AN DARA TUARASGABHAIL INTERIM Ó CHOISTE NA gCUNTAISÍ PUIBLI.
SECOND INTERIM REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS.
1. With the close of the first session of the Public Accounts Committee, following on the establishment of Saorstát Eireann, and with the acceptance by the Dáil of its Reports, the first full cycle of financial administration and control will have been completed. In a normal year the course of financial business may be traced through the following stages. The Departments furnish estimates of their financial needs for the year. The Ministry of Finance scrutinises these and introduces them in the Dáil. They are, in turn, examined by the Dáil, which votes the necessary annual supplies. The Oireachtas implements these votes by passing the requisite legislation, authorising the spending of the moneys thus supplied. These are made available for use, subject to control exercised by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The Departments are thus enabled to carry on their functions, expending the grants under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. This supervision is directed with a view to ensuring that expenditure will never exceed the authority given. Concurrently with this expenditure an audit of the Appropriation Accounts of the various Departments is continuing on the part of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. He presents to the Dáil his annual report, containing the results of his examination of the Appropriation Accounts for the complete financial year. The Accounts and Report are thereupon referred to the Committee of Public Accounts for examination as to whether expenditure was in conformity with authority. Finally, the Reports of the Committee are laid before the Dáil for acceptance.
2. In the forefront of this Report it is necessary to recall that, during the greater portion of the year, 1922-23, warfare raged in the country. The hostilities left an impress, of one kind or another, on nearly every Department of State. This, in turn, was reflected in the Accounts.
3. The Committee has, up to the date of the present Report, met on thirty-two occasions, for the purpose of dealing with the Accounts for the Year, 1922-23. It has called and examined the Accounting Officers responsible for the various Votes. In the course of their work, members of the Committee gained considerable familiarity with the technical procedure of Department machinery, but the task, for various reasons, proved a lengthy one. Its labours may be estimated by perusal of the verbatim report of the evidence. The task before the Committee was accentuated by the abnormal character of the Accounts under examination. During the year in question the administration of the country was itself, in large measure, only in process of construction. A new Parliament and new Ministries were springing up. Existing Departments were being pressed under the additional strain put upon them. A new Army and Police Force were coming into existence. A scarcity of expert staff to work the accounting branches of Departments had been felt. In many cases the Committee was obliged to seek explanations of expenditure, which had been incurred before any responsible Accounting Officer had been appointed. Furthermore, it transpired that, for a great portion of the year in question, the Ministry of Finance, itself the central financial-controlling authority in the State, was only in the process of organisation; that the Exchequer and Audit Department did not come into existence till the end of January, 1923; and that the Appropriation Accounts for the year bore many traces of the absence of these great co-ordinating and controlling Departments. Finally it should be borne in mind that the Estimates for the year were not presented till late in the Autumn, when a considerable expenditure had already taken place. It was thought advisable to proceed slowly, having regard to these circumstances. According to the settled practice of such Committees as this, a final Report should be issued by the beginning of August. The desirability of making that date the aim must be conceded, and the Committee hopes that, in future years, this aim will be possible of attainment. In the present case, a first interim Report has already been issued dealing with a matter of minor importance, it being considered that there were urgent grounds for doing so in the case of the Vote dealt with therein. The Committee now presents this as a second interim Report, and an explanation of this procedure must be given. The Committee has been confronted with many important and complicated questions arising out of the Army Accounts for the year under review, and, notwithstanding its efforts to dispose of these, and to include in this Report a survey of the Army Account, it finds itself unable to do so. The remaining Accounts, on. the other hand, have been finished, and it is important that the Report of the Committee on them should be issued without further delay. It is proposed, therefore, to exclude the Army Account and deal with it in a final Report. It is hoped that the complete Minutes of Evidence will be available therewith.
4. For the due discharge of its business, the Committee found it necessary to have the evidence printed from day to day, and it would suggest that authority to do so in future years be regarded as inherent in the Committee.
5. The discrepancy between amounts estimated for and actual expenditure, and the consequent existence of balances raises the question of over-estimating. The circumstances of the year under review are, to a considerable extent, responsible for this Under more normal conditions, Departments will be expected to display the greatest care in drawing up their annual estimates, as the existence of large balances must be regarded as unsound financial administration and brings with it the danger of unnecessary expenditure on the part of Departments. Furthermore, excessive estimates add unduly to the difficulties of framing the annual Budget. The Committee will always feel bound to demand explanations, where it transpires that Departments have sought for more money than they require.
