RT @sunny_hundal #Newsnight actually having a reasonable, interesting and non-shouty debate about tackling sexist culture in the UK. Unusual.

About 6 hours ago from Rebecca Taylor's Twitter via Twitter for iPad

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Good news for tobacco control; less so for e-cigarettes

Today I abstained on the final Tobacco Products Directive vote.  My position on this Directive has always been clear: I wanted strong tobacco control measures and sensible regulation of e-cigarettes.   I was therefore not willing to vote against the Directive …

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Outdated, outmoded and increasingly inaccurate: is it time follow our European neighbours and say goodbye to "Miss"?

It has long been unfair that women can be identified by their marital status through the use of  “Miss” or “Mrs” whereas men cannot via “Mr”. “Ms” was introduced as an alternative for both married and unmarried women, although is not universally used or liked.

Many journalists struggle when a married woman doesn’t take her husband’s surname, as seen in numerous articles referring to Nick Clegg’s wife Miriam González Durántez as “Mrs Clegg” despite that not being her name. Wikipedia even says “Miriam Clegg, known professionally by…..” !!?? Why is it so complicated to understand that Miriam was given a surname at birth (actually two as per Spanish custom) that she will use for her whole life? That’s what men do….

I have also noticed newspapers calling married women who have kept their own name “Miss”. When the tabloids revealed then Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s husband’s expense claims, many rather oddly referred to a woman they knew was married, as “Miss Smith” !!?? It’s as if they think a woman who keeps her own name isn’t properly married or something (dinosaur alert!).

Anyone would think that not taking your husband’s surname on marriage was something new, unusual and shocking. It isn’t new at all, although it was when my Mum did it some forty (!) years ago in 1972. Like other women of her generation, my Mum kept her name because she didn’t like the historical significance of taking your husband’s surname, namely that you became his property.

It is not unusual for women to keep their own name these days; currently 50% of married women do, while 50% opt to take their husband’s name. There is also a trend, albeit somewhat middle class, for women to add their husband’s name to their own and sometimes give that double barrelled name to their kids too.

The fact that people marry later and the vast majority of women work, surely has an impact; changing surname in your 30s involves not only bureaucracy (replacing driving licence, passport, credit cards etc), but also several years of explaining your name change in a professional context. I have seen linkedin profiles along the lines of “Jane Smith (nee Brown)” that stay like that for years.

There is then the associated bureaucracy of changing your name back to your “maiden” name, should you be unfortunate enough to get divorced and not want to keep your ex-husband’s name. I also know a handful of women who still have the name of their first husband although they have since divorced and re-married. Divorce also raises another question: should a divorced woman stop being called Mrs and revert to Miss even if she still has her husband’s name or only if she changes her name back?

A friend who did not change her name when she married was very annoyed to receive a cheque payable to a person who doesn’t exist (my friend’s first name with her husband’s surname). She had to take her marriage certificate to the bank (!) to pay it in as obviously neither her bank account nor any ID she possesses, is in the name of her husband.

So what do other European countries do? Well in Belgium, where I used to live, an adult woman is officially “Madame” (in French) or “Mevrouw” (in Dutch) and almost always in conversation too; I recall being called “Mademoiselle” only very occasionally when in my early 20s. In Germany “Frau” is now used for all adult women, the German version of Miss (“Fraulein”) seemingly consigned to history or used only for little girls.

In the European Parliament, I am referred to as Madame/Frau/Mevrouw etc and this is even extended to English, where “Mrs” is used in written and spoken communications. At first I found being called Mrs when I am not married, a bit odd, but I soon got used to it.

Another aspect of using “Miss” is that it applies to cohabiting women with children who have not married their partners, which seems rather inaccurate i.e. it no longer necessarily identifies a single (childless?) woman. A friend who is the deputy head of a primary school is in theory still “Miss”, despite living with her partner for more than 15 years and having two children.

A cohabiting friend with children wondered (in the days when marital status was commonly on CVs) whether putting “single” was misleading. That particular problem is now solved by the fact that marital status is no longer included on a CV. In Belgium civil status (“état civil” in French) was removed from ID cards some 10 years ago, which greatly pleased a divorced friend who hated the fact that her ID card said “divorced” rather than reverting to “single”.

So I wonder if it is time to get rid of “Miss” given that as well as being outdated and outmoded, its use is increasingly inaccurate? The obvious route would be to follow what Belgium does, so all adult women would become “Mrs”. However, I wonder if some married women, who rather like using Mrs to show that they are married, might object to this? Comments welcome!

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Use of electronic cigarettes: blanket bans are not appropriate!

I am hearing about blanket bans on people using e-cigarettes on public transport and in some public places like bars and pubs e.g. Wetherspoons, etc. I have even seen a notice banning the use of e-cigs in a comedy club where you can eat and drink whil…

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Media Releases

Rebecca Taylor: Greater corporate transparency on the way thanks to the EU

Rebecca Taylor, Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, has successfully pushed through measures that will lead to better transparency for large companies. The European Parliament adopted rules that will require around 6000 large companies across Europe to report …

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MEPs vote to scrap mobile roaming charges in EU by December 2015

The European Parliament has voted to scrap mobile roaming charges in the EU by December 2015 following a successful campaign by Liberal Democrat MEPs. Current EU caps on roaming charges have saved consumers across the EU an estimated £8bn since …

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Siemens to create 1000 new windfarm jobs in Hull

Yorkshire & the Humber MEPs Edward McMillan-Scott and Rebecca Taylor have welcomed the news that Siemens will build a major new wind turbine factory in Hull. The manufacturing giant has finally confirmed, three years after the plans were first announced. …

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ALDE

MEPs approve safer lorry designs

ALDE welcomes a European Parliament vote to improve lorry safety through tougher design standards today, which was approved by an overwhelming majority of MEPs.

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Cross-border pensions transfer made easier

To improve workers’ freedom of movement and their right to occupational mobility, it is crucial to ensure that employees’ pension rights can be carried across borders when changing employer.
Until now, workers who move between EU Member S…

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EU towards better corporate transparency

Corporate transparency in the EU will be improved by the new directive voted today in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. European companies will have to report their non-financial information for the first time. This means for example…

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