Victoria Atkins debates with Department for International Trade

There have been 14 exchanges between Victoria Atkins and Department for International Trade

Thu 23rd January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 34 interactions (1,180 words)
Thu 17th October 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 40 interactions (1,225 words)
Thu 11th July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 22 interactions (799 words)
Thu 25th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 27 interactions (895 words)
Thu 14th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 22 interactions (607 words)
Thu 7th February 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 34 interactions (1,268 words)
Thu 20th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 25 interactions (837 words)
Thu 15th November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 43 interactions (1,324 words)
Thu 13th September 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 69 interactions (2,401 words)
Thu 28th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 34 interactions (893 words)
Thu 17th May 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 45 interactions (1,560 words)
Thu 29th March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 22 interactions (530 words)
Thu 22nd February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 35 interactions (1,112 words)
Thu 11th January 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 23 interactions (612 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Victoria Atkins Excerpts
Thursday 23rd January 2020

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for International Trade
Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Hansard

3. What steps her Department is taking to support women returning to work after a career break. [900371]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:02 a.m.

Encouraging women to return to work after a career break is key to our prosperity and to levelling up opportunities for all. The Government funds 25 programmes to support people to return to work after a career break, including careers in health, policing and legal services, and I am delighted to announce today the launch of the return to social work programme to support previously certified social workers to return to this vital profession.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:04 a.m.

Mr Speaker, you may think I am young, but as someone who was elected to this place just a few months before my 50th birthday, may I say how fantastic it is to start a new career and be given a second chance? I often meet women in their 50s and 60s who have so much to offer but do not want to go back to the careers they had before. What more can we do to help those women get the skills and opportunities that they deserve?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard

My hon. Friend is an exemplar of the fantastic contribution that women in their 50s can make to a workplace. We know that there are 4.5 million women aged 50 to 64 in employment, and we are committed to supporting older workers to remain in the labour market through our work on the Fuller Working Lives strategy and through the appointment of a business champion for older workers to spearhead our work to support employers to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

Can the Minister clarify whether the Government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure will include support to improve social infrastructure, such as childcare?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

I am so glad that the hon. Lady has raised that subject. Childcare is, of course, a vital part of this Government’s programme to level up opportunities across the country. I suspect we shall be hearing a little bit more on childcare from relevant Ministers in questions in due course, but we are clear that we want the workplace to be welcoming to everyone. We want to harness their talents and unleash their potential, and helping parents with childcare is vital to that.

Mrs Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:05 a.m.

Evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee showed that some women experience unwanted career breaks, particularly when they are pregnant or they are new mums, and sometimes those are covered up by non-disclosure agreements. What action is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that non-disclosure agreements are not used to cover up unlawful behaviour, particularly pregnancy discrimination?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:06 a.m.

My right hon. Friend has been an incredibly ardent campaigner on that important issue and I thank her for all her work on it. As I hope she knows, the Government have consulted on the use of non-disclosure agreements and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Mims Davies), is committed to legislating in due course in that vital area.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab) - Hansard

4. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on transitional arrangements for women born in the 1950s affected by the increase in the state pension age. [900372]

Break in Debate

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

7. What recent discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on reducing hate crime directed at the LGBT+ community. [900375]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:14 a.m.

We are proud to be hosting our international conference on global LGBT rights in May, a key theme of which will be the safety of LGBT people around the world. Hate crime is completely unacceptable and has no place in British society. We are committed to tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime, and we are working with the Law Commission on a review of current hate crime legislation, which is due to report early next year.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty - Hansard

The Minister will no doubt be aware of the serious rise in hate crimes against the LGBT+ community, and particularly the trans community. Hate crimes are up by 25% against the LGBT+ community and up by 37% against the trans community in the past year. Those are shocking rises, and it is not just due to the fivefold increase in reporting. They are shocking statistics. Does she agree that sex and relationships education in schools is crucial, as is responsible reporting, particularly on issues facing the trans community?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:14 a.m.

I do agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I am grateful to him for his question. Sadly, he is right about the increase in hate crime against LGBT people, and he is right that educating children at school so that we change the culture that may exist among some people is one of the many ways we can tackle this.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:15 a.m.

This is my first time at the Dispatch Box this year, so may I congratulate you on your re-election, Mr Speaker, and say happy new year to all the staff in the House?

I thank the Minister for her response. Now that the general election is over, there seems to be no need to prolong the decision making any further. She should have had plenty of time to study carefully the consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and consider the Government’s response. Will she take this opportunity to update the House?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:19 a.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that. She knows how complex this area is. We are working carefully and methodically through the results of the consultation. We are clear that we want to protect trans adults’ rights and protect single-sex spaces for women. We do not want to rush into this; we want to get it right.

Laura Trott Portrait Laura Trott (Sevenoaks) (Con) - Hansard

9. What steps the Government Equalities Office is taking to help promote shared parental leave. [900378]

Break in Debate

Dr Luke Evans Portrait Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth) (Con) - Hansard

11. What steps the Government are taking to support women in (a) Bosworth constituency and (b) the UK who experience domestic violence. [900380]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:20 a.m.

