Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1940 - 1941::28 May, 1942::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 28adh Bealtaine, 1942.

Thursday, 28th May, 1942.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:


B. Brady.








DEPUTY DILLON in the chair.

Mr. J. Maher (Oifig an Ard-Reachtaire Cunntas agus Ciste), and Mr. C. S. Almond

(An Roinn Airgeadais), called and examined.


Lieutenant-General P. MacMahon called and examined.

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

“64. The original Vote of £3,355,420 for the service of the Army was found to be inadequate to meet the increased expenditure arising out of the mobilisation of the forces in June, 1940, and a Supplementary Vote of £3,099,181 was taken in November, 1940. A second Supplementary Vote of £454,229 was taken in February, 1941, to meet the growing expenditure and to provide for certain new services including the Local Defence Force.

The account shows that, including a surplus of Appropriations in Aid of £32,759 19s. 10d., the total surplus remaining to be surrendered is £108,400 5s. 0d. or 1.6 per cent. of the net estimate.”


“65. The conditions obtaining during the year made it impossible in many cases to follow the normal procedure in the purchase of supplies, and owing to scarcity of materials it was difficult to meet the demands of some services. The range of prices generally showed a sharp rise, and in the absence of effective competition or control of prices I have deemed it advisable to seek the views of the Accounting Officer on the necessity for ensuring that the profit element in prices payable by the Department is not excessive.”

632. Have you any further comment you care to make on that sub-paragraph, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Yes, Sir. We received a reply to our query from the Accounting Officer and it states that the question has been raised on a number of occasions as regards the institution of safeguards against inflation in the profit element, and that it has been before the Government Contracts Committee, the Department of Supplies and also the Department of Finance. It appears that, except where there was evidence of a monopoly or a ring seeking to maintain excessive prices, the Department of Supplies does not undertake investigations in regard to tenders for supplies or contract prices. The reply also states that if competitive tenders could not be obtained and an offer of stores was made at an exorbitant price the Army would endeavour to negotiate a reduction.

633. Chairman.—Have you any observation you care to make on that, General?

Lieut.-General MacMahon.—Mr. Maher explained the position, Sir, except that in many cases we did succeed in getting a reduction in price and in many others we examined the invoices received, principally in connection with material that came from across the Atlantic and, while the price was high, we had to take into consideration the cost of shipping, insurance, etc., and the trader was able to convince us that his profit was not excessive.

634. Chairman.—I notice, General, that there were some very large increases in the price of timber—from 12/4 to 35/3 per 100 feet in the case of 7 × 1¼ scantling, and from 65/11 to 100/- for the 9 × 3. I wonder were those prices checked with the Department of Forestry who are supplying a good deal of timber of that character at the present time?—We have no reference to the two particular items you mention but we did not get in touch with the Department of Forestry in that connection. I think, probably, in this particular case there were competitive tenders. In the case of timber there usually were.

635. We had before us yesterday the Department of Forestry and it emerged that in their Appropriations in Aid there were very considerable sums as a result of the sale of sawn timber. I suppose you are using a good deal of timber at the present time for one purpose or another?—Yes.

636. And it may be worth considering getting in touch with the Department of Forestry to see if economical purchases might not be made in that direction?—I will certainly do that, Sir.

637. The note [65] continues:—

“In the course of examination of the accounts instances were noted in which the Department seemed to be committed to expenditure before sufficient consideration was given to the occasion for it. For example, equipment, which was received early in 1940, has not yet been put into service, and it would seem from inspection of the relevant papers that it is not suited to the purpose for which it was purchased. The same comment applies to some equipment purchased earlier, but this equipment has apparently been put to alternative use.”

Do you wish to add anything to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—This equipment was purchased early in 1940 and so far it has not been used but we understand from the Army people that it is really kept in reserve and may be required at a later date.

638. Chairman.—I take it, General, a good deal of equipment must be acquired from time to time to provide for contingencies that may not arise but for which, if they arise, it might be impossible to get the equipment?—That is really the position.

639. And we are quite likely to find ourselves at the end of this crisis with a good deal of equipment which, perhaps, happily we will never have used?—That is very likely.

640. That goes from guns to saddles?— Yes.

641. Deputy Breathnach.—What does the word “equipment” there mean?

Chairman.—Anything such as guns, saddles, wireless sets and wire and a wide variety of things the Army purchases from time to time.

642. Chairman.—Note 65 continues:—

“In connection with the supply of certain equipment, work was undertaken by a public company on the basis of time and material with a charge of 66⅔ per cent. on labour costs to cover overhead expenses, the total charge amounting to £14,356. The final cost of some of the work compared unfavourably with similar work carried out elsewhere, e.g., work on vehicles cost £580 per unit as compared with the fixed contract price of £320 per unit for similar work undertaken by another firm; while the cost of mountings, which were constructed in Army workshops for £2 8s. 0d. per unit, worked out at £6 per unit. With reference to verification of the expenditure, appropriate certificates in support of the charge to the Vote were not furnished with the relevant vouchers. Inquiries have been made on this matter and also regarding the advisability of instituting some system of check in connection with work carried out on a time and material basis.”

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

Mr. Maher.—Since the date of the report, a reply has been received on the various points raised. It appears that at the time orders were placed for this equipment its provision with the least possible delay was regarded as a matter of paramount importance. The higher costs in the case of the public company, which was the Great Southern Railway Company, are explained as being due to the different methods of construction employed by the two companies. I understand that in one case the finished product was case-hardened as the company was in a position to case-harden it, while the other company resorted to electric welding. That accounted for the difference in costs.

