Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220
WEDNESDAY 27 JANUARY 1999
TREWSDALE and DR
220. So if you call it an Enterprise Zone,
for instance, that is a bad idea, is it?
(Mrs Trewsdale) They have been disasters as well,
have they not, also this side as well. That if you are talking
about actually dealing with people, then perhaps it would be better
to look at measures of disadvantage for people, rather than areas,
because within areas you can have people who are indeed disadvantaged,
and the majority may be disadvantaged, one is not suggesting they
are not, but also you can have people who are not disadvantaged.
And, therefore, by having a geographical area, it means that you
are not necessarily targeting scarce resources successfully. Now,
in terms of the idea of having firms placed not necessarily within
what you might call geographical disadvantaged areas but in an
area, or placed physically somewhere whereby it can draw people
from, disadvantaged people from maybe two or three adjacent areas,
therefore, and also the idea of clustering and the firms' development,
yes, that has been researched and has been shown, and a classic
example, or perhaps the original one, of course, would be Silicon
Valley, that is an extreme example, but there are many of them.
221. I was wondering whether there was any
UK research, if there is, perhaps as a separate matter, Chair,
I would quite like us to have access to those papers?
(Mrs Trewsdale) Yes, we can . . .
(Dr Gorecki) Belfast, originally, was over to
shipbuilding and engineering, and there would have been a cluster
on the Harbour estate and areas around there, there would have
been a cluster which was very successful in the late 19th century
and early 20th century, when Belfast was a booming town. There
was a piece the other day about somewhere in England, I forget
exactly where it was, where there were locksmiths, who had been
there for generations, who were grouped together, and who had
passed on certain technology and certain ways of doing things
amongst a group of, I do not know, 30 or 40 firms, which interacted.
If you look at the Potteries. Lots of places locate, firms locate
together, doing slightly different things but all within a broad
222. So that is what you mean by a clustering?
(Dr Gorecki) Yes. You can take parts of Italy,
where there are clothing manufacturers which have come together
and been very successful.
223. So all the restaurants in Covent Garden,
or whatever, that is what you mean?
(Dr Gorecki) Yes, that would be it, yes, or theatres.
224. I was unaware that that was what this
word "clustering" meant. In fact, from a fair employment
perspective, my next question was going to be that what you could
do is organise clusters. Suppose I am a rabidly pro-Republican
employer and my neighbour is a rabidly pro-Unionist employer,
well, if I am left exposed like that I will be seen for the partisan
person that I am, but if I am minded to pick up the phone and
form a cluster with my equally rabid neighbour we can appear as
if we jointly have a remarkably fair employment system. So my
next question was going to be, is not clustering, at least potentially,
liable to abuse, in that the statistics of clusters may actually
conceal significant amounts of malpractice, in terms of the fair
(Mrs Trewsdale) Under the fair employment legislation,
as I understand it, and I am not a lawyer, each firm has to submit
its own individual returns to the FEC, including its own Section
31, every three years. So I fail to see how your argument would
work in terms of the individual firm's return. I also like to
think that the Act, indeed, as it exists at the moment, is certainly
strong enough that if you are as rabid as you claim, that you
would have been through quite a few tribunals by now and somebody
might have noticed, and you might actually have learned a lesson.
Again, you see, the idea would be that you are suggesting that
the actual data that are collected should be on a geographical
basis, in the sense that, because you happen to be physically
next door to somebody who is employing 100 per cent Protestants
and you are employing 100 per cent Roman Catholics, or indeed
vice versa, somehow the two together means that it is 50 per cent.
I do not think, actually, the way that the monitoring returns
are returned and the way the data are collected, it would quite
work like that. So I do not think you could get away with it,
to be perfectly honest.
225. It depends what the form of association
was, as we know, but we can perhaps leave that to one side.
(Mrs Trewsdale) If you were going to form an association
like that, it might be an advancement, in terms of Northern Ireland
226. I suppose that is true. You are not
worried then by the idea that, effectively, your paper suggests
that there could be a disadvantaged area, and your recommendations,
effectively, have the effect of suggesting that someone who is
thinking of relocating to such a disadvantaged area decides not
to do so, that would be a perverse way of reading your paper,
(Mrs Trewsdale) I think it would, yes.
227. So this business about "Extra
resources are targeted towards those located in areas designated
as disadvantaged. However, there are grounds for arguing that
it might be better" to blah, blah, blah. That I read as suggesting
that you were thinking that there were good reasons for not targeting
disadvantaged areas; it seems to me that you should be arguing
that there are good reasons for targeting disadvantaged areas?
(Mrs Trewsdale) It depends how you define disadvantaged
areas; that is the point we are making. If you are going to define
disadvantaged areas geographically, then I think we do have severe
reservations. But if you are targeting social need, which, of
course, is what the paper was a response to, then we assume that,
by targeting social need, you are actually talking about people
rather than geographical areas, and, therefore, our arguments
are based on targeting people for social need, not simply areas
wherebythe classic case of one measure is free school meals.
