Following on from my post on women (not) in Cabinet or Parliament, I’ve been trying to find the equivalent statistics for disabled people as Members of Parliament following the General Election.
I can’t find them, and I know my way around that particular shop pretty well.
As RADAR noted in its submission to last year’s Speakers Conference on Parliamentary Representation:
Numbers of disabled MPs are unknown. Numbers of [known] disabled MPs are very low compared to the proportion of disabled people in the population (we would expect 65 disabled MPs on the lowest estimate) [though] a representative House of Commons would therefore include approximately 129 disabled MPs.
It is therefore imperative that – as for gender and BME – equivalent figures for disabled MPs (or even best estimates) are available. If anyone knows of such stats, please leave a comment below.
If they don’t exist, there are several existing commitments that suggest this data should become available.
During the Speaker’s Conference, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg agreed to the principle of publishing equality monitoring data in relation to candidate selections, as part of their commitment to the promotion of fairer representation in Parliament. The Conference therefore recommended that all parties publish details online and every six months of their candidate selections, broken down by various criteria, including equality data (see paragraph 25 here).
Similarly, the Speaker’s Conference recommended all parties represented at Westminster should publish an equality statement setting out the proportion of their Parliamentary party following the General Election. Furthermore, that statement should set out their aims for fairer representation for 2015 and 2020 (see paragraph 26 here).
The final pertinent recommendation from the Speaker’s Conference in terms of equality data was as follows:
We recommend that the Government should find time for a debate on the implementation of the Speaker’s Conference’s recommendations and progress towards just representation in the House of Commons in 2010, 2012, and every two years thereafter to 2022. We also recommend that the House of Commons should provide access from a dedicated page on the Parliament website to all published statements and reports by each party represented at Westminster on their Parliamentary party representation and candidate selections, alongside links to the reports from the Speaker’s Conference.
Finally, as the largest parliamentary party and lead partner in the current coalition government, it is worth noting the Conservatives pledged to set up a £1m access fund to support disabled people to become MPs, called the Access to Public Life Fund (noted in their women and equality policy here). I shall await with interest the development and implementation of this Fund, and hope it positively contributes to the representation of disabled people in Parliament.