643. Chairman.—Have you anything to add, General MacMahon?—When war broke out we had a number of armoured cars on order. Some of them, in actual fact, were completed but, as a result of the war, we could not get them. We had to get armoured cars hurriedly elsewhere. The only two firms in a position to supply them were the two mentioned in the report. They were also the only firms having materials to make the cars. In the case of one of them, as Mr. Maher has explained, case-hardened steel was used, in the case of the other it was not. The two cars are very good cars but are not identical. We consider one of them better than the other. It would be really impossible to compare the price of one with the other because they are not identical articles.

644. Deputy Hughes.—There was a difference of over £200 in the price?—Yes. One cost very nearly double the price of the other?—As I pointed out they are not the same class of car.

645. I take it that that included the cost of the chassis?—No. It was simply the cost of building up the armoured fittings. Even in the case of bicycles you may be able to buy one for £3 but another will cost you £12.

646. Still, there is a very wide differentiation in the price?—There was different material used and a different method of construction employed. One of them is a better job than the other. That very often happens even in the case of a motor car or a bicycle.

647. What was the percentage of work done by both firms? How do they relate to each other?—The work element was very much greater in the case of the Great Southern Railway Company.

648. That is still against the Great Southern Railway Company. I take it the volume of work should have cheapened the price?—They had to employ a different method of construction. They were dealing with case-hardened steel and that had to be riveted. Riveting takes longer than welding.

649. Does it mean that the other car is not bullet-proof?—No armour is completely bullet-proof.

650. But is it inferior to the other?— It is satisfactory.

651. Are you satisfied that the difference in cost represents only the difference in the cost of the material?—We are not. We are simply satisfied that we did the very best we could in the circumstances. We wanted these cars and they were the only two firms that could make them. As I said before, had it not been for the war we would have purchased them abroad. We do not pretend that they are as good as those we could have purchased abroad but we are satisfied that they are good cars, though perhaps not ideal.

652. Chairman.—Do you want to add anything, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—With regard to the second point, that is verification of the expenditure, claims made by the railway company were not verified by examination of the company’s books but detailed claims certified by the company’s accountant were submitted. I am also informed that technical officers of the Department of Defence carried out certain checks and considered the times taken on the various operations reasonable and that the material used was checked as far as possible. There was, however, no detailed examination of the company’s books to ascertain the actual cost.

General MacMahon.—In this particular case, an Army engineer was on the job right through, from the technical point of view. A number of our staff actually went there and costed certain articles and found the figures put up by the railway accountant correct. After a short time we realised that the cost of keeping that staff there would not be justified and, having ascertained that in a number of cases the accountant’s figures were correct, we decided to accept these figures. We did not tell him that until afterwards. We did not have a 100 per cent. check.

653. Chairman.—Note 65 goes on:—

“As Army workshops were apparently unable to cope with all the work connected with the repair and maintenance of the largely-increased number of mechanical vehicles and motor cycles on charge, arrangements were made made with commercial firms to carry out certain major repairs and overhauls. Information has been sought regarding some aspects of the contracts and the extent of the control exercised over the work.”

Do you wish to add anything, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—In connection with the arrangements for the maintenance of the motor-cycle service, a contract was entered into for this purpose with commercial firms for carrying out major repairs on the basis of 4/6 per hour for time plus the cost of material. I am not aware that “major repairs” have been defined for this purpose and it seems that the type of repair work which should be carried out by units on their own behalf is not laid down. There is also the problem of endeavouring to exercise some control over time factor in this type of work. In view of the relatively large amount of work placed with the contractor, a rate of 4/6 per hour seems to be somewhat high.

654. Chairman.—How do you define “major repairs,” General MacMahon?— A technical officer really certifies what is a major repair and what is not. It is very hard to define it but it is left to the discretion of the technical officer. He decides whether the job is such that his own personnel can do it. If they can do the job, it is carried out by them and, if not, it is given to one or other of these firms. In actual fact Army personnel is now doing a very considerable part of these repairs on their own and very little of it is sent out.

655. Chairman.—In my modest experience, I laid down the general rule that a lorry should only be brought to the garage for major repairs and not for ordinary repairs. I subsequently discovered that any repair which involved taking off the cover of the wheels and which was regarded as dirty work by the driver, was defined as being within the category of major repairs?—There is the difference, that you were relying on your chauffeur, but we do not rely on our drivers. It is the technical officer who defines what is a major repair.

656. Are you satisfied that the technical officer did insist that such work as could be efficiently carried out by his personnel was so carried out?—In actual fact, a check carried out will ascertain in all cases that it is a major repair.

657. Deputy Hughes.—May we take it that major repairs would be defined as overhauling or reconditioning?—Yes, or they may arise as the result of an accident.

658. Such reconditioning as cylinder reboring?—Yes.

659. Chairman.—Is it your opinion that 4/6 per hour was a reasonable charge in all the circumstances?—Yes.

660. Are you satisfied that there was no dawdling on these contracts and that the work carried out in as short a time as possible?—We had an officer on the job both in Dublin and Cork. He saw the machine dismantled and agreed on what work was to be done. He was there and saw the work carried out.

661. Deputy Hughes.—With the number of machines you have in the service, would you not think that it would make for economies to have your own equipment to deal with that sort of work?— We would have carried out these repairs ourselves, but in the beginning we had not a sufficiently trained personnel to do it and we had not the equipment. Since then we have purchased equipment. We have trained personnel and we have recruited some more. In a very short time we shall be able to do all our own work. As I pointed out earlier there is much less work going out now.

662. If the troops were on active service they would do their own repairs, I presume?—If the necessity arose we might take over the garages concerned.

Chairman.—Note 65 concludes:—

“An advance payment of £40,000 for warlike stores, which were delivered in the year of account has been admitted as a charge on the Vote pending receipt of the certified claims.”

