Previous Section Index Home Page

Lynda Waltho (Stourbridge) (Lab): Last year’s intake of new Labour MPs was historic in that, for the first time, it included more women than men. Most of those women were selected from all-women shortlists. Unfortunately, our sisters in Opposition parties have not fared quite so well—[Hon. Members: “Sisters?] Yes, sisters. What policy does my hon. Friend think would be most helpful in encouraging more women to come
6 July 2006 : Column 978
forward for election to this place? Would it be all-women shortlists or the employment of bikini-clad women to serve drinks at a £400-a-head summer ball?

Meg Munn: The evidence is clear: it is only the Labour party that is making real strides on this issue. We are doing that through all-women shortlists —[ Interruption. ] I know that the Opposition are not very happy about that, but they are all talk and no action.

Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest) (Con): The Minister and the Liberal Democrats really must not worry about those of us on the Conservative Benches because in a very short time we will fill the Government side with many Conservative women —[ Interruption. ] That seems to have produced a reaction.

What guidelines have the Government laid down for the contracts of employment of women in public positions to allow flexible working conditions for high-achieving women, so that those at the very top of their professions, whatever they might be, will have the opportunity to work flexibly and therefore to fulfil their family and caring duties, as well as having the chance to break through the glass ceiling?

Mr. Christopher Fraser (South-West Norfolk) (Con): Come on, sister!

Meg Munn: My tennis partner calls me sister. The hon. Lady talks a good talk, but she promised before the last election that there would be many more Conservative women MPs. That did not happen because they did not get selected in safe seats. As I said, the proportion being selected for safe seats has fallen since the introduction of the A-list. I am pleased to tell the hon. Lady that the proportion of women in the more senior grades in the civil service has continued to increase. On 4 April 2007, it had increased to 34.8 per cent. from 32.7 per cent. Individual Departments are introducing work-life balance champions who can ensure that staff have the opportunity to work flexibly up to the highest levels. We certainly want to see that happen in more Departments.

Lorely Burt (Solihull) (LD): Does the Minister agree that child care facilities are key for any women who wish to put themselves forward for all aspects of public life and work generally? What message are we sending to women when, in the 21st century, the Westminster estate still lacks a crèche and other appropriate child care facilities for hon. Members and our staff?

Meg Munn: The hon. Lady will know that the Government have given a high priority to child care and have invested in much more provision. It is a matter for discussion whether child care provision is most appropriate at a person’s place of work or near their home. That is a real issue for both women and men. I do not oppose considering the issue that the hon. Lady raises and that is something for the House authorities to do, as much for the employees here who have to work the same unsocial hours as we do, as for the Members of Parliament.

6 July 2006 : Column 979

Business of the House

11.34 am

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con): Will the Deputy Leader of the House please give us the business for the coming weeks?

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Nigel Griffiths): My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has given notice of a previous commitment that keeps him from the House today. In his absence, I should like to announce the business for the coming weeks, as follows:

Monday 10 July—A debate on the BBC on a Government motion.

Tuesday 11 July—A debate on the Intelligence and Security Committee annual report 2005-06 on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Wednesday 12 July—Opposition Day [18th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on home information packs, followed by a debate on progress towards the millennium development goals. Both debates will arise on an Opposition motion.

Thursday 13 July—Remaining stages of the NHS Redress Bill [ Lords] .

Friday 14 July—Private Members’ Bills.

6 July 2006 : Column 980

The provisional business for the following week will be:

Monday 17 July—Remaining stages of the Compensation Bill [ Lords].

Tuesday 18 July—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Health Bill, followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Government of Wales Bill, followed by motion to take note of the outstanding reports of the Public Accounts Committee to which the Government have replied. Details will be given in the Official Report.

Wednesday 19 July—Opposition Day [19th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion in the name of the Liberal Democrats. Subject to be announced.

Thursday 20 July—Remaining stages of the Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Bill [ Lords], followed by a debate on international development on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 21 July—The House will not be sitting.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for 20 July will be:

Thursday 20 July—A debate on boundaries, voting and representation in Scotland.

