§ 10. Mr. Mallon
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps have been taken during the past three months to promote religious equality of opportunity in promotion and employment within Government training centres in Northern Ireland.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)
Having collected figures for the religious composition of the existing staff of Government training centres, the results have been collated over the past three months and will be published very shortly in the first 1160 report of the Equal Opportunities Unit. Monitoring has been introduced for recruitment and promotion procedures in order to confirm that appointments are made on merit alone.
§ Mr. Mallon
I thank the Minister for that reply. May I ask that he pays special attention to the figures produced by the Fair Employment Agency some three months ago in the case brought by Mr. Sloan against his own Department? Will he assure, not just me, but the House and everybody concerned, that the absolute imbalance which exists within the Government training centres will be put right at the earliest possible opportunity?
§ Dr. Boyson
I have read the report on Mr. Sloan to which the hon. Gentleman referred. I assure him that our concern in government is that recruitment to the Government training centres and to any form of Government employment in Northern Ireland should be based on merit alone and not on which community someone comes from. I would welcome a discussion with the hon. Gentleman soon after the figures are published, as they will be within a month.