Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1938 - 1939::27 April, 1939::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Diardaoin, 27adh Aibrean, 1939.

Thursday, 27th April, 1939.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:


B. Brady.









R. Walsh.

DEPUTY DILLON in the Chair.

Mr. J. Maher (Roinn an Ard-Reachtaire Cunntas agus Ciste), Mr. T. S. C. Dagg, Mr. C. S. Almond and Mr. D. P. Shanagher (Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Mr. W. O’Brien called and examined.

Chairman.—There are notes by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in regard to this Vote, on page iv, as follows:—

Revenue Account.

“7. A test examination of the Revenue Account has been carried out with satisfactory results.


8. I have been furnished with a schedule of the several cases involving a loss of £50 and upwards in which claims for duty or interest receivable under the Revenue Acts were remitted during the year ended 31st March, 1938, without statutory authority, from motives of compassion or equity arising out of particular circumstances in individual cases. The reasons given for remission appear to be satisfactory. The total amount shown in the schedule is £7,500 0s. 6d., as compared with £6,335 12s. 11d. in the preceding year. Of the total, £7,229 4s. 4d. has been remitted in respect of income-tax and surtax. £398 5s. 0d. related to five cases in which the assessed parties died insolvent or were destitute and recovery was impossible; £89 15s. 0d. related to a case in which the assessed party was bankrupt and there were no assets to meet the claim. £3,510 6s. 7d. related to 15 cases in which assessments were raised but subsequent evidence revealed no net liability to tax. £3,230 17s. 9d. related to three cases in which tax was remitted for other reasons….”

632. I shall pause there, Mr. Maher. The total sum remitted was £7,500 0s. 6d., and of that total you proceed to account for £7,229 4s. 4d.?

Mr. Maher.—Yes.

Chairman.—The note by the Comptroller and Auditor-General continues as follows:—

“Two of the cases last referred to presented unusual features, and I have asked that the covering sanction of the Department of Finance be sought for the remissions in these instances. The remissions also include sums in respect of Estate, Legacy, and Succession duties and interest on such duties amounting to £270 16s. 2d.

The above figures do not include duty passed as irrecoverable for various reasons.”

633. Could you tell us, Mr. Maher, what were the unusual circumstances to which you direct the Committee’s attention in regard to two cases and whether covering sanction from the Department of Finance has since been obtained and furnished to you?—Yes; these two cases were double taxation cases in which the parties concerned got the advantage of legislation which had not been passed when the assessment was made. The Comptroller and Auditor-General considered that, in view of the unusual features presented in them, the covering authority of the Minister should be obtained. We have been informed that that has now been sought and obtained.

Mr. O’Brien.—I would like to say that legislation was really necessitated by cases of that kind. We had some very important big cases where, on account of double residence, the man paid considerably more tax than if he had a single residence. The theory is that, if you have two residences, you should not pay more than if you have a single residence.

634. Chairman.—And some anomaly had arisen which legislation corrected?— Yes. They do not always run on the same lines with regard to the measure of liability. We may have a three-years’ average and in Britain they may have a year’s average. Unless we worked on parallel lines, discrepancies would always arise. Of course, we have authority to deal with it in the ordinary course.

635. Turning to the Vote proper, the details of subhead P—Appropriations in Aid—will be found on page 12.

Could you refresh our memories, Mr. O’Brien, as to what is the exact position in regard to the duties of preventive officers in the matter of books included in the personal luggage of persons entering the State, where there is no prima facie evidence of intention to introduce them for resale?—I do not know that I can take any definite view in a matter of that kind.

636. My attention has been directed to cases where visitors, tourists, arriving for short holidays in this country, have had books, which they were carrying in their hand and which they had been reading on the journey, perused and scrutinised by preventive officers. Surely that is excessive zeal?—It probably is.

637. Have the preventive officers any function of censorship?—They have, undoubtedly. If they found a book that was banned they would have to stop it.

638. I understood, Mr. O’Brien, that the banning of a book involved only its banning from importation for the purpose of resale?—Oh, no. A man might smuggle a suit of clothes just as he could smuggle a book and it would not be for resale.

639. There is no duty on an ordinary novel?—There is some duty on certain books, a very small duty, of course, but what they look for really is the banned books or books that are not banned but which they think ought to be banned. As a matter of fact, they bring books before the Committee for banning.

