HC Deb 06 May 1968 vol 764 cc27-8
40. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what plans she has to ensure that women are permitted to play their full part in raising productivity in industry in the national interest.

Mr. Harold Walker

In the drive for increased productivity, no special distinction is made between men and women. I intend to discuss with my National Joint Advisory Council and Women's Consultative Committee, in the light of the Survey of Women's Employment just published, what more can be done to ensure the fullest use of women in industry.

Mrs. Short

Does my hon. Friend realise that, apart from the problem of equal pay, which we have just discussed, there is the problem of training for women in industry for which the present provision is lamentable, there is the problem of adjusting shift times to suit women's ability to work, and there is the problem of providing enough day nurseries and nursery schools to make it possible for women with young children to go to work with a clear conscience, knowing that their children will be properly looked after? Will my hon. Friend see that the Secretary of State for Education and Science gives some attention to this latter problem?

Mr. Walker

I can give that assurance. The question of women's hours was studied at the last meeting of the National Joint Advisory Council. We shall require time to examine in more detail the contents of the survey published today.

Mrs. Ewing

Even if it is not possible to introduce equal pay, would not the prospect of equalisation of scales in future have an effect on increased productivity in many industries by giving women something to look forward to in the foreseeable future?

Mr. Walker

I can only reiterate what I said earlier, that it is the Government's intention to move in this direction; but I cannot at the moment add to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary on 18th December, when he set out the position clearly and stated the desire of both the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. to move to this end so far as possible by voluntary negotiations.