§ Mr. Charles Wardle
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is yet in a position to announce a decision on the introduction of ethnic monitoring for the armed forces.
§ Mr. Freeman
We have decided to introduce ethnic monitoring at the recruitment stage for all formal applicants and new entrants to the armed forces. The target date for its introduction is 1 April 1987. Monitoring will be on the basis of self-classification, as is recommended by the Commission for Racial Equality, and will be at the point of application only. The information derived will be held in the strictest confidence and used solely to produce a profile of the ethnic composition of both those applying for service and those subsequently selected.
This decision was taken as a means of monitoring our success in attracting applications to join the armed forces from all racial groups and to provide an indication of the relative success rate in entry selection. As a means of re-emphasising our commitment to equal opportunities, we also intend to re-issue a Defence Council instruction which sets out the services' responsibilities under the Race Relations Act 1976, the means by which grievances of those serving can be investigated and the existence of administrative and disciplinary sanctions which would be imposed to counter any form of racial prejudice., and which emphasises the unacceptability of any form of racial prejudice within the armed forces. In addition, all service recruitment literature and advertisements will shortly declare that the services are equal opportunity employers under the terms of the Race Relations Act 1976. Written guidance is being issued to recruiting staffs on the need to avoid racial discrimination in recruitment to formalise existing policy.
All those who apply to join the armed forces and meet the necessary entry standards, will continue to be considered for available places regardless of colour, race or creed. Those who are successful will find that they are welcomed into the services.