The Queen’s Speech

December 4, 2008 at 11:56 am / by

Thank you for the kind emails, texts and The Wire box set! I’m feeling much better today and I even managed to attend a meeting at Beckford Primary School where I am a School Governor. I’m proud to say that Beckford ranked very highly in the Ofsted Report in Camden and I’m looking forward to spending more time at the school next year.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I am Women’s Officer for London Young Labour.

I’ve received a few emails today from LYL members about the significance of The Queen’s Speech for women. (If you are interested in finding out more about LYL women’s activities, please join my Facebook group ‘Women of London Young Labour’ or contact me here.)

In my opinion, the introduction of flexible working hours is extremely important. I’m delighted that from April next year, all parents with children aged 16 and under will be allowed to request flexible working. Currently parents can ask for flexible hours if their children are under six, or are disabled.

Flexible working can include working from home, working part-time, compressed hours and flexi-time. This will be crucial for women like my mother who struggle with work and family life.

However, I’m not impressed with the lack of attention to the gender pay gap which actually widened last year. According to the Fawcett Society, the new transparency rules will exempt 70% of the private sector.

The Fawcett website states –

The equality bill was the perfect opportunity to introduce legislation to close the pay gap, but unfortunately this opportunity has been wasted. While new transparency rules will require public bodies to publish information about gender pay gaps, they won’t apply to 70% of the private sector.

Mandatory pay audits for ALL organisations are what’s required to tackle this inequality: Fawcett will continue to lobby Government for legislation that puts an end to the pay gap.

Ms Harman – I had an interesting discussion about this with you at Conference and I reiterate, we urgently need legislation that stops pay inequality in every sector.

Anyway, I am hoping to go to Bangladesh to work on the elections later this month. I will blog about this tomorrow so please come back!




  1. Legislating pay discrimination out of existence can be difficult– if not impossible. Most of the time, I would venture, the discriminating party doesn’t realize it’s gender/race bias which is causing their negative feelings against the individual.

    More insidiously, certain professions are “gender coded”, and those which are coded “female” tend to be paid less than those coded male. Example Heads of HR (CHROs) tend to get paid less than anyone else at the corporate table– heads of HR tend to be female. Is this discrimination in action? Yes. But if asked to fix it the CEO can rightly point out that they’re paying their CHRO standard rates.

    Don’t get me wrong! We should try to fix this problem. I’m simply pointing out that solutions won’t be simple…

  2. Kentish Towner says:

    Yeah…and Primrose Hill Primary School (which I am a guvna) is the best in Camden…go tell Ofsted…