asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that the order for the repair of the B and I ship Munster was recently given to Verolme Dockyard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Repair of B and I Ship “Munster”.
I am aware that the contract for the annual overhaul of the B and I ship Munster has been awarded to Verolme Cork Dockyard Ltd. I understand that the B and I Company invited tenders recently for the overhaul of the Munster and that the tender submitted by Verolme Cork Dockyard was the lowest received.
I should point out that the subsidy paid to Verolme is in respect of the building of ships and they are not permitted to apply any of it to overhaul work.
Is the Minister giving us any information as to whether tenders were received from any other Irish yard or British yard? Can the Minister say if the Verolme Dockyard tender was the lowest one received?
I am aware that three tenders were received, one of which was from the Liffey Dockyard and another from a yard outside the State.
Would it be true to say that one tender was from Harland and Wolff?
That is true.
Is the Minister saying that Verolme of Cork can offer a more efficient tender than Harland and Wolff and can the Minister say if Verolme Cork Dockyard can offer lower tenders in the ship repair business than those offered by Harland and Wolff?
I do not think it would be correct for me to go into too much detail about the tenders but I have indicated that the tender submitted by Verolme Cork Dockyard was the lowest one received. I would suggest to the Deputy that he would consider the possibility that the Liffey Dockyard one might have been considerably lower also.
When a subsidy is given by the State to a shipyard, the Minister assures the House that that subsidy will be used for shipbuilding. I am putting it to the Minister that the reason why the tender from Verolme Cork Dockyard was ridiculously lower than any other tender and was below any economic basis was the use of the subsidy given to the shipyard by this House and I am suggesting that the entry of Verolme into the ship repair business represents an unfair advantage——
The Deputy may not make a speech on this question.
I wish to say that I have gone into this matter very thoroughly and I am satisfied that the subsidy which was given in respect of shipbuilding has not been used in any way to enable the Cork Dockyard to offer lower tenders for ship repair or overhaul. There are other reasons why their tender might be lower and I am sure that the Deputy is just as aware of other possible reasons for this as I am. I would not like to let the assertion go uncontradicted that the subsidy is being used in this way.
Long may Verolme Cork Dockyard build ships but——
The Deputy must obey the Chair. He cannot stand up on every occasion.