There are more than 2 million adult victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales, and last year in Leicestershire—my hon. Friend’s county—there were 21,000 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes. The Government are determined to bring forward the landmark domestic abuse Bill and to enact that legislation as quickly as possible to protect and support the victims of domestic abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.

Dr Luke Evans Portrait Dr Evans - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:20 a.m.

As a GP, I find that domestic violence cases are one of the hardest types of cases: they are difficult both to identify and to deal with, and that is sad. What are the Minister and her Department doing to help to educate those who work in primary care not only on how to identify people who suffer with domestic violent but on how to signpost them to the correct services?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for that question and welcome all the experience and expertise that he brings to the House. All staff who work in the NHS must undertake at least level 1 safeguarding training, which includes domestic abuse. We have published an online resource for health professionals, to improve awareness of domestic violence and abuse. NHS England is developing a four-year action plan specifically on domestic abuse to raise awareness among NHS staff to ensure that they have the skills to identify and refer patients, where appropriate, and also, of course, to address the issue of NHS staff who are themselves victims.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) (Lab) - Hansard

12. What recent assessment she has made of the effect of county lines exploitation on (a) women and (b) girls. [900381]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:22 a.m.

County lines exploitation has a devasting impact on our communities, and we of course recognise the risks to girls and young women who are exploited by these ruthless gangs—including, often, for sexual exploitation. The National Crime Agency threat assessment published last year sets out the scale of the issue and the level of exploitation faced by women and girls, which is why we are investing £25 million to disrupt county lines gangs and put an end to this exploitation.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:22 a.m.

We think that at least one in 10 people involved in county lines are girls, and the number is probably a lot higher than that. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary has just published a report on how the police and the NCA are dealing with county lines, and it has a number of really excellent recommendations, many of them about different agencies working together. One recommendation is that by the end of the year there should be a legal definition of child criminal exploitation, so that everybody understands what it is and what they should do about it. Does the Minister agree and will she be working to that goal?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard

As the chair of the all-party group on knife crime, the hon. Lady will know that the Government are working on a public health approach to tackling serious violence. We are very much looking at the workings of agencies, including the police. The hon. Lady will welcome the fact that the National County Lines Coordination Centre has conducted more than 2,500 arrests and safeguarded more than 3,000 people. Of course, that work continues. One of the many ways in which we support those who are exploited is to fund young people’s advocates in London, Manchester and the west midlands to work directly with gang-affected women and girls, particularly if they have been victims or are at risk of sexual violence.

Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab) - Hansard

13. What steps she is taking to close the gender pay gap. [900382]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 10:23 a.m.

I feel as though I am earning my salary this morning, Mr Speaker, which is why I am so pleased that I about to talk about the gender pay gap.

We have conducted analysis of where women face disadvantages in the workplace and are finalising sector-specific action plans. I can announce that Government Departments are leading the way by publishing their data and action plans today. We want employers to go beyond reporting data on the gender pay gap and create genuinely inclusive workplaces for everyone.

Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes - Hansard

Samira Ahmed’s successful pay discrimination claim against the BBC will have far-reaching implications for other women working at the BBC who will now see their gender pay gap addressed. Samira Ahmed was only able to bring her claim because she knew what male colleagues were earning. What are the Government going to do to assist women employees of the 1.3 million small and medium-sized enterprises who are currently reliant on chance to discover whether they are subject to pay discrimination, because there is no gender pay reporting requirement?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 9:30 a.m.

I hope the hon. Member will understand that I cannot comment on individual cases, but I met BBC executives this week to discuss their overall approach to equal pay and the gender pay gap. I take the point about smaller businesses. We have been very clear that we need to gather data over several years to see how the approach is working—whether we are asking the right questions and whether there are other questions to be asked. We very much hope and expect that the approach to larger businesses will trickle down to smaller businesses, particularly with regard to action plans.

Kenny MacAskill (East Lothian) (SNP) - Hansard

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities. [900384]

Break in Debate

Helen Hayes Portrait Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab) - Hansard

T3. Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate recently linked a steep and alarming decline in rape convictions with cuts to the criminal justice system, which have left it close to breaking point. What representations is the Minister making to the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury to ensure that rape victims are able to access justice? [900386]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her question. She will know that the report was part of the Government’s review of rape and how the criminal justice system is dealing with it. The review is ongoing and we are looking at other aspects, including the conduct of the police in rape investigations and how the criminal justice system is treating victims, given the rates of attrition. Regarding discussions with the Ministry of Justice, the Lord Chancellor is as committed to the review as the Home Secretary and I are. We expect at the end of the review to come up with meaty proposals to ensure that victims of rape and sexual assault get the justice they deserve.

Oral Answers to Questions

Victoria Atkins Excerpts
Thursday 17th October 2019

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for International Trade
Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

8. What recent steps the Government have taken to close the gender pay gap. [900031]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:12 a.m.

This is the third year of gender pay gap reporting. We are focusing on the three sectors that employ the most women, and also on those with large gender pay gaps, such as financial services. Work is already under way on, for instance, the independent review of the gender pay gap in medicine, the recommendations of which will be published shortly. I am delighted that experts on the Women’s Business Council are helping us with our work in the retail and financial sectors in particular.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:12 a.m.

