Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1938 - 1939::29 February, 1940::Appendix



Paragraph 1.—Over Estimation.

This paragraph does not appear to require comment on the part of the Minister.

Paragraph 2.—Payments by Local Authorities under Section 26 of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1933.

Leave has been granted by Dáil Eireann for the introduction of the necessary amending legislation.


Paragraph 3.—Rentals of State Lands and Buildings and Inventories of State Property.

The Minister agrees with the opinion of the Committee that it is very desirable that complete registers and rentals of all State lands and buildings should be compiled and that a regular perambulation of State properties should be carried out periodically. Proposals which the Minister regards as satisfactory have been formulated in the matter by the Office of Public Works and the arrangements necessary to give effect to them are being made.

The question of the responsibility for the administration of the State lands and buildings which are occupied by the Department of Defence is under consideration, and when it has been settled appropriate arrangements will be made for the compilation of rentals and the periodic perambulation of these properties.

As regards accounting for plant, machinery and other contents of buildings in the charge of the Commissioners of Public Works, steps are being taken to introduce a more thorough and satisfactory system. An inventory of plant and machinery is now being prepared. The normal store inventory system has been introduced in the various stores and centres in which it is applicable and the inventory system at present in operation in relation to furnished residential buildings and educational institutions is being extended to cover any buildings to which it is appropriate. Various other minor inventories of technical equipment, etc., are also being made and the question of the precautions which should be taken in regard to surplus stores, which in practice arises on current works, is being examined.


Paragraph 4.—Loss or damage arising from lettings of Government property.

The preparation of an estimate of the amount required to restore to a reasonable state of repair the property surrendered in 1936 by Haulbowline Industries, Ltd., was found to be a matter of extreme difficulty but the technical advisers of the Commissioners of Public Works calculated that £7,600 might be taken as representing the probable cost. Their legal advisers, however, were of opinion that it might be very difficult to make a case in support of this estimate in a Court of Law. Moreover, it was clear that there might be reasonable differences of opinion as to the condition of the property at the time it was handed over to the Company’s predecessors in 1929.

Having fully considered these circumstances, and having regard to the financial position of the Company and to the assurances of the Commissioners that they were fully satisfied that no better terms could be secured through further negotiation with the Company or through action in Court, the Minister felt justified in authorising acceptance of a sum of £2,500 in settlement of the claim.

The Minister shares the views of the Committee as to the need for taking every care and precaution to safeguard the State against any possible loss or damage arising from lettings of Government property and he has requested all Departments concerned to take every step in their power which may be necessary to secure compliance with the Committee’s recommendation in the matter and to ensure that the terms and conditions of leases and tenancies are observed and enforced.


Paragraph 5.—Production of glossary of words and phrases in use in a Gaeltacht area.

The Minister is in agreement with the view of the Committee that, having regard to the magnitude of the work mentioned, it should have been made the subject of a special scheme and his prior sanction obtained before the arrangements with the author were completed. The Minister’s covering sanction for the work has now been given, and as from the 1st April, 1938, expenditure thereon has been borne on the Vote for Science and Art.


Paragraph 6.—Parliamentary control over expenditure from Votes.

The Minister concurs with the view of the Committee that the earliest opportunity should be taken to obtain Parliamentary sanction for expenditure not falling clearly within the ambit of a Vote; and he agrees that such sanction should also be obtained for any deviation from an Estimate which does not fall within the recognised field in which virement can be exercised.


Paragraph 7.—Fees for verification of Weights and Measures.

The adoption of the Committee’s suggestion would entail the rendering of accounts to over 31,000 traders annually. Having regard to the rare occurrence of embezzlement, the Minister is not satisfied that the additional expense and trouble involved under the suggested system would be justified.

With a view to providing additional safeguards against embezzlement, arrangements are now in operation for the making of surprise inspections of the accounts of ex-officio Inspectors of Weights and Measures by District Officers of the Gárda Síochána and by officials of the Department of Justice. In addition, an inspector is now required to remit fees to the District Officer as soon as they amount to £5.


Paragraph 8.

Sub-paragraph (1)—Applicability of Section 28 of the Superannuation Act, 1936, to cases coming within the scope of Section 11 of that Act.

A copy of the advice received from the Law Officers in this matter is furnished in the Appendix to this Minute.

