Ethnic minorities

There have been non-white members of the House of Commons in the past (a Liberal, a Conservative and a Communist, who each sat for brief periods between 1892 and 1929) but, despite the substantial immigration into the United Kingdom from its former colonies in the West Indies and from the former Indian Empire in the 1950s and later, no representative of these communities was elected to Parliament until 1987 (although several had been created life peers). There is still no representative of the substantial ethnic Chinese community of around half a million. Efforts have been made in all parties to nominate ethnic minority candidates, but not with great success. In the 1992 parliament there were six MPs who described themselves as being from an ethnic minority. This increased to nine in the 1997 parliament, to twelve, or 1.8 per cent, in the 2001 parliament and to fifteen, or 2.3 per cent of MPs, in 2005. After the 2010 general election there were 27 minority ethnic MPs in the House of Commons; 4.2 per cent of the total. The UK population is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity and the 2011 Census showed 18 per cent of the UK population reporting a non-white background, compared with 8 per cent ten years earlier. However, despite an increase of 15 minority ethnic MPs between the 2001 and 2010 general election, the diversity of MPs remains disproportionate to the population as a whole. If the non-white population were represented proportionally in the House of Commons, there would be around 117 minority ethnic MPs.

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