Examination of Witnesses (Qustions 360
MONDAY 19 APRIL 1999
SAVAGE and MR
360. Thank you, Chairman. Good afternoon.
Could I ask you to focus your thoughts on affirmative action and
reverse discrimination. In your submission, at 5(g) you mention
the important distinction between (unlawful) reverse discrimination
and (lawful) affirmative action and imply that some employers
engage in unlawful reverse discrimination because of outside pressure
resulting from monitoring and the publication of monitoring returns.
Can you give us some examples of this? What evidence is this argument
based on and how prevalent do you consider the occurrence?
(Mr Crozier) I am not with you. Can you give me
your paragraph reference again please.
361. Paragraph 5(g), which focuses attention
on the important distinction between unlawful reverse discrimination
and lawful affirmative action.
(Mr Crozier) That comment reflects largely anecdotal
comments we have had from some employers in terms of the effects
of monitoring and the publication of monitoring. Again let me
make clear, we are not suggesting that either of those two things
should not take place, but there is a difficulty in the minds
of some people in distinguishing between reverse discrimination
and affirmative action. Reverse discrimination involves treating
somebody less favourably on the grounds of religious belief and
therefore is unlawful in terms of the legislation. Affirmative
action involves taking action within one's employment practices
which makes it possible for people to apply for posts on the basis
of equality of opportunity. But that concept allied with the concept
of monitoring, which is clearly putting numbers on the make-up
of a workforce, sometimes can be confusing for employers. I think
we are really just pointing out the need for increasing dissemination
on the difference between the two and creating some sort of understanding
of how the two concepts should work; we are not arguing against
362. Thank you. The spokesperson for the
CBI gave conflicting evidence. In her evidence to the Committee
she said that the CBI had no evidence that the changes in Catholic
participation in employment are a result of unlawful reverse discrimination.
(Mr Crozier) I think our answer to that would
be the same if you are asking for evidence of cases where unlawful
discrimination has taken place. We are reflecting a concern amongst
employers and a feeling of pressure they are tending to interpret
in terms of an expectation that they should adjust their numbers,
as it were, and I think one of the concerns that we have is to
make sure that they understand they are not being expected to
do that. I think there is more work to be done, not specifically
by ourselves although we obviously could help with that, but primarily
by the Fair Employment Commission or Equality Commission, when
it comes into being, to make clear what is intended and create
a better understanding. My own view, based on I acknowledge largely
subjective and anecdotal experience, is there is quite wide misunderstanding
on what affirmative action is intended to be which is made more
difficult by the term often seen in terms of monitoring of workforces
and the publishing of results.
Mr Beggs: Again anecdotally,
Chairman, I would have to say that I agree there should be more
research carried out in this area because there is a perception
that employers feel it safer if there is a slightest doubt to
appoint Roman Catholics because there is less likely to be litigation
coming from the Protestant community. Thank you.
Chairman: Mr Hunter?
363. Mr Crozier, Mr Savage, can I ask you
to focus attention on paragraphs 6 to 9 of your submission. You
there urge us when reviewing legislation to take into account
the IoD's concerns that the regulatory burden on business created
by fair employment legislation should be minimal. In particular,
can I draw your attention to your paragraph 8 and you there express
the point that if real progress is to be made, adequate regard
must also be given to employers to run competitive, wealth-creating
businesses rather than creating administrative and regulatory
burdens which impede such activity. Instinctively I warm very
much to what you say and agree greatly. On the previous page of
your evidence, just to draw out some comments, you spoke about
the real cost of litigation and the little effective means you
have of recovering the costs of frivolous complaints, the hidden
cost of the implied discouragement of head hunting and cold calling,
where presumably the mere fact of being monitored will consume
management time and therefore cost money. In some other areas
of regulation, for instance the Working Time Directive and minimum
wage, people have tried to calculate exactly or approximately
what the cost might be either in money terms or job terms. Could
you begin to estimate the cost burden of the fair employment legislation?
