How representative is Parliament?

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How representative is parliament?

A major function of parliament is representation which is basically that the MP is the elected representative of his or her constituency and it can be seen that are representative of political opinion in their constituency, it can also be seen that parliament is a good representation of the majority vote of the country and that its policies are representative of current events and feelings within the public. However it can be argued that parliament is not socially representative of society, the voting system FPTP limits representation and the House of Lords is unrepresentative as it is controlled by the elected party by the power of patronage rather than being representative enough to scrutinise effectively.

One way it can be seen that parliament is unrepresentative is with social representation. It can be argued that parliament is extremely unrepresentative socially and that this affects the legitimacy and limits the houses function of representation. For example, the electorate is 50% female but in the HOC only 20% of its MP’s are female. This means that women are underrepresented and as a result matters that apply specifically to women could be miss-handled or even ignored which would stop parliament from being representative of public opinion. Also ethnic minorities are underrepresented with 8% share of the population but, only 2.3% seats which would obviously impact on the perceived importance of issues that involves ethnic minorities and therefore means ethnic minorities political importance would be underrepresented in parliament i.e. the London riots were seen to have been due to a rise of unemployment amongst the working class in Haringey and a perceived rise in political tension, this crisis could only fairly be dealt with somebody who understands the mind-set and background of the individuals who took party whether that be youths, people from the same sort of background or someone who specialises in such areas. There also seems to be somewhat a class divide in parliament with ‘working class’ people being underrepresented in parliament, for example 8% of children in the UK attend fee paying schools compared with an overrepresentation of 32% of MPs having attended a fee paying school, this can be seen to be a reason for the feeling that many politicians are ‘out of touch’ with the working class and therefore can’t deal with their problems adequately. This all shows parliament to be unrepresentative socially and therefore unable to adequately represent the problems of the whole country, whilst it would be difficult for parliament to be a microcosm of society it seems that the divide in representation is extremely steep.

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One way in which parliament can be seen to be representative is that its members try to be representatives of their constituencies’ beliefs. The way they do this is that most MPs hold regular ‘surgeries’ in which the constituency puts forward ideas and opinions to the MP to put forward to parliament. For example Andrew Rosendale the MP for Romford holds weekly surgeries in different parts of Romford and made a speech about the environment in parliament after it had been raised in one of said surgeries. Also constituents can go to Westminster and lobby their MP to raise ...

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