Dáil Eireann Loans.
6. In addition to moneys voted by the Dáil, there were expended, upon public services for this year, funds proceeding from the First and Second Dáil Eireann Loans. An important result follows, namely, that the totals, given in the Appropriation Accounts, for the various services affected by this factor are not always their true cost, and comparisons with subsequent years will not have any true basis. The services affected are shown in the Appendix to this Report.
7. A more important point remains. Constitutional usage requires that accounts of public moneys voted for public services by the Dáil should, after audit, be submitted to the Dáil, in a succeeding Session, for examination. Accounts of the expenditure from the Dáil Eireann Loans Funds for the period from January to June, 1922, have been so presented, signed by the Auditor appointed by the First and Second Dáil. Subsequent accounts, up to the date of the Dáil Eireann Loans and Funds Act, 1924, have not yet been presented. The Committee, therefore, recommends that authority be given for the examination of the Accounts of the Dáil Eireann Loans from January, 1922, until formal handing over of these moneys to the care of the Ministry of Finance.
Provisional Government Moneys.
8. Somewhat analogous principles to those arising out of the use of the moneys proceeding from the Dáil Eireann Loans, as explained in the preceding Paragraph, apply to moneys which came into the hands of the Provisional Government subsequent to December, 1921. These moneys mainly proceeded from the Local Taxation Adjustments, due by the British Treasury, and paid over at that time. These were applied to defray the expenses of government, apart entirely from moneys borne on the various Votes. They were used, in some cases, beyond the opening of the financial year. They do not come within the scope of audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, as provided by statute. The Committee feels that, in this matter, also, it is necessary to recommend to the Dáil that accounts showing how these moneys were spent be submitted for audit to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, for presentation to the Dáil, and for examination by the successor to this Committee.
Responsibility of Accounting Officers.
9. The Committee has taken note that the Comptroller and Auditor-General found it necessary to request Accounting Officers, in a number of cases, to seek covering sanction for expenditure incurred without the prior authority of the Ministry of Finance. In the bulk of these cases this sanction has been given. The explanations produced to the Committee show that want of regularity in following this well-known and fundamental principle was due to the abnormal nature of the period, and to the fact, that new officers were not fully alive to its importance. Accounting Officers entrusted with the spending of public moneys should bear in mind, that they are not entitled to go outside the bounds set out in the sub-heads of the Estimates, unless they have previously applied for, and obtained, the consent of the Ministry of Finance. A serious personal responsibility attaches to them if they fail in this respect, for, if a post factum application to the Ministry does not disclose any grounds justifying the expenditure, the responsibility is likely to return to them individually. It cannot be too strongly urged upon Accounting Officers that they should make themselves fully aware of the responsibilities of their office.
10. In more than one case Accounting Officers were appointed late in this financial year and had no personal knowledge of expenditure occurring before their appointment, yet they have unconditionally signed the Annual Appropriation Accounts. In such cases it should be remembered that they undertake full responsibility for the contents of the Accounts, subject to any reservations made, either in the Accounts or in the course of examination by the Committee.
Appropriations in Aid.
11. As a sub-head Appropriations in Aid is found in most Votes, and their proper treatment is a matter of general interest. Reference may, therefore, be made at this point to a question introduced by the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance. It affects the method of dealing with Appropriations in Aid. Following the practice taken over from Britain, the extra receipts of a Department, to an amount estimated beforehand, have hitherto been included in the Estimates as a distinct sub-head, and thus utilised as a set-off against the cost of the Department. The Ministry of Finance, in doing this, has statutory power, as provided by the Public Accounts and Charges Act, 1891. The present question affects the interpretation of Article 61 of the Constitution of Saorstát Eireann. It provides: “All revenues of Saorstát Eireann, from whatever source arising, shall, subject to such exceptions as may be provided by law, from one fund, and shall be appropriated for the purposes of Saorstát Eireann in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by law.” The conflict is between the system whereby Departments retain, and apply towards their expenses, such extra receipts as accrue to them, and that whereby, on a possible reading of the Constitution, these receipts, being revenue, would go into the Central Fund. The difficulty was not brought to the point of solution before the Committee, having only been introduced incidentally in pursuance of the explanation of the theory of Appropriation in Aid. The experience of the Committee has been that the existence of this sub-head in the Accounts has thrown much light on the work of the Departments, and has rendered examination easier. The transference of these items from the Appropriation Accounts to the Exchequer Account has disadvantages, yet it may transpire that the state of the law will require it. Associated with this matter is the treatment of the Fines Fund. The attention of the Committee has been drawn to the fact that fines, collected in consequence of judgments of the Courts, are paid into a separate fund and are not brought into the Central Fund. Other instances of receipts, similarly treated, no doubt, exist. The Committee would suggest that the Ministry of Finance, when they have determined their attitude on the various points involved, should again bring forward the matter.
