Equal Opportunities

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1988.

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Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West 12:00 am, 4th July 1988

To ask the Minister for the Civil Service which Departments of the Civil Service have not completed ethnic monitoring exercises in accordance with the codes of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

Almost all Government Departments completed surveys of the ethnic origin of their staff by the end of June 1988. The remaining few hope to have completed the data collection in the next two months.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Has the Minister read the enormous array of replies from the various Civil Service Departments to questions that I raised regarding ethnic monitoring and the totally unsatisfactory results that they have shown'? Knowing of his personal commitment that people should be treated fairly, and that he wants people to be treated neither better nor worse because of their ethnic origin, and as he knows the extent of discrimination that remains within all areas of the Civil Service, will he please consult his fellow Ministers and inform the House what he proposes to do to achieve the fairness that we know he wants?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

We are studying evidence from the monitoring exercise. One or two more Departments need to complete their monitoring within the next two months, after which we shall reach a view on how best to proceed. It is right to state clearly that the purpose of the exercise is to give us sufficient information to ensure, as best as we can, that there is genuine equality of opportunity. That is what we are aiming for; that is the objective of the exercise. The information will enable us to do our job properly.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that despite that rather offensive, patronising, wasteful and unnecessary exercise, recruitment and promotion in the Civil Service will continue to be purely on the basis of merit?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

I readily give my hon. Friend that assurance. I must stress again that the purpose of the ethnic monitoring is to enable us to ensure that there is equality of opportunity. That is all we are aiming for, and that is the Government's policy in every area of our activity.

Photo of Dr John Marek Dr John Marek , Wrexham

Will the Minister condemn what his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) said about there being no purpose to ethnic monitoring?

Photo of Mr Richard Luce Mr Richard Luce , Shoreham

My hon. Friend was right to say that recruitment and promotion in the Civil Service must he on the basis of merit. I pointed out that the evidence from ethnic monitoring would help us to ensure an effective policy on equality of opportunity. I understood my hon. Friend to agree that our policy should be one of equality of opportunity.