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Women (Public Appointments)

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

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63.

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what steps he is taking to ensure that a large proportion of women are appointed to public bodies.

The public appointments unit is currently processing the list of more than 600 women compiled by the campaign for women into public life. The unit will put these names forward to Departments whenever suitable opportunities arise, together with names of other women received following recent publicity for the work of the unit.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the number of women in the Civil Service is increasing? Does he share my hope that the number of women in the Civil Service and in public life will continue to increase after the next general election?

I am glad that the public appointments unit, which puts names forward for non-departmental public bodies, has received an increasing number of women's names, thanks to the co-operation of a number of sources, including hon. Members. Clearly, the Government will continue to support all the efforts being made to increase the number of women able to serve in public life

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that only 14 per cent. of the Prime Minister's appointments to public bodies have been of women? Es he further aware—although this is not his direct responsibility—that Britain has only two women ambassadors throughout the world? Does that not show that the Prime Minister and the Conservative Government have betrayed women, just as they have betrayed all other categories of our society?

The more questions the hon. Gentleman asks, the more excitable he becomes. The proportion of women in non-departmental public bodies is now 19 per cent. and not 14 per cent., and thanks to the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last autumn to raise interest, the public appointments unit now has far more women's names.