Women In Public Office

Wednesday 11th March 2020

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Department for International Trade
Sarah Atherton Portrait Sarah Atherton (Wrexham) (Con) - Hansard

1. What steps she is taking to encourage women to enter (a) politics, (b) the judiciary and (c) other public office. [901466]

Elizabeth Truss Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Elizabeth Truss) - Hansard

This House now has 220 women MPs, which is a record. I believe that it is through transparency and meritocracy that we bring more great people into the House. I congratulate my hon. Friend on being one of the first three Welsh female Conservative MPs.

Sarah Atherton Portrait Sarah Atherton - Hansard

Eighty-one per cent. of Wrexham county councillors are male. I am the first female Conservative MP for Wales and one could ask why it has taken so long, although that is for a different debate. Does my right hon. Friend agree that organisations such as Women2Win Wales and the Women’s Equality Network of Cardiff are vital and essential when trying to equalise the gender balance in higher public office?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Anybody who has met Baroness Jenkin will know that she is a force of nature to be reckoned with. She does not just ask women to stand; she tells them to stand—and she has made it happen.

Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP) - Hansard

The Centenary Action Group reports that only some of the diversity data on candidates seeking parliamentary nomination is collected and published; that is because it is currently voluntary. I hope that the Minister agrees that that is simply not good enough, so today will she either commit to enacting section 106 of the 10-year-old Equality Act or at least explain why she refuses to do so?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss - Hansard

I certainly agree with the hon. Lady that more transparency is always helpful in highlighting where we need better opportunities for people to get into public life and politics, but we have to recognise that it is partly down to political parties to show that leadership and make that happen within their own organisations.