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Lord Whitty: My Lords, the whole matter is under review both within NATO and, in terms of our own contribution, within our own strategic defence review. We certainly do not expect the additional cost of enlargement significantly to increase the size of the British contribution from our defence budgets to the common NATO budgets.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether any study is under way?

Lord Richard: My Lords, I intimated that I thought the best way to proceed would be to hear first the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, then my noble friend Lord Jenkins, followed by anyone else.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for intervening on my behalf. Does my noble friend agree that enthusiasm for NATO's enlargement, irrespective of party and whether within or without party, is far from being widespread or unanimous?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, what is pretty widespread and unanimous is the whole process of ending the Cold War within Europe. Indeed, the extension of NATO to those who were not that long ago facing each other across the Iron Curtain is an important symbol. NATO enlargement of itself does not bring that security, but it is part of the process which brings that very welcome security to Europe.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, can the Minister say whether any studies are under way regarding the implications of enlargement for NATO itself? Is it the assumption of Her Majesty's Government that three new members within the next 18 months, and possibly a further group within the next four to five years, will leave NATO unchanged? Alternatively, do the Government expect that NATO itself will be transformed by this immense increase in membership?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I believe the realistic assessment is somewhere between not changed and transformed. Clearly NATO's structures have served us well, but the adhesion of three additional countries will lead to some change. I expect that to be manageable within those structures.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, given President Chirac's statement that France will not share any of the new members' accession costs and prevarication on whether to join NATO's integrated military structure, can the Minister say how far the Government think that the

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disagreements between the American and the French within NATO will cause future problems and delays for NATO expansion?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I do not expect them to cause delays. It has been the view of Her Majesty's Government that it would be better if France were part of the military structures of NATO. As regards the reported remarks of President Chirac in the French press, we believe that the consensus in Madrid was that there would be a sharing of the costs of enlargement among all the European allies, including France.

Lord Kennet: My Lords, can my noble friend confirm my memory--I am sure that he can--that the Prime Minister has said that he would not expect any increase in British defence expenditure to result from this enlargement? Further, can my noble friend say how the most interesting proportional figures that he has just given compare with the allocations which are at present under discussion between the American Secretary of State and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, first, I can tell my noble friend that the Prime Minister indicated that our contribution to the common NATO budgets, which of course is less than 1 per cent. of our total defence costs, would not be expected to rise significantly as a result of enlargement. Secondly, in relation to the American position, I should point out that all sorts of figures are being discussed in America at present. We would expect the cost of enlargement to be shared approximately as per the current division between America and the European allies.

Ethnic Minorities: Education

3.15 p.m.

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to support the education of children from ethnic minorities when funding currently provided under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966 ceases on 31st August 1998.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said, the previous plans which would have meant a reduction in the level of Section 11 funding from £83 million to £43 million will not stand. As soon as we have completed our review of the spending plans, we shall let local authorities have more precise information about arrangements after August 1998, when current funding approvals are due to run out.

Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that most welcome reply. Does he appreciate just how welcome it will be to those local authorities which have substantial numbers of ethnic pupils in their schools? Perhaps I may press my noble friend a little further and ask him whether the current

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budget of £83 million is likely to remain intact or whether there is likely to be any reduction, or even an increase, in that respect? If that is so, can my noble friend tell the House how much would be involved in either case?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful for my noble friend's comment relating to local authorities. Of course, we do know how important this is for them. We have made it clear that the reductions that the previous government's spending plans entailed will not stand. Perhaps your Lordships will understand that we must complete our review of the plans before we can determine the precise figure for next year.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister accept that Section 11 money has been well spent and has served a very good purpose over the years? Does he further accept that the changes which the Government have in mind certainly ought to perpetuate that which has taken place in the past? However, can my noble friend comment on the view that one of the disadvantages is that, while there is a need for a rolling programme, in the past that has only lasted for a few years? In view of the need to teach English to ethnic minorities, is it not essential for such a rolling programme to be extended from three to, say, five or even seven years?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I entirely endorse my noble friend's observation; namely, how important the teaching of English is as a second language. Indeed, in the Prime Minister's words, it is "an investment for the future". As a child I certainly benefited from the teaching of English as a second language. I hope that your Lordships will think that it was a useful investment for the future. In answer to my noble friend's specific question, I can tell him that every project has its own relevant quantified targets. Every target and outcome is subject to regular monitoring. The point made by my noble friend about a rolling programme is one which will be borne carefully in mind in our consultations with all interested parties, not least the local authorities.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, I should like to join in the welcome that has been given from these Benches for the restoration of what was meant to be cut under the previous government. Is my noble friend aware that Section 11 money really is a jewel in the education finance crown and one that is fully and wholeheartedly supported by all teachers' unions, whose co-operation we will need during the next few difficult years? Perhaps I may just put in a plea that there should not be any reduction even when the review has been completed.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I accept my noble friend's description; it is indeed a jewel in the crown. I do not believe that anyone who heard the Prime Minister's speech at Brighton could be in any doubt about the Government's commitment to supporting Section 11 funding. However, my noble friend will not be amazed to discover that I cannot guess the outcome of the review to which I referred.

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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, is the Minister aware that tripartite discussions have taken place between the Home Office, the Department of the Environment and the Department for Education to consider the efficacy of the expenditure of these moneys? If one looks more closely at the matter, one finds that some schools and some local authorities spend these moneys more efficaciously than others. A child who does not speak English as a first language is a burden on a teacher. Section 11 moneys cover only certain languages. Does not the Minister agree that this budget heading sits better with the education department than with the Home Office?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am, of course, aware--as the noble Baroness indicated--that discussions have taken place for some years past in respect of departmental responsibilities. I am well aware that some have argued that the responsibility we are discussing should be transferred to the Department for Education and Employment. The noble Baroness said that teaching a child English as a second language is a burden on a teacher. That is why Section 11 funding exists. However, this is also a matter of giving a child an opportunity to grow fully and be respected within a community which we are proud to think offers a welcome to diverse cultures.


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