Bill passed to redress balance of sexes in politics

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

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.

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

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

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 has been found for this measure.

is a practical Bill designed to remove the constraints on political parties who
want to take positive measures to increase the representation of women.

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