HC Deb 08 June 1998 vol 313 cc691-2
1. Ms Dari Taylor (Stockton, South)

If she will make a statement on the impact of the women's website in increasing access to Government information for women. [42926]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (Ms Joan Ruddock)

The Ministers for Women's website is another demonstration of our genuine commitment to improving the dialogue between Government and the women of this country. It has attracted responses from women across the UK and beyond on a wide variety of policy, including child care, education, rape, women's and men's health, Northern Ireland and the website itself. It is another way of connecting women to Government, improving the flow of information and complementing the more traditional forms of communication.

Ms Taylor

I am reassured by your response this afternoon, Minister. Like you, I see the website as a clear complement to a woman's life. Whether she is a traditional woman who has to, or feels she has to, stay at home, or a fast-tracking woman, this is an excellent source of information. In developing the website, will you consider Stockton borough council's website and its availability? It is free at the point of use to most women, to all people who are unemployed, to all who are unwaged and to all children. I see the website as an incredibly good service to offer. When you are considering the development of the website—

HON. MEMBERS: "Order."

Madam Speaker

Order. Hon. Members are getting somewhat distracted. The hon. Lady should speak through the Chair of the House and not directly to the Minister. Hon. Members are right to be disturbed about the matter.

Ms Taylor

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I am sorry.

I hope that, when the Minister is developing the service, she will see the important link between all local women's organisations and the Ministers for Women's website.

Ms Ruddock

I thank my hon. Friend for her question, and I congratulate her local authority on what it is doing. Since creating the website, we have decided—as my hon. Friend suggested—to explore the feasibility of establishing a women's electronic interactive network. The feasibility study is looking at how women's organizations—local and national—might have greater access to hardware and training. When we get the results of the feasibility study, we will decide whether to commission a pilot project, whereby we could link selected women's organisations to one another locally and to us here in government.