§ 12.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour
I beg to move Amendment No. 56, in page 28, line 34, at end insert'and(d) to keep under review the number of women who are appointed to the Boards of public bodies and corporations; to certain committees; and to certain panels and tribunals as listed in paragraph 16 of Schedule 3 to this Act; and to report and make recommendations to the Secretary of State accordingly'.
Mr Deputy Speaker
With this it will be convenient to take Amendment No. 88, in Schedule 3, page 64, line 13, at end insert—
§ '16. The bodies referred to in section 47(1)(d) of this Act are as follows:—
- The Advisory Board for the Research Councils.
- The Agrément Board.
- The Appellate Tribunal constituted under the provisions of the National Service Act 1948 relating to conscientious objectors.
- An area Electricity Board in England and Wales.
- The Attendance Allowance Board.
- The British Airports Authority.
- The British Airways Board.
- The British Film Fund Agency.
- The British Gas Corporation.
- The British Railways Board.
- The British Steel Corporation.
- The British Transport Docks Board.
- The British Waterways Board.
- The Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation.
- The Central Electricity Generating Board.
- The Channel Tunnel Planning Council.
- The Civil Aviation Authority.
- The Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal.
- A Colonial Currency Board.
- The Commission for Local Administration in England.
- The Commission for Local Administration in Wales.
- The Commission for the New Towns.
- The Commonwealth Development Corporation.
- The Community Relations Commission.
- The Council on Tribunals.
- The Covent Garden Market Authority.
- The Crofters Commission.
- The Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations.
- The Crown Estate Commissioners.
- The Development Commission established under the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act 1909.
- A Development Corporation within the meaning of the New Towns Act 1965 or the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1968.
- The Eggs Authority.
- The Electricity Council.
- The Foreign Compensation Commission.
- The Forestry Commission.
- The Freight Integration Council.
- The Gaming Board for Great Britain.
- The General Practice Finance Corporation.
- The Health and Safety Commission.
- The Health and Safety Executive.
- The Herring Industry Board.
- The Highlands and Islands Development Board.
- The Home-Grown Cereals Authority.
- The Housing Corporation.
- The Immigration Appeal Tribunal.
- An Independent Schools Tribunal constituted under Schedule 6 to the Education Act 1944 or Schedule 7 to the Education (Scotland) Act 1962.
- The Independent Broadcasting Authority.
- The Industrial Arbitration Board.
- An Industrial Court established in Northern Ireland.
- The Industrial Estates Corporations constituted in accordance with the Local Employment Act 1972.
- The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council.
- The Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce and every committee of the Board performing functions of the Board.
- A Joint Planning Inquiry Commission constituted under Part III of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972.
- The Lands Tribunal.
- The Lands Tribunal for Northern Ireland.
- The Lands Tribunal for Scotland.
- The Law Commission.
- The Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
- The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland.
- The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales.
- The Location of Offices Bureau.
- The Manpower Services Commission.
- The Maplin Development Authority.
- The Meat and Livestock Commission.
§ A Medical Appeal Tribunal constituted for the purposes of Part III of the Social Security Act 1975 or Part III of the Social Security (Northern Ireland) Act 1975, including any panel constituted for the purposes of any such Tribunal.
§ A Medical Board or Pneumoconiosis Medical Board constituted for the purposes of Part III of the Social Security Act 1975 or Part III of the Social Security (Northern Ireland) Act 1975, including any panel constituted for the purposes of any such Board.
- The Metrication Board.
- The Ministry of Defence (Army Department) Teachers Selection Board.
- The Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
- A National Broadcasting Council The National Bus Company.
- The National Coal Board.
- The National Dock Labour Board.
- The National Film Finance Corporation The National Freight Corporation.
- The National Health Service Staff Commission.
- The National Insurance Advisory Committee.
- The National Ports Council.
- The National Radiological Protection Board.
- The National Research Development Corporation.
- The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.
- The Northern Ireland Electricity Service.
- The Occupational Pensions Board.
§ The Panel of Official Arbitrators constituted for the purposes of the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act 1919.
§ A Pensions Appeal Tribunal.
§ The Performing Right Tribunal.
- The Post Office.
- The Price Commission.
- The Red Deer Commission.
