§ 3.1 p.m.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what have been the effects so far of the withdrawal of services by certain civil servants, in the compiling of statistics 32 and related matters, apparently as a protest against reductions in public expenditure.
My Lords, the Department of Employment has not been able to compile the normal published statistics on unemployment for November and December 1976 and on vacancies for these same months, as well as for January 1977. The Index of Retail Prices for November and December has had to be compiled from less than the normal amount of information and, in addition, there has been some delay in the compilation of other published statistics, in particular the monthly earnings and employment series. Operational statistics for the services concerned have also been affected. The Civil and Public Services Association has now suspended the industrial action with effect from 12th January.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that statement in answer to the Question. I should like to ask him for just two points of information. Can he inform your Lordships' House when the missing figures will be available for the period from October to December, especially on unemployment? Secondly, following this unfortunate episode, have the Government made it completely clear that similar action in future will not be tolerated since it is alien to our system of Parliamentary government and entirely contrary to the principles of our public service?
My Lords, on the first point, it is hoped that statistics covering earnings and employment for the missing month will be produced quite shortly. The information was stockpiled during the period of difficulty. On the second point, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State made quite clear the serious view that the Government took of this action; that is, that it was unconstitutional. Indeed, he went so far as to make it clear that suspension of staff from duty was being considered. I think that was a firm message that was delivered and that notice will be taken of it.