My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System (Lord Agnew), has made the following written ministerial statement.
It is the normal practice when a Government Department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, for the Department concerned to present to the House of Commons a minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.
The Department for Education intends to provide a 50-year lease of the former Robert Owen Academy site (Blackfriars Street, Hereford) to the New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMiTE). The lease is valued at £900,000 and will be subject to a premium of only £1,000. The sub-lease therefore represents a gift to NMiTE worth £899,000.
The NMiTE aims to secure university status and is supported by national and local government, the University of Warwick, and industry, to transform engineering education in Britain. They are in receipt of grant funding from the Department for Education to support their start-up and development. NMiTE will invest substantially in the site to bring it back into use and deliver specialist higher education.
We believe this lease represents good value, supporting the development of the new organisation aiming to secure university status and avoiding the vacant site holding costs that the Department for Education would otherwise have to bear.
The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or a motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.