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Overseas Development Minister Clare Short
"Indeed, people have mentioned the fact that very few women have been selected for these seats."
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BBC Wales's Gilbert John
"The party could face court action for sex discrimination against men"
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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Labour 'lacks female candidates'
Clare Short
Clare Short said the lack of female candidates was a 'worry'
Labour cabinet minister Clare Short has voiced concern over the selection of another male Parliamentary candidate to fight for a seat in Wales.

Dai Havard, who will stand for Labour in Merthyr Tydfil, was the sixth man to be chosen for six seats being vacated by retiring Labour MPs in Wales at the next General Election.

Dai Havard
Selected candidate Dai Havard

Mr Havard, an MSF union official, was selected on Saturday as Labour candidate to succeed Merthyr MP Ted Rowlands.

A former Foreign Office minister, Mr Rowlands announced earlier in the year that he was to retire after more than 30 years in politics.

Mr Havard's was a convincing win with more than 50% of the vote in the first round to become Labour's candidate.

In line with party policy there was an equal number of men and women contesting the candidature.

Ted Rowlands MP
Ted Rowlands MP: Stepping down

But despite this, one cabinet minister has said she is concerned about the selection results in Wales.

"It's a worry. Wales is a worry on this," Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short told BBC Wales.

"Indeed, people have mentioned the fact that very few women have been selected for these seats."

Ms Short added: "We've got to do what we can with the remaining selections to get quite a lot of women selected."

But Mr Havard - the last of the six men chosen - insists his constituency party is not prejudiced against women and had done what it could to promote women candidates

"We can't have women-only shortlists anymore. That is unlawful," he said.

'Insensitive'

"We can't break the law of the land. It's very difficult to provide a system which provides for the sort of result you want by legislation.

"It doesn't work that way. At the end of the day, individuals within the process make conscious decisions and that's what happened with my selection."

This is the latest development in a row which began when Merthyr's Labour Party was accused of being "insensitive" for holding a candidate selection meeting in Aberfan Social and Democratic Club which has a men-only bar.

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