Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 30th November 2022.
If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is key to the advancement of equality in this country, which is why we welcome the United Nations’ recent reaccreditation of it as an “A status” national human rights institution. To support Baroness Falkner and her board, I will shortly appoint new commissioners and deputy chairs to the commission. The new commissioners will bring complementary expertise and experience to support the Equality and Human Rights Commission in upholding and advancing equality and human rights across the United Kingdom.
Early in the covid pandemic, the Welsh Government commissioned a study that showed how health inequalities affected people from black and ethnic minorities far worse, not just for any supposed medical reasons but for many social reasons. What will the Minister do to try to put right the situation where social inequalities lead to health inequalities in the black and ethnic minority population?
The hon. Lady may not be aware of the extensive, 18-month piece of work that I produced on covid disparities. Some of the things that she mentioned were picked up in that report and the recommendations. One was about the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and that work is ongoing. That body will look at many of the issues that she raised.
The Government’s research demonstrates a clear link between viewing violent pornography and violence against women and girls. More and more online pornography depicts gratuitous violence against women and 50% of 12-year-olds have seen it. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the current and future impact of online pornography on the safety of women and girls, and does she think that the Online Safety Bill goes far enough to prevent children from seeing it?
My hon. Friend raises an extremely important point, and I agree with her. Protecting women and girls and preventing children from accessing harmful content, such as online pornography, is a priority for the Government. The Online Safety Bill will introduce new protections for women and girls online. Under the Bill, all services will need to proactively remove and prevent users from being exposed to priority illegal content. That includes the appalling illegal content that affects women and girls, such as revenge and extreme pornography.
Qatar’s record on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights and the treatment of migrant workers means that it should never have been awarded the World cup. Although FIFA’s capitulation over the One Love armband has been shameful, the least that our LGBT+ fans could expect from our Government is advice and support when travelling to matches, yet there is no advice from the Foreign Office or the Government Equalities Office for LGBT+ fans, nor—
Order. These are topical questions—I call the Minister.
Qatar has repeatedly committed that everybody is welcome at the tournament. As colleagues are aware, the Minister with responsibility for sports and equalities—my right hon. Friend Stuart Andrew—is in Qatar, and I fully respect his decision to wear the One Love armband.
When performing my physics research during my studies more than 20 years ago, I was fortunate that my supervisor was an incredible female professor, Sue Bayliss. The impact that she had on me and the work that she did has encouraged me to support science, technology, engineering and maths for girls in all areas. Will my right hon. Friend confirm what steps the Government are taking to promote STEM in education and as a career pathway for girls so that, one day, many more millions can inspire people like me?
I thank my hon. Friend for all his work in this space. I reassure him that, to increase the uptake of STEM education by women and girls, we are funding programmes such as the advanced mathematics support programme, the advanced maths premium, the stimulating physics network and the inclusion in schools programme. We have seen a 50% increase in the number of women taking higher education STEM courses since 2011.
In this cost of living crisis, will the Government commit to an emergency domestic abuse fund——so that all survivors can access help with fleeing an abuser and no one is left choosing between ongoing abuse and violence, or poverty and hunger?
I thank the hon. Lady for her question. We have set out the multiple ways in which we are supporting vulnerable people. I am afraid I did not get all of her question, but if she wants to write to me or a Treasury Minister about a more specific issue, we can look into it in more detail.
Will the Minister update the House on what the Government are doing to support women starting up small businesses?
I thank my hon. Friend for her work in this area. It is crucial that we get more women starting up their own businesses. We anticipate that that would bring in £250 billion to the UK economy. The taskforce that we asked Anne Boden to lead will make recommendations to Government in the new year. We know that venture capital is a huge problem stopping women starting a new business: for every pound of venture capital given to a new business, only a penny goes to women, whereas 89p goes to men.
The Equality Act 2010 does not have the legal teeth needed for enforcement of the law. The responsibility falls entirely on the individuals who have been discriminated against to pursue legal redress. Will the Minister meet the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to discuss its Open Doors campaign and stop the shame whereby nearly three quarters of guide dog owners have reported an access refusal in the past 12 months?
I would be absolutely delighted to meet Guide Dogs to talk about the campaign. It is an important stakeholder in the disability sector, and we will make sure that that meeting happens.
My right hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equalities will have seen in the news today that between 400 and 500 migrant workers were killed building the stadia in Qatar. Does that not make FIFA’s decision to choose Qatar as a location even more ridiculous? Will she join me in condemning FIFA for the way it has kowtowed to the Government of Qatar in relation to their anti-LGBT bullying?
My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. Ministers and senior officials have raised the concerns of LGBT visitors with Qatari authorities at all levels and will continue to engage on the issue during the World cup. In fact, the Minister for Equalities, my right hon. Friend Stuart Andrew, is out there supporting LGBT people and continuing the engagement to ensure that they are protected.
The number of black and ethnic minority students is proportionately higher in further education colleges, but the number of black and ethnic minority lecturers is small and the number of black and ethnic minority college leaders is tiny. What are the Government doing to address that?
The hon. Gentleman asks an excellent question. This is one of the issues that we looked at in our Inclusive Britain strategy. The Department for Education and the Government Equalities Office are working to ensure that we get the right proportion and representation of people in the education sector. He is right that there is under-representation; we need to look at ways within the Equality Act, such as positive action, to address that and ensure balance.
Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on parliamentlive.tv.