Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 20th March 2024

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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I thank my hon. Friend for her tireless campaigning on behalf of Israeli victims of Hamas. This Government are appalled by reports of sexual violence since 7 October in Israel and Gaza. I am working closely with Cabinet colleagues on the issue. It is important to continue to highlight the fact that many hostages, both male and female, have still not been released, and they face the daily threat of rape, sexual assault and violence. Across Government, we have been meeting with their families. Just last week I met with the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, and I know that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have also done so in recent months.

Nicola Richards Portrait Nicola Richards
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A United Nations report recently confirmed that sexual violence was used against Israeli women on 7 October. Last week I raised concerns with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office that women did not feel that they could trust the UN enough to speak about their experiences. Victims of sexual violence deserve a voice and to be treated with respect, so what can my right hon. Friend do to encourage the international community to unite in calling out sexual violence and those who seek to deny that it happens?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the issue. She will be pleased to know that just last week, following calls from the UK, Lord Ahmad, the Minister in the other place, attended the UN Security Council to express deep concerns about the findings of the UN special representatives of the Secretary-General on their recent visit to the region. The UK is leading work internationally through our preventing sexual violence initiative, and through dedicated funding, totalling £60 million, to prevent conflict-related sexual violence and to strengthen justice and support for all survivors.

Gregory Campbell Portrait Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)
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4. If she will make an estimate of when the gender pay gap will be closed.

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Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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I am pleased to announce today that the independent inclusion at work panel has launched their report on achieving fairness and inclusion for all in the workplace. The report, part of our inclusive Britain agenda, sets out how employers can do away with ineffective, divisive and poor-quality diversity and inclusion practices. It notes that the UK employs almost twice as many diversity and inclusion workers per head as any other country. Instead, we should focus resources on interventions backed by evidence, which will benefit all people. I thank the panel for their hard work and thoughtful consideration on this issue.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby
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My young disabled constituent Ella Wakley in Braunton goes to college, but her blue badge is accepted on buses only after 9.30 am, which is too late, so she has to pay for herself and her travel assistant. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure that improve accessibility for people such as Ella, who are trying to get on with their everyday lives?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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As ever, my hon. Friend is a great advocate for her North Devon constituents. In the national bus strategy, the Department for Transport committed to conducting a wholesale review of the English national concessionary travel scheme. That will include reviewing eligibility and extensions to travel times for older and disabled people.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Ashley Dalton Portrait Ashley Dalton (West Lancashire) (Lab)
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Last week, the Minister for Women and Equalities rightly called the comments of Conservative party donor Frank Hester about the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) “racist.” It has since emerged that Mr Hester has said that a group of Indian members of staff should

“climb on the roof, like on the roof of the train”

and has made reference to “Asian corner.” Does the Minister agree that those comments are racist—yes or no?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I understand why the Labour party insists on bringing this issue up over and over again, but Mr Hester has apologised for his comments, we have welcomed his apology, and we are drawing a line under it. We are focused on what matters to the people of this country. I had letters last week from people telling me that we were wasting time focusing on issues that were not relevant to them. We need to focus on what matters to the British people.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
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Boys lag behind girls at every level at school, creating a gender attainment gap that has been in place for some 30 years. Will the Minister meet headteachers and a working group to see what we can do to reduce that gap?

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Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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T2. Will the Minister clarify when the right moment is to move on from a Tory donor calling for an MP to be shot in the context of hating all black women? Is it when there is an apology for rudeness? Is it when £5 million more has arrived in Tory coffers? Is it when she tires of explaining racism to her party? Or is it when the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) says that justice has been done?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am not going to take any lectures whatsoever from Labour Members. This is a good time to remind the House that it is only the Labour party that has been sanctioned for institutional racism by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It continues to disappoint its members. Where is the Forde report? Why is the right hon. Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) complaining that nothing has been done about racism in the Labour party? We will take no lectures from them.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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Despite an overwhelming consultation response and promises from the Government, caste as a protected characteristic still hangs over the Hindu community. We have now established that the current provision could be removed via statutory instrument. Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to remove it once and for all before the general election?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 7th February 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nicola Richards Portrait Nicola Richards (West Bromwich East) (Con)
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6. What recent steps she has taken with Cabinet colleagues to help tackle violence against women and girls.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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Tackling violence against women and girls is one of the Government’s key priorities. We are making progress in delivering various cross-Government workstreams, including the tackling violence against women and girls strategy and the rape review action plan.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith
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Three quarters of police-recorded domestic abuse cases are closed due to evidential difficulties or because the victim does not support further action. Does the Minister agree that Labour’s proposal to put rape and domestic abuse specialists in every police force in England and Wales will give women the confidence to come forward and secure more convictions?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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We will have 2,000 rape specialists across all police forces by April. In the autumn statement, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would provide £2 million of additional funding for a flexible fund that trials one-off payments to victims of domestic abuse. That fund was made available to victims on 31 January.

Nicola Richards Portrait Nicola Richards
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Last week, I co-hosted an event here in Parliament with a delegation from Israel who have first-hand experience of the aftermath of 7 October. They described innocent women, dead or alive, who had been raped by terrorists. Hamas desecrated their bodies and even booby-trapped them. Those acts of sexual violence must be condemned by every institution and individual who cares about women’s rights.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I thank my hon. Friend and her co-chair for organising what was for attendees an extremely difficult meeting. We heard the harrowing accounts of witnesses and family members of young girls who were kidnapped on 7 October, and we heard from the first responders who found the bodies of women and girls of all ages with obvious signs of sexual violence. Female soldiers were found naked with nails and sharp objects shoved into their vaginas. One told of a mother he found with her hands tied behind her back, naked and bleeding from the waist down, shot in the back of the head, and with a live grenade left in her hand for whoever found her body.

We must support the courage of those witnesses in giving that harrowing testimony about Hamas’s mass-scale perpetration of sexual violence on 7 October. We cannot be silent about these atrocities. We must ensure that the world does not forget that sexual violence shatters lives and devastates communities. The UK stands in solidarity with survivors and continues to call for the release of the remaining hostages.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
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I appreciate that the Government have been trying to tackle violence against women and girls, specifically with the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. Unfortunately, amendments that would have gone further to protect migrant women, who too often still feel unable to come forward and report abuse for fear of their data being shared and their being detained or deported, were not accepted. Will the Minister commit to reassessing the merits of preventing survivors’ personal data from being shared with the Home Office for immigration purposes?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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That is a matter for the Home Office. I support all the work that Home Office Ministers are doing to tackle domestic abuse, and I know there would have been good reasons for not accepting those amendments to the Act. We will continue to do all we can. I have just heard from the Minister for safeguarding—the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Laura Farris)—that concessions are being made. We will continue to work with her and others to tackle domestic violence in all its forms.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con)
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In some instances, there are good reasons why immigration control should be able to work with forces of law enforcement when it comes to domestic abuse. My constituent Emma has been serially abused, harassed and stalked by a US national, who crosses the border with no visa—he does not need one—to continue his campaign of harassment. Will my right hon. Friend please work closely with the Home Office to ensure that British women are protected from foreign abusers who have found ways around our immigration system?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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My right hon. Friend is right to raise that. I ask her to let her constituent know that the Government are doing all they can. The safeguarding Minister has said that she will write to my right hon. Friend so that this specific case can be further investigated.

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)
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2. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the time taken to process claims to the Windrush compensation scheme.

