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Two thirds of women MPs say that progress on tackling violence against women in politics impacts their willingness to stand for re-election

1 November 2019

Ahead of the election of a new Speaker of the House of Commons scheduled for Monday 4 November, a survey of 147 MPs carried out for the Women and Equalities Committee by ComRes found that nearly half of MPs who responded (43 per cent) think that the Speaker should be the single most responsible person for ensuring an inclusive culture in the House of Commons.

When asked about their confidence in appropriate action to ensure an inclusive culture, women MPs have far less confidence than men MPs.

The responses received from the candidates for Speaker were as follows:

The survey asked about MPs' willingness to stand for re-election and the results showed stark differences between women and men MPs. Two in three female MPs (65 per cent) say that progress on tackling violence against women in politics, including online, has an impact on their willingness to stand for re-election, compared with one in four male MPs (24 per cent).

The survey was carried out as part of the Committee's inquiry into a Gender sensitive Parliament which is looking into actions by the House of Commons to make sure that it meets the needs of both women and men, and addresses equality issues, particularly as it relates to Members of Parliament.

Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said,

“A panel of MPs, Peers and officials called for a more Gender Sensitive Parliament in their report to the Speaker in 2018. The Women and Equalities Committee's Inquiry has been considering what progress has been made by the House of Commons since then, but we can see from this research that MPs are unclear about who currently is responsible for driving the change that is wanted. However, what almost half of them are clear about is that most responsibility for fulfilling this role should lie with the Speaker. As part of our Inquiry the Committee has asked those standing for election to the position of Speaker to outline what they might do to address the issues raised.”

The Committee sought commitments from all MPs standing to be Speaker, on the areas it is focusing on in the gender sensitive Parliament inquiry:

  • Women's representation and leadership within and across the House of Commons
  • Parliamentary Effectiveness: the gender sensitivity of parliamentary procedures, facilities and support
  • An inclusive culture of Parliament
  • Violence against women in parliamentary politics, including in online spaces

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright