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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
UKIP MEP in row over working women
Godfrey Bloom
Godfrey Bloom: 'I am going to promote men's rights'
A Euro MP for the UK Independence Party has sparked controversy hours into his first day in the Strasbourg parliament.

Godfrey Bloom was given a seat on the European Parliament's women's rights committee on Tuesday.

But he told the media: "No self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age."

A range of fellow politicians were outraged, saying his views were terrifying and outrageous.

Mr Bloom, an investment fund manager from York, told journalists he wanted to deal with women's issues because: "I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough".

"I am here to represent Yorkshire women who always have dinner on the table when you get home. I am going to promote men's rights," he added.

Perhaps he would also like to see the resurrection of rationing and outside toilets
Victoria, UK

After widespread criticism on his comments on Tuesday he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday his comments were "said for fun" to illustrate a more serious point.

He said equal rights legislation was actually putting women out of work, adding that MEPs had "little or no business experience" and did not understand the consequences of their actions.

He said: "It is no place of Brussels and Strasbourg to come in between an employer and an employee.

"They probably in quite good faith put in a piece of legislation which is designed to protect women in the workplace but what actually happens is it... writes them out of employment."

The original comments provoked a strong reaction from Labour Euro MP Glenys Kinnock, who said: "We know UKIP are Neanderthal in their attitudes, but it is absolutely terrifying that Mr Bloom can fly in the face of what we have worked and fought for, to establish equal opportunities and rights for women."

'UKIP time machine'

She said she will be keeping an eye on him: "He cannot strut around here saying things like that."

Liberal Democrat MEP leader Chris Davies said: "It looks like it is time for a ride back to the 1950s on the UKIP time machine, to the golden age of women's rights and opportunities.

1 UK Independence Party - 11
2 June Movement (Denmark) - 1
3 Christian Union (Holland) - 2
4 Movement for France - 3
5 June List (Sweden) - 3
6 League of Polish Families - 10
7 Independent (Ireland) - 1
8 Civic Democrats (Czech) - 1
9 Achilles Association (Greece)-1
10 Northern League (Italy) 4

  • Independence and Democracy is a new parliamentary group of hardline Eurosceptics
  • It rejects the EU constitution and the "centralisation of Europe"
  • It says it opposes xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and discrimination
  • "UKIP look set to prove themselves as a recruiting sergeant for the pro-European cause and all the measures taken by the European Union to promote equal opportunities."

    The leader of the Party of European Socialists, Poul Nyrup Rassmussen, said Mr Bloom's remarks were "outrageous" and "absolutely unacceptable".

    Mr Rassmussen added: "This is about equal rights. You cannot have the right to fire people because they are pregnant.

    "It is not acceptable that employers should callously take account of whether women might get pregnant. We will be following up Mr Bloom's remarks."

    Mr Bloom is one of 11 UKIP MEPs - a massive increase from the three MEPs the party had in the last European Parliament.

    They joined 730 others from 25 nations at the parliamentary building in Strasbourg on the first day of this five-year parliament.

    UKIP aim to bring "Britain back from Brussels" and ultimately want the UK to pull out of the EU altogether.

    Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP
    "Those things were said for fun, and Strasbourg is not a great place for humour"

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