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Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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In the light of some of the commentary about the employment tribunal’s judgment in the case of Professor Miller and Bristol University, I want to clarify the fact that antisemitism must continue to be challenged wherever it arises. We have seen people in this country use their views on Israel as an excuse to display antisemitism. We have seen that in protests on our streets, and also in our universities. It is therefore important to stress that this ruling does not change the fact that while academics have the right to express views, they cannot behave in a way that amounts to harassment of Jewish students. Disguising that as discourse about Israel would be no more lawful than any other form of antisemitism. The Government will consider the ruling carefully, and we will continue to do all in our power to protect Jewish people throughout our country.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
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On Monday, my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) hosted a very positive event marking the start of the Football v. Homophobia month of action. Will Ministers join me in thanking all those involved in the campaign—which includes LEAP sports and the TIE campaign in Scotland—and offer their wholehearted support for making football a safe and welcoming sport for LGBT people?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Of course we join the hon. Gentleman in that. I pay tribute to the work of the Minister for Equalities, who has been very supportive of the campaign—as are all of us in the ministerial team.

Marco Longhi Portrait Marco Longhi (Dudley North) (Con)
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T3. I hear more frequent use of the word “microaggression”. As an engineer, I know that “micro” means something extremely small. It is tiny. In fact, it is one millionth of whatever a standard aggression might be. Has the Minister a view on this, and does she recognise it as a new phenomenon? How big a priority might it be?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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As my hon. Friend will know, I too am an engineer by training, and we engineers have to stick together. We are very sceptical when people introduce to the lexicon terms that are not helpful to the real work of tackling serious criminal behaviour. I am not a fan of that term, and my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that microaggressions training was removed from the Government Campus prospectus in November 2022.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Ashley Dalton Portrait Ashley Dalton (West Lancashire) (Lab)
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Under the Conservatives, police-recorded rapes have soared to record highs while convictions have fallen to record lows. It emerged last week that the Conservative police and crime commissioner in Cheshire victim-blamed girls wearing short skirts for this epidemic. Why are these attitudes still tolerated in the Conservative party?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Those attitudes are not tolerated in the Conservative party. I have not seen the remarks the hon. Lady refers to, but I am sure that we can investigate. However, I will push back on what she said about rape statistics. The fact is that, for the year ending March 2023, the crime survey for England and Wales shows a 5.1% reduction in the number of adults experienced domestic abuse—a statistically significant decrease—compared with the year ending March 2020.

Anna Firth Portrait Anna Firth (Southend West)  (Con)
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T5. Last month I received a letter from my local NHS trust regarding children’s services at Southend Hospital. It referred to women and “birthing people” going into labour. Can my right hon. Friend clarify whether the term “birthing people” is required language under the Equality Act 2010? If not, does she agree that it should not be used, because it is dehumanising, confusing and insulting to many women?

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Caroline Dinenage Portrait Dame Caroline Dinenage (Gosport) (Con)
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At 5 pm today, women’s groups and other community groups in Gosport will be staging a peaceful protest about the Lib Dem council’s decision to completely end all live CCTV monitoring. They are worried about the impact on people’s safety. Does the Minister agree with them?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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It is important that people understand that CCTV and street lighting are important in helping women to feel safe on the streets. I fully understand the campaign and I am glad that my hon. Friend is supporting it. We are doing everything we can in Government to reduce violence against women and girls.

Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin (Bedford) (Lab)
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T4. Will the UK Government redouble their efforts to ensure that the humanitarian needs of women and girls in Gaza are being addressed, in line with the UK’s commitments under the international women and girls strategy, the women, peace and security national action plan, and the international development White Paper?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am working closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on this issue. We are very concerned about the events taking place in both Israel and Gaza and we want to see the violence end. The hon. Gentleman will know about all the work we have been doing on preventing sexual violence in conflict, for example, and we will continue to do everything we can to minimise any impact on women and girls.

David Evennett Portrait Sir David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Con)
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What steps is my right hon. Friend taking with Cabinet colleagues to help increase the number of female-led businesses?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Female-led businesses often face particular challenges, and in the Department for Business and Trade we work with the British Business Bank to ensure that those businesses continue to have access to finance. We have the Investing in Women code and a taskforce for women-led entrepreneurs. We hope that all these actions together will help improve the lives of women in business.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)
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T6. Will the Minister make a statement about today’s report by the Patient Safety Commissioner addressing redress for victims of sodium valproate and mesh?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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4. If she will have discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on the Government’s response to reports of gender-based violence by Hamas since 7 October 2023.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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It is crucial that the international community recognises the atrocities committed by Hamas, and that Hamas are held to account for their barbarism. That is why we are engaging with partners, including the UN, to ensure that perpetrators are held to account for their depravity.

The UK remains a global leader in eradicating sex-based violence. Our preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative has £60 million in funding to combat conflict-related sexual violence and ensure that survivors access redress and support. On 28 November, we announced a further £33 million to support grassroots women’s rights organisations tackling sex-based violence.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman
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I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Hostages who have been released have reported Hamas atrocities, such as being subjected to physical and sexual violence in captivity. The Israeli health service also reports that hostages have been drugged to make them look happy on videos. Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning Hamas for doing that and in demanding that the International Committee of the Red Cross has access to every single one of the hostages immediately?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I share my hon. Friend’s horror. It is extremely distressing to hear all those reports, and I do unequivocally condemn the sexual violence that is being reported. We continue to engage regularly with partners, including the UN. I will pick up the points that he raised directly with the Foreign Office to see whether we can do what he asks. It does sound like something that needs the involvement of the Red Cross, but we will make sure that we co-ordinate across Government for a dedicated response on this issue.

Sharon Hodgson Portrait Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
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Will the UK use its seat on the UN Human Rights Council to raise the use of gender-based violence on 7 October, and to secure a clear condemnation from its members of the rape, murder and torture perpetrated against women by Hamas on 7 October?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Yes, we will. We have raised the reports of sexual violence attacks on 7 October with UN Women and with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. I will make sure that we continue to do this and to impress upon international organisations that the whole world needs to respond to this.

Patrick Grady Portrait Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)
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5. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential for biases in artificial intelligence technologies in relation to people with protected characteristics.

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Ian Levy Portrait Ian Levy (Blyth Valley) (Con)
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14. What steps the Government are taking to help ensure socioeconomic equality.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The Government are committed to boosting economic growth across the UK and ensuring opportunity is spread as widely as possible. Education is the most significant lever to create opportunity and reduce inequality, and I am pleased that Conservative reforms have seen children in schools in England excel in the 2022 PISA—programme for international student assessment—scores. England significantly outperformed the average, rising from 27th for mathematics in 2009 to 11th this year, and from 25th for reading in 2009 to 13th this year.

Paul Howell Portrait Paul Howell
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When it comes to economic equality, physical mobility is critical. As the Minister may know, I am joint chair of the all-party parliamentary group for “left behind” neighbourhoods, and our recent report talked about how limited public transport connectivity frustrates access to education and employment. I have constituents in places such as Trimdon and Fishburn who cannot get to the 10,000 jobs in Aycliffe, which is only 10 miles away. Does the Minister agree it is imperative that when funding for local transport is determined, the opportunity to enhance social mobility is seen as critical?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I agree with my hon. Friend, who raises an important point about how connectivity creates access and generates social mobility. The Department for Transport is working to put the needs of current and potential users at the heart of the operation of the transport system, and Network North, our new £36 billion plan, will improve our country’s transport. Perhaps my hon. Friend will write to me about the specific issues, because some of those duties will fall to his local council and I want to know what it is doing with the money we are giving it to improve access.

Ian Levy Portrait Ian Levy
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This Conservative Government have done more for the people of Blyth Valley than any other Government—[Laughter.] And they have brought much needed investment in employment opportunities for my constituents—[Interruption.]