The information regarding business on Tuesday 18 July is as follows:

The following reports fall within the scope of the motion

6 July 2006 : Column 981

6 July 2006 : Column 982


Fourth Report

Fraud and error in benefit expenditure

HC 411 (Cm 6728)

Seventh Report

The use of operating theatres in the Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services

HC 414 (Cm 6699)

Eighth Report

Navan Centre

HC 415 (Cm 6699)

Ninth Report

Foot and Mouth Disease: applying the lessons

HC 563 (Cm 6728)

Twelfth Report

Helping those in financial hardship: the running of the Social Fund

HC 601 (Cm 6728)

Thirteenth Report

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Tackling homelessness

HC 653 (Cm 6743)

Fourteenth Report

Energywatch and Postwatch

HC 654 (Cm 6743)

Fifteenth Report

HM Customs and Excise Standard Report 2003—04

HC 695 (Cm 6743)

Sixteenth Report

Home Office: Reducing vehicle crime

HC 696 (Cm 6743)

Seventeenth Report

Achieving value for money in the delivery of public services

HC 742 (Cm 6743)

Eighteenth Report

Department for Education and Skills: Improving school attendance in England

HC 789 (Cm 6766)

Nineteenth Report

Department of Health: Tackling cancer: improving the patient journey

HC 790 (Cm 6766)

Twentieth Report

The NHS Cancer Plan: a progress report

HC 791 (Cm 6766)

Twenty-first Report

Skills for Life: Improving adult literacy and numeracy

HC 792 (Cm 6766)

Twenty-second Report

Maintaining and improving Britain’s railway stations

HC 535 (Cm 6775)

Twenty-third Report

Filing of income tax self assessment returns

HC 681 (Cm 6775)

Twenty-fourth Report

The BBC’s White City 2 development

HC 652 (Second Special Report, HC 1139, 2005-06)

Twenty-fifth Report

Securing strategic leadership in the learning and skills sector

HC 602 (Cm 6775)

Twenty-sixth Report

Assessing and reporting military readiness

HC 667 (Cm 6775)

Twenty-seventh Report

Lost in translation? Responding to the challenges of European law

HC 590 (Cm 6775)

Twenty-eighth Report

Extending access to learning through technology: Ufi and the learndirect service

HC 706 (Cm 6775)

Twenty-ninth Report

Excess Votes 2004—05

HC 916 (N/A)

Thirtieth Report

Excess Votes (Northern Ireland) 2004—05

HC 917 (N/A)

Thirty-first Report

Northern Ireland’s Waste Management Strategy

HC 741 (Cm 6843)

Thirty-second Report

Working with the voluntary sector

HC 717 (Cm 6789)

Thirty-third Report

The Royal Parks and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain

HC 644 (Cm 6789)

Thirty-fourth Report

Returning failed asylum applicants

HC 620 (Cm 6863)

Thirty-fifth Report

The refinancing of the Norfolk and Norwich PFI Hospital

HC 694 (Cm ????)

Thirty-sixth Report

Tackling the complexity of the benefits system

HC 765 (Cm 6863)

Thirty-seventh Report

Inland Revenue Standard Report: New Tax Credits

HC 782 (Cm 6863)

Thirty-eighth Report

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

HC 727 (Cm 6863)

Thirty-ninth Report

Consular services to British nationals

HC 813 (Cm 6863)

Fortieth Report

Environment Agency: Efficiency in water resource management

HC 749 (Cm ????)

Forty-first Report

The South Eastern Passenger Rail Franchise

HC 770 (Cm ????)

Forty-second Report

Enforcing competition in markets

HC 841 (Cm ????)

The reference number of the Treasury minute to each report is printed in brackets after the HC printing number.

Mrs. May: I thank the Deputy Leader of the House for giving us the business for the coming fortnight.

At business questions last week, I noted that Monday’s BBC debate was taking place the day before the BBC’s annual report was due to be published. I am pleased that the Leader of the House has acted on that, although he has chosen to change not the date of the debate but the publication date of the BBC’s annual report. I understand that that will now come out this Friday, but I am grateful for the action that has been taken.

I am sure that the Deputy Leader of the House will have noted the vote in Standing Committee this morning that has changed the Company Law Reform Bill into the Companies Bill. Interestingly, the Minister for Industry and the Regions and the Solicitor-General took different sides in the vote. It is good to see that the Government know what they are doing. A more serious point is that there are to be 400 new clauses to the Bill. They have yet to be tabled and the Government have refused to allow the Committee time to consider them. Will the Deputy Leader of the House ensure that there is enough time on Report to discuss those significant changes?

The forthcoming business made no mention of the Road Safety Bill, which left Committee in April. The need for the Bill is recognised and it has broad cross-party support. Why are the Government dragging their feet when it comes to completing its passage through the House?

Today, the Select Committee on Education and Skills published its report on special educational needs. It refers to the 2004 SEN strategy “Removing Barriers to Achievement”, which sets out the Government’s vision on SEN. The Select Committee notes that the guidance given to local authorities states “unmistakably” that

In evidence to the Committee, however, the Education Minister Lord Adonis said that the Government

The Select Committee goes on to say:

Next Section Index Home Page