§ Mr. Woodall
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will provide information on the current uses of computers within his Department and plans for their further introduction or extension.
§ Mr. Alan Clark
Computers are used for a wide range of applications within the Department of Employment group. The Department itself uses large computers mainly to process management information and payroll for the group; statistical information about employment and unemployment, earnings and the retail prices index; and payments for the job release scheme.
The Manpower Services Commission also uses minicomputer networks for job vacancy circulation and statistics and the payment of allowances to certain MSC trainees. The Health and Safety Executive uses computers to aid research, to process accident and other information as an aid to its enforcement activities, to aid policy formulation and for a variety of administrative tasks.
Microcomputers are used for many smaller applications such as staff training and research work. Potential computing applications are reviewed regularly and introduced where these can result in improved efficiency or quality of service.
The Department of Employment will replace one of its large computers by 1985 when capacity is likely to be extended. Facilities to provide wider direct access to the computer centre from remote sites are also being developed. It is also intended to replace between 1985 and 1987 the terminal equipment in Department of Employment unemployment benefit offices with visual display units which can be used for on-line inquiries and data entry into the national unemployment benefit service computers operated by the Department of Health and Social Security.
The Manpower Services Commission is developing a minicomputer network to process data relating to the youth training scheme. It is also planned to enhance the facilities available on computers currently used by the employment division to improve the quality and efficiency of services provided.