Women into Business and Enterprise Initiative

Women and Equality – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods PPS (Rt Hon Des Browne, Secretary of State), Ministry of Defence 10:30 am, 8th May 2008

What discussions she has had with regional development agencies on their support for the women into business and enterprise initiative.

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Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office

The regional development agencies have a vital role in tackling inequalities, as I know as Minister for the East of England, including delivery of the Government's new package of support for women that was outlined in the enterprise strategy. That is why the Minister for Women and Equality wrote to the RDA chairs on 1 May to ask about the progress that they had made on this vital agenda.

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Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods PPS (Rt Hon Des Browne, Secretary of State), Ministry of Defence

I thank my hon. Friend for her response. Does she agree that support networks, such as Women Into the Network, which is hosted by the business school of Durham university in my constituency, have a vital role to play alongside the excellent initiatives that the regional development agency, One NorthEast, undertakes in unlocking women's business skills? Does she also agree that that is necessary if we are to continue to grow entrepreneurship in the north-east and exceed current trends?

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Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office

We women came to networking rather late. We are doing it now in politics and business as fast as we can. I am pleased with the work that Durham business school has done and the partnership that it has forged with the RDA, One NorthEast. The latter has funded Durham business school's networking initiative and, with Business Link North East, helps to sponsor its annual awards. That is the way forward for women—getting together, mentoring and helping each other as far as we can.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

How many chairmen of regional development agencies are women? How does that reflect on the equality agenda?

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Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Government Equalities Office

All RDA chairs are charged with taking forward equalities. However, I am sorry to say that I do not know the answer to the hon. Lady's question. I will have to write to her.

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