640. In your judgment, is that a prudent exercise of the functions of the Revenue Commissioners, because I do not think it is?—It is very difficult to interfere with a man if he is a little bit energetic. We do not particularly tell them to be energetic, but after all they are revenue officials rather than police. If they have that kind of work thrown on to them, they have to do it to a certain extent; but the great majority of them do it in the easiest possible way. An odd man may go in and say: “I am keen on books. I will examine them and see whether these books are fit to come in or whether they should be banned. If it is not banned already and I think it ought to be banned, I will send it to the censor and mark all the passages which I think are objectionable.”

641. In your judgment, Mr. O’Brien, is that a proper function of the revenue officers?—It is part of their function; it depends on whether they do it very efficiently or not. If a preventive officer did not examine ten books every day I do not think we would reprimand him.

642. Chairman.—Might I distinguish between “efficiently” and “officiously”? I have no doubt that is a fine distinction which you appreciate?—Yes.


Mr. W. O’Brien further examined.

643. Chairman.—A case not infrequently arises in which an applicant for a pension is found by your officers to have transferred his property to his son. Your officer takes the view that this transfer was made for the purpose of getting the pension, while the applicant submits that he did it in order to give his son that measure of independence which would encourage him to get married. In your judgment, does that preclude the applicant from getting a pension?—If the farm is transferred with a view to marriage, or on marriage, there is no question at all about it. We simply cannot raise any point. The man gets the old age pension, no matter what the circumstances may be, if he gives the farm up to his son or daughter on marriage, although he may reserve the right to live and be supported on the farm. We cannot stop that.

644. But there is a number of cases, Mr. O’Brien, in which your officers say: “This man says that he has made the transfer in order to induce his son to marry. We hold that the transfer has been made for the primary purpose of getting a pension”?—Yes, but of course we have not the decision in those cases. Generally speaking, if our officers are not satisfied they appeal against the decision of the Pensions Committee, and the matter goes to the Department of Local Government and Public Health. They give the final decision.

645. The point I am really trying to make is this: If there is a genuine transfer to the son, is it expedient for the Revenue Commissioners to raise the purpose for which the transfer was made?— Well, if we are satisfied that it was a genuine transfer on marriage we do not object. That is the general rule. The law does not entitle us to object. The law entitles a man to give away his farm if he likes—except for the purpose of getting a pension.

646. Deputy Cole.—Supposing a person is so old that he is incapable of managing his farm. If that person transfers the farm to his son, he deprives himself of any authority, and consequently he will be entitled to a pension?—You cannot lay down any hard-and-fast rule. You have to take each case on its merits. There may be cases in which a man hands over his farm because he is unable to work it.

647. What then?—He might get the old age pension.

648. He might, but is there any reason why he should or should not?—That is a matter for the Committee. We do not deal with pensions. We do try to keep the Pensions Committee right by appearing before them and arguing any point we have, from the State side. When the case goes to the Local Government Department they do their own deciding. That finishes us. We cannot interfere with the Department of Local Government. We really never decide a case at all.

649. Deputy O’Loghlen.—It is on the report of your officer that the Department of Local Government and Public Health decides?—Not necessarily. The officer’s report is before them, but in a great many cases the decision is contrary to the officer’s recommendation. He puts up his own side; he puts forward what he thinks is right, but the Local Government Department is independent of what the officer says. In fact his recommendation is very rarely adopted.

650. In a case such as that to which the Chairman has referred, that is, the assigning of a farm, in nine cases out of every ten which I have examined the pensions officer has appealed. Although he had before him a legal instrument, drafted by a solicitor, assigning the farm, the pensions officer appeals on the ground that the assignment was made for the purpose of qualifying for a pension. On that information the Local Government Department decides. They accept the evidence as tendered by the pensions officer in many instances?—They do accept it.

651. There is a definite statement by the pensions officer—notwithstanding the fact that he has had placed before him a legal instrument drafted by a solicitor, showing that the owner of the land has assigned the property to his son—that the assignment was made for the purpose of getting a pension?—A legal instrument does not get you very far in dealing with the Revenue Commissioners.

652. They are above the law?—We do not unreservedly accept legal instruments. We get so many which are bogus that we have to examine those legal instruments. They are no better than a man’s word.

653. Chairman.—I am not quite sure that that is a fair statement, because surely a legal instrument, once registered, does fundamentally affect the title to property. If we stand on the hustings and proclaim that we are giving our goods to our neighbour, that has no legal effect, but if we register an instrument properly drawn in the Registry of Deeds? that does affect the title to the property? —It would not affect our view. There are hundreds of cases in Revenue matters where a man might make 40 assignments, but we should not take any notice of them. They may be perfectly good legally, but we should ignore them when they are done for a particular purpose. Unless he can get round it inside the law, we ignore the legal instrument. This happens every day. They are not clever enough.