We can send you a copy, if you like, of the whole paper, document,
for you to read, but you will find that, if you actually start
targeting schools by the definition of free school meals, quite
a few of the schools that would come under being in social need,
under that definition, are not in geographical areas that would
be classified as being disadvantaged, because, obviously, the
children travel across boundaries. So it is just, hopefully, a
simple argument about geography versus people, that is all.
228. Is there more, in your view, that the
Industrial Development Board could, and should, do in its work
to further reduce the unemployment differential?
(Mrs Trewsdale) Do you mean encouraging inward
229. Yes, and dealing with applications
for new investment?
(Mrs Trewsdale) Are you suggesting that perhaps
they should put some sort of idea, in terms of, if you get a grant
then you have gotI think they already have quite clear
regulations, do they not, that anybody applying for and being
awarded a grant has to, obviously, agree to abide by the fair
employment principles, and, naturally, of course, once they are
actually in place, by the existing legislation. Are we in a position
to answer that question, Paul?
(Dr Gorecki) To some degree, the Industrial Development
Board already does, if not explicitly, implicity, try to address
the differential, in the sense that there are higher grant levels
for firms that locate in TSN areas, areas which have social disadvantage,
and since social disadvantage is more prevalent amongst the Catholic
than it is amongst the Protestant community, by that measure,
it means that there is already a built-in mechanism within the
grant system such that there is more of an incentive to locate
in those areas, and, to the extent that that occurs, then that
may contribute to reducing the unemployment differential. And,
I guess, the other aspect is the degree to which the IDB is successful
in attracting large numbers of inward investors, and, as well
as revitalising existing firms within Northern Ireland, that creates
more employment, and that also should lead to a reduction in the
unemployment differential. So if its work in employment generation
is successful, then that should help alleviate the level of unemployment,
and thus, other things equal, help alleviate the difference in
unemployment rates between the two communities.
230. Have you any data to suggest that the
additional funding that may be available is sufficient attraction
to encourage investment in these areas, or do those who wish to
invest have other criteria to which they give a higher priority?
(Dr Gorecki) Certainly, if you look at the grant
levels for those firms which locate in TSN areas and have been
assisted by the IDB, they are higher, maybe ten percentage points,
on average, so you can calculate roughly how much that is, in
terms of extra grant. And I guess the question then you have to
ask yourself is, is it better to put money there, or is it better
to put it in education, to give these people a better chance of
moving out, is it better not to put money there and to go back
to the discussion we were having with Mr McWalter, that you put
it in industrial parks, or something, which are located where
you can attract even more investment, and have those firms come
in and locate in those areas. So those are the sorts of questions
one would have to try to look at, in deciding which is the best
way to allocate that money to resolve that problem.
231. You mentioned, in your submission on
the White Paper, that you have been doing work on underachievement
in schools. Can you tell us a bit more about this. I think you
maybe indicated you would be sending us some more information;
is there anything further you can tell us, at this stage?
(Dr Gorecki) We have commissioned a series of
research papers which we could certainly send you, we could send
you the two research papers we have already released, plus the
Council's comment on the Government's educational strategy, back
about three years ago. And one of the things that we did there
was to point out that, although Northern Ireland looked, at the
upper end, reasonably good, compared with the rest of the UK,
at the lower end, as I have said before, at the bottom end, there
was considerable evidence of educational underachievement. And
if you compared the UK with other advanced industrial countries
in Europe, you noticed, although the top 10 per cent of people,
in terms of educational performance, at the age of 16 and the
age of 18, was as good as anywhere else in the world, when you
looked at the bottom end you had real problems. So, if you want
to improve the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy,
you want to attract good-paying jobs, then, clearly, you have
to try to raise the level of educational achievement amongst those
at the low end and some of the work amongst those who, most people,
often, as you know, come from disadvantaged communities. And so,
clearly, peace and political stability should have a major, albeit
indirect, affect on that, because that should lead to increased
jobs, as we have already discussed, then, hopefully, that should
lead to raising people's expectations about, that if they work
hard there is a reasonable chance they will get a good job at
the end of it. So one hopes that that, with the declining unemployment
rate, which I have already mentioned, should lead to these positive
knock-on effects. But we could send you those volumes which talk
about, in some of the schools, the adverse effects of violence
and the difficult conditions under which teaching and the educational
process goes on, and some of the difficulties, because some of
the work that was done when you actually went in and looked at
some of the primary and secondary schools where there were these
difficulties, and one hopes that, with a situation which represents
more normal conditions of law and order, some of those problems
will not be there, and that will make it that much easier to be
able to educate people.
232. Has the National Curriculum helped
to ensure that school-leavers, irrespective of religious background,
are able to compete on a more equal basis for job opportunities
(Dr Gorecki) I do not know the answer to that
question, but I do know that some of the work that was done which
tried to look at why some educational systems outperformed others,
and one of the characteristics was that some of those educational
systems had a standard curriculum, and so, to the extent to which
that is, indeed, the case, then, hopefully, that will, if that
is the case, then it presumably should enhance the ability of
people to find jobs and to create a more competitive economy.
233. Has any overall research been carried
out into the lack of qualifications of those currently unemployed?
