The consultation period on the White Paper "Choice and Diversity: A New Framework for Schools", ended on 25 September. The Government have now introduced the Education Bill into Parliament, to give effect to the proposals in the White Paper. Having had a successful Second Reading, the Bill is now in Committee.
As the main thrust of the Education Bill apparently is to provide diversity and choice for parents, will the Minister explain how that will be achieved in large rural areas of Wales and England, where primary schools are often 10 or 15 miles apart and secondary schools 25 or 30 miles apart? As such areas are already suffering extreme economic hardship, will he explain how this plan will gel together?
Welsh issues are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. On the generality of the hon. Gentleman's open-minded question, we set great store by small rural schools, which we want to support. We also set great store in giving such schools the opportunity to be grant maintained, and the Education Bill will give them the opportunity to do so as part of clusters. That is a very good thing for them.