§ The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. Richard Luce)
There are 265,000 women in the Civil Service. That constitutes 45 per cent. of all staff.
§ Mr. Gow
Is my right hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) and I believe in the innate superiority of women? Do not the figures given by my right hon. Friend show that no rebuke should be delivered to the Minister for the Civil Service? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that those figures could equally well have been achieved without the equal opportunities legislation?
§ Mr. Luce
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is right to pay tribute to the ability of women in the Civil Service as much as anywhere else. Given the total size of the Civil Service, it is right and good that nearly half our civil servants are women. However, at the senior levels—in the top grades—only 6 per cent. are women. But an increasing number of women are coming in under the high fliers scheme—just under 50 per cent. are now recruited from that scheme. I am sure that in the 1990s, with full equality of opportunity—I believe that that is what my hon. Friend is stressing as so important—more women will come to the top.