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assessment techniques that will be used. We must ensure that schools in deprived areas do not go further and further down in the people's estimation because they are not getting pupils because they are not getting support from the Department because they are not getting the necessary funds to carry out some of the more difficult tasks in some of the more difficult areas. Trouble in the North of Ireland is often in deprived areas where teachers and schools are held in low esteem. That must change.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) spoke about the problems of open enrolment, which will place in doubt the viability of schools in more remote or deprived areas and has serious implications for planning the allocation of resources and for the periodic necessity to rationalise the provision of education. Open enrolment is of great significance to the integrated schools movement.

Over the years, the Minister has constantly refused to give his definition of what would be reasonable balance and a balanced intake. He was asked again today by the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) and others. The definition in the order is wide open to abuse. It is bound to be the subject of judicial comment and people are bound to seek a judicial review of it. The order provides no guarantee that a school which pretends to be integrated will actually be fully integrated. Supporters of integrated education are horrified at the way in which the order seriously undermines all their work in recent years.

The proponents of integrated education are joined by the Catholic bishops on this issue. They believe that the order permits people who would seek to discredit the integrated schools movement to set up schools, the real purpose of which is the opposite of promoting mutual understanding which the integrated schools movement seeks to promote.

In such circumstances, the Minister's response to the most reasonable suggestions put forward by the Northern Ireland Centre of Integrated Education is most disappointing. The centre suggested departmental monitoring of the status of schools and proposed balanced representation of both traditions on the boards of such schools. Both are sensible recommendations and we should like to hear the Minister say that they will be carried out in full in the regulations on integrated schools which are to be published. Integrated education has raised a further issue which the Minister must take extremely seriously and which has been raised by the hon. Members for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) and by my hon. Friends the Members for Newry and Armagh and for Wigan. The Labour party is convinced that an essential element in ending the conflict in Northern Ireland is to ensure complete equality of treatment for the two major traditions. The order fails to do that.

Rightly, the order provides for 100 per cent. financing for integrated schools. We accept and welcome that. We urged that on the Minister when the discussions were first opened. We fully support that initiative. However, we fail to see why the order should institutionalise discrimination against the Catholic school system in such a way that the 85 per cent. limit on finance remains intact. That is a serious defect and the Government should rectify it as soon as possible. If they cannot do so immediately they

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should set a target of time during which they will remedy that to make it 100 per cent. If the position deteriorates, the bishops will take the Ministry to court under the terms of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. That would be detrimental to the Government's credibility, to the credibility of the education system and to the commitment to establish equality between the two traditions, to which the Government have given their endorsement explicitly in the Anglo- Irish Agreement and on several occasions before and since the Act.

This is an important order, and hon. Members have said that it should have been discussed in a devolved assembly in Northern Ireland. It is an insult to the people of Northern Ireland. All their representatives, from every opinion in the Unionists, the SDLP and the Democratic Unionists, are opposed to the order, to its contents, to the manner in which it has been introduced and to the Government's failure to meet legitimate concerns. The degree of unity that the Government have managed to achieve among so many disparate Northern Ireland Members holds out great hope for the future of Northern Ireland. They all agree that they dislike the Tory Government's proposals and the English ideas being imposed on Irish people in the North of Ireland.

We shall accept the invitation of our hon. Friends in the SDLP and of other Northern Ireland Members to reject the order.

1.5 am

Dr. Mawhinney : With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I welcome the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) to our debates. I did not agree with everything that he said, although I admired the vigour with which he said it, especially as I am suffering as he is this evening.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and both Labour party spokesmen spoke of the advantage of devolved structures. The hon. Member for Antrim, North said that it would be a happier arrangement. I agree with him and I hope that we shall soon move to that happier arrangement. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to welcome the hon. Gentleman or any other Northern Ireland Member as my successor as Minister with responsibility for education. The question of resources was raised by both Opposition spokesmen. I am pleased that the hon. Member for Wigan implicitly said that he supported the reforms, but that they would need additional resources. We have already identified £30 million of additional resources especially for this proposal. He will have noted that the education budget for next year has been raised by 10.5 per cent. I hope and expect to be in a position before Christmas to announce how that money will be disbursed. There will be a substantial increase, in addition to the £30 million, set aside specifically to resource the introduction of education reform. I hope that he feels that I have fully met his point.

Mr. Alton rose--

Dr. Mawhinney : I gave way a great deal in my opening speech, and I wish to deal with some of the points raised.

The hon. Member for Wigan also raised a question from the Irish National Teachers Organisation about regulations on rates of teachers' salaries. It is a serious point. Under the 1986 order, statutory responsibility for determining teachers' salaries rests with the Department.

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That also includes such matters as promotion allowances and increments. Under the new arrangements, we believe that those matters should become the responsibility of the boards of governors, because they will be legally responsible for the schools. I assure the hon. Gentleman, INTO and other teacher unions in Northern Ireland that, although the order gives us power to make regulations to that effect, we shall not do so until there has been full consultation with the teacher unions. I hope that that satisfies the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) will not, I hope, think it too damaging if I say that he made a most thoughtful speech. He aired a number of genuine concerns of the people of Northern Ireland, and they are precisely the sort of concerns that we shall seek to address in implementing these reforms. I assure him that we will handle with sensitivity the very issues that he raised. The hon. Gentleman said that good Ulster schools have always provided a broad and balanced curriculum, and he is right about the good Ulster schools. However, as a former teacher and an expert in education matters, he also knows that too many schools in Northern Ireland have not offered their pupils a broad and balanced curriculum.

