Parliamentary Questions as Instruments of Substantive Representation: Visible Minorities in the UK House of Commons, 2005-10

Professorship/Faculty: Comparative Politics  
Authors: Saalfeld, Thomas  
Title of the Journal: The Journal of Legislative Studies
ISSN: 1357-2334
Publisher Information: Abingdon : Routledge
Year of publication: 2011
Volume: 17
Issue: 3
Pages / Size: 271 - 289
Language(s): English
Document Type: Article
Does the growing descriptive representation of minority-ethnic legislators in the British House of Commons have any implications for the substantive representation of minority-related issues in the UK Parliament? This study is based on a data set of over 16,000 parliamentary questions tabled by 50 British backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 2005-2010 Parliament, including the 16 immigrant-origin MPs with a ‘visible-minority’ background. Based on a series of multivariate models, it is found that all British MPs sampled for this study – irrespective of their ethnic status – respond to electoral incentives arising from the socio-demographic composition of their constituencies: Minority and non-minority MPs alike ask more questions relating to minority concerns, if they represent constituencies with a high share of non-White residents. Controlling for that general effect, however, MPs with a visible-minority status do tend to ask significantly more questions about ethnic diversity and equality issues.
Keywords: parliamentary questions, House of Commons, ethnic minorities, representation, Great Britain
Release Date: 10. October 2012