This information is not available in the form requested. As a best estimate, expenditure on controlled schools, which are attended mainly, but not exclusively, by Protestants, was £196·9 million in 1987–88. Expendiure on maintained schools, most of which are under Roman Catholic management, was £158·2 million, and expenditure on voluntary grammar schools, which have a variety of management arrangements, was £59·2 million over the past three years. This represents an increase of 32·9 per cent. for controlled schools, 37·5 per cent. for maintained schools and 31·8 per cent. for voluntary grammar schools.
The Minister may not agree with me publicly that many children grow up under a curse of religious education, that they would benefit from a secular education and that that would help to resolve the troubles in the Province. Does he agree with me, however, that the cross-contact scheme represents a small flame in trying to get greater understanding between children in the Province and that we should wish it every success? What is he doing to strengthen and encourage that important development?
I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support for the concept of cross-contact between schools in Northern Ireland. He will know that, when I announced the scheme two years ago, the proposed budget for this year was £200,000. He will be pleased to know that the actual budget this year is £650,000, and that is because about 340 schools in the Province, or a quarter of all schools in the Province, have now voluntarily joined the scheme to pursue projects together.
Is the Minister aware that his grants to the integrated school sector, to the disadvantage of the voluntary and state sectors, are causing growing concern in Northern Ireland? Will he ensure that the application of educational funds is on an equitable and just basis? Many schools in the voluntary and state sectors have been waiting for capital and development programmes for almost a decade, whereas the integrated school system that he favours seems to be privileged in that respect.
The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that we are talking simply about capital expenditure. He knows that, for the past 65 years, all Government expenditure in Northern Ireland has been directed either to state schools or to Roman Catholic schools. Parents who wished to have integrated education were discriminated against to the extent that they got no capital provision at all. It seems to the Government a matter of justice that, for a few years, a degree of preference should be given to integrated schools capital programmes to help to redress that imbalance.