Scottish MPs back gender petition

Mr Weir and his party colleagues with some of the 50:50 Parliament campaigners at Westminster. The group is asking Parliament to debate how to redress the gender balance.
Mr Weir and his party colleagues with some of the 50:50 Parliament campaigners at Westminster. The group is asking Parliament to debate how to redress the gender balance.

Local MP Mike Weir has given his support to the 50:50 Parliament campaign which is calling for a redress of the gender balance at Westminster.

Mr Weir and many of his SNP colleagues were joined by a Philippa Bilton, a descendant of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, to sign the 50:50 Parliament petition which is calling for a debate and action to achieve equal representation in UK politics.

Mr Weir said: “I was delighted to be joined by so many SNP colleagues today and show our support for this fantastic campaign.

“Parliament is supposed to be representative of the people, but it’s far from it. Women make up 51% of the population, but account for less than one third of MPs.

“It is very important that women are encouraged to stand for Parliament.”

Currently men occupy 71 per cent of seats in Parliament with 461 MPs while there are only 189 women MPs. The 50:50 Parliament campaign is asking Parliament to debate all the solutions for better gender balance and take action to achieve a more approximate 50:50 balance of men and women.

Backed by celebrities such as Gemma Arterton, Annie Lennox, Paloma Faith and Dr Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, it is a cross-party campaign, with an aim that organiser have said is not impossible to achieve.

The campaign points out that about 70 countries have proportionally more women in their Parliaments than the UK and 177 more female MPs are needed from a population of 32 million women.

Frances Scott, Director of 50:50 Parliament, said: “The 50:50 Parliament campaign is delighted to have so many SNP MPs wear our T-shirt and join the fight for better gender balance in Parliament.

“It is great that the SNP have brought another 20 women MPs to Westminster.

“There have only ever been 450 women MPs, so there are more men in the House of Commons right now than there have ever been women.

“Nearly 100 years after women won the right to vote, 50:50 Parliament is calling for action so that women can lead, govern and legislate side by side, equally, with men.”