Overpayments and Underpayments.
12. The Committee notes with satisfaction the statement of the Comptroller and Auditor-General that, notwithstanding many minor errors of overpayment and underpayment by Departments, due to inexperience and the severe pressure of business during the early period of this financial year, the staffs rapidly accommodated themselves to the new state of things, and that the Accounts Branches of the various Departments attained a high standard of accuracy and efficiency. The recovery of the sums overpaid is proceeding.
Travelling and Subsistence.
13. Under the general heading of Travelling and Subsistence Allowances, complaint is made by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, that vouchers were often not supplied in connection with claims. The Committee concurs with his remarks on the importance of doing so on all occasions. While agreeing that, in the special circumstances of the year under review, these cases may be allowed to pass, Accounting Officers will, in future, be expected to include in their Accounts only such claims as are properly vouched. The Committee found that the extent to which exorbitant claims for subsistence and travelling were paid out was not very considerable.
14. Schedules showing the rates applicable to officers in the public service in respect of Travelling and Subsistence were produced. The Committee, taking account of the date on which these were drawn up, would suggest that, having regard to present conditions, it might be desirable that they be reviewed.
Supply of Articles of Personal Outfit from Public Funds.
15. The Comptroller and Auditor-General, in Paragraphs 9 and 89 of his Report, has called attention to items of a personal nature, which have been supplied to officials and paid for out of public funds. The Accounting Officer responsible has furnished an explanation of the circumstances in which these articles were supplied, and the Committee, after the fullest investigation of the facts, has decided, though with some reluctance, to recommend that the charges be allowed. It desires, however, to place on record its opinion, that the supply of personal articles, not expressly provided for, at the expense of the taxpayer, is quite indefensible, and that, unless the conditions are abnormal, charges in respect of such items should not be admitted against public funds.
Change in the Form of Estimates.
16. The Committee discussed with the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance the question of proposed changes in the form of presenting Estimates, a matter referred to the Committee by Standing Order No.100. Changes involving principles will in future be submitted for approval before final adoption. Certain changes consequent on the passage of the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, were discussed with the Committee, and existing defects in classification of the Estimates in general were noted for improvement.
17. In addition to the above remarks, which deal with general topics, the Committee must deal with individual accounts, on which special points arise.
18. Arising on this account a question was discussed which, though containing a principle of general interest, may be most satisfactorily explained at this point. It affects the buying of property in cases where the purchase money is largely supplied by the State, but where contributions, considerable or otherwise, are made by officers serving the State. An instance occurred in this account of the purchase of a motor car for a certain officer, who, in order to have the use of a particular type of car, contributed a sum over and above what had been sanctioned for the purpose. The officer disclaimed any part-ownership, but the general question remains—viz, should joint-purchase as between the State and its officers result in joint-ownership All the official witnesses examined agree that, in such cases, it is necessary that the property should be regarded as belonging to the State, no matter what proportion of the purchase money has been contributed by the officer. The Committee fully concurs with this view. In the case of motor cars, the Committee thinks it preferable that they should be purchased by and belong to the State entirely or to officers entirely. In the latter event, allowance, according to regulations, should be made, if they are used on State service.
19. The Committee has noted that the price of the car referred to was £1,114. Due weight has been given to the explanation of the Accounting Officer, viz., that a powerful car was required for dangerous service. The item may be passed, but the Committee feels it necessary to state its opinion, that, in future, less expensive types of car should be supplied.
20. In the formation of the Band belonging to the Force, the cost of the musical instruments appears to have been borne on public funds, and they are thus public property, though otherwise the Band is an unofficial organisation, benevolently regarded by the authorities, but costing the State nothing for its musical upkeep. In the case of these instruments a check on their ultimate disposal should be maintained for the reason given. The Band is sustained by a levy upon the men in all parts of the country, and the Committee is informed that adequate regulations exist for the supervision of all the activities and property of the Band.
