The 50-50 recruitment rule for the PSNI has been renewed in the House of Lords by a majority of 44.
The result was 141 to 97. Former UUP leader Lord Trimble urged peers to reject the move following Monday's deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
He said reverse discrimination was now counter-productive.
However, the government's Lord Rooker said: "Nobody who has been appointed to the PSNI in the last six years, has failed to be done on merit."
"All of them have gone through the merit, all of them have qualified to be United Kingdom police officers."
Pauline McCabe, an independent member of the Policing Board, told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster it was right to retain 50-50 recruitment.
"On balance, given the progress we have made and the reason for introducing 50-50 in the first place, I do think it's wise that for one further period at least, we have the safety of the legal mechanism to give certainty to what Patten intended," she said.
"Patten said that it should operate for at least 10 years - we're now in year six/seven - to make sure we achieve the outcome we are looking for."
SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said great recruitment opportunities were now opening up.
"With Catholic representation over 21% in the PSNI, with thousands applying, with female representation increasing and with all parties now on board for policing, the success of the implementation of Patten is there for all to see," he said.
In 1999, a commission chaired by Lord Patten recommended widespread changes to the police service, then the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
The Patten Report recommended the 50-50 policy as a key element of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
It means 50% of all new recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland must be from the Catholic community.