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Business: Tories told to change policy on women

THE TORY leadership came under fire yesterday for ignoring advice by its ranks to change the party policy towards women after the Tories opposed parental leave.

Angela Browning, shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, forced a vote on the new regulation because it was "another burden for business". But the opposition to the introduction of a statutory right for 13 weeks' unpaid leave comes only a week after a right-wing think-tank warned William Hague he was "failing" women.

A highly critical report by the Centre for Policy Studies, launched by Margaret Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph in the 1970s, accused today's Tory party of having "outdated" views on women. "Many women are having difficulty balancing work and family," the report said. "And many in the party hanker for the days of the subservient family woman."

The authors, Tessa Keswick, director of the CPS and former special adviser to Kenneth Clarke, Rosemary Pockley and Angela Guilluame, say the "policy and structure" of the Tory party has to change. The right for unpaid parental leave will be introduced on 15 December.