663. Deputy Breathnach.—Have these claims been met?

Mr. Maher.—We have now received and examined vouchers in respect of this charge amounting to £39,350, leaving only vouchers to the amount of £650 to be examined.

Chairman.—I feel bound to say that I think the Committee fully appreciates the special difficulties with which you are confronted in this matter of supply, General MacMahon, and, therefore, I do not think the Committee wish to press you unduly. They feel quite confident that you will do your utmost to secure the maximum economy in the circumstances in which you are placed.

General MacMahon.—With reference to the payment of £40,000, materials to the value of £47,215 have been actually delivered.

Subhead K—Provisions and Allowances in lieu.

“66. With reference to the charge to this subhead of £2,529 13s. 2d. in respect of the supply of meat to a particular post during a three months’ contract period, the voucher for a payment of £975 14s. 1d. was not available for inspection, as it had been withdrawn in connection with court proceedings against the contractor and some members of the Forces on charges arising out of irregularities relating to the contract. Although it is apparent that a portion of the charge is inadmissible, information regarding the extent of the irregular payments and the circumstances in which they were made is not available pending the receipt of the relevant documents.”

664. Can you give any further information in regard to that matter, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—We have now received the voucher purporting to support the charge of £975 14s. 1d. This voucher includes a claim for 4,000 lbs. of meat which was not supplied. It is fairly clear that irregularities affecting this contract were not confined to this transaction. Consequently, it appears that not only the voucher in question but all the remaining vouchers relating to the supplies of meat from this contractor are unacceptable for the purpose of supporting the charge to the subhead of £2,529 13s. 2d. We are very much concerned, in the audit department, with the circumstances which gave rise to these irregularities. Generally the irregularities would appear to be due to the failure of the quartermasters to carry out their duties. There was no supervision over issues to troops, no check on requisitions, no check on contractors’ deliveries and no check on the monthly consolidated account. In fact, it would appear that quite a number of these important documents were signed blindly.

665. Chairman.—Have you any further observations to make in regard to this transaction, General MacMahon?—We had not possession of these particular documents. There are four concerned and they amount to about £2,529. We have ascertained that a payment of about £250 should not have been made. The whole matter is being referred to the Department of Finance. It has not yet been sent but it is being prepared for submission to the Department of Finance.

666. Deputy Hughes.—Is this the Kilkenny case?—Yes. There is also tea and sugar.

Deputy Hughes.—That was a scandalous case.

667. Chairman.—Are we to understand that the officers who countersigned for these supplies are being questioned?—Yes, and it is as a result of that that these vouchers were not available. One officer has already been discharged from the forces and in the case of one or two others the matter is at present in the hands of the Adjutant-General from the point of view of discipline.

668. Are criminal proceedings pending? —No, the Adjutant-General is dealing with it. It is being dealt with internally by the Army authorities.

669. What is going to happen to the gentleman who accepted public money for goods that were not delivered?—There were proceedings taken.

670. Criminal proceedings in that particular case?—Yes.

671. We can take it then that all the officers involved in the transaction are being subjected to such disciplinary action as the Adjutant-General thinks proper?— One officer has already been discharged from the Army, one of the people concerned committed suicide, and the contractor got six months’ imprisonment.

672. Deputy Hughes.—Was it due to carelessness or collusion?—There was carelessness on the part of the quartermaster. That officer was sent out of the Army. There was also collusion between N.C.O’s. and the contractor.

673. Chairman.—May we assume that the disciplinary measures contemplated by the Adjutant-General will include such amendment of the regulations as may appear to be necessary in order to ensure that an occurrence of this kind will not take place again?—The regulations were already there but they were not carried out. The quartermaster did not exercise the supervision he should have exercised over the staff. If he had done so this could not have occurred.

674. Deputy O’Rourke.—Did he have training in that particular branch?—Yes.

675. He must have been a rogue?— Some of the staff were rogues.

676. Chairman.—I understand that one of the elements in the fraud was that supplies were actually short of issue to the troops?—Yes, the troops really suffered. Of course the State suffered also. The troops were allowed less rations.

677. Deputy Hughes.—As a matter of fact the rations were collected and delivered to other people on the way to the outposts?—Yes, delivered at headquarters and redistributed to smaller posts and as a result of that these N.C.O’s. were able to get away with it.

678. Chairman.—I do not suppose it is necessary to emphasise how grave a view would be taken of a short issue of rations to the troops inasmuch as the allegation is sometimes made that the meals exposed for inspection appear to be satisfactory but that those actually supplied to the troops week in week out do not look as well as meals do when inspected by higher officers?—I think there has been a very marked improvement in that respect. Officers, both at headquarters and elsewhere, are interesting themselves to see that the men get what they are supposed to get.

Chairman.—Note 66 continues:—

“Statements have been furnished to me showing the cost of production of bread at the Curragh Bakery, and of meat at the Dublin and Curragh Abattoirs. The unit costs are as follows:—

Bread, per lb.




Cost of production



Cost delivered, Dublin



Meat, per lb.














The increase in the unit cost of bread was mainly due to the increased cost of flour.

The average price of cattle purchased for the Dublin and Curragh areas was £29 1s. 3d. and £27 Os. 9d. per head, respectively, as compared with £24 4s. 1d. and £23 Os. 6d. in the previous year, while the average production of beef per head was 708 lbs. and 655 lbs., respectively, as compared with 724 lbs. and 686 lbs.

679. Deputy Hughes.—Have you made any provision for a later meal for the troops in the evening?—Yes.

680. The last meal was given at 4 o’clock?—The fourth meal is not being given officially.

Chairman.—I ask Deputy Hughes to postpone that inquiry until we come to the appropriate subhead.

681. Deputy Hughes.—What arrangements have you for the purchase of cattle? —We employ a man to purchase cattle and he gets commission on each beast.

