Shortlist move will get more women in Parliament

Political
parties are to be allowed to adopt all-women shortlists when selecting
electoral candidates following an amendment to the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act.

Despite
a record seven women in the Cabinet, fewer than one in five members of the
House of Commons is female, one of the lowest figures in Europe.

A new
section has been included in the 1975 act, which will enable parties to use
positive measures to reduce inequality.

The
use of women-only shortlists by Labour from 1993 to 1996 resulted in an
increase of women MPs but was ruled unlawful in 1996.

Stephen
Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, who
led the bill in the Commons, said, "I am pleased that in a packed parliamentary
programme time as been fond for this measure.

"This
is a practical bill designed to remove the constraints on political parties that
want to take positive measures to increase the representation of women."

By Ben Willmott

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