A LABOUR MP has come under fire after suggesting that the post of fisheries minister would be an unsuitable job for a woman.
Frank Doran said he was “not sure it is a job for a woman” but insisted that his comment was not sexist because “I know the fishing industry”.
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Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said his comments were “outrageous and deeply offensive” and demanded an apology, while Defence Minister Anna Soubry said he was “talking nonsense and insulting women”.
Scottish Cabinet minister Richard Lochhead said he had seen many female ministers from other European countries who were “tougher” than the men from Westminster’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Aberdeen North MP Mr Doran made the comments during a debate on the fishing industry in the Commons.
He recalled previous fishing debates in the Commons and the “biting” questions a minister previously faced, largely due to the higher number of fishing communities in the country.
He went on: “And he or, I’m trying to remember if we’ve ever had a female fisheries minister, I don’t think we have.”
Conservative Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) intervened to tell him: “We haven’t but we have had former female secretaries of state.”
Mr Doran replied: “You’re absolutely right but no dedicated fisheries ministers.
“I’m not sure it is a job for a woman although the honourable lady might reach that.”
After gasps could be heard from fellow MPs, Mr Doran said: “That was not a sexist remark. I know the fishing industry very well.”
Mrs Murray’s fisherman husband died in an accident on board his trawler after a toggle on the hood of his jacket got tangled in the net as he was hauling it in.
Neil Murray, 57, died in March 2011 from multiple injuries suffered in the accident on the vessel Our Boy Andrew.
Outside the Commons, Ms Morgan - who is also the Women and Equalities Minister - said: “Frank Doran’s comments are outrageous and deeply offensive and seriously undermine our work to raise aspiration among young women and girls.
“He should apologise immediately. Labour are very good at throwing stones but they are too quick to ignore blatant sexism within their own ranks - Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman cannot ignore this.”
Ms Soubry, the first female MP to be a defence minister, added: “Frank Doran is talking nonsense and insulting women.
“Ed Miliband should make it absolutely clear he doesn’t agree with Doran’s ridiculous remarks.”
Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mr Lochhead wrote on Twitter: “So Labour MP Frank Doran unsure if fisheries minister is job for a woman! I’ve seen many EU female ministers tougher than Defra’s weak men!”
The fisheries minister in Westminster is Tory George Eustice.
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