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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 636: debated on Thursday 22 February 2018

6. How many and what proportion of employers within the scope of the gender pay gap regulations have published gender pay gap data. (903879)

7. How many and what proportion of employers within the scope of the gender pay gap regulations have published gender pay gap data. (903880)

8. How many and what proportion of employers within the scope of the gender pay gap regulations have published gender pay gap data. (903881)

13. How many and what proportion of employers within the scope of the gender pay gap regulations have published gender pay gap data. (903886)

15. How many and what proportion of employers within the scope of the gender pay gap regulations have published gender pay gap data. (903888)

So far, more than 7,500 employers have registered their intention to report, and around 1,000 have published their data. The most recent data published by employers are publicly available via the Government viewing service on the gov.uk website. There is still more than a month until the public and private sector deadlines, and we expect reporting activity to increase significantly in the run-up to those dates.

One challenge that we face is that employers sometimes deliberately conflate fair pay with equal pay to avoid scrutiny of their conduct. A prime offender is the BBC. Seventy MPs wrote to the Secretary of State for Culture to ask him to use his power to ensure an equal opportunity for both men and women at the corporation to be heard on this subject. Given that he has refused to do so, will the right hon. Lady exercise her freedom of speech and have a word?

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this important matter. It has been instructive to see how the BBC has responded. I am happy to confirm that I will take forward her advice and indeed have a word.

What sanctions will be put in place for those companies that do not meet their obligations to publish their gender pay data by the deadline?

The hon. Gentleman asks an important question. We have put in place ground-breaking legislation to ensure that we close the gender pay gap. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will oversee any sorts of sanctions that are necessary. I hope that it will be its intention, as it is ours, to use persuasion and demonstration of the law to get participation, but of course it can use the full force of the law if it finds that the legislation is not being complied with.

What measures are the Government undertaking to work with private sector business, civil society and others to close the gender pay gap?

It is incredibly important that we do address closing the gender pay gap. Transparency is one of the key ways that we will achieve that. Having this compulsion of reporting on gender pay is an important first step, but we will take it further. We will engage with businesses to see what measures they will be putting in place to address the gender pay gap. My experience, when I talk to businesses about this, is that when they realise that they have such a gender pay gap—to some, it is a revelation—they are moving to put in training and other measures to address it.

Only three universities have so far reported on this. On a day when academics are bravely standing up to defend their pensions, will the Minister tell us when she expects that the gender pay gap will be eliminated in our universities?

I urge all universities to address reporting their gender pay gap. It is the law; they need to do so. I will say a word on the other matter, if I may. It is important that this dispute between students, effectively, the universities and their staff is resolved, because people need to get their degrees. I would urge the striking lecturers to get back to work.

So far, only 1,000 out of 9,000 companies that are obliged to publish gender pay gap data have done so. What are the Government going to do to up that figure and ensure that companies are meeting their obligations to publish this vital data, so that we have the full picture?

It is vital data, and Conservative Members are proud of it because it has been introduced by a Conservative Government. We will be contacting private sector companies, and public sector organisations, to make sure that they do report. This is an important first step, with 1,000 so far and more to go until the deadline. I urge the hon. Gentleman not to make perfect the enemy of the good.

When the Minister has a word with the BBC, will it be her contention that it is the men who are overpaid or the women who are underpaid?

That is almost a philosophical question from my hon. Friend. My priority is equality: that is the point I will be making.

Amongst other things, I have always thought of the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) as a philosopher—[Interruption]—of some distinction.