682. Chairman.—In connection with the practice of purchasing cattle have the Army authorities ever secured live-weight and dead-weight estimates of the beasts they buy. Is a beast ever weighed live-weight and the carcase subsequently weighed in order to ascertain at what percentage the beast is killing out at?— Beasts are always weighed live-weight and must be weighed also dead-weight. Our figures clearly indicate the difference.

683. It would be interesting from the point of view of those concerned and to judge the quality of the meat supply if these figures could occasionally be secured. I think Deputy Hughes will confirm what I say, that the higher the percentage at which the beast kills out the better will be, it is reasonable to assume, the quality of the beast?—We can give you all that information. I can read it out for the Committee now.

684. Would it be too much trouble to ask you to send in a note* about it?—It would be no trouble.

685. Deputy Hughes.—Is this method satisfactory?—It has worked since 1922.

686. Deputy Hughes.—Do you rely absolutely on the trustworthiness of this man? There is no element of competition whatever and you are leaving it to him to buy supplies.

Deputy O’Rourke.—The commission is the dangerous part.

687. Chairman.—Do you rely entirely on the discretion of this buyer whom you hire or is there any check on him or comparison of purchases?—We cannot check on every incident but we can check on local prices. We always do so. That is done in connection with every purchase. I may say that we ensure that we are not paying more than market prices.

688. Does he buy generally in the market?—In connection with Dublin, yes, and in connection with the Curragh, no.

689. Deputy Hughes.—I got some complaints about that?—If you have any complaints we would be glad to have them. We have never had a complaint.

Subhead P 1—Protection of Civil Population against Air and Gas Attack.

“67. Under Section 35 of the Air-raid Precautions Act, 1939, grants are payable to local authorities in respect of expenditure on approved A.R.P. schemes. The statements of expenditure are subject to audit by the Local Government auditors and pending settlement of various matters which have arisen in the course of audit, final payments of the grants for the years 1939-40 and 1940-41 have not yet been made, but advances, amounting to £25,255 14s. 6d., were made during the year and are charged to this subhead.”

Mr. Maher.—That paragraph is for information.

690. Chairman.—Paragraph 67 proceeds:—

“In accordance with the provisions of Section 60 of the Act the cost of certain supplies and services, including fire-fighting equipment, protective clothing and supplies in connection with the evacuation scheme, is borne on this subhead. These stores are issued on loan to local authorities, who are charged with their safe custody under the terms of the Air-raid Precautions Equipment (Storage and Loan) Regulations, 1940. Inquiries have been made regarding the procedure for ensuring the observance of these regulations.”

Mr. Maher.—Reports of inspection of equipment lent to local authorities show that these are carried out by officers of the Department of Defence and have been made available, but an examination of them has not yet been undertaken.

691. Chairman.—Are you satisfied that these stores are generally being kept safely?—We were not satisfied for a while but we are satisfied now because we have them inspected.

692. Chairman.—Paragraph 67 continues:—

“The charge to the subhead also includes the cost of medical stores purchased for the equipment of first-aid posts set up by local authorities. The stores have been issued in accordance with approved schedules, and it is understood that arrangements have been made for the recovery of their cost by deduction from the grants payable under Section 35 of the Act.

Reserve medical supplies for civilian hospitals, purchased out of moneys provided in subhead C C of the Vote, have been distributed to hospitals controlled by local authorities. As these stores remain the property of the Department, in accordance with a decision of the Government, information has been sought regarding responsibility for their storage and inspection.”

Mr. Maher.—We are now informed that it is proposed by means of an Emergency Powers Order to place responsibility on the local authorities for the safe custody of these stores and for their maintenance.

General MacMahon.—The Order has since been made.

Subhead P 2—Marine Coast-Watching Service.

“68. The charges to this subhead include the cost of boats acquired during the year for the Marine Depot and the Competent Port Authorities. With reference to the procedure for purchase, the Department of Finance in according sanction for the expenditure prescribed that offers should be invited by public advertisement. The Department of Defence, however, considered that purchase by personal negotiation would give better results, and this procedure was adopted. I have inquired regarding some boats which appeared to be unsuitable or required a considerable outlay to render them serviceable, and also regarding boats which were out of commission for relatively long periods.”

693. Chairman.—Do you wish to add anything, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—We understand that the Department of Defence did not find it possible to carry out the wishes of the Department of Finance regarding the manner in which boats should be acquired. All expenditure incurred was covered by Department of Finance sanction. As regards the purchase of one particular boat. the “Isallt”. we notice that it was purchased for £2,000 in December, 1940, for use as a base vessel, but other arrangements were afterwards made and, in consequence, it was decided to use this boat as a training vessel. The position is that the vessel is still laid up undergoing repairs and has not so far been used in any other service.

General MacMahon.—Regarding the first point raised I should like to explain that we consulted the Department of Finance and gave our reasons why we did not want to advertise. We did that prior to the purchase and the Department of Finance agreed that we need not carry out that particular condition of their sanction. As regards the “Iseult” we have not been able to get sails. We cannot get them in this country. We hope to get them soon and she will be used as a training ship.

694. Chairman.—In connection with the advertising can you, Mr. Almond, give any inkling of what induced you to change your mind in regard to that condition?

Mr. Almond.—I think the Department of Defence were prepared to carry out the suggestion but they found in practice that it was not possible to do so. There was such a variation in the different types of boat available that to lay down any standard through the medium of advertising was impossible. It was found that the only practicable way to secure boats, of which there were very few suitable ones available, was to make inquiries from local authorities and the Gárda Síochána, and to negotiate with the owner for the purchase of a boat. It was found in most cases that by negotiation a considerable reduction in the price originally asked could be effected. In every case the experts in the Department of Industry and Commerce (Marine Branch) were consulted as to the sea-worthiness and general suitability of the boats before purchase. I may add that the Department of Finance considered that advertisement would not have disclosed the existence of any other boats, and that local inquiry elicited the total number of boats actually available.

