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Topical Questions

Volume 729: debated on Wednesday 8 March 2023

I wish everyone a happy International Women’s Day, when we celebrate 51% of the population. I am proud of this Government’s record on supporting women, whether that is young girls playing more sport in school or the first ever women’s health strategy, which this year will see the rolling out of the prepayment certificate for hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy loss certificates this summer, and the levelling up of IVF access. Today I am proud to announce £25 million to roll out women’s health hubs across England—the one-stop shop for all women’s health needs that will drastically improve women’s experience of healthcare in England.

The Minister will be aware of a legal agreement under the Equalities Act between McDonald’s and the Equality and Human Rights Commission over the handling of complaints of sexual harassment. Does the Minister believe that that is solely an issue of a toxic culture at McDonald’s, and will she look at whether women working on zero-hours contracts across the economy are at increased risk of experiencing sexual harassment because of depending on male managers for future shifts?

We take sexual harassment in the workplace very seriously—[Interruption.] Oh, to be shouted down for the entrance of a man.

Order. Minister, nobody was shouted down. It happens every time, and when the Prime Minister comes it will happen again. Don’t worry—come on.

I will try again, Mr Speaker. Once again, the Government are keen to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. That is why we are supporting the private Member’s Bill promoted by the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse), the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill, because it is such a serious issue.

T2.   I am proudly backing a campaign to improve services for menopause sufferers in the county of Devon. In society and at work, stigma remains a barrier to many people getting the support they require. What steps are the Government taking to prevent menopause discrimination in the workplace? (903979)

We are working with employers and employees on that crucial matter, to ensure that there is no stigma in the workplace for those experiencing the impact of the menopause. To that end, on Monday I was delighted to announce the appointment of Helen Tomlinson as the Department for Work and Pensions menopause employment champion. She will have a key role in driving awareness and promoting the benefits to both business and the economy of a fully inclusive workplace.

T3. Disabled people are more than twice as likely to experience domestic abuse and sexual violence as non-disabled people. The national disability strategy set out a roadmap to improve the protection and support available to disabled people in their homes, but last year that was found to be unlawful by the High Court for not having given the disabled community an adequate opportunity to shape the strategy. Will the Minister confirm that tackling the scourge of violence against disabled people will be a central priority of the new disability action plan, and will she guarantee that that new plan will be shaped by disabled people? (903980)

Violence against disabled people, in their home or anywhere, is just as important an issue as violence against anybody else, and we are putting unprecedented moneys towards stopping that sort of violence. It is all about education. The National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing are working hard on that, and we are making progress.

T5. Young men often struggle with their mental health, and particularly with suicidal thoughts that can hit like a heart attack. What more can the Government do—indeed, what more can each individual Member of the House do—to help those young men? (903982)

Absolutely. That is why we are setting out the suicide prevention strategy and looking at high-risk groups such as men. The Home Office is also working to set up helplines for men. Some £200,000 is going into those helplines, and so far they have supported 10,000 men who needed support.

T4. New businesses are almost three times as likely to be started by men as by women. Does the Minister agree with Labour’s plan to work with the British Business Bank to support female founders to achieve their ambitions? (903981)

The Labour party is once again late to the party, because the Conservative Government are already delivering on this. We have set up the high-growth enterprise taskforce to get more women into setting up high-growth businesses and to end the disparity in venture capital whereby, for every pound that is given, 89p currently goes to men’s businesses and only a penny to women’s.

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that live subtitles and a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings are available to watch on