Louise Mensch: Cameron should create a dedicated Ministry for Equality, which could be led by a gay man
Louise Mensch, the former Conservative, MP has said that David Cameron should create a separate Equalities ministry to look after LGBT issues, women and diversity.
Mrs Mensch resigned as MP for Corby last year in order to spend more time with her family. She told The House Magazine that the role of Minister for Women and Equalities should not be lumped in with another position, as it has been since its creation.
“I would encourage the Prime Minister and the party that one change they really ought to make is to make the Women and Equalities Ministry a separate ministry and not have it folded into anything else,” she said, adding that the post “has been poorly treated and should be taken seriously.”
The former novelist said: “It shouldn’t be an afterthought – it doesn’t say a lot that that ministry is an afterthought.”
The cabinet ranking position of Minister for Women and Equality has always been held by a woman. Previous holders include: Harriet Harman (as both Social Security Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons), Lady Jay (as Leader of the House of Lords), Patricia Hewitt (as Trade and Industry Secretary), Tessa Jowell (as Culture Secretary), Ruth Kelly (as Communities and Local Government Secretary), Theresa May (as Home Secretary) and Maria Miller (as Culture Secretary).
The Government Equalities Office has been shifted between departments each time the Minister for Women and Equality post holder has been moved. A junior minister, usually a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, is known as the ‘Minister for Equalities’. There has been one male holder of this junior title, Michel Foster. One post holder, Meg Munn, who was Ruth Kelly’s junior minister, was an unpaid minister, receiving only her salary as an MP.
Mrs Mensch said: “The Women and Equalities portfolio was done previously by the Home Secretary but of course she was the Home Secretary. There should be a separate minister for women and equalities. By the way, it doesn’t have to be a woman, but it probably should be someone from some group that has experienced discrimination, whether that be lesbian, gay and transsexual, ethnic minorities, or a woman. I think that would make more sense, but that portfolio ought to be separate and that minister ought to be separate.”