I am grateful to both noble Baronesses for their broad welcome of the publication of these statistics. On the question of the delay, no one has ever done this before and there was no template for us to follow. No other country has done this. It was a complicated exercise. We wanted to make sure that the data were of the right quality, and that has contributed to the delay from the hoped-for date earlier this year. We are taking steps to address some of the problems that have been mentioned, particularly the 20 hot spots, which we have not announced yet, where there will be special measures by the DWP to help those who find it difficult to get into work, such as mentoring, which the noble Baroness, Lady Gale mentioned, traineeships and other steps to help people into work.
The noble Baroness asked a good question about the devolved regions. The Minister, my noble friend Lord Bourne, is meeting the devolved regions tomorrow. The initial indications are that the Welsh Assembly is quite anxious to participate but so far the Scottish Parliament has been somewhat more reluctant, as my right honourable friend said in another place. The devolved regions hold some of these statistics. We have provided only statistics for data that are reserved; the devolved Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have many of the local data. I very much hope that they will either join in this or take it forward in their own way. As I said, there is a meeting tomorrow to take this matter forward.
On the question of who was involved, the race disparity audit that was published at the same time said:
“Ongoing and wide-ranging consultation with potential users of data has helped identify questions of public interest and concern, and to understand how to present the data objectively and meaningfully in a way that makes sense to users and commands their confidence. This has included roundtable discussions with NGOs, public service providers and academics, and engagement with the public”.
So there was a fairly extensive consultation exercise before we published this.
In response to further questions that were asked, we expect there to be further announcements in due course from other government departments taking the agenda forward. In response to the noble Baroness from the Liberal Democrat Benches, there will be an interministerial group where all the departments involved will be represented to take it forward. The noble Baroness will be familiar with the Parker report, which looked at representation on executive boards, and we need to take that agenda forward. However, this is not just a matter for the Government; it also poses some difficult questions for those in the private sector.
“Explain or change” applies to the Government as much as to everyone else. We will have to explain why these figures are as they are. If there is not a good explanation then we will have to make changes, and we will come forward with those in due course.