Sub-paragraphs (2) and (3)—Awards of Compensation under Section 6 of the Superannuation Act, 1909, and Section 7 of the Superannuation Act, 1859.

The Minister notes the view expressed by the Committee that the circumstances of the cases referred to in these sub-paragraphs were not such as to justify the awards. The circumstances, however, related largely to matters of administration which the relevant enactments require the Minister to take into full consideration; and he believes that—save in the point dealt with in his comment on paragraph 17 of the Committee’s Report on the Appropriation Accounts for 1936-37—he has acted strictly within the discretionary powers conferred upon him by statute. It may be added that the doubts raised in connection with these two cases will be borne in mind in the unlikely event of any similar case arising hereafter.


Paragraph 9.—Contract for the erection of the Industrial Alcohol Factories.

The Minister does not concur with the suggestion of the Committee that the unsatisfactory response to the first invitation to tender was due to the fact that the bills of quantities were calculated in the metric system. The receipt of tenders from three Irish firms clearly demonstrated that that system was not an obstacle to tendering.

The tenders received were, however, regarded as excessive, particularly in the light of an estimate obtained from a Continental firm for purposes of comparison, and after consulting the Master Builders’ Association it was decided, on grounds of policy, to give Irish firms a further opportunity of tendering. Alternative bills of quantities in British standard measurements were then made available and the contract was eventually given to an Irish firm in association with a Continental firm at a price substantially lower than any of the original tenders. The Irish firm in question had already tendered on their own account on the first occasion. The Minister is satisfied that the receipt of a lower tender on the second occasion was not attributable to the provision of new bills of quantities but rather to the association of a Continental firm with an Irish firm.


Paragraph 10.—Fees for Passports, Visa, and Consular Services.

The Minister has carefully examined the suggestion of the Committee that documents on which fees are chargeable should be invalid unless duly stamped and that this fact should be clearly indicated on the face of the documents. He is satisfied, however, that legislative provision on such lines would prove to be either ineffective or undesirable. The majority of the documents legalised or issued by Officers of the Department of External Affairs are intended for use abroad, and there can be no assurance that courts or administrative authorities in other countries, presented with a document purporting to be legalised or issued by an Irish diplomatic or consular authority would feel bound to follow a law in force in this country to the extent of refusing to recognise the validity of the endorsement on the ground that the appropriate Consular stamps were not affixed. Even if they did, the practical results might be extremely undesirable, as the official acts of Irish Diplomatic and Consular Officers would be liable to be questioned and they would lose the benefit of the presumption “omnia rite esse acta” which they at present enjoy. In all the circumstances, therefore, the Minister feels that it would be very undesirable that the validity of documents themselves should be made to depend on the proper stamping of Consular endorsements thereon, or to take any step which would prejudice the validity of Irish passports, visas, Consular Legislations, Nationality Certificates, etc., in the eyes of foreign authorities. Further, if no account were to be taken of the proposed legislation by Courts and authorities abroad it would, to a large extent, be ineffective.

The suggestion of the Committee may have been occasioned by the fact that in a particular instance the stocks of Consular stamps on hand became exhausted and Consular services in respect of which fees were payable had to be performed before new stocks arrived. Special instructions are now being issued to officers abroad with the object of ensuring that a similar failure of supplies of stamps will not occur in future.


Paragraphs 11 and 12.—Precautions against misappropriation of Public Moneys.

Paragraph 11.—The Minister considers that the revised procedure in connexion with imprests now in operation both on the military side and in the Accounts Sections of the Department of Defence provides adequate safeguards against further losses of public monies.

Paragraph 12.—The Minister is satisfied that all reasonable steps have now been taken, by the issue of comprehensive instructions to all officers having custody of public monies and by surprise inspections, to ensure that the possibility of fraud will be minimised. In addition, the discontinuance of the former practice of allowing the accumulation of credit balances in soldiers’ accounts has removed opportunities for fraud.

Paragraph 13.—Payment of full discharge benefits to a member of the Defence Forces who was implicated in theft.

The Minister is satisfied that under the statutory provisions then in force no other course than that followed was permissible. Under the Defence Forces (Pensions) Scheme, 1937, which now governs the grant of a pension or gratuity the Minister for Defence may, in his absolute discretion, either make (subject to the previous consent of the Minister for Finance) such grant or refuse to make such grant.

