A change in the law is needed to ensure women continue to be well represented in central government, claimed the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Research for the EOC shows that political parties will not select significantly more women candidates without a change in the law to allow positive discrimination, such as all-women shortlists, now banned after a legal challenge.
Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said, “Labour’s use of all-women shortlists in 1997 swelled the ranks of women MPs but without positive action the past four years will come to be seen as a blip.”
The study claims that in Scotland, where more than 30 per cent of MPs are women, sex equality issues have become part of the mainstream debate.
A spokesman for the Labour Party said it would ask the Home Office to look at changing the legal framework so all political parties can introduce measures to guarantee selection of more women and more ethnic minorities.