3. The general remit for the inquiry was to consider
the extent to which the 1976 and 1989 Acts succeeded in their
objectives and the difficulties which have arisen in implementing
their provisions. The inquiry examined the past role of the Fair
Employment Commission and the future role of the new Equality
Commission, the operation of the complaints procedure, affirmative
action and reverse discrimination, and the institutional arrangements
within Government for ensuring equality, among other issues. We
focussed on how, in particular, the experience of the past ten
years may be of assistance in pointing to the need for any future
reform of the legislation and of Government policy more generally.
We asked about the extent to which there is a continuing problem
of inequality between Protestants and Roman Catholics in employment
and about the costs and benefits of the legislation to date.
4. We took oral evidence on nine occasions and our
witnesses included Ministers, the Fair Employment Commission,
the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights and representatives
of the two sides of industry.
Some witnesses also submitted supplementary written evidence.
We are most grateful to all who submitted evidence.
5. In the course of this inquiry, we visited the
United States of America from 10 to13 May to seek to draw on American
experience in combating discrimination in employment. We visited
Washington, New York and Boston and had a range of informal meetings
and seminars. A list of those with whom we had meetings is given
in the Annex to this Report: we also met a large number of other
people socially. We gained some very useful insights from this
visit and our discussions and we would like to express our thanks
to all concerned. We would also like to thank Her Majesty's Ambassador
to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer KCMG, Her Majesty's
Consuls-General in New York and Boston, Mr Jeffrey Ling CMG and
Mr James Poston, and their respective staff, for the very considerable
efforts they put into ensuring the success of our visit.
6. We have been ably advised in this inquiry by Dr
Christopher McCrudden, Reader in Law, Oxford University and Fellow
of Lincoln College, Oxford. We are most grateful to him for his
guidance in relation to all aspects of this inquiry.
6 A full list of those who gave oral evidence may be
found at p.xli. Back
a list Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence and of Unprinted
Papers, see pp. xliii and xliv respectively Back