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Lord Addington: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a strong case for at least going for a best-practice scenario in the foreseeable future? Will he also confirm that there cannot be a one-sided approach to tackling childhood obesity? It must be co-ordinated with numerous other activities. When will we get a report that will at least co-ordinate best practice in all three departments?

Lord Warner: My Lords, the noble Lords is right about tackling obesity. We need a multi-pronged attack that relates to diet and exercise, on which much guidance has been provided. The FSA has been working hard with retailers and food producers on a voluntary basis to try to reduce the input of salt, sugar and fat in particular products.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the enormous benefit to Lady Harrison of my daily perusal of the recipes in the Times and the Evening Standard, which I then make at the weekend? Does he share with me the concern that so often such recipes, de rigueur, add sugar to savoury dishes and pair salt with
 
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pepper? Is it not time that we turned our attention to that form of advertising salt and sugar, which might be eliminated from the diet?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am sure that we all have to exercise restraint when reading attractive menus.

Earl Howe: My Lords, it is 15 months since the publication of the White Paper, Choosing Health, and the Government have still not decided on the criteria that they will use in determining whether sufficient change has taken place in the nature and balance of advertising to obviate the need for legislation. When do the Government plan to take that decision?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I said in my Answer to the original Question that we would stand by the timetable that we set out in Choosing Health. There has been some slippage in Ofcom's timetable for the development of its activities in that area. We are committed to the review, and we will set out our criteria at the appropriate time.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, what are children taught in school about nutrition and what are parents taught in parenting classes? Will the Government make more effort to make available universal and affordable parenting education and support, so that parents can know what they should tell their children?

Lord Warner: My Lords, dietary issues are part of education in schools, and the Government have done a lot to support and strengthen the help and advice available to parents.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, does the Minister think that he sent out the right signal in his Answer to the important Question put by the noble Baroness, Lady Howe? As the mother of three teenage children, I doubt that he did.

Lord Warner: Well, my Lords, as I recall my Answer, it was to assure the House and the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, that we were standing by the commitments that we made in Choosing Health. I thought that was rather a good signal to send.

Lord Gordon of Strathblane: My Lords, recognising the importance of reducing and, I hope, eliminating childhood obesity, by analogy with the previous Question on smoking by under-16s, does my noble friend agree that there is no evidence of a direct correlation between the consumption of confectionary generically, as distinct from consumption of individual brands as a result of advertising? Secondly, and more important, is the problem not the intake of calories, but the failure to burn up those calories through healthy exercise?

Lord Warner: My Lords, there are several points here. I think that we all agree that more exercise by many of our young people is appropriate, but I thought that we had also agreed that many of our
 
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young people and their parents required help to ensure that products do not contain excess sugar, salt or fat and that we should try to use advertising in a way that is helpful, rather than unhelpful.

Women and Work Commission

3.24 pm

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, the Government are determined to take action to address all causes of the pay gap highlighted in the Women and Work Commission report and will issue an action plan within six months. The commission will come together again in one year to comment on progress.

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that positive reply. Does she agree that, despite the Equal Pay Act of 30 years ago, there is still a gap in women's aspirations and pay? What strategies, such as careers advice, can be adopted to encourage girls to widen their horizons?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I certainly agree with my noble friend that there is still an unacceptable pay gap. We in government are trying to do all that we can to narrow that gap. My colleagues at the Department for Education and Skills have welcomed the commission's report. Indeed, we have taken steps to implement the 14 to 19 and skills strategies, as well as the proposals outlined in the youth Green Paper, which was issued last year. We hope that that will enable young women to take better advantage of the opportunities that there are.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, you only have to come to this House to see the amazing contribution that women make to our society. I am particularly proud on International Women's Day to be wearing a ribbon in the suffragette colours, not least because Emmeline Pankhurst was a Conservative candidate. The Conservative Party welcomes many of the recommendations of the Women and Work Commission. However, its proposals will take time, and we still have to face the problems of women who are in employment now. Can the Minister explain how that will be tackled in the discrimination law review?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I commend what the noble Baroness says about this being International Women's Day. I agree with her about the amazing contribution that women make in the House, not least the fact that four women put down the Questions today and at least two women had the advantage on this side of answering them.
 
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We are doing all that we can to make sure that discrimination issues are taken up. The noble Baroness will know that the Sex Discrimination Act applies to the public sector and the private sector. However, the obligation to promote equality of opportunity falls on the public sector. That is only right, as public authorities are responsible for ensuring that the employment practices and services that they offer are provided as efficiently as possible, affording the taxpayer good value for money. I would just say to the noble Baroness that, of course, Emmeline Pankhurst was entitled to make a mistake at the end of her life.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one of the most shocking statistics in the Prosser report is that, although there is a 17 per cent gap between men and women in full-time work, there is a gap of more than 40 per cent between full-time work and part-time work? That is the really horrifying figure for me. Does she also agree that part-time work is for most women a positive choice that allows them to balance working life and caring responsibilities and so should be celebrated, not punished? How will we change the attitudes of employers? Too many in our society regard part-time work as pocket-money work that is not to be taken seriously.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I ardently agree with my noble friend's comments about part-time work and the valuable contribution that it makes. Some people have suggested that those of us who have the joy of being on the Back Benches are engaged in part-time work; I think that the contribution that women make in the House demonstrates how valuable that can be. We will continue to do all that we can to make sure that proper value is given to part-time work and that it is celebrated, because it makes a huge contribution to the well-being of the country.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, the report had plenty of recommendations encouraging women to go into jobs that they might not otherwise have thought of, but it did not have many recommendations about how to help women to get to the absolute top in the professions that they chose. Does the Minister share my regret that the commission did not recommend equal pay audits in the private sector as well as in the public sector? Does she agree that such transparency in all businesses would let us see where equality is really working and where it is just being paid lip-service?


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