(Mr Savage) I think it is difficult to draw a
comparison between fair employment legislation and the likes of
the new Working Time Directive, where you can adequately identify
the cost per hour on an employer for working time. It is very,
very difficult to do that in terms of fair employment. One company
may have one member of staff; another company may not. It is very,
very difficult to say or give from an IoD point of view an adequate
amount for the cost of legislation.
364. I appreciate that. That is self-evident.
Do I therefore conclude you have not gone to member companies
from time to time and said, "Can you give us an estimate
of what it has cost you?" You have not conducted a rudimentary
trawl of some companies?
(Mr Savage) Really, in the feedback we have had
from companies that we talked about, they have difficulty in identifying
what it would cost on an individual company basis.
(Mr Crozier) We do not have that information in
terms of quantifying costs. To get it one would need to do some
sort of specialised study in order to acquire it. I do not think
we are getting reliable, quantifiable information from our members
which could enable us to put a figure on that.
365. Do you think it would be desirable
to try to get that?
(Mr Crozier) I think it might well be. Can I just
add to that, we accept that there is a cost of fair employment
legislation and we accept that that is a necessary element of
establishing a fair system in Northern Ireland as a whole. We
are simply saying please keep these things in perspective.
366. You pursue that a little bit more when
you suggest there should be an amalgamated Commission combining
the fair employment, equal opportunities, race relations and disability
agencies. In your submission, you express the belief this could
or should lead to a reduction in the cost on businesses. Can I
act the devil's advocate here and question that. The same information
will still be required from companies, the same monitoring will
have to go ahead. Where do you see a cost reduction on businesses?
(Mr Crozier) I think that if we can create some
means whereby we could encourage people to be sure that, when
they were making a complaint under fair employment legislation,
they had reasonable grounds for believing that they were making
a fair point on fair employment grounds. Consideration might be
given, for example, to employers being able to recover some of
their costs where it is established that somebody was making a
complaint which he or she did not really consider was based on
fair employment issues but based on some other kinds of consideration
unless, of course, Parliament were to decide it was right to extend
the scope of legislation.
367. That does not quite marry with your
paragraph 12 where, if I understand correctly, you are saying
it is the monitoring and reporting paperwork that should be reduced
as a result of amalgamation so companies can produce one sort
of data. The point I was trying to put to you was that in fact
the same volume of data would be required whether there was an
amalgamated Commission or four.
(Mr Crozier) At the moment all four bodies call
for information of different kinds. Will they go on doing so under
four different directorates under the amalgamated body or could
they call, for example, for some kind of combined return which
would save paperwork? I think one of the difficulties about contemplating
the new single Commission of a sort that has four directorates
with four different kinds of legislative framework operating,
albeit under the same legislative hat, is that all the procedures
carry on as before and all the advantages that could be achieved
through some kind of amalgamation may not be achieved.
368. I suspect my question is going to follow
on fairly closely to the question Mr Hunter just raised. In your
suggested redraft of the legislation in each area, would you prefer
equivalent duties under new race, gender and disability legislation
to those that are currently required under the Fair Employment
(Mr Crozier) I think that is a very hard question
to answer without looking very closely again at the different
procedures that operate under the different pieces. Fair employment
legislation was at its inception designed to be particularly tough
and hard hitting. It is much tougher than, for example, legislation
dealing with disability in some respects, it is certainly different
from legislation dealing with gender, and the effect of that would
be generally to raise the standard of toughness, if I can put
it that way, so that there was fair employment legislation and
I would find it very difficult to give a categoric response to
that. I think that requires a more considered view than I would
be able to give now. We would hope that, when the new situation
is being considered, some consideration is given to rationalising,
where possible, the way the law bites on these different kinds
of situations and procedures that are followed. All these pieces
of legislation came from different origins and were designed for
different purposes and use different systems. The Equality Commission
as such is not going to deal with that. It is simply going to
be a single body over four different sets of legislation. There
surely must be some scope for rationalising. Whether you adopt
one model and make all the others follow that one or whether you
create a completely new model is something that is worth considering
which might involve changes in all four areas of legislation.
369. My question was intended to be helpful
to the position which you have been developing because unless
you do change the patterns of legislation you are potentially
setting the new Commission a very difficult task.
