Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1938 - 1939::29 March, 1939::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 29adh Márta, 1939.

Wednesday, 29th March, 1939.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:





B. Brady.



R. Walsh.

DEPUTY DILLON in the Chair.

Mr. Maher (Roinn an Ard-Reachtaire Cunntas agus Ciste) and Mr. Almond (Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Mr. J. Leydon called and examined.

402. Chairman.—There are a few notes by the Comptroller and Auditor-General to this Vote. The first note (under subhead I—Minerals Exploration) states:—

“The investigation of the coal deposits at Slieveardagh was concluded during the year, and the total expenditure in connection therewith to 31st March, 1938, amounted to £10,924 12s. 7d. of which £1,626 14s. 4d. is included in the present account. Sums amounting to £160 17s. 4d. were received during the period under review from the sale of coal raised during the operations and are accounted for as exchequer extra receipts.”

Is that merely an informative paragraph?

Mr. Maher.—Yes. Its purpose is simply to call attention to the fact that the Slieveardagh scheme has been finished and to give a summarised total of the expenditure incurred.

403. Chairman.—Is any further coal to be lifted in that area?

Mr. Leydon.—The question of the action to be taken on the report of the consulting engineers is under consideration and, because of the various interests involved, I should prefer not to make any statement.

404. Chairman.—Very well. The coal, I suppose, was raised on the actual trial borings?—Yes.

405. There will be no further receipts of that kind?—No.

406. The next note by the Comptroller and Auditor-General under the same sub-head is as follows:—

“A supplementary estimate was taken to provide for expenditure on the investigation of the gypsum deposits in the Carrickmacross-Kingscourt area, and payments amounting to £397 7s. 8d. were made during the year. The payments included fee for a preliminary report on the deposits, fees and expenses of the Consulting Engineers, salary of the Resident Engineer, etc.”

Mr. Maher.—The Supplementary Estimate was for £3,000, of which only £397 was spent. The difference is explained on page 181 of the Appropriation Accounts as being due to difficulties in the placing of a contract and the consequent postponement of the boring work during the financial year.

407. Chairman.—Is that work proceeding?

Mr. Leydon.—Yes.

408. Chairman.—It has not yet been completed?—No. We expect it to be completed in about six months.

409. In view of the consequential agreements that may arise from these investigations, would you prefer to leave their more detailed discussion over until the meeting of this Committee next year?—I should prefer that, if it is your pleasure. No decisions can be reached until the investigation shall have been completed and the report of the experts is available to us.

Chairman.—I take it that that course is agreeable to the Committee.

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

Subhead J—Production of Industrial Alcohol.

“The charge to this subhead is £127,135 8s. 3d. The payments were made by the then Managing Director of the undertaking out of imprests issued to him by the Department of Industry and Commerce. My examination of these payments had not been completed at the date of this report.”

410. I understand that examination of the payments has now been completed and that Mr. Maher would wish to add something to the report.

Mr. Maher.—That is so. The examination has been completed and the charge for the year 1937-8 is, as stated in the report, £127,135 8s. 3d. It is made up as follows:—





Payments to supervising







Erection of distilleries



Bills of quantities



Fee for preparation of plans and specifications for


supplementary works



Supply and erection of plant


and equipment




Licence for use of patented







Purchase of premises and







Raw materials, coal, etc.



Administration and production














The total charge for the Industrial Alcohol scheme from the beginning to the 31st March, 1938, is £310,388. As regards the year under review the payments were made out of imprests by the then managing director. Our examination of these payments disclosed a number of points on which we have recently asked the Accounting Officer for further information. These matters arose mainly owing to the fact that in the expenditure from the imprests the managing director did not adhere to, or was not guided by, the recognised procedure or rules governing State expenditure. For example, the finance regulations relating to contracts and purchases were not observed, a loan was made to assist an official of the alcohol factory to purchase a motor car, advance payments in respect of travelling allowances were made, competitive tenders for printing do not appear to have been obtained, prior finance sanction was not sought for payment of over £4,000 to the building contractors for extra works, nearly £1,000 was paid in insurance premiums, but no evidence was submitted to show that the most economical rates were obtained, the fidelity bonds were for unnecessarily large amounts and some of the insurances covered employees’ property. We have recently written to the Accounting Officer on these and other matters arising on the accounts of the late managing director.

The Department of Finance dispensed with the condition that stores, etc., should be purchased through the Central Purchasing Departments, i.e., Board of Works, Post Office, Stationery Office, etc. Some of the furniture purchased by the managing director for the head office appeared to be of a higher standard than that supplied to Government offices, for example:—





7 oak pedestal writing desks




1 oak double pedestal writing desk for bio-chemist




1 desk for managing director




10 arm chairs







4 typists’ chairs






8 filing cabinets






2 steel filing cabinets





Lips safe and cartage





7 anthracite stoves, fittings




and cartage






1 lock for hall door






Supplying and fitting lino




and carpets






Electrical installation





Lists of this furniture, etc., were subsequently furnished to the Department of Finance and covering sanction for the expenditure of £959 for furniture, etc., for the head office and £301 for the furniture, etc., of the master distillers’ houses was obtained.

411. Chairman.—Would you, Mr. Leydon, care to make any comments on the inquiries addressed to you by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in connection with these items?

Mr. Leydon.—I prefer not to; if you wish me to make a statement, I am quite prepared to do so, but I would ask you that the statement should not go on record, pending litigation.

412. Deputy O’Rourke.—What litigation is Mr. Leydon interested in?

Mr. Leydon.—The late managing director has taken an action against the Department. The only comment I wish to make at all is that Mr. Maher’ statement as a record of fact is quite correct. In case the point may have escaped the notice of the Committee, it refers to the expenditure which the late managing director made from imprests placed at his disposal by the Department of Industry and Commerce.

