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Boardrooms (Ethnic Minority Representation)

Volume 588: debated on Thursday 20 November 2014

We believe that it is in the best interests of business to tap into the widest talent pool, resulting in a diverse and representative business leadership. I have therefore asked Trevor Phillips to start a new private sector-led campaign that will seek to address the lack of ethnic diversity in boardrooms. The purpose of the campaign will be to achieve success similar to our work on addressing gender diversity in boardrooms.

Some people, like me, believe that all appointments should be made on merit. Some believe in political correctness, and think that merit is unimportant and that boardrooms should represent the population at large. The Secretary of State seems to be in a league of his own as a politically correct champion who believes neither in merit nor in representation; instead, he believes that ethnic minorities should be over-represented in the boardroom. Will he explain why that is the case and why he, as a Government Minister, will not give out the message that jobs should be given on merit alone, irrespective of people’s race, religion or any other factor?

I am delighted to see the hon. Gentleman in his place. I thought he might have been in Rochester today, waiting to defect. On his question, I certainly do believe in merit; I do not believe in quotas. I know that he has written 19 letters to Mr Trevor Phillips on the subject of race and political correctness, which leads me to believe that he might have a problem with the concept of racial equality.