(Mr Crozier) Exactly.
370. Given the plethora of different requirements
which are currently imposed.
(Mr Crozier) I think many of us would feel in
proposing a single Commission but without proposing a thorough
look at the legislation, that the job is not complete, as it were,
and that a further look does need to be happening at these situations.
Indeed, if one takes it further, one might have to consider whether
or not this might not be a role entrusted to the Human Rights
Commission rather than a new Equality Commission but that is water
under the bridge which is not now helpful to enter.
371. It may be that if you were going to
gloss in any way the answer you just gave to my earlier question,
if you wanted to add anything in a sense in response to my supplementary,
please do not hesitate to do so, in other words, along the lines
that you were addressing in your most recent answer. I realise
it may be an unfair question under the clear blue sky.
(Mr Crozier) I have not quite got the question,
I am sorry.
372. I was asking you whether you wanted
to see a consistency of legislation to make the Commission's task
easier. I was to some extent following up on your exchange with
Mr Hunter and you gave a very clear answer to that and I myself
in my supplementary question alluded to the fact there was going
to be a dilemma for the new Commission if they were seeking with
a plethora of different requirements to be operating across the
(Mr Crozier) I do not think we have a collective
view on that amongst all our members. My personal view would be
that we ought to be looking at rationalising the entire structures,
but there is obviously considerable sensitivity about that because
different parts of the interest area would take different views
as to the importance of their concerns and how they are to be
treated and I think one needs to be careful before one comes up
with sweeping generalisations about that.
373. I have one other supplementary that
goes back to an earlier set of exchanges. It is on the recovery
of costs of employers. Am I not right in thinking it is the case
that there is already provision whereby costs can be awarded against
a claim where the case has been held by the tribunal to be frivolous
(Mr Savage) That is not the case. Employers cannot
recover costs at a tribunal regardless of whether they have won
or lost or regardless of whether or not the Commission has backed
the case of a complainant.
Chairman: It might
be we would want to ask a further supplementary. Thank you very
much indeed for the answer. Have any colleagues other supplementaries
to ask arising out of the exchanges that have already occurred?
374. Thank you, Chairman. I wanted to clarify
one point. It was this question about the cost of the regulatory
burden. I appreciate that different people may instinctively assume
this to be the case. Would I be right to understand that, as far
as your evidence is concerned, you have absolutely no evidence
that could indicate that this regulation poses a significant cost
to your members?
(Mr Savage) We have our own evidence of having
to do our own monitoring and evaluation and the kinds of procedures
we have to through when recruiting, selecting or dismissing. Our
concern is that we do not want to appear over-anecdotal or to
come up with a particular cost without giving it due consideration.
Even after due consideration I do not think we can put it down
to a particular amount of money per company.
Mr McCabe: Thank you.
Mr McGrady: Could
I have a supplementary?
Chairman: Mr McGrady,
I would never deny you!
375. That is very generous of you! Going
back to the question I asked you about paragraph 5(j) and these
various cases which were supported by the agencies. I think that
is a direct quotation from your written word. Do you agree that
that means that individual or other cases taken to the Fair Employment
Commission are assessed for frivolity before the agency decides
to aid the case in any way? In other words, there is a full preliminary
examination undertaken by the Fair Employment Agency before it
agrees to assist in any way? So in a sense you are not really
accusing the individual of frivolity but, much more importantly
and much more seriously, the agency of frivolity?
(Mr Savage) I think the difficulty in a situation
like that is once its gets to a tribunal, and the complainant
is under oath, evidence may come out under cross-examination which
would not have been fully explained or asked at the pre-assessment
by the Fair Employment Commission. I think that could be one possibility.
Chairman: Do any other
colleagues have any other questions to ask? Then let me thank
you warmly. I appreciate the moment which we asked you to come
and give evidence was a function of our timetable and the fact
we were going to be here for a couple of days and that can create
a situation where it is not always easy for witnesses to fit in
with our timetable. We are very appreciative that you were able
to do so and thank you very much for the evidence you have given.
