HC Deb 07 March 1968 vol 760 cc649-50
Q4. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Prime Minister if he will mark the 50th anniversary of women's franchise by taking steps to appoint an anti-discrimination board to which cases of discrimination against women can be referred.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend's idea is an interesting one and if she would care to let me have detailed proposals I would be happy to have them examined.

Mrs. Butler

Is my right hon. Friend aware that women are fed up with being exploited as pretty birds when they are young and as "silly moos" when they get older as a substitute for equal human rights now, and that there is need for a board of this kind to which cases of sex discrimination can be referred if needed?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend must be responsible for the choice of the words which she uses and she will know that Mr. Alf Garnett is not a fully paid-up member of the Labour Party. On discrimination, what I think my hon. Friend is concerned about—as are my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench—is the question of discrimination in appointments and other matters, where there is still a long way to go. That is why I look forward with interest to receiving her detailed proposals.

Dame Irene Ward

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for not having heard very well what he was trying to mumble. Would he be kind enough to confirm that detailed proposals have gone to him to end discrimination against women? Can he assure us that these will be carried out this year without further delay?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady courteously responded to my invitation to send me proposals, but since, for the greater part, they involve tax changes, she will probably think it right that they should go first to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—

Dame Irene Ward

They have.

The Prime Minister

—and, secondly, she will understand that I do not want to anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget Statement.

Mrs. Lena Jeger

Why does my right hon. Friend keep asking for letters from hon. Ladies? Will he accept my assurance that hon. Ladies would much more appreciate early action on the subject of equal pay rather than be put to the trouble of sending him any more useless letters?

The Prime Minister

I hope that the letter which I will get from my hon. Friend on this question will not be useless but productive and constructive. The answer to her first question is that I like getting letters from lady Members, but if she feels that these matters could be better discussed by personal interview, of course I would like that even more.

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order. With great respect, Mr. Speaker, does your selection entirely of ladies to ask supplementary questions on this Question indicate a degree of discrimination from the Chair?

Mr. Speaker

Yes, I am afraid it does.