Most of the £30 million recently announced for new section 11 projects starting in 1995–96 will benefit schools. Together with continued funding of existing projects, it will support specialist English language teaching for ethnic minority pupils, and so help raise standards generally.
Is the Minister aware that his response will be greeted with dismay throughout the country? Does he realise that section 11 cuts are having disastrous effects on pupils whose first language is not English? Will the Minister urgently intervene to restore the damaging cuts before further irreparable harm is done to that vital service?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the funding programmes are of great importance both to children and to schools generally, and I pay tribute to the teachers involved in them. The hon. Gentleman may not have noticed the announcement, which amounted to a doubling of new section 11 funding. For example, in the hon. Gentleman's own local education authority of Staffordshire, £191,000 of additional money will be given to support the existing programmes. That pattern will be reflected throughout the country in all areas where there is a major need for that activity.
I agree that we must have priorities, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed that when drawing up his Budget decisions. The programmes have value, and they are not the only way in which we support areas of educational difficulty. They must be judged on their merits as part of a balanced programme.