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Gender-based Pricing (Prohibition) Act 2019
#1
Jo Swinson, Minister for Women and Equalities 

Mr Speaker, I beg leave to present the Gender-based Pricing (Prohibition) Bill 2019 ((credit to Amelia for the text)). 

The purpose of this legislation is simple: to prevent the unjustified markup of products and services based only on the grounds that they are marketed to a particular gender. Markets should not perpetuate inequalities. They should work for all. Businesses know, and should be trusted, with how to set the price of products to cover costs and allow room for growth, but unjustified price discrimination of this sort cannot be allowed to stand. Gender discrimination is not a valid marketing strategy, it is not a valid pricing strategy, and it cannot be treated as such. 

There are well-documented cases, and much evidence of, the “pink tax” resulting in women paying higher prices than men for what is essentially the same product, with essentially the same production and distribution costs, trying to draw higher profit margins from women and girls. Often the only change in a product is its colour - and how it is branded, marketed and sold. Men and women will find themselves paying different rates for the same basic products - most frequently products such as razors and deodorants, but also services, and products such as pens, walking sticks, and school backpacks.

This, coupled with the still lingering and still unconscionable existence of the gender pay gap, and the overall repercussion of this is clear: women are earning less yet paying more. This is the truth throughout the working life of many women, and it cannot be doubted that this unjustifiable double whammy of lower pay and higher prices contributes to economic precariousness, loss of opportunity and substantial financial disadvantages over a lifetime. It contributes to a loss of purchasing power. 

A 2012 report by Development Economics, on behalf of Aviva insurance, found, on average, that for the same basic bundle of everyday consumer goods and services, a woman could expect to pay £200 more than a man. A 2016 investigation by The Times found that on average women were charged an extra 37% more for clothes, toys and cosmetics. In the same year, one retailer attracted controversy for charging £2.29 for an eight pack of women’s razors while charging only £1.49 for a ten-pack of men’s razors. Campaigners agree, Mr Speaker, that this problem is one that is not going away - and that it needs government action to solve. 

Mr Speaker, to predict a potential objection - this bill will not affect products or services that do actually vary in cost based on gender. If a product or service targeted at a different gender does cost more, for example if it is more labour intensive or materials are more expensive, then of course that should be accounted for. This bill does not cover those pricing differentials. 

What we are targeting, instead, is those differential pricing strategies that treat different products differently for no reason other than the target gender. A product sold to both men and women that is identical in cost to produce should not be charged at a different price. That is discrimination, pure and simple. There is no intrinsic economic justification for this. There is no reason why we should look at this state of affairs and accept it as being inevitable, as business as usual, as something that we cannot, with a small update to existing legislation, take concrete action to fix. That is why I urge the House to support this legislation, and I commend this legislation to the House.
Grant Smith
Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West (2005-present)

Media Unknown, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser, Fundraiser Extraordinaire 
Previously: Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon; Graham Adiputera; I think I played some dull Labour bloke at one point
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#2
Mr Speaker, I beg leave to move that this bill be read a second time.
Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Prime Minister (June 2019-)
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
Traits: Fundraising Extraordionare, Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Constituency Pariah
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#3
ORDER!

Second reading!
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#4
Mr Speaker,

this bill unnecessarily limits the freedoms of manufacturers and sellers as well as the general public. If there indeed is unjustified pricing of any sort, it is nothing easier than simply not to buy these items that fall under the perceived "pink tax". It is beyond me why the government should make this kind of decisions in this area and I see it as a potentially very dangerous precedent.
John Lamarr MP
Member of Parliament for Christchurch
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport & Infrastructure
(media darling / campaigning guru / maverick)
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#5
Mr Speaker,

It baffles me that with all the issues in the World right now the Government have chosen to focus on this one and present a flimsy two-line bill to try and solve it. Mr Speaker women do not need platitudes nor do they need the appearance of a government on their side while doing the bare minimum, they need action. The Liberal Democrats have, for years, tacitly approved of the Tampon Tax because they would rather see us remain in the European Union and the European Union insists on us keeping female sexual and reproductive health products subject to a 20% rate of VAT, why is the Government not tackling this injustice first? Instead Mr Speaker they would put this legislation to the House. Mr Speaker as a former lawyer allow me to say how ridiculous this legislation is. The Honourable Member for Christchurch was short in his remarks but he does raise a valid point, if women thought that women's razors were in effect the same as men's razors with a markup price they would buy men's razors and pocket the savings. In other words the razor manufacturers have an in-built reason to argue that there is no price discrimination in their products in this area.

