§ Mr. Nicholls
The principal achievements in my Department in respect of race relations and equal opportunities since May 1979 are as follows:865W
(i) In the race relations fieldThe extension of race discrimination legislation (the Race Relations Act 1976) to offshore employment.The significant role played by my Department's race relations employment advisory service in promoting the recommendations of the CRE 1984 code of practice's recommendations to employers on the implementation of equal opportunities policies. The service is now giving greater publicity to the use of the positive action provisions of the Race Relations Act.The commissioning of a number of research projects by my Department which have informed the Government and others on the position of ethnic minorities in the labour market.The regular meetings of my Department's race relations employment advisory group, whose members include the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality and distinguished representatives of ethnic minorities, have provided successive Ministers with valuable advice on the employment of people from ethnic minorities.
(ii) In the sex discrimination fieldThe extension of the Equal Pay Act to provide equal pay for work of equal value.The removal of restrictions on adult women's hours of work thus freeing women to compete on equal terms with men for higher paid shift and night work.The extension of sex discrimination legislation (the Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts) to offshore employment—an employer can no longer refuse a women a job on an oil rig simply because she is a woman.Equalising retirement ages—the woman, who wants to, can now work to the same age as her male counterpart.Freeing single sex training from unnecessary legislation. A training provider no longer has to obtain Ministerial designation before running a women only course.The regular meetings of the Department's advisory committee on women's employment. This committee, which includes the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission and members of women's organisations, has provided successive Governments with valuable advice on the employment of women.
(iii) In Training Agency programmesAll Training Agency programmes are available equally to all eligible people, regardless of their race, religion, sex, marital status or disability.Both YTS and employment training have equal opportunities codes of practice. A commitment to equal opportunities is one of the criteria for achievement of approved training organisation status; this is under-pinned by a contractual requirement. Publicity material for both schemes promotes equal opportunities and avoids stereotypes. Single sex and race training is provided where appropriate.The skill training agency has an equal opportunities statement and has issued guidance forbidding pin-up material in skill centre premises.Education authorities and schools participating in technical and vocational education initiative have equal opportunity statements.
(iv) In the Department's employment serviceThe employment service is an equal opportunities organisation and as such has a responsibility to ensure its services are available to all regardless of race, sex or disability.The ethnic origin traffic surveys of 1986 and 1987 provided information on the needs of people from ethnic minorities. As a result 48 inner city officers have been appointed to help make services more accessible and relevant to inner city job seekers, many of whom are from ethnic minorities. A number of leaflets have also been translated into minority languages.People can attend job clubs at times convenient for childcare and domestic arrangements. A leaflet aimed at women who are thinking of returning to work has been produced. Eligibility for the job start and enterprise allowance schemes is based on receipt of benefit; people whose partner is in receipt of benefit are also eligible.
(v) In the Department's contribution to action for citiesMany people from ethnic minorities live in inner cities and have benefited from these initiatives. For example the small firms service have recently opened six inner city sub-offices; 866W their services will be available to all small businesses but their expertise in ethnic minority business matters will be particularly helpful to ethnic minority entrepreneurs.
(vi) as an employerIn 1986 the race relations employment advisory service audited the equal opportunities policy within my Department with regard to race. Most of their recommendations, which relate to training, instructions etc., were accepted and are being implemented. In addition we are, or are about to begin, monitoring recruitment, staff in post, access to training and promotion. Whilst representation of ethnic minority groups remains concentrated in lower grades there have been gradual improvements.My Department has also introduced a number of initiatives to ensure both men and women have the same opportunities. These include increased opportunities to work flexible working hours and/or part time, the provision of a preferential reinstatement (career break) scheme and advice on the granting of special leave for domestic purposes. Representation of women is gradually increasing at most levels within my Department.
(vii) The introduction of equal opportunities proofingAll the Department's policies are now examined to ensure that they do not unlawfully discriminate against women and ethnic minorities.