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Gender Equality

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 5 June 2003

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What steps she is taking to ensure that Government Departments promote gender equality. [116566]

Later this month, I will be publishing "Delivering on Gender Equality", which will set out policies and targets across Government for delivering improvements in this area.

I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement of that review, as Departments should be seen to be taking a lead on equality. On the specific issue of tackling pay inequality, now that the deadline for undertaking equal pay reviews across Departments and agencies has now passed, what progress is being made in implementing the results of those reviews?

The report that I will be publishing shortly refers to how we will deliver on the gender equality public service agreement target that we have already published. As far as the equal pay reviews and audits are concerned, I am glad to say that 67 Departments and agencies, representing nine out of 10 civil servants, have now completed their pay reviews and have submitted action plans. Those are now being pulled together in the Cabinet Office, and we will publish a summary report of the findings by the end of July.

The report is welcome, but the Minister may recall that a previous Minister for Women, the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock), first announced that the Government would produce an annual report in 1998. Clearly, the report is five years too late, so is it not yet another example of a part-time effort from a part-time Ministry?

I am very sorry to hear the hon. Lady falling into the trap of suggesting that part-time jobs are not worth while. It reminds me of some of the comments that we used to hear in the 1980s from the not then reconstructed brethren in the trade union movement, who used to say when the employment figures were published, "Well, those are only part-time jobs, so they don't count." I am sure that, on reflection, the hon. Lady will want to withdraw that remark.

The Government have published annual reports on how we are delivering on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. As we agreed for the first time last year the gender equality public service agreement, it is not surprising that this will be the first report on how we will deliver progress towards that goal. We are making a great deal of progress and we will continue to do so, with or without the hon. Lady's support.