413. Deputy O’Rourke.—Was there any means of stopping him?

Chairman.—I think we must now address our minds to the representations made to us by Mr. Leydon—whether, in view of the fact that the matters referred to by the Comptroller and Auditor-General are matters in connection with which litigation may arise between the Department and the late managing director, it is wise for the Committee to investigate the matter fully now, or is it more in conformity with public policy to request the Comptroller and Auditor-General to refer to these matters in his report on the Public Accounts next year, and then to discuss them fully after the Accounting Officer has been relieved of the responsibility for making a statement now? I am extremely reluctant to pass away from this item without fully going into it, but, in the circumstances, I think we might quite properly view the question in the light of Mr. Leydon’s information that litigation is pending. Next year we can go into the matter very fully.

414. Deputy O’Rourke.—Will we be in a position then to get all the information that we require?

Mr. Leydon.—Oh, yes.

415. Chairman.—You think you will be in a position then to go fully into the matter?—Certainly, Sir. Of course, I am in the hands of the Committee at any time.

416. Chairman.—I take it that our terms of reference would entitle us to postpone inquiry in relation to any one item until next year, such postponement being made on the representation of the Accounting Officer.

Mr. Maher.—Probably the best procedure would be to request the Comptroller and Auditor-General in his Report to the Public Accounts Committee next year to deal with this matter which is being left outstanding now.

417. Chairman.—You recognise I am in some difficulty, as there is no precedent for this. Could the Committee have an undertaking now that no objection would be raised on the part of the Department to have a full inquiry into this matter next year?

Mr. Leydon.—Of course, there would be no objection, Sir. I would be quite prepared to give you any information at my disposal or any information that I could secure for you. We have not yet had time to reply to the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s queries on this subhead J.

Mr. Maher.—That is right; the queries were sent out only a fortnight ago.

Chairman.—Well, in the light of that statement, we recommend that this matter should be postponed until after the next Public Accounts Committee is appointed and that the Comptroller and Auditor-General be requested to raise the question in an appropriate form on the investigation before that Committee. I take it that meets with the approval of the Public Accounts Committee. An appropriate note will be made in these terms, and the matter will arise before the next Public Accounts Committee meets.*

Turf Development Board, Ltd.

418. Chairman.—Paragraph 69 of the Auditor-General’s Report in reference to this matter reads:—

“Issues to the above Board out of the Grants-in-Aid provided under subheads L 1 and L 2, amounting to £14,462 5s. 0d. and £3,000, respectively. were made during the year, with the consent of the Minister for Finance.”

That paragraph stands alone?

Mr. Maher.—That is so. These grants are not subject in detail to any investigation by the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s Department.

419. Can you give us any indication, Mr. Leydon, as to how the Board is getting on or as to what is happening there?

Mr. Leydon.—The Turf Development Board is concentrating mainly on machine-won turf instead of on hand-won turf. It is developing on rather an extensive scale for the purpose of producing machine-won turf. It will start production at Clonsast within the next few weeks. I understand that the board is satisfied that its operations will be successful from the commercial point of view.

420. Am I correct in believing that the hand-won turf experiment has been virtually abandoned?—I think that is a fair statement of the position.

421. Have any commercial accounts been prepared of the Turf Board’s operations at Clonsast, or is it too early for that?—It is rather too early; there are no commercial accounts available yet.

422. Is the conversion of peat into machine-won turf contemplated at the moment, or is it contemplated to use the peat for a hydro-electric station?—At the moment the question of using the peat for an electricity-generating station has been under consideration. In fact, it has been under consideration for a considerable time. I hope in a short time we will have plans ready for the erection of such a station at Clonsast for the use of turf for producing electric power.

423. In the meantime, are they confining themselves to the manufacture of briquettes?—What are called briquettes are produced by the Peat Fuel Company.

424. Has any of that come on the market yet?—They sold 6,000 tons last year.

425. Is it pressed or is it just the ordinary turf—perhaps I am asking you a question about which you have not any particulars before you?—Well, Sir, it is a “six-mark” question. I would not like to go into the working of the company in detail with the particulars I have here now.

426. This is produced, I take it, fully on the new method—it is not the same as the ordinary aods of turf?—Oh, yes, it is on the new method. It is made by the new machinery.

427. Have you any idea, Mr. Leydon, when the commercial accounts will be available, so as to ascertain the economic possibilities of Clonsast?—I do not want to say anything that would be regarded as an undertaking, for the accounts might possibly not be available at a specified date. I anticipate that before the end of the year the company will be in production on a large scale; at one bog they will possibly be in production in 18 months’ time.

428. The accounts will be available then? —Yes, but I hope that will not be regarded as a definite undertaking because delays may arise from a variety of causes.

429. Now, Mr. Maher, about these Grants-in-Aid, have you any comments to make?

Mr. Maher.—We have nothing to say to them at all.

We will now pass on to the second paragraph of note 69, which reads:—

“Repayable advances out of subheal L 3 amounted to £1,281 8s. 8d. and were sanctioned by the Department of Finance on the conditions as to repayment referred to in previous reports. The repayments by the Board during the year, credited to Appropriations in Aid, totalled £1,113 12s. 0d. and were in respect of the levy referred to in paragraph 69 of my last report. I understand that the position with regard to the collection of this levy is still under discussion with the Department of Finance.”

430. Would you refresh our memory, Mr. Maher, as to what were the terms of the levy?

Mr. Maher.—The terms of the levy were that ½d. per ton of turf sold should be transferred towards the recovery of the cost of the sacks taken over by the Board in 1934-5. That has been referred to in previous years. It is still under discussion in the Department of Finance, and I understand a decision will certainly be taken in the current financial year.

431. Chairman.—Can you give us any further information, Mr. Leydon, with regard to this sack account?

Mr. Leydon.—No. The matter is still the subject of discussion between the Department of Finance and ourselves.

432. Those are sacks. I take it, which were supplied for hand-won turf?—They were originally supplied for hand-won turf.

433. Are they there still, or has there been wastage?—There has been considerable wastage, and losses to some extent.

434. And the Turf Development Board is still liable to the Exchequer in this connection?—Until the Department of Finance agrees to waive the claim for repayment.

435. May I amend that by saying: “Unless the Department of Finance agrees to waive the claim”?—Unless they waive it. I accept the correction.

436. Well, I have no doubt, Mr. Maher, you will keep your eye on this transaction, and let us know in due course what is the conclusion of those negotiations?

