HC Deb 15 December 1999 vol 341 c263
7. Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

What impact proposals for Government modernisation will have on the Government's equality programme. [101549]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Marjorie Mowlam)

Our commitment to modernising the civil service includes our targets to double the representation of women and ethnic minorities in the senior civil service within the next five years. Having more women and ethnic minorities in the civil service will improve our equality programme and how we deliver it for everyone, particularly through the duty on all public authorities to promote equality of opportunity.

Fiona Mactaggart

Does my right hon. Friend share my concern about the fact that there are no less than three Departments with lead responsibility for equality and tackling discrimination—the women's unit in the Cabinet Office, the race relations unit in the Home Office and the sex and race equality division in the Department for Education and Employment? Does she have any plans to join up the work of those Departments to make our attempts to tackle inequality and discrimination more efficient and effective?

Marjorie Mowlam

In the Cabinet Office, we are looking into how we can prioritise the mainstreaming of the equality issue. We do that by working across Departments. My hon. Friend asked whether it is better to bring those units together. Our present view is that it is not, because if equality is central to every policy, it is better that the units are in the Departments to ensure that that policy is implemented. However, I hear what she says. We have discussed this matter, and as a result of her question we shall certainly think about it again.