Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 29th March 1999.

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Photo of Ms Oona King Ms Oona King Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow 6:50 pm, 29th March 1999

You are absolutely right, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Hon. Gentlemen just said that they would deny that there was discrimination against women, yet there are now just two women Members sitting on the Opposition Benches. That defies credibility and contravenes the facts.

I believe that there is institutional sexism. However, I also believe that all Members on both sides of the House are not individually guilty of being sexist. I do not believe that Conservative Members, for example, get up each morning and say, "Today we are going to deny women the right to be represented in Parliament." Of course they do not. That would be an absurd proposition.

What the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings is saying is that we cannot apportion the guilt where it lies—in the institution, rather than in the individual.