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Parliamentary Privilege – The MPs 2015

Research Brief: Edition 4

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This reports builds on from our previous report Parliamentary Privilege – The Candidates and examines the backgrounds of MPs in the new House of Commons.

The Sutton Trust has also examined the backgrounds of the new Cabinet. See the results of our analysis here.


  • Almost a third (32%) of MPs in the new House of Commons was privately educated. This means that the new House is only a little more representative than that elected in 2010, when 35% of MPs had been to a fee-paying school.
  •  The research brief, Parliamentary Privilege – the MPs, shows that around half (48%) of Conservative MPs were privately educated, compared to 14% of Liberal Democrats, 5% of SNP MPs for whom we have data and 17% of Labour MPs. Among other MPs, 24% went to a fee-paying school. However, the proportion of privately educated Conservative MPs has fallen from 54% in the last parliament and 73% in 1979.
  • With only 7% of the general population attending independent schools, MPs are over four times more likely to have gone to a fee-paying school than their constituents. Out of those MPs who were privately educated, almost one in ten went to Eton.
  • The research draws on data compiled by the Sutton Trust and public affairs consultant Tim Carr from public sources, requests to candidates in marginal constituencies and those in seats where the previous MP was not standing again.
  • Nine out of ten MPs are graduates. Of those who went to a UK university, 26% hold an Oxbridge degree and 28% went to another Russell Group university. Whilst the public might expect MPs to have good degrees, previous research by the Trust found that those from the richest fifth of neighbourhoods are still nine times more likely to go to the top universities than those from the poorest fifth.

Making News

Our findings generated much press interest and we were featured on the front page of the Financial Times and Daily Star. We were also featured in the BBC news, Telegraph, TES and The Observer plus others.

See below for coverage: