The House

‘More must be done to increase number of ethnic minority MPs’

- By Seun Matiluko

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has called for greater diversity in Parliament as he celebrated three Black political trailblaze­rs. Speaking at a Black History Month reception at Speaker’s House to celebrate the 35th anniversar­y of the election of Parliament’s first Black MPs in the modern era, Sir Lindsay said: “Our membership needs to be reflective of the wider community.”

Diane Abbott, Paul – now Lord – Boateng and the late Bernie Grant were elected to Parliament at the 1987 general election.

It is thought the first ever Black MP was James Townsend, the Whig representa­tive for Calne from 1782 to 1787. However, when Labour MPs Abbott, Boateng and Grant were elected in Margaret Thatcher’s third Conservati­ve landslide, they became the first Black MPs elected in more than a century.

Abbott, 69, representi­ng Hackney North and Stoke Newington, is the only one of the three to remain in Parliament and served as shadow home secretary between 2016 and 2020. Boateng, 71, represente­d Brent South until 2005, serving as chief secretary to the Treasury from 2002, before being appointed High Commission­er to South Africa. He was appointed to the Lords in 2010.

Grant was MP for Tottenham until his sudden death from a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 56.

Sir Lindsay said that when he was first elected as an MP in 1997, only nine Members belonged to Black and ethnic minority background­s. Since then, the number has risen to 66. Rishi Sunak has now become the first British Asian Prime Minister.

The Speaker’s reception was attended by around 140 people, included leading figures from business, health profession­als and celebritie­s from Black background­s. TV chef Ainsley Harriott and Olympian Imani-Lara Lansiquot were among those who watched as new portraits of Abbott, Boateng, and Grant were unveiled.

Lansiquot said: “We must employ continuous action, year after year, to change our industries, governing bodies and infrastruc­tures to better reflect, serve and most importantl­y, protect everybody. Black History Month is an opportunit­y to have those hard discussion­s.”

 ?? ?? Ainsley Harriott, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Boateng
Ainsley Harriott, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Boateng

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