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Equality Act 2010: Commencement of Section 106

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 15 November 2018

3. Whether she has made a recent assessment of the potential merits of commencing section 106 of the Equality Act 2010; and if she will make a statement. (907634)

We keep any uncommenced provisions from the Equality Act under review. Equality is never a one-time fix and it is right that we keep re-examining these issues. However, political parties are responsible for their candidate selection and should lead the way in improving diverse representation.

Gender pay gap reporting has ensured transparency across the board and resulted in companies taking action. Section 106 could have the same effect, so will the Minister consult those parties on its introduction?

I hope that every party is looking at this legislation. Certainly, the Conservative party is looking at how we can gather this information, not just for the national Parliament but for local government, because we believe it is absolutely essential that local government reflects the society it serves as much as this House does.

I know that the Minister has committed to increasing the number of women in Parliament. Does she agree that we have a woman Prime Minister and strong women Secretaries of State, such as the woman beside her at the Dispatch Box, the Secretary of State for International Development, who should be congratulated on the support and the leadership they show to women across the country?

I think it is 2-0 to us. This is a serious point. In the Labour party, there are many, many strong, capable women I have very good working relationships with. It is a great shame that the Labour party has never managed yet to entrust the leadership of its party to a woman—[Interruption.] I see somebody volunteering on the Opposition Front Bench. We have the opportunity to bring more women into this Parliament through an event next week, on 21 November, when every Member of Parliament can bring a woman into the House of Commons and invite them to stand in this House.

A number of single parents have accessed the advance payment service under universal credit. However, as a result, they have found that the payments are required to be repaid in 15 months, or with 40% of their entitlement reclaimed. What will the Government do to ensure that many are not falling further into financial hardship as a result of advance payments under universal credit?

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady. The only difficulty with her question is that it does not seem altogether aligned with, or even adjacent to, the subject matter on the Order Paper. Her supplementary question would have been entirely pertinent to Question 2, but I am going to imagine that she has a great interest in section 106 of the Equality Act and that there is some sort of link, unknown to me but known to clever people like Ministers.

I am very interested by the hon. Lady’s question—I am so interested that I am going to ask the responsible Minister to write to her in due course. But I make the point that the more female Members of Parliament we have in the House, the more they can scrutinise this legislation.

The Government have kept that under review, but, as I said earlier, it is also for political parties themselves to act on it, so I am pleased that the Conservative party is looking into how we can gather the evidence in order to improve diversity in our candidates list.

Order. There is a certain amount of gesticulation from a sedentary position. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray) is signalling that the hon. Member for Lanark and Hamilton East (Angela Crawley) wanted to come in on Question 2. I am sorry if she has been inconvenienced, but she needed to bob on Question 2, not Question 3. But never mind; she has made her point with considerable force and alacrity, and it is on the record. I would call her again, but she is entitled to only one. However, she has made her point very clearly, and we are extremely grateful.