- The Reserve Pension Board.
- The Restrictive Practices Court.
- The Review Board for Government Contracts.
- A Rural Development Board.
- The Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals.
- The Scottish Land Court.
- The Scottish Law Commission.
- The Scottish Transport Group.
- The South of Scotland Electricity Board.
- The Sugar Board.
- The Supplementary Benefits Commission.
- The Traffic Commissioners for any area (including the commissioner for the Metropolitan Traffic Area).
- The Transport Tribunal.
- The Tribunal established under Part II of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949.
- The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.
- The University Grants Committee.
- A Value Added Tax Tribunal.
- The Water Resources Board.
- The Welsh National Health Staff Commission.
§ Mr. Gilmour
The amendment seeks to provide that the Equal Opportunities Commission should keep under review the number of women who are on public boards. Command 5609 lists members of nationalised industry boards, and on my calculation there are 296 men and seven women. That may not be a precise figure, but it is near enough. That seems to be a totally wrong proportion, and I hope that within a reasonable period of time the commission will be able to improve the situation.
§ Dr. Summerskill
The Government fully accept that women are under-represented on public bodies of the kind mentioned in the amendment. I made this clear when speaking on the Balance of Sexes Bill presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mrs. Colquhoun). We are taking various steps to remedy this deficiency throughout Government Departments. When vacancies occur the Government are considering suitable women to fill them. Procedures have been developed by the Civil Service Department and The Women's National Commission to secure the nomination of more women for appointment to public bodies. We seek to ensure that women will increasingly participate in all areas of public life.
I personally would welcome that commission looking at the question of public appointments. Indeed, the commission can do so, if it wishes, under the terms of the Bill as it stands. No doubt the commission will bear in mind tonight's discussions. But we have some reservations about adding to the list of specific tasks placed on the Equal Opportunities Commission in the Bill itself, except 1578 where this is essential—as in Government Amendments Nos. 58 and 59 dealing with the protective legislation. The commission has a number of important tasks to undertake under the legislation. On the whole we prefer to leave it to arrange its priorities as it thinks desirable and to give it maximum flexibility, bearing in mind that it is a body that is independent of the Government.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Miss Richardson
I beg to move Amendment No. 57, in page 28, line 34, at end insert:'(d) to review existing and proposed legislation, with a view to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity between men and women and, when so required by the Secretary of State or otherwise think it necessary, to draw up and submit to the Secretary of State proposals for amending such legislation'.My suggested paragraph places certain duties on the Equal Opportunities Commission I appreciate that there is nothing to stop the commission from looking at any legislation it likes under the general powers to promote equality of opportunity The aim of this amendment is to keep in the forefront of the commission's mind the fact that it is expected to consider legislation which does not seem to be directly affected by the Bill It is the commission's duty to watch ensuing legislation, especially that concerned with social security, national insurance, the Inland Revenue, immigration laws and proposed amendments of the law
It is important that the commission should be seen to be playing such a rôle. Organisations such as the Child Poverty Action Group and the National Council of Civil Liberties have played an important part in pointing out over a long period where discrimination exists. It throws up evidence of discrimination. Their surveillance has always been warmly applauded, at least by me. How much better it would be if the Equal Opportunities Commission had the duty to play such a rôle officially as a Government agency.
There has been a lot of criticism of this Bill in general centred around vital areas of social policy, about which it is said by very many women's rights organisations that nothing fundamental has been done. This amendment does not in any way restrict the powers and duties of the 1579 Equal Opportunities Commission. It simply spells out one important aspect of its job, and I hope the Government will consider taking it on board.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I can say to my hon. Friend what I said concerning the last amendment—that there is nothing to prevent the Equal Opportunities Commission from looking at her suggestion, in this case the review of existing and proposed legislation in any sphere, including the subjects she herself listed, with a view to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity, and from making whatever proposals it thinks fit. I am sure that the EOC will take note of my hon. Friend's suggestions, but the Government do not want to impose on the commission too many statutory provisions, hence the wide-ranging nature of the general duties contained in Clause 47. But there is nothing in my hon. Friend's amendment that cannot be covered by the commission, and I think it is right that we should leave it to it, a body independent of Government, to settle its own priorities.
§ Amendment negatived.