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Orders of the Day — Sex Discrimination Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:35 pm on 22nd May 1986.

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Photo of Ms Jo Richardson Ms Jo Richardson , Barking 6:35 pm, 22nd May 1986

There has been a substantial reaction to the Bill from the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Trades Union Congress, the National Council for Civil Liberties and other organisations. Those who followed its passage through the other place warmly welcomed the inclusion of clause 3. We believe that the delay for which it provides will ensure that employers have guidelines to follow. Perhaps "horror" was too exaggerated a word, but it leapt to my lips because I was stunned by the announcement. Nevertheless, I am dismayed that the clause is to be deleted and that the curbing mechanism that is provided for in clause 3 will not be there to provide help for women in many organisations.

Clause 4 repeals important terms and conditions that provide protection for women workers. That is the key to the Government's true purpose in introducing the Bill. The existing legislation guarantees meals and rest breaks, annual holidays and Sundays off. It prevents unreasonable periods of continuous employment and overtime and places healthy restrictions on the hours that are worked by women and on the amount of night work that they may do. I underline the word "healthy".