§ 7. Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes)
What steps he is taking to promote gender diversity inside EU institutions. 
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Keith Vaz)
We are committed to all efforts to improve gender diversity in the workplace. We strongly support initiatives to create environments favourable to the recruitment of women, to their promotion and to their career development within the EU institutions. Our own European fast stream programme helps to recruit women to the EU institutions: in the past two years, there have been more successful women candidates than men candidates. We also supported the June 2000 council resolution calling on the EU institutions to promote the balanced recruitment of men and women. We have done well, we can do better, and we are striving to do better.
§ Shona McIsaac
I welcome my hon. Friend's reply. Does the Government agree that encouraging women's participation in the political process is vital to democracy? If so, what advice would he give to the Conservative party, which admits that only 2 per cent. of its membership is women under 45?
§ Mr. Vaz
Fortunately, it is not part of my brief to offer advice to the Conservative party. However, I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend has raised the issue. She was, after all, the first woman Member of Parliament from 792 Cleethorpes in history, and her contribution in the sphere of gender diversity is well known. I assure her that the Foreign Secretary believes that it is extremely important not only that we get more women in the Foreign Office, appointed on the basis of merit, but that we encourage the European Union to appoint more women to the Commission and the Secretariat and to all the various bodies of the EU.
We are currently having discussions with the Swedish presidency. As my hon. Friend knows, half the members of the Swedish Cabinet are women. Therefore, there is a good opportunity to work with a country that has the presidency and will take the issue of gender diversity very seriously indeed. I thank her for raising this important issue.
§ Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)
Further to the inquiry from the hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac), will the Minister say what proportion of employees of European Union institutions are transsexuals, and how that figure compares with the achievement recorded thus far by British Departments?
§ Mr. Vaz
I personally have no knowledge of how many members of the European Union are trans-sexuals. However, the shadow Foreign Secretary seems to spend so much time talking to so many different people, I am sure that he will be able to find a quote from a trans-sexual that he will be able to pass on to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. David Lammy (Tottenham)
I am sure that the whole House will welcome steps to make European Union institutions more representative of the communities that they serve, especially regarding women. Will my hon. Friend the Minister a comment on steps to promote ethnic diversity in our European institutions? He will be aware that there are more than 3 million Africans in France and that Germany has a large population of Muslims and Africans.
§ Mr. Vaz
I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important issue. I am aware of all that he has done during his career to promote the cause of minority groups. I assure him that we regard diversity as relating to the employment not only of more women, but of more people from ethnic minorities. The United Kingdom has a very good story to tell about this subject. Indeed, I believe that we have a leadership role to play in the European Union. The number of Foreign Office employees who come from the ethnic minority community has doubled in its four years under my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.