Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1940 - 1941::17 June, 1942::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 17adh Meitheamh, 1942.

Wednesday, 17th June, 1942.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:





B. Brady.







DEPUTY DILLON in the chair.

Mr. Maher (Oifig an Ard-Reachtaire Cunntas agus Ciste), and Mr. G. P. S. Hogan (An Roinn Airgeadais), called and examined.


Mr. W. D. Carey called and examined.

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

Revenue Account.

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

Extra Statutory Repayments of Customs and Excise Duties.

6. Extra statutory repayments of Customs duties amounting to £3,055 3s. 3d. were made during the year.

Extra statutory payments of Excise Duties amounting to £226 12s. 7d. were also made during the year, under the general authority of the Department of Finance, which was referred to in paragraph 7 of my last report, in respect of non-defective unused tyres returned to the manufacturer.”

Mr. Maher.—As regards the first paragraph, the majority of the payments relate to cases in which licences for duty-free importation would have been issued if applied for, or in which licences were, in fact, issued after the duty had been paid. They relate mainly to hardware and steel bars, and paper. With regard to the second paragraph, these payments are in continuation of similar payments that were referred to last year and were discussed by the Committee.

745. Chairman.—What were the exact circumstances in respect of the non-defective unused tyres that were returned?

Mr. Carey.—We went into this matter fully last year. In certain cases Dunlops recalled tyres to the factory apparently because there was some idea that they might be defective. The normal procedure is that duty is paid on a tyre when it leaves the factory so what we did was we repaid the duty when the tyre went back to the factory and then got the duty again when it was found to be non-defective and went out from the factory the second time. There was no loss of duty.

746. There is an excise duty on tyres? —Yes.


“7. 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, 1941, 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 £7.280 18s. 11d., as compared with £5,558 Is. 10d. in the preceding year. Of the total, £7,130 7s. 9d. has been remitted in respect of Income Tax. £1,692 3s. 1d. related to 13 cases in which the assessed parties died insolvent or were destitute, and recovery was impossible; £3,914 15s. 8d. related to 20 cases in which assessments were raised but subsequent evidence revealed no net liability to tax, and £1,523 9s. 0d. related to four cases of bankruptcy or liquidation in which there were no assets to meet the claims. The remissions also include a sum of £62 7s. 2d. in respect of interest on Estate duty and a sum of £88 4s. 0d. in respect of Customs duty.

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

747. Chairman.—Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—That is for information only. It is an annual paragraph setting out the remissions made with the sanction of the Department of Finance.

748. Chairman.—The next note reads:

Subhead GMachinery and Repairs in Stamping Branch, etc.

“8. The sanction of the Department of Finance was obtained for expenditure not exceeding £2,360 on the purchase of plant for the production of rolls of stamps in continuous strips for use in stamp vending machines, on the understanding that the contractors gave a guarantee to see the machinery installed and working satisfactorily. It appears that the contractors were unable to comply with this condition when the plant was being erected and that, apart from some experimental rolls which proved unsatisfactory, the machinery has not been in production. I am in communication with the Accounting Officer on the position arising out of the inability of the contractors to implement their guarantee and also on the question of the future utilization of the plant.”

Mr. Maher.—We received a reply from the Accounting Officer in which he said that owing to the outbreak of war the contractors were unable to send an expert to set the machine running, but they undertook in their letter of 19th September, 1939, to carry out such work free of cost at the first available opportunity. A number of rolls was printed. tried out in the Post Office vending machines and proved not altogether satisfactory. It was considered inadvisable to attempt any adjustment of the delicate mechanism of the machine in the absence of the makers’ expert, and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs having been advised informally as to the position, agreed that the old arrangement for printing stamps in rolls might be continued for the time being.

749. Chairman.—Has there been any further development?

Mr. Carey.—When the matter came under my notice it seemed to me that the Department of External Affairs might be able to help us to get a permit for this man to come over. I got in touch with the Secretary of that Department, Mr. Walshe, and he said that he thought they could probably arrange it. We have written them on the subject and I have hopes that we will get an expert over. Messrs. Chambon are a very reliable firm with whom we have been doing business for many years and I have not the slightest doubt that as soon as their man is allowed over he will come and put right whatever adjustment is necessary. It is probably some comparatively trivial adjustment but as these are very delicate and complicated machines it would be unwise for anybody else to touch them.

750. Chairman.—The note continues:

“The total amount expended on the machinery to the 31st March, 1941, was £2,114 14s. 0d. of which £165 was expended in the year under review and the balance in previous years. The sum of £165 represents the cost of two engravings for the penny stamp, the second of which was rendered necessary as the first engraving supplied proved to be defective. I have inquired regarding the circumstances in which the defect in the original engraving occurred.”

