To what extent is Parliament representative?

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To what extent is parliament representative?

Representation is the concept that every person and belief within a society is fully represented in a particular government body. In the United Kingdom, as a representative democracy, this concept is crucial for the society to stay representative because it enables large societies to be ruled, to a certain extent, by every individual within that society. In this essay, I will analyse the extent of this representation and whether or not Westminster proves itself to be representative of the people that it governs.

UK is represented by the 2 governing bodies of the legislature – the House of Commons and the House of Lords. In the House of Commons, MPs are elected in order to gain a seat within Parliament, and each MP represents a certain constituency (a geographical area of about 70,000 -90,000 voters. This is essentially is the way which Westminster Parliament achieves representation in the House of Commons, since the MPs are elected ‘of the people’ (from the populous) and ‘for the people’ (governing in their interests). This is essential for a democratic nation.

However, this system doesn’t necessarily mean that representation of the public is achieved. Within the House of Commons, there is a distinct majority of white middle-class, middle aged men who have had public school and Oxbridge education. If representation means that Parliament has to represent the people within a smaller scope, this shows that the reality of Parliament and the reality of the British public are extremely disparate, since only 7% of the British public have actually attended public school.

Furthermore, the reality of the House of Lords is even further from the reality of the public, since these peers are appointed, and not elected, so they do not even represent a cross-section of society, nor do they represent the wishes of the public, since they have gained their position illegitimately (they haven’t been elected through the people). Besides, the average age of a peer is 68, and this clearly isn’t representative of the public. This shows that parliament has not achieved representation, since there is an obvious gap between the British public and Westminster.

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Having said this, there are other types of representation to be considered, which, in a way, the House of Lords fulfils better than the House of Commons because of their lack of representation. There is altruistic representation, ‘delegate representative’ and judgement representation. Altruistic representation is where an MP seeks to protect and advance the interests of the populous he represents. It is for the electorate to decide whether the MP in question is sincere in trying to seek a resolution to the issues raised. This is a significant concept of representation, because a MP is elected in order to symbolize ...

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