654. I quite agree that assignments take place for the purpose of defrauding the Revenue—withdrawing property from the seisin of the Revenue by transferring it to a third party—but that is not analogous to this case, because here the vital question is not whether the Revenue Commissioners have seisin of the property or not but whether the applicant for a pension has seisin of it. If he effectively deprives himself of seisin of the property, our submission is that that should qualify him for a pension. There is no question of defrauding the Revenue or taking property out of reach of the Revenue. The important thing here is that the property should be taken out of reach of the applicant. If he registers a deed legally transferring the property in those goods or hereditaments to his son, he does strip himself of all rights to the property. That is not analogous to other Revenue cases where there is an effort to defraud the Revenue by making a transfer?—It all comes back to the point that we do not give decisions. There is not much good in telling me what should be done, because I do not do anything.

655. Deputy O’Rourke.—You only object.

Mr. O’Brien.—The officers have a certain duty; the local Committee has a certain duty, and the Department of Local Government and Public Health has a certain duty. I have none in this case. We only administer the Old Age Pensions Acts; we do not give pensions. I have never decided whether a man should get an old age pension or not. A case has never come before me where I was asked to decide, and never will.

656. Chairman.—I think there is force in that. All we can do is to try to get Mr. O’Brien to persuade his officers not to be so acrimonious in their reports?— That is the limit; that is all I can do.

Deputy Cole.—When Mr. O’Brien was here the last day he said that a lot of those pensions were reconsidered after some time. I should like to know whether any alterations are made.

657. Chairman.—On the last occasion, Mr. O’Brien, you may remember that Deputy Childers raised a question as to whether you made any periodic revision of the pensions granted, with a view to ascertaining whether the circumstances had changed?—We do. They are always subject to review, and changes are made frequently on the strength of additional information coming in subsequently to the date when the pensions were granted. That occurs very frequently, but not on a very large scale, of course. Having regard to the total number of pensions, these cases are only isolated ones.


Mr. O’Brien further examined.

658. Chairman.—With regard to subhead B—Bounties on Tobacco manufactured from home-grown leaf—there is, in addition to the bounties here shown, Mr. O’Brien, a substantial concession by way of remission of duties—that is, on tobacco.?—I do not think that comes under this Vote.

659. You observe that subhead B provides for bounties on tobacco manufactured from the home-grown leaf?—Yes.

660. Is there a substantial additional concession by way of relief from duty?— Yes. Of course, the Excise duty is only 9/2 as against the Customs of 10/-. The home duty is less than the import duty.

661. The import duty is 10/-?—Yes.

662. Is there a concession of only 10d. a pound on Irish-grown tobacco?—That is all.

663. Surely there is a larger Excise concession to Irish tobacco than 10d. a pound?—No, these are the figures I have —Excise, 9/2. This particular bounty, of course, is only to make up the difference between the Customs and the Excise rate; that is, about l½d. a pound on the stalks. It is not a bounty on export, or anything like that.

664. Frankly, Mr. O’Brien, I do not know what these bounties are. Bounties by the Government, to whom?—Payable to the manufacturer.

665. Deputy McMenamin.—Not the growers?—No, the manufacturer.

666. Deputy Cole.—The grower does not get anything?—The grower has not got any material for which this bounty is granted. These are the stalks.

667. Chairman.—Is this the case where manufacturers are entitled to get some rebate on the customs duty on tobacco in respect of the stalks and rejected parts of the tobacco?—Yes.

668. And a similar concession is made in respect of the stalks on home-grown tobacco to compensate them for any duty they might obtain?—Yes. This bounty is merely for the purpose of making the two level. Perhaps I misunderstood you in the first instance. There is the drawback. of course. The drawback is there all the time. The tobacco that pays the 10/- gets the 10/-, and the compensation bounty is only for the home-grown, in order to equate it with the other. Under the law they are entitled to get the rebate of the full amount, but this is more than the full amount for home-grown tobacco, because the home rate is about 10d. less than the other. It is reckoned that 15 per cent. of the stuff goes into waste and 10d. would work out about 1½d. a pound. That is the rate of bounty provided for here.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. W. Smyth called and examined.

669. Chairman.—Does the work of this Department tend to grow or diminish, Mr. Smyth?—It grows, Sir. Since 1932 to the 31st December, 1938, it has grown to the extent of £140,851.

670. What are the total funds under your supervision?—On the 31st December, 1938, the Commissioners held £1,393,852, plus 2,500 dollars.

671. All that money is invested in trustee securities?—Not necessarily trutee securities. The Commissioners have wide powers. They can hold securities if they deem them good. They can take transfers and hold them. Generally, the great majority of these funds are in trustee securties.

