HC Deb 14 April 1983 vol 40 c926
7. Mr. Soley

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to alleviate the concern aroused by his policy of rationalisation of Northern Ireland schools.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Nicholas Scott)

I will, of course, do all I can to alleviate concern about the rationalisation of schools. Much of the concern is not well-founded.

Mr. Soley

Will the Minister give a categoric assurance that there will be consultation at local level before any education board attempts to close any school?

Mr. Scott

The statutory requirement is that these consultations should take place at local level. Proposals then go to the Education and Library Board and finally come to the Department of Education for decision.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

In the flexible handling that the Minister has promised of the implications of the statistics for attendance at schools, particularly in rural areas, will he bear in mind those cases where the schools and their local communities are closely interdependent?

Mr. Scott

We have to bear in mind primarily the education needs of the children who attend these schools. I have no intention, as I have made clear on a number of occasions, of having rigidly applied criteria in these cases.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether he has considered the Assembly's report on this subject and when will he be able to give a considered answer to what the Assembly agreed?

Mr. Scott

The Assembly is in recess. I am considering the Committee's report and in due course I shall be in touch with the Assembly or the relevant Committee about my response to the report.

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