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Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful for the responses that have been given. I could not agree more with the noble Lord, Lord Rogan: these are large sums of money. I agree with him absolutely, as I believe do all Members of the Committee, that we would much prefer the Assembly and the relevant committees to be discussing these matters rather than us.
The noble Lord is right that there is a substantial increase in funding for educationa matter on which he particularly focusedamounting to 7.3 per cent. In addition to the existing service levels, the budget includes £52 million to increase the core budgets for schools over three years. It provides £19 million for priority curriculum development, £2.6 million for costs associated with a new cross-border centre for autism, and a real-terms increase of £3.8 million for the youth service across the period. However, the noble Lord is right: these are very large sums and they are most gratifying.
The noble Lord raised a question which frequently arises in relation to England and Wales: will these enormously increased budgets produce real reform? Again, I believe that that should rightly rest with the elected representatives of Northern Ireland in the Assembly.
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