Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tessa and Sue and women Permanent Secretaries

Sue Street, the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Culture Media and Sport has resigned. She has issued a statement denying that the resignation follows rows with her Secretary of State Tessa Jowell, who ought to have reported to Street the £350,000 "gift" from Berlusconi to her husband, David Mills (Jowell, of course, rather implausibly claims she knew nothing about the "gift"). I understand bloggers can be sued for libel, but (although I have not had recourse to a lawyer) I think I'm safe if I say I am just a tad sceptical. Is it posssible that Street does not believe that Tesssa knew nothing about the bung/ "gift" and is miffed at being decieved? If so, join the club Sue. Tessa Jowell is a clear beneficiary of the loans-for-peerages-and-government-contracts scandal, which has taken the heat off . But this, I think, is a temporary respite. It was amusing to see Jowell at the launch of Labour's local election campaign, focusing on the need to tackle anti-social behaviour - meaning working-class teenage yobs, I suppose, rather than tax-avoiding sleazebag lawyers. According to most newspapers, Sue Street's resignation leaves only one woman Permanent Secretary, Helen Ghosh at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA or "Death Ray" as it is sometimes known). Intriguing, that Department is also headed by a woman, Margaret Beckett. The Cabinet Office's list of Permanent Secretaries does however also contain Karel Dunnell (Director of the Office of National Statistics), Julie Wheldon (the Treasury Solicitor) and Eliza Manningham-Butler (Director-General of the British Security Service). I am a little confused about this: do these three have Permanent Secretary status too, and if not why are they on the list? Perhaps what the newspapers mean is that there is only one woman Permanent Secretary in a traditional government department headed by a Secretary of State. Ghosh would seem to be the only one in this category, now Street has gone. The list is at:


There is no question, however, that woman are under-represented. They are 43 names on the list, and of these (including Sue Street, whose name has not yet been removed) only 5 are women (only about 12%). And the women are in less elevated positions (Cultue, Media and Sport rather than the Treasury or the Home Office).


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