The number of Indian and other non-white people in British parliament has increased in recent years, but Prime Minister David Cameron believes ‘there is much more to be done’ to make parliament more representative of Britain’s demographic composition.
In a preface to a new book edited by Labour MP Keith Vaz, titled ‘Rainbow Over Westminster’, Cameron wrote that over 170 years after the House of Commons welcomed the first minority ethnic MP, now there were nearly 100 such MPs and peers.
The first MP elected to the House of Commons of such background was David Dyce-Sombre, who was born in the British Indian principality of Sardhana (now in Meerut district). He was elected from Sudbury in 1841, followed by Dadabhai Naoroji from Finsbury Central in 1892.
Cameron wrote: “(There) is much more to be done. Our parliament is nowhere near representative enough of the country we live in today”.
Keith Vaz was the first Indian or Asian-origin MP to be elected in 1987 after Mancherjee Bhownagree (1895) and Shapurji Shaklatvala (1922). Recent studies see an increased influence of the minority ethnic vote in the May 2015 general elections.
Vaz wrote: “The parliament today is unrecognisable from the one I was first elected to over a quarter of a century ago. It makes me very proud that 26 years later, there are 79 Black, Asian and minority-ethnic MPs and peers in the two houses of parliament and 8 minority-ethnic MEPs representing the UK in the European parliament”.
Currently, Indian-origin MPs in the House of Commons include Keith Vaz, Valerie Vaz, Priti Patel, Alok Sharma, Paul Uppal and Seema Malhotra. Such members in the House of Lords include Swraj Paul, Dolar Popat, Usha Prashar, Bhikhu Parekh, Sushanta Bhattacharyya and Sandip Verma.