HC Deb 10 December 1997 vol 302 c602W
Ms Moran

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make a statement on her plans for the Women's National Commission. [19145]

Ms Ruddock

As part of our strategy to achieve our priority of improving dialogue with women, we are looking at communications with women's organisations. The Government are reviewing the role and status of the Women's National Commission (WNC). The terms of reference of the review areto examine the objectives, membership and the funding of the WNC in the light of the Government's need to ensure that there is an effective, efficient independent channel of communication between women's organisations and Government for the 21st Century; to assess costs and benefits; and to develop, if appropriate, options for change.

The WNC has also decided to review its own structure and organisation. We have therefore agreed with them that, rather than have two consultation exercises, the WNC should obtain the views of its members and these will form part of the evidence for our review.

During the past six months, I have met with many women's organisations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As part of my wider dialogue with them I have sought their views on the WNC, of which some, but not all, were members.