Mr. Maher.—I do not think it will be a matter immediately for the Audit Department. I think it is more a matter for the Department of Finance. The results will be reported, of course.

Chairman.—I am sure the Committee will wish to know the measure of Mr. Almond’s diligence in collecting the price of those sacks?

Mr. Leydon.—His diligence is unlimited.

437. The note by the Comptroller and Auditor-General continues:—

“Issues out of the Grants-in-Aid for the development of Clonsast Bog (sub-head L 4) and the development of Lyracrompane Bog (subhead L 5) amounted to £41,100 and £15,400, respectively. These Grants-in-Aid were provided on the basis that the issues will be repayable at such times and on such terms and conditions as the Minister for Finance, after consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, may determine at the date of issue or subsequently. The arrangements approved for repayment in the case of Clonsast Bog were referred to in paragraph 69 of last year’s report. The Department of Finance has directed that the issues in respect of Lyracrompane Bog should bear interest at the rate of 4¾ per cent. per annum and that the arrangements proposed for repayment should be submitted for consideration as soon as production commences.”

Have any repayments yet been made in respect of Clonsast Bog, Mr. Leydon?— Not yet.

438. And of course Lyracrompane Bog is not yet in production?—Well, it is starting.

439. And I take it no repayments have been made in respect of Lyracrompane Bog either?—The terms of repayment have not actually been fixed in this case, and repayments have not commenced.

440. I take it that the proviso that the terms of repayment may be determined at the date of issue or subsequently would not permit of those repayments being completely waived without reference to Dáil Eireann?—I think that is correct. Mr. Maher would be more competent than I am to advise you on that, but I think possibly a Supplementary Estimate would be required.

Mr. Maher.—Yes. My view would be that in view of the considerable amount involved—£41,000 in one case and £15,000 in another, as well as probably a good deal more when other years are taken into account—waiver should not take place without a Supplementary Estimate on Dáil authority being obtained.

441. Chairman.—Subject to that assurance, I think we may leave the question of those repayments until this enterprise has reached a stage of further development.

As there is no other question on those notes, we will turn to the Vote itself on page 178. With regard to subhead H 1, is the International Labour Office proceeding unperturbed through all the world upheavals that are going on?—I hope not unperturbed, but at any rate it is still carrying on its normal functions.

442. There have been no restrictions on its functions as a result of the defections of the League and other incidents that have taken place?—Well, there has been a certain movement to secure economies in administration, and certain economies have in fact been put into operation. What effect those economies have had on the administration of the International Labour Office I am afraid I am not in a position to say. Certainly, so far as our contact with the International Labour Office is concerned, I have not noticed any diminution in their activities.

443. There is no grave apprehension that there would be any danger of the International Labour Office collapsing?— Not so far as I am aware.

That is very satisfactory.

444. Deputy McMenamin.—In regard to subhead H 3, is this a separate item from subhead B?—It is a separate item.

This is in connection with the International Labour Office?—Yes. It is in connection with the expenses of delegates attending conferences at the International Labour Office. We pay the expenses of a Government delegation, an employers’ delegation and a Labour delegation each year.

445. How does the Supplementary amount of £505 arise?

445a. Chairman.—I take it you took a Supplementary Estimate for some unforseen obligation?—Yes. The Minister for Industry and Commerce personally attended the International Labour Conference. He was elected President of the International Conference that year, and that involved a certain amount of expenditure, including expenditure on entertainment.

446. I think, when the Supplementary Estimate was taken, full reference was made to the circumstances?—Yes, The circumstances were fully explained when the Supplementary Estimate was taken.

447. Deputy McMenamin.—With regard to the grant of £5,000 under sub-head I— Minerals Exportation—has anything actually come out of this?

448. Chairman.—I think that refers to the matter mentioned in the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s report relating to Slievardagh and Kingscourt, to which you have already made some reference?—Yes. That is the position.

449. I think Deputy McMenamin was not present. That arises, Deputy, on the the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s note, and we discussed it with Mr. Leydon at some length. Sub-head J, too, has already been disposed of. We have resolved to postpone detailed examination of that sub-head until the next Committee, for reasons which Mr. Leydon put forward.

450. Deputy McMenamin.—I take it that sub-head JJ is in relation to the stand which we had at the Glasgow Exhibition?—Yes.

451. And of course it covered all our industrial products?—All that were exhibited.

452. Did this include the entire cost? —All that fell in course of payment in that year.

453. Did this item here include all the Gaeltacht services?—It covered the total cost of the exhibit for that year.

454. Perhaps you cannot answer this question but, from a general point of view, do you think we reaped any benefit out of this in regard to business?—I think we did.

455. Chairman.—In connection with those exhibits and the one that you have in contemplation at New York, does the Department of Industry and Commerce advert to the special position that might easily be accorded to Gaeltacht products, and if so, do they arrange such exhibitions bearing in mind the necessity of having adequate supplies of any article for which, through the Exhibition, they create a demand?—Yes. We try to keep those factors in mind. The departmental organisation for dealing with exhibitions of this kind—certainly in the case of New York and Glasgow—is handled by a committee on which the departments concerned are represented. The Department of Agriculture and the Gaeltacht Services branch are represented, so that full consideration is given to the interests of the Gaeltacht.

456. The matter which I have particularly in mind is this: I observe that some of the industrial products of the Gaeltacht, notably textiles, have greatly improved in the last few years. If those were exhibited in New York it might well give rise to an unanticipated kind of demand, because I imagine that the pulling power of an exhibition in New York may far exceed the anticipations of the Gaeltacht Services branch. Will the Department of Industry and Commerce keep before the Gaeltacht Services branch the vital necessity of not showing something which they would be quite unable to deliver if a large demand developed for it, because if they should fail it would prejudice everything we offer?—I am aware that in a general way that sort of consideration is very fully borne in mind. I am sure that the Gaeltacht Services branch is very much alive to it, but I will see that the point is brought to their notice again. They have, in fact, an agent in New York, and I am sure they are fully alive to the possibilities.

