Gender Discrimination/Sexual Harassment: 16th December 2013

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab)
21. What research his Department has commissioned since 2010 on gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the military. [901499]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Anna Soubry)
As an equal opportunities employer, the armed forces are committed to a working environment free from harassment and discrimination. Substantial progress has been made since the 2006 Equal Opportunities Commission report on sexual harassment in the military and, as I am sure the hon. Lady knows, the 2009 Watts Andrews report into equality and diversity in the Army was published last week. The UK has the first female two-star military officer, Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West. Since her appointment, a second female RAF two-star appointment has been made. The short answer to the hon. Lady’s question is no, but it is obviously a serious subject that we take seriously.

Mrs Moon
As the Minister will be aware, the numerous surveys that have been carried out among female members of the armed forces show that on a daily basis they experience sexual harassment and gender harassment. What steps will she take to ensure that we drive out this pernicious underestimation of the capability of female ​members of the armed forces and put in place the equality regime that our military should be operating to?

Anna Soubry
It is a serious subject, and certainly one that I take seriously. The armed forces continuous attitudes survey for this year indicated that 10% of personnel believe that they have been the subject of discrimination, harassment or bullying in a service environment in the past 12 months, which unfortunately is 2% higher than in 2012. It is a serious matter, and one that I will always be happy to discuss with the hon. Lady.

Mr Speaker
Roger Williams—not here.