Representation in Parliament

  • Created by: Q_
  • Created on: 10-04-19 20:45

Theories of Representation

Trustees: representatives should be condsidered to be trustees, using their judgement to act for the common and national good as well as in the interests of their constituents.

Their actions should be responsible and accountable. 

Delegates: act on behalf of a group or organisation and are rarely allowed to stray from clear expectations - they are bound by clear instructions. 

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Representation and the Commons

According to the theories of representation, an effective elected assembly should be a 'descriptive' representation of society from which it is drawn.

This description should mirror the proportional size of all major social groups.

While the Commons has become more decriptively representative in recent decades, it is not representative of the population of the UK in several key areas: 

  • GENDER
  • AGE
  • ETHNICITY
  • SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS
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GENDER

  • Only 29% of MPs elected in 2015 were women (up from 22% in 2010). 
  • There are 208 female MPs in the Commons (up from 191 in 2015). 
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AGE/ETHNICITY

AGE

  • The average ages of MPs elected in 2015 was 51.
  • However, the average age of those elected for the first time in 2015 was 44.

ETHNICITY

  • The 2015 general election returned 41 MPs from ethnic minorities - up from 27 in 2010. 
  • The Commons still remains a disproportionately white/Christian chamber. 
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SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS

  • In 2015, more than 9/10 MPs in the Commons had a university eduction - 26% of them had attended Oxford or Cambridge. 
  • More than a 1/3 of MPs in the Commons went to fee-paying schools, compared with just 7% of the population.
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Representation and the Commons

While the unrepresentative nature of the Commons means that it stands accused of lacking a legitimate mandate, the reality is that there will always be many constituents represented by people who are unlike themselves. 

MPs are 'entrusted' to represent all constituents, regardless of ethnicity, faith or gender, and many work tirelessly to further the interests of minorities and disadvantaged groups within their constituencies. 

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