UK Politics

Men's rights MP Philip Davies: Gender must be irrelevant

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Media captionPhilip Davies: 'I believe in equality where gender should be irrelevant'

A critic of "zealous" feminism who has been elected to the Commons Women and Equalities Committee has said he will work to make gender "irrelevant".

Conservative MP Philip Davies told the BBC that men should not "be excluded from having their views" heard.

He was elected to the committee in a ballot of party colleagues.

But Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said there should be a "proper hearing" before the MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, can take his place.

Asked on BBC Two's Daily Politics about his nomination, Mr Davies said: "The committee's there whether I like it or not, so if I can bring some common sense to the committee that's surely a good thing.

"Just in the same way that UKIP used to take their seats in the EU Parliament - not because they were fans of the EU Parliament or everything that it represented, but because they hoped to hold it to account."

He added: "I'd prefer if it was just called the equalities committee. I don't see why it needs to be called the women and equalities committee. You can still look at women's issues on a committee that's just called equalities.

"But it seems to indicate that there are no issues for men and clearly there are issues where men suffer."

Image caption Caroline Lucas said women had a "long way to go" in business and politics

Speaking on the same programme, Ms Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and co-leader of the Green Party, said: "I hope the time he spends on the committee will be an opportunity for him to understand a bit more about entrenched sexism in our society. This is an MP who has been saying that this committee shouldn't even exist, and yet he's now looking to take his position on it.

"We need MPs on that committee who recognise, for example, the level of the gender pay gap, who recognise the disproportionate violence against women, who recognise that there's still a very long way to go in business, politics and just about every sphere of life."

She called for a "concerted effort to support women".

Mr Davies, who has been in Parliament since 2005, agreed there were "massive issues that affect women", including "a gender pay gap".

But he added: "There's also a part-time gender pay gap, where women are paid more than men. Yes, many women, two-thirds of victims of domestic violence, are women. But one-third of victims are men.

"Of course there are issues that affect women and they should be tackled on the committee. But equally there are issues that affect men and I don't see why they should be excluded from having their views on what is supposed to be an equalities committee.

"I believe in equality where gender should be irrelevant and that's what I want to try and bring to the committee."

Mr Davies's nomination provoked a debate on Twitter with former Conservative MP Louise Mensch among those to welcome it but others questioning why men are even allowed to be on the committee.

It already has two male members - Conservative Ben Howlett and Labour's Gavin Shuker.

The committee, set up last year, examines the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government Equalities Office and the government's wider record on equalities issues.

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