21. With regard to the stores of the Gárda Siochána, some matters remain to be mentioned. In the first place, as regards Transport, certain motor cars and tenders were taken over from the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Comptroller and Auditor-General ascertained that some of these were missing and unvouched for. It would appear from the evidence of the Accounting Officer, that two of the cars thus affected were handed over to the Army during the period of domestic hostilities. The Committee is not satisfied with the proposition of the Accounting Officer, that the cars should now be transferred from the Gárda Siochána Stores Account to that of the Army, and that the Comptroller and Auditor-General should be instructed to verify their present existence. Transfer of public property is, of course, common enough between Departments, but the Committee holds that the Accounting Officer, having, undertaken responsibility for these cars, and being unable to produce vouchers for them, should discharge it by showing that they are still in existence and in the possession of the State. The onus lies on him of doing this to the satisfaction of the Comptroller and Auditor General, and not vice versa as he proposes.
22. A second point remains. All the Stores of the Gárda Siochána had their origin in the Stores held by the Royal Irish Constabulary, and transferred by the British Government when that Force was ceasing its functions. The Board of Works was the Department to which custody was given, and, with the Stores, there was also given a list purporting to show their total contents. The Board, itself was at the time of transfer a British service. The record of the Stores was not checked by the Board in any adequate way. The check, so far as it proceeded, showed no discrepancy as to quantities, but did disclose that the stores were not correct as to condition. After taking over control, the Board, during six months, continued to issue stores to the Army and other Departments, including the Gárda Siochána. No account was kept of issues during this period. In December, 1922, it was ordered that the stores be transferred to the Gárda, and this was done, the only record of the contents given with them being that drawn up by the British Authorities, uncorrected by any statement of transactions in the interval. The Store was, after transfer, kept locked for some time, after which issues from it were carefully taken into account. Stocktaking is now regularly proceeding. The discrepancies referred to by the Comptroller and Auditor-General are not in every case deficiencies, and his Report on this matter should be understood in this sense. The judgment of the Committee on the episode is, that it was most desirable that these stores should have been thoroughly checked and examined as to quantity and condition, in the first instance, and that all issues, occurring after the transfer, should have been brought to account. That this was not attained seems to have been due to the severe strain thrown on the Office of Public Works in 1922. Making all allowance for this, the Committee would like to be assured that it was impossible to adjust the staff to the emergency, either by addition or rearrangement.
23. It is, in the view of the Committee, important that some firm basis for starting the accounting of these stores should now be found, and the Gárda Siochána, in conjunction with the Office of Public Works, should examine all existing records and vouchers with a view to establishing this. The Comptroller and Auditor-General should be satisfied and should report the result to the Public Accounts Committee.
Secretariat and Special Services.
24. The expenditure, referred to by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, in respect of meals supplied in Government Buildings during the period June to September, 1922, does not appear to the Committee to be such as should have been borne out of Government funds. It is understood that the greater part of this expenditure has been recovered from the persons to whom the meals were supplied.
25. On this Account the Committee finds it necessary to comment upon items of expenditure presenting some unusual features, the repetition of which should be avoided. Sub-head (A) of the Vote was for a sum of £298,000 for works in relief of unemployment. Of this amount, a sum of £274,083 was allocated to County Councils, to be spent on approved road schemes. These approved schemes should be distinguished from the ordinary road schemes, which are part of the normal activities of these Councils, the cost of which is met out of their ordinary revenue, and the purpose of which is not the relief of distress. Concurrently, the relief schemes and the ordinary schemes proceeded on the roads. In the disturbed conditions of the country during this period, the financial position of the Councils became unfavourable, as ordinary revenue did not accrue. The effect was that the relief grants, while being largely applied towards the approved road schemes, were also, to some extent, used for ordinary road maintenance. The Local Government Department, during the difficult period, was unable to exercise such strict supervision as is usual. The information before the Committee was that the percentage of the Vote, thus wrongfully applied, was small. Furthermore, it transpired that the use of this money by the local bodies for ordinary purposes was only temporary, and the Ministry for Local Government was able, as early as December, 1923, to assure the Ministry of Finance that the sums in question had been or would be expended for the purposes for which they were voted. The Committee regrets that even this temporary diversion of the grants from their proper purpose was possible, and must impress upon all Departments of State the necessity of using their utmost endeavours at all times to ensure that moneys granted by the Oireachtas will be spent strictly according to law. In the present case, the Committee must take into account the difficulties under which Government was carried on and admit that some loss of efficiency was not surprising.