672. Generally, the Commissioners would not themselves invest liquid assets in securities other than trustee securities?—No.

673. Is there any return, or are annual reports published by the Commissioners? —Yes. They are supplied to the Oireachtas.

674. I wonder would it be very inconvenient to arrange that that report should be circulated, because, as a matter of fact, papers that appear in the Library rarely, if ever, come under the attention of members of the House. If they could be included among other reports and official papers when they are being circulated to members of the Oireachtas, it would be very convenient?—We print 75 for our own use; we send 50 of these to the Department of Justice and, under Statute, they must be laid before the Oireachtas. In addition, they are on sale at 2d. per copy.

675. Perhaps you would look into the question whether it could be conveniently arranged, either by the Department of Justice or yourselves, to get the central office here to include a copy of your report in each envelope going out to Deputies and Senators?—We will arrange that.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. J. Herlihy called.

No questions.


Mr. J. Herlihy called and examined.

676. Chairman.—Can you tell us, Mr. Herlihy, how often, on the average, are the survey maps revised and brought up to date?—It differs in different portions of the country. We have been trying to achieve a greater frequency of periodicity in regions such as Dublin, where extensive building operations are being carried on. Up to a point the idea was to aim at a general revision of every county once in every 25 years, but we have tended to depart from that in more recent years and to aim at a greater frequency in areas where building operations are in progress and where the public, in fact, really require the revised map more than they do in areas where the face of the countryside changes very little.

677. Then any map which stood unrevised for more than 20 years would be regarded as an unsatisfactory map?—It would depend on the area. For instance, if you had a portion of the country where the face of the countryside has not changed very much in the 20 years, the map is good enough.

678. What I mean to say is that, generally, you would desire to have every map revised at least every 20 years?—It would be desirable, but we do not achieve it, or anything like it, at present.

679. Really?—Nothing like it at all.

680. There are two other points I would like to put to you. One is that on a lot of ordnance survey maps—I am treating of the one which shows my own land—you find features of the topography marked, and some of them are described as being a rath or a graveyard or something of that kind. Others which are identified on the map are not described. I wonder if the assistance of scholars might not be profitably secured in order to describe these things for posterity?—Well, when the survey was being made the surveyors did take pains to get as much information as they could in the locality from clergymen and other people who might be expected to be well informed. But, where they were not able to get reliable information, they preferred to put in nothing at all rather than put in something that might be misleading.

681. That was a very sound line to take, but perhaps this matter would be borne in mind, that any information that comes to the Ordnance Survey would be incorporated in a revised map?—Yes.

682. Do the Ordnance Survey search for that information, or do they simply wait until it comes in?—Of course you understand, Sir, that all we are doing now is revising the existing maps. The survey of Ireland is long since completed.

683. Quite. But would it not be part of the surveyor’s duty to attempt the filling up of any lacuna that might appear on the face of the map in the matter of description?—His instructions are to do so but, in fact. I imagine the extent to which it is possible to do it is limited. I mean that when the original surveyors were not able to get the information 60 or 70 years ago, it is scarcely likely to be forthcoming to-day except where some definite research work has been carried out in the interval.

684. It occurred to me that a person like the Inspector of National Monuments of the Board of Works might have some observations to make in the light of some modern archeological discoveries that have been made. The other matter that I wanted to mention was place names. Many of the place names are so grotesquely misspelled in the original survey that, in the absence of local tradition surviving, the name might be altogether lost, whereas local inquiry now might very readily correct these spellings. Do your surveyors make any attempt to correct them in the light of local information?—No, unless somebody makes representations. One has to remember that the townland index of Ireland was published in connection with the ordnance survey maps. You have seen it, no doubt. It is a list of all the townlands in Ireland, which practically means a list of all the place names in Ireland, and the names, as appearing in that townland index, have been used very extensively in legal documents and so on, and have acquired in the country a certain definiteness and a certain status. We should be somewhat chary of changing them lest we should be creating a source of confusion. If you want to get these place names really accurate you have to go back to the Irish language.

685. Yes?—We have been doing something in that direction, to get maps out carrying the original Irish names, but I do not know that there is very much to be gained by changing the faulty English version into another version.

686. No, except in so far as the correction would restore the obviously true name of a townland. You have cases where the misspelling is so marked as to result in the habitual use, in the Galltacht, of a name which it is quite impossible to connect with the original Irish name of the townland, whereas if the spelling were corrected, in order to reproduce as nearly as possible the sound of the Irish word, the connection with the original Irish name would at once be apparent?—One must not forget, of course, that although the ordnance survey was originally carried out by the Army, they had the help of Irish scholars such as O’Curry, O’Donovan, Petrie and others.

