Thursday, January 27, 2005

Women's questions and Labour spin

The usual tokenistic ten minutes. Strictly speaking there are only about half a dozen questions that you can legitimately ask but there was a question about care home wages which overlapped nicely with my "older people" work. We had dug up some figures showing huge numbers of people earning as little as £5 an hour so was stunned when the Minister (in response to initial question) said that "median wage was £8.25 an hour". It almost sounds like a reasonable wage when put like that.
I don't think that the Minister was expecting anyone to remember their basic maths lessons (median, mode and average can all be very different figures) but try explaining that to the house and getting your question in before the Speaker pulls you up for an overlong question. Had to settle for challenging the figures and settling up for ministerial fudge as reply.
Then up stood Patricia Hewitt and she announced that the pay gap was 14.5%. Funny that because the accepted figure is 18% and earlier this week she was at a conference where that seemed to be the case.

As soon as I was back in the office I tabled some questions so that I could establish the source for these rather spurious claims.