457. You will observe that there is a possibility that embarrassment might arise, not through failure to create a demand, but through an unexpected success in creating a demand for an article the delivery of which would become impossible?—Yes. I quite appreciate that. Of course that matter always presents considerable difficulties to the manufacturer or producer, because he has no means of gauging what the results are going to be. He might very well run himself into very big expenditure if he were preparing for a big market which did not, in fact, materialise.

458. That is, of course, one of the peculiar difficulties about taking space at an exhibition of this kind at all. If one has one’s own showroom in Fifth Avenue, one can control the demand, but if one goes on the hustings at an international exhibition one may create no demand, or one may create an immense demand according to the taste of those who happen to come there?—I quite agree. The Gaeltacht Services branch, I am sure, are fully alive to that consideration. There is one of their officers going to New York, and he will be there during the whole of the exhibition. I do not know if anything more can be done than is being done at present to provide for the contingency you have in mind, but I will see that the matter is brought to the notice of the Gaeltacht Services branch again.

459. Deputy Brady.—Can you say if there was a display of Gaeltacht products at the Glasgow Exhibition?—Yes.

459a. Chairman.—The reason I mention the matter is that about four years ago in New York I was informed that the hosiery output of the Gaeltacht industries was sponsored on one occasion by a distributor in New York. He got very satisfactory orders and then found that it was quite impossible to get deliveries except on a very restricted scale, with the result that when he submitted further samples at a later date their merit was not considered at all. His customers said that they would not deal with him on any terms no matter what he offered because it upset their whole buying schedule to buy stuff from him when he had failed to get delivery. The result was that instead of helping the Gaeltacht industries material injury was done. If that unfortunate episode were repeated in connection with the New York World Fair incalculable damage would be done to the Gaeltacht industries?—I fully appreciate that. I have heard complaints of the kind you have just mentioned but I am not in a position to say whether these complaints are well-founded. The Committee might perhaps find it more satisfactory to question the Accounting Officer of the Gaeltacht Services on the matter.

460. I appreciate that, but I have directed your attention to it because you do represent a Department which is concerned with the industrial outlook of the country as a whole and it might reasonably be expected to give advice on industrial matters to a Department which, though it is primarily intended for the protection of the people in the Gaeltacht, is nevertheless closely connected with the industrial life of the country?—We do give advice and assistance to it. There is very close collaboration between the two Departments.

461. I think it might be worth considering in that connection that, whereas it is quite true that a substantial loss might be incurred by creating stocks for which a demand did not materialise, still in view of the peculiar position of the Gaeltacht industries, if the Department determined to concentrate on certain lines which their artistic, industrial and commercial advisers told them were the best lines for them, even if a loss did result from building up stocks to meet a potential demand. I have no doubt that Dáil Eireann would take a very lenient view of any expenditure in that direction. I submit that for consideration when advice is being prepared by your Department for the Gaeltacht industries?—I will see that that is conveyed to the Department responsible.

462. Deputy McMenamin.—Is the question of trade marks not within your jurisdiction exclusively?—There is a separate account for the office that deals with the registration of trade marks.

463. In regard to the Round Tower trade mark which is attached to these tweeds, is that under your jurisdiction and do you see that the article to which it is attached is in fact what it purports to be? Do you get samples of the material? —No.

464. You follow what I am at. If you give a trade mark for a certain article, do you check up afterwards to see that the quality of the article complies with the specification on which the trade mark is issued?—No, we do not ordinarily do that.

465. Who does that? Does anybody do it?—I do not think it is the function of any Government Department so far as my knowledge goes.

466. Chairman.—I take it. although we may discuss this on the Trade Marks Vote, that generally our commercial representatives would be constantly vigilant to see that spurious materials which were not in fact produced in Ireland, were not offered for sale with an Irish trade mark?—That is rather a different thing. I am not quite sure that I properly understood Deputy McMenamin. There have been cases, for instance, in which materials described as Irish poplin were offered for sale in the United States and our consular representatives there brought that to our notice, and, on instructions from the Government here, made representations to the United States Government to try to get that practice stopped. We also try to do what we can with the country from which the goods originate.

467. Suppose we had a shoddy factory in Dublin and they produced shoddy and put upon it the Round Tower mark of the Gaeltacht industries, no representation could properly be made to the Government of the United States in that matter. Would our Consul on finding that shoddy that was manufactured in Dublin was offered for sale in New York remonstrate with the manufacturer in Dublin for that he had sold in New York a material which he had represented to be a Gaeltacht product and which was in fact produced in a shoddy factory in Dublin?—In the ordinary way when the owner of a trade mark registers the trade mark, he can use the trade mark as he thinks fit. I think that is substantially the position. If somebody else uses that trade mark or attaches to something a trade mark which he is not entitled to use, the owner of the trade mark has certain statutory rights to proceed against him.

468. Which in this case would be the Department of the Gaeltacht Services?— Yes, the owner of the trade mark.

469. The Round Tower brand is the trade mark of the Gaeltacht Industries at Beggar’s Bush?—I believe that is so.

470. Accordingly it would be their duty to distinguish between shoddy articles and their product. It is not a matter in which your Department would act at all?—No.

471. You would act in regard to the national trade mark as between Ireland and another country. The Gaeltacht Industries Department would act if some unauthorised person, an Irish national, sought to use their trade mark?—Yes. Any owner of a trade mark is entitled to the protection of the courts here. Where there is any question of foreign interests, the Government step in and give any assistance they can.

472. We appreciate that. If Czechoslovakia tried to pass off material from that country as Irish material, the Government would step in in America and make representations, but where a Dublin manufacturer tries to pass off Dublin stuff as Gaeltacht stuff, would our Consul intervene there or would he leave it to Gaeltacht Industries to proceed against the Dublin manufacturer in Eire?—I think that is almost certain. In fact, I have no hesitation in saying that if it came to the notice of the Consul-General in New York, that the trade mark was being wrongly affixed to goods offered for sale there, he would bring the matter to the notice of the Gaeltacht Services Department.

473. Deputy McMenamin.—You know the Harris Tweeds?—Yes.

474. There is a British Board of Trade mark on them? You know that?—I was not aware of that.

475. Departmentally and inter-departmentally, I do not know what happens, but what I am curious to know is: In England is there some department of the Board of Trade, or some other body in England, that checks these Harris tweeds to which the Board of Trade mark is attached, to see that they are up to the standard that they purport to be?—I have never heard there is.