26. A further point arose on this Account. Of the same moneys there remained unexpended on the 31st March, 1923, balances amounting to £25,664 14s. 6d. In the absence of any provision to the contrary, these should have been surrendered on the conclusion of the financial year. This was not done, as local bodies were, apparently, left unwarned that it would be necessary, and had actually used the money for their own purposes. The Committee desires that the Ministry of Finance should submit a statement next year, for the information of the Public Accounts Committee, showing what action had been taken with regard to these balances, and how they have been disposed of.
Ministry of Home Affairs.
27. The attention of the Committee was directed, in Paragraph 65 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, to the purchase of a motor car, to be used in the special service mentioned. Authority had been obtained beforehand from the Ministry of Finance for the purchase of such a car of the value of £200. The money was given to the officer for whose use the car was intended, with instructions to purchase a suitable car. In the purchase the officer, in fact, sold to the Department his own car, at a price apparently in excess of its cost when new, and above its market value. The Department seems to have been misinformed as to the model and value. Finally, the car was sold by the Department, seven months later, at the price of £90. The Committee cannot express any satisfaction in connection with this transaction. The conduct of the officer, for whose use the car was intended, seems reprehensible to the point of meriting disciplinary action, and the Committee would refer the case to the Ministry, to ascertain whether any remedies are available against him.
28. Furthermore, official regulations require that, before a Department buys property from an officer in the public service, prior sanction to that effect should be obtained from the Ministry of Finance. This procedure was not followed in the present instance. Before leaving this aspect of the case. the Committee would like to repeat the injunction, contained in Paragraph 9 of this Report, as to the necessity of Accounting Officers informing themselves of the responsibilities of their office. The Committee has given serious consideration to the question of disallowing the sum lost on this transaction, feeling that there was a certain degree of laxity displayed in the matter, as well as failure to make any effort at recoupment. However, having regard to all the facts, as brought out in evidence, it has been decided not to press this point.
Public Works Office.
29. In the general purchase of furniture many individual items occurred which appeared extravagant. The Committee would like to emphasise the desirability of exercising economy in the purchase of furniture and equipments. Other aspects of this question may be more conveniently dealt with in the Committee’s Final Report.
Ministry of Local Government.
30. The attention of the Committee was directed to an overpayment of £4 4s. 0d. to certain typing staff of this Ministry, sent to Cork in connection with a local inquiry. No adequate justification of the overpayment was given by the Accounting Officer. As it was found that the usual practice in such cases had not been followed, viz., of applying to the Ministry of Finance for covering sanction for unauthorised expenditure, the Committee directed the Accounting Officer so to apply and to report the result. Correspondence between the Ministries on the subject was afterwards produced to the Committee. It showed that the sanction required was refused. The Committee, having taken cognisance of all the facts of the case, including this refusal, recommends to the Dáil that this sum be disallowed. The Committee concurs with the opinion of the Accounting Officer, that the refund should not be sought from the junior staff, to whom the overpayments were made, as they were not in any way responsible for the loss to the Exchequer, and takes the view that the loss should be made good by the Officer who authorised the overpayment.
Exchequer and Audit Department.
31. The inclusion in this Department of certain official functions in connection with the audit of the Accounts of Approved Societies under the National Health Insurance Acts was the subject of some discussion before the Committee. The information at the disposal of the Committee is not sufficient to warrant a judgment on the question involved. The Committee would like to have the opinion of the Ministry of Finance on the present arrangement.
Science and Art.
32. An overpayment of £16 6s. 6d. was reported to have been made to a part-time teacher attached to the School of Art, arising from a question as to the correct rate of cost-of-living bonus applicable to the case, and of the necessity for the revision of the bonus periodically. Departmental correspondence bearing on the matter was submitted. It was shown therein that the Ministry of Finance refused their sanction to the payment. The Accounting Officer, in defending the action of his Department before the Committee, did not adduce any arguments which would justify disagreement with the Ministry of Finance. The Committee, therefore, recommends to the Dáil that the sum be disallowed.
33. It was noted that a training college situate outside Saorstát Eireann was maintained out of this Vote throughout and for some time after this financial year. The college served the interests of Ireland as a whole. The Committee is of opinion that more definite arrangements should have been made in regard to the expenditure and recovery of these moneys. In so far as services have been rendered to another Government arising from arrangements made prior to the British withdrawal, and paid for from Saorstát moneys, claims are equitable and should be pressed.
