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Mrs. Browning: I can assure the hon. Lady that the Government will not shop jobs for women by introducing a minimum wage which, as the deputy leader of the Labour party explained some time ago, would mean a shake-out or loss of jobs, especially jobs for women. I hope the hon. Lady will accept that there is nothing so grindingly impoverishing as having no job at all.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison), who made an important contribution, especially with reference to crime. I also thank my hon. Friends the Members for Hastings and Rye (Mrs. Lait), for Erewash (Mrs. Knight), for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) and for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley), who all made considered contributions, distinguished by the fact that they contained ideas for future policies for women. They gave upbeat messages outlining the way in which equality and opportunities for women could be accessed. Their message was in stark contrast to that of the Labour party. The main theme throughout the debate has been the issue of more women Members of Parliament. Those of us who have put ourselves before a party selection committee know that getting here can be a very long-term plan. It took me nine years to get to the House. Very few people get here having decided to try overnight; one has to be dedicated to the idea and hang on in there, even when the chances look slim.

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However, I would still rather follow that route than be the token woman when a selection committee has had to choose between three different women. In those circumstances, one is chosen on the basis not of ability but of gender.

Ms Short: Does the Minister think that all the men who sit in this place and who were selected from all-men short-lists are token men?

Mrs. Browning: If men put themselves up for selection against women and other men, I am sure that some of them will find themselves on an all- men short-list. However, it should not be a question of tokenism or bringing women forward artificially. If such women come to the House, they will be pointed out as having got here not on their merit but simply because of how they were born.

The Labour party believes in tokenism but, during its leadership elections, some women Labour Members wrote to The Guardian to explain that they were backing not the woman candidate--a very able woman--but the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who is now deputy leader, because they felt that he represented women better. One has to question the value of that sort of tokenism.

We have had an interesting and lively debate, but I would say to the House that, if that is the best that the Labour party can do for women, the country will look elsewhere, as it did at the last general election--to the Conservative party.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question: --

The House divided: Ayes 267, Noes 294.

Division No. 96] [9.59 pm


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Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainger, Nick

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashton, Joe

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Beith, Rt Hon A J

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F

Benton, Joe

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Roger

Betts, Clive

Blair, Rt Hon Tony

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)

Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

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Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D N

Canavan, Dennis

Cann, Jamie

Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery)

Chidgey, David

Chisholm, Malcolm

Church, Judith

Clapham, Michael

Clark, Dr David (South Shields)

Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clelland, David

Coffey, Ann

Cohen, Harry

Connarty, Michael

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Corston, Jean

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John

Dafis, Cynog

Dalyell, Tam

Darling, Alistair

Column 237

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Donohoe, Brian H

Dowd, Jim

Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eastham, Ken

Enright, Derek

Etherington, Bill

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Fatchett, Derek

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fisher, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Foster, Don (Bath)

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

Galloway, George

Gapes, Mike

Garrett, John

Gerrard, Neil

Godman, Dr Norman A

Godsiff, Roger

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Gunnell, John

Hain, Peter

Hanson, David

Hardy, Peter

Harman, Ms Harriet

Harvey, Nick

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Henderson, Doug

Heppell, John

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hinchliffe, David

Hodge, Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)

Hood, Jimmy

Hoon, Geoffrey

Howarth, George (Knowsley North)

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hutton, John

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jamieson, David

Janner, Greville

Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)

Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)

Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)

Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

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