476. Have we anything like that for checking up on our Gaeltacht products to see that they do, in fact, produce articles of a certain standard so that the quality of these goods would be maintained throughout the world?—We have no Government Department like that.

477. Deputy Benson.—In actual fact, the position is that a trade mark is assigned to a firm or, in this case, to a department, and it contains no reference or specification as to the quality of the goods. It entitles them to brand their products with that trade mark, but there is no guarantee, over and above the standing of the firm, that the goods comply with any specification in connection with the trade mark?—The registered owner of a trade mark can affix the trade mark to anything he likes. If anybody else tries to affix the trade mark to something which is of an inferior quality, or in fact to any other product, the owner of the trade mark is in a position to proceed against him in the courts. I do not know that the trade mark itself is any guarantee of the standard of quality apart from the reputation of the firm or of the individual who owns it.

478. Deputy McMenamin.—But you are giving a State imprimatur to an article. Remember, it is not like putting your own initials upon it. It is a State hall-mark you are putting upon the article, and the people who get the trade mark may take advantage of that. My point is that if the State gives its imprimatur to a thing, it should have some department for checking the quality of the article, so that a person who gets that hall-mark from the State should produce articles which will maintain the reputation of that hall-mark.

479. Chairman.—It is quite appropriate that any member of the Committee should press you very closely for information as to the facts. I would not wish to argue that you should express your opinion as to the propriety of whether such machinery should be installed or not, if in fact no such machinery at present exists. If we want to discuss the propriety of setting up such machinery, I think we had better transfer that question to the Dáil.

480. Deputy McMenamin.—I thought there was a section dealing with these matters.

Mr. Leydon.—I may say that we have been considering a rather wider aspect of that—the possibility of setting up some machinery for testing the quality of Irish products generally, not merely for dealing with the matter of trade marks. That is perhaps the sort of thing the Deputy had in mind but it does present very serious administrative difficulties.

481. Chairman.—I might remind the Deputy that the Estimate for the Department is at present before the Dáil and I am sure the Minister would be instructed and interested to hear any representations from him in regard to this matter. We shall pass on to the Prices Commission. In connection with that, have any representations been made to you to the effect that the preservation of a complainant’s anonymity would help the Prices Commission? The point is this. If you were dealing with two or three firms all your lifetime, or if your father or grandfather had been dealing with them before, and they suddenly begin to profiteer, they may be very intimate friends of yours personally and it would be a source of very great embarrassment, indeed, that they should know that you were the cause of having their profiteering activities reviewed by the Prices Commission, so that it may be that you would prefer to be an accessory after the fact of their profiteering rather than be the means of having their activities reviewed by the Prices Commission. Is there any particular way, where profiteering is alleged bona fide, by which the anonymity of the complainant can be preserved?— That is the first time I heard that question raised. I have not heard any complaints on that score, but I will inquire from the members of the Commission.

482. The force of the point strikes you? —Certainly.

Chairman.—I am passing over the Turf Development Board, Ltd., as we have already discussed that fully.

483. In connection with the Industrial Research Council, sub-head M (4)— Special Investigations—I understand that there was one special investigation with regard to kelp weed with a view to investigating its potentialities for purposes other than the production of iodine. Have you any information as to whether any progress has been made along these lines?—There has been an investigation proceeding, and there is a reference to it in the Industrial Research Council’s Report for 1937-38. I may say that the investigation has not been quite completed, and that we have not an official report as to the result of the investigation. I can only say that, as far as we are in a position to judge, it looks promising.

484. Is the Report of the Industrial Research Council furnished to all Deputies on publication?—I am afraid I could not answer that. It does not show on the face of it that it is, but it has a P. number

485. If it is not, would you consider the desirability of arranging that it should be so supplied in future?—Is it to every Deputy or is it to be laid on the Table?

486. To every Deputy. In effect, documents laid on the Table are not very widely perused?—I will look into that and undertake to have it circulated to every Deputy. I will also circulate the report for 1937-38, if it has not been already sent to each Deputy.

487. Deputy Benson.—Does this Council maintain any contact with the Committee of Scientific Research of the Privy Council?—This Council is certainly supposed to keep abreast of research developments everywhere, and has a very considerable library. I am aware that there are contacts between the members and officers of the Council and their opposite numbers in London.

488. The Committee of Industrial and Scientific Research makes grants to trade associations in Great Britain?—Yes. We have nothing corresponding to that here.

489. I appreciate that, but this Council keeps in contact and gets any information it can?—Yes. Apart from the published information, I think it gets a lot of useful information privately.

490. Chairman.—If an industrialist in this country comes up against an industrial problem, for which no solution has been found heretofore, is he at liberty to invoke the assistance of the Industrial Research Council, and, if so, on what terms can he avail of their services?—As regards the first part, most certainly, yes. That was one object we had in view in setting up the Council. There is no hard and fast rule about terms. They are considered in each individual one, in relation to the character and the amount of work involved. In fact, the approaches by industrialists in this country to the Industrial Research Council have been extremely disappointing.

491. I do not believe that industrialists are aware of this facility. I know of one case in which an industrial problem of some importance, relating to an export product, presented itself and, as far as I am aware, the board of the responsible company never adverted to the facility available in the Industrial Research Council, but simply sought the advice, through the usual commercial sources, of some firm to solve the problem that confronted them. The case I have in mind is where some impurity became manifest in a mineral product in connection with pottery. I imagine that the Industrial Research Council might have examined the problem and decided as to the best method of eliminating that impurity. I think the problem was presented to some commercial firm in Great Britain?—The Industrial Research Council would be very glad to look into a problem of that kind. While I am not in a position to say definitely what the explanation is, I rather suspect that most industrialists in this country have regard to the fact that there is a counterpart of their industry in most cases in Great Britain, and that big industries there maintain research associations of their own. Some big firms have their own research departments of a highly elaborate and highly specialised character, and with great experience. Problems involving research are sometimes, I think, referred to these sources for solution. I am not in a position to give any definite evidence, but I can only conjecture that that is the attitude of industrialists.

