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Debates
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges (debate)
MPphoto
 

  John Stuart Agnew, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, what is happening here? One is going to discriminate against people because of their gender. By setting a 40% gender-quota target for companies, we are destroying the very nature of a free society based on merit. Companies will face sanctions and may become fearful of hiring a certain type of person, thus increasing the chances of discrimination.

Article 4 says it shall be for the company to prove there has been no breach of the rules. This rips up the justice system in the UK, based around the principle of habeas corpus. Amendment 54 provides for threatening shareholding voters by warning them for non-compliance with the Directive. So, will we see companies re-running elections to their boards until the correct result is achieved, just like the Lisbon Treaty and the poor old Irish voters? Amendment 39 seeks to add the forced dissolution of the company to the list of EU sanctions. This is pretty heavy!

When businesses start suffering penalties or being forced to close because they have one too many male, or one too many female, non-executive directors, they will see that UKIP was the only party that did what it could to stop this. UKIP amendments delete these draconian sanctions, and we have even proposed an opt-out clause. UKIP believes that men and women should be hired on individual merit, not on the basis of gender. You do not fight discrimination with more discrimination. Martin Luther King hoped that his children would be judged on the content of their character, not the colour of their skin. He won equal rights through dialogue and negotiation, not through more discrimination.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8).)

 
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