Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260 - 265)



  260.  I have no difficulty in following the mathematics, but I think it would be helpful, if you actually have got something; we can do this after the session?
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  Yes. I can let you have them, yes.

  261.  Alright; that is very good. One prefatory question to my next one, which does go back to higher education; is there good data on differential unemployment between the two sides of the community among graduates?
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  Graduates?

  262.  I will give an explicit example, where I did not, in fact, hitherto ask for the information. When the Home Office gave three places to the Passport Office in Belfast, because it was the most efficient Passport Office in the country, there were 1,200 applications satisfying the normal Home Office condition that you had to have two O levels. Because there were so many applicants for the three places, the screening was switched to two A levels, and there were still 400 applicants who had two A levels who were seeking the three places in the Passport Office. Now, I agree that A levels are not higher education, but, nevertheless, if you have got that degree of interest, with that degree of educational qualification, in jobs in the Passport Office, and I am not in the least surprised that Belfast has the most efficient Passport Office in the country, is there any differential information on those seeking work with that degree of qualification?
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  The data from the Labour Force Survey, certainly, would give you the qualifications of those who, of course—now, this is not necessarily the claimant count, this is people who classify themselves as unemployed, but, of course, they do do it under the ILO definition; now that would tend to be degree equivalent or above. Now, in terms of religion though, there I think you may have a religious breakdown; now the Labour Force Survey does now include religion, but I am not sure, I have not actually seen, I do not think—could we check up on that?

  263.  Yes, alright.
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  Because I know definitely they do do the unemployed by qualification, and, therefore, it would be a case of whether they did it, sub-divided it, by religion. The census, of course, again, we come back to the Census of Population, unfortunately, it is only every ten years, but, again, that would be a source of information for you.

  264.  If the effects of peace are encouraging new jobs, and, indeed, new investment, and the implication of what you were saying earlier, about the fall in unemployment, is obviously encouraging, have you got any knowledge or data of how those new jobs are being filled between the two sides of the community?
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  We would not have it, we, again, as an organisation, would not do any collection of data, as I explained earlier. I do not think, again, there is specific data.
  (Dr Gorecki)  The data is not available at the moment, but, presumably, if you knew which new inward investment was coming, I think a lot of those returns, at least if you knew what sort of industries they were appearing in, most things are published by the Fair Employment Commission, so if you knew there was a large firm employing a thousand people in electronics then you could look at the tables, and you get some idea about the degree to which, what the employment composition of those would be; or if there was a big influx in managerial employment, you could get that. So you get some rough handle on that, I think.
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  The main source of data on employment and religion is the FEC and its monitoring returns; that is the mine.

  265.  My colleagues may be as relieved as you may be by the fact that I am about to ask my final question, and you may plead the Fifth Amendment on it. To what extent do you think Government economic policy-making does incorporate the equality dimension?
  (Mrs Trewsdale)  I think we will plead the Fifth Amendment on that one; but to say that, certainly, there have been vast improvements over the 22-odd years since the legislation first came into place, and that, certainly, Governments of both hues have taken it very seriously in Northern Ireland, and that the economic policy, some perhaps could argue, has had a very large emphasis on fair employment.
  (Dr Gorecki)  If I could just supplement that, in the review which looked at the degree to which Targeting Social Need was supposed to be mainstreaming equality, the one department that got quite a favourable review from the background research that was done for the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights was the Department of Economic Development, when it did a mid-term review in 1995, and it explicitly included TSN within that and made quite a serious attempt, in terms of labour market, in terms of, we have already discussed with Mr Beggs, IDB, having higher grant rates for those areas. So there was a conscious attempt to do that. And, of course, the Government invested in the Robson Index for Northern Ireland, following what was done in Britain, to try to give those spatial policies an extra focus. So I think there has been a recognition, an attempt within economic development policy, to try to bring that element within the policy.

Chairman:  I have acted as a parasite to my colleagues and asked supplementary questions arising out of the answers you gave them to questions they had asked you. Before I close the session, let me just verify whether any of my colleagues have any other questions that they want to ask. Since answer came there none, or I was answered by gesture, let me, on behalf of the Committee, thank you most warmly for your patience in fielding a large number of questions from a whole series of different perspectives, and it has been a valuable addition to the impression which we are building up. Thank you very much indeed.


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