HC Deb 28 October 1976 vol 918 cc692-3
11. Mr. McCusker

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many representations he has received concerning his consultative document on the reorganisation of secondary education in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Carter

To date, some 30 letters have been received. It was recently announced that the closing date for the submission of views would be extended until Easter 1977, and accordingly the main bulk of submissions is not to be expected for some time yet.

Mr. McCusker

Is the Minister aware that consciouness of his proposals is only now beginning to show on the surface in Northern Ireland? Will he bear in mind the example set by the Minister of State that when dealing with legislation of such importance to the Northern Ireland community full consultation is essention? Will he consider extending the time limit for representations until the middle of next year?

Mr. Carter

I have already said that we have extended the time limit. Most of the letters that I have received on the subject have requested an extension, which we have granted.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is the Minister aware that we welcome the extension of the period for consultation? Since education will be a matter for the future devolved Government, will he please take care not to prejudice in any way the future of good independent grammar and other secondary schools, otherwise, a new element of discord will be introduced into an already troubled province?

Mr. Carter

The Government have no intention of foisting a new educational system on Northern Ireland. The consultative document is the result of discussion which started back in the days of Stormont. There is no intention to undermine the excellent education system in Northern Ireland.