HC Deb 06 November 1969 vol 790 cc1166-7
15. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what progress she has made in her discussions with both sides of industry relating to equal pay for women ; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Castle

I have made a number of proposals to the C.B.I., the T.U.C. and others for the detailed content of a Bill on equal pay. These are at present being studied by those concerned. I hope to have their reactions during the course of this month.

Mrs. Short

If my right hon. Friend is concerned about equality for our sex, as I am sure she is, would not she agree that the introduction of the earnings-related pensions proposals in 1972 gives added impetus for bringing forward the date for equal pay before 1976?

Mrs. Castle

One of the subjects for consultation is, of course, the period when the Bill shall become fully effective. As my hon. Friends knows, we are proposing that discrimination against women in rates of pay shall be made illegal by the end of 1975. Within that period, however, there is nothing to prevent negotiations proceeding for progress towards equal pay.


As there is general agreement in politics and industry that discrimination against women should end, is the right hon. lady's mind open to the possibility of phasing in complete equal pay before 1975?

Mrs. Castle

I can only tell the hon. Lady that I am under contrary pressure from industry, which is anxious lest the rate of advance in particular industries may be too fast. The Government have considered that point of view and the contrary point of view which is held by the hon. Lady, my hon. Friend, the T.U.C. and others ; which is that we should advance more quickly. We feel, however, that the date that we have fixed strikes a fair balance between the two considerations.