§ Mr. Wainwright
asked the Paymaster General (1) if he will make a statement regarding the proposed ethnic monitoring of the unemployed;
(2) if he will make a statement about representations made to him from community leaders regarding the proposed ethnic monitoring of the unemployed;
(3) if he will make a statement about representations made by local community relations councils regarding the proposed ethnic monitoring of the unemployed;
(4) if he will make a statement about representations made to him by local black and Asian representatives regarding the proposed ethnic monitoring of the unemployed;
(5) whether the proposed ethnic monitoring of the unemployed will be entirely voluntary; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
[pursuant to his reply, 8 December 1986, c. 15–16]: The collection of ethnic minority unemployment statistics was a regular practice from 1963 to 1982 and gave rise to no complaint. However ethnic monitoring of unemployed people was discontinued in August 1982 following the introduction of voluntary registration for employment at jobcentres. We are now going to undertake pilot tests early in the new year to assess the best method of resuming the collection of these statistics.
I believe that it is desirable to resume the collection of such statistics in order to measure the extent of relative disadvantage amongst different groups seeking jobs in each locality. The figures will be used to target more effectively schemes aimed at improving the employment prospects of ethnic minorities and measuring the comparative success or failure of policies in this area over a number of years. The collection of such statistics should be welcomed by anyone interested in genuine equality of opportunity in employment.
The pilot tests will take place in the unemployment benefit offices in Leeds, Handsworth and Nottingham for a period of two weeks from Monday 12 January 1987. The ethnic origin of the unemployed people will be classified under one of three broad categories—Afro-Caribbean, Asian and others. Participation will be voluntary. Two 227W methods of assessment will be piloted—one involving visual assessment by benefit office staff, and the other involving self-assessment by claimants. Posters will be prominently displayed to ensure that individuals are aware that the exercise is taking place and that they can opt out if they wish.
I undertook a series of visits last month to the three pilot areas where I met local community representatives. At the meetings I gave details of the method and purpose of the proposed pilots and invited questions and comments. Some reservations were expressed but there were no fundamental objections to the pilots. My officials undertook to keep representatives informed and invited them to attend the pilot offices during the tests.