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Equal Opportunities (Northern Ireland)

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 17 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the next report on the monitoring of equal opportunities within the Northern Ireland Civil Service will be published.

The second report of the Northern Ireland Civil Service's equal opportunities unit is being published today and copies have been placed in the Library.The report shows that there is a continuing increase in both the numbers of women and in the numbers of Roman Catholics within the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Between 1 January 1985 and 1 January 1987, the overall proportion of women increased by 0·4 percentage points to 49·5 per cent. and at the higher grade levels (staff officer equivalent and above) by 2·0 percentage points to 13·1 per cent. The overall proportion of Roman Catholics increased by 1·1 percentage points to 33·7 per cent. and at the higher grades by 1·9 percentage points to 21·5 per cent. The numbers of registered disabled staff (228) declined from the 1985 position of 265 officers and their proportion of total staff fell from 1·2 per cent. to 1 per cent.The report provides an analysis undertaken on behalf of the Civil Service Commission for Northern Ireland which demonstrates that the service is attracting applicants from all sections of the community. Compared with earlier years, women and Roman Catholics form a greater proportion of staff entering at executive officer level and above; there is an expectation that entrants at this level will progress to the higher reaches of the service.

The report contains an account of the extension of monitoring arrangements to industrial staff and provides a breakdown of the composition of this group.

The report breaks new ground by analysing in detail the various stages of two major recruitment competitions and indicates how this work will be developed. It also contains the first in-depth analysis of an occupational group—the training centre staff of the Department of Economic Development.

As in the first report, the unit describes how it intends to develop its work, building on the comprehensive foundations already laid. I hope that this important report will be widely read and studied. It represents an extremely thorough, comprehensive and open examination of personnel practices within the Northern Ireland Civil Service and provides further evidence of the Government's concern to ensure that fair employment is a reality in Northern Ireland.