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Social background of Members of Parliament 1979-2017

Published Tuesday, November 5, 2019

This briefing paper provides data on the gender, age, ethnicity and educational backgrounds of MPs elected at the 2017 General Election and how this has changed over time.

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There were 208 female MPs elected at the 2017 General Election (32% of all MPs). This is the highest ever number and proportion. In 1979 there were 19 women MPs, 3% of the total.


47 MPs elected in 2017 were openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer (LGBTQ), 7% of the total. This was the highest ever recorded figure.


53% (344) of MPs elected in 2017 were aged over 50. Following the election, the proportion of MPs aged 70 and over increased to 4% (28). 13 MPs aged under 30 were elected (2% of the total).


52 MPs were from non-white backgrounds, 8% of the total. Around 14% of the whole UK population are from a non-white background.


82% of MPs were graduates and 24% have attended Oxford or Cambridge. 29% of MPs attended fee-paying schools.

Parliamentary experience

87 MPs elected in 2017 had no previous Parliamentary experience (13%). 551 (85%) had been MPs in the 2015-17 Parliament and 12 were re-elected having served as MPs further in the past.


This version includes the latest data from The British General Election of 2017 book by Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7483

Authors: Richard Cracknell; Cassie Barton

Topics: Central government, Elections, Members of Parliament, Parliament, Political parties

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