The Minister of State will be aware that the Northern Ireland Education Order was not greeted with universal acclamation in the House or, indeed, in Northern Ireland. Is the Minister sure that he has convinced the teaching profession, the area education boards and, moreover, parents in Northern Ireland that the provisions contained in the order are in the best interests of educating the children of Northern Ireland in Northern Irish schools?
Yes. The only exceptions that I might be tempted to make are the leaders of education unions. I have gone some way in convincing them that it is a positive development.
Will the Minister assure the House that his nominated bodies are doing everything possible to ensure that schools in Northern Ireland are prepared for curriculum change? Will schools and colleges which still need capital expenditure to provide science and technology accommodation receive funds to finance it?
Yes. First, a considerable programme of in-service training for teachers started in 1989–90 and will continue through next year. There will be days of exceptional school closures and extra resources will be made available to the education and library boards. On the capital aspects of education reform, the hon. Gentleman will know that we have made available an extra £135 million over and above already record levels of expenditure on education and that a sizeable proportion of that sum is being devoted, over a period, to precisely that which he seeks. [Interruption.]