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EDITIONS
Monday, 7 October, 2002, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Call for 50% women shortlists
Andrew Lansley
Lansley says having more female candidates is vital
A modernising Tory MP is calling for a 50-50 quota system to ensure more women are selected as Conservative election candidates.

Former shadow minister Andrew Lansley said 50% of the candidates offered for selection to local constituency parties should be women.


It will not be acceptable if, after the next election, out of 250 or 300 Conservative MPs, a small proportion were women

Andrew Lansley
Mr Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire, said the party had to become more representative it would be "unacceptable" if after the next general election only a small percentage of Tory MPs were female.

But the call, made as the Conservative conference begins in Bournemouth, is likely to be resisted by the traditionalist wing of the party, which is firmly against any form of "positive discrimination".

May considering quotas

Just six of the first 28 prospective Tory parliamentary candidates selected so far are women, while none are from an ethnic minority.

In an interview with BBC News Online, Tory party chairman Theresa May insisted efforts to recruit a more diverse range of candidates were going well.

But she refused to rule out introducing a quota system of the kind being promoted by Mr Lansley, if local party chairman refused to listen to Central Office.

She said: "What I have spoken about in the past is having a 50-50 split on a candidates list for a certain number of seats, a 50-50 gender split, with obviously a good number of ethnic minority candidates throughout that.

"We have been making some progress with what we are doing so far.

"But obviously we will continue to monitor the situation."

'Good for democracy'

Mr Lansley is expected to make the case for a 50-50 gender split on candidate lists at a fringe meeting in Bournemouth on Tuesday.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he did not want to "parachute in" individual candidates.

But at the last general election, he added, "16% of the candidates offered to constituencies were women and 16% of the candidates selected were women," which suggested a quota system could work.

"It will not be acceptable if, after the next election, out of 250 or 300 Conservative MPs, a small proportion were women," he said.

The party had to become more modern and relevant and "show that that is happening in who we are as well as what we are."

It was "not only electorally desirable, but democratically desirable", to make the party more representative, he added.

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06 Oct 02 | Politics
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