Mr. loan Evans
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what his present policy is in appointing members to the nationalised industry consumer councils; and what the present average age and ratio of male to female members are, compared with when his Department became responsible for these councils.278W
§ Mr. Maclennan
Since my Department assumed responsibility for 42 of these councils in February 1975 I have sought to broaden the areas of consumer interest covered by their membership, with a particular accent on giving greater prominence to those which can speak on behalf of the most disadvantaged sections of the community. Candidates are drawn from a wide range of sources, including self-nomination, and are selected entirely on their merits and in the context of the overall balance of the relevant council; they are no longer drawn exclusively from a rigid list of nominating bodies, except where there is a statutory requirement to seek nominations for a fixed percentage of members from local authorities.
I have also tried, with those appointments which have so far come up for consideration, to reduce the average age and increase the proportion of women. The average age at the beginning of 1975 was 54 years and has so far been reduced to 50 years. The corresponding figures for the proportion of women are 25 per cent. in 1975 and 33 per cent. at present. This is a continuing process, and I intend to ensure that these trends are maintained in the future.