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Lord Prys-Davies: My Lords, I must say that I am not reassured by that response. However, the Minister has been very frank with us and I appreciate that fact. I propose to reflect on what he said. Obviously I would prefer to have a bird in hand, but I shall take instructions and possibly return to the matter at the next stage. In the meantime, I thank the Minister for his frank information. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]

Clause 29 [Promotion of equal opportunities]:

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde moved Amendment No. 50:

Page 25, line 26, at end insert--
("( ) to adhere to a code of practice, drawn up by the Commission, to promote equality of opportunity in the employment of women, paying special attention to the participation of women in decision-making and editorial processes, to make arrangements for promoting it, both with the licence holders and independent companies working with them,
( ) to set up clear monitoring procedures, to review progress and to publish statistics annually on progress within the agreed arrangements, and
( ) to ensure that in its membership, the Commission itself will reflect fairly the diversity of society, including women, different racial groups and the disabled.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the above amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 81. Both amendments deal with equal opportunities. The first relates to equal opportunities in television and Amendment No. 81 relates to the area of the Bill dealing with radio provision.

The amendments are not new. Indeed, we discussed them in Committee but, unfortunately, because of the time factor we grouped them with amendments covering the areas of racial discrimination and disability. We felt that we should bring them forward again and talk specifically to the area of equal opportunities relating to women in an industry which has substantial numbers of women employees.

If accepted, the effect of the amendments would be to change the emphasis from the multiplex or digital licence, including conditions requiring the licence holder to make arrangements for promoting equal opportunity, to one of adhering to a code of practice drawn up by the ITC and then promoting that code. So it would be very much a proactive role for the ITC rather than a reactive one.

A further amendment to the Bill would require the licence holders to set up monitoring procedures which would track the progress, or otherwise, of the equal opportunities policy in their companies. It is not a new or unique proposal; in fact, this happens in a number of the very broadcasting companies which will be covered by the Bill. The BBC is just one of them. As I said, it is not unusual and we do not believe that it would prove to be too much of a burden on companies.

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The last subsection in both amendments seeks to ensure that the Commission itself which will be monitoring and drawing up the code reflects "diversity" in society. Again, that is not a unique development; it is happening continually now in representative bodies. In Committee, the Minister referred to the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. He said that they were there to take care of the problems in equal opportunity provision in companies and that, therefore, those Acts would cover the clauses in the Bill which deal with equal opportunities.

The words in Clause 29 as it stands at present were in fact in the Broadcasting Act 1990. I should like us to consider what has happened from the time that the 1990 legislation was enacted. Quite frankly, its provisions have proved to be totally insufficient in achieving their worthwhile aims; namely, equal opportunity within the industry. It may be helpful to the House if I were to quote some statistics. I am told that women make up less than 35 per cent. of the employees in ITV companies. Let us remember that we are dealing with broadcasting which is received in all our homes and which is supposed to reflect society and the diversity within it.

Women constitute less then 10 per cent. of the membership of the boards of ITV companies. All prime time commissioning editors of the BBC and of the ITV Network Centre are men. Moreover, women appear in front of camera less often than men and, when they do, they get paid less. We are talking about an Act of Parliament which is now nearly six years old and which has not moved this ground on very far.

Even television companies themselves recognise that there is a problem, though their policies are not in any significant way changing the situation. In May of last year a Charter for Equal Opportunities for Women in Broadcasting was endorsed at a conference which took place at the BBC. The charter was endorsed by 49 European broadcasting organisations and 14 British broadcasting organisations. The BBC, ITN, Channel 4, Carlton and Granada were among them. It is no good signing charters or saying how good we are, let us look behind the words at what is happening in this industry.