Examination of Witness
NESBITT, a former member of the
Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, was examined.
376. Mr Nesbitt, welcome. I think you know
the circumstances in which we have asked you to give evidence,
indeed, you may have volunteered to do so, but it arises out of
your minority report. We will endeavour to make our questions
to you follow a logical order, but the consequence of that is
the questions may come from unexpected parts of the horseshoe.
If at any stage you want to gloss subsequently anything you said
in an answer, either at the time orally or subsequently in writing,
please feel free to do so. Equally, if we have supplementary questions
we want to ask later in writing, we will not hesitate. Is there
anything you want to say to us before we started asking questions?
(Mr Nesbitt) Thank you, first of all, Chairman,
for seeing me. I was not sure whether you were going to deal with
detailed questions on my dissenting note. I think "minority
report" might be too strong a phrase. In fact, the Committee
did not like the words "minority report" and they viewed
it to be a dissenting note. Anyway I have some summary sheets,
two in number, that I could circulate and speak to in a briefer
fashion rather than take a detailed look.
Primarily the thrust of what I had in my dissenting note was one
of questioning the differential being used as a benchmark to judge
whether there is fair employment. The very key and very narrow
point I am focusing on is the differential as a measurement or
as an indicator or as a benchmark, and therefore I have derived
two summary sheets which with your permission I could circulate
and speak to from which questions can come.
377. We have paid you the compliment of
preparing ourselves on the basis of what I will continue to refer
to as a "minority report". I agree it is not a marked
differentiation from a dissentient note. On the other hand, if
you want to circulate your notes please do so because they may
well prompt other questions.
(Mr Nesbitt) If I may circulate them now.
378. Would the Committee Assistant very
kindly give everybody a copy. As I asked whether there was anything
you did want to say before we asked you questions, it would be
discourteous of me to withdraw the invitation as soon as you have
indicated there is something you would like to say, but bear in
mind that we will in fact have questions we have derived from
your minority note, to use a hybrid, which we will ask hereafter
and it may well be that your own note prompts some supplementaries.
(Mr Nesbitt) Thank you. Shall I commence then?
Chairman: Let's just
complete the process of handing these round and then please do.
Mr Donaldson: Chairman,
maybe when we have done that, Mr Nesbitt could set in context
the significance of these two notes so that we are aware of that.
379. I think that is a very good idea. Mr
(Mr Nesbitt) Thank you, Chairman. I shall put
them in context. I was not sure whether I had to make a presentation
or whether questions would be asked, so we have both come in prepared
in that sense. Maybe we can each then take it in turn. The first
point I wish to make is one of a general nature that this whole
aspect is indeed a very, very sensitive issue against the background
of the continued problems that we have had in Northern Ireland
and the aspect of unemployment and employment and whether or not
it is fair or unfair is indeed a very sensitive issue. Indeed,
it is an issue that keeps coming up more often than not with politicians
pointing up on the one hand that this is an indication of discrimination,
it must be eliminated, or on the other hand Indeed,
as a member of the Human Rights Commission I found it, to say
the least, sensitive. On one occasion I was told I was not qualified
to make such comments. However, I do stress the party I represent
both in the Assembly and in various other fora has indicated through
the party leader that it does wish to see a Minister for Equality.
We do realise there must be demonstrable indications that equality
does actually take place for there to be confidence within the
community, so I couch my comments and my answers to any questions
you have in that very positive aspect, that the party I represent
does wish to see a Minister for Equality and does wish it to be
demonstrably clear that there is indeed equality in Northern Ireland.
The main thrust of what I had to say in my dissenting note was
that SACHR and subsequently, as I will indicate, Government and
the agencies of Government have not exactly represented completely
and fairly the position re unemployment/employment and that in
actual fact it is of two-fold detriment to Northern Ireland. The
Catholic community will feel aggrieved because they feel somehow
there is still discrimination and still inequality. Equally, the
Protestant community will feel aggrieved because it will feel,
as one hears, that somehow Government does not seem to recognise
the volume of the employment proportions in reality. So what Government
has been doing to a large extent I believe is detrimental to both
the Catholic and Protestant community in that it is better to
reflect the truth of the matter. "Partnership for Equality"
was the document produced by the Government. It was their White
Paper in March 1998 and basically the tenets of that document
were viewed as true from the Government's perspective. It indicated
that, since direct rule, it was important to eliminate discrimination.