Mr. Maher.—We have been told that it was arranged that for the purpose of making engravings for the printing of stamps the contractors, Messrs. Chambon. would be supplied with the original die from the Royal Mint. It was supplied and a plate was duly made, but it proved unsatisfactory owing, apparently, to lack of depth in the die, which although suitable for the method employed for plate-making in the Mint, proved unsuitable for the method employed by Messrs. Chambon. A new die was, accordingly, manufactured in the Mint from which a second plate was made.

751. Chairman.—Have you anything to add, Mr. Carey?

Mr. Carey.—I am not an engineer, but I understand that there is always a certain element of experiment about work of this character. What happens in the normal way is that we would have the plates made by the Mint which has, I am told, the very best equipment in these countries, and does this kind of work for many countries. At the time that we wanted these plates they were extremely busy and then the war came and the Mint could not undertake to produce the plates within reasonable time. It seemed as if we were likely to be left without the plates for a lengthy period, so Messrs. Chambon suggested that they would be prepared to attempt to produce a plate for the penny stamp and the Mint lent them their original master die to be used in producing the plate. A plate was produced and then this difficulty arose. It was found that whilst the die was satisfactory for the process used by the Mint it was not satisfactory for the process used by Messrs. Chambon. It was not their fault and not the fault of the Mint. We had to get the Mint to make a new die and Messrs. Chambon then produced a plate from it.

752. Chairman.—Were any stamps printed from that plate?—I think the position was that the defective plate was found not adequate at all because of lack of depth in the die.

753. So that the matter is not very exciting?—No.

754. Chairman.—On subhead D, what is the basis of the poundage to distributors of stamps?—I cannot tell you the exact figure.

755. Could you say the terms on which poundage is paid? Is it confined to revenue stamps or postage stamps?— This relates mainly to stamps in connection with Stock Exchange transactions.

756. There is no system by which small shopkeepers are authorised to distribute postage stamps?—No.

757. On subhead S, what is the history of the text book on Death Duty Law? —Our former solicitor, Mr. Collins, prepared a text book on Death Duty Law. Death Duty Law is an extraordinarily complicated system and it was felt that not only the Revenue Department but legal practitioners throughout the country were rather at a disadvantage in being without a text book which would be a guide and which would contain references to our own Death Duty provisions since 1923. There has been no consolidation of Death Duty Law at all. It was suggested that Mr. Collins, with the assistance of his son a solicitor in practice, should undertake, the preparation of a book. The Department of Finance agreed to make a grant of £50 towards the expenses of producing the book. It is a somewhat usual arrangement in a matter of that description where the production of a book by an expert would be generally useful or desirable in the public interest.

758. Was there any subhead in the Estimates for the relevant year?—I see that there was. Has the book been produced yet?—Yes, it is on sale.


Mr. W. D. Carey further examined.

759. Chairman.—Do you find that the Pensions Committees discharge any useful function at all, or do they recommend that everybody should get 10/-?—On the whole they do discharge a useful function. Otherwise it would be very difficult to deal with pension claims. One of the advantages of the Local Pensions Committees is that the pensioner can come before the Committee locally and they can get a statement of his case.

760. Deputy McMenamin.—Do they not often refuse a pension to applicants on the facts submitted by the Local Pension Officer?—It sometimes happens. The bulk of them are unduly generous.

761. Chairman.—But occasionally a valiant neighbour emerges who does his duty?—The knowledge in the mind of a potential claimant that he has to make good his case in the presence of neighbours who know a good deal about him possibly has the effect of preventing claims being made which otherwise might be made.

762. Chairman.—On subhead C, Appropriations in Aid, perhaps Mr. Maher could explain to us why this has the letter C.

Mr. Maher.—That is arranged with the Department of Finance.

763. Chairman.—It must be unique in the accounts?

Mr. Maher.—It is to maintain the continuity of the subhead lettering from year to year. The new subheads are introduced in the charge portions of the account and called D and E. There were three Subheads—A, B and C in the Estimate as presented. Later, authority was obtained to introduce two new subheads—Sums Irrecoverable and Extra Statutory grants—bringing D and E after C.

764. Chairman.—Then D and E were introduced after the Book of Estimates had been submitted?—Yes.

765. It is unusual, as the Appropriations in Aid usually appear in the Vote as the last letter in the alphabet?— Frequently, instead of calling them D and E they might be called B.B. or C.C.

