asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make the gathering of information on ethnic origins compulsory, and publish the percentage of entrants to his Department who failed to respond to the ethnic origins questionnaire.
Surveys of the ethnic origin of staff in post and new entrants to the Civil Service have been carried out in agreement with the Council of Civil Service Unions on the basis of voluntary self-classification. There are no plans at present to change to a compulsory system. However, the Civil Service and the Council of Civil Service Unions are keen to improve the data base and are discussing practical ways in which this can be done.Of all new entrants to my Department in the period I October 1985 to 1 March 1987, 34 per cent. failed to complete an ethnic monitoring questionnaire or gave an invalid response. We shall be sending reminders and this percentage should therefore decrease.