HC Deb 06 July 1971 vol 820 cc1122-3
Q2. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Prime Minister what further steps have now been taken to implement the remaining recommendations in the report of the committee of inquiry which examined the law as it relates to women.

The Prime Minister

New provisions for the attachment of earnings should lead to improvement in the enforcement of maintenance orders; and we are working also on improvements in the method of payment. The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act makes important changes in respect of widows' damages. The Finance Bill at present before Parliament contains provision that from 1972–73 onwards, if a married couple jointly so claim, the wife's earnings shall be charged to tax as if she were a single person.

Dr. Summerskill

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that last June he took advantage of the British woman? [AN HON. MEMBER: "Which one?"] Now she can see through him. Would he try to redeem his breach of promise to her by implementing all 34 recommendations in the report entitled "Fair Shares for the Fair Sex"?

The Prime Minister

I cannot accept the hon. Lady's contenton in the first part of her supplementary question in a general sense, but as far as the Cripps Committee is concerned we have already implemented about one-third of the recommendations which were made in that report, and some of the remaining recommendations are now being considered by the Law Commission and by the Committee on One-Parent Families. When they make their recommendations we shall be able to decide better whether to implement them or not.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. Friend always remember that many women in this country are very grateful that for the first time we have a Prime Minister who has been prepared to try to meet the legitimate demands of the women of the country?

The Prime Minister

I find myself in a somewhat embarrassing position between the two hon. Ladies.