HL Deb 03 March 2005 vol 670 cc34-5WA
Lord Laird

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they first became aware that the St Louis Order in Middletown, County Armagh, wished to sell its property; what representations were made on behalf of the order; when such undertakings were given; by whom; and what undertakings, if any, were given by civil servants in Northern Ireland. [HL1354]

Baroness Amos

The Department of Education first became aware that the St Louis Order wished to sell its property in November 2000. Earlier that month the order had written to the Minister for Education and Science in Dublin, advising of the availability of the property, and this was communicated to the then Minister for Education in Northern Ireland at a bilateral meeting with the Minister for Education and Science. In January 2002 the then Ministers for Education, North and South, verbally advised the order of their departments' interest in purchasing the property. Further discussions and correspondence took place in March 2002 involving departmental officials, with agreement in principle reached with the order on the terms and conditions of the purchase subject to positive outcomes from all necessary surveys, and the satisfactory completion of all legal and administrative requirements.