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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 14:18 GMT
Costs 'deter would-be women MPs'
David Cameron
David Cameron's candidate list aims to have 50% women
Women are being deterred from trying to become Parliamentary candidates because of the high costs involved, Tory pressure group Women2Win says.

They were reluctant to "spend their family's money" on travel, childcare and other costs associated with finding a seat, said spokesman Katie Perrior.

Men, on the other hand, were "often the main breadwinners and didn't feel so guilty about spending their money."

It can cost up to 40,000 to find a seat according to one recent survey.

People who want to become MPs routinely travel around the country for interviews with local parties and, once selected, spend money raising their profile in the constituency.

Mrs Perrior said her organisation wants to set up a bursary to help women with such costs, arguing women tend to be more financially cautious than men.

"The money does discourage people, especially women," she told the BBC News website.

Costs such as travel, time off work, childcare and administration all added to the total - even before a candidate was selected.

"There is a risk, nothing is guaranteed in politics," she said.

Conservative leader David Cameron has introduced an A-list of preferred candidates, from which local Conservative branches are encouraged to select, with about half being women and about 10% from ethnic minorities.

Mr Cameron has said he wants the party's MPs to better reflect British society.

Women2Win, launched a year ago and co-chaired by shadow commons leader Theresa May, says the level of Conservative women MPs - 9% - is "not good enough".


It is to develop an internet site, to be launched later this year, to encourage prospective women candidates to share ideas online about how to find a seat.

"It's to provide an opportunity to say 'this is difficult' because there is no shame in saying that it is a struggle," Ms Perrior said.

The group also plans to set up a fund to help prospective women Tory candidates with grants, but Ms Perrior said that "was still a way off".

"That's quite fraught, because during a campaign you can't go throwing money around, so there are a lot of hurdles to cross."

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20 Oct 06 |  UK Politics
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