PM urged to promote female MPs

Maldon and Burnham Standard: A view of the Government front bench as David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. A view of the Government front bench as David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions.

A Tory MP has criticised David Cameron for failing to promote women backbenchers fast enough.

Margot James praised the progress made by Mr Cameron since he became Conservative leader in 2005.

But the Stourbridge MP, a parliamentary aide to trade minister Lord Livingston, said he needed to go further.

The comments came after Labour leader Ed Miliband used Prime Minister's Questions yesterday to berate Mr Cameron for the lack of women on his front bench.

"We certainly have a long way to go, but so do the Labour Party," Ms James told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"There are the same number of women Cabinet ministers in this government as there were in Gordon Brown's government.

"I think the problem is really that we started later than the Labour Party. Really David Cameron when he was elected leader, he was the first leader to make a real concerted effort.

"There were 17 MPs when he was elected leader and he introduced an A-list, he put real action in place. It increased our numbers from 17 to 48."

Asked whether enough was now being done, Ms James replied: "I do think you have put your finger on an issue which I hope the Prime Minister will resolve, which is that women are not promoted fast enough into government.

"If you look at the exact statistics, they are promoted in exact proportion to their numbers in the House.

"But if we have got less than 20% Conservative women in the House, and the Prime Minister wants a third of his government to be female by the time of the next election then clearly he is going to need to promote at a faster rate.

"I would try to influence the Prime Minister to look at the lower ranks of his government and make sure there are more women from those roles that he can then consider for promotion later."

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