12 August 2008 | Jake Kanter
The Conservative party has criticised Labour for not sending a "clear message" on proposals to increase pay transparency through public procurement.
In June, Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, announced she planned to overhaul public purchasing in a bid to improve pay transparency and expose gender pay gaps. The Equality Bill would outlaw salary secrecy clauses in public contracts and make it unlawful to stop staff working for government suppliers discussing their pay (Web news, 26 June 2008).
But according to media reports, chancellor Alistair Darling is allegedly resisting pressure to change procurement rules. A source told the Financial Times the Treasury does not want to increase regulatory burdens and cost for firms or discourage small firms by giving them more to do.
A spokesman for the Treasury denied any disagreement. "The Treasury is committed to cross-government work to tackle inequalities and is working constructively with a range of other departments, including the Government Equalities Office, to ensure we achieve this goal."
But shadow equality minister Theresa May said: "The government's equalities agenda has been beset by delay and indecision. By sending out a mixed message on public procurement, Harman and Darling have proved yet again the government is incapable of making a decision."