Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - B & I Proposals.

5.

asked the Minister for Communications if he will make a statement on the proposals for the future of the B & I Line; if he has indicated to the B & I that he will make £43 million available to the company; and when it will be paid.

7.

asked the Minister for Communications if he approves of the proposals recently made by the chairman of B & I involving the loss of more than 500 jobs, the dropping of a number of services, and the privatisation of major sections of the company's operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 and 7 together. Proposals in regard to the future of the B & I have been made by the management of the B & I to the board of the company but no proposals have as yet been submitted to the Minister by the board. Until such time as the board have finalised their consideration of the management proposals and have submitted their proposals to the Minister for approval, it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment in the matter.

I can, however, say that the Minister has not indicated to the B & I that £43 million or any other sum will be made available to the company by the Exchequer.

Is the Minister aware that in an RTE programme the Minister for Health, Deputy Desmond, indicated that he supported the proposal for the reorganisation of the B & I? If he was in a position to say that, must we not deduce that the Government had considered this and that the £43 million allocation is part of the plan for reconstruction? Must we not assume that the Government have sanctioned this £43 million contribution?

The Minister for Health is a man with very strong and definite opinions and I have no doubt he has a personal interest in this. As far as the Minister for Communications is concerned, no proposals have come from the board and he must deal with proposals from the board. This is a management proposal put forward to the board of B & I and they in turn will be putting forward proposals to the Minister. As I indicated already, the Minister has not told the B & I that £43 million, or any other sum, will be made available to them.

Is it not a fact that the Minister for Communications pays the Zeus consultants who are the source of these proposals? Am I to take it that the Minister's servants do not consult him in the very important matter of finance when they are making proposals to reconstruct a fully State-owned company, the B & I?

Obviously this has to go through ordinary channels. This is a management proposal. I know there is an interchange of personnel between the management and the board, but the fact remains that this has gone to the board and I understand they have had a number of meetings about it, and there will be another meeting on 19 November. I presume that sometime after that they will be bringing it to the Minister but as of now, he has not received proposals.

Is the Minister saying that the figure of £43 million was never mentioned to the Minister for Communications and never discussed at Government level?

The Minister has not indicated to the B & I that £43 million or any other sum will be made available to the company by the Exchequer.

Will the Minister confirm that the proposals to the Minister include the loss of 500 jobs, the droping of a number of routes, a link up with Sealink, the privatisation of the duty free shops and a move from Dublin port to Dun Laoghaire port?

There are no proposals before the Minister at the moment.

Did the Minister not say in his original reply that, since the Minister is still considering the proposals, he is not prepared to say anything about them? What is the Minister considering?

I will repeat the original reply. Until such time as the board have finalised their consideration of management proposals and have submitted their proposals to the Minister for approval, it would not be appropriate for the Minister to make any comment on the matter. As the Deputy will understand the proposals must come from the board.

Is the Minister saying these proposals are——

Management proposals.

——put from the management to the board, that they have not yet passed the board of the B & I and that then they will go to the Minister?

Will the Minister ensure that the present passenger level through Dún Laoghaire is maintained? Are there any proposals——

That seems to be a separate question.

It relates to the whole area. Will the Minister ensure that the present level is maintained?

I have no doubt that when the Minister gets the submissions from the board of B & I, relevant matters such as that which the Deputy has mentioned will be taken into consideration.

A final supplementary question.

If those proposals have not come before the Government, how can the Minister for Health say on an RTE programme that he welcomes the arrival of the B & I at Dún Laoghaire as it is in his constituency?

I presume that the Minister for Health referred to the management proposals.

So the Minister is aware of the management proposals?

He can read the public print like anybody else.

The Minister is not depending on the public print and the Minister of State knows that well.