HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 cc367-8W
Mr. Crausby

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of the total work force in his Department is of ethnic minority origin; and what steps he is taking to encourage the employment of people from the ethnic minorities in his Department. [102733]

Mr. Straw

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office set out in his reply on 16 December 1999,Official Report, column 264W, the corporate action that we are taking to encourage the employment of people from ethnic minorities.

The percentage of permanent staff of ethnic minority origin in the Home Office, including the Prison Service, was 5 per cent. on 1 April 1999. The percentage is of those whose ethnic origin was then centrally recorded. More detailed figures are given in the table. Staff provide information on their ethnic origin on a voluntary basis and can choose not to disclose their origin if they so wish.

As part of our commitment to encouraging employment of people of ethnic minority origin, the Home Office published on 28 July 1999 targets for the recruitment, retention and progression of ethnic minority staff over the next ten years. (These cover the core Home Office, Agencies and Services).

To achieve its targets, the Home Office has revised its recruitment literature and attends recruitment fairs specifically aimed at minority ethnic communities. It has and will continue to advertise a number of posts in the ethnic minority press, for example The Voice, the Ethnic Media Group, and Muslim News. The Home Office participates in the National Mentoring Consortium Scheme for ethnic minority undergraduates and is involved in an informal mentoring scheme for potential ethnic minority Fast Stream candidates. The Department also sponsors the Windsor Fellowship which supports Black and Asian students.

The Prison Service launched the RESPOND programme to promote racial equality for staff and prisoners in February 1999. This includes targets to recruit more staff from the minority ethnic communities. To secure this, a national recruitment outreach team has been formed which will work in partnership with local prisons, for example attending recruitment fairs. The Prison Service will also review its career literature and continue to advertise in the minority ethnic media.

The Home Office recognises that unless it is seen as a fair place to work and in which diversity is valued, recruitment initiatives alone will not encourage people from minority ethnic communities to join the Department. The Home Office is committed to a Race Equality Action Plan that includes race awareness training, a mentoring scheme involving Management Board members and ethnic minority staff and evaluating and monitoring of all Human Resources systems. An Ethnic Minority Network was launched for staff on 24 November 1999 and already has over 500 members. The Home Office also participates in Cabinet Office initiatives on diversity and equality proofing.

Area1 of employment Percentage of ethnic minority staff employed2
Home Office (core areas) 10.9
Immigration and Nationality Department 15.5
Her Majesty's Prison Service 3.3
Fire Service College 0
Forensic Science Service 9.6
United Kingdom Passport Agency 9.1
Home Office average excluding Prison Service 12.4
Home Office average including Prison Service 5.0
1The information is that recorded centrally on 1 April 1999.
2Percentage is of permanent non-industrial staff whose ethnicities are recorded.

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