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The Minister for Women and Equality (Ms Harriet Harman): I am pleased to announce that the Government are publishing today, and making copies available in both Houses, their response to the report on equality of the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee, published on 2 August 2007.
I am determined to carry forward, with my colleagues in Government, an equality strategy that builds on the substantial advances we have already achieved: for example, closing the gender pay gap from 17.4 per cent. in 1997 to 12.6 per cent. in 2007; enabling 18,000 civil partnerships to be formed in the first year following legislation; banning discrimination against people of any sexual orientation and people of different religions or who do not have a religion, when they want to buy or access goods or services and when they are at work; banning age discrimination in the workplace; establishing the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Yet persistent inequalities remain. In responding to the Committee's report and specific recommendations, the Government also set out their direction of travel on equality, including progress on the Equalities Public Service Agreement, the Equality Bill, women's priorities and their intention to develop an equality strategy that builds on the findings of the Equalities Review.