The Scottish Government have lowered the threshold for listed public authorities to report their gender pay gaps and publish equal pay statements from more than 150 employees to more than 20. Will the UK Government consider lowering their threshold as well to increase equal-pay transparency?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:13 a.m.

I am delighted to hear what the Scottish Government are doing. We keep that and other measures under review. As I have said, this is the third year of reporting, and we are delighted that thus far there has been 100% compliance. We must look at the data carefully, but everything is open to review. What is brilliant about this legislation is that for the first time, 10,500 employers in the country are talking about how they treat their female workers.

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:13 a.m.

Last year in Motherwell and Wishaw, women working full-time earned an average of 10% less than their male counterparts. For women who are already struggling with Tory austerity—for example, the capping of universal credit at two children—a 10% increase in pay would make a huge difference. What are the Government doing to help those women, and women across the country?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:13 a.m.

The hon. Lady will be delighted by the Chancellor’s announcement that we are increasing the national living wage. As she will know, 60% of people who are paid the living wage are women, so that increase will have a huge impact on many women. The hon. Lady and I can agree on at least this: we want women to be treated properly and fairly in the workplace, and I am sure that we all want to close that gap.

Kirstene Hair (Angus) (Con) Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:14 a.m.

Flexible working gives many parents with young children an equal chance to work, and they would therefore support the narrowing of the gender pay gap. Does my hon. Friend agree that all job advertisements should specify whether the jobs are flexible, and that employees should have the right to request that flexibility?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard

Very much so. My hon. Friend is right to mention flexible working and childcare. The message for employers is that flexible working not only improves diversity in their business models, but helps the bottom line. It is good for business, it is good for our country, and I think that, in particular, it is good for women to have the ability to earn their own incomes and to have the independence that we all cherish in this place.

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Redditch) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:14 a.m.

Does the Minister agree that the Conservatives have actually done more than any other Government to tackle the issue of pay inequality at work? What more is she doing to help women in the boardroom who do not earn as much as their male counterparts?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend, who has done so much work on women and equalities and also on menopause. [Interruption.] I note that Opposition Members are laughing and guffawing, but these issues have a real impact on women who are the lowest paid. I am delighted if it means that the Labour party is supporting gender pay gap regulations, because it was a Conservative coalition Government who introduced the regulations and a Conservative Government who brought them into force two years ago. We need to ensure that employers are treating female employees correctly and properly, and that we are tackling that in the lowest paid sectors. That is why we have the three priority sectors of retail, healthcare and education that are working to bring action plans forward to ensure that we help the lowest paid.

Angela Crawley Portrait Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East) (SNP) - Hansard

May I take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to congratulate you on your PinkNews award, and your inspirational and outstanding speech? Trans rights are human rights.

In the previous Queen’s Speech, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) pledged to make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap, but that was noticeably absent from this week’s Queen’s Speech. Does that mean that the current Prime Minister does not want to reduce the gender pay gap?

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:16 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her very gracious remarks; I apologise for my inattention. It is much appreciated.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:17 a.m.

Mr Speaker, forgive me for not congratulating you on your award. My right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt) also received an award last night at the PinkNews celebrations.

On the question, that most certainly does not mean that this Prime Minister is in any way not committed to improving the gender pay gap. The fact that we have a strong ministerial team on the Front Bench today is a very clear indication of how seriously the Government take this issue. Having got the regulations in place, we are now working with industries to ensure that we are helping them achieve those action plans so that they can make the change. This has to be led with business; we have to bring business and employers with us to make this real cultural change.

Naz Shah Portrait Naz Shah (Bradford West) (Lab) - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:17 a.m.

As we begin to understand the gender pay gap, does the Minister agree that, because the race pay gap is bigger than the gender pay gap, we should start to compel companies to publish their figures on that?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:17 a.m.

That is a very good question, and I would expect no less from the hon. Lady. We are looking closely at ethnicity pay gaps. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Kelly Tolhurst) from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who is present on the Front Bench, is leading on that work, and it is really important. We have been talking to industry leads and stakeholders in the third sector, and the hon. Lady will appreciate that quite how it is defined is not as easy as it is for the gender pay gap, but there is a great deal of work going on in Government to look at it.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

3. What steps the Government are taking to increase gender equality in boardrooms in the (a) private and (b) public sector. [900026]

Break in Debate

Mrs Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) - Hansard

4. What recent steps the Government have taken to improve protections from (a) sexual harassment and (b) bullying at work. [900027]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:21 a.m.

In the summer, we ran a consultation to understand people’s experiences of workplace sexual harassment and to assess whether the law in this space needs changing. Our consultation also included wider harassment protections, which cover many bullying behaviours. We are now considering the responses that we received, and we will publish proposals in due course.

Mrs Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Miller - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:22 a.m.

Last week, a partner at Freshfields solicitors was ordered by a professional tribunal to pay more than a quarter of a million pounds for sexual misconduct with a junior colleague. Should not every regulator treat actions of sexual misconduct as a breach of professional standards? If the regulators do not act, will the Government?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:23 a.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend, who as Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee has done so much work on ensuring that employers’ and regulators’ responsibilities in the area are met. I welcome—indeed, I encourage—strong action from regulators to stamp out sexual harassment. We are working with relevant enforcement bodies and inviting them to join our public sector equality duty network to share and promote best practice. We are particularly focusing on regulators of specific relevance, to explore how they can support compliance with equality law.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab) - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:23 a.m.

