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Inequality before the law

When the newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky moved from the BBC to Channel 5, her first programme garnered a million viewers, a 43% increase for that slot. Soon afterward she announced that she was pregnant. (Unnamed sources at the channel described her million-pound switch as 'the mother of all signings'.)

Kaplinsky says she discussed her desire to have children with her new employers, meaning that she must have raised the subject herself, it being illegal for an employer to ask.

This law was recently challenged by another TV star, Alan Sugar, when he openly interrogated a contestant on The Apprentice about her childcare plans. Elsewhere he went on to argue that the law was 'counterproductive for women... you're not allowed to ask, so it's easy - just don't employ them'.

Other businesses seem to agree: surveys suggest that 68% of employers would like to investigate the subject and the Equalities Review has discovered that 70% of recruitment agencies have been asked by clients to avoid women who are pregnant or of childbearing age.

The church is in no position to make judgments about female equality, of course. But it might be tempted to point out that it is being asked by a secular society to do as it says and not as it does.