HC Deb 10 May 2004 vol 421 cc81-2W
Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the date was of the press release issued by the Institute of Directors making reference to women of childbearing age referred to in her speech of 5 April at the Fathers Direct conference; and if she will make a statement. [1720278]

Ms Hewitt

The press release issued by the Institute of Directors (IoD), while Ruth Lea was Head of Policy Unit, around the time of the introduction of the new work and parent laws that I referred to was dated 3 April 2003. In summarising the views expressed by the IoD regarding the impact on women of childbearing age I also drew on other press releases issued which criticised the steps the Government have made to increase the provision of family-friendly policies. These were issued on 17 April 2001 and 4 March 2002.

I used my speech to highlight the initial evidence on the impact of the flexible working legislation is showing that many parents and employers are taking advantage of flexible working to both their benefit. Since the law was introduced almost 800,000 parents of children under six have had their request for flexible working either fully or partly accepted and the proportion of requests being refused has reduced by almost a half.