766. However, you prefer to adhere to the alphabet?—Yes.


Mr. W. D. Carey further examined.

767. Deputy Hughes.—What is meant by bounties on sugar? Are bounties paid at present on sugar production?— Bounties are paid on the sugar content of goods exported, such as condensed milk.

768. Chairman.—This is a true measure of the subsidy paid on beet sugar as represented by the difference between non-dutiable foreign sugar and sugar manufactured at Carlow?—As far as we are concerned it is simply a question of paying bounty which is measured by the difference between customs duty and excise duty.

769. Deputy Hughes.—It is only on sugar exported?—Yes. In the case of sugar it is only on sugar exported.

770. Chairman.—It would help us if you would explain how the amount to be paid per cwt. of sugar exported as a constituent of some manufactured article is arrived at—that is, how the amount to be paid per cwt. is arrived at?—Up to the end of 1940, the law was that a bounty should be paid when drawback was paid on export—I am speaking of sugar—amounting to the difference between the customs duty and the excise duty—the customs duty being 23/4 per cwt. and the excise duty being 8/2 per cwt., making the bounty automatically 15/2 per cwt. That was a legal provision which was binding on us. Then, towards the end of the year, by Emergency Order power was given to the Minister for Finance to fix the rate of bounty. Up to this the rate was determined automatically by the difference between the two duties. Emergency Powers Order No. 60, was introduced towards the end of the year, giving power to the Minister to fix the amount of the bounty. By an Order of his, the rate of 15/2 was continued from the 1st January, 1941, to the 31st March, 1941.

771. Has there been any change in the rate since then?—I believe there has been a change this year, but I have not gone into it as I was not concerned with it on this account. I think it was reduced by Order.

We are very much obliged, Mr. Carey.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called and examined

772. Deputy Breathnach.—On Subhead E, who uses these motor cars?—They are for the use of the President. The motor cars are purchased out of his own pocket and this grant of £300 is an annual grant made towards the replacement of the cars. There is no Vote provision for expenses for maintaining and running them. The President uses his own chauffeur, and petrol, and pays other expenses incidental to maintaining and running the cars. The cars are at disposal of himself and his staff.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

773. Chairman.—With regard to subhead G.—Telegrams and Telephones— have you had any complaints about the insufficiency of telephone lines for Dáil Eireann?—We have not had any formal complaints, but I know the matter has been mentioned at the Public Accounts Committee meetings on more than one occasion and it has also been mentioned in the Dáil in connection with discussions on this Vote. I understood that the Post Office had increased the number of lines to Leinster House and that the delays in getting the necessary telephone connections, of which Deputies complained, were now considerably reduced. I was not aware that there was still an insufficiency of lines.

774. I am bound to say that the position has improved, but I wondered whether it was my personal experience or the general experience?—There was a period of peak demand during which some delays were experienced, but the new arrangements made by the Post Office have helped to obviate that difficulty.

775. Deputy Allen.—Trunk calls from Leinster House are very unsatisfactory.

Chairman.—That would be scarcely within the province of Mr. McElligott’s responsibility.

Witness.—The Ceann Comhairle and the Committee on Procedure and Privileges would be the people to whom representations should be made in regard to some of these matters. There were, as I have said, additional exchange lines installed by the Post Office in order to facilitate telephone conversations.

776. Chairman.—On subhead J, which relates to the Restaurant contribution in respect of catering expenses, are you still satisfied that the Restaurant caterers can establish title to this bounty of £500?—I do not know that I am altogether satisfied. I would prefer if there were no bounty and if the Restaurant paid its way by charging additional prices for food and whatever other amenities they provide. The caterers, however, are still losing money on the Restaurant and the recoupment made to them is usually only portion of their total loss.

777. Are you satisfied they are losing money—they have substantially increased prices?—They submit audited accounts to the Ceann Comhairle and the Ceann Comhairle sometimes refers these to the Comptroller and Auditor-General—at least, he has the power to do so.

Mr. Maher.—On one or two occasions he has done so. We looked into the accounts and sent an auditor across to the caterers and he looked into the costings and the prices and so far as we could see they were satisfactory.

Witness.—The recoupment from this Vote to the caterer is usually only a proportion of the loss. It is never anything like 100 per cent.; it is something more like 50 or 60 per cent. of the loss.