Chairman.—Deputy O’Rourke, what is your experience?

Deputy O’Rourke.—There are some evident misspellings.

687. Chairman.—Has the Department. Mr. O’Herlihy, done anything in regard to the land which it is proposed to flood in connection with the Poulaphouea scheme. because it seems very desirable that there should be some record of the topography of the bottom of that lake for future reference?—No. We have not adverted to it specifically. After all, the existing map will always show the position of affairs as at the date the map was revised.

688. It occurs to me that if an aerial survey were made or if aerial photographs were made, you would have in 50 years’ time a very valuable aerial picture of the lake bottom?—As it stood in 1938?

689. As it stood before the flooding?— I do not know the year in which it was last revised, but, if it was last revised in 1905, have you not a record of the lie of the land in 1905 and is it not as good, from the historical point of view, as a record of the lie of the land in 1939?

690. I do not think any description of Deputy O’Rourke, for instance, would be as interesting to posterity as his photograph?—We have a map of the area in its unflooded condition as at a certain year, I suppose about 1925. Would we gain very much by bringing that up to date from the point of historical interest?

691. If you made a series of photographs from an aeroplane, flying over the area and combined them into a cognisant picture, or a cognisant photographic record of the topography of the land which it is intended to flood, you would then have a picture of something that the human eye will never see again and you would also have a valuable topographical record of the bottom of the lake. Surely that would be worth having?—You mean from an engineering standpoint?

692. From an engineering standpoint, an historical standpoint and every other standpoint?—So far as it would be of engineering value. I take it the engineers on the job will not overlook it if it is necessary.

693. From the historical and æstheticpoint of view, and from the point of view of the ordnance survey, is it not desirable that there should be some permanent record of the appearance of that area before it was flooded?—We have got it as it stood in 1905.

694. By way of a map but not by way of an aerial photograph?—What does an aerial photograph give you but a map, and, as far as experience goes, not a very satisfactory map? An aerial photograph as a means of conveying an idea of the features of the land is not as good as a survey carried out on the surface of the land. That has been the experience in England.

695. Perhaps you might consider the question of getting a photograph of the bottom of the proposed Poulaphouca lake, and if you are moved by the same fire that inspires me, you might have a photograph made?—I shall consider it, Sir.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. J. F. Morrissey, called and examined.

696. Chairman.—So far as it is possible, Mr. Morrissey, is the work of building up the records that have been destroyed still going on?—It is going on. A good deal depends on what comes to the market in the way of documents. One year a considerable amount may come in and the next year very little will come in. In this particular year, very little came in.

697. Would you be kind enough to tell me this. Suppose you knew that a man occupied a certain holding in 1810, could you find in the Record Office any information about his predecessor in title?—In the Record Office at any time to build up a title, you would have to find any wills, administrations or other documents that disposed of the property. You would have the freeholders’ registers, wills, administrations and papers like that. You would have to search for the names to build up a title. I am now speaking of the past, when the records were there.

698. If I were to appear in the Public Record Office to-morrow and if I were to say that I knew A——B—— occupied a certain holding in the year 1810, and that I wanted to ascertain as a matter of historical interest who his predecessor was, would the Record Office be able to help me?—I imagine it would be more a Registry of Deeds matter. If you had the name of the particular land, you could then go and search in the Registry of Deeds in the land index. The Record Office deals more with people’s names.

699. Suppose you had the name of the man in question?—If you came down in 1922, we would be in a much better position to supply you with that information before so many of the documents were destroyed.

700. Would the staff of the Public Record Office be perturbed if somebody came in with a question of that kind?— Questions of that kind are coming in every day. You go and search the indexes and see what you can find. These questions are turning up every day not alone from Ireland, but from the United States and other places.

701. That gives me great encouragebent to go and unfurl my umbrella in your office?—In all these cases it is a question of trying to find out.

702. I interpret what you say as an encouragement to adventure. Do you publish an annual report?—We have not been able to produce one for some years now, on account of the limited staff. We are, of course, trying to get things into order. Things have fallen back for some years but we hope to publish this year, or next year, a report for the years 1932-7.

703. Will that include a list of the documents acquired?—Yes, a list showing the documents acquired. Of course the important thing in the Record Office is not the report. It is the appendix to the report which is important. It contains lists and descriptions of the documents acquired.

The witness withdrew.


Dr. G. W. Scroope called and examined.

