HC Deb 07 May 1980 vol 984 c173W
Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what representations and demonstrations of public opinion he has received in support of the view that there should be greater integration of educational provision for children from families of different religious persuasions in Northern Ireland;

(2) what steps he has taken to increase integration in various levels of education in line with his policy for promoting harmony between people of differing religious persuasions in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Goodhart

My noble Friend has received indications that there is some support for greater integration of educational provision. The important thing, however, is what parents do in practice, and it is clear that a great many parents in Northern Ireland, as in other parts of the United Kingdom, wish their children to be educated in a school which is committed to a particular religious tradition.

There is, therefore, no question of the Government attempting to force integrated education on anyone who does not want it, but the Government are continuing to encourage integration in all sectors of education wherever there is a local wish for it and will support practical proposals put forward in response to local wishes.