778. Chairman.—Is there any reason why the caterers should go on conducting the Restaurant at a loss?—It is partly a matter of prestige and partly because the caterer is employed in connection with certain Government functions, such as when the Government give a dinner at Iveagh House or at other places. In such circumstances these caterers are employed. It gives them a standing as official caterers.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

779. Chairman.—With regard to subhead E.—Allowance to Taoiseach for motor car—does the same arrangement apply in respect of the Taoiseach’s allowance for a motor car as that which applies to the President’s establishment? —Yes, except that the wages and uniforms of the chauffeurs are provided by the State in the case of the Taoiseach; otherwise the allowance is intended to cover all expenses under whatever heading incurred by him in using his private car for official purposes.

780. Does it include the replacement of the car?—It includes the replacement of the car. The car is provided by the Taoiseach.

781. He buys his own petrol?—He provides his own petrol.

782. And the only expense borne by the State is the wages of the chauffeurs and the uniforms?—Yes, plus the £350 allowance.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

783. Chairman.—I observe, in connection with subhead A.A. relating to the actuary, that no claim for payment was made during the year. Does that imply when you require the services of an actuary you employ an independent firm for a specified fee?—Sometimes we employ the services of the British Government actuary in big inquiries that require the services of a full actuarial staff which we have not got here and no one else has in this country. It is out of that subhead that we make any payments for services that may be asked for from the British Government actuary. Big inquiries in connection with civil service superannuation and the national teachers’ pension fund have been carried out in the past by the British Government actuary as an agency service on our behalf, but latterly there has been no need to employ his services, so there was no payment under the Vote for the year 1940/41.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

784. Chairman.—On subhead C—Apparatus and chemical equipment—is it correct that the laboratory is able to get from domestic sources of supply, glass for retorts and things of that kind?—I have no information on the subject. I know they have been trying to get such apparatus from the Irish Glass Bottle Company and from some other home sources. They have been experimenting on their own to some extent, but what the position is at the moment, I cannot say.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

785. Chairman.—Arising out of subhead B—Expenses in connection with the investigation, defence and discharge of claims—will the payments under the new Act for compensation for damage— under the Neutrality (War Damage to Property) Act—appear under this Vote? —No. This was the second last year in which this Vote appeared. There was a provision of £1,000 made in this Vote in the following year, 1941-42, but for 1942-43 the Vote has disappeared. It has, however, been replaced by another Vote, the Damage to Property (Neutrality Compensation) Vote, for which £115,000 was provided in 1941-42 and £260,000 in the current year.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

786. Chairman.—As regards subhead C 2—Fees and Expenses in connection with Inspection of Manuscripts and Editing of Publications—have the Irish Manuscripts Commission got apparatus for the micro-photography of valuable documents, or has anybody in this country got the apparatus necessary for that work?—I think the National Library has apparatus suitable for micro-photography.

Deputy Breathnach.—They have in Trinity College, I understand.

787. Chairman.—If it would not be too much trouble, would you be so kind as to ascertain whether micro-photography facilities are available in this country and perhaps you will let us have a note* on the matter?—Certainly. I know that in connection with the Government emergency arrangements the question of the duplication of documents arose and arrangements were made to provide apparatus suitable for the purpose of micro-photography. I shall make further inquiries and let you know.

788. As regards the Commission on Agriculture, is this body still functioning? —No, its operations have been suspended.

789. It never brought its deliberations to a close?—It did not. The Commission on Vocational Organisation is still functioning.

790. And it has not yet reported?— It has not yet reported. In addition to the expenditure shown in relation to the Commission on Vocational Organisation —Subheads F. 1. and F. 2.—there is a further sum referred to on page 69 and it amounts to £1,584. That provision is for salaries in respect of staff temporarily lent, without repayment, to the Commission on Vocational Organisation.

791. Deputy Hughes.—Arising out of Subhead H—Commissions and Inquiries not specifically provided for—what Commissions were provided under that subhead?—A list of the Commissions provided under Subhead H is set out on the following page. They included the Coal Imports Committee, the Commission of Inquiry into Land Drainage, the Summer Time Committee, the Irish Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Land Trust Committee and the Committee on Clare Phosphates.

792. Chairman.—Do these committees publish reports or are the reports merely for the Minister, to be published at his discretion?—The results of the inquiry by the Summer Time Committee were published. Whether or not the report itself was published, I do not knew. Generally speaking, reports coming under that omnibus subhead are the result of inquiries made for Departmental purposes and are not, as a rule, published. The inquiries are made mainly for the information of the Minister.

793. Was the report of the Committee on Clare phosphates rendered to the Minister yet?—I think so.

794. It has not been published?—No.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

795. Deputy Hughes.—What is the purpose of the Grant-in-Aid, under Subhead A, to the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland?