(Dr Gorecki) Yes. If you look at the profile of
the long-term unemployed, you will find that there is a very strong
relationship between length of unemployment and educational qualifications,
a very strong relationship; the obverse is that the more educated
you are, in terms of educational qualifications, and the probability
of being unemployed is lower, and that applies to both communities.
234. Has any examination been done of the
subject choices for study and examination within the two communities?
(Dr Gorecki) I am not sure about that, but I think
there has been a general preference within the Catholic system
to do less on science, I think there has traditionally been that;
but maybe, with the National Curriculum, some of those differences,
presumably, will be less than they otherwise would be, because
science, for example, you have to take science now up to the age
of 16. So I would have thought the differences, insofar as there
may have been ones historically, will have narrowed, both because
of the National Curriculum and to the degree to which it was due
to differences in funding levels, with the Common Funding Formula,
and the increase in grammar schools in the Catholic system, in
order to redress what was perceived to be an historic imbalance,
should mean that the differences should narrow considerably.
235. It will have been apparent, right at
the beginning, that one or two of our number had to leave us,
as I, indeed, forewarned you that they would, and, as a consequence,
I did not, in fact, ask you questions at the beginning, and I
fear I therefore have a number of questions to ask you now, some
of which flow out of answers you have given to some of my colleagues.
The first thing I want to clarify, these occasional papers you
write, which are extremely helpful, does "occasional"
mean occasional, or is there a degree of regularity? I notice
that No.8 was in June of 1997 and No.11 was December 1998, which
would suggest you do them about once every six months; would that
(Mrs Trewsdale) There is no regularity in the
sense of we must do one. It is simply that they come up, in the
sense of usually in response to a request to the Council to comment
on, for example, the new TSN, we were asked for our comments,
so we produced our comments, and then the Council itself decides
as to whether it thinks it is worth actually publishing it. All
our responses on that are available to the public, they are not
necessarily all published in glossy covers, but they are available.
236. And you are asked by Government or
by any number of people; normally Government?
(Mrs Trewsdale) It comes down through the system,
from the various Northern Ireland departments, and so on.
237. Let me ask an ignorant question, in
order to bring myself up to date. I have obviously read Occasional
Paper 11. I was, of course, around when TSN was introduced, in
1991, and I am, obviously, slightly dredging my memory, but my
recollection of the policy considerations which caused us to bring
it in did include, as a specific example, although the economic
returns from road-building in the Belfast area would quite clearly
be higher than those in the rest of the Province, on economic
grounds, nevertheless, there might well be arguments under TSN
for concentrating road-building expenditure, not wholly but significantly,
on, let us say, the road network in relation to Strabane, in the
west of the Province, because of the implications that that would
have for economic development in that area. I sense, from the
Introduction to the paper, and I have only got the Executive Summary,
that there may have been a drift away from that kind of consideration
in the period leading up to 1997 when the Government, again, as
I read it, returned to that kind of consideration. Have I understood
that rightly, or misunderstood it?
(Dr Gorecki) I think, in 1997, the policy was
given a much sharper focus. I think prior to that the policy consisted
largely of a speech that you gave, and it is quoted extensively.
And what, I think, happened was that there was very little attempt
to try to take that and provide a sense of what, if a public servant
was implementing the policy, it would mean. To give you an example,
if you are doing a cost/benefit analysis, you have a Green Book,
which the Treasury publishes, and it tells you what to do, what
discount rate to use, if you are going to build a new road, all
those sorts of things, but, for TSN, very little attempt was made
to provide a similar way of incorporating it in public decision-making.
So it was not clear, was the idea to reduce social need, was the
idea to target those most in social need, if the money was to
be redistributed towards those in social need then, presumably,
it had to come from somewhere else out of the Northern Ireland
block, where would it come from, was public expenditure always
going to be the right solution; in the case of education, would
abolishing the 11-plus, for example, be a better solution. So
there were lots of issues there that really were not fleshed out,
and that made the policy difficult to implement, and led, I think,
to people who supported the policy having sets of expectations
of what was liable to happen which were different from those who
were implementing the policy; and, if you look at the report that
was done for the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights,
by E McLaughlin and P Quirk, and I forget the other person, I
think it comes out quite strongly there. So it was a matter of
taking your fine words and fleshing them out so that they could
be implemented by people, I think.
238. I think mine was an ignorant question,
but yours is an illuminating answer. Thank you very much indeed.
You referred to differential immigration, and I am aware, certainly,
at least ten years ago, of what the differential immigration figures
were in higher education, in other words, what proportion of Protestants
going into higher education chose to have their higher education
outside the Province, and likewise for Catholics, and, of course,
the overall figure. Is there any good data on the return of those
who have been educated outside the Province?
(Dr Gorecki) We could write to you. I think some
work has been done by Professor Osborne, which I think tracks
a certain cohort of people, I could try to find out about it and
send you a note on it.
239. It does seem to be germane to your
own remark about differential emigration.
(Mrs Trewsdale) Emigration has always been a problem
though, as you know, in the sense of measuring it, and at one
stage they got down to actually surveying people on the Stranraer
Ferry, and counting them as visitors, when, in fact, they were
returning people, students returning from holidays and things.
It is very difficult, because, obviously, . . .