§ Mrs. Dunwoody
asked the Prime Minister if she will make the gathering of information on ethnic origins compulsory, and publish the percentage of entrants to the Cabinet Office who failed to respond to the ethnic origins questionnaire.
§ The Prime Minister
Surveys of the ethnic origin or staff in post and new entrants to the Civil Service have been carried out in agreement with the Council of Civil Service Unions on the basis of voluntary self-classification. There are no plans at present to change to a compulsory system. However, the Civil Service and the Council of Civil Service Unions are keen to improve the data base and are discussing practical ways in which this can be done.
Information on response rates in the existing new entrant surveys is not readily available. For example, new 99W entrants to the Cabinet Office include both recruits to the service and those joining on loan from other Government Departments. The number for whom ethnic origin data is not currently held should fall as data are transferred from parent Departments. Service-wide response rates to staff-in-post surveys have averaged 70 per cent. Applicant surveys have had higher response rates of 80 to 95 per cent. Departments will shortly start a comprehensive programme of applicant monitoring and this should help to improve the new entrant data base.
All the arrangements for ethnic origin monitoring are kept under review jointly by the Management and Personnel Office, Departments and the Council of Civil Service Unions. The objective is to increase the effectiveness of the implemenation of equal opportunity policy.
The results of the surveys will be published. Reports on the first phase of recruitment monitoring and the London and south-east and East Anglia staff-in-post surveys will be published later this year.