Mr. McElligott.—That grant is intended to defray portion of the expenses incurred by the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland in carrying out the disciplinary duties imposed on the Society by the Solicitors (Ireland) Act, 1898. The Committee is concerned mainly with keeping the roll of solicitors which, before the passing of that Act, was in the custody of the registrar of the Chancery Division of the High Court. The grant amounts to about two-thirds of the deficit incurred by the Society in carrying out these duties. It used to be somewhat larger but it has been reduced. It was formerly £400 for all Ireland. Then, it was fixed at £325 for the Twenty-Six Counties. It has been reduced according as the deficit incurred by the Society contracted.

796. Deputy Breathnach.—What is “The Irish Plate” referred to under Subhead D?—That is a race run annually at the Curragh. It succeeded the King’s Plate and is for 100 guineas.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

797. Chairman.—As regards subhead D —Fees to Counsel—is the choice of counsel to be retained on behalf of the State a matter purely for the Attorney-General to determine?

Mr. McElligott.—Yes, in conjunction with the Chief State Solicitor. The final decision rests with the Attorney-General. The fee to be paid, when in excess of a certain figure is a matter for arrangement with the Department of Finance.

798. Chairman.—I observe from a Parliamentary answer that one junior counsel retained during the past year cleared 2,300 guineas in fees. I take it that that would be owing to the multiplicity of briefs held by him?— Presumably he appeared in a large number of cases.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

799. Chairman.—Have any representations been made to the effect that the grants made available to University College, Dublin, are insufficient to permit of adequate library facilities being made available there.

Mr. McElligott.—Representations have been made as to the general insufficiency of the grants made to University College, Dublin. Amongst the deficiencies alleged to exist were some in relation to the library. The whole finances of University College, Dublin, are at present under review by the Department of Finance and discussions are being carried on with the Department of Education. The authorities of University College are looking for a large increase in the grants.

800. Chairman.—I take it that you are in no way responsible for the administration of the grants once they are paid over to the College?—No. That is entirely within the discretion of the College authorities.

801. It has been mentioned to me that the question of securing adequate access to foreign periodicals is very difficult as a result of inadequate funds for that purpose. Doubtless, that is a matter for the College authorities rather than for you. Your duty is merely to see that the moneys appropriated are transferred to the College authorities?—The matter to which you refer is one for the University Colleges.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

802. Chairman.—Nobody has, this year, asked what the Quit Rent Office is. This is the first occasion on which that question has not been asked.

Mr. McElligott.—A question was raised previously as to whether this office could not be abolished. An investigation into the work of the office has been carried out and the question of transferring it to certain Departments which deal with work of a cognate character is under consideration at present. The change will not lead to anything substantial in the way of economies because the staff will have to be transferred with the work but it will, probably, lead to some immediate saving in running expenses.

803. Chairman.—The tendency of the service is to disappear?—When purchase operations are completed, all these quit rents will have been cleared.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

Chairman.—There is a note by the Comptroller and Auditor General on this Vote and it reads as follows:—

“74. In paragraph 88 of my last report I referred to the provision of a labour camp at Clonsast under a scheme for peat development. Expenditure included in this account amounted to £3,170 1s. 7d. making the total expenditure to 31st March. 1941, £8,646 11s. 2d., made up as follows:—











Furniture, bedding and










Transport, clothing, sports equipment and sundries




Contribution to supplement workers’ earnings, to meet cost of their




maintenance, etc.





Proportion of loss on running expenses of















The camp was opened on 26th April, 1940, for occupation by selected unemployed men under arrangements made with the Turf Development Board, some of whose employees were already similarly accommodated at the bog. The men employed were paid on a piece-work basis; fixed charges were recovered from their earnings in respect of food, lodging, etc., and if their earnings were insufficient to cover these charges the deficiency was made good to the Turf Development Board from the vote. With the approval of the Department of Finance any loss incurred by the Turf Development Board in conducting the joint camp, as shown from periodical profit and loss accounts furnished by them, was borne on the basis of the vote recouping two-thirds of the loss incurred from 26th April, 1940, to 1st September, 1940, one-half for the period 2nd September, 1940. to 3rd October 1940 and one-third from 4th October 1940, to 13th December, 1940. The last of the selected labourers left the camp on 12th December, 1940, and the buildings and equipment were let to the Turf Development Board as from the 17th February, 1941, at a rent of £500 per annum.”

804. Chairman.—Has Mr. Maher anything to add to that paragraph?

Mr. Maher.—That paragraph is in continuation of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General for the previous year and brings the position up to the end of the Financial year— March, 1941.

