Thursday, 3 February 1966
Dáil Eireann Debate
This amendment is to take account of the fact that the sum of £11,250 issued by the Minister for Finance to Aer Rianta for investment in the hotels has not been invested pending a suggested revision of the agreement between Irish and Intercontinental Hotels Limited, the owning company, and Intercontinental Hotels (Ireland) Limited, the operating company. This sum is now being transferred from Aer Rianta to Aerlínte who will issue shares to this amount to Aer Rianta and will hold the money pending the outcome of the suggested revision.
This amendment is necessary to enable the Minister for Finance to guarantee direct the borrowing of £1 million by Aer Lingus from the Irish Life Assurance Company in 1957 which he had previously guaranteed through Aer Rianta. It is an amendment which is really put in to assure the Irish Life Assurance Company that their State guarantee is being properly safeguarded in this Bill. It does not alter the construction of capital.
(a) advances to Aer Lingus under the latter subsection together with the amount, or the aggregate amount, of principal which he may at any one time be liable to pay on foot of any guarantees under subsection (1) of this section for the time being in force in relation to moneys borrowed by Aer Lingus after the commencement of this Act together with the amount of principal (if any) which the Minister for Finance has previously paid on foot of any such guarantees and has not been repaid by Aer Lingus exceeds five million pounds, or
(b) the amount, or the aggregate amount, of principal which he may at any one time be liable to pay on foot of any guarantee under the said subsection (1) (other than a guarantee to which subsection (12) of this section relates) for the time being in force in relation to moneys borrowed by Aer Lingus before the commencement of this Act together with the amount of principal (if any) which the Minister has previously paid on foot of any such guarantees and has not been repaid by Aer Lingus exceeds one million pounds”.
This amendment is of exactly the same character. It again provides for the £1 million borrowing by Aer Lingus from the Irish Life Assurance Company in 1957 and this amendment follows on the previous one. There is one change in it, that is, the word “guarantee” appears in the proposed amendment in subsection (2), in line 3, paragraph (b). This word also appears in subsection (3), line 9, and in each case the word should be “guarantees”. We are making “guarantee” plural in order that the Bill can be correctly printed.
This amendment makes it clear that the continuation provided for in this section, of existing guarantees by the Minister for Finance is in respect of moneys borrowed by Aer Rianta on behalf of Aer Lingus as distinct from direct borrowings by Aer Lingus guaranteed by Aer Rianta which are covered in section 5 (1). The clarification is inserted at the instance of the lenders concerned. In the annual report of Aer Lingus will be found the direct borrowings of Aer Lingus guaranteed by Aer Rianta. They consist of debentures from the Irish Life Assurance Company and a loan from the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada. Again it is in order to ensure that the repayment and interest on these loans are also guaranteed by the Minister for Finance.
Mr. Lindsay: May I make a protest about the continued inclusion of provisions preventing categories such as these from becoming Dáil or Seanad candidates? We have had this in other Bills—I remember some in the Seanad —and it is a very bad thing to restrict people from taking the necessary steps, or agreeing to have the necessary steps  taken for them, to enter public life while directors of bodies such as this. I do not see the logic of it and perhaps the Minister might like to defend it.
Mr. Childers: It has long been the view of the Government that directors of the State Companies should not be members of the Oireachtas. It would involve them in political pressures and difficulties and make it difficult for them to be objective in the carrying out of their duties as members of the Oireachtas and directors of State Companies. In addition, they would find it difficult to be objective in regard to their attitude towards discussions on any particular state company. This has been discussed on many occasions in the House and we have had the general agreement of a great many members, including those in Opposition in regard to this. I might also add that it is the practice in other respected and efficient democracies. There is nothing new in this provision.
Mr. Childers: I have also dealt with that at great length and we have had discussions about the position of State companies and the fact that they should be run as commercial concerns. I do not think the Deputy wants me to go into that country this afternoon.
Mr. Lindsay: It is to be hoped that the scheme for the granting of pensions and gratuities and other allowances on retirement will be planned much more carefully and, if I might venture to suggest, much more equitably than is the position in other  State companies, particularly CIE, and that the greatest consideration will be given to the position of people entering upon retirement.
