Written Answers. - Cost of Education White Paper.

Helen Keogh


37 Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Finance whether he will publish the tentative costings prepared by his Department in respect of the recently published White Paper on Education; the reason for keeping such tentative costings secret; and if he will make a statement on the matter in view of continuing public concern. [8581/96]

The Deputy will be aware that the White Paper on Education entitled "Charting our Education Future" was published by the Minister for Education following consideration and approval by the Government. In accordance with normal procedures, my Department prepared observations on the White Paper including its cost aspects, in so far as these could be ascertained.

However, as I have already stated in reply to previous questions on the matter, these costings were, of necessity, very tentative. The decision taken by the Government in regard to funding is clearly set out by the Minister for Education in her foreward to the White Paper which states that the amount of funding which can be made available in any year will be a matter for the Government to determine in the context of its budgetary position, having regard to the Maastricht Treaty convergence criteria.

The cost of implementing the White Paper is contingent on a number of factors such as demographic trends, participation rates and includes the time scale in which proposals in the White Paper are to be introduced. All initiatives in the White Paper will have to be considered by the Government within the framework of the budgetary parameters.

Therefore, I still believe it would be inappropriate to publish details of the tentative costings carried out by my Department as part of its function of providing observations for the Government's consideration of the White Paper.

Costings on specific proposals, will be provided by my colleague the Minister for Education as specific aspects of the White Paper are submitted to Government for consideration.