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Public Service Employment

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

2. What discussions she has had with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on organisations which discourage people from ethnic minority backgrounds from seeking employment in public services. (228316)

I have not yet had any formal discussions with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I will have a formal meeting for the first time in November.

Does the Minister agree that it is an absolute disgrace for the Black Police Association actively to discourage black people and those with Asian backgrounds from joining the Metropolitan police service? What action would the Government take against an organisation that said that only white people should join a public service?

The hon. Gentleman has every right to that opinion, but the Black Police Association is a self-organised group that is entitled to say what it wishes about the experience of black people in the police, on which it has a perspective. My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Women and Equality has strongly supported the Home Secretary’s decision to set up a nationwide inquiry into the recruitment and promotion prospects of ethnic minority people in the police service. It is right that the Equality and Human Rights Commission should have an interest in the fact that ethnic minority employment is 15 per cent. below the national average. The extent to which that is caused by discrimination is a matter for the commission, but the individual views of people in a self-organised group are not.