Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Civil Service Accommodation in New Dublin Building.

39.

asked the Minister for Finance whether he had discussions, or entered into a contract with the owner of the new Carlisle Building at O'Connell Bridge, Dublin to lease purchase or rent all or a portion of these premises to provide temporary or permanent office accommodation for civil servants; and, if so, if he will give the number to be accommodated and the terms of the contract, including the effective date and the period of the lease.

The Commissioners of Public Works have been in negotiation with the owners of this building and have reached virtual agreement for the leasing of eight floors in the premises as office accommodation for Civil Service staffs. It is estimated that approximately 360 heads of staff will be housed there.

Subject to the building being completed by 1st January, 1965, the proposed lease would run for 35 years from that date with a mutual right of termination at the end of the 7th year.

I am not at liberty to disclose the financial details of the lease.

Because that is the precedent down the years. If the Deputy looks back, he will see it obtained during his term of office.

Is it seriously contended that when the Government enters into a lease with a private proprietor in regard to a building, the Dáil is not to be informed of the terms of the lease and the rent to be paid?

The Deputy will understand the State is renting only part of the building in question and I think the rental figure should be regarded as confidential between the lessors and lessees.

Have we now reached the stage that Dáil Éireann is not to be told what the contracts it enters into will cost? If that were ever the case, it was wrong; if it is now the case, it is equally wrong. Dáil Éireann has to pay the bill and surely it is entitled to be told what the bill is. Anybody who does not want that arrangement should not set property to the Government.

The Deputy is well aware that it has never been the practice to disclose in the Dáil the details of tenders accepted for building work or details of such matters as this.

Nonsense. There will be another occasion for raising it but it is fantastic nonsense.

If the Deputy raises it again, I shall give him at least a dozen instances of this practice——

Can it be contended we are entitled to make secret contracts with secret rents and withhold the information from Dáil Éireann? No sane Minister would maintain that position. If it is the case, it is a scandal.

Were we to give details of building contracts and the rents we paid for Government offices, the era of competitiveness would fade away.