It also indicated that differential, the key thing I indicated
at the outset I was focusing on, between Catholic and Protestant
was that which had the main driving force for the legislation.
The Government also indicated in 1989 it was the toughest legislation
in the European Union. It indicated in 1991and these are
Government statements not minethat Targeting Social Need
was introduced and that was expected to get rid of the differential.
In 1993 Policy Appraisal and Fair Treatment (PAFT) was introduced.
The Government comments that in the 1990s there was still this
differential between Catholic and Protestant and now we have got,
as Government said, "a fresh impetus to employment equalityand
I quote"to tackle discrimination". In fact, the
Government's first statement used the words "to combat discrimination".
The CBI (Northern Ireland) response to the consultative paper
on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland pointed up not
aspects of whether or not there was discrimination, but aspects
of the words being used by Government. It said, "There is
some unease with the use of the word `combating' which is felt
to be too confrontational and negative. "Similarly, the expression
of `full potential' sounds somewhat threatening." That is
the CBI's submission to the Government and that was dated 26 February
1999. So that is the background of my position, that Government
still views the differential as highly significant as a benchmark
or measure, but others have made comment on it. Against that background
I refer you to this statistical paper. The Government in actual
fact has admitted and I quotethis is why I put it in"The
causes of the differential and the reasons for its persistence
are complicated." It says: "The statistical mechanisms
which generate this ratio are complex." My task at 4.22 on
a Monday afternoon is to simplify what is indeed a complex statistical
matter of differentials and whether or not a differential is an
indicator of fair employment or otherwise. With that in mind like
a health warning on the complexity of its nature, I would ask
you to look at the paper entitled "Participation Rates".
These figures under the heading "participation rates"
come from the various Fair Employment Commission's reports. The
first column "available for work" actually means those
who are either in work or seeking work. The economically active
is a way it can also be phrased. For example, it does not include
housewives who are not seeking work, if I can use that gender-free
statement or gender-neutral statement. It does not include students.
It does not include retired people. In other words, it is the
group of people in the total population that are either actively
in work or are seeking work and that is known or can be phrased
as those who are available for work. Then the column "actually
in work" is the proportion of those available for work who
are actually in work from the Catholic community. Taking 1996,
which is the year I wrote my dissenting note, what that row indicates
is that, for all those who were available for work in Northern
Ireland, 40 per cent comprised the Catholic community. Then of
all those actually in work 38.1 per cent were Catholic. So there
was a discrepancy of 1.9 per cent between the proportion of Catholics
actually available for work and the proportion of Catholics actually
in work. There are the latest figures for 199842, 39.1
and 2.9. So you get a flavour. There is what it was in 1990, as
indicated again by the Fair Employment Commission. I have said
35 to 38, because the actual phraseology used by the Fair Employment
Commission report number one was that they anticipated a Catholic
availability of between 35 and 38, stating that it was close to
the top of that range. What you see is that the difference between
those available and those actually in work while it has varied
is substantially of a ratio of 2:1 or a difference of two percentage
points. That is going across. If you go down one of the columns
of "actually in work", you find that the Catholic proportion
in 1990 has moved from 34.9 to 39.1. In other words, it has moved
about 4 points. Now the point I make there is, and I referred
to this in my dissenting note, is that Anthony Murphy who produced
statistical analysis for the Fair Employment Commission which
was unpublished but accepted by Bob Cooper as valid, that you
would expect if a labour market is working sufficiently accurately
to move by about two or three percentage points over a five-year
period so all indications are that the employment practices, the
recruitment practices, are indeed fair, but the question we have
to ask ourselves is why is there still a difference? Why is there
still a differential? It is largely found in the column to the
extreme left where those available for work has moved up from
35-38 up to 42. That is a key element. As regards the unemployment
differential aspect, I would rather leave that with you for you
to look at or if you have any questions that you wish to ask me,
but I will very briefly indicate what that is: they are actually
very simplified numbers to try and convey a complex issue. As
you see in the first one (a) I am assuming unemployment is about
eight per cent and assuming the Catholic availability for work
is 42 per cent which is what it is at the moment and in work 40
per cent. If you work through that assuming a total of 100 with
42 Catholics of the total 100 available for work and 58 Protestants,
you get a differential of 2.3. The second point (b) is interesting.