805. Chairman.—Are we to take it that this experiment of bringing men to Clonsast on these terms is now virtually at an end?

Mr. McElligott.—Yes. The buildings erected out of the moneys referred to by the Comptroller and Auditor General are now under lease to the Turf Development Board, which is utilising them in connection with the turf-production campaign.

806. Chairman.—Would it not be a more desirable procedure to sell these properties to the Turf Development Board and make an end of this leasehold arrangement?—We had thought that the buildings might be used elsewhere. They are, I understand, capable of being lifted and transferred. In any event, the Turf Development Board is largely dependent on State subsidies, so that there did not seem to be much purpose in making a large issue of money to the Turf Development Board to enable it to buy property already erected at the expense of the State.

807. Except that a pot with many holes loses its contents more covertly than a pot with one large hole through which you can see the contents flowing?—I do not know that the Turf Development Board would be anxious to pay a very large sum for this property because they already had accommodation in the place for their own workers before these additional huts were erected. They might not have sufficient use all the year round for the huts to justify their paying a large capital sum for them. The matter is one that can be inquired into if you wish.

808. It is a matter in which you are judge. It occurred to me that an arrangement whereby you continue to be a sort of landlord to one of your own children, the Turf Development Board, is a rather questionable one?—I shall look into the matter.*

809. Deputy Hughes.—Is the present rent an economic rent?—It is at the rate of £500 a year. The capital cost amounted to about £8,000.

Chairman.—That was not altogether on buildings?—That included architects’ fees, furniture, bedding and other equipment.

810. The total capital cost would be in the neighbourhood of £8,000?—Yes, of which £7,600 was in respect of buildings, including architects’ fees. Then there was an outlay of about £950 for furniture and bedding. The annual rental represents about 8 per cent. on the capital outlay.

811. The next sub-paragraph of paragraph 74 reads:—

“I mentioned also in my last report that payments amounting to £3,247 0s. 7d. had been made to the Sea Fisheries Association in connection with the construction of a mussel purification station at Cromane, Co. Kerry. Further sums totalling £3,206 3s. 2d. were paid to the Association in the year under review, bringing the total cost of construction to £6,453 3s. 9d.”

812. Are you kept informed Mr. McElligott, as to the revenue derived by the Sea Fisheries Association from this mussel purification plant?—Yes, we get information regularly on the subject. This plant is being very successfully worked at the present. To some extent, the success of the operations is due to abnormal emergency conditions and it is not altogether certain that it will be equally successful under normal conditions. So far, it has certainly justified the expenditure incurred. It has served an industry which was a source of full or partial support for a number of needy people in the neighbourhood. There was a substantial number of poor families dependent on the mussel industry and the erection of a purification plant helped to prevent the industry from falling into abeyance.

The last sub-paragraph of paragraph 74 states:—

“The expenditure also includes £1,582 9s. 0d. in respect of grants for encouraging the improvement of farms. This scheme provides for the payment, under certain conditions, of grants equivalent to one-half of the approved estimated labour cost of works such as field drainage, land reclamation, fencing and the improvement of farmyards and farm roadways. The maximum grant payable to any one applicant in respect of the season 1940-41 was £100 and the minimum grant £5, except in Congested Districts, where the minimum grant was £1.”

813. How are those grants administered?—Mainly through the Department of Agriculture. They are part of the farm improvement scheme for the administration of which provision is made in the Vote for the Department of Agriculture.

814. Is the procedure that the applicant applies to the Department of Agriculture and they recommend to you the payment of the grant?—The administration of the scheme is entirely in the hands of the Department of Agriculture. We do not normally intervene. The farm improvements scheme provision under the Special Emergency Schemes Vote amounts to £250,000. The method of administering the Vote is arranged with the Department of Agriculture. Agricultural inspectors and overseers play a prominent part in administering the scheme as they do in other schemes which are borne on the Special Emergency Scheme Vote, such as seed distribution and lime distribution. The Agricultural Vote itself bears, in the first instance, the salaries, wages and allowances of the various officers connected with the administration of these temporary schemes but is subsequently recouped from the Special Emergency Schemes Vote. There is a total in the current year of £29,652 provided for salaries, wages and allowances of various supervisors and agricultural overseers who administer the farm improvements scheme.

815. Deputy Brady.—Would it be possible to get the amount of the grants spent in congested districts as against those expended on the larger farms in other areas?

