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I congratulate my hon. Friend on his first reply from the Dispatch Box. I hope that it will be the first of many.
Will my hon. Friend give details of examination results in the Province, especially those at 0 and A-level, and how they compare with the rest of the United Kingdom? What part does selective education play within the framwork of those results?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. In 1983–84, the last year for which I have figures, the percentage of all school leavers with one or more A-levels was 22·5 per cent. in Northern Ireland and 17·2 per cent. in England and Wales. The percentage of all school leavers with five or more O-levels or grade one CSEs was 8·7 per cent. in Northern Ireland and 10·7 per cent. in England and Wales.
Has he had time to become aware of the fact that the heads of schools in the area of the Belfast Education and Library Board have heard from the chief executive that, to reduce the amount spent on paying school cleaners, they must reduce the floor area they are using and lock up some of their classrooms? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the board has voted to suspend those measures for two weeks? Does he appreciate that the anguish is not about the form of the education service, but about its existence?
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his kind personal remarks.
I am aware from the media that this discussion is taking place within the Belfast board. The board has not yet finalised how it should use the resources which have been made available to it. I have had no formal proposals yet from the board.