If you find that the actual proportion that is in work equals
the proportion available for work you actually have no differential
because I have assumed there Catholic availability and the actual
proportion in work is 42 per cent. You have no differential. So
you see if you go back now to participation rates, and this is
the interesting point to note, if you take for example 1990, if
you had assumed those available for work is 38 per cent from the
Catholic community, by 1996 the actual proportion in work is also
38 per cent. In other words, by 1996 there would be no differential
because the actual proportion in work would have matched the availability.
Unfortunately, the proportion of Catholics available for work
is constantly increasing. That is a statistical reality. The only
analysis I can give to that is that at the moment the proportion
of Catholics in primary school is about 50 per cent so that 42
has to go up to 50. So we are trying to catch and chase a moving
target and all the time the differential remains. Even if you
have fair employment, you still have more seeking work because
of the increasing amount of Catholics coming onto the work market
and therefore the benchmark being used by Government which is
a differential is not a valid benchmark to use with respect to
fair employment. If you can see the thrust of my argument. If
you just see (c) very briefly, I am almost finished on the statistics.
The Committee Clerk said we would be about an hour and I have
only been 15 minutes so I am nearly finished my part. If you look
at (c) this gives an interesting aspect as well. If the Catholic
availability for work, which is presently about 42 per cent, moved
up to 44, as it is likely to do because 50 per cent of those in
schools are Catholic, and the actual of 39 at the moment moved
up to 42, in other words the actual amount in work moved from
39 to 42, but if those available for work (trying to project three
or four years ahead) moved up from 42 to 44 you would keep the
differential. You are chasing a moving target. The 40 moves up
to 42 but the 42 available moves up to 44. You are chasing a moving
target. Therefore, this is why the differential has been so persistent.
It is also why the differential is not a fair benchmark to judge
whether or not there is fair employment. The last one relates
to something again that is hidden in the statistics but I leave
it with you and you can come back to me on it. As you said Chairman,
you may wish to write to me for further clarification. Let's suppose
for the moment that unemployment is ten per cent and I make these
bold figures to try and demonstrate a simple point because quite
often, the bolder the figures, the easier the point is demonstrated.
There you have got 200 available for work and if unemployment
is ten per cent you have got 20 unemployed so there are actually
180 in work. Let's keep the proportion of Catholics at 40 per
cent, so there are 80 Catholics available and 120 Protestants
available. If you keep the same proportion of 66 to 114, 14 per
cent unemployed are Catholics and 6 per cent unemployed are Protestants.
There is the percentage, there is the differential3.5.
If you actually reduce that to 5 per cent, in other words, as
you see by my little asterisk, fair allocation would indicate
that since you are giving ten jobs and 70 per cent of the unemployed
as Catholics, they should get 70 per cent of the jobs because
that would be fairness. If you gave 70 per cent of the new jobs
to Catholics because 70 per cent of the unemployment is in the
Catholic population you would give Catholics seven jobs and Protestants
three. That would bring the unemployed down to seven and three.
It keeps the percentages different, 8.7 is down and 2.5 is down,
but the differential is still the same because what you are doing
is reducing the numerator and denominator in the same places.