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Ian Levy Portrait Ian Levy
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. This Conservative Government have done more for the people of Blyth Valley than any other Government and have brought much needed investment in employment opportunities for my constituents, following decades of Labour neglect. Will my right hon. Friend please assure me that continuing to close the gap between the north and the south remains the Government’s highest priority?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am delighted to assure my hon. Friend of that. He is an effective advocate for his constituency, and he knows that this Government have been investing in Blyth Valley. We have given an £18 million boost to regenerate housing, £1.5 million for new high-tech training equipment, £200,000 for extended CCTV provision, and a further £20 million for our long-term plan for towns. Our investment in Blyth shows that only the Conservatives can deliver there, and levelling up and closing the gap is a priority for this Government.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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Some 42% of children in Newcastle upon Tyne Central are growing up in poverty, 17% of households are in fuel poverty, and a fifth of adults are estimated to be in problematic debt. Does the Minister agree that a Government who cannot deliver economic prosperity for working people in the north-east are a Government who cannot deliver on socioeconomic equality?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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This Government are delivering. Of course we recognise that there are people who are in need, and that is why we are doing everything, across all Departments, to deliver for them. For example, our supporting families programme has funded local areas to help almost 600,000 families with multiple and complex needs to make significant positive changes to their lives. The programme is working, and evaluation found that the proportion of children on the programme going into care reduced by a third and the number of adults receiving custodial sentences decreased by a quarter. There is so much we can say—I know we are running out of time, Mr Speaker, so perhaps the hon. Lady would like me to write to her.

Jamie Stone Portrait Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)
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One thing that can militate against socioeconomic equality, particularly for the elderly and most vulnerable, is access to care staff. The rate of remuneration is 61p per mile, going down to 25p per mile after the first 3,500 miles, and those figures have not been revised upwards since 2011. It means that wonderful people in my constituency are very often losing money travelling about, and that does not do much for recruitment either. Will the Minister agree to talk to the Treasury and the Scottish Government about doing something about that?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am sure that colleagues in the appropriate Department will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s question and will be able to provide a more detailed response.

Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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In my last topical statement, I spoke about the unacceptable rise in antisemitism and hostility towards the Jewish community since 7 October, and I am updating the House on what further action I can take to promote social cohesion. The Equality Act 2010 is a shield against discrimination, and the public sector equality duty is part of that shield. It is particularly important that all public authorities take the duty seriously. To ensure that they understand how to comply with the duty, I will be publishing updated guidance shortly. I will then write to leaders of public authorities that have a key role in promoting social cohesion, to show how they can foster good relations, promote equality of opportunity and eliminate unlawful discrimination.

Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar
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I thank the Minister for that answer. As the Women’s Budget Group has rightly pointed out, women are more reliant on benefits, due to care-giving roles, and they have been disproportionately impacted by regressive social security changes since 2010. What consideration has the Minister given to the abolition of the poverty-inducing benefit cap and the hated two-child limit, to prevent further poverty and destitution among women and children, and will she raise that matter with her Cabinet colleagues?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Gentleman will know that we disagree with the propositions that he has set out, and we have said so time and again at this Dispatch Box. We believe that the two-child policy is important. We know that there is a cost of living crisis caused by rising energy costs and the war in Ukraine, which was caused by Russia. The Government are doing everything we can to limit the impact on households.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
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T2. A Museum of London report has bizarrely concluded that black people were more likely to die from medieval plague. Will the Minister for Women and Equalities ensure that such sensationalist research findings and woke archaeology have no impact at all on current health and pandemic policy?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I do agree. I am not even sure whether we can call it just sensationalist or woke. The research apparently was based on phrenology, which is a completely discredited type of science. I agree with my hon. Friend that this type of research is damaging to trust, to social cohesion and even to trust in health services. I have written to the director of the Museum of London to express my concern.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Opposition spokesperson.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Lady is right that the socioeconomic duty she references is not commenced in England. It is in Scotland, however, and the figures are worse there, which shows that the duty is not the solution to the problems she raises.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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T8. My North Devon constituency is in the lower quartile for social mobility. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to improve social mobility outcomes for remote, rural and coastal communities?

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Kenny MacAskill Portrait Kenny MacAskill (East Lothian) (Alba)
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T5.   Keep Prisons Single Sex has disclosed that police forces are still failing to adequately record the sex of offenders at birth and sometimes record self-identification. This can have a considerable effect on criminal justice data. Will the Minister take any steps to ensure that the correct data is given, so that appropriate analysis can be given and we do not have skewed information?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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That is something that my Department is working on. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we need to ensure that data is accurate, that people understand what is being recorded and that this does not have an impact on how public services are delivered. If he has any further information that he would like to share, I would very much like to see if there are specific constituency circumstances we can look into.

The Prime Minister was asked—

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 25th October 2023

(6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rosie Duffield Portrait Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) (Lab)
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15. Whether she has had discussions with stakeholders on improving the diversity of parliamentary candidates.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The Government have worked hard to remove any material obstacles to democratic participation for all eligible groups. Registering to vote is quick and easy, taking as little as five minutes. Any elector without an accepted form of photographic identification can apply for a voter authority certificate from their local authority free of charge, or alternatively they could vote by post or proxy.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers
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I have a thriving British-Albanian community in my Chipping Barnet constituency, making a really positive contribution to our culture and economy. What more can the Government do to encourage them to be involved in campaigning at elections, voting in elections and standing as candidates in elections?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s efforts in ensuring that everyone participates in the democratic process. I agree with her, but it is ultimately for local registration teams to ensure as best they can that all eligible electors in their area are correctly registered to vote. We want to ensure that all parts of the UK are equally represented in politics and the democratic system where they are eligible.

Rosie Duffield Portrait Rosie Duffield
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

With almost a quarter of the UK’s population registered as disabled, does the Minister agree that all political parties need to try harder in the run-up to the next general election in selecting a diverse group of candidates, with perhaps slightly less emphasis on nepotism and more on the representation of ordinary voters, including those from all ethnic minority backgrounds?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady asks an excellent question, and I thank her for all the work she does campaigning for women’s rights. She has been at the vanguard of some contentious issues. She is quite right to raise candidate selection. All political parties have to make the very best of efforts in ensuring that a meritocracy exists and helping those including disabled people who might need additional assistance in participating through some of the difficult selection processes. I highlight again how diverse the Conservative party is, and the Cabinet in particular. That is testament to the fact that meritocracy works. We hope that others will learn from our example.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the shadow Minister.

Yasmin Qureshi Portrait Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Labour party has more women and ethnic minority MPs than the rest of the political parties put together. We know that that leads to better outcomes for British people, but there is always further to go. That is why we have committed to enacting section 106 of the Equality Act so that all political parties would be required to be transparent about the diversity of their candidates. Why will the Government not do the same?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

At the end of the day, it is the electorate who decide who gets to represent them. The hon. Member might be cherry-picking statistics on which party is the most diverse. We can do the same and talk about how the Conservatives have had three female Prime Ministers when Labour has not had even a single leader. If she wants to dive deep down and be granular, we have more black men in our party than in all the other parties combined. This splitting hairs is not helpful; what we need to do is ensure that the process is as meritocratic as possible.