Mr Speaker this legislation suffers in many respects, it is a blatant attempt by the Liberal Democrats to prove that this time they are achieving something in Government, it is a blatant attempt to virtue signal to women whilst taking a shortcut path that doesn't actually fix the real issues affecting the fairer sex, just gives off the appearance that it does. Mr Speaker I urge the Government to stop attempting to score a quick and easy press win and to start trying to actually win for women, beginning with the European Union's grossly unfair Tampon Tax.
The Hon Dylan Macmillan MP
North East Bedfordshire 2015 - Present

Chancellor of the Exchequer: 2020 - Present

Chair of the Justice Select Committee: 2019 - 2020
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#6
Mr.Speaker,

Unlike many of my colleagues in this side of the House, I am not concerned about "dangerous precedence" set by demanding fairness and consumer protection. It is a government's duty to protect their citizens from such distorted decisions led by greed and I believe the ideal here is one that we can agree as the Brexit Party. Now, Mr.Speaker, unfortunately we do have concerns of our own. How does this legislation ensures that fixing this unfairness by punching up and not punching down. Mr.Speaker, it is our concern that the gap between prices will be closed by increasing the prices on products targeted to men and not by a reduction in prices on products targeted to women. I want to know how does the government intend to address this issue. Forcing prices go up for men in order to make things "equal and fair" is neither fair nor a valid approach. If the government has a solid solution for this problem, we have no problem backing this proposal but Mr.Speaker, if they do not we do believe the government should go back to drawing board and find a solution that addresses this problem at hand in a way that does not create problems and price hikes.
Brigitte Allard MP
Member for Stoke on Trent North
Leader of the Brexit Party

Media Darling/Fundraising Extraordinaire/Maverick/Constituency Darling(awarded by admins)
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#7
Mr Speaker,

I rise in support of this important piece of legislation to tackle the scandal of gender pricing. The Honourable Member for North East Bedfordshire might be surprised that we are taking action on this “with all the issues in the world right now”, but this is a clear sign that this Government can take more than one step to improve our economy and society, and be able to deal with more than one issue. I appreciate it might be a novel approach after the last two Conservative Governments struggled to deal with anything other than Brexit, but there we are.

As the Minister for Women and Equalities powerfully sets out, companies’ use of gender discrimination to pad out their profit margins is unfair and unjust. Combined with the gender pay gap, women across the country are paying more but being paid less – a significant financial disadvantage which hurts our economy. 

This legislation is not about setting a precise price for certain products. It is about setting the rules of engagement between companies and consumers in the market. No longer will companies be able to charge different prices for the same product, purely because they are advertised to different genders. The Member for North East Bedfordshire may be suggesting that because we are not yet taking every action, we should not take this action on tackling blatant inequality in our markets. I disagree.

There is no dangerous precedent being set here. Governments of all political stripes have sought to intervene in the market to “limit the freedoms of manufacturers and sellers”. They have done so to prevent manufacturers and sellers from exploiting consumers or using unfair trading practices. We can go all the way back to the Sale of Goods Act 1893 when William Gladstone was Prime Minister to legislation that defined the rights and duties of the parties involved in the sale of goods. All this Government is doing is updating our legislation as the unfair practices of companies change.

Indeed, this legislation amends the Consumer Protection from Unfair Regulations 2008 which “introduce[d] a general prohibition on traders in all sectors engaging in unfair commercial (mainly marketing and selling) practices against consumers” and “put in place a comprehensive framework for dealing with sharp practices and rogue traders who deliberately set out to exploit loopholes in existing legislation”. We are dealing with this loophole that leads to, as the Minister for Women and Equalities rightly points out, to women paying, on average, £200 more than a man for the same basket of goods. It will state clearly that effective price gouging based on gender is unacceptable and illegal and will be tackled.

And yes, Mr Speaker, this legislation will reduce the ‘freedom’ of the general public or women as the Member for Christchurch points out. But as a woman, I am glad not to have the freedom to pay more than he does for the same products. But I am glad to tell the Honourable Gentleman that this legislation will expand freedom: the freedom to pay the same prices for the same product instead. I would much rather have that, and so would millions of women.

I encourage Members opposite to reconsider their opposition to this legislation and their opposition to taking action. It is time to remove this sexist profit motive, and ensure that everyone pays the same for the same products.
Amelia Lockhart
Labour
MP for Hull North (2001 - )
Secretary of State for Economic Security and Local Growth (2020 - )

Traits: media darling, backbench favourite, finite resources 
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#8
Mr Speaker,


I think it is fair to say that with this legislation, the government’s heart is in the right place, but they have missed the mark entirely with this legislation which is an unnecessary measure which takes away agency from women, choice from consumers and fails to tackle real and pressing issues that are facing women today. 


