HC Deb 01 July 1971 vol 820 cc553-4
1. Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will seek powers to end the exclusion of women from membership of stock exchanges.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Dudley Smith)

No. My right hon. Friend is not persuaded that the introduction of legislation for this purpose is necessary. Women are admitted to membership of provincial stock exchanges.

Miss Fookes

Would my hon. Friend convey to the Secretary of State my extreme displeasure at what I regard as a pussy-footing answer?

Mr. Russell Kerr

Pile it on.

Miss Fookes

I will do my own piling on. If stock exchanges will not admit women to membership, does my hon. Friend agree that there should be a time limit on the time we wait for them to co-operate voluntarily—say, 18 months?

Mr. Smith

No; I would not agree to a time limit. I am sure that the example set by the provincial exchanges, together with the knowledge of how most people feel on this issue, is likely to get women accepted more readily and easily than is Government action.

Mrs. Castle

Is it not odd that the Secretary of State did not answer this Question in view of the passionate speeches which he made during the Committee stage of my Equal Pay Bill, on which he supported Amendments to remove discrimination in the employment of women in every sphere of activity, from ministries of religion to the stock exchanges? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as a result of those speeches, we have been expecting him to introduce a Bill ruling out all forms of discrimination?

Mr. Smith

My right hon. Friend still adheres to the views he expressed then. Indeed, he wonders why the right hon. Lady did not introduce legislation on the subject.

Mr. Tilney

Is my hon. Friend aware that women are not only permitted to be members of provincial stock exchanges but are members of the Northern Stock Exchange?

Mr. Smith

Yes. The example of that stock exchange is very good, and I am sure that it will be noted by the growing minority who support the admission of women to the London Stock Exchange. My personal view is that persuasion rather than compulsion is the best remedy.