34. In Paragraph 16 of his Report the Comptroller and Auditor-General draws attention to the fact that an extensive scheme for special Irish courses for teachers was put into operation before sanction had been received from the Ministry of Finance. A sum of £75,000 was expended during this year on these courses. The amount of money involved induced the Committee to take the view that precautions should have been taken to see that all regulations as to sanction, etc., had been properly observed. In his evidence the Accounting Officer stated that, at the time these classes were started, the Ministry of Finance was only in process of organisation, and that the officers of that Ministry were personally aware of the details of the proposed scheme. The Committee accepts these statements, but desires to emphasise the principle that new and unforeseen expenditure, hitherto unsanctioned, should not be undertaken until the Ministry of Finance gives its concurrence.
35. The regulations governing the payment of fees to Professors under the scheme appear to have been drawn up in such a manner as to leave doubt as to their exact meaning. Control over the financial commitments arising under such regulations is only possible where their meaning is explicit. This should be ensured before payments are made.
36. In certain special subjects—e.g., Cookery and Mathematics—the regulations prescribe a minimum number of hours’ instruction, as a condition of payment of fees to teachers. During the year under review the conditions prevailing in the country rendered this minimum impossible of attainment. Payment was nevertheless made without any reference of the matter to the Ministry of Finance for sanction, as had been usual under the former regime whenever it was necessary to relax the rule. In future, the Committee will expect that the practice formerly prevailing will be resumed.
Ministry of External Affairs.
37. The Estimate for this service as passed by the Dáil contained no provision for Publicity. Sub-head (B) of the Vote was for “Travelling, Incidental Expenses, and Telegrams.” The Comptroller and Auditor-General in his Report criticised the inclusion in this sub-head of the cost of certain publications, on the grounds that they were not normally chargeable on Public Funds, and he directed that the covering sanction of the Ministry of Finance be sought. The Committee notes the undertaking given by the Accounting Officer as to future action in similar matters.
38. In addition to the grounds of objection advanced by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in his Report as mentioned above, a further criticism may be directed against these payments. They were made on account of publicity issued internally and intended to influence Saorstát Eireann in domestic matters. It is not clear why these activities were undertaken by a Ministry whose sole function is to deal with foreign matters., The payments in question were first made, and covering sanction sought, from the Ministry of Finance. This was given, but, nevertheless, explanations on the various points raised would appear to be necessary.
39. If a decision is taken to continue the service of Publicity under this Ministry, the Committee is of opinion that the Estimates and the Appropriation Accounts should show what moneys are allocated to home publicity, and what to foreign.
40. The abnormality of the period was nowhere more pronounced than in the Accounts presented by the Post Office. The disturbances of this year resulted in the destruction of the Headquarters Offices and a serious interruption of services all over the country. The difficulties of the Department in drawing up its Appropriation Account were increased by the loss of records and vouchers. It was, therefore, obliged to estimate, from such meagre material as survived, the payments made during the year. The Comptroller and Auditor-General, whose audit was considerably handicapped owing to this, reported that he had closely scrutinised the basis of estimation of payments out of the Vote and was satisfied that the figures given are close approximations to the actual expenditure. The examination of the Accounting Officer supplied the Committee with sufficient corroboration of this judgment.
41. The Committee notes that during the period prior to the 1st April 1922, certain overprinted British stamps were issued by the Post Office. As pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, a considerable sum would have accrued to the revenue of Saorstát Eireann had this issue been delayed. The abandonment of any claim against the British Government has been sanctioned by the Ministry of Finance. The Committee concurs with this.
42. The result of the claim made against the British Government on account of stamps repurchased from the public will, doubtless, be reported to the Public Accounts Committee at a later date.
43. A report should also be submitted to the Committee by the Department giving the dates of any revisions of the basis of cost of Agency Services on behalf of Great Britain that have taken place.
Superannuation and Retired Allowances.
44. The Comptroller and Auditor-General, in his Report on this Vote, has drawn attention to the basis of computation of a civil pension. In view of the circumstances set out in the Report, the Committee desires to have the opinion of the Attorney-General on the decision of the Civil Service Committee before making any recommendation.
TOMÁS MAC EOIN,
Cathaoirleach an Choiste.
19 Mi na Nodlag, 1924.
Appendix Referred to in Paragraph 6.
The figures of expenditure for the financial year ended 31st March, 1923, have been obtained from the Accountant-General of Dáil Eireann. The Accounts of these Funds were audited to 30th June and 31st December in each year by the Auditor appointed by the First Sáil, and as the periods of account do not correspond, the figures for the year to 31st March, 1923, are in some cases necessarily approximate.
EXPENDITURE FROM DÁIL EIREANN FUNDS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31st MARCH, 1923.