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Ethnic Monitoring

Volume 35: debated on Wednesday 19 January 1983

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service when he expects to publish volume II of the survey in Leeds on ethnic monitoring in the Civil Service.

The results of the job applicant part of the Leeds survey, which ran from 1 May to 30 September last year, should be ready for publication in March.

Does the Minister recognise the great urgency with which the work should be completed, along with the approval of the CRE code on ethnic monitoring, which awaits the approval of the Secretary of State for Employment, and the need for safeguards against misuse of the information, as recommended by the Select Committee on Employment? Will he assure the House that he is receiving the full support not only of the unions but of all communities such as those in Leeds and Leicester, where community relations have been remarkably good, although the ethnic minorities are very large?

I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the work carried out in the Leeds survey followed consultation with the unions and was carried out in cooperation with them and with their full support. The code of practice issued by the Commission for Racial Equality is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, who hopes to announce his decision on the matter soon. I agree with what the hon. and learned Gentleman said about the necessity to safeguard the confidentiality of information collected as a result of ethnic surveys and to ensure that it is not improperly used.

I am pleased to hear the Minister's reply. Will the Government take note of the experience of the city of Leeds, which has adjusted itself to absorb immigrant communities—Irish, Jewish, Italian, Central European and Asian—and which has had no problems? I hope that as a result of the inquiry conducted by the Minister, his colleagues and the Department, other British cities will learn from the experience of Leeds to absorb those communities without serious problems.

The hon. Gentleman's supplementary question goes somewhat wide of the survey of civil servants in Leeds, but I am delighted to hear what he has said and I am grateful to all in Leeds who made the carrying out of this survey so effective.

Does the Minister agree that the high participation rate shown in volume I of the report shows that it is feasible for widespread ethnic monitoring to take place throughout the Civil Service? How soon will the Minister be having meetings with the unions to ensure that the successes of Leeds can be repeated throughout the country?

As I explained in the answer to the main question, we are awaiting the second part of the survey, which, I hope the hon. Gentleman will agree, is an important element in it. It would be wise to await decisions and considerations of what should be done in the future until we have the full information.