704. Chairman.—You have 113 inmates now?—Yes.

705. Are you doing any theraupeutic work in connection with modern research? —In suitable cases.

706. Have you had any success to date? —So far most satisfactory.

707. I see that the average occupancy of the Asylum does not change very much?—No, it does not vary very much on the whole.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. P, S. O’Hegarty called and examined.

Comptroller and Auditor-General’s Report:—

Losses by Default, etc.

“75. The losses borne on the Vote for the year ended 31st March, 1938, amounted to £1,720 15s. 11d., of which £1,048 18s. 5d. was charged to subhead H (2) and £671 17s. 6d. to subhead O 6. Classified schedules of these losses are set out at pages 202 and 200. At pages 204 and 206 particulars are given of twenty-five cases in which cash shortages or misappropriations amounting to £826 2s. 11d. were discovered; the sums in question were made good and no charge to public funds was necessary.”

Chairman.—If there is no question on that we can pass on to paragraph 76.

Subhead P.—Provision to meet deficiencies due to the withhholding by the British Government of sums in connection with claims for Superannuation Payments and Telephone Annuities disputed by the Saorstát Government.

“76. The amount provided under this subhead exceeded the expenditure by £6,366 15s. 0d., the saving being due, as stated in the relevant explanation, to the Financial Agreement made with the British Administration in April, 1938. In view of this Agreement, sums which would normally have been withheld by the British Government in March, 1938, from balances due to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, were not so withheld.”

708. Chairman.—I take it that matter will not arise again?

Mr. Maher.—No, it is quite finished.


“77. A test examination of the store accounts was carried out with satisfactory results.

In addition to the engineering stores shown in Appendix II as valued at £137,826 on 31st March, 1938, engineering stores to the value of £514 were held on behalf of other Government Departments. Stores other than engineering stores held at that date were valued at £61,438, included in this amount being a sum of £23,220 in respect of stores held for other Government Departments.”

709. Chairman.—I take it that is purely informative?

Mr. Maher.—That is so.


“78. A test examination of the accounts of the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone services was carried out with satisfactory results.

Sums due for telephone services amounting in all to £171 7s. 5d. were written off during the year as irrecoverable. I observed that the liability of a telephone subscriber who had entered into an agreement for a period of five years was determined as if the period had been for three years only. I have asked that the covering authority of the Department of Finance be sought for the course adopted.”

710. Chairman.—Have you been notified of any covering authority?

Mr. Maher.—We do not seem to have got the covering sanction yet. This case presents some rather unusual features. The amount involved by reason of the adjustment was £283, and in view of that fact we thought it might be desirable that the Department should consult the Department of Finance. I am not aware what the present position is.

711. Chairman.—Perhaps Mr. O’Hegarty will tell us.

Mr. O’Hegarty.—We put the case to the Department of Finance and asked for covering authority. We were asked a couple of questions in reply in connection with the matter, which we answered. We gave the further information asked for, but the final authority has not yet come.

712. Chairman.—I take it you will keep in touch with the Comptroller and Auditor-General when that matter has been disposed of between yourselves and the Department of Finance?—Yes. Perhaps I might explain what the case is, for the information of the Committee. It was a case where a telephone subscriber had a private wire in Dublin at the very heavy rental of £161 per year. He died and, of course, the estate desired to give the wire up. He had signed an agreement for five years, but upon examination we found that there had been a substantial profit on the provision and maintenance of the wire during the three years which had elapsed, and in these circumstances the Post Office thought it was only fair to waive the technical two years remaining, seeing that the State was at no loss really.

Post Office Savings Bank Accounts.

“79. The accounts of the Post Office Savings Bank for the year ended 31st December, 1937, were submitted to a test examination with satisfactory results.”

Post Office Factory.

“80. A test examination was applied to the accounts of the Post Office Factory with satisfactory results.

The expenditure on manufacturing jobs, including work in progress on 31st March, 1938, amounted to £12,211, expenditure on repair works (other than repairs to mechanical transport) amounted to £16,969, and expenditure on mechanical transport repairs amounted to £2,388.”

713. Chairman.—That is purely informative?

Mr. Maher.—Yes.

Chairman.—Then we will turn to the Vote itself.

714. As to item G.3—manufacture of stamps etc., comparing our record with that of other countries in the publication of new stamps, are we producing an unusually large number of special issues of stamps?—

Mr. O’Hegarty.—On the average, I should say not. We are probably producing here rather more than the British do, but not nearly as much as a large number of other countries do.

715. Have you received any complaints as to the size of the stamps?—We have not received any official complaint, but I know that there has been a good deal of what I might call growling at the size of them in some cases. That, however, depends on the design. If you have a very elaborate design, you cannot get that on the ordinary size.