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Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on tackling pay inequalities in the labour market.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Owing to my joint roles—I am also Secretary of State for Business and Trade—I have a unique understanding of unjust pay disparities, and I am proud of the steps that this Government have taken to tackle them. We will publish new guidance in April to help employers to measure, report on and address unfair ethnicity pay differences, and it was a Conservative Government who introduced gender pay gap reporting in 2017.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Nineteen US states have banned employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history, meaning that people are paid what the job is worth and not just what the bosses can get away with. This has had a massive impact on tackling unequal pay for women and black workers in particular. Having talked about piloting a similar salary history measure, why have the Government appeared to stall on what would be a really positive policy?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We are not stalling. Our pilot will support employers to take steps towards transparency in their own organisations, to see the impact for themselves. We know that this is not straightforward, which is why we will ensure that employers looking to implement greater transparency in their recruitment processes are able to access best practice and learn from each other.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Absolutely not. This is something that we will not be devolving and it absolutely should not be mandatory. Ethnicity pay gaps cannot be measured in the same way as gender pay gaps. I have said this to the hon. Lady at this Dispatch Box multiple times. We can measure a pay gap where a population is binary male and female but we cannot do it across a broad spectrum of ethnicity. We have published guidance for those employers who want to do this, but it would be absolutely wrong to mandate.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

6. What recent estimate she has made of the level of additional costs affecting households with disabled people.

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Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As the Minister for Women and Equalities, it would be remiss of me not to reflect on the way religious communities in the UK have been impacted by the terrible events in the middle east. All our citizens have a right to feel secure and at peace in Britain. One of the reasons we have been able to integrate people from all over the world is an unwritten rule that people with roots elsewhere do not play out foreign conflicts on the streets of this country. We owe a duty of care and civility to our neighbours, whatever their ethnicity, religion or background. All of us are free to practise our faiths and celebrate our cultures, but we must do so in a positive way, consistent with fundamental values that are the bedrock of Britain.

I am afraid to say that in recent days we have seen that social contract being breached. In particular, I believe that the hostility directed towards our Jewish communities, the calls for jihad, the ostentatious indifference to the victims of terrorism, the aggressive chanting by mobs brandishing placards of hate, and the odious people ripping down posters of missing children do not reflect our values as a nation.

We must all stand firm on the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, particularly in the public space that we all share. That is why today I am reminding public sector organisations that they have a legal obligation, as part of the equality duty, to consider how they contribute to the advancement of good relations in communities as they deliver public services. Where organisations are having difficulty doing that, I urge them to write to me as soon as possible for advice on how they can fulfil their legal obligations.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. There should be no place for hatred in our communities.

As a woman in her 50s—[Hon. Members: “No!”]—I know how challenging the menopause can be, especially when you have a busy job. What support is there for working women with the menopause?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I hope that my right hon. Friend feels that she is supported by all of her colleagues. I am delighted to let her know that there will be a full debate on menopause tomorrow, led by the Minister for Social Mobility. I am proud of the great strides that Helen Tomlinson has made since her appointment as the Department for Work and Pensions menopause employment champion. The report “No Time to Step Back” details this progress and looks forward to the next six months, including the sector-specific workshops.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. In less than a decade, the proportion of female pensioners in the UK living in poverty has risen by 6%, which means that one in every five female pensioners are below the breadline, despite the fact that the number of female pensioners has fallen due to the rise in state pension age, which disadvantaged tens of thousands of older women. Does the Minister for Equalities share my concern that in the UK today 20% of female pensioners are living in poverty, and what action will she take to address that?

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Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. In its 2021 census, the Office for National Statistics estimated that there are 260,000 transgender people in the UK. Does the Minister agree with the separate Office for Statistics Regulation that, due to skewed methodology, this number is likely to have been a huge overestimate?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I share the concerns that the Office for Statistics Regulation has raised and, in February, I asked my officials to explore with the ONS whether because of a lack of understanding of the question the census had the number right. We need to be very careful about language. People do not often understand what we mean when we use terms such as transgender and gender identity. We have to make sure that they understand them. The ONS will be conducting and reporting on research to explore that issue, and it should publish the results by the end of the year and will monitor them going forward.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6.   Some years ago, the United Nations found that disabled people’s rights were being systematically violated by Conservative Ministers. Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that nothing at all had changed. Is the Minister not ashamed?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 12th July 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government have published a range of advice and guidance to help public bodies comply with the Equality Act. The Equality and Human Rights Commission also publishes technical guidance on complying with the public sector equality duty. I will shortly be reissuing my December 2021 update to Ministers on how to comply with the public sector equality duty, especially when it comes to completing equalities impact assessments, and I hope that that is distributed widely.

Neale Hanvey Portrait Neale Hanvey
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

With the Met police force reluctant to investigate murderous threats towards three sitting MPs for their lawfully protected beliefs and characteristics; a convicted criminal calling for violence against women at Trans Pride incoherently defended as freedom of expression by that same force; and broadcasters, journalists, faith leaders and even the Equalities and Human Rights Commissioner for Scotland all having had their bank accounts closed for what appear to be their lawfully protected characteristics, will the Minister meet me and other affected Members to consider how we tackle this dangerous misinformation, rampant homophobia and misogyny being promoted in our institutions by organisations such as Stonewall?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I take the points that the hon. Gentleman has made very seriously, and I would be very happy to meet him. We are a free and fair society, and we must protect free speech and allow open discussion, as long as it does not break the law.

On bank account closures, banks and other payment services, providers occupy a privileged place in our society, and it would be a serious concern if financial services are being denied to anyone exercising their right to lawful free speech. I need to express this: a notice period of fair and open communication with a customer must apply in those situations that relate to termination on grounds other than suspected or actual criminal offences or when otherwise allowed by law. The Government are currently reviewing evidence on whether the existing payment services and account termination framework is operating effectively, or if further clarification is needed.

James Gray Portrait James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We were all delighted that the Government appointed an independent inquiry chaired by Lord Etherton to look into the disgraceful treatment of LGBT soldiers, sailors and air people before 2001 and the fact that those wrongs have not yet been put right. That report was given to the Government some three weeks ago now, and I understand that the Government have said they will produce it before the summer. Will they also answer the report at that time, will they give us a date for it and will there be an oral statement in this House, so we can quiz the Government on the report?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I will speak to my ministerial colleagues in the Ministry of Defence who have received the report, and ensure that my hon. Friend receives a response.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help increase the number of female-led businesses.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I am working with Cabinet colleagues to harness the skills, innovation and talent of UK female entrepreneurs, and widen opportunities for the next generation of women setting up businesses. That is why we launched a women-led high-growth enterprise taskforce. Building on the work of the Rose review, it brings together some of the country’s most successful female entrepreneurs, led by the founder of Starling Bank, Anne Boden.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her answer. We have brilliant successful female entrepreneurs across Anglesey, including Laurel Knight at Medic 1, Lynne Farr at the Beaumaris Artisan Market, Helen Evans at the Amlwch Artisan Studio, and Jo Weir at Beau’s Tea Rooms. We also have some fabulous successful male entrepreneurs such as Celfyn and Emrys Furlong. They are supported by organisations such as Alison Cork’s Make It Your Business, the British Library’s Business and IP Centre, the Federation of Small Businesses Wales, and Small Business Saturday UK. How are this Government supporting those organisations to broaden their reach and empower even more fabulous female entrepreneurs?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend rightly mentions some of the highly successful initiatives led by entrepreneurs, male and female, across Anglesey, which we fully support. Those are exactly the sort of organisations that we like to see flourish across the UK. Just last week, I spoke to the women and enterprise all-party group, alongside my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey). That was attended by female entrepreneurs from across the country, who talked about how the Government are investing in women, and how the Rose review and the high-growth enterprise taskforce are having an impact on their lives and businesses.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Pathways, a new approach for women and enterprise, was commissioned by the Scottish Government. It has begun to implement, along with key stakeholders, including enterprise agencies, the Scottish National Investment Bank and private investors, ways to include under-represented parts of society in the business system. What steps are the UK Government taking to weave inclusivity through the business support system in a similar fashion to that in Scotland?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We believe that businesses are best placed to do that themselves, and we provide as much advice, guidance and support as possible. For example, the British Business Bank has led many schemes and initiatives to promote inclusivity in the workplace. However, if there is something specific where the hon. Gentleman thinks there is a gap in the market, I would be happy to hear about such an initiative.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the shadow Minister.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I am afraid that the shadow Front-Bench spokeswoman is confusing all sorts of different things. FTSE directors are not the ones who need support getting into the workplace. She is talking about a menopause action plan, but we have had one, completed and delivered it, while Labour Members are just talking about bringing one in, which shows that they are not paying attention. We are the only ones who will be doing what is right to promote gender equality in the workplace.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. If she will hold discussions with Cabinet colleagues on the potential merits of including policy relating to men on the list of Government Equalities Office responsibilities.