Paragraph 14.—Control over expenditure incurred in connexion with the Volunteer Force.

It is expected that under the revised scheme for the Volunteer Force now in operation ineffective expenditure and losses of the kind referred to by the Committee will be substantially reduced.

Paragraph 15.—Insufficiency of control over certain lands used for aviation purposes.

It has not yet been possible to reach a decision regarding the further use of the lands for military purposes. The Committee will be informed in due course of any developments.


Paragraph 16. Repayment of Advances for Land Reclamation.

The advances referred to by the Committee in the paragraph under notice amounted to £168 in aggregate, and were made to 37 tenant purchasers of whom 21 have to date signed approved undertakings for repayment of advances totalling £98. The Land Commission are proceeding to obtain similar undertakings from the remaining 16 tenants. On signature of the undertakings the amounts involved are recoverable by means of additional annuities charged on the holdings concerned.


Paragraph 17.

Sub-paragraph (1)—Purchase of butter—Irregular Charge.

The Minister is in full agreement with the view of the Committee that steps should have been taken to provide for the expenditure in question in a Supplementary Estimate. It has been explained to him that the charge to the Vote was made at the time of purchase of the butter, which was intended for export, but that a scarcity of butter for home consumption subsequently arose rendering it necessary to divert the butter to the home market. The sale of the butter on the home market was regarded by the Minister for Agriculture as an approved scheme for the marketing of butter under Section 41 (6) of the Dairy Produce (Price Stabilisation) Act, 1935, and the loss which arose thereon was, at his direction and with the concurrence of the Minister, recouped out of the Dairy Produce (Price Stabilisation) Fund. The receipts from the sale of the butter which, together with the loss recouped, amounted to the purchase price charged to Subhead O.10, were credited to the Vote as Appropriations-in-Aid. It has been arranged that a Supplementary Estimate will be presented if similar cirstances should arise in future.

Sub-paragraph (2)—Delay in forwarding Trading Accounts for audit.

The Minister concurs with the Committee’s view that accounts relating to the commercial activities of Departments should be furnished as early as possible after the close of the accounting period to which they relate.

Given under the Seal of the Minister for Finance this 27th day of November, 1939.

(Signed) J. J. McELLIGOTT,

Secretary, Department of Finance.



Roinn an Árd Aighne.

Árd Aighne

1. The question raised here is whether the powers conferred on the Minister for Finance under Section 28 of the Superannuation Act, 1936, may be exercised in respect of a person who has obtained a certificate in pursuance of Section 11 of that Act.

2. Section 11 of the Superannuation Act, 1936, provides in effect that if the Minister certifies that a person ceased to be employed for political reasons in the “established civil service of Dáil Eireann” and was unsuitable through age or ill-health for appointment to the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann it should be lawful to grant such person a superannuation allowance on the salary certified by the Minister and on the period of established service deemed to have begun on the date of the first appointment to an established position in the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann and to have ended on attaining the age of 65 or the passing of the Act whichever was the earlier.

Section 28 of the same Act says that whenever the Minister gives under that Act a certificate to a person entitling him to reckon a period of established service in the Civil Service of Dáil Eireann as established service in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann for the purpose of the Superannuation Acts, the Minister may also direct that a period not exceeding 5 years may be added to his established service for superannuation purposes.

3. The Superannuation Act, 1936, is an enabling statute which must, therefore, be construed in ease of the persons intended to be benefitted by its provisions. There is nothing in Section 11 which expressly excludes the application of section 28. No question could arise as to the application of section 28 if there was even one day’s actual service in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. But the period of established service which is deemed to have been rendered under paragraph (b) of section 11 must be related to a service in the Civil Service of Saorstát Eireann. While it is, of course, possible to read section 11 as a completely self-contained provision, I do not think that this would be a construction in full accord with the intentions of the Statute. In my opinion, therefore, the provisions of section 11 may be regarded as being within the wider reach of section 28 and a direction for an additional period not exceeding five years may be included in the certificate issued by the Minister under section 11 of the Act.

(Intld.) P.P. O’D.

15th February, 1939.

I concur.

(Intld.) P.L.