492. I take it that the Industrial Research Council would have power and funds if a problem were presented to them to go into and investigate it in situ, and form their own conclusion as to the nature of the problem, and in the light of that information proceed to examine it?—Yes, they have power without reference to anyone to incur expense up to a specified amount in reference to a matter of that kind. They are allowed to expend up to £100 in respect of any individual problem.

493. If a difficulty arose in connection with an industrial project as to the interpretation of that difficulty, the owners might not advert to the real relevant element in it, and without that information the Industrial Research Council would be pursuing a fata morgana, so to speak, whereas if they could say, “Here is a problem. We do not know what it is. Will you find out and then address yourself to removing the cause,” I think a very useful service would be given. If the owners must find out what the problem is, and correct it before the Industrial Research Council address their minds to it, I fear the result would be nugatory, because the real essence of it might not be before them?—I appreciate that. I could not say precisely how the Industrial Research Council handles problems of that kind. I am quite sure they are fully alive to the necessity for getting at the root to find out what is the cause of any particular difficulty. I am not sure if you are thinking of the desirability of officers of the Industrial Research Council, for instance, going to a firm and asking what was the trouble, rather than a manufacturer going to the Research Council.

494. What I have in mind is that a certain firm could say that their product had suddenly shown an unsatisfactory characteristic, and asking if the Council would examine the product in process of production to ascertain what was the cause of the imperfection, and, having ascertained it, determine how to overcome it?—That was all provided for in the Terms of Reference of the Industrial Research Council. I shall, if you will permit me, read the Terms of Reference for the Committee:—

“To furnish advice or take such action as may be appropriate at the request or with the approval of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in respect of:

(a) promoting the utilisation of the natural resources of the Saorstát;

(b) research with the object of improving the technical processes and methods used in the industries of the Saorstát and of discovering processes and methods which may promote the expansion of existing or the development of new industries, including research into the utilisation of the waste products of such industries;

(c) direction or supervision over research which may be undertaken under conditions to be determined in each case by or for single industrial firms or by such organisations or persons as may determine to avail themselves of the facilities offered for this purpose;

(d) questions of scientific and technological methods affecting Saorstát industries;

(e) other matters affecting industrial research in the Saorstát.”

They were appointed in March, 1934, and have a very wide field.

495. And are generally anxious to operate?—Yes, they are anxious because they do not get enough of that type of work; not as much as they could usefully do.

496. Deputy McMenamin.—Arising out of the item Extra Receipts (19) under the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Acts, 1933 and 1937, how does your Department come to get £576 8s. 2d. there?—That is from the millers. There is a provision under 1933 Act that when a miller mills wheat in excess of the quantity authorised he has to pay a fine on a scale that is laid down. The penalties in that particular year made up £576 8s. 2d.

497. Chairman.—Under the same heading in (3) Fees under Cement Act, 1933, £85,563 3s. 1d., that represents, in effect, revenue received from cement?—Yes, I think there was 5/- a ton on imports of cement.

498. May I say that this was a polite way of describing a tariff of 5/- a ton on imported cement?—At any rate that was the effect.

499. Deputy Cole.—Is there any inspection of these grain or wheat mills?—Yes.

500. A medical inspection?—Not as far as my Department is concerned. We are not responsible for medical inspections.

501. Were you ever in a wheat kiln?— No.

Deputy Cole.—I think it would be well to have some inspections made.

Deputy McMenamin.—Is not that a matter for the county medical officer of health in control of the area?

Deputy Cole.—In many of these mills in country places, if you go to the top of the kilns you can see men walking about in their bare feet shovelling the wheat, and chewing tobacco and spitting. That is very unhealthy.

502. Chairman.—I think the fact is, that there is no inspection that you know of, of the kind mentioned by Deputy Cole? —No medical inspection by this Department.

503. Does the Department of Health for the county inspect these places?—I am afraid I could not say what the responsibility of the medical officer of health is. We are responsible for factory inspections and there is provision for the salaries of inspectors. That is different from medical inspections. Our inspection is designed more with a view to seeing that regulations ensuring the safety of the workers are observed.

Deputy Cole.—What about the health of the people?

504. Chairman.—The fact is that Mr. Leydon is not aware of any inspection designed to prevent operatives from spitting tobacco juice in the wheat, and, if that matter is not properly looked after, I suggest that you should raise it on the Minister’s Estimate in the Dáil, when the matter can be examined. With regard to item 4 in the extra receipts payable to the Exchequer in respect of sales of industrial alcohol, etc., what is the reason for the failure to go within £160,000 of the estimated receipts?—The alcohol factories did not start producing alcohol as soon as was anticipated.

505. Were the factories not producing during the whole of this financial year?— No. As a matter of fact, they came into production only towards the end of the financial year.

506. Do you happen to know what the estimated receipts under that head for the current financial year are?—The figure is shown in the Estimates for 1938-39 on page 264—£168,100.

507. And during that financial year the factories were in production the whole time?—Not the whole time. One of them, Corroy, I think, did not go into production at all, because they could not get any potatoes.

508. But they were potentially in production?—Yes.

Chairman.—Then we can examine that figure next year in the light of our experience.


Mr. Leydon further examined.

509. Chairman.—There is a note by the Comptroller and Auditor-General:—

Subhead B—Payment to the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company in respect of the Letterkenny and Burtonport, Buncrana and Carndonagh, and Letterkenny Railways.

The charge of £1,500 to this sub-head represents the final payment to the Company under the arrangement referred to in paragraph 57 of my report on the accounts for the year 1934-35.”

That is an informative paragraph?

Mr. Maher.—Yes, it purports to show that the arrangement referred to terminates in that particular year. The three years are now complete. Arrangements were made whereby a payment of £1,500 for each of the years 1935, 1936, 1937 would be made, and the last of the payments has now been made.

510. Chairman.—I suppose the general circumstances of this railway will come to be reviewed by the present Transport Tribunal?—No doubt, they will.

511. It is still a functioning railway?— It is. They have closed down the Carndonagh line, about 18 miles, and there is a possibility of some further mileage, about 50 miles, being closed down.