This is where the Northern Ireland Economic Council published
a document supporting my position where they said very clearly
that if you target the unemployed you can actually reduce the
percentage points because, as you see, 17.5 down to 8.5 is a 9
per cent reduction and 5 down to 2.5 is a 2.5 per cent reduction,
so you have reduced the differences but you have not done anything
to the differential, it is still 2.5. That is the point the Northern
Ireland Economic Council made in its report in February of this
year. That is all about statistics. All I want to say in summary
to that is that the differential is the difference between two
unemployment figures. That differential has been constant and
is likely to remain constant because you have got a large proportion
of those available for work from the Catholic community still
to come on the work market. It is only 42 per cent and it is likely
to go up to 50 per cent and that has nothing to do with fair employment,
it is a different thing altogether. Fair employment and the unemployment
differential are two different dynamics based on two different
parameters, but the problem is that Government uses one as a benchmark
of the other which is statistically wrong. A final point and then
I am almost finished; it is not numerical, but is to give you
an indication of the importance placed on the employment differential.
Many people have placed a lot of importance on it. Ines McCormick,
Regional Secretary for Unison, the trade union representative
from Northern Ireland states in her response to Government: "Expenditure
should therefore be reordered to help reduce such discrimination
and the associated unemployment differentials and unequal pay
results." Paul Magilland why do I mention Paul Magillif
it is the same Paul Magill, he was used as the draftsman for the
SACHR report and wrote in Scope, which is a magazine for
the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, quite an important
grouping within the Northern Ireland community, and he was writing
about the new Targeting Social Needs (TSN) and he said in September
1998: "The Equality White Paper states that by the year 2011
there should be evidence of a substantial reduction in the male
and female unemployment differential. We should expect the differential
to have been eliminated within half that time." There is
no way it will be eliminated through fair employment because you
are chasing a moving target all the time. I come to the last quote
and I give you the whole of it but I am only referring to a little
of it, and that is the Chairman's report from Sir Robert Cooper,
March 1999. I will make reference to this for a few minutes and
then I am finished, Chairman. If you take the Chairman's Forward,
second paragraph, and also keep that statistical part in front
of you, let's read what Bob Cooper has said in the second paragraph
because I conclude from what he has said that it is rather meaningless.
This is the head of the Fair Employment Commission and he has
made this statement. He clearly does not understand the statistics
or else he would not have written the report. "There has
been a significant and heartening improvement in Roman Catholic
participation in the overall monitored workforce since the first
annual return was published for the year 1990. The figure for
total Catholic participation in the workforce in 1990 was 34.9"you
see that in my participation rates"It now stands at
39.1." You see that there as well. He says there has been
a significant and heartening improvement from 34 up to 29. If
you go to the last part of that paragraph he says: "These
figures mark substantial progress showing Catholic participation
rising from a position in 1990 well below what would be expected"I
do not know how it is below what would be expected when the difference
between that and those available for work is the same as it ever
was"to the present situation where the figures have
moved significantly closer to the percentage of Catholics actually
available for work." Significantly closer, yet it is 2.9
closer to those available and in 1990 it was 3.1. He says: "The
figure for Catholic availability is estimated to be about 42 per
cent"there it is in my participation rates"and
participation in the workforce of 39 per cent is therefore still
some way short of this." That is an incomprehensible paragraph
because what he has said is 34.9 to 39.1 is a significant movement
and change, yet you will see that 34.9 is 3.1 off 35-38 and 39.1
is 2.9 off 42, so I do not see how it is a significant movement
towards closing this differential. It is not and it has not closed
this differential at all. You can ask Sir Robert Cooper or ask
any statistician you like but that paragraph there is an incomprehensible
paragraph given the statistics. The statistics I use are his not
mine. I just gave you an interpretation of the statistics. I would
be delighted to know what he actually means by that. A benign
view might be that that is a carefully crafted statement to reflect
what Government is actually doing, not what is reality because
what Government is doing is saying we have made much progress
but we have still got some way to go because that is what it is
actually saying. I do not see where the progress is made. Of course,
we have had fair employment through 34.9 to 39.1 but the differential
is still there. Thank you, Chairman.
1 These documents consisted of the Chairman's Foreward
from the Ninth Annual Monitoring Report dated March 1999 and published
by the Fair Employment Commission and figures on participation
Rates for the Catholic Community with illustrative computations
of the unemployment differential-these figures can be found at
Appendix 3 pp 167-168. Back