695. Chairman.—That is the aspect of the question that rather surprises me. It occurs to me that one might just have put an advertisement in the papers saying: “Would boat owners prepared to sell their boats to the Government for the emergency kindly forward specifications of what they have to offer to the Department? It seems to me that that must have resulted in a very much wider choice than the procedure of local inquiry and negotiation with a limited number of persons?

General MacMahon.—In that case it might, in fact, have meant that larger prices would have been asked for if it was generally known that the Department required them. Remember that boats of the type we required could not be hidden in the country. They are only available in certain ports and we had facilities for finding out. without advertising, every boat that might possible suit. Of course, in normal circumstances, we would not have purchased many of these boats at all. We would have laid down specifications for boats of a certain type and got them built to that specification. As it was, we had to get the boats which appeared to be nearest to our requirements and we had facilities for finding out every boat of that type in the country.

696. The difficulty being that although it was quite possible for the Department to find out the existence of every such boat the Department did not ascertain what the owner of each such boat was prepared to sell it for?—We did. We got in touch with the owner of each suitable boat.

697. And offers were secured from the owners of every available boat?—Yes. In many cases we did not purchase a boat because an unreasonable price was asked and we accepted a boat which might not be quite as suitable but the price of which was reasonable.

698. Can you tell us how it came about that we thought it well to pay £2,000 for the “Iseult” which is still in process of being prepared?—The sails are not available in this country.

699. That is the repair we are awaiting?—Certain repairs were necessary and have been carried out. These repairs are completed and the only thing holding up the boat at the moment is the absence of the sails. I might say in passing that we could have got treble what we paid for that boat last week. Two or three people are interested in her and are anxious to buy her.

700. Have you any reasonable grounds for hoping that the sails will be forthcoming?—Yes, the Admiralty have promised them.

Deputy Hughes.—Have you no power in the boat?—There is an engine but we do not consider it well to send her out until we have the sails as well. The engines in her are only used for certain purposes like getting her into harbour and so on and not for keeping her afloat all the time.

701. Chairman.—Paragraph 68 continues:—

“Accounts of the issue and consumption of certain supplies purchased for this service in the year under review have not yet been furnished for audit, and it seems that the records necessary for the compilation of accurate accounts were not kept. Pilferages of petrol which occurred between July and December, 1940, were not brought to light until the latter date. Legal proceedings were taken against the individuals concerned with the result that the financial loss, so far as it could be ascertained, was made good—see Statement of Losses. Item No. 3.”

Can you give us any further information in regard to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—We have been informed that the question of the compilation of petrol, oil, and technical stores accounts for the period under review are still the subject of investigation in the Department of Defence.

General MacMahon.—We have just completed them. We have completed the stocktaking but have not had an opportunity of informing Mr. Maher.

702. Chairman.—Have you any information to give us in regard to the matter of pilferage?—This particular case appeared also in the court. It was a matter of the pilferage of petrol.

703. And the persons responsible have been dealt with?—Yes and the value of the petrol recovered.

704. And there is no possibility of an incident of this kind recurring?—We hope not. We think that every safeguard that could be provided has been provided.

705. Was it necessary to take disciplinary action against any member of the Forces in connection with this matter?—Against two members.

Subhead CPayment of Civilians attached to Units—and S—Barrack Maintenance and Minor Works.

“69. Major works of construction and renovation of military buildings are normally entrusted to the Office of Public Works and the expenditure is borne on the Vote for Public Works and Buildings. In the course of the year, however, the completion of certain works, including the provision of accommodation for the Marine Service and for internees, became a matter of urgency, and these works were, with the sanction of the Department of Finance, undertaken by the Corps of Engineers on a direct labour basis. The detailed records of the cost of one group of works were examined, and information has been sought regarding some items of expenditure which appeared to indicate that the standard of the work was higher than that usually provided in military buildings. The extent of this expenditure does not appear to be large in proportion to the total cost, which compares favourably with the estimated cost of carrying out the work by public contract.”

706. Chairman.—Have you anything to add, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—The work referred to was the provision of accommodation for the Marine Service at Haulbowline. Although there were certain deviations from the original scheme we are satisfied from an examination of the figures that the work was carried out economically, the cost being approximately £5,000 less than the original estimate of £25,000. Works outside the original scheme cost an additional £6,500. Work carried out apparently of a higher standard than that usually provided was the inclusion of terrazzo floors and the provision of an Esse range. While the material contained in the terrazzo floors is of small cost, we understand that the labour content is extremely high, but we are informed that in providing these floors the corps of engineers followed the practice of the Office of Public Works. With regard to the expenditure of £165 on the installation of an Esse cooker extensive structural alterations were avoided and also the very low fuel consumption was held to justify the capital expenditure.

707. Chairman.—Whatever about the terrazzo floor, I am all for the Esse cooker, because I believe they save their cost in a very short time. It is also probably true to say that in the long run the terrazzo floor will be an economy too?—The Board of Works provided for that in their original estimate and our engineers think it will be an economy eventually.

708. Deputy Hughes.—From the cost point of view I presume generally that your work compares very favourably with the work of the Board of Works?—In this case, it did.

709. Chairman.—The concluding portion of paragraph 69 reads:—

“With regard to the major portion of the annual supplies purchased for the Corps of Engineers, sole responsibility for the inspection and acceptance of these supplies and for the certification of claims rests with men in subordinate positions, many of whom are temporary employees. I have communicated with the Accounting Officer on this matter.”

