HC Deb 30 June 2004 vol 423 c272
7. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab)

Pursuant to his oral answer of 11 February 2004, Official Report, columns 1403–04, on the core syllabus, what advice he has received from the working party on (a) the core syllabus in relation to religious education and (b) ensuring that children understand both Catholic and Protestant versions of Christianity; and if he will make a statement. [180488]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Barry Gardiner)

As part of the initial public consultation in September, respondents were given the opportunity to discuss their views further. Those meetings were conducted earlier this month, and views expressed are currently being considered by the working party. I now expect its advice in the autumn.

Mr. Allen

May I ask Ministers to redouble their efforts to ensure that all children in Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, are given the broadest possible base for both religious and non-religious education in values? Does my hon. Friend agree that the only people who will suffer from less religious bigotry in Northern Ireland schools are the men of violence?

Mr. Gardiner

I heartily agree. It is of course essential for children from all communities to experience not only the religious traditions of the other side, but the breadth of other faiths and world religions, which we are trying to make part of the curriculum. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. There are still a few minutes before Prime Minister's Question Time. May I ask the House to come to order?