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Anum Qaisar Portrait Ms Anum Qaisar (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

9. What steps the Government is taking to help tackle (a) gender and (b) racial inequality in the workplace.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government have taken numerous steps to tackle gender and racial inequality in the workplace, as seen with the comprehensive actions outlined in our landmark “Inclusive Britain” strategy, as well as various initiatives to support women in the workplace. As outlined in our “Inclusive Britain” report, we are working towards a new voluntary inclusion confident scheme to support employers on clear, manageable advice on effective diversity and inclusion interventions.

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Like most things in this place, this Government’s policy on parental leave is in the dark ages. Research by Pregnant Then Screwed shows that better-paid parental leave for all parents would bring better equality in the labour market, yet this Government seem dogged in their determination to stand still. Why are the Government blocking greater gender equality in the workplace?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I completely disagree with the hon. Lady. This Government have done more than any other to promote gender equality in the workplace, including bringing in policies such as shared parental leave. We have also brought in extended redundancy protection for those on maternity leave and introduced carer’s leave, and we are supporting legislation to strengthen the protections against harassment in the workplace.

Anum Qaisar Portrait Ms Qaisar
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

A new report from the Fawcett Society shows the motherhood pay penalty and how mothers with two children take home 26% less income than women without children, impacting on a woman’s income and earning power throughout her working life. It compounds the effects of the ethnicity pay gap. Will the UK Government tackle that by making flexible working the default and introducing mandatory gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We have just finished a private Member’s Bill that makes the right to ask for flexible working mandatory. That strikes the right balance for business, rather than making it mandatory for people to demand flexible working. Not every business can provide it, and it is not something that will improve equality in the workplace.

Maria Miller Portrait Dame Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

When I asked black and minority ethnic residents in Basingstoke about their experience at work, their responses were concerning. I have been working especially with our big local employers, the local education authority and the NHS to tackle the issues. What is my right hon. Friend doing to ensure that public services are exemplars when it comes to race equality in the workplace?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

If my right hon. Friend sees the work that we have put into our “Inclusive Britain” strategy, she will see that almost everything that is in action is about the public sector. There is so much we can do to promote racial equality in the workplace, but we need to do that fairly and transparently, as well as universally. The Equality Act 2010 protects characteristics, not groups. If she would like to work with me on any specific initiative, I would be keen to hear more from her about what she has been working on.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the SNP spokesperson.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

There are growing concerns about new technology such as artificial intelligence and automation software being used in recruitment and employment. Studies show that AI perpetuates bias across gender, race, age and disability, as well as dialect and regional differences of speech. What recent assessment has the Minister made of the equalities impact of AI use in recruitment and the workplace? Has she raised that with Cabinet colleagues?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Yes, I have raised it with Cabinet colleagues. In fact, I had a meeting with the Government chief scientific officer just last week on this issue. It is a concern that AI can embed bias, and that means we need to look at the datasets and large language models that are informing the AI being used. Equality impact assessments apply to the public sector equality duty, and much of AI is being done in the private sector. We will do our part, but I am keen to hear from Members about specific initiatives that they think can help.

Maria Miller Portrait Dame Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

In February this year, we announced the STEM ReCharge pilot to support parents and carers back into science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles. Since then, we have recruited and trained the first cohort of engineering and technology returners in the midlands and the north of England. They have received personalised training and support to help to get them back into the workforce, and we are now recruiting a second cohort, who will use insight and lessons learned from the pilot to develop new guidance, so that STEM employers across the UK can benefit from the full wealth of the returning STEM group.

Maria Miller Portrait Dame Maria Miller
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The summer holidays, which are approaching, see a spike in domestic abuse. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important that people know there is help available? Will she lend her support to the campaign I am running in Basingstoke with the police and crime commissioner Donna Jones to help to make sure that victims of domestic abuse in north Hampshire know they are not alone and that there is help there?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I agree with my right hon. Friend. It is important that people know where to go for help when they have experienced domestic abuse. The Government are providing police and crime commissioners with dedicated ringfenced funding for at least 900 independent sexual violence and domestic abuse advisers and will fund an additional 100, bringing the total to more than 1,000 by 2025.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. The cost of living crisis disproportionately affects disabled constituents who are reliant on specialist diets and equipment and now face increased food and energy costs. Will the Minister confirm what cross-governmental action the Government can take to better support disabled constituents with those additional costs?

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Andrew Lewer Portrait Andrew Lewer (Northampton South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. How many discussions has the Secretary of State had with Department for Education colleagues about forthcoming guidance on trans-identifying children?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I have been working closely with the Education Secretary, because it is important that we get the guidance for schools right. It must show schools how to be compassionate to pupils questioning their gender in a way that is compliant with the Equality Act 2010, including ensuring that single-sex spaces are maintained and the safety and wellbeing of all pupils is not compromised.

Amy Callaghan Portrait Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T5.   Conversion therapy should be banned entirely, not with a voluntary loophole, as this Government intend, which we know means that conversion therapy will be open to coercion. The loophole is so large that it will leave any Bill meaningless. Will the Minister commit to a full ban on conversion therapy, as supported by organisations such as Stonewall and Time for Inclusive Education in Scotland?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 26th April 2023

(12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Anum Qaisar Portrait Ms Anum Qaisar (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

12. What steps the Government have taken to help ensure that women have equitable pay.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The gender pay gap has fallen by approximately a quarter in the last decade. The Conservative Government introduced gender pay gap reporting, building on the pay protections we already have in the Equality Act 2010. That has motivated employers to look at their pay data and include workplace gender equality.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The gender pay gap feeds the pension gap, which impacts on a large proportion of women in the UK. The Government do not even have a suitable definition for the gender pension gap. I have campaigned on this issue for many years, so does the Minister agree that delays in reducing the gender pension gap are simply unacceptable? What representations has she made to her colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions to urgently address this?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The gender pensions gap, as the hon. Lady has described it, is a complex issue. It is tied to the labour market, the pensions system and demographic differences. By 2030 more than 3 million women will have benefited from a higher state pension through our new state pension reforms. On average, female pensioners will receive around £570 a year more than they would have received under the previous system. That is the work that we are doing to address this issue.

Anum Qaisar Portrait Ms Qaisar
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Fawcett Society evidence shows that more than a third of women want to work, but are prevented by reasons including a lack of flexible working options and affordable childcare. The reforms proposed in the UK Government’s consultation still require employees to request flexible working. Will the Minister ensure that that is enshrined as a day one right to support women to remain in work and to help tackle the gender pay gap?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady will know that we are supporting the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill. That private Member’s Bill will deliver changes, including requiring employers to consult with an employee, as a means of exploring alternative options, before rejecting a request for flexible working; and enabling employees to make two flexible working requests a year—up from one—and receive faster decisions on their requests. Employees will no longer be required to explain the impact of their requests for flexible working arrangements on the employer. We think that will go a long way to resolve the issues around flexible working.

