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Local Office Staffs

Volume 80: debated on Friday 14 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he has taken to ensure that those local offices of his Department which serve substantial ethnic minority communities employ staff who originate from those minorities, if he is satisfied that staff in such offices can readily secure the assistance of full-time, salaried interpreters, if he is satisfied with the present proportion of counter staff in local offices of his Department who come from the ethnic minorities, and if he will make a statement

As the hon Member may know, the Civil Service as a whole does not at present have records of the ethnic origins of its staff I am not, therefore, in a position to answer fully the questions the hon Member has raisedRecently the Civil Service undertook a pilot scheme to monitor the ethnic origins of all staff in the north-west planning area and the county of Avon Following evaluation of the results of these surveys, my hon Friend the Minister for the Civil Service announced m January of this year that ethnic monitoring was to be extended to the rest of the civil service on a phased basis over the next three years When this information is available detailed analyses will be possibleI can, however, deal with the question of interpreter Local offices operating in areas with substantial ethnic minorities will normally, through local recruitment, have a pool of bilingual staff to call on where necessary In addition local office managers have the facility to engage professional interpreters and translators on an ad hoc basis where they encounter particular problems or difficulties