Mr. Maher.—The matter referred to in this sub-paragraph has been dealt with in General Routine Orders 96 of 1942 dated May, 1942. The Order provides that every delivery of stores shall be vouched for by an officer of the Forces.

710. Chairman.—And that, I think, meets the point contained in the sub-paragraph?

Mr. Maher.—Yes.

Subheads TMilitary Lands, and SBarrack Maintenance and Minor Works.

Emergency Lettings.

“70. A large number of premises was acquired throughout the country to provide accommodation for the Forces. The Department of Finance suggested that wherever possible the Valuation Office should be consulted regarding the rents payable, but in the view of the Department of Defence this was not feasible as the officials, who carried out the negotiations personally, concluded the agreements with the owners or their representatives. The monthly charge in respect of these rents at the end of the year under review was over £2,000, the highest rent paid being £750 per month for certain city premises. In fixing this latter rent account was taken of the loss attributed to military occupation and of the charges on the property and the cost of maintenance. It appeared from inspection of the relevant papers that an appreciable portion of the rent payable related to a part of the property which was not occupied, and that the data furnished in evidence of the loss consequent on military occupation did not fully justify the amount included in respect of compensation. Further information has been sought on these and other aspects of this letting.”

711. Chairman.—Have you anything to add, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—This letting refers to the occupation of the R.D.S. premises at Ballshridge for which an annual rent of £9,000 is being paid. In arriving at the figure the Department seem to have accepted liability for certain outgoings amounting to £5,200 out of a total of £7,130 paid by the Society and what would appear to be about one-third of this sum was paid in respect of a portion of the premises which was not occupied or utilised by the Army and which the Society were free to use and did in fact use. The sum also includes £3,200 in respect of consequential loss. The assessment of this loss was based on the receipts from certain shows in 1939 together with an estimated figure of £6,000 in respect of reduction in membership fees. These figures were not verified and in any case it seems inequitable to attribute entirely to military occupation the reduction of revenue arising under these heads in 1941.

General MacMahon.—Regarding the portion which Mr. Maher referred to which we are not using, I should like to explain that that is the jumping enclosure. The jumping enclosure, as such, is of no use to the Army. The stables and the accommodation attaching to it are, however, essential. It is true that the R.D.S. used the jumping enclosure, but they had nothing like the facilities they had before. If the military were not there, horses could be stabled overnight and cattle could be put in some of the stalls. As it was, they had to accommodate them down town so that so far as the jumping enclosure is concerned we had all the facilities we wanted, the enclosure itself being of no use to us. Regarding the rent paid we examined that very carefully and we thought we struck a very good bargain. When we approached the Valuation Office they were of the same opinion and the Department of Finance were also satisfied. I still feel that we are not being overcharged.

711a. Chairman.—Have the Department of Finance anything to add, Mr. Almond?

Mr. Almond.—It was imperative that very considerable additional accommodation should be secured in Dublin for the increased strength of the Army stationed here and there were, I think, only two premises that could possibly be regarded as suitable, having regard to their location and the accommodation they would provide. The terms secured in respect of the R.D.S. premises were much lower than were asked for practically similar accommodation in the neighbourhood.

712. Chairman.—And you are satisfied that all things being considered the rent was not excessive?

Mr. Almond.—I know there were very long negotiations with the R.D.S. and we were kept informed all the time of the trend of these negotiations. We felt that taking everything into consideration a very reasonable and fair rent was being charged.

General MacMahon.—Would you care to know the position in regard to the 1914-18 war? At that time these premises were occupied by the British. In addition to bearing full outgoings, the British authorities paid a sum of £24,142 to the Society by way of compensation for occupation. At that time the capital expenditure on the premises totalled £95,815 and at the moment is £362,153. In other words, they have developed very considerably since then and we are doing very much better than the British did.

713. This arrangement has this to commend it also that it leaves no question of post-war compensation to be determined. We are paying that rent as it falls due and there will arise no question of compensatory payment at the conclusion of the emergency?—That is correct.

714. Chairman.—Paragraph 70 continues:—

“Attention has also been drawn to certain rents paid for the use of lands as they appeared to be unusually high, and to the payment of rent for relatively long periods after certain premises had been evacuated by the Forces and handed back to the owners.

It was found necessary to carry out certain works, including roof and general repairs and the installation of lighting and water systems, to render many of the premises fit for occupation by the Forces. These works were carried out by the Corps of Engineers and some of them definitely increased the value of the premises while others merely provided the necessary amenities for the troops in occupation. I am informed that no arrangement has so far been made for the recoupment of public funds in respect of any part of this expenditure, the amount of which has not yet been ascertained, but it is anticipated that the settlement of claims arising out of the military occupation of the premises will afford an opportunity for adjustment.”

Have you any observation to add to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—We have no observation on the last sub-paragraph, because we understand that the general position is still the same as stated in the report. As regards the previous sentence, we had a number of examples of high rents paid for lands that were taken for military purposes. For instance, in one case we noticed that the rent for 2 acres was equal to £48 per annum per acre, in another case it was equal to £32 per annum per acre, in a third case it was equal to £17 6s. 8d. per annum per acre, and in a fourth case it was equal to £12 per annum per acre, and there were a number of similar cases.

715. Chairman.—These seem to be remarkable rents?

General MacMahon.—Yes, but the circumstances vary considerably. For instance, a field in Kilrush would not be nearly as valuable as a field on the Stillorgan Road. A sum of £48 per acre was the rent for a field on the Stillorgan Road, but that was for a field that was highly cultivated by the owner before we took it over, and, of course, it is near the city and consequently very valuable. The field in Kilrush was dear also, at £1 a week for 3 acres, but that is on account of its location near the town. As I say, the circumstances vary according to the location, and there would be considerable differences between a field in, say, Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, or the Stillorgan Road, and districts remote from the city. Lands were also leased at Ballyfermot and Listowel, but, generally, these high rents would be in the case of fields that were convenient to a town and intensively cultivated, where the owners had been making a very big profit out of the fields. The circumstances vary.