For example, the hon. Gentleman knows that secondary schools in Northern Ireland have a higher proportion of girls stopping science at the end of the third form than anywhere else in the Kingdom, and that is not acceptable. Many schools are not doing any technology at all when we are trying to train them for employment of whatever sort in the world into which they will be moving. It is precisely because we are trying to achieve a broad, balanced and coherent curriculum from the age of five through to 16 that we are introducing the curriculum proposals.

The hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) mentioned the membership of the Northern Ireland Curriculum Council and the Northern Ireland School Examinations and Assessment Council. We formed the judgment that teachers had to be members of those because they were at the chalk face. They were the people who were best equipped to be involved in those organisations. I am speaking from memory, but I believe that at least 50 per cent. of the membership of those two organisations are teachers, and that is what the hon. Gentleman wanted. They are there because they have experience and expertise in their own right and are recognised as having such by their peers, which is more important than being so recognised by someone such as me.

The hon. Member for Antrim, East said that removing the 27 : 73 arrangements would affect rationalisation. The hon. Member for Antrim, North pointed out that we have always had rationalisation in Northern Ireland. Schools have been closed over many years as pupil numbers have fallen and people have moved to different parts of the Province. Rationalisation will continue to take place as now, affected by parental choice, although perhaps more so in future. I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he was seeking on isolated rural schools. I have already entered into arrangements with the education and library boards and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools in identifying a number of isolated rural schools which each of them believes should, if possible, have an assured future, subject to parental choice. We shall do that by ensuring

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that the curriculum made available in those schools is sufficient for the children there. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will welcome that assurance.

I am not in the business of trying to indoctrinate young people, and neither are the Government, in terms of education for mutual understanding. That is precisely what it says--mutual understanding. I am not seeking to change people's beliefs. I am not seeking to infringe people's consciences. I am happy to give the hon. Member for Antrim, North that assurance. I am sure that he will join with every other hon. Member in affirming that it is important that our young people should have as balanced an understanding of the community in which they live as possible. That may expose them to the fact that there are beliefs other than those that they hold. But it is in no sense an attempt to cause them to change those beliefs, much less to force them to change those beliefs. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will welcome that assurance.

Rev. Martin Smyth : Will the Minister give way?

Dr. Mawhinney : No, I have only two minutes left.

I want to assure the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) that we look positively at assessment. We shall be following the line taken in England and Wales. We have said many times that we are not seeking to erect hurdles over which children will have to jump who will be disadvantaged if they cannot do so. Rather we are seeking to encourage them fully to achieve their potential, and I hope that at least on that point we are in agreement.

Enrolment will be a matter of choice for parents. Schools will not be in a position to make selection unless they are oversubscribed. That is a crucial point. Children will be able to go to schools chosen by their parents. [Interruption.] That has always been the case.

The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh also referred to integrated education. It is available because parents have said that they want that option to be open to them. The hon. Gentleman may not like that, he may say that that is whimsy, but it happens to be the answer to his question. It is not discriminatory. The capital provision for integrated schools will be the same as for controlled schools. If maintained schools wish to change the structure of their governing boards, they too will qualify for the 100 per cent. capital grant. I commend the order. It will have the effect that the Government intend. It will raise education standards in our schools. It will increase parental choice and involvement in the education of their children. We owe it to the children of Northern Ireland. I have every confidence that the order will achieve those objectives.

It being three hours after the motion was entered upon, Mr. Deputy Speaker- - put the Question, pursuant to the Order [8 December].

The House divided : Ayes 88, Noes 18.

Division No. 19] [1.15 am


Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Alton, David

Amess, David

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkinson, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Bevan, David Gilroy

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowis, John

Brazier, Julian

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Burns, Simon

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Burt, Alistair

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Dorrell, Stephen

Dover, Den

Durant, Tony

Fallon, Michael

Forman, Nigel

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Goodlad, Alastair

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Hind, Kenneth

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)

Hunter, Andrew

Jack, Michael

King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)

Knapman, Roger

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Lawrence, Ivan

Lightbown, David

Lord, Michael

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael

Mans, Keith

Maude, Hon Francis

Mawhinney, Dr Brian

Miller, Sir Hal

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Morris, M (N'hampton S)

Moss, Malcolm

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Neubert, Michael

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Paice, James

Porter, David (Waveney)

Redwood, John

Renton, Rt Hon Tim

Sackville, Hon Tom

Shaw, David (Dover)

Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')

Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Speed, Keith

Stern, Michael

Stradling Thomas, Sir John

Summerson, Hugo

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thurnham, Peter

Twinn, Dr Ian

Viggers, Peter

Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)

Wells, Bowen

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wood, Timothy

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. John M. Taylor and

Mr. Irvine Patnick.


Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Beggs, Roy

Cryer, Bob

Dixon, Don

Flannery, Martin

Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)

McNamara, Kevin

Mallon, Seamus

Meale, Alan

Molyneaux, Rt Hon James

Paisley, Rev Ian

Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)

Skinner, Dennis

Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)

Stott, Roger

Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)

Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)

Wilson, Brian

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. William Ross and

Mr. Eddie McGrady.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the draft Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 23rd November, be approved.

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