The #MeToo movement was inspired—if that is the right word—by the activities of Harvey Weinstein in the film industry. Despite all their celebrity, many of the women affected did not feel able to turn to anyone when they encountered bullying and harassment in the workplace. That is all the more true for women today, particularly in small businesses. What is the Minister doing to ensure that women have legal and present support? Does she agree that the fact that Harvey Weinstein remains honoured by the British state with a CBE is a terrible indictment of our honours system?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard

Of course, the #MeToo movement met with a great deal of attention and support across the world. In terms of sexual harassment, the consultation that closed on 2 October looked at all sorts of workplaces across the United Kingdom, and we are looking at responses to it very, very carefully. The hon. Lady will appreciate that it is only just over two weeks since the consultation closed and I do not want to pre-empt anything. In terms of Mr Weinstein, I cannot comment on individual cases; his case will be dealt with in the US.

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

5. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on transitional arrangements for women born in the 1950s since the High Court judgment of 3 October 2019. [900028]

Break in Debate

Mrs Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) - Hansard

T4. Bullying and harassment that particularly affect women have no place in any workplace anywhere in the world. When will the Government ratify the new International Labour Organisation global convention that outlaws such offences? This Government led the way on that convention when it was established earlier this year. [900041]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:34 a.m.

Again, I thank my right hon. Friend, who has brought a laser-like focus on bullying and harassment in all places of work. The Government and I strongly support this convention, which seeks to ensure that women and men around the world are properly protected at work. Our law makes it clear that violence and harassment at work are unacceptable and unlawful, and our next steps will be to consider how we will ratify this and bring this new treaty to the attention of Parliament.

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab) Hansard

T2. May I remind the Minister that next year marks 50 years since the Equal Pay Act 1970, and much of the progress has been made because of our membership of the European Union? I took the first petition on equal pay and sex discrimination to the EU in 1977. Much of the progress has been made because the EU has pushed us and many Labour Members campaigned for many years. How much longer are we going to have to wait? Is it going to be another 50 years? [900039]

Break in Debate

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD) - Hansard

T3. I am sure the Minister will agree that all women deserve equal protection under the law, no matter where they come from. Indeed, I have had positive conversations with Ministers about including migrant women in the Domestic Abuse Bill, but can she tell us when she will be able to commit to including them specifically in that Bill? [900040]

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:37 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady and all Members of this House who contributed so positively and, on occasion, movingly to the Second Reading debate on this important piece of legislation. She knows that the Government are conducting a review of the treatment of migrant women, because we have very much borne in mind the findings of the Joint Committee, chaired so ably by my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller). That review is ongoing and as soon as I have more news I promise that the hon. Lady will be among the parliamentarians I speak to.

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con) - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:37 a.m.

In Cheadle, Northern Rail has responded positively to my campaign for lift accessibility for people with disabilities by giving 24-hour access, but not every disability is visible—some are invisible. Does the Minister agree that we should support people and help to promote the need for accessible toilet signage?

Break in Debate

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Sexual harassment online is a major issue for many women. Will the Minister examine the issues of cyber-flashing and revenge porn to make sure that victims are given the proper legal protections from those as sexual offences?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:39 a.m.

My hon. Friend raises a point that concerns many in the House and outside. I am currently doing a piece of work on online offences and look forward to the development of the online harms White Paper, because I suspect that many of the answers we all seek will be in that documentation.

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

T6. Endometriosis UK found that 476,000 British women had to visit their GP more than 11 times for a positive diagnosis, and that their pain was often dismissed as being psychological. What steps is the Minister taking to eliminate gender bias in the diagnosis of health conditions? [900043]

Break in Debate

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con) - Hansard
17 Oct 2019, 10:40 a.m.

When she was Minister for Women and Equalities, my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt) committed to the House to introduce legislation to remove caste as a protected characteristic from the Equality Act 2010. When will the current Minister for Women and Equalities and her team bring forward legislation so that we can end this bizarre and divisive situation?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard

It is a pleasure, as always, to respond to my hon. Friend on this important piece of work. I am in the process of discussing this with the Secretary of State, and we hope to have an answer for him shortly.

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

T7. In the spirit of equality, the Electoral Reform Society has said that compulsory photo ID for voters will potentially leave millions of voters voiceless. Some 3.5 million voters have no photo ID at all, with the most affected being the elderly, ethnic minorities and those who are socially disadvantaged. Is it not the case that the suppression of voter participation is dangerous and will exclude many from exercising their democratic rights? [900044]

Oral Answers to Questions

Victoria Atkins Excerpts
Thursday 11th July 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for International Trade
Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

4. Which employment sectors are most gender-biased against (a) women and (b) men; and if she will take steps to tackle those biases. [911874]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend has asked a deviously difficult question, in that there are many ways to interpret it. I have taken it to reflect the gender split in sectors. The worst sectors in terms of the gender split for women are construction; mining and quarrying; and water supply, sewerage and waste management. All those sectors have workforces that are more than 80% men. The worst sectors in terms of the gender split for men are education, human health and social work. We are working with all those sectors to drive action plans to address the specific problems that men and women face, whether in recruitment, retention, or progression to senior leadership roles, in those sectors.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Brilliant though the Minister is, she cannot be expected, any more than any of us can, to know the inner workings of the sophisticated mind of the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone).

Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Hollobone - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:13 a.m.

There is a highly disproportionately low number of male primary school teachers. What can the Government do to address this?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:13 a.m.

My hon. Friend asks a good question. There is interesting research on what and how gender stereotypes form at early ages. By the age of seven, girls tend to think that they should be in what we call very loosely the caring industries, and boys tend to think about the mechanical and engineering-type industries. So it starts at the very beginning. We have to work on, and we are working on, ensuring that the gender stereotypes for boys and girls are not allowed to continue. That is precisely why the gender equality road map that we published last week will help with those limiting and limited stereotypes. We must very much encourage boys to grow, and to be great teachers in our schools and colleges.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am sure the Minister would agree that in the care sector—where my mother has worked for the past 30 years—the focus tends to be purely on women working in that sector, often because it is part-time and low-paid work. What more will the Minister do to make sure that the care sector is seen as a real profession, with good qualifications and a decent salary.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard

The care sector is such an important sector in our economy—all the more so as we age and live for longer—so through the gender equality road map we are very much looking into how we can help to ensure that the part-time roles are paid properly, and also that there are career opportunities. A tiny step is, of course, the gender pay gap regulation reporting, which helps to set out the disparities between pay, not only within industries and sectors but across the economy. It is through that that we will start to get much better quality.

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:15 a.m.

Only 1% of the tradespeople who work in building maintenance in housing associations are female, so will my hon. Friend endorse the work of the Guinness Partnership and its ambassador tradeswomen who are trying to drive up that figure by going into schools and colleges, encouraging women to pursue a career in construction?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I endorse not only the work of the Guinness Partnership, but the work of my hon. Friend, who is a powerhouse himself for trying to ensure that women and girls see construction as a really good industry and a really good employment opportunity for them.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

5. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on trends in the level of training for prison officers working with women with mental health needs. [911875]

Break in Debate

Emma Dent Coad (Kensington) (Lab) Hansard

6. Whether her Department is supporting the Home Office internal investigation into the causes of the Windrush scandal; and if she will make a statement. [911876]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:18 a.m.

The Home Secretary commissioned a lessons-learned review to consider the key policy and operational decisions that led to members of the Windrush generation becoming entangled in measures designed for illegal immigrants and appointed Wendy Williams as its independent adviser. We understand that Wendy Williams has been considering a great deal of material during the course of the review and has spoken with a wide range of people. We will publish her report following its receipt.

Emma Dent Coad Parliament Live - Hansard

The Government seem obsessed with pushing through a damaging no-deal Brexit, and Windrush victims feel ignored, as they have to make do with an apology, or perhaps another review, then a report, and then a consultation on the report and the review. Words are cheap; actions count. Can the Minister please explain how the process of compensating Windrush victims is progressing?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:18 a.m.

I am glad that the hon. Lady has asked this question, because it gives me the opportunity to inform her that more than 6,400 people have been granted some form of documentation by the Windrush taskforce and more than 4,200 people have successfully applied to become British nationals through the Windrush scheme. We have announced that the Windrush compensation scheme is open for claimants. The forms, rules and claimant guidance were published in April and the free phone helpline is available for those wishing to receive printed copies of the forms or for any other queries.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:19 a.m.

The Government said that it would take two weeks to resolve the Windrush cases; it has been over 64 weeks thus far. I have a live petition, which garnered more than 800 signatures a day, which I plan to present to the Prime Minister next week. Will the Minister join me in fighting for justice and fairness for the Windrush generation, and support the call to get all cases resolved before we break for recess?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. As she knows from the work she has done, every case is complex. We want to ensure that they are being thoroughly considered. We will continue to update the Select Committee with work and progress on this, but I reference her back to the fact that more than 6,400 people have been given some form of documentation and more than 4,200 people have successfully applied to become British nationals through the scheme.

Dr Rupa Huq Portrait Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab) - Hansard

7. When the Government plan to announce a decision on their review of proposals to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics. [911877]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard

It is a pleasure to answer this question from the hon. Lady. In September 2018, having considered the evidence of the review, the Home Secretary reached the conclusion that introducing national buffer zones would not be a proportionate response given the experience of the vast majority of hospitals and clinics, and considering that the majority of activities are passive in nature; but we of course watch with great interest the incidents that are happening in her constituency.

Dr Rupa Huq Portrait Dr Huq - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Jul 2019, 10:19 a.m.