Subhead W—Insurance.

“71. The application of the provisions of the National Health Insurance and Widows’ and Orphans’ Pensions Act, 1936, so far as they relate to soldiers of the Forces, presented some difficulty in the case of those who enlisted for the period of the emergency under section 24 of the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act. 1940. The provisions of section 14 of the former Act, which relate to the Reserve Forces, were deemed to be appropriate until it was pointed out that there was no statutory authority for the practice as the insurance of soldiers, who had enlisted for an indefinite term of service with the Forces. was not provided for in the National Health Insurance Code. After discussion with the Department of Local Government and Public Health it was finally agreed that this difficulty, as well as others which had arisen in the course of administration, might be best overcome by making statutory provision, with effect as from 7th June, 1940, for the insurance of all members of the new Force at the Army rate from the date of enlistment. The adoption of this principle and the adjustments consequent thereon await the enactment of the necessary legislation.”

716. Chairman.—Have you anything further to say, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Not as far as we are aware, because the legislation has not been enacted.

General MacMahon.—Our Department is not the responsible Department in this case, but we are urging that the legislation should be proceeded with.

716a. Chairman.—I understand that, quite some time ago, this matter was discussed by a certain body which meets in this room, and that nothing has happened since. I have not the honour to belong to that body now, but that is what I understand.

General MacMahon.—The Department of Local Government and Public Health is the Department concerned, but, in the meantime, the soldiers will not suffer. The deductions are made in the ordinary way.

717. Chairman.—Have you had any recent communications from the Department of Local Government and Public Health as to when the necessary legislation will be effected?

General MacMahon.—We were promised that it would be introduced long ago, and we have sent various reminders. We have been told that it will be introduced very soon.


“The manner of accounting for medical supplies provided for the Army was discussed before the Public Accounts Committee on the occasion of the review of the accounts for the year 1938-39, and an accounting instruction on this matter was issued by the Department in June, 1940. The general position does not seem to have greatly improved, however, and the Department’s audit staff have found it necessary to report that this instruction was not being complied with. The necessity for the observance of the regulations by officers charged with responsibility for supplies has been rendered more urgent by the acquisition of reserve stocks to meet emergency requirements. The accumulation of these stocks began early in 1940, but, in July, 1941. it was noticed at one headquarters that they had not been taken on charge, and that the existence of considerable deficiencies had become evident, no documents being available to support any issues. Definite instructions do not appear to have been issued regarding these stocks and in some cases no differentiation is made between them and the stocks held to meet current demands.”

718. Chairman.—Have you anything to add to that, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—Yes. It was noticed in the course of audit that at one station, the Curragh, considerable quantities of medical stores which had been distributed to Commands for emergency purposes had not been taken on charge over 12 months after the date of issue. Deficiencies in these stocks had arisen. The Audit Office has been informed that all issues are covered by vouchers. It appears, however, that the deficiencies which had arisen in the period ending in July, 1941, are shown in the vouchers as issued to the service in the period July to December, 1941. In these circumstances I have asked that the matter should be reported to the Department of Finance.

719. Chairman.—Have you any further information on that, General?

General MacMahon.—Except, of course, that there was no reserve stock as far as the Accounting Officer was concerned: that is merely an internal arrangement for the medical services. This matter has been investigated now and will be reported on to the Department of Finance in the very near future.

720. Chairman.—The Department has received no communication in regard to this matter as yet?

General MacMahon.—No. It has only been completed now, the ledgers are now posted to date, and all these matters are covered by vouchers.

721. Chairman.—Are you satisfied that this deficiency which has manifested itself is, in fact, due to legitimate issues?

General MacMahon.—I should not like to say that I am completely satisfied, because we cannot prove whether they were or were not legitimate. They should have been written up at the time, but they were not, and accordingly I am not satisfied. I have been very frequently in communication with the authorities concerned on that subject. Doctors issue a certain amount of these medical supplies for prescriptions and various purposes, and sometimes forget to write it up. We have investigated many of the cases subsequently and have ascertained that the material was used in prescriptions and that the patients got the medicine, but we are not satisfied with the way things have been done and we hope it will be remedied.

722. Chairman.—Some of the deficiencies or, shall we call them, apparent prima facie deficiencies, seem to be immense. For instance, there would appear to be a deficiency of nearly 5,950 of one type of Prontosil tablets.

General MacMahon.—That has not been referred to me, and I have not the particulars before me. Mr. Maher did not refer to that item, but if there is any item on which information is required, I shall produce it.

Mr. Maher.—Our reference and statement were sent out on the 21st May, and is probably not under examination yet.

723. Chairman.—I take it that some of these very large deficiencies will be made the subject of a special inquiry?

General MacMahon.—Yes, but since the communication was only sent out on the 21st May, we have not yet had an opportunity. However, whether large or small, the deficiencies will certainly be the subject of inquiry.

724. Chairman.—And when you have had an opportunity of discussing this matter, we presume that it will come before the Committee next year?

General MacMahon.—Well, Mr. Maher has raised a query, and we hope that it will not have to come before the Committee next year, because we hope he will be satisfied with our explanation.

