Thursday, 14 May 1992
Dáil Éireann Debate
12. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if he will outline the extent to which sums allocated to date have exhausted the financial provisions made by the Government in the context of the 1992 Estimates for the primary and secondary school building programme; whether any sums still remain under either heading to meet urgent requirements; if he will outline his commitments or intentions in relation to such sums; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
86. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education the total moneys available for capital works in respect of school buildings in 1992; the amount allocated between the budget and his appointment; his proposals for expenditure of any funds further remaining; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The 1992 capital allocation for primary school building is £14 million and £17.225 million for secondary building. These building programmes are ongoing and entirely directed towards the provision of urgent accommodation requirements. It is my intention to continue this policy.
The sums allocated to date in the context of the 1992 capital provisions have been utilised in full in meeting expenditure arising from major projects already in progress, provision of urgent prefabricated accommodation, emergency works, resource and equipment grants, site and property acquisitions and fees for design work. The capital allocations will be fully utilised in meeting expenditure arising under these categories during the year.
My predecessor approved a placing of contracts in 1992 for a number of primary and secondary projects with the intention that the actual starting date this year would depend on ongoing expenditure within the overall capital allocations.
Mr. Durkan: Would the Minister confirm that his predecessor allocated the entire budget before leaving office and that that leaves him in an invidious position? It leaves a number of secondary and primary schools throughout the  country in a difficult position in that they cannot proceed although an indication was given to them by the Minister's predecessor's predecessor that they could proceed in the current year.
Mr. S. Brennan: The system does not work that way. There are ongoing contractual commitments. There are needs for new prefabricated accommodation. There is rationalisation work going on. There is new work commencing. There are fees to be paid and all this eats up the annual allocation. It is not true to say that the entire allocation was dealt with in one particular decision.
I should tell the House that I am preparing a new mechanism for the decision-making process in regard to the provision of school accommodation for consideration by the Government in the next couple of weeks. I still stand over all of the legal commitments entered into by my predecessors.
Mr. S. Brennan: I have no further funds at my disposal for 1992 for any major works other than emergency works and ongoing matters which are carried over from last year. Indeed, we are already beginning to commit some part of the 1993 budget, which is a routine procedure, whereby we are permitted to commit small amounts of that budget. There are never enough funds in the capital allocation to meet all the requirements. I plan to put in place a new mechanism for deciding priorities so that these decisions are taken totally and utterly on the basis of economic, educational and social grounds. There will be a form of priority listing which I will have more to say about in the weeks ahead.
Mr. Gilmore: Let me ask the Minister about his reference to honouring all the legal commitments which have been  entered into by his predecessor. Does that mean that approval which was given by his predecessor but for which contracts have not been made will not now be honoured by him?
Mr. S. Brennan: It does not necessarily mean that at all. I will honour legal commitments and I will stand over any formal commitments given by any of my predecessors. I will be submitting all the various projects to which I am legally committed to the new mechanism to see at what stage we can proceed with them.
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