716. Might I say without being facetious that it also depends on the capacity to lick, because if you have to lick Commemoration stamps it becomes a real labour of love. Much as I love the American Constitution, I dislike glue more?—It seems to be a case for extra office boys.

717. Deputy Cole.—What is the cost of producing a new stamp?—I could not say, offhand. It is not very much, I should think. We have to get a special die manufactured by the Revenue Commissioners, etc.

718. Chairman.—In any event, we are making a profit by selling them to philatelists?—We do.

719. Deputy Cole.—With regard to telephones, when will we have an all-night service all over the country? We have it in some places in County Monaghan at present?—The night service is costly, but it will be gradually extended.

720. Why is one place favoured more than another?—It all depends on the circumstances.

721. We have a night service in Clones but not in the county town of Cavan?— There are various anomalies of that kind. Some places had an all-night service 15 years ago.

Deputy Cole.—We used to have an all-night service in Cavan in pre-war days.

722. Deputy Walsh.—Has the night service any relation to the number of subscribers?—Yes.

723. Has an extra fee to be paid for an all-night service?—Not nowadays. We try to give it without that. We have it under consideration to give an all-night service wherever there are 30 subscribers.

724. Deputy Cole.—There are more than 30 subscribers in Cavan?—If there are, Cavan will get an all-night service.

725. Chairman.—I think that will be a very reasonable arrangement, and that the bulk of the complaints will then be removed?—The service will be extended as experience grows. We realise that the public need for an all-night service is increasing.

726. Deputy Cole.—We only get a service up to 8 p.m., but it is after that hour the service is most needed?—I can only say that the postal authorities are very desirous of meeting it.


Mr. P. S. O’Hegarty further examined.

727. Chairman.—I observe that you spent £4,599 14s. 10d. less than was granted on plant, equipment, renewals, maintenance, etc. Are you satisfied that the equipment of Radio Eireann is as good as it might be?—Of course it is not as good as it might be, but I think it is reasonably good for the purpose which it has to serve.

728. I know you will discharge me from any desire to be impolite, but my information is that it is antiquated?—That is not so.

729. Are you satisfied that the apparatus in the studio for the accommodation of broadcasters is as efficient as in the average up-to-date station; my information is that it is not, and that it is common talk amongst artists going there that they are told they must accommodate their performance to the inefficient equipment available for broadcasting?—I do not think that is accurate. I do not say that the artists do not talk like that, but common talk is a very poor guide to anything. I do not think that any reasonable fault can be found with the equipment at the broadcasting station.

730. Have you inquired into this matter recently yourself?—No, but I have heard of no complaints.

731. I assure you that I heard complaints from persons who do not speak lightly and who suggested that they were told by the officials of the broadcasting studio that they must adapt their contributions to the programme to the fact that the apparatus in the studio was antiquated and inefficient?—I shall make inquiries, but I do not believe it. There is only one complaint that might be possible, and that is the position of the studio itself.

732. Are you satisfied that the microphone into which the artists speak is as modern and as up-to-date as that in any modern radio station?—I think it is fully efficient for the purpose it has to serve. I doubt if a more up-to-date apparatus would be better. The public mind is prejudiced about everything being up to date, but it is not necessarily better.

733. Surely the equipment adopted by radio stations all over the world is, presumably, superior to what has been in use for five or six years?—It depends. The radio manufacturers, like other manufacturers, are constantly producing things that are slightly different in style.

734. Surely the B.B.C. and the American corporations are not such fools as to instal new equipment simply to satisfy the equipment manufacturers?—If they have millions of money and have nothing else to spend it on, they may do so.

735. Under this Vote, I notice that under subhead F—Plant, Equipment, etc., £4,599 odd which was granted was not spent?—That was money to be devoted to a particular purpose that did not come on in that year.

736. It was money for equipment, plant and renewals?—The note explains that the money was for a specific purpose, and that it did not mature in that year.

737. Surely it was in your discretion, if plant renewals and equipment were not up to standard, when you had authority and required it, to apply it for that purpose. Have you saved so much on that to make up a deficiency on other headings?—I have not heard of any deficiency.

738. I am pressing the suggestion that you do, in fact, although not categorically, admit that the station is inefficient?—I do not admit it.

739. If the apparatus is not abreast of the apparatus employed by the greatest corporations in the world, surely it is?—I cannot admit that there is any obligation upon us to keep putting in up-to-date apparatus, irrespective of the service given by the existing apparatus, and the financial commitments involved. I do not think the Minister would accept any such liability.

