Presidents Club dinner firms 'should publish gender pay gap data'

Businesses that had representatives at the Presidents Club charity dinner should publish gender pay gap data "by the end of this week", Education Minister Anne Milton has said.

The call came as MPs lined up to condemn the behaviour at the male-only Dorchester gala last Thursday.

Former education secretary Justine Greening told the Commons that she shared the "anger and disgust" of colleagues and called for data to be published.

She said: "The best thing we could all do is make sure every single one of those business people at that dinner who runs a big business in our country can now damn well get their gender pay gap data published."

Ms Milton said: "Every single business, every single organisation, who attended that dinner should report at least by the end of this week."

Labour's Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) called on children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi to resign if he did not report his concerns and had attended the event on previous occasions.

Ms Milton said he "found the event extremely uncomfortable" and left early.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner called for an investigation into Mr Zahawi's attendance, asking whether it was time his department "started leading by example".

Labour's Jess Phillips, who asked an urgent question on the matter in the Commons, said: "What happened is that women were bought as bait for men who were rich men, not a mile from where we stand, as if that is an acceptable behaviour - it is totally unacceptable."

The SNP's Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) asked about the reported auctioned lunch with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

She said: "Has she spoken to the Foreign Secretary, does she know if this lunch is still going ahead and what message does she think it sends out to the world that our Foreign Secretary endorses such an event?"

Ms Milton replied: "Can I be absolutely clear that I do know that the Foreign Secretary knew nothing of his inclusion in any auction, and in no way endorsed the event."

Tory MP Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) reserved criticism for the women involved in organising the event, accusing them of having "groomed and pimped" young women.

She said: "Does she also share my disgust for the women who put themselves in a position of leadership and groomed and pimped the young ladies involved and agree that their actions also are abhorrent?"

Ms Milton responded: "This doesn't really fall very much short of payment for sex in my view and it is really shocking that it is probably other women that are encouraging these women into these sort of jobs."

Former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper told MPs of the disclaimer issued by the Presidents Club ahead of the event that they would "accept no responsibility" for the actions of staff, members and guests.

She said: "The fact that they try to put that disclaimer in the first place shows how shocking it is.
"They are trying to disclaim any responsibly for what happens, the organiser chose to make this a men-only event, they chose to treat hostesses in this way to make them parade across the stage in front of men, to make them wear black skimpy outfits and specify the colour of their underwear.

"They chose to ask them to drink before the event, does she agree all the organisers including the Presidents Club and all of the private companies involved in organising this should be investigated for breach of the law and breach of the charity rules?"

Ms Milton said: "If they are trying in their literature to deny responsibility they will wake up, maybe at the end of this urgent question and realise actually they now do have some responsibility."