Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further Memorandum submitted by the Department of Economic Development Northern Ireland


  I am replying to a number of points which were raised by the Committee on 9 December 1998.

  In response to question 8 about vexatious applicants I said (page 14) that no representations had been made to Government in the responses to the White Paper. In fact out of a total of 127 responses there was one employer (a public Board) who urged the imposition of penalties on vexatious applicants to the Fair Employment Tribunal. The point I made about there being little evidence of employers having a problem with vexatious applications still stands.

  The Chairman raised two queries relating to recurring costs (questions 37 and 40). The need to produce compliance costs for legislation was not introduced until 1993. There are, therefore, no estimates or figures available for compliance with the existing legislation. However, the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights considered the costs of compliance as part of its review of the legislation and found at paragraph 6.10 "that few employers considered that compliance had adversely affected their competitiveness".

  The attached table gives further detail of the estimated recurrent costs to the private sector under the obligations imposed by the new legislation.

  The Chairman also raised three points in relation to the disposal of land and premises (questions 46 to 48). He enquired as to the percentage of land sales which were publicly advertised and those which were strictly private transactions. I regret that this information is not available. He also asked why it was deemed necessary to exempt private transactions in relation to land and premises when there is no similar exemption in other anti-discrimination legislation. That is not the case. Article 29 of the Fair Employment and Treatment Order replicates Article 22 of the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 and Article 31 of the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976. There are similar provisions in the Great Britain Race Relations and Sex Discrimination legislation.

  Finally, the Chairman asked whether the exemption for private land and premises transactions conforms to UK human rights obligations. I take it that the Chairman was referring to the European Convention on Human Rights and I can confirm that an exemption in the legislation to allow for private land and premises transactions does not contravene any provision of the Convention.

  If there are any other points on which the Committee would like further information or clarification I should be happy to oblige.

The Rt Hon Adam Ingram JP MP

Minister of State

6 January 1999

ProvisionEstimated annual
costs to private
sector employers
Requirements in Article 53(1)(a) (read with Article 70(1) to monitor part-time workers). 182,000
Additional costs of the monitoring of applicants under Article 53(1)(b) by all private sector employers (instead of private sector employers with more than 250 employees as formerly). 135,000
New requirements relating to review of religious imbalance under Article 56 (formerly "section 31 reviews"). 96,000
Monitoring of leavers under Article 53(3) and (4) and reviewing of promotions under Article 56(1) and (6)(b). 50,000
(rounded to 465,000)

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