On Friday 4 December, the House of Lords chamber hosted an intergenerational debate on how to increase diversity in Parliament, with more than 200 participants of all ages.
This year, the House of Lords worked in partnership with five organisations:
And the following five schools from The English-Speaking Union’s ‘Discover Your Voice’ programme:
- Altrincham School for Girls, Manchester
- Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh
- Harris Academy, Crystal Palace, London
- St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls, Belfast
- School21, Stratford, London
They debated the following motion from the red benches of the Lords chamber:
- ‘How do we increase diversity in Parliament?’
The English-Speaking Union trained all the floor speakers participating in the debate, and created three core teams, who each proposeed a different option to increase diversity:
- Do nothing: It would be impossible to have an MP or peer represent all races, genders, views etc
- Improve the current process: Political parties and groups should ensure candidates are representative of the diversity of the population
- Make it happen: The House of Commons and the House of Lords should be ‘topped up’ with additional seats to provide MPs and peers to represent under-represented groups.
Speaking ahead of the debate, the Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza, said:
‘Diversity is not just a buzzword. It should help to ensure that the views, opinions and concerns of all races, religions and genders are represented and have the opportunity to have their voices heard. And Parliament, as the place that legislates on behalf of us all, should be a proper and true reflection of the society we represent. However, achieving diversity is not without its challenges and this week’s debate will see all sides of the argument ably expressed.
‘In welcoming our partnership organisations, as well as other participants, I am looking forward to a lively, constructive and informative debate, which once again I will chair from the Woolsack.’
Image: House of Lords 2015/Roger Harris