is unacceptable, with 45% supporting comulsory quotas for the House of Commons and 62% advocating them for a new elected House of Lords.

Over the summer the Centre for Women & Democracy has been running an online poll on whether or not the Coalition Government’s proposed constitutional changes might make a difference to the representation of women in the UK parliament, and the interim findings have now been published.

A massive 95% of people who took part in the poll thought that the 2.5% increase in women MPs at the last election was ‘not significant’. with 45% saying that the Coalition should include compulsory quotas in its constitutional change programme.

A sizeable 62% thought that an elected House of Lords should have a quota of 50% women, whilst only 12% thought that there should be no quota at all.

Opinion on how helpful the proposed change to the Alternative Voting (AV) system of elections would be was mixed, with 38% thinking that it might help if the political parties took responsibility for making sure that it did, and 35% thinking that it would make no difference at all.

85% of Liberal Democrat respondents said that AV would make a difference if the parties took action to make sure that it did, whilst 75% of Conservatives thought that it would make no difference at all. Labour respondents were divided – 37% thought that AV might help with another 37% thinking that it would not.

67% said that they thought that the proposed reduction in constituencies would not help to get more women into parliament.

21% of Labour respondents disagreed with the use of quotas in any circumstances, 50% of Liberal Democrat and 67% of Conservative.

Commenting on the findings, CFWD’s Director, Nan Sloane, said:

“This poll show that, although on the whole women find the negligible increase in women MPs this year unacceptable, they are not in agreement about what to do about it, and there needs to be a much wider debate about what the options might be.

“We are disappointed that the Government’s proposed constitutional changes include nothing at all about the diversity of representation in general or the representation of women in particular – this is a missed opportunity which means that the UK will continue to lag behind many comparable countries.”

A full analysis of the poll will be published later this month.


For further information contact Nan Sloane on 0113 234 6500


Notes for Editors:

22% of Westminster MPs are women, an increase of 2.5% (17 women) on the previous parliament.

20% of the current House of Lords is female.

31% of Labour MPs are women, 16% of Conservative MPs and 12% of Liberal Democrats.

Of the UK’s European neighbours, 41% of the Netherlands’ MPs are women, 33% of Germany’s, 33and 19% of French MPs.

Of the UK’s European neighbours 46% of MPs in Sweden are women, 41% in the Netherlands, 40% in Norway, 38% in Denmark, 33% in Germany and Belgium, and 19% in France.

Elsewhere, women constitute 25% of the new Australian House of Representatives, 37% of New Zealand’s lower House, 22% of MPs in Canada and 17% of the US House of Representatives.