816. Chairman.—Was there any segregation made as between the congested areas and the rest of Ireland?—I have not seen any such segregation. If the Committee wish I shall have inquiries made, to see if we cannot introduce a separate figure for the congested districts.

Chairman.—I think Deputy Brady will agree that if he desires that segregation to be made, it is really a matter for a Parliamentary Question and that it is not a matter with which we should trouble Mr. McElligott now.

Deputy Brady.—Very well.

817. Deputy Hughes.—Was this expenditure always accounted for under a separate Vote? Was the farm improvements scheme not accounted for under the Vote for Agriculture?—It is accounted for now by the Special Employment Schemes office. At one time its nucleus the Land Reclamation Scheme, was under the Department of Agriculture and on its Vote.

818. Why was it taken out?—It was unnecessarily inflating the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture. We thought it well to assemble in one Vote all the various schemes arising out of the emergency and accordingly we brought under the heading of the Special Emergency Schemes Vote all the schemes operated by the Turf Development Board, the miscellaneous fuel production schemes operated by the county councils, the farm improvement, the seed distribution, lime distribution schemes and other miscellaneous schemes of an emergency character. We were anxious to show in one Vote, instead of having them scattered over a number of Votes, the various provisions we were making for meeting emergency conditions. That accounted for the transfer of the farm improvement scheme from the Vote for Agriculture.

819. Surely it is not going to be classed as an emergency provision?—We hope that it is only temporary in character.

820. We hope it is permanent. It was introduced before the war. It seems extraordinary that it was taken out of Agriculture and put into a Special Vote? —I think its temporary or permanent character will not be prejudiced one way or another by transferring it between Votes.

821. Deputy Breathnach.—Why was it that such a large amount of the money granted for these schemes remained unexpended?

822. Chairman.—Is there any particular reason why all the money was not spent?—The note says that the saving was due to the fact that various schemes, particularly among those commenced late in the season, were not completed within the financial year. The commencement of these schemes often entails a good deal of preliminary work. Many are schemes undertaken by local authorities—public health and road schemes, the clearance of housing sites or schemes undertaken by the Office of Public Works in connection with marine works or, perhaps, peat development schemes. They are all operations which, as they entail a certain amount of preliminary work, may not proceed as quickly as people anticipate. In any case, the money saved is usually re-voted in the following year.

823. Deputy Breathnach.—Only usually? —I might say invariably voted in the following year. Therefore it does not represent a permanent saving.

824. It is a big sum to have saved on a Vote for employment to relieve distress? —In any case, the expenditure on these employment schemes is really more than is shown in this appropriation account because the account does not include expenditure by local authorities by way of subventions towards these schemes. In the year 1940-41, the expenditure of local authorities amounted to £327,000 in addition to the £1,204,000 expended under this Vote.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called and examined.

Chairman.—The report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General states:—

“79. The advance of £4,000 from the Fund made in anticipation of a Vote of the Oireachtas, which was outstanding at the end of the year, was paid to an Agricultural Co-operative Society in respect of compensation for damage to its premises caused by the dropping of bombs by foreign aircraft. The amount advanced from the Contingency Fund will be recouped from the Vote for damage to Property (Neutrality) Compensation in 1941-42. As noted on the face of the relative Estimate the expenditure out of the Vote will be offset to the extent of any compensation which may be recovered from external Governments or authorities. Other payments in respect of injuries to property caused by bombings are referred to in paragraphs 14 and 37 of this report.”

825. Is it customary, Mr. McElligott, to make repayments to the Contingency Fund conditional on the passing of a statute or is it not usual to introduce an ad hoc Estimate at the earliest possible moment to recoup the Contingency Fund?—The Vote for the recoupment of the Contingency Fund is usually taken towards the end of the year to avoid having to take a series of Votes. We do not necessarily wait until there is a statute passed or any kind of statutory authority secured. The normal practice is simply to wait until the end of the 12 months when we feel the Contingency Fund is not likely to be further drawn upon and then to take a Vote for recoupment which will restore it to its original figure of £20,000.

826. I understand in connection with the Contingency Fund Deposit Account set out in the Appropriation Accounts that there is actually a subhead—Advances in anticipation of Votes of the Oireachtas—£4,000, but it is now proposed, as far as I can see, to wait for the passage of the Damage to Property (Neutrality) Compensation Act in 1941-42, before bringing the necessary Estimate or legislation before Dáil Éireann to recoup the Contingency Fund in respect of these advances. Is that not a completely new departure?—There was the possibility there of having the money paid by a foreign Government, which does not usually arise and which, in fact, has never arisen before, in connection with a payment from the Contingency Fund. That, I submit, was a rather unusual factor justifying, possibly, a departure from what might be regarded as established practice.