Jo Gideon Portrait Jo Gideon (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Campaigners are highlighting the twin impacts of the gender pay gap and the cost of living crisis on women. What support is my right hon. Friend giving to women who are struggling financially?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend will know that the support we provide is based on need and not protected characteristics, so the decisive action we have taken has been to support households across the UK, while remaining fiscally responsible. We are delivering the largest ever increase in the national living wage, benefiting more than 2 million people—disproportionately women—and prioritising support for the most vulnerable families, increasing benefits in line with inflation, so that more than 10 million working-age families see an increase in their benefit payments.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

According to the Fawcett Society, the UK Government lag behind other European countries in making companies act to close the gender pay gap and they have failed to introduce mandatory reporting of pay differences based on ethnicity. If the UK Government are serious about driving down pay inequality, why will they not require employers to set out action plans to improve gender equality and why will they not mandate intersectional ethnicity pay gap reporting? If they are not serious and they continue to refuse to act, will they devolve employment law to Scotland so that we can do it ourselves?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As I have said in almost every discussion about equality—and I am prepared to say again—mandatory ethnicity reporting is not the appropriate tool. Ethnicity pay gap reporting cannot be compared to gender pay gap reporting. Gender pay gap reporting is binary; ethnicity pay gap reporting goes across at least 19 groups. It is dependent on geography, among other things, as well as representation within the workforce.

We need to do what we can to make sure that employers do the right thing, but the sorts of interventionist policies that the hon. Lady raises are not helpful and they make things worse. They obscure the data and do absolutely nothing to address the issues around ethnicity pay gap reporting that she describes.

Angela Richardson Portrait Angela Richardson (Guildford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. What assessment she has made of the adequacy of the definitions of protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010.

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Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Last week, we published a report on the substantial progress we have made in delivering our groundbreaking Inclusive Britain action plan to tackle unfair ethnic disparities. Just one year after we launched the action plan, we fulfilled 32 of the 74 commitments, including issuing voluntary guidance for employers on how to measure and address ethnicity pay gaps, and I will report back to Parliament in 12 months’ time on the progress we have made on delivering the remaining actions to build a stronger, fairer and more united society.

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. While I fully understand the need for protected places for women—I totally support that—and the issues when it comes to sports, I am growing increasingly concerned that trans people are becoming demonised in some quarters. What is the Secretary of State doing to protect the interests and the very nature of genuine trans people?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I want to emphasise that the Government believe in the principle of individual liberty and in the humanity and dignity of every person, and in everything we do we want to make sure that we take the toxicity out of the debate. A lot of the demonisation is happening out there on social media. We have a responsibility to make sure that all trans people have that dignity and are looked after.

In terms of other things we are doing, NHS England is working to expand clinical capacity in adult gender identity services by establishing new pilot clinics rooted in primary care and sexual health services. Four of those new clinics have opened since 2020 and a fifth is opening this year. They will be able to provide a lot of the healthcare that trans people need.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. New research from the Living Wage Foundation shows that over 2 million women in the UK earn below the real living wage and that women are more likely to be trapped in low-paid, insecure and precarious jobs. Will the Minister work with Cabinet colleagues to ensure that their work actually pays, by introducing a real living wage and strengthening protection for workers on zero-hours contracts? [R]

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 25th January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

13. What steps the Government are taking to tackle (a) gender and (b) racial inequality in the workplace.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As part of our strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, we have committed to strengthen the protections against sexual harassment in the workplace. That includes taking forward two legislative measures as part of the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill, introduced by the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse). Furthermore, in our landmark inclusive Britain strategy we committed to publishing guidance on ethnicity pay reporting for employers. That will be published soon and will support employers to identify and tackle unfair pay gaps in their workforces.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

New data published by the Ministry of Defence earlier this month showed that in the year to September 2022, more women left the armed forces than joined. Given the string of sexual abuse and harassment allegations that we have heard, that data is concerning but hardly surprising. What is the Minister doing to ensure that women are safe in the armed forces and that the pervasive attitude of misogyny in the armed forces is tackled?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady is right to raise that serious issue. My colleagues in the Ministry of Defence take it very seriously and have a strategy and a plan to tackle it. As I mentioned in respect of sexual harassment in the workplace, we have many measures to look into what is going on. We are concerned about women leaving the workplace, and this Government will do everything we can to make sure that women are encouraged to stay and thrive in their workplaces.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Scottish Government are encouraging employers to report on ethnicity pay gaps—a policy supported by the Women and Equalities Committee—but the Scottish Government do not have the powers to enforce that policy. Is the Minister willing to have a conversation about the transfer of those powers, so that we can all learn lessons from the results?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We have no plans to devolve equal opportunities policy. Quite a lot of work is being done on ethnicity pay reporting. It should not be made mandatory. It is different from gender pay gap reporting, because it covers more than two separate categories. I am happy to write to the hon. Gentleman with more detail on the work that we are doing, but we will publish guidance for those companies that want to carry out ethnicity pay reporting in due course.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee.

Caroline Nokes Portrait Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Gendered abuse, harassment and bullying in the workplace is wrong, but it can happen anywhere. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when there is gendered abuse, bullying and intimidation in this Chamber, we should make sure that action is taken to stamp it out?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I completely agree. This is a very serious issue. We are all aware of allegations that have been made against Members in this House. I know that you care very much about this issue, Mr Speaker. This is a place where we have freedom of speech and freedom of expression. We condemn any Member who tries to intimidate, harass or abuse other Members of Parliament when they are simply representing their constituents.

Rehman Chishti Portrait Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

On racial inequality and discrimination, a previous Home Office report looked at hate crime in terms of Islamophobia and antisemitism. The statistics and figures were absolutely appalling, with a high number of incidents. The Government removed the independent adviser on Islamophobia, Qari Asim. He apparently did not have any terms of reference for two years. Given the Government’s commitment to tackle Islamophobia and intolerance, what is their strategy?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government have a strategy to tackle anti-Muslim hatred. I recommend that my hon. Friend raises this issue with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who is responsible for that portfolio as part of the communities strategy.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

This week, the UK Government rejected outright five recommendations of the Women and Equalities Committee on menopause and the workplace, and they are not committing to any new work in response to the report. The Chair of the Committee, the right hon. Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), described the Government’s progress as “glacial” and their response as “complacent”. She pointed out the missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce. Will the Minister change tack? Will she commit finally to acting on menopause and the workplace? If she will not, will she commit to look again at why devolving employment law in Scotland matters so much, so that we can do that work?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I would ask the hon. Lady to read the women’s health strategy, in which she will see that the menopause is a priority area. The Select Committee has made recommendations, which we have considered carefully, but there is no point in the Government having a strategy if they are simply going to accept recommendations from elsewhere that do not conform to it. The best thing for her to do would be to work with the Government and look at the good work we are doing on tackling issues around the menopause.

Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

2. If she will hold discussions with her Cabinet colleagues on NHS waiting lists for gynaecological care.

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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

It was a Conservative Government who introduced gender pay gap reporting in 2017, to motivate employers to look at their pay data and improve workplace gender equality. To accelerate progress, we are supporting legislation that enhances flexible working, extends redundancy protection for those on maternity leave, introduces carer’s leave and strengthens protections against harassment in the workplace.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Dhesi
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The gender pay gap for full-time employees was 8.3% in April 2022, which was sadly up from 7.7% the previous year. Worse still, Labour’s analysis has uncovered that the gender pay gap for black African women is an appalling 26% when compared with the average male worker, and the figures for Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are 28% and 31% respectively. Rather than watch as the situation deteriorates, what urgent steps are the Government taking to deal with these dreadful disparities?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I do not recognise any of the hon. Gentleman’s statistics. With all due respect, I have seen all sorts of Labour analysis that misuses and abuses statistics to the point where we honestly cannot take it seriously. If he does have real evidence, I am keen that he sends it for the equality hub to analyse. Those figures do not represent anything we have found across Government.

Ellie Reeves Portrait Ellie Reeves
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Closing the gender pay gap would add £600 million to the UK’s economy by 2025. Labour has a plan to do this by requiring large firms to publish gender pay gap plans, permitting equal pay comparisons, extending statutory maternity and paternity leave, and strengthening protections for pregnant women. Will the Government finally accept our proposals?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I am afraid that the Government will not accept those proposals. The hon. Lady conflates equal pay and gender pay gap reporting, which are not the same thing. This is an area that has a lot of nuance, and Labour needs to do a little more homework.