Firstly, Mr Speaker, let me say first that I am a firm believer in egalitarianism. I see no reason why I as a woman, and the Minister for Women and Equalities also as a woman, should be disadvantaged in any way over a man. But, the facts here are simple: in this case, we aren’t. Whilst a product may be targeted towards women, it’s not a compulsion to buy it. There is nothing to stop me, the Right Honourable lady, or indeed any woman the length and breadth of the land going into their local supermarket and buying a pack of men’s razors. People would not buy these products if there wasn’t a demand for them, and for many people, they would rather pay extra for a product targeted towards their sex. Whether that is right or wrong, Mr Speaker, is not for us to say. Indeed, for us to say that that is wrong is to cast doubt on the agency of every woman in this country. As my honourable friends, the members for North East Bedfordshire and Christchurch have stated, if women really wanted to save money, they would instead buy men’s razors. And whilst the claims that for the vast majority of these products, the difference between male and female brands is price and packaging alone, I say what does it matter? I cannot help but feel that this attitude betrays a slightly patronising point of view that this government and the parties that make it up generally share. I cannot help but feel patronised by being told, Mr Speaker, that I am being taken advantage of by companies. I cannot help but feel patronised by the insinuation that I am being fleeced by corporations, or that I am being forced into paying anything extra. And I cannot help but feel disappointed that, when given the opportunity to make change for women, and for everyone in this country, that this government squanders precious time on passing legislation that will have a marginal impact. Indeed, as the member for Stoke-on-Trent North pointed out, any impact that this has will be negative. Far from levelling the playing field, it could create a situation in which the prices of products on the whole rise: that’s bad for women, bad for men, indeed bad for every consumer in this country. For that reason, whilst I agree that progress has still to be made in the fight for women’s equality, this is not the hill for this government to die on, and this is not a bill worth passing.



I have another point to add Mr Speaker: this legislation sends virtue signals only, and does nothing to solve real problems that this government should be taking action on. As the member for North East Bedfordshire has already touched upon, this government finds itself in the position that no government has found itself in ever before: to use the opportunities presented to us by leaving the EU to scrap the injustice of the tampon tax once and for all. VAT on tampons and other women's sanitary products currently sits at 5%, as it has done since it was lowered to that in 2000. EU law currently prevents us from setting a zero rate on VAT, meaning that if these rules are not changed and we remain in the EU, we will not be able to fully eliminate the tampon tax. Indeed, depending on the deal that this government gets with the EU, we may still indeed be bound to these rules, a situation I hope this government takes steps to avoid. And this is a problem which affects young women disproportionately. A survey taken by Plan International UK uncovered that one in ten women aged between fourteen and twenty one cannot afford to buy these basic sanitary essentials. That is a disgrace. These aren’t pens or children’s bags: these are essential products. I cannot endorse this waste of an act that solves nothing when schoolchildren are forced to use socks as sanitary products and the most vulnerable in our society are stripped of basic dignity in one of the richest countries in the world. This government is in the position to commit to leaving the EU on terms that can eliminate the VAT on tampons, and perhaps follow in the path of the Scottish government in making these products free for those who need them the most. I have therefore, Mr Speaker, to ask the Right Honourable lady one thing: will she do it?
Julia Goldman
Shadow Secretary of State for Scoltand
Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Growth
Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Member of Parliament for Dumfries and Galloway (2019 - present)
Scottish Conservative and Unionist

Media Darling/Campaigning Guru/Socially Unaware
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#9
Mr. Speaker,
The bill before us is one I'm scratching my head at just a bit. I understand the language in it, but I am not certain how the bill will sort out the question of substantial distances. For example, let us take shampoo. Does the addition of sort of scenting to the shampoo or some marginal alteration to the functionality count? If so, then what is likely to happen is a limited bifurcation in the marketplace. If not, then such differences...which may, in fact, be preferred by consumers...are likely to vanish.

Please don't get me wrong...if the question is strictly one of the color of the packaging then requiring equivalent pricing makes sense. But I know there are many cases where it is not just the "marketing" but some aspect of the product that differs.
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#10
Mr.Speaker,

Scented shampoos exists for men, I mean I offer the Shadow Transportation Secretary to go to any supermarket and try to smell a few shampoos for men. There are also different shampoos targeted to men with additional functions such as anti dandruff shampoos and more. As the real opposition that is offering real scrutiny we are asking the government to answer this, how do they intend to prevent increases in pricing on products targeted to men instead of reduction in prices in products targeted to women
Brigitte Allard MP
Member for Stoke on Trent North
Leader of the Brexit Party

Media Darling/Fundraising Extraordinaire/Maverick/Constituency Darling(awarded by admins)
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