Call for ‘bold action’ to tackle unrepresentative Commons

By Tony Hudson

There is no 'silver bullet' to fix the problem of an unrepresentative House of Commons, according to a report out today.

The Institute for Government argued that there is no single, simple solution to the problem – but called for drastic steps to be taken to change the current methods of selecting parliamentary candidates.

Its report recommends several key measures to enhance public involvement in politics and create a more representative parliament.

Diversifying the supply of candidates, addressing the cost barrier to those of lower income, allowing for time off work for candidates to campaign and an increased use of primary elections were all proposed.

The report also suggested state funding for postal primaries in order to boost participation.

Rhys Williams, one of the report's authors, said: "It will only be through bold action that the problems of low public participation in the political process and an unrepresentative Parliament can be addressed."

Co-author Akash Paun added: "Reforms to candidate selection procedures might be a lot less controversial if parties and parliament also focused on broadening the supply of candidates from under-represented groups.

"This might ultimately mean a rethink about how candidates and campaigns are funded."

The House of Commons is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class at present, the IfG said. Women comprise only 22 per cent of MPs, and non-whites make up a mere four per cent.