Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Demise of Certain Mining Rights::18 July, 1935::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 18adh Iúl, 1935.

Thursday, 18th July, 1935.

The Committee sat at 5.30 p.m.

Members Present:


J. A. Costello.


J. Geoghegan.

T. P. Dowdall.

S. Moore.

D. Fitzgerald.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.

J. Fitzgerald-Kenney.

DEPUTY W. NORTON in the Chair.

Chairman.—On the last day it was arranged that the secretaries of the Departments would attend for the purpose of proving documents already submitted. We will ask Mr. McElligott to give evidence first.

Mr. J. J. McElligott, (Secretary, Department of Finance) sworn and examined.

1. Chairman.—We have received some files from the Department of Finance which purport to be all the documents which that Department has in connection with this inquiry. May we take it that there are no other documents of any kind relevant to this inquiry which are in the possession, power or procurement of the Department of Finance?—Not so far as I am aware. I have sent the Committee all the documents relevant to the inquiry.

2. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.—Would there be anyone in your Department who would have better knowledge of these documents than you?—No, I would know of all the documents relevant to the inquiry.

3. Deputy Fitzgerald.—That is including the Quit Rents Office, which is under your Department?—Yes, but I did not make any special inquiry from the Quit Rent Office. Without special inquiry I would not like to express myself satisfied that there is no document in the Quit Rent Office. It was not until I read the proceedings at the last meeting that I was aware that the Quit Rent Office entered into the matter. If the Committee so wish, I shall make inquiry so as to clear up the matter.

4. Chairman.—Will you take it as a request from the Committee to do so?— Certainly, I shall.

5. Apart from the documents you have submitted, do you desire to say anything further to the Committee in explanation of the documents or to explain the Department’s view on the whole matter?—Not at this stage, sir, except the Committee wish me to do so. I attended here to-day in accordance with the Committee’s request contained in the letter of July 17th to put in evidence the documents which I had handed in earlier under my minute of July 11th. I did not understand that there was to be any discussion to-day. I understood that the proceedings were to be purely formal.

6. That is so. If there is no statement you wish to make to-day, and if there is one you wish to make at a later stage, you can be called before the Committee again? —I do not see any necessity to make a statement.

7. Deputy Costello.—I take it that there is some official in your Department, not necessarily yourself, who would be able to give the Committee an account of his functions in relation to leases of the character of the subject matter of the inquiry?—Yes, I myself do not handle the documents relating to these leases and there are officials in the Department who would be ready, if necessary, to give evidence before the Committee as to the exact way the leases are made out.

8. You will give the names to the chairman?—They are contained on the facing sheets of the various files I have put in evidence to the Committee. It may be necessary to have someone to explain generally the functions of the Department in reference to transactions of this kind, and particularly the dealings of the Department with such documents.

9. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.—You will make available to the Committee such official as, to your knowledge, would have that information?—Certainly.

Chairman.—That is all to-day, Mr. McElligott.

Mr. John Leydon (Secretary, Department of Industry and Commerce), sworn and examined.

10. Chairman.—We have received some files from you, Mr. Leydon, purporting to be all the files in the Department of Industry and Commerce relating to this inquiry. Are there any other files in your Department relating to this matter as far as you know?—No, Sir. I have sent you all the files which appear to me to be relevant to the subject matter of the inquiry. If at a later stage any other file appears to be relevant, it will be placed at your disposal.

11. Is there any continuing correspondence?—Correspondence is continuing on some of the files of which I have handed in copies.

12. You anticipate that it will continue?—Yes, that is a reasonable anticipation. I should say on that point that as far as my Department is concerned we have not interrupted any action we would normally be taking in carrying out the Department’s functions.

13. So far as you know, we have all the documents that are in the possession of your Department relating to this inquiry? —Yes, so far as I know. I had a special search made in the last four or five days to see if we had any other relevant documents, and I do not think that there are any.

14. Do you desire to say anything further in connection with the documents?—Not at this stage. I think the documents speak for themselves.

15. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—Whose duty is it to examine these leases and to grant these leases, to accept the proposal for the leases?—The position is that the Minister is responsible but various officers in the Department carry out the duties.

16. Who did, in fact, accept this particular lease or the proposal for this lease, what official?—I should have to consult the files to get his name. In one sense, I personally am responsible in so far as I signed and sealed the lease.

17. Whose duty was it to examine into the accuracy of the lease, the possible existence of gold and other matters like that?—Am I to understand that you want the name of the individual officer?

18. Yes?—There have been changes in the duties of some of the officers dealing with these matters at different stages and I would prefer to give you a list of the officers who dealt with them at various times.

19. Deputy Geoghegan.—You can give that to the clerk?—The correspondence I have put in will show you the names.

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—It is not quite clear to me at the moment.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.—A statement of the kind that Mr. Leydon suggests would be very useful.

20. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—A letter of the 16th May is signed by Mr. R. C. Ferguson. The file is 195/22. It is rather towards the end of my file.

Chairman.—What year?

21. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—1933. The file number is 195/22. Was that document written on his own responsibility entirely?

Witness.—Yes, it was. I should say, of course, that that is a measure of responsibility which he is normally expected to take.

22. Deputy Fitzgerald.—From a cursory glance over the files I cannot see any record of inquiries into the matter of technical equipment or the financial position of the applicants?—The applicants in the original application gave the name of a man associated with them and said he was a practical prospector. At a later stage he dropped out and they said that they proposed—

23. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—The expert dropped out and they had no technical adviser?—The intention was to secure expert advice and opinion; so far as the Department is concerned the lease was a prospecting lease and the onus is obviously on the lessees to secure technical advisers.

24. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—You always call them prospecting leases. Surely it is a lease to carry on a mine?— It is a prospecting lease under the terms of the Mines and Minerals Act, 1931.

Chairman.—Mr. Leydon has stated that he only appears for the purpose of proving documents, and I suggest that cross-examination should not take place to-day.

25. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—Certainly, sir. I only directed my questions to know what officials from the Department we would want. It is obvious that Mr. Ferguson is an official we would want. Is there any other official from your knowledge, Mr. Leydon? Could you tell us what other officials acted on their own?—I will give you a list of the names. In relation to the other matter, I might refer you to Section 11 (2) of the Mines and Minerals Act, which provides for the granting of prospecting leases.

Chairman.—Any other question for Mr. Leydon?

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.—Not to-day, sir.

The Committee deliberated.