HC Deb 06 December 1983 vol 50 c148
6. Ms. Richardson

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects the Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value Order to become operative.

Mr. Alan Clark

The order, which was approved in another place yesterday, has now been signed and will become operative on 1 January.

Ms. Richardson

Does the Minister realise that this complex, inadequate order has been opposed not only by women's organisations, including the Equal Opportunities Commission, but by the legal profession, and last night, in effect, by the other place? There was a vote on this issue, and the opposition to the order was carried by a few votes. Does that not make a difference to the Government's thinking about the order? Principally, does the hon. Gentleman understand that this shows to the country the Government's unwillingness to introduce, in a decent and simple fashion, the concept of equal pay for equal value for low-paid women? Would it not be better to withdraw the order and support the Sex Equality Bill this Friday?

Mr. Clark

I look forward to the hon. Lady's presentation of her Bill on Friday. However, I reject what she said in the last part of her question. The Government are committed to the principle of equal rights and it is wrong to say that the other place rejected the order, because it voted for it. The amendment, in so far as it was critical, related to the way in which we conform to our European obligations. I can say categorically that I am advised that in the terms of the order we conform to our European obligations.