HC Deb 23 February 1987 vol 111 cc19-20
63. Mr. Meadowcroft

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's policy towards the role of women in development.

Mr. Chris Patten

Our policy was set out in the booklet "Women in Development", copies of which are available in the Library.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Is the Minister aware that the Government's attitude seems rather complacent in view of continuing reports that the position of women in development issues is becoming worse, not better? Is he aware that a report to be published on Thursday by War on Want sets out the evidence for this? Will he read it carefully and respond positively to its findings?

Mr. Patten

I hope that I shall respond positively, but I do not always agree with everything that War on Want says; nor, I think, does the Labour party. I am not complacent. I want to see more women being trained under our own programme. Only about 15 per cent. of places currently go to women. We are talking about how to improve that figure with aid-recipient Governments.

Mr. Gow

What explanation can my hon. Friend offer for the new-found interest of the Liberal party in women?

Mr. Patten

After the events of last week, I think that I should be careful about referring to the role of women in politics.