asked the President whether his attention has been called to a statement made by the Minister for Finance in the Seanad on the 22nd March last, that the Shannon Scheme, the Dairy Disposals Board, the Drumm Battery and the Beet Sugar Factory were as precious a collection of white elephants as ever drove their unfortunate owners to the verge of insolvency, and if in view of this statement he will indicate the policy of the Executive Council with regard to those projects.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Executive Council and State Enterprises.
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part, large sums of public money have been sunk in these enterprises and, quite irrespective of any views that may be held of the wisdom or otherwise of their initiation and their management up to the present, it is the duty of the Government to safeguard the capital invested in them and if possible to secure their success. I need only add that the Government is resolved to carry out its duty in this respect.
Arising out of the President's answer, will he state if the view given expression to by the Minister for Finance in the Seanad is the view of the Executive Council on these schemes? Does the President agree with the statement made in the Seanad by the Minister for Finance?
I think the answer I have given covers the position completely as regards the Government.
I submit it does not. Again, I want to ask the President— and this is a very important matter— whether the Executive Council agrees with the statement made in the Seanad by a Minister who is a member of the Executive Council?
I can only say that the answer I have given represents the Government's view on the matter.
That is no view; the Government has no view on it.
Might I ask the President, seeing that in addition to this mere matter of what the Minister said in the Seanad there is also a considerable amount of public attention being directed to the future of these four schemes, if he is aware that a request was put forward that the Drumm Battery estimate should be put down for consideration at the earliest possible date and that that request was refused on the grounds that the Minister for Finance was occupied? It now appears that the Minister for Finance is starring to-morrow at the Gaiety Theatre. Is the President prepared to put down the estimate for to-morrow and recall the Minister for Finance from the Gaiety Theatre?
The Minister for Finance, as Deputy McGilligan probably knows, is busily occupied at the moment on Budget matters.
Not at the Gaiety Theatre to-morrow at 4 o'clock.
I do not know about that.
According to public pronouncements, the Minister is going there. As I have indicated, and as the Whip will tell the President, a request was put forward to have the Drumm Battery estimate submitted here for consideration. That request was refused and the refusal was based on the grounds that the Minister was engaged on official business. Will the President make inquiries and find out if the Minister for Finance will be occupied on official business to-morrow and, if not, will he have the Drumm Battery estimate put down for consideration here?
I do not know anything about the Gaiety Theatre to-morrow. I will make inquiries and see what it is about.
The President has not answered my question. If it is found that the Minister will be occupied at the Gaiety Theatre to-morrow, will he be recalled in order to attend to the important business of the Drumm Battery, the estimate for which could be put down for to-morrow?
Does this matter arise out of the question?
I am afraid it does not.
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the answer to my question, I propose to raise this matter again on the motion for the adjournment to-night.