Chairman.—The Comptroller and Auditor-General’s report continues:—

Subhead C—Civil Airports.

The bulk of the expenditure charged to this sub-head relates to payments for the acquisition of land in connection with the construction of Airports at Collinstown, Co. Dublin, and Kilconry, Co. Clare. As noted in the Estimate, expenditure on the actual construction of the Airports will be borne on the Vote for Public Works and Buildings (No. 11).

As regards liability for rates on the land acquired, the Minister for Finance decided that, pending a decision as to the operation of the Airports, the liability of the State for rates should not be borne on the Vote for Rates on Government Property, but should be defrayed from the Vote for Transport and Meteorological Services.

I observed that payments of £275 compensation and £55 costs were made as the result of an action taken by a Coursing Club in respect of the entry by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on part of a holding acquired by him, which has been leased to the Club by the former owner. The amounts paid are to be recovered from the compensation payable to the owner. This compensation has not yet been paid.”

512. Do you wish to add anything to that?

Mr. Maker.—That subparagraph and the following paragraph are written because the Estimate provides for the acquisition of land and these payments are rather in the nature of compensation. Hence it was considered necessary to call attention to their special nature.

Chairman.—The next paragraph reads:

“In another case the vendor refused to give up possession of his house in accordance with the agreement made between him and the Minister and demanded the provision of alternative living accommodation. As effective legal proceedings could not be taken without considerable delay and as the land was urgently required, the Department of Finance sanctioned the payment of £100 as a contribution not exceeding 50 per cent. of the cost of a bungalow for the vendor’s occupation. This payment was in addition to the compensation paid to the vendor for his house and lands acquired by the Minister.”

513. Apparently this gentleman stole a march on the Department of Industry and Commerce by catching them short?— Different views may be formed about it, but it has to be admitted that he was exercising his legal rights. We could have got him out by process of law, but it would have cost us more than £100, and would have involved a considerable delay.

Chairman.—I think the general reaction of the Committee will be to admire the resource of this particular property holder.

514. Deputy Walsh.—There must have been some mistake made in the original purchase. If the land had been properly conveyed, he could not have stayed there? —The deed was all right, but you have to go to the courts to get him out.

515. Before he was paid, would he not have to hand over what he had sold?—If he had been paid and handed over the deeds, how are you going to get him out?

Deputy Walsh.—He should not have been paid until he did hand over.

516. Chairman.—The fact was that the Department urgently required this land and holding back the tenant’s money would not have served the Department’s purpose.

Mr. Leydon.—We had to get on to the land in order to proceed with the construction of the airport.

517. Deputy McMenamin.—Was this on the Clare site?—No; this happened in Dublin. It was not in Clare. You are doing Clare an injustice.

Deputy O’Rourke.—The Clare fellows would not be as smart as that.

Chairman.—The Comptroller and Auditor-General has a note on Meteorological Services as follows:

“The meteorological services, administered by the British Air Ministry in Saorstát Eireann, were transferred to the Government of Saorstát Eireann as from 1st April, 1937. It was provided in the agreement made with the British Government that, pending assumption of operational control by the Saorstát Eireann Meteorological Service, the services would be operated by the Meteorological Office, London, on an agency basis.

The agreement also provided that all moneys deriving from the Rosse Fund, London, hitherto payable to the Government of the United Kingdom, in respect of the continuance of certain magnetic observations at Valentia Observatory, would become payable to the Government of Saorstát Eireann with effect from the date of transfer. This Fund is held in trust by the Royal Society, London. A sum of £6 16s. 10d. was received from the Royal Society during the year on account of the income for 1937-38 and is credited to exchequer extra receipts.”

518. I take it that no point arises on that?

Mr. Maher.—No, it is for information only.

519. With regard to subhead A in the Vote itself—Payments in respect of Steamer Services—has the agreement under which these payments are made been completed since?—Yes, it was completed last year.

519a. With regard to subhead D 1— Salaries, Wages and Allowances—has the staff been completed since?—The staff has not been completed. It is very difficult to get qualified staff for a highly specialised service like this. It may interest the Committee to know that the agency arrangement has been terminated and we have taken over the service since the completion of this year’s account, but we have not completed all the staff. We have taken on a number of what might be called junior technicians who are undergoing training, but it will be some years before the staff is really complete.

520. Deputy Benson.—In the meantime, is the service being efficiently carried out? —Yes; we have competent men on loan.

521. Chairman.—Are the men on loan being paid?—Yes, we pay their salaries. When I say they are being paid, I do not want to be misunderstood. They are paid ultimately by us. They are still servants of the British Government and paid, in the first instance, by the British Government, and we then recoup the British Government.

522. I notice that you are spending £5,995 less than you anticipated. Are you satisfied that a sufficient number of persons are on loan to keep the service efficiently maintained?—Yes. That has nothing to do with the saving. Provision was made for our own staff which we had hoped to be able to recruit, and to have them in training. We were not able to get them quite so soon as we had hoped.

523. With regard to subhead D 5— Equipment—have the deficiencies in equipment been made up?—Yes, all the equipment that is required has now been purchased, subject, of course to developments which may take place from year to year in regard to technical improvements in equipment, and so on.


Mr. Leydon called.

No question.


Mr. Leydon further examined.

524. Chairman.—In connection with this matter of coast life saving service, Mr. Leydon, does that include within its terms of reference the relief of islanders who are isolated by storm, or is that a matter that would be attended to by some other department?

Mr. Leydon.—It certainly is not a function of the coast life saving service.

525. I see. I take it that that service would be exclusively concerned with the saving of lives from wrecks?—Yes.


Mr. Leydon further examined.

Chairman.—There is a note here by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, which reads as follows:—

Subhead J—Unemployment Assistance.

“73. A test examination of these payments has been carried out with satisfactory results.

I stated in paragraph 72 of my last report that the audit of payments by the Claims and Record Office of the Department did not include an examination of the forms of application for unemployment assistance. Arrangements have now been made by the Department whereby a test examination of the forms referred to will be carried out.

Under the Unemployment Assistance (Amendment) Act, 1938, the rates of unemployment assistance were increased. The new rates were brought into operation from 26th January, 1938, by Statutory Rules and Orders, 1938, No. 24, and a supplementary estimate to provide for the extra expenditure was taken.”

