Put ethnic minorities in picture; MP'S PLEA OVER PAINTINGS IN HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor email@example.com @jonwalker121
THE walls of the House of Commons are adorned with paintings portraying kings and queens, prime ministers and senior politicians from years gone by.
Yet there are only four pictures of black or Asian people among them.
But one North East MP is hoping to change this view of British politics.
The House of Commons authorities have promised to act, following inquiries by Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah. While television footage of the Commons typically shows the debating chamber, with its green benches, or the grand "lobby" just outside, this is only a small part of the Commons complex.
There is also a series of grand committee corridors, seen by visitors who tour the Commons.
But then there are sections rarely seen by anyone who does not work there, including a maze of corridors where MPs have their offices.
Paintings line the walls - and there are 310 portraits in the Parliamentary Art Collection.
In response to a question from Ms Onwurah, the House of Commons commission has confirmed that only four of these show people from a visible ethnic minority.
They are London MP Diane Abbott, the first black woman to be an MP; Paul Boateng, the former MP who became the UK's first black cabinet minister; Dadabhai Naoroji, an Indian political leader who was an MP in the 19th century, and Baroness Amos, a former MP who became the first black Leader of the House of Lords.
Ms Onwurah called for more black and Asian faces to be shown, so that young people who visit Parliament feel that they can be a part of it whatever their background.
Speaking in the House of Commons, she said: "In the six years that I have had the privilege of serving in this House, I have often felt that the dead white men in tights who people the walls of this Palace follow me around, sometimes into the Chamber itself."
She added: "In a few weeks, children from English Martyrs Primary School in Newcastle will make the journey to visit Parliament."
And she asked if Commons authorities agreed "that they should be overawed and impressed by the Palace, but feel that they are part of its present as well as its future?" She was answered by MP Tom Brake, who represents the House of Commons Commission, the body responsible for maintenance of the Palace of Westminster and the rest of the Parliamentary Estate.
He revealed that a Committee which advises the Speaker of the Commons "has already decided to give further consideration in the current Parliament to the representation of the collection of parliamentarians of black, Asian or minority ethnic origin."
And he told Ms Onwurah: "I hope the committee will be able to provide her with a clear action plan that will help to address her concerns."
Chi Onwurah wants more ethnic minority faces on show
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|Publication:||Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Jun 14, 2016|
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