to increase the number of female MPs have now become legal, following
cross-party consensus in Parliament.
Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act has gained Royal Assent and will
allow political parties to introduce positive measures when selecting
candidates for election.
use of women-only shortlists by the Labour Party was deemed unlawful in 1996,
but these domestic legal barriers have now been removed.
a record seven women in the Cabinet, the UK still has one of the lowest
proportions of female MPs in Europe with 18 per cent, compared to 31 per cent
in Germany and 43 per cent in Sweden.
one in five MPs is female and in the 2001 general election the number decreased
for the first time in 20 years.