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Gender Equality

21. Judy Mallaber (Amber Valley): What steps she is taking to ensure that Government Departments promote gender equality. [116566]

The Minister for Women (Ms Patricia Hewitt): Later this month, I will be publishing "Delivering on Gender Equality", which will set out policies and targets across Government for delivering improvements in this area.

Judy Mallaber : I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement of that review, as Departments should be seen to be taking a lead on equality. On the specific issue of tackling pay inequality, now that the deadline for undertaking equal pay reviews across Departments and agencies has now passed, what progress is being made in implementing the results of those reviews?

Ms Hewitt: The report that I will be publishing shortly refers to how we will deliver on the gender equality public service agreement target that we have already published. As far as the equal pay reviews and audits are concerned, I am glad to say that 67 Departments and agencies, representing nine out of 10 civil servants, have now completed their pay reviews and have submitted action plans. Those are now being pulled together in the Cabinet Office, and we will publish a summary report of the findings by the end of July.

Sandra Gidley (Romsey): The report is welcome, but the Minister may recall that a previous Minister for Women, the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock), first announced that the Government would produce an annual report in 1998. Clearly, the report is five years too late, so is it not yet another example of a part-time effort from a part-time Ministry?

Ms Hewitt: I am very sorry to hear the hon. Lady falling into the trap of suggesting that part-time jobs are not worth while. It reminds me of some of the comments that we used to hear in the 1980s from the not then reconstructed brethren in the trade union movement, who used to say when the employment figures were published, "Well, those are only part-time jobs, so they don't count." I am sure that, on reflection, the hon. Lady will want to withdraw that remark.

The Government have published annual reports on how we are delivering on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. As we agreed for the first time last year the gender equality public service

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agreement, it is not surprising that this will be the first report on how we will deliver progress towards that goal. We are making a great deal of progress and we will continue to do so, with or without the hon. Lady's support.

Scientific Careers

22. Dr. Doug Naysmith (Bristol, North-West): What steps she is taking to encourage women to take up careers as (a) scientists, (b) technologists and (c) engineers. [116567]

The Minister for Women (Ms Patricia Hewitt): On 28 April, I launched a new strategy to improve the participation of women in science, engineering and technology careers. Central to that new strategy is the establishment of a resource centre that will move that agenda forward and encourage more women to take up and to stay and to succeed in science, engineering and technology careers.

Dr. Naysmith: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but will she ensure that sufficient resources are made available for the implementation of that strategy, much of which is based on Susan Greenfield's excellent

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recent report? Will she ensure that sufficient resources are made available to allow many of its recommendations to be implemented?

Ms Hewitt: Yes, I will. We have already secured additional funding worth nearly £1 million a year to cover all the activities of the new resource centre. That centre will also put together a plan for additional investment to ensure that women with science and technology qualifications who are not in employment are helped to return to employment, which should amount to an additional £500,000.

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon): May I remind my right hon. Friend that many women scientists work at the National Institute for Medical Research? Their careers are somewhat uncertain because of the proposal to relocate the institute. Will she do what she can to secure an early decision on that, because it is causing significant recruitment and retention problems at the NIMR, especially for women scientists?

Ms Hewitt: I congratulate my hon. Friend on his ingenuity in shifting that question. As he implies, no decision has been made on the future of the centre. That is a matter for the Medical Research Council, which is consulting closely on the centre's future with staff and other stakeholders.

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Business of the House

12.31 pm

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): Can I ask the Leader of the House if he would like, please, to give us the business for next week?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Dr. John Reid): I thank the right hon. Gentleman for asking a staggered question to allow me to get to the Dispatch Box.

The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 9 June—Second Reading of the Courts Bill [Lords].

Tuesday 10 June—Motions to provide for the carry-over of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill.

Motion to approve a money resolution on the Sustainable Energy Bill.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration.

Wednesday 11 June—Opposition Day [8th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be confirmed.

Thursday 12 June—Debate on armed forces personnel on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 13 June—Private Members Bills.

The provisional business for the following week will be:

Monday 16 June—Remaining stages of the Licensing Bill [Lords].

Tuesday 17 June—Opposition Day [9th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Wednesday 18 June—Debate on "European Affairs" on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Thursday 19 June—Estimates [3rd Allotted Day]. Subject to be confirmed by the Liaison Committee.

Friday 20 June—Private Members Bills.

Mr. Forth: I am grateful, as ever, to the Leader of the House for letting us have the business.

The Leader of the House will know that he was quoted in yesterday's Times—accurately, I think—as saying:

Yesterday, the Prime Minister said:

Both the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister are making serious allegations about the intelligence services or rogue elements within them. In that context, will the Leader of the House reassure us that the Intelligence and Security Committee on which the Prime Minister placed such reliance yesterday will include that in its terms of reference and investigation?

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In what I can describe only as the notorious interview with John Humphrys on Radio 4 yesterday morning, the Leader of the House—I shall quote from the transcript; I know how much he likes transcripts—said:

That was a touching endorsement of how he sees the role of Committees.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Intelligence and Security Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister, reports to the Prime Minister and, indeed, that the Act that set up the Committee gives the Prime Minister the right to edit or censor its reports? In that context, why do we have to place such reliance, as the Prime Minister did yesterday, on a Committee that is the Prime Minister's own creature? Why can we not have, as the Opposition propose, an independent and impartial tribunal set up by statute and chaired by a senior judge? Why are the Government so afraid of that, as they appear to be?

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that yesterday at column 195 the right hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) said that "we simply were wrong." He meant the Government and was talking about weapons of mass destruction. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) said:

That is what those former Cabinet Ministers said. In the context of that, can we be reassured that both the Intelligence and Security Committee and, indeed, the Foreign Affairs Committee will consider those serious accusations by former Cabinet Ministers about the conduct of the Prime Minister and the Government in the run-up to the hostilities in Iraq? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman confirms that.

On a different matter—[Interruption.] Well, I can do more if hon. Members want.

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