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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 629: debated on Thursday 12 October 2017

The gender pay gap is the lowest it has ever been, but we can do better. We have introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting for the first time and large employers now have six months left to report their gender pay gaps.

The gender pay gap remains as high as 34% in the east midlands. In my region in Wales, it is now 18%. That is largely due to the efforts of the Welsh Assembly Government in trying to support organisations in Wales, funded by the European social fund. What assessment has the Minister made of the use of that fund to help to close the gender pay gap? Will she examine this, to replicate it post-Brexit?

We are of course looking at all the European funds we currently have and how we can best ensure that we continue the work that they are doing post-Brexit. We can all do a lot more on this specific issue. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of the recent Government Equalities Office employer events, which we have done around the country; I think he attended the one in Cardiff. The key thing is that the transparency requirement now on companies will, as much as anything else, force them to be clear-cut about where their policies lie. We are already seeing that, when that light of transparency is shone on the data, companies are producing action plans that are really making a difference.

Are the Government as committed to eliminating the part-time gender pay gap as they claim to be about eliminating the full-time gender pay gap? Will the Minister set out exactly what they are doing to eliminate the part-time gender pay gap?

We are absolutely committed to eliminating all the different gender pay gaps. Through the transparency work, we will ensure that companies produce clear-cut action plans that cover all their employees, whether or not they have flexible working arrangements.

Two days ago, the First Secretary of State made a statement to the House on the race disparity audit. He also told the House, as a white man with privilege, that he knew more about race than me—a black women with lived experiences—and Opposition Members, who are a broad church. As there are seven Ministers here today, will the Minister for Women and Equalities highlight seven of her Government’s policies, new or old, over the past seven years—seven is the magic number—that have helped to narrow the inequalities in our country?

Income inequality is at its lowest level. In the Department of Education alone, we have done significant work to ensure that black and minority ethnic pupils are doing better in school. Like me, the hon. Lady is a London MP and will know that there have been dramatic improvements in educational outcomes for BME communities here in London. More young people from BME communities are going to university than before. In fact, the ethnic group that is now the least likely to go to university in the UK is that of white British males. We are taking action across the board. The important thing about the race disparity audit is that, alongside things such as gender pay gap reporting, it is about using transparency to shine a light on areas where inequalities do still exist. I would like to think that we can work together as a Parliament to tackle those inequalities.