§ Sir Teddy Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what reasons underlay his decision not to engage in discussions with the PCS Union on their concerns about the safety of staff; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
Since the beginning of September 2001, my officials have engaged in over 60 hours of talks with the PCS union about their concerns on the safety of staff. Proposals for settling the current dispute were put to the PCS on 17 October, but were narrowly rejected by the PCS national executive committee. These proposals reflected the fact that the safety of staff has been our number one concern in developing the Jobcentre Plus offices. Security measures are stronger than ever, underpinned by comprehensive risk assessments which were developed in conjunction with PCS. In November, following further discussions, the PCS were asked, if they were still unable to accept the previous proposals, to put forward their own tangible and detailed proposals on which the dispute could be settled. We have made it clear to the PCS that we are willing to have further discussions on this basis.