HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc112-3W
Mr. Singh

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many appointments to quangos he made between(a) 1 June 1997 and 31 May 1998 and (b) 1 June 1998 and 31 May 1999; and in each case of those how many were members of Britain's (i) Asian and (ii) ethnic minority communities; [92142]

(2) how many appointments to public bodies were made by his Department in (a) 1997–98 and (b) 1998–99, broken down by (i) gender and (ii) ethnicity; and if he will make a statement. [92514]

Mr. Timms

The information is in the table.

Details of all1 appointments made to this Department's Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs)
1 June 1997 to 31 May 1998 1 June 1998 to 31 May 1999
Total 190 142
Male 119 88
Female 71 54
Asian 10 3
Other ethnic minorities 7 3
1Includes appointments to the Department's Tribunal NDPBs, made by the Lord Chancellor or President of the Independent Tribunal Service.

The overall reduction in the proportion of ethnic minority appointments made to this Department's public bodies has been caused by the fact that there have been no new non-judicial appointments to the Independent Tribunal Service (ITS). This is because ITS is to be replaced by The Appeals Service, which will only comprise of judicial appointees, on 1 April 1999. Non-judicial ITS appointments currently make up 69 per cent. of all this Department's public appointments. While effort is made to ensure social diversity on our remaining public bodies, the constitution of these bodies restricts the pool from which suitable candidates can be sought. For example, legislation governing war pensions committees stipulates that members should be drawn from ex-service organisations.We have two overall commitments for equal opportunities and public appointments: the equal representation of women and men, pro-rata representation of members of ethnic minority groups, and increased participation of disabled people; and the appointment on merit, using fair selection procedures, which recognise non-traditional career patterns as suitable qualifications for appointment.

This Department's plan on equal opportunities was published on 25 May 1999, in the document "Quangos: Opening Up Public Appointments", and was deposited in the Library. This plan sets objectives and robust targets for improving the representation of women from 36 per cent. towards 50 per cent., from 5.8 per cent. towards 7.5 per cent. for people from ethnic minority groups, and that people with disabilities are appropriately represented.