As the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) said, the new clause is essentially the same as the one that we discussed in Committee. The only real difference is that the change would apply from 1990–91 instead of 1991–92.
I said in the debate in Committee that the difference in the treatment of men and women was an anomaly and that I would give further consideration to this important issue. As the hon. Gentleman said, I have written to him on the matter. I am not certain whether the new clause was tabled before or after he received the letter. I said in my letter and I repeat now that the Government want to look at the issue thoroughly and carefully and that it is not possible to review the matter properly in time to reach a decision before this Report stage. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman, as I assured him in my letter, and I assure the House that we take the issue seriously. It needs to be tackled and tackled thoroughly.