827. Does it not go to the very root of the whole constitutional position that Dáil Eireann should retain within its control to vote moneys, and that were the Contingency Fund to be availed of to pay substantial sums in anticipation of legislation not yet passed a very serious situation might arise?—I agree that a constitutional question is involved but, in view of the fact that the total amount of money in the Contingency Fund is only £20,000 and that the disbursements of the Exchequer in the year run to about £40,000,000, I do not think that any serious evasion of constitutional practice could be contemplated or effected by the use of the Contingency Fund.

828. Was it not well-established practice that any advance from the Fund would be recouped by an ad hoc financial resolution within the financial year?—I agree that is the general practice.

829. Is there any precedent for this departure from that procedure—No, Sir. As I say, the circumstances in this particular case were highly unusual. The agricultural society that was affected by the bombing incident was in desperate need of funds to restore its buildings and get into production again. It was an important source of employment in the district where it was established and the only outlet which a large number of farmers had for disposing of their day-today surplus of milk and other agricultural produce.

830. Admitting at once that the payment was justified on the ground of emergency—there is actually a Vote to recoup the fund in respect of State bounty on triplets—£15; stamp duty remitted on deeds and other instruments for public departments—£908 8s. 6d.— would it not have been the customary procedure to include in that Vote the £4,000 which has been advanced to the agricultural society so as to give Dáil Eireann an opportunity of dealing with the matter at the earliest possible moment?—There was a possibility of recovering the money from the foreign Government concerned, and we thought it might possibly weaken our case if we submitted the matter to the Dáil and got them to recoup the fund. I might add that the Repayments Estimate for 1940-41 had been prepared before any part of the advance was made.

831. Chairman.—Have you any comment to make on this procedure, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—It appears to me undesirable to recoup the fund in the way you suggest, because there are two other important Departments concerned who have also made payments similar in character —the Office of Public Works and the Department of Lands—and I think, to deal with it piecemeal would have been undesirable. We should prefer that it should be dealt with as a whole and in its entirety.

832. Chairman.—And it would be the view of the Comptroller and Auditor-General that the procedure was a correct one, to leave outstanding an unrecouped balance of £4,000 in the fund?—Yes, Sir, in this particular case, because if you look at the Deposit Account you will see we opened the year with £20,000; at the close of the year there was a balance of only £16,000. The capacity of the Department of Finance to spend in the following year what they might have spent in the previous year was reduced by that £4,000.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

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

Subhead B—Investigation and Research (Grant-in-Aid).

“80. The Emergency Scientific Research Bureau was estimated on 20th February, 1941, and the Grant-in-Aid of £1,250, provided under subhead B, was issued in full to the Bureau towards the end of March, 1941. There was no expenditure out of the Grant-in-Aid before the close of the year.”

833. On subhead B, are the reports of this body available to interested parties or are they exclusively for consideration by Ministers of the Government?

Mr. McElligott.—So far, they are exclusively for consideration by Ministers of the Government in the sense that they are not broadcast to the public, but I think that manufacturing and other interests who lay their problems before this body are given information as to the results of the researches conducted by the Emergency Scientific Research Bureau.

834. Chairman.—Are firms free to avail of the services of this body on payment of a fee or do they simply put up a proposition to the Government, if the Government thinks it is in the public interest, to have investigated?—Sometimes work is carried out by the Bureau on a repayment basis and at other times they are willing, I think, to do it purely as a matter of national interest.

835. And any person desiring information with regard to that matter should apply to the Department of Finance, who will inform him?—The Department of the Taoiseach controls the affairs of the Emergency Scientific Research Bureau.

836. And inquiries in regard to these matters should be addressed to that Department?—I think so, Sir.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. J. Maher called.

No question.

Chairman.—I would direct attention to the fact that this account includes a sum of £969 in respect of the salaries, etc., of staff temporarily lent, without repayment, to other Departments.

The witness withdrew.

Chairman.—Gentlemen, that concludes our proceedings by way of examination and in due course each member of the Committee will receive a copy of my draft report with such memoranda as we may have bespoken in the course of our proceedings attached. Each member will be entitled to submit any amendment of the report which he thinks proper, on receipt of which a meeting of the Committee will be called to consider and adopt the report in its original or amended form as the Committee may think best. As soon as those documents are available, members of the Committee will be notified of the date of the final meeting for the adoption of the report.

* Appendix VIII.

* Appendix IX.