725. Chairman.—Note 72:—

“The rapid equipment of a large number of posts to provide for the increased personnel consequent on the mobilisation of the Forces in June, 1940, and the fluid conditions prevailing for some time, caused some dislocation in the system of accounting for Barrack Services Stores, in connection with which the records of stores on location no longer reflected the actual position, and I have inquired whether any efforts have been made to re-establish effective control. The records of certain technical stores also fell into arrear and there was considerable delay in the work of examining and taking on charge large quantities of supplies. At one depot it was noticed that no evidence was available to show that stocktaking had been carried out for a number of years, the posting of accounts was several months in arrear, and no record was available of the consumption of material issued to workshops.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—With regard to Barrack Service Stores, the Audit Office has been informed that a check of all barrack service stores on inventory was arranged in February last, but I am not aware of the result. Regarding Air Corps Technical Stores the present position is not clear as very considerable arrears of ledger recording had to be made up. It was anticipated that the account would be ready for audit by last March. We have not yet dealt with that. A complete stocktaking at the depot referred to— Curragh Garrison Stores—was carried out in 1941, and workbooks were put into operation in the repair shops, so that the position has improved.

726. Chairman.—May we take it that, in your view, the situation is being got control of?

Mr. Maher.—So far as the Curragh Garrison Stores are concerned, yes, but so far as the others are concerned, we are not quite satisfied.

General MacMahon.—I should say that we never did lose control of the Barrack Services Stores. It simply meant that when a unit was transferred to a small post, where there was no equipment, it had to take with it the equipment that it had had in barracks. All that equipment is on charge to an officer. I am not a bit worried about that aspect of the matter, because when a company was detached from barracks to a small post it had to bring its equipment with it. We will be able to give Mr. Maher the results of our check very soon, but I am not worried about that particular matter because you are bound to have that where you have an army moving, and going from one small post to another, as they sometimes do, or from their barracks to small posts.

727. Chairman.—With regard to the technical stores, has the work of examining and taking them on charge been completed?

General MacMahon.—I take it that that refers to Baldonnel?

Mr. Maher.—Yes.

General MacMahon.—There was delay about checking the stores, but that will soon be completed.

Statement of Losses.

“73. Losses written off during the year are detailed in a statement appended to the account. The total is made up of:—





Cash losses charged to “Balances Irrecoverable” with the sanction of the

Department of Finance





Deficiences of stores and other losses not affecting the 1940-41








The corresponding figures of losses in the previous year were £112 19s. 2d. and £1,658 8s. 4d.

The increase is mainly due to the larger number of motor accidents and the inclusion of £16,279 6s. 4d. in respect of losses of aircraft.

I referred in previous reports to losses due to deficiencies of articles of uniform on issue to Volunteers. A further sum of £864 16s. 10d. is written off under this head (Item No. 11).”

728. Deputy Hughes.—What were the losses in aircraft, or how did they arise?

General MacMahon.—Through accidents. I can refer to any particular one if the Deputy wishes.

729. Deputy Hughes.—How many were involved?—The number is ten.

730. Is that an unusually big number? —Well, of course, some were serious and some were not.

731. Chairman.—May I suggest that we should not examine the Accounting Officer too closely on the losses of our equipment? In the ordinary course, we may depend upon the Comptroller and Auditor-General to advise us on any matter which demands close scrutiny, on the grounds of carelessness or inattention, but questions as to the losses of our equipment at the present time are scarcely questions for public record, and I would remind the members that the records of our proceedings are available to the public.

732. Chairman.—I would like to know from the Accounting Officer if he is satisfied—on Subhead H—that every possible economy in the use of petrol is being enforced by the Army?—I am perfectly satisfied.

733. Deputy Hughes.—Is any provision made for a meal in the late evening for the members of the Army?—They are provided with a light meal at night from savings made. It is not an Army issue. There are only three issues per day in the Army. Savings are made from these, and in most places they are able to supply tea, cocoa or milk and some bread and butter. In the case of a large post, there is no difficulty whatever in doing that because you have a large number of men there, and usually there is a great deal of surplus bread which can be made available for the purpose.

734. Chairman.—And at almost all posts, I take it, there is a canteen at which the soldiers can get some light refreshment at nominal prices?—Yes, at a price much cheaper than they could get it outside.

735. Chairman.—On Subhead S 2, are the numbers in the Construction Corps falling or rising?—The numbers have risen very considerably recently.

That is very good.

736. Deputy Hughes.—On Subhead Q, do you use much scrap iron in the Army? —No.

737. Having regard to the very short supply of iron generally in the country, and the necessity of having some available for agricultural purposes, is scrap iron used for any purpose in the Army— for example, for blockade purposes?— Scrap iron would be used for that purpose, but we are not able to convert the scrap into what it looked like originally.

738. Are you satisfied that everything possible is being done to save iron?—I am.

738A. I am informed that at one time the Army actually cleared out all the yards in the city, and that immediately the price of iron jumped to £80 a ton?— We certainly did purchase a lot of iron, but at that time it was necessary to get iron of a certain type. We could not get scrap.

739. Is the Department of Supplies consulted on this matter?—No. The Minister for Defence is the responsible Minister.

740. With regard to the available supply, is there any particular allocation for the Army?—We had a difference of opinion with that Department as to whether the Army or outside people should get it. In one particular case the matter went for decision to the Government, and I am happy to say that the Army point of view prevailed.

741. Chairman.—Are you finding any sort of difficulty in getting supplies of horseshoes?—We have not used a great quantity of the iron required for that purpose up to the present. We have been purchasing horses recently. and I suppose we will find a difficulty in getting suitable iron.

742. Deputy Hughes.—Have you a reserve of iron for that purpose?—I am afraid not.

743. You did not pick up anything that was there?—No, but we have a lot of old scrap horseshoes.

I strongly suspect that is the position.

Chairman.—If the Army authorities are going into the market for horseshoes we all had better get in before you. If there is no other question, I think we may turn to the next Vote.


Lieut. General P. MacMahon called.

No question.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned at 12.25 p.m.

* Appendix VII.