Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:22 pm on 26th October 1993.

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Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 8:22 pm, 26th October 1993

I suspect that I shall not often find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes), but I agree with him that it is sad that not many mainland Members are present tonight. During my shortish period as a Northern Ireland Minister, it has struck me that the more our parliamentary colleagues who are not from Northern Ireland know about the life of the Province and its difficulties, the more understanding there will be of the major problems that exist there. I hope that, in the coming weeks and months, the hon. Gentleman and I will be able to encourage more of our colleagues to attend debates such as this.

It is a matter of some disappointment to me that, on this occasion, we have not heard anything from the Liberal Benches. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), who has been in his place throughout, is not usually a reticent man and I should have thought that he would have much to say on the subject of education in Northern Ireland in particular.