asked the Secretary of State for Social Services 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 Department 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, we have introduced a reminder procedure for our new entrant surveying which has increased our response rate and we continue to investigate ways of further improving our data base.
The non-response rate in our new entrant survey was 30 per cent., a figure which should reduce as the staff-in-post surveys progress. We hope to introduce a comprehensive programme of applicant monitoring and our pilot exercise showed a 15 per cent. non-response rate.
All the arrangements for ethnic origin monitoring are kept under review jointly by the Management and Personnel Office. Departments and the Council of Civil Service Unions. The objective is to increase the effectivenesss of the implementation of equal opportunity policy.
The results of the surveys will be published. Reports on the first phase of recruitment monitoring and the London and south-east and east Anglia staff-in-post surveys will be published later this year.