§ Miss Herbison
asked the Prime Minister if the Women's Consultative Council have completed their review of the Council's future; what recommendations they have made; and what steps he proposes to take.
§ The Prime Minister
The Council has now completed a full review, taking fully into account the question of a National Commission on the Status of Women, raised by the Secretary General of the United Nations with member states in June, 1967. My right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General, as co-Chairman of the Council, has reported the Council's conclusions and recommendations to me, and I have accepted them.
The Council reached the view that there is no need in Britain for a separate Commission concerned only with the status of women, but that there is a need for a strengthened and enlarged Government-sponsored body which would be generally regarded as entitled on behalf of women to be consulted on matters of public interest and to put forward its views. It accordingly recommends that the Women's Consultative Council set up in 1963 should be dissolved, and replaced by the Women's National Commission, with the following terms of reference:To ensure by all possible means that the informed opinion of women is given its due weight in the deliberations of Government and in public debate on matters of public interest, including in particular those which may be considered as of special interest to women.Its further recommendations include:
- (i) that its membership shall consist of representatives selected by organisations approved as eligible by the Government, taking into account the advice of a Membership Committee of the Commission;
- (ii) that there shall be two co-Chairmen, one appointed by myself and one elected by the Commission;
- (iii) that the Commission should set up specialist committees, including one relating to the status of women in the community;
- (iv) that the Commission should be serviced by an independent secretariat.
I warmly welcome the further step forward which is proposed, and have appointed my right hon. Friend the Paymaster General as co-Chairman of the new National Commission, which now supersedes the Consultative Council. On its advice I have asked Mrs. John Tilney to continue as co-Chairman of the new body for its first year.
I understand that the Commission will hold its inaugural meeting in the autumn.