To ask the Minister for Finance if he will state what regulations are in operation dealing with the sanctioning of contracts for the Government, and further, if he will say whether contracts are dealt with by individuals or Committees.

It is not possible to deal fully with the subject of Government contracts by means of Parliamentary Question and Answer, since the regulations governing the placing of contracts necessarily vary to some extent between different Government Departments.

The following are, however, the chief principles involved:—

(1) Competitive tender.

(2) Preference to Irish goods, unless the discrepancy in price or quality is excessive.

(3) The insertion of a "Fair Wages Clause." These lines are only departed from in exceptional circumstances.

I do not fully understand the point of the second part of the question. The decision as to placing a contract is taken by the responsible officer or officers in the Department concerned or by the Minister in charge of the Department. In some important cases the concurrence of the Ministry of Finance is required.