Mr. Childers: I move amendment No. 5:
In line 14, to delete “SUBSCRIBE FOR AND”.
The amendment of the Title is considered desirable because the £700,000 referred to has already been subscribed by the Minister for Finance by way of a repayable advance to Aer Rianta, the purpose of section 3 of the Bill being to provide for the transfer of this money from Aer Rianta to Aer Lingus and for the issue by Aer Lingus to the Minister for Finance of shares to a corresponding amount. The revision is due to the fact that the amount permitted had been already spent by the company and £700,000 had temporarily to be given in the form of a repayable advance which will now become part of the permanent capital of the company.
Amendment agreed to.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
An Ceann Comhairle: Pursuant to Standing Order 96 (3) I have to report specially to the Dáil that the Committee has amended the Title to read as follows:—
An Act to provide for the transfer to the Minister for Finance of the shares of Aer Lingus, Teoranta, and Aerlínte Éireann, Teoranta, held by Aer Rianta, Teoranta, and the transfer to Aerlínte Éireann, Teoranta, of certain other shares and debenture stock held by Aer Rianta, Teoranta, to provide for a reduction of the share capital of Aer Rianta, Teoranta, to enable the Minister for Finance to take up shares of Aer Lingus, Teoranta, to the value of £700,000, to provide for the making of advances to and the guaranteeing  of sums borrowed by Aer Lingus, Teoranta, and Aerlínte Éireann, Teoranta, to make further and other provision in relation to the said companies and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.
Bill reported with amendments.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass”.
Mr. Lindsay: I wish to say one or two words on planning in relation to the air companies' buildings. Such buildings should be planned and built for as long a period as is humanly foreseeable. It is gratifying to note that the planning at Dublin Airport appears to have been extremely well foreseen and that the buildings being erected there are permanent. I am not so satisfied with the buildings at Shannon. According to the new plans which are now available and being considered at the moment, buildings which have not been ten years in operation in Shannon and built at a cost of many thousands of pounds are to be demolished. Even the new restaurant which went into operation only last year and which was built at considerable expense is to go, under the new plan. The steam unit is far from satisfactory, and altogether, as far as I can gather—perhaps my information is not fully accurate but there is never smoke without fire— work has been done piecemeal year after year at Shannon, which has become a perennial paradise for architects. Considerable money is being expended, and in a very short time that money goes for nothing as a result of demolition of the work upon which that money was expended. I should like to hear something from the Minister on that.
Mr. Childers: I think it would be true to say that in the case of Dublin Airport it was easier to provide a fairly long-term plan because the presumption was made that the traffic would grow continuously and steadily and that a great part of the traffic  would be handled by comparatively small aircraft doing business between this country and Great Britain, and that there would be a very steady expansion of traffic. Furthermore, it was possible to make some predictions about the total increase in the number of passengers passing through the Airport, there being no division as between transit passengers and terminal passengers.
In the case of Shannon Airport, when this airport commenced it was almost like an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. It provided an essential stop for piston-engined aircraft moving from the Continent of Europe across to the United States. The discovery of jet propulsion entirely altered the picture and made it essential to provide for a decrease in the number of transit passengers and an increase in the number of terminal passengers. The coming of the jet planes also required the construction of a longer runway and the construction of a new control tower, and I do not think we could have done much more planning than we, in fact, have in connection with  Shannon. No building under ten years old has been demolished. Any buildings that have been demolished were at least 20 years old and they were erected originally as temporary buildings. Actually when Shannon was first built it consisted largely of wooden buildings of what could be described as a purely temporary type. Although the builders could hardly have predicted the changes that would come, the fact that the buildings were temporary meant that they were much less costly than if they were of a permanent character.
The changes taking place at Shannon are absolutely essential because they provide for the alteration in the pattern of traffic as between transit passengers and disembarking and embarking passengers. However, I can assure the Deputy that the constructional programme for Shannon is very carefully examined and kept to the minimum cost possible.
Question put and agreed to.
The Dáil adjourned at 3.10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 8th February, 1966.
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