To ask the Minister for Women what evaluation she has made of the progress by United Kingdom employers in reducing the pay gap between men and women employees who are carrying out work of equal value; and what further measures she will take to remove the pay gap altogether. 
The Government's gender pay gap figures are based on earnings figures from the New Earnings Survey (NES) published annually by the ONS. The mean full-time pay gap as at April 2002 is 18.9 per cent. When median earnings are used it shows that in fact the full-time pay gap has narrowed over the last year, from 15.4 per cent. in April 2001 to 14.7 per cent. in April 2002—a fall of 0.7 percentage point.The Government also welcomes voluntary benchmarking initiatives, such as that conducted by Opportunity Now, as they provide additional information on the progress of employers in reducing the pay gap. Opportunity Now Benchmarking 2003 identified that increasing numbers of employers have started work on equal pay reviews: 41 per cent. reported that reviews have just been introduced or that new work is being developed. This is similar to the recent EOC survey finding that 1/3rd of large companies had conducted pay reviews or were developing new work. Opportunity Now found that the number doing nothing on equal pay has decreased from 31 per cent. last year to 23 per cent.The Government are working to reduce the gender pay gap in other ways:
The equal pay questionnaire (which came into effect on 6 April)
The Employment Act 2002 (including a right for parents to request flexible working and extended paid maternity leave and increased maternity pay)
Working with the EOC to promote equal pay reviews
Providing trade unions with additional funding for training representatives in equal pay issues
Requiring the Civil Service to undertake pay reviews.