Women’s Vote Centenary Fund

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd February 2018.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 12:00 am, 22nd February 2018

How much of the centenary fund to celebrate women having the right to vote has been spent; and how much of that funding has been distributed to women's organisations.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Labour, Portsmouth South

How much of the centenary fund to celebrate women having the right to vote has been spent; and how much of that funding has been distributed to women’s organisations.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

The centenary fund has paid out about £2.5 million so far; £1.2 million was given to Bolton, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham, which are working with women’s organisations to deliver their suffrage centenary programmes. We are also funding the first ever statue of a women in Parliament Square—it will be of Millicent Fawcett.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

I thank the Minister for her answer. She will know that the Sheffield Female Political Association, founded in February 1851, was the first women’s suffrage organisation in the UK. Will she therefore join me in supporting the bid prepared by women across the voluntary, arts and education sectors to the fund? Will she wish them well in their ambition to use the centenary to encourage opportunities for civic engagement by women who feel disengaged and disempowered?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I am delighted to congratulate him and to welcome the women of Sheffield in their bid to the centenary fund. I hope it will do exactly as he says: encourage more women to engage in political life in general.

Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Labour, Portsmouth South

Will the Minister confirm what level of support the Government or their contracted company are providing to smaller women’s groups to encourage them to take up this funding?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

Yes, I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman that we have a website that will set all that out. If he wants to go on it himself, it is womensvotecentenaryfund.co.uk . The bidding process is set out there. Two types of grants are available. The larger one is up to £125,000 and the smaller one starts at £2,000. I hope that will give him and his constituents the information they need to apply for the grants.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Are we not in danger of rather missing the point that the best way to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage is to get more women to register and actually to vote when elections turn up?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women and Equalities

My hon. Friend is right, in that it is imperative that more women participate in political life, both by voting and by participating in this place. I think we can do both things: we can celebrate the centenary and, in our celebrations, make that point repeatedly so that we get more women involved.