New clause 1 - Discrimination in appointments

Part of Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 11th March 2003.

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Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party 3:00 pm, 11th March 2003

With respect, the Minister's point is specious. Yes, there were high levels of recruitment last year. If we had proceeded at the lower levels of recruitment that would otherwise have obtained, no more Protestants would have been appointed to the Police Service. However, the fact is that, presently, hundreds of people are being told that they have passed the merit stage, but that they cannot proceed further because they are of the wrong religion. That is discrimination. Indeed, as the Minister pointed out earlier, the legislation is quite bold about that; it admits that it is provision to discriminate.

The same has happened on an even worse scale with regard to civilian employees. That was not recommended by Patten. In a recent recruitment round for civilian employees, only 30-odd Catholics applied, as opposed to hundreds of Protestants. I do not have the exact figures to hand, but I believe that more than 300 were turned down because of their religion.