Robin Walker Portrait Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the most effective ways to close the gender pay gap is to support women who are returning to work after pregnancy? Will she therefore use her good offices to encourage cross-Government work to improve the affordability and availability of childcare for new mothers?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Both sides of the House can agree that more support and more work is needed on this issue. Childcare is one of the reasons why women leave the workplace, and we are doing everything we can to support women to have appropriate childcare arrangements.

Chloe Smith Portrait Chloe Smith (Norwich North) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. What recent progress she has made in implementing the British Sign Language Act 2022.

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Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government will publish a draft Bill setting out our approach to banning conversion practices, which will go for pre-legislative scrutiny in this parliamentary Session. We are committed to protecting everyone at risk of those practices from harm and we are clear that the legislation must not affect the ability of parents, teachers or counsellors to have open, exploratory and even challenging conversations with young people.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Has the Minister had sight of the Health and Social Care Committee’s report into the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review and, particularly on paragraph 53, what conversations might she be having with Treasury colleagues to support women seeking redress?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the Health and Social Care Committee for its IMMDS follow-up report. Our sympathies remain with all those women affected by sodium valproate. Patient safety is our top priority and we are committed to improving how the system listens to people, which is why I have asked the Patient Safety Commissioner, Dr Henrietta Hughes, to look into redress schemes. I am not committing to any specific next steps today, but the Minister for Women will provide an update in due course.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T5. Does my hon. Friend—[Interruption.] Cheers from the Opposition? That does not happen very often. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, whether they live in Land’s End or John O’Groats, it is important for every citizen to know their rights and for those rights to be implemented on a clear and consistent basis so that no one is discriminated against?

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Laura Farris Portrait Laura Farris (Newbury) (Con)
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T6. I am pleased that the Government are reinstating protection against third-party harassment in the workplace, but employers are frequently confused when confronted with conflicting views on sex and gender. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be publishing detailed guidance to explain how employers should treat protected beliefs on sex-based rights?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government will be supporting the Equality and Human Rights Commission in developing a statutory code on workplace harassment. We will be working closely on that. The Government are also preparing their own practical guidance for employers on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, which should address the very issues my hon. Friend just raised.

Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham)  (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T3.   A Citizens Advice report published in the past two weeks shows that 600,000 households were moved to prepayment meters. There are bound to be many vulnerable and disabled people who have been moved on to prepayment meters in that time. Can the Minister say what she has been doing to ensure that that practice ceases and to protect those people in future?

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Rushanara Ali Portrait Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. The average cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under 2 when there is no Government support is about £14,000 a year, and it is much more in London. Can the Minister get her Government to put in the investment needed to fix the broken childcare system so that more mothers can return to work, particularly those who are single parents and struggle to return to work because of the lack of affordable childcare?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

This is, as I mentioned earlier, an issue that the Government are working very hard on. I will raise it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, who can write to the hon. Lady and address those concerns more fully.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 30th November 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell (Livingston) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. If the Government will take steps to help protect trans people from conversion therapy.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government are committed to protecting people from these practices. We are carefully considering the responses to the public consultation on banning conversion practices, which closed this year, and we will set out our next steps and the Government’s response in due course.

Nia Griffith Portrait Dame Nia Griffith
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is a deeply disappointing answer, because every day that the Minister delays the Bill, LGBT individuals can be subject to abhorrent and deeply damaging conversion therapy. It is now eight months since the consultation closed, and four years since the Government first promised a ban, so I beg the Minister to bring forward a Bill as soon as possible. Will she reassure the House that the Government’s proposed legislation will bring in a comprehensive ban on all forms of conversion therapy, and include the protection of trans people?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

This is a very serious issue, and one reason that it is taking so long is that we are being very considered. Many of the things that people asked for when we first started talking about conversion therapy practices are different from what we are looking at now, so the scope has widened. More importantly, I reassure LGBT people that we can tackle these issues with existing law. We are being very careful in our considerations of what will come into the Bill. The answer that the hon. Lady is requesting will follow on from the consultation, and that will come in due course.

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

A lot of words and no action. In 2018 a promise was made that conversion practices would be banned. Four years and four Prime Ministers later, this disastrous Tory Government are going backwards with some on their Benches actively fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry towards trans people. When will this Tory Government follow the lead of the SNP Government in Scotland, take action to ban conversion practices, and stop putting trans peoples’ lives at risk?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady from the SNP is, of course, talking absolute nonsense. Government Members are legislators and what we are going to do is bring a robust Bill into law, not one that will be helpful for her to send her tweets. This is about looking after vulnerable people and not about social media campaigning.

Peter Gibson Portrait Peter Gibson (Darlington) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my right hon. Friend understand the LGBT community’s anxiety when it comes to the ban? It has appeared in multiple Queen’s Speeches, yet we are still to see any draft legislation.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend asks a good question. I do understand the anxiety. One of the things that I am trying to do is take a lot of the heat out of the debate. Questions such as that from the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell), which seek to inflame anxiety and make people worried about what we are doing, are not helpful. This is something that I am committed to doing. He is right that we have raised it and promised it multiple times. The reason it is taking so long is that it is not as simple as Opposition Members would like it to be. This is a very complex area and, when we do it, we will do it right and permanently.

James Gray Portrait James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My constituent Paula Wren is proud to be trans and proud to be a Conservative. She would call straightforwardly for an end to the absurd practice of conversion therapy. It is completely unnecessary for trans people, and the sooner the Government can bring in the Bill, the better it will be.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last year, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss)—the most recent former Prime Minister—described conversion therapy as an “abhorrent practice” in the ministerial foreword to the Government’s consultation on banning conversion therapy. Some 11% of trans people in the UK report having been subjected to that so-called therapy by their own families, and those individuals who are subjected to the practice are significantly more likely to have attempted suicide than their peers. I am disappointed in what I have heard, which seems like more kicking into the long grass. Does the right hon. Lady understand that conversion therapy is abhorrent? If so, why will her Government not commit to preventing this harm to trans people by banning the practice for everyone?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

It is quite clear that the hon. Lady did not hear any of the answers that I have given, because she has asked something that I have answered multiple times. I refer her to the answers I gave to all those hon. Members.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. Whether she has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Health on a timetable for the publication of a health disparities White Paper.

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Nia Griffith Portrait Dame Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is key to the advancement of equality in this country, which is why we welcome the United Nations’ recent reaccreditation of it as an “A status” national human rights institution. To support Baroness Falkner and her board, I will shortly appoint new commissioners and deputy chairs to the commission. The new commissioners will bring complementary expertise and experience to support the Equality and Human Rights Commission in upholding and advancing equality and human rights across the United Kingdom.

Nia Griffith Portrait Dame Nia Griffith
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Early in the covid pandemic, the Welsh Government commissioned a study that showed how health inequalities affected people from black and ethnic minorities far worse, not just for any supposed medical reasons but for many social reasons. What will the Minister do to try to put right the situation where social inequalities lead to health inequalities in the black and ethnic minority population?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady may not be aware of the extensive, 18-month piece of work that I produced on covid disparities. Some of the things that she mentioned were picked up in that report and the recommendations. One was about the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and that work is ongoing. That body will look at many of the issues that she raised.