740. Would you not take the view that a very good headline might be taken by Radio Eireann, if the common experience of the greatest broadcasting corporations in the world was adopted, that where new apparatus is deemed necessary by them, there is a prima facie case for assuming that the same apparatus would be an advantage to our broadcasting station?— I do not admit that.

Deputy O’Rourke.—I think if the transmission was not perfect we would have complaints from other countries.

Chairman.—We have them.

Deputy Walsh.—As far as the B.B.C. is concerend, hardly any organisation gets as much criticism in the English Press and in the wireless papers. The B.B.C. has been attacked and abused right, left and centre.

741. Chairman.—Have you received any complaints at to the quality of reception? —No complaints that would warrant the impression that it is bad in the sense you suggest. There will be always difficulties with regard to wireless transmission, no matter what apparatus is provided. I am perfectly satisfied that our equipment is satisfactory for the purpose it serves. I think it gives a really efficient service to the majority of listeners.

742. You have received complaints about the quality of the reception?—There are always complaints, but there is nothing very material in them.

Deputy Walsh.—I think the chief complaint is that the programmes are not varied enough.

Deputy O’Rourke.—That has nothing to do with the equipment.

743. Deputy Brady.—While the Chairman has drawn attention to the fact that over £4,000 was granted and was not expended, it should be pointed out that £7,000 was spent during the year on equipment. I take it that the plant and equipment is not antiquated, when £7,000 was spent to supplement the equipment? —It might be improved.

744. Deputy Walsh.—Is there any machinery by which our broadcasting people can keep in touch with the latest developments in wireless and radio?— Yes, we keep in touch with developments.

745. And our people here know what is being done?—We know what is being done in the various countries.

746. Is there any means by which you can take advantage of new developments? —Yes, any thing that would be of material advantage to us here is obtained.

747. Chairman.—Do the technical advisers ever visit the studios of the B.B.C., the Columbia Broadcasting Company or the National Broadcasting Company of America?—Not the American ones but our engineering chief took advantage of being abroad last month to visit some places on his way home.

748. Has any contact ever been established with the great broadcasting stations in America?—No.

749. Do you think it would be a prudent thing, with a view to ensuring that our equipment is up to standard, that such investigations should be made periodically?—There would be a certain advantage in having a trip to America.

750. As a result of the conference that you recently attended, will interference with the Irish wavelength be stopped?— Yes, it will be stopped completely after 8 p.m. We got an efficient wavelength, which we will share with Palestine, which is at the extreme end of the European zone in the wireless world, and which stops working at 8 p.m. of our time.

751. The interference from the Baltic station will stop now?—Yes.

Chairman.—That is good news.

752. Deputy Brady.—When does that come into operation?—At the end of March next.

753. Deputy Hogan.—I have very little experience in matters of this kind, but I have heard complaints from people who came up from the country for a rehearsal for broadcasting purposes. They say that they do not get a fair opportunity of rehearsing before going before the microphone. As Mr. O’Hegarty mentioned that he is not prepared to admit that there is any defect in the apparatus, perhaps it might be possible to improve the studio. I would be inclined, from the reports I heard from people who visited the studio, to think that it might be possible to improve the accommodation for artists so that they might be given an opportunity to have rehearsals prior to broadcasting. Perhaps Mr. O’Hegarty will give the matter consideration. It is only fair that people who might be excellent artists, but who might be nervous, on the first occasion that they had to do anything of the kind should rehearse. It would be very useful if they got sufficient opportunity for such rehearsal and perhaps if the studio were improved or enlarged this opportunity might be available?—I have only to say that people who broadcast have always some rehearsals before being allowed to the microphone. Those in charge have to be satisfied before people broadcast that they have some knowledge of broadcasting technique.

Chairman.—Perhaps Mr. O’Hegarty would be kind enough to direct the attention of the Director of Broadcast to Deputy Hogan’s observations.

754. Deputy Hogan.—I think the Committee will agree that it is absolutely necessary that people with no experience of broadcasting should be allowed to have rehearsals?—They are not allowed to broadcast otherwise. Those in charge satisfy themselves in every case that the artists have, at least, some experience of the facilities provided. As to the studio, it cannot be improved but the position will be very much improved when we get to the new studio.

755. Deputy O’Rourke.—Is the Department getting a new building?—Yes, the old Sweepstakes offices.

756. Chairman.—Where are the new premises?—Premises we took over from the Hospital Trusts in Exchange Street.

757. Are these premises to be reconstructed as a broadcasting studio?—They will be used partly for telephones and partly for broadcasting. They will be admirably suited for broadcasting.

Chairman.—We are much obliged to you, Mr. O’Hegarty.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned at 12.30 p.m.