Over representation of individuals from London and The South in the biannual Honours Lists has been an ongoing issue since the 2004 review of the Honours system by Sir Hayden Philips.
Figures released in 2008 revealed the continued existence of this issue:
Londoners took 16.5% of all the Honours, when at that time London accounted for just 12% of the population.
The worst disparity was in Yorkshire, where 8.37% of the population, received only 5.55% of the awards.
Since 2008 no official data on the breakdown of Queen’s Honours by region has been released. Published in March 2013, the most recent review only reveals how honours are distributed across the different categories of activity in UK life. Perhaps this is because very little has changed!
In the June 2013 Birthday Honour’s list 1,180 people received an award.
In total, 183 Londoners received awards, 15.5% of all the awards made, yet London only accounts for 12.5% of the population!
The overrepresentation of nominees in and around the capital is still prevalent – which is why the Honours and Appointments Secretariat are making a positive effort to encourage and expedite nominations from outside of the southeast.
There is one positive trend, at least for those in Scotland. Media reports following the 2013 Birthday list revealed that Scots (8.4% of the population) received 103 awards (9.29%) – the highest number since 2003.
Television presenter Lorraine Kelly and former Scotland rugby captain Chris Paterson were amongst a 70 strong group of honours recipients at an investiture ceremony at Holyrood Palace recently, where honours were given out for a range of achievements, from hairdressing to charity, local business to sport.
Amongst the group was Donald John MacKay, a weaver who had raised the profile of Harris Tweed by selling his designs worldwide. MacKay received an MBE for his major commitment to the industry, giving it a much-needed boost when it had been at a low ebb.
Despite this positive result in Scotland, in terms of the regional imbalance in the distribution of honours, there is clearly room for improvement. According to Sir Bob Kerslake, the chair of the main honours committee, this imbalance can only be corrected if more nominations are received from outside London and the South East.
If you know someone who is doing great things in their work or community, make sure they receive the recognition they deserve by putting them forward. To qualify they must still be active in the area for which they are being nominated, so don’t delay or it may be too late.
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