Miriam Cates Portrait Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T5. The Government’s research demonstrates a clear link between viewing violent pornography and violence against women and girls. More and more online pornography depicts gratuitous violence against women and 50% of 12-year-olds have seen it. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the current and future impact of online pornography on the safety of women and girls, and does she think that the Online Safety Bill goes far enough to prevent children from seeing it?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point, and I agree with her. Protecting women and girls and preventing children from accessing harmful content, such as online pornography, is a priority for the Government. The Online Safety Bill will introduce new protections for women and girls online. Under the Bill, all services will need to proactively remove and prevent users from being exposed to priority illegal content. That includes the appalling illegal content that affects women and girls, such as revenge and extreme pornography.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the shadow Minister.

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Apsana Begum Portrait Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. In this cost of living crisis, will the Government commit to an emergency domestic abuse fund—[Interruption.]—so that all survivors can access help with fleeing an abuser and no one is left choosing between ongoing abuse and violence, or poverty and hunger?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. We have set out the multiple ways in which we are supporting vulnerable people. I am afraid I did not get all of her question, but if she wants to write to me or a Treasury Minister about a more specific issue, we can look into it in more detail.

Flick Drummond Portrait Mrs Flick Drummond (Meon Valley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T7. Will the Minister update the House on what the Government are doing to support women starting up small businesses?

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Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equalities will have seen in the news today that between 400 and 500 migrant workers were killed building the stadia in Qatar. Does that not make FIFA’s decision to choose Qatar as a location even more ridiculous? Will she join me in condemning FIFA for the way it has kowtowed to the Government of Qatar in relation to their anti-LGBT bullying?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. Ministers and senior officials have raised the concerns of LGBT visitors with Qatari authorities at all levels and will continue to engage on the issue during the World cup. In fact, the Minister for Equalities, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), is out there supporting LGBT people and continuing the engagement to ensure that they are protected.

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. The number of black and ethnic minority students is proportionately higher in further education colleges, but the number of black and ethnic minority lecturers is small and the number of black and ethnic minority college leaders is tiny. What are the Government doing to address that?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman asks an excellent question. This is one of the issues that we looked at in our Inclusive Britain strategy. The Department for Education and the Government Equalities Office are working to ensure that we get the right proportion and representation of people in the education sector. He is right that there is under-representation; we need to look at ways within the Equality Act, such as positive action, to address that and ensure balance.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 26th October 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. What her timescale is for the commencement and implementation of provisions in the Equality Act 2010 on reasonable adjustments to common parts of buildings for disabled people.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We are committed to the commencement of this provision of the Equality Act 2010. Our consultation on the detail of implementation closed on 18 August 2022, and we are analysing responses before taking further steps. We expect to introduce regulations and prepare comprehensive guidance prior to commencement in England and Wales in due course.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the Minister to her place. Access to public buildings is one of issues that my constituents most often bring to me: those who have a problem with accessibility feel that they are excluded in many ways. I know that, in England and Wales, there are almost half a million wheelchair users who are awaiting the results of the consultation for their own homes as much as for public buildings. I welcome the Minister’s statement, but can she assure us that this matter will not be put aside in the recent chaos?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

That is something that we have committed to. Obviously, it is important to properly address the cost implications of implementation given everything that is happening, and we will do everything that we can to further this piece of work.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

5. If she will take steps with the Secretary of State for Education to help ensure that the proportion of white state school educated students obtaining a place in higher education is raised to the same proportion as mixed heritage, black, Asian and Chinese students.

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Sarah Green Portrait Sarah Green (Chesham and Amersham) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Women and Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I am delighted to have been appointed as Minister for Women and Equalities. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, this Government will bring

“compassion to the challenges we face”,

put people’s needs above politics and reach out to communities across the country. My priority will be to deliver our groundbreaking Inclusive Britain strategy, our cross-Government work to improve the lives of disabled people, and to break down barriers to opportunity for people from all backgrounds up and down the UK.

Sarah Green Portrait Sarah Green
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I recently met the chair of the Chesham mosque committee, who had been told that medical examiners in our area will be available only five days a week and not at the weekend. That will cause significant problems for our Muslim and other religious communities who bury their loved ones as soon as possible following a death. Will the Minister meet me and my constituent to find a way forward to ensure that the new system does not infringe the rights of religious communities?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I did not fully hear the question, but if the hon. Lady writes to me in more detail about what she requires, I will be able to follow up in better detail.

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. Back in the 1990s, a colonel in the Royal Marines said to me that he would rather have a gay Marine alongside him who could shoot straight than a straight Marine who could not. My right hon. Friend will know there was much persecution of gay people in the armed forces. Can she update us on how the LGBT veterans independent review is getting on?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I can tell him that under Lord Etherton as chair, this important independent review has launched a call for evidence on the experiences of LGBT veterans who served between 1967 and 2000, when LGBT people were barred from openly serving in the armed forces.

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T4. Why was the post of Minister for Disabled People demoted? What message do we think that that sends to disabled people, who already feel like an afterthought for this Government, and will the Government reverse that decision immediately?

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Rushanara Ali Portrait Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T5. Women’s Budget Group analysis shows that 100,000 lone parents, mostly women, and 200,000 children will be forced into poverty if the Government raise benefits in line with average wages rather than inflation. Will Ministers confirm that they will push the Chancellor to uprate benefits in line with inflation so that women are not forced into further hardship because of the Government’s economic incompetence?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady will know that we do not make fiscal policy in Equalities questions. She will have to wait for the Chancellor to give a statement to get an answer to her question.

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Angela Eagle Portrait Dame Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T7. It is widely acknowledged that public spending cuts impact most on women. The Chancellor has signalled that he will seek such cuts in an effort to close the £40 billion hole his predecessor recklessly blew in the public finances. Will the Equalities Minister now undertake to publish an equality impact assessment on the 17 November autumn statement, as required by the Equality Act 2010?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We will undertake all due assessments on fiscal statements, as we regularly do over the course of things.

Paul Maynard Portrait Paul Maynard  (Blackpool  North  and Cleveleys) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T8.   The Government rightly want to see more disabled people in employment, but what more can the Minister say about encouraging in-work progression for those with a disability and, most importantly, getting more disabled representation on company boards to drive wider corporate change in business?

Alex Davies-Jones Portrait Alex Davies-Jones (Pontypridd) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Next week, we come together to recognise National Fertility Week, and yesterday I had the great opportunity to meet Fertility First, a fantastic charity that provides information to everyone who requires fertility treatment. What more can the Minister do to ensure fair and equal access to fertility treatment for everyone in the UK who needs it?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Lady for raising that subject, which I would be happy to meet with her to discuss in due course. As she knows, I returned to this role only a few hours ago, so I do not have a full answer for her now, but I am happy to work with her on this issue.

Angela Richardson Portrait Angela Richardson (Guildford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What is the Secretary of State’s response to the allegations made yesterday, following her appointment, by Ben Cohen of Pink News?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I know everyone wants to start Prime Minister’s questions quickly, but please forgive me, Mr Speaker, if my answer to this question is a tad longer than it ordinarily would be.

I am afraid that this particular individual is one who uses Twitter as a tool for defamation. He has even been sued by people in this House, such as the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry). As we begin a new era of equalities, I would like to say that the Equality Act is a shield, not a sword. It is there to protect people of all characteristics, whether they are young or old, male or female, black or white, gay or straight. We are running a compassionate equality strategy and we should not be distracted by people who use Twitter as a way to insult or accuse Members of Parliament.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv. I welcome the Prime Minister and call Dr Alan Whitehead to ask the first question.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Wednesday 8th June 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Julian Sturdy Portrait Julian Sturdy (York Outer) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

8. What steps she is taking to help reduce regional inequality.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Equalities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The Government’s central mission is to level up the UK by spreading opportunity more equally across the country. In February we published our levelling up White Paper, which provides a clear plan to level up every corner of the UK. It will address regional disparities across the country, put more money in the pockets of those who need it the most, and transform our economy by generating higher paid jobs and new investment.