LABOUR promised action to boost the number of women and ethnic minority officials in the upper echelons of the Civil Service, accusing the Government of having "lost sight of the diversity agenda".

Shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher said an incoming Labour administration would aim to end up with at least 45 per cent of senior ranks being female and eight per cent from ethnic minorities - higher than existing targets which have been missed.

Measures planned to help boost numbers include the re-establishment of a "positive action leadership scheme", making mandarins responsible for diversity, job shares and minimising the amount of "exception" appointments made outside usual requirements.

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