§ Mr. Russell Brown
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the outcome of the first stage of the policy and financial reviews of the Scottish Consultative Council on the curriculum and the Scottish Council for Educational Technology. 
§ Mrs. Liddell
The 'prior options' studies of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum (SCCC) and the Scottish Council for Educational Technology (SCET) began in December 1997. These studies raised issues of sufficient importance that a consultation document seeking comments on options for the future of both bodies was issued in October 1998. Responses were received from over 80 organisations and individuals.
The outcome of the consultation was unanimously in favour of integrating the development of curriculum and ICT materials and there was a majority view that advice on the curriculum and ICT should be located in one body.
I have concluded that there is a continuing need for independent advice and the development of materials relating to both the curriculum and ICT. I have agreed, in principle, that the best way of achieving that is the merger of SCCC and SCET.
I am therefore setting up a Merger Action Group to develop a detailed plan for the merger to be presented to the Scottish Executive by 15 September this year. The membership of the Action Group will be drawn from both bodies and will include others from the education sector. It will be chaired by a senior member of HM Inspectorate of Schools. From 1 July 1999 this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.