HC Deb 07 July 1986 vol 101 cc16-7
56. Mr. Soley

asked the Minister for the Civil Service when he last met representatives of the Civil Service unions; and what was discussed.

The Minister for the Civil Service (Mr. Richard Luce)

have had no formal meetings with the Civil Service unions, but I did meet them informally on 25 March, and I attended the dinner of the First Division Association on 14 May. Topics of mutual interest were discussed informally.

Mr. Soley

When the Minister next meets the unions, will he raise with them the future of the Crown Suppliers and confirm the decision of the review staff that to privatise the Crown Suppliers would be against the public interest? Will he assure the House that he respects that decision by his own review team? Will he publish the supplementary report by the central purchasing unit that seems to be causing Ministers some embarrassment and is at the moment hidden from public view?

Mr. Luce

I shall look at the latter point that the hon. Gentleman raised. I am not absolutely clear that his first point is within my remit. I shall look into the matter and let the hon. Gentleman know.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Next time the Minister meets the trade unions, will he consider with them the damage that has been done by the Government's actions over GCHQ to industrial relations, to GCHQ itself and to the position of staff at GCHQ? In the light of all that, will the Minister reverse his decision and restore trade union rights at Cheltenham?

Mr. Luce

The position at GCHQ has been made clear repeatedly by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, and I have nothing further to add.

Mr. Leigh

In the light of the election of a Militant. supporter to the general secretaryship of the CPSA, will my right hon. Friend reflect on the sadness of the fact that he and his colleagues on the Treasury Bench did not accept the amendment put forward by myself and other colleagues of his in favour of secret postal ballots?

Mr. Luce

I note my hon. Friend's views. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made plain last week, the election of officers of a trade union is entirely a matter for the membership itself. We have a long tradition of impartiality, professionalism and loyalty in the Civil Service. I hope and believe that that tradition will continue.

Mr. Terry Davis

Does the Minister think that it would he a good idea, when he next meets representatives of Civil Service unions, to discuss the need for more training for equal opportunities officers?

Mr. Luce

There are designated officers in each Government Department who look after the problems of equal opportunities. I am satisfied that that is working well.