§ Mr. McNamara
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what rules and guidelines govern the decision-making process of the Northern Ireland Housing Council in its nominations to the board of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; what was the breakdown of those nominated by(a) perceived community origin and (b) gender in each year that nominations have been made; and what actions she will take to promote parity of esteem and equality in this area. 
§ Mr. Paul Murphy
[holding answer 16 June 1999]Under paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981, three members of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (the Executive) shall be persons nominated by the Northern Ireland 211W Housing Council (the Council) from its members. Under paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 of the same Order, the Council may regulate its own proceedings.
Since its inception in 1973, except in 1995 when an SDLP member, perceived to be from the minority community was nominated, the Council has always nominated Unionist members, who are perceived to be from the majority community. In 1996, the first woman member, perceived to be from the majority community, was nominated for appointment, was re-nominated in 1997, and served until the Department received notification of her resignation on 2 June 1998, to stand in the election to the new Northern Ireland Assembly. In 1998, all three nominations were male, perceived to be from the majority community.
Draft legislation in preparation would allow the Department to regulate the nomination process in order to achieve a broader balance. Progress of any legislation will, however, be a matter for consideration by the devolved Administration.