Ealing’s buffer zone is pioneering, but it is a local byelaw and its renewal process will have to start next year, notwithstanding its High Court challenge next week. Women up and down the country—clinic users and staff—need the certainties of protection from harassment by national, lasting legislation, and the evidence of the Minister’s review does not bear out what all the pressure groups are saying. So when will the Government have the guts to act?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard

It is not a question of having the guts or otherwise. We looked at this very carefully. We looked at the range of hospitals and clinics across the country that offer these services, and the overwhelming majority did not report the sorts of activities that the hon. Lady has described taking place outside the clinic in her constituency. However, we of course keep the matter under review, and I am always happy to discuss this with the hon. Lady, because I know she takes such an interest in it.

Peter Aldous Portrait Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con) - Hansard

8. What steps the Government are taking to enable employers to increase gender equality in the workplace. [911879]

Oral Answers to Questions

Victoria Atkins Excerpts
Thursday 25th April 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for International Trade
Bill Esterson Portrait Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

6. What assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a duty on employers to prevent workplace harassment. [910537]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:24 a.m.

The Government strongly condemn sexual harassment in the workplace and are committed to seeing it end. Employers are already responsible for preventing sexual harassment in their workplace and can be held legally liable if they do not, but we are consulting this summer to gather evidence on whether reinforcing this with a proactive duty would lead to better prevention of this terrible practice in the workplace.

Bill Esterson Portrait Bill Esterson - Parliament Live - Hansard

Women who work in the retail and hospitality sectors in the UK have little protection when they face workplace harassment, which is something that happens far too often. As last year’s Presidents Club scandal shows, employers have no duty to protect their staff. May I encourage the Minister, when she carries out that review, to give serious consideration to reinstating section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 to give women the protection at work they have every right to deserve?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:25 a.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this, because it is important; every woman—indeed, every person—should be able to enjoy their place of work without the threat or risk of sexual harassment. I take issue gently with him on section 40. He may know that it was used only twice when it was in force and it had the three strikes approach, which we believe was one reason why it was not used as often as it should have been. We are very open-minded; we have this consultation, and I encourage everyone to participate in it, so that we can find solutions that suit not just employees, but responsible employers.

John Cryer Portrait John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:25 a.m.

Has the Minister thought about looking at the system of protected conversations that was introduced by the coalition Government? Given the nature of such conversations, that system could give a licence to employers to engage in harassment in conversations that then, under statute, cannot be quoted at subsequent hearings.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am happy to look at that. As I say, we will be consulting in the summer. We want also to understand the scale of sexual harassment in the workplace. By definition, it tends to be activity that is hidden and there is stigma to it. We want absolutely to make the point that it is not right for anyone, of any gender, of any sexuality, to suffer this sort of behaviour in the workplace.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

7. What steps she is taking to ensure that businesses are held to account on reducing the gender pay gap. [910538]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:26 a.m.

Gender pay gap reporting provides transparency for everyone in holding employers to account, and many organisations already recognise that closing the gap makes good business sense. I am writing to public sectors employers who are within scope of the regulations to urge them to develop action plans, and meeting influential business leaders to press them to take action in their sectors to make the best of the potential that their female employees can provide to them.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:26 a.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. What early assessment has she made of successful business compliance performance compared with that of last year?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:29 a.m.

Before I answer that, I feel obliged to wish my hon. Friend good luck in the London marathon this weekend, as I do to all Members of this House who will be running those 26 miles—we hope it will be good weather.

I am sure the whole House joins me in being delighted that we have exceeded last year’s compliance levels, with 95% of all employers believed to be in scope in the regulations having reported their data by the deadlines. We are confident that 100% compliance will be achieved shortly, and we have already seen the reporting rates rise to 98%.

Naz Shah Portrait Naz Shah (Bradford West) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:27 a.m.

When across 45% of firms the discrepancy in pay increase is in favour of men this year, it is now clear that the Government’ s policy of asking companies simply to report on the gender pay gap is not enough. I welcome the Minister’s response to the question about encouraging people, but will she now heed our advice and make it mandatory for companies also to produce action plans on how they will defeat this inequality against women?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:28 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and I know she shares my enthusiasm and determination on this point. She will be pleased that already just under 50% of employers within scope are publishing their own action plans—they are doing that because they understand it makes good business sense. We believe that this is the best approach. Interestingly, 56% of employers have reported either reductions in their gender pay gaps or the fact that they are staying the same. There is a great deal of work to do, but we have to bring business with us; businesses have to realise that it makes good business sense to close their gap and to treat their female staff properly. We believe that by encouraging them we will bring about the best result.

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:28 a.m.

I welcome the progress that has been made in closing the gender pay gap and increasing the representation of women on company boards, but what are the Government doing to support low-paid, low-skilled women, who often seem to be left out of the conversation?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:29 a.m.

My hon. Friend has distilled into his question the important point that the gender pay gap is not just about the heads of companies—directors and so on—important though that aspect is; it is also about helping women at the very lowest ends of the pay scales. We want to encourage them to seek better jobs and have better incomes. That is precisely why my right hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equalities is setting out a strong strategy on economic empowerment for women, so that they are treated fairly in the workplace, no matter their pay level, and ensuring that employers realise that if they are going to get the best of their workforce, they need to pay their female staff properly.

