HC Deb 22 February 1980 vol 979 cc392-3W
Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the wide divergence between the gross weekly earnings of men and women in manufacturing industries; and what proposals he has for closing the gap.

Mr. Jim Lester

[pursuant to his reply 21 February 1980]; I am satisfied that the Equal Pay Act 1970 has worked well towards eliminating discriminatory rates of pay. The gap between gross weekly earnings of men and women in manufacturing reflects, in part, differences in the hours worked and other variables such as overtime, shift work and long-service bonuses. An additional factor is the exclusion of the earnings of males aged 18 to 20. The remaining differences are the result of many other factors—for example, differences in occupational and industrial distribution, age and level of skill.

Women have made progress in earnings and both the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Disrimination Act can continue to play a part. Further progress depends to some extent on the efforts made by women themselves to train for and take up employment in jobs which are still largely the preserve of men, and thereby break down sex-based segregation in employment. With this in mind the Manpower Services Commission's employment and training services include activities and initiatives designed specifically to widen job opportunites for women.