Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 1999/2000

Date: 21 January 2000

Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Benson
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Ms P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr K Robinson

Mr J Fee
Mr G McHugh

In Attendance: 
Mrs G Ardis
Mrs S Murphy
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs D Williams

1. Chairman's Business

(i) The Chairman informed members that the Department of Education had been unable to provide, prior to the meeting, the additional information requested regarding the contenders for new Capital starts in the last five years and the % population represented in each sector.

Agreed: The Chairman will express the Committee's disappointment that the Department was unable to provide the information within the timescales and confirm that the Committee still required the information as soon as possible.

(ii) The Chairman outlined the format of the meeting for members.

(iii) The Chairman informed members that the Committee Clerk had enquired regarding a CV for the Ministers' Special Adviser but no further information was available. The Chairman would request details of Mr McAteer's educational background from the Minister.

(iv) The Chairman advised members that he intended to issue a short press release after the meeting.

2. Discussion with the Minister for Education

The Minister, Mr Martin McGuiness, joined the meeting. He was accompanied by Mr Tom Shaw, Chief Inspector of Schools, Mr Stephen Peover, Deputy Secretary, Mr Alan McVeigh, Head of School Planning Division and Mr Aidan McAteer, Special Adviser to the Minister.

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting, the purpose of which was to discuss the proposals for the 2000/2001 Capital Building Programme. He explained that the Committee had considered the available information at a meeting on 20 January and decided further details were required to inform members' consideration of the proposals. This information had been requested but not yet provided by the Department.

The Minister responded by thanking the Committee for the invitation to attend the meeting. He informed the Chairman that no final decisions had yet been made regarding the Capital Building Programme and he would give serious consideration to the views of the Committee before reaching any conclusions.

A lengthy and detailed discussion ensued regarding the outline proposals for the Capital Building Programme. The main issues discussed were:

  1. The request for additional information by the Committee on the contenders for new Capital starts in the last five years and the % population represented in each sector. The Minister informed the Committee that he had asked Departmental officials to provide the information as soon as possible. He accepted that the Committee required the information before any final decisions were made. The Minister agreed to give the Committee an opportunity to consider the additional information and submit further comments/views before reaching a final decision.
  2. The date of the announcement which was likely to be early February. The Minister agreed to give prior notice to the Committee of the actual date of the announcement.
  3. The amount of money available for the Capital Building Programme - it will be between £60 and £70 million.
  4. The appraisal processes both at Board and Departmental level.
  5. Concerns regarding the apparent imbalance in the contenders between the maintained and the controlled sectors.
  6. The length of time for a contender to go through the appraisal process from start to inclusion on the programme.
  7. The nature of the Programme i.e. rolling or annual appraisals.
  8. The position regarding the use of PPP/PFI.
  9. The position of Integrated Schools in relation to the Capital Building Programme.
  10. The huge problem regarding the condition of the school estate.
  11. The appraisal process in relation to Special Schools.

3. Any Other Business

    1. The Chairman asked the Minister for the current position regarding the issues outlined in his letter of 11 January, that he wished to refer to the Committee for consideration. The Minister provided an up-date, highlighting that all four matters would be referred to the Committee during the month of February.
    2. The Chairman raised the issue of the school protests by concerned pupils that had occurred following the Minister's appointment to office. He again repeated his request for restraint to be shown by all.
    3. The Chairman informed the Minister that the Committee wished to receive a list of his public engagements either prospectively or retrospectively.

Agreed: The Minister agreed to provide details retrospectively on a weekly basis.

  1. The Chairman expressed his concern at the failure of the Department to provide early details of Ministerial announcements to the Committee. The Minister apologised for the oversight regarding his announcement on Pre-School Education and agreed to put appropriate procedures in place.

4. Date of Next Meeting

The Committee will meet on Thursday 27 January 2000 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.


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