§ 54. Mr. Janner
To ask the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will make a statement regarding the implementation of the equal opportunities programme in the civil service.
§ The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. Richard Luce)
Good progress across the board continues to be made on increasing equality of opportunity in the civil service. In May, I shall introduce a new programme for action in this area for people of ethnic minority origin.
§ Mr. Janner
First, may I welcome the Minister's personal approach to this problem and his recognition that there has been vast discrimination in the past, which has resulted in no people from ethnic minorities and very few women being in the top levels of the civil service? Secondly, when does he expect that his action programme will have any real effect?
§ Mr. Luce
As I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman agrees, the most important principle in the civil service is to ensure that there is equality of opportunity for people of all backgrounds. It is for that reason that over the past five years we have devised a programme of action that will facilitate just that opportunity and encourage the promotion of women within the service. That is why I plan to do just the same towards the end of May when I announce my programme of action for people from ethnic minorities. In addition, we are currently reviewing our code of conduct for the disabled, which will ensure that there is true equality of opportunity. However, people must be promoted and introduced to the service on the basis of merit.