Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 26th October 1993.

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Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 7:15 pm, 26th October 1993

If the hon. Gentleman waits a little, I shall explain the provisions on the 100 per cent. grant, to which I think he was referring. I am merely explaining why the order was withdrawn and relaid. The reasons were essentially technical. I hope that the House will appreciate that there is no other reason behind the withdrawal and relaying of the order. If, when the hon. Gentleman has heard what I have to say, he still wishes to ask a question, I shall respond to it then.

The order has been the subject of wide consultation with educational interests in Northern Ireland. In addition to being sent to all schools and colleges of further education and their boards of governors, the order was sent to more than 100 other individuals and bodies, including the universities, the education and library boards, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the Northern Ireland Curriculum Council, the Northern Ireland Schools Examinations and Assessment Council, the main teachers' unions and the four main Churches.

I should like to record my appreciation of the interest shown by the 70 or so educational bodies and individuals who submitted comments. Most of them were supportive and generally welcomed the proposals. All the comments were carefully considered. As a result of the comments, several changes have been made to the draft order. I shall deal with those changes a little later.

I am sure that the House will appreciate that the order is large and detailed. I should like to comment on the main points of interest.