The Bill requires a commitment to equal opportunities, as did--as I have said--the 1990 Broadcasting Act. However, the requirements for implementing that commitment are vague. The ITC has a mandatory responsibility to review each company's performance annually against its franchise contracts. The 1993 review made it clear that the monitoring procedure on equal opportunities needed to be more rigorous. Why not treat failure to meet equal opportunity requirements--which are provided in this Bill, and in the 1990 Act as a real requirement on companies--as seriously as non-compliance in other areas?

The Bill calls for the equal opportunity arrangements to be reviewed from time to time. What does that mean? Does it mean at the end of the licence period, or when someone feels moved to do it? The expression "from time to time" can mean that nothing is done at all. I think, quite frankly, that is what may be happening in some cases. I agree with the phrase in relation to good

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business that if one cannot measure it, one cannot manage it. That is a clear, factual statement. If one cannot measure the equal opportunity improvements that this Bill is intended to implement--the 1990 Act sought to implement those improvements, but has failed abysmally--one cannot monitor them. Monitoring should take place annually. The position should not be reviewed from time to time; it should be reviewed annually. I suggest that the results of that monitoring should be published in a company's report. I beg to move.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, naturally I would not be against anything that favoured women, but I do support the original text in this case because if we try to introduce quotas of any kind, it would invariably be unsatisfactory. We have seen the same problem in the past with the Television sans frontieres report to the European Parliament when the French tried to introduce Euro quotas barring American and Australian programmes. That was a disaster. It does not work and I urge your Lordships to support the original text.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, as a signatory to the amendment, I should tell the noble Baroness that the amendment does not mention quotas. My noble friend simply talked of the commission adhering to a code of practice on equality of opportunity rather than promoting any concept of numbers of women. As she said in her concluding remarks, she seeks to introduce the clear monitoring procedures which are necessary to measure the appropriate employment of women as part of that process. Certainly the word "quotas" and reference to the numbers of women to be employed are not mentioned in this amendment.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, would it not be possible in the circumstances to meet the principle of this amendment in terms of putting some sort of obligation on the companies which recommends them to follow the leadership 2000 programme whereby companies are committed, on a year-by-year basis, to increase the proportion of women in senior positions? That is not a matter of quotas but of making a public commitment through annual reports that they will try to help younger women to achieve promotion and acquire senior management positions in the longer term. I make that suggestion because most large, respectable companies in the private sector are doing just that.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I inevitably open my remarks by saying that I feel a trifle diffident as the only man to participate in this debate. I am answerable to a lady Secretary of State, so I am pinned in on every side. I understand the wish of the noble Baronesses to see a higher representation of women in broadcasting. Of course the Government agree with that, but we do not believe that it is necessary to introduce a code of practice of the kind suggested, as the ITC and the Radio Authority licence holders are already bound by the terms of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and by the United Kingdom's implementation of a succession of EC directives in the equal opportunities field.

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In addition, the Bill as drafted already requires television and national radio multiplex and programme service licence holders to make arrangements for promoting, in relation to employment by "him"--which presumably includes "her"--equality of opportunity between men and women and between persons of different racial groups, and to review those arrangements from time to time. Therefore, I do not believe there is any need for further provisions above and beyond this. The suggestion put forward by my noble friend Lady O'Cathain seems to be a possible way forward in this area. I also believe that it would be quite improper to expect regulators to interfere in the internal affairs of independent companies working for broadcasters. The Equal Opportunities Commission already has a code of practice on sexual discrimination in employment which would apply to independent companies.

In respect of the third subsection of both amendments, the Government do not believe that it is necessary for the Secretary of State to be directed in the manner specified when making appointments to the ITC and the Radio Authority. As a matter of course, the Secretary of State already ensures that the best possible appointments are made from the pool of talent available at any one time. She has asked particularly that candidates should reflect the diversity of the viewing and listening population and would like to achieve across all broadcasting appointments at least 35 per cent. women, and representatives from different ethic and disabled groups.

We also hold firm to the principle that only the best candidates should be appointed. I understand that that may not go as far as the noble Baroness would like. However, having heard what I have said, I hope that she will withdraw the amendment.

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