Women's Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:19 am on 10th June 1988.

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Photo of Ms Jo Richardson Ms Jo Richardson , Barking 10:19 am, 10th June 1988

My hon. Friend, in referring to the borough which she represents, has illustrated what could be done nationwide if the Minister took up my suggestion of an interdepartmental committee. I hope that she will tell us later whether she is intending to take it up.

Labour's agenda for women's health—it has been set out in one of the best documents that the Labour party has ever produced—has been set by women. It was founded on women's own experience and it built on the ideas and the health projects that women have developed for themselves. Together with our proposal for a ministry for women, the agenda will provide the powerful Government machinery that is needed to ensure that every Government Department is included—for example, the Departments of the Environment and Employment, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Departments of Energy and Education and Science, the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Security. All those Departments should be monitored. A women's ministry and a health Department under a Labour Government will jointly ensure that the social and economic causes of women's ill health are tackled on every front.

If ever there is justification for the concept of a women's ministry, it rests with the problems of women's health and the necessity for monitoring what is happening in every Department. There must be a central strategy for women's health, and that is what the Government do not have. We would ensure under a Labour Government that all women had the same opportunities to make genuine and realisable choices about their own health and the health of their families and communities. That includes private and community health care. We would work together in teams and in partnership to ensure that there is real choice and the best of health for all. That, in our view, is the way forward. That is the only real hope for the future that women have for themselves and for their families.