Jessica Morden Portrait Jessica Morden (Newport East) (Lab) - Hansard

8. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the effect of the roll-out of universal credit on women. [910539]

Break in Debate

Karen Lee (Lincoln) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard

T3. Because of the huge regional variations in maternity pay, according to the Fire Brigades Union’s women’s committee, most fire-fighters would be better off breaking a leg than having a baby. Will the Government consider an increased and properly enforced flat rate of maternity pay to tackle the gender and regional inequalities present in our fire service? [910550]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:37 a.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her FBU question. I would suggest that the FBU—[Interruption.] I have said this before, because it concerns me that there are no women on the FBU executive council. If the fire brigades workforce are to be looked after as we want them to be—Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary recently published a report looking at facilities for female firefighters across the country and was concerned to see, for example, two services with no designated shower facilities for female firefighters—then these changes must be made from the very top of our fire brigade community, making sure that women’s voices are heard, because they are absolutely essential as part of our firefighting workforce.

Mrs Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:38 a.m.

Department of Health guidance in Northern Ireland says that Northern Ireland doctors referring women to GEO-funded free abortions in England could be breaking the criminal law. Will the Minister publish her legal advice to enable the Department of Health to change that guidance, which surely is erroneous? Will she update the House on what she is doing to help women in Northern Ireland, such as Sarah Ewart and others, who are being required by law to continue pregnancies where doctors have already told them that their babies will die before they are born or shortly after?

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:40 a.m.

Order. I am sorry, but I clearly said that Members should be asking single-sentence questions. People have to be able to adjust. It is not difficult.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:40 a.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady, who has done a great deal of work on this issue in her constituency. We are keeping this matter under review. We are keen that local councils are able to use the powers that they have under the antisocial behaviour laws, if appropriate in their areas.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:40 a.m.

Recent research shows that the HPV vaccine has led to a dramatic decline in cervical cancer. Having a vaccination saves lives, so can we use this opportunity to urge mums and dads across the UK to ensure that their kids have the measles vaccine?

Break in Debate

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T7. When will the Government consult on changes to the law to protect employees from being sexually harassed by customers or clients? It was announced last December. When will it take place? [910554]

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:45 a.m.

The hon. Lady may have heard my answer to a previous question. We will consult in the summer on sexual harassment in the workplace and I would encourage her and all colleagues across the House to contribute to that consultation.

Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Apr 2019, 10:45 a.m.

Against the background of the highest ever level of employment in our country’s history, which employment rate is growing faster—male or female?

Oral Answers to Questions

Victoria Atkins Excerpts
Thursday 14th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for International Trade
Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD) - Hansard

3. If she will make an assessment of the potential merits of prohibiting the differential pricing of products and services that are (a) intended for and (b) marketed towards specific genders. [909785]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:15 a.m.

Although I share concerns on this issue, prices in the UK are set by competition, not by the Government. As intelligent questioning consumers, women should not be afraid to challenge retailers or manufacturers who are trying to rip us off and, where we are not satisfied, to vote with our purchasing decisions. The Government stand ready to back up any woman who wants to do that.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I thank the Minister for her comments. Research shows that women pay more than men for basic products 42% of the time. Manufacturers claim that this is competition or that more is involved in producing women’s products. Scientists tell us that that is nonsense: we all have the same hair and skin types. Given what she has said about women standing up, will the Minister back my Bill on the pink tax, which is currently going through Parliament, or help to encourage manufacturers and retailers to do away with what is a sexist and outdated practice?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her private Member’s Bill. The Government will not be supporting it, but we welcome the focus she is bringing to this important issue. In the 21st century, things like social media will help to get the message out to manufacturers and businesses that they simply cannot rip women off. The work uncovered on Friday in the Rose review of access to finance, which female entrepreneurs are sadly not getting at the moment, is precisely why the Government are looking to help female entrepreneurs to set up businesses that will not rip women off.

Will Quince Portrait Will Quince (Colchester) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:15 a.m.

Will the Minister kindly provide an update on the projects being supported by the tampon tax fund?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I regret to say that I do not have that list to hand at the moment, not least because I was preparing answers on the pink charge on female products, but I will endeavour to write to my hon. Friend with a list. I know the work he has done on this vital topic. I am sure that, like me, he was delighted at the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday that we will be providing free sanitary products to secondary schools.

Mr Speaker Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:18 a.m.

As the Minister’s reply to the hon. Member for Colchester (Will Quince) will be of wider interest, it might be of service to the House if the hon. Lady places a copy of her reply in the Library.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I am delighted to hear the Minister’s commitment to supporting women who wish to take the matter of the pink tax to task. As it happens, we are in the process of establishing an all-party group concerning the beauty industry. I would welcome the Minister joining the group, so she could, alongside me and colleagues, encourage companies to look at the pink tax. It seems an irony, given that women’s earning potential is less than men’s. We really should be looking at this issue far more closely.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am extremely grateful, as always, to the hon. Lady for her kind invitation. Sadly, I am not sure that, as a Minister, I am allowed to join an all-party group, but I very much look forward to learning from its work. Of course, if it ever wished to invite me to a meeting, I would be happy to accept the invitation.

