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

All I can say is that I have laid out the criteria that the change in the order is designed to meet. Those are the criteria that I and my Department intend to operate. I have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said and it will be on the record.

I have made a number of other changes in the order before the House, partly in response to consultation and partly in response to changed circumstances. I have withdrawn the provision to establish a system of statementing appeals tribunals. There was a clear view during consultation that independent tribunals would be superior and I wish to consult further about that.

I have also withdrawn the provision to change the timing of key stage 2 assessment for use in the transfer procedure. I know that that has caused some concern in the Province. I am convinced that assessment outcomes should not be used in this way and that separate arrangements based on the curriculum followed by each pupil are necessary for transfer purposes.

I have removed provisions for the amalgamation of institutions of further education in different board areas, simply because no such amalgamations are planned. On further education, I have responded to representations from teachers' unions by including provisions to require my Department, before making a determination, to amalgamate institutions of further education and to consult with associations which are representative of staff and students.

As I said earlier, the remaining provisions in the order are largely technical and administrative. I could cover a lot more, but I know that this hour and a half is very valuable and I wish to allow hon. Members as much time as possible to raise any points, to which I shall do my best to reply in detail. At this stage I shall go no further into the details. Nevertheless, this is an important and significant, if somewhat varied, order and I commend it to the House.