Written evidence submitted by Chris Clarkson MP [GSP0027]
How successfully have changes proposed in the past been implemented to make the House of Commons more gender sensitive?
Whilst I think there is a long way to go in all walks of life to ensure equal representation of men and women, I generally consider the House treats gender equality seriously – as to those who may view gender as non-binary, I am unaware of any special considerations. More must be done by political parties to encourage female candidates, although I do not believe all-women shortlists actually address the underlying issues of casual gender bias.
What additional procedures and working arrangements should be changed. Suggestions can include, but need not be limited to: leave for Members who are parents and carers, proxy voting and virtual attendance?
I think proxy voting should remain an option with a wide latitude given to members who may benefit from it, my understanding is that parental leave is already available and have certainly always made allowances for my own staff in this regard.
How should our Buildings and facilities be changed to support a gender sensitive House of Commons and the opportunities presented by the Restoration & Renewal Programme?
For a Victorian building I believe we have managed to adapt the palace well to serve members of both sexes.
How can a more inclusive culture be adopted in the House of Commons?
I think the change needs to come from members and the situation will hopefully improve as more women are elected.
Which individuals or bodies are responsible for taking action?
We all are.
What and who should drive change on this issue?
All of us should drive change out of a sense of basic fairness and decency. It’s slightly ridiculous in the 21st century that only a third of members are women.