526. Have you anything further to add to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—No. It simply calls attention to the fact that the test examination is in operation.

527. Chairman.—Very good. The next paragraph—paragraph 74, subhead L— Appropriations-in-Aid—reads as follows:

“Section 5 of the Unemployment Assistance (Amendment) Act, 1938, provides that in addition to the sum mentioned (£250,000) in section 25 of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1933, there shall be transferred in the financial year 1937-38 to the Minister for Industry and Commerce out of the Unemployment Fund a sum which bears to £50,000 the same proportion as the number of days in the period commencing on the appointed day and ending on 31st March, 1938, bears to the number of days in such financial year. The appointed day was fixed as 26th January, 1938 (Statutory Rules and Orders, 1938, No. 25), and provision was made by supplementary estimate for the receipt of the additional sum of £8,904 from the Unemployment Fund.”

I suppose we have your certificate, Mr. Maher, that the calculation referred to there is correctly carried out?

Mr. Maher.—That is a quotation from the Act.

528. And the calculations are correctly carried out?—Yes.

529. Paragraph 74 continues as follows:—

“It was also provided in section 5 that in every financial year commencing after 31st March, 1938, there shall be transferred to the Minister out of the Unemployment Fund the sum of £300,000, in lieu of the sum of £250,000 referred to above.”

The net result would appear to be that the Minister gets £300,000, whereas in the first year he received £258,904?

Mr. Leydon.—The first year he received at the rate of £300,000 a year from the date on which the Act came into operation.

530. And accordingly that awful sum will never have to be done again?—Never again.

531. The note continues as follows:—

“The position as regards the receipts from certain local authorities under section 26 of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1933, to which reference was made in paragraph 73 of my last report, has not altered. It is understood that the Department is examining the possibility of solving the difficulties which have arisen by the promotion of legislation amending the Unemployment Assistance Acts.”

Have you anything to add to that subparagraph, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Yes. The Minister for Finance, in his minute of 24th December, 1938, on the Committee’s report, dated 9th December, 1937, referred to this matter and said that the possibility of solving the difficulties by the promotion of legislation was being examined, and the Committee, in their report, dated 16th February, 1939, expressed the wish to be informed of any decision arrived at. So far as I am aware, no decision has yet been reached.

532. Have you anything to say on that, Mr. Leydon?

Mr. Leydon.—Yes. We have in course of preparation legislative proposals to deal with this difficulty, and the heads of legislation are at present the subject of discussion between the Departments concerned.

533. I understand that, heretofore, some ambiguity existed as to what was the appropriate rebate each local authority was entitled to claim, and the Committee took the view that that ambiguity should be removed so that there should be an effective and enforceable rule at the disposal of the Government. Have steps been taken to that end?—Yes, steps have been taken to that end.

Very good. The note continues as follows:—

“I referred in paragraph 73 of my previous report to the amounts charged to Vote in 1935-36 and 1936-37 respectively, in respect of unemployment assistance, paid in cases where the recipients have been awarded pensions under the Widows’ and Orphans’ Pensions Act, 1935, but no recovery under section 56 of that Act was effected from arrears of pensions payable. As noted in the account, the Department of Finance has since given authority for the write-off of the amounts, involved viz., £370 14s. 10d. net, for the year 1935-36, and £76 1s. 0d. net, for the year 1936-37.”

534. Have you anything to add to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—The particulars will be found on page 192 of the Accounts.

535. Have any arrangements been made, Mr. Leydon, to prevent the recurrence of these write-offs in future years?

Mr. Leydon.—We have improved the position. We cannot definitely say that no such difficulty will arise in future, but we have improved the position.

536. I take it that what has happened here is that when a claim is made for arrears of pension, and the claim remains in abeyance for some weeks and is then granted retrospectively to the date of the application, the unemployment assistance that has been received in the interregnum should be recoverable but, in actual fact, is not recovered?—That is the position— if it is not recovered from the arrears.

Deputy McMenamin.—Or the weekly allowance?—Yes, voluntarily.

537. Chairman.—May I put it to you, Mr. Leydon, that that puts the Committee in a certain difficulty? One is, naturally, sympathetic, of course, to the position of these persons because they are usually indigent and it would be very difficult to collect back from them, out of a widow’s pension, the unemployment assistance they have received; but, nevertheless, the law requires that they should repay it. In those circumstances, could no arrangement be made whereby special provisions would be laid down to the effect that, where unemployment assistance was received by a claimant while his or her claim for a widow’s pension was under consideration, that money would not be regarded as refundable? Otherwise, the Committee is bound to advert to this, year after year, and press the Department of Industry and Commerce to recover the sums. Is not that correct, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Yes, but I understand there is correlation between the Department of Local Government and Public Health and the Department of Industry and Commerce with a view to preventing overlapping.

Mr. Leydon.—Yes. I understand, Mr. Chairman, that your idea is that where unemployment assistance has been received during the time that the claim for a pension was under consideration, the money should not be required to be refunded, but I suggest that an alternative method would be to make such administrative arrangements as would prevent overpayment occurring. If the Department of Local Government and Public Health give us notice in sufficient time to enable us to check up in the case of an individual applicant we can then notify them of the amount we want to recover, and we have recently made arrangements with that Department extending the period of notice they should give us before they actually make the first payment.

538. Chairman.—Well, I should be grateful if, in further considering the matter referred to in the Minister’s note, referring to this matter, the Department would consider, in view of the peculiar circumstances and the poverty of these people, whether it might not be determined that unemployment assistance received in the interregnum between their application for a widow’s pension and the determination of that claim should be regarded as not surrenderable.

Mr. Leydon.—I shall have that point considered, but I am sure it will be appreciated that it involves an amendment of the existing Act.

539. Chairman.—I appreciate that it might require new legislation and I quite appreciate the difficulty of dealing with the matter administratively without the necessary legislation, but I should be grateful if the Department would consider this matter when determining what the final procedure will be.

Mr. Leydon.—I will have that considered.


Mr. Leydon called.

No questions.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.

*See Report, Par. 13