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con) - Hansard

4. What steps she is taking to tackle period poverty. [909786]

Break in Debate

Richard Graham Portrait Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T4. In my constituency, the sex worker outreach project run by the admirable Nelson Trust is doing really good work to help women to come off the streets and lead very different lives. What support can the Government provide to help these kinds of community services? Does my right hon. Friend agree that reducing the number of women in prison on short sentences would help this kind of rehabilitation? [909824]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:30 a.m.

I recall the visit that I made with my hon. Friend to see how his local community was looking after vulnerable people in Gloucester. We believe that people who want to leave prostitution should be given every opportunity to find routes out, and this is why we are spending more than £2 million across the Government to support prostitutes and sex workers who are at risk of abuse and exploitation. Indeed, we have a piece of work at the moment involving ongoing research conducted by the University of Bristol into what prostitution in the 21st century looks like, precisely so that we can address the issues that that research identifies.

Naz Shah Portrait Naz Shah (Bradford West) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:30 a.m.

The primary victims of religiously motivated attacks are women, but how can the Government reassure Muslim women that they are serious about tackling Islamophobia when they choose to ignore and shut down the voices of the British Muslims in their own party who are calling for an independent inquiry into institutional Islamophobia? Speaking as a British Muslim, I believe that it is disgraceful and patronising that the Conservative party continues to refuse to act and tells British Muslims in the party that there is not a problem. Will the Minister at least accept that her party has a problem?

Break in Debate

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T7. The Alison Rose review of female entrepreneurship highlights the fact that £250 billion of untapped potential is lost to the sector because it is not taken seriously enough. Does my hon. Friend agree that businesses, especially banks, should be urged to take a much more inclusive approach to female entrepreneurs? [909827]

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:30 a.m.

I am delighted that my hon. Friend has asked this question, as it gives me an opportunity to thank Alison Rose for her review, which tries to ensure that the business landscape is as fair for women as it is for men. It is a shocking fact that women’s average starting capital is 50% less than that of men. I was at a fantastic reception at No. 10 last week, where there was a room full of female entrepreneurs, some of whom were world-leading entrepreneurs. We have fantastically talented, capable and creative female entrepreneurs in this country, and we absolutely must support them. We must ensure that businesses, banks, venture capitalists and angel investors are all doing their bit to help these women.

Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T3. What steps are being taken to ensure that non-disclosure agreements are not used to cover up discrimination and harassment? [909823]

Break in Debate

Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:38 a.m.

What measures could be included in the draft Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure that parental responsibility does not override restraining orders, especially when partners have been convicted of coercive behaviour?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:38 a.m.

My hon. Friend raised a constituency case during the International Women’s Day debate last week, and we want the draft Domestic Abuse Bill to support both the victims of the many forms that such abuse can take and the children who live in abusive households. I urge my hon. Friend to write to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which is scrutinising the Bill, to make her point.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Mar 2019, 10:39 a.m.

As the Minister for Women and Equalities knows, the estimated 18% gender pay gap is likely to grow following Brexit as women in public services and retail are disproportionately affected. Does she accept that the women who voted to leave did not vote to leave themselves worse off and that they deserve a final-say referendum on the exit deal?

Oral Answers to Questions

Victoria Atkins Excerpts
Thursday 7th February 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for International Trade
Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

11. What assessment she has made of the potential effectiveness of provisions in the draft domestic abuse Bill to support women and children who do not have secure immigration status. [909071]

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2019, 10:15 a.m.

The Home Office operates an immigration policy that supports women and children with insecure immigration status. Victims of domestic abuse who entered the UK as the partner of a British citizen, settled person or person with refugee status are eligible to apply for settlement in their own right. Those who are destitute can also apply for crisis support under the destitute domestic violence concession. We are funding a project conducted by Southall Black Sisters to pilot support for women and children who are victims in these circumstances.

Mr Sweeney Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2019, 10:15 a.m.

If the system is so effective, why does the Ubuntu women’s shelter in my constituency have to be the first charity in the UK to provide short-term accommodation for women with no recourse to public funds? Fleeing gender-based and domestic violence, they are denied access to homelessness, social security and housing support. These are non-EEA women with limited leave to remain. Women who have settled status or leave to remain face delays in processing their status. Any situation where women fleeing domestic violence, torture or persecution have no recourse to public funds is unacceptable. Does the Minister agree, and what is she going to do about it?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2019, 10:16 a.m.

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to advise those working in the refuge to help the women he describes in seeking the destitute domestic violence concession. The point of that concession is to provide immediate crisis support to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse, giving them three months’ leave to remain so that they can find new homes and reflect on their situation, and also have access to public funds.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2019, 10:16 a.m.

As the Home Affairs Committee, we have expressed concern that the police, having helped an individual who is a survivor of domestic abuse, are then sharing their details with the Home Office for the purposes of immigration control. This has a chilling effect on the likelihood of reporting abuse. Will the Minister give an assurance that when the domestic abuse Bill has made its way through this place, the only thing that will matter is a woman’s welfare, not their immigration status?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Feb 2019, 10:17 a.m.

In those circumstances, the response of the state is always led by the needs of the victim. We must be careful to recognise that the immigration system operates in and of its own right. That is precisely why we have the destitute domestic violence concession to help women in these desperate circumstances by giving them a three-month break period to seek help and build a future for themselves and for their children, if appropriate.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist -