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Orders of the Day — Sex Discrimination Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:31 pm on 22nd May 1986.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Weetch Mr Kenneth Weetch , Ipswich 7:31 pm, 22nd May 1986

The hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) must take a narrow view of people's interests. There is no reason why people in one occupation cannot have sympathy for people in another. That is a sympathetic view of life, but obviously the hon. Gentleman does not hold such a view. It is commendable that people who work in the public sector have some thought for people who work in more difficult industries in which people have to labour for long hours and low pay. There ought to be more sympathetic consideration between occupational groups.

We must be careful before we play fast and loose with the legislative protection that women have at work. Factory legislation has taken a long time to accumulate and immense efforts by all sorts of social groups and the trade union movement have gone into it. I am doubtful about the basic proposition advanced by the Government. I note the argument used by Lord Young in the other place and it brings me to my second point. I shall paraphrase what the noble Lord said: This Bill will mean that women will have access to often higher paid nightwork, shift jobs and better promotion prospects. All these things may widen women's job marketability, and make them available for a wider range of work. I will believe that when I see it.