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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 13 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 7

Committee on Finance. - Shipping Investment Grants Bill, 1968: Money Resolution.

I move:

That it is expedient to authorise such payments out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas as are necessary to give effect to any Act of the present session to provide for the making by the Minister for Transport and Power of grants towards capital expenditure incurred in providing certain new ships or parts or equipment therefor, and to provide for matters connected with the matters aforesaid.

I think the Money Resolution is the easiest place to raise the point I want to raise. I was a little surprised on Second Reading when the Minister indicated that this shipping investment grant would be available whether the ship was built in Ireland or outside Ireland. In Britain, for example, a shipping investment grant is payable only for ships built in Britain. I do not understand—unless it is because a certain type of ship building cannot be done here—why we should give a grant on the same ratio for work done outside the country as for work done within the country which provides employment for our own people and, therefore, in respect of which the money comes back to the Exchequer through PAYE and comes back again into the community as a whole and into national production as a whole.

It would be our intention that in the ordinary way the ships that would be subject to this grant would be built in this country but, as the Deputy knows, this Bill is to some extent retrospective because it covers the building of car ferry ships by the B and I. The B and I was bought in 1965. Naturally, it took a year for an entirely new board even to get themselves acquainted with the position of the B and I. By the time they had done that, the explosion in car ferry ship and container development had taken place. If they were to have any hope of operating successfully and making a profit, they had to build three car ferry ships very rapidly. The Verolme Shipyard had not been accustomed to building car ferry passenger vessels, so it was agreed that the Verolme Dockyard would build one ship and the other two would be built in Germany. That made available some of the plans to Verolme, which made possible the task of building an entirely new type of ship. In future I would expect that the ships would be built in this country. That might not always be the case. Sometimes the Verolme Dockyard is fully occupied. I intend to consult with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is in charge of ship building, on any occasion I seek a grant.

What about the Liffey Dockyard?

The Liffey Dockyard will also be considered if it is suitable. That is the position. In the ordinary way, in future grants will naturally be given to Irish-built ships. It is impossible to say at this stage how rapidly the car ferry business will develop, and whether the B and I is likely to need some further vessels very rapidly which might not work in with whatever Verolme are doing. Verolme now know how to build car ferry vessels. They have nearly completed the Leinster and so I do not imagine that situation will arise very normally. With one exception, Irish Shipping Ltd. have had all their ships built in Ireland for the past few years since I became Minister. As I say, I do not think that situation is likely to arise very often.

Can the Minister say if any other countries give subsidies for ships built outside their own country?

In the case of Britain my information is actually back-dated about six months. They were giving grants for ships built outside Great Britain simply because of the fact that the shipping business is, as the Deputy knows, fiercely competitive. It may be that on certain occasions, if you require some specialised type of vessel, or some vessel has to be built very rapidly that, in order to preserve employment for crews and officers, and in order to develop new employment, you may have to consider buying a foreign ship in the same way as machinery for new industry is imported more often than not in cases where industries receive grants from Foras Tionscal.

Because it is not made here. Where it can be made here it seems odd.

Question put and agreed to.
Money Resolution reported and agreed to.