§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make it his policy to include in the legislation implementing the fair employment proposals a provision providing immunity from legal action for employers willing to redress religious imbalances in their work force; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Viggers
[holding answer 8 July 1988]: Employers must of course act within the law, and the White Paper made it clear that direct discrimination will continue to be unlawful in all circumstances. But paragraph 3.23 of the White Paper also indicated that employers will be given statutory backing for measures designed to facilitate the access of under-represented groups to employment opportunities, notwithstanding the proposed prohibition of indirect discrimination.
§ Mr. Viggers
[holding answer 8 July 1988] : To encourage the development of fair employment the Government are operating a support scheme for private sector employers with 25 or more employees. It provides for free consultancy advice on best practice; and free 132W training in objectively-based selection techniques. In addition, the Department of Economic Development is organising seminars for private sector employers. Funds will also be made available in the public sector to meet the cost of introducing and operating equal opportunities monitoring systems. Discussions on the development and funding of such systems are currently taking place between public sector bodies and the Department of Finance and Personnel.