Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1943 - 1944::17 May, 1945::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 17ú Bealtaine, 1945.

Thursday, 17th May, 1945.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:


B. Brady,



P. Cogan,




M. E. Dockrell,





Mr. J. Maher (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) called and examined.


1. Deputy Gorry.—I propose that Deputy Cosgrave, being a member of the Opposition, should take the Chair. I understand that it is the prerogative of the Opposition to have the right of filling that particular post and, therefore, I have great pleasure in proposing Deputy Cosgrave who, I feel sure, will perform the functions of Chairman excellently for us.

DEPUTY COSGRAVE took the chair.

2. Chairman.—I wish to thank the Committee for the honour they have done me in appointing me Chairman of this Committee, and I hope that I shall carry out the functions of Chairman in accordance with the traditions of the Committee. As we have one new member, it might be desirable to mention, briefly, the functions of the Committee. They are to deal with the Appropriation Accounts with the assistance of the Comptroller and Auditor General, who is kind enough to assist us, and of the various Accounting Officers who attend here, so as to enable us to examine the manner in which the moneys appropriated by Dáil Eireann have been spent. It is possible that those who have not previously been on the Committee may be tempted to put questions to an Accounting Officer concerning policy or concerning his opinion of the manner in which the money should or should not be spent. I should like to remind the members of this Committee that such questions are properly put to Ministers in the House, and the functions of this Committee are solely to examine and to require the Accounting Officer to furnish the Committee with statements as to the manner in which the money appropriated has been spent; in other words, to satisfy the Committee that the money appropriated has been expended for the purposes for which it was appropriated. We have one excess Vote and, as is usual, this is taken first.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called and examined.

3. Chairman.—As I have already stated, there is an excess Vote, and there is a note by the Comptroller and Auditor General in connection with that, which is as follows:—

Excess of Expenditure over Grant.

“The gross expenditure on this account has exceeded the Estimate by £2,545 0s. 7d.; in addition there is a deficiency of Appropriations-in-Aid realised of £105 16s. 2d. The total deficit, therefore, amounts to £2,650 16s. 9d., for which an excess Vote will be required.

“The excess is explained by the Accounting Officer as due exclusively to expenditure of unanticipated magnitude from Subhead B., the charges to which subhead in the last quarter of the financial year amounted to half the total payments made therefrom in the preceding three-quarters of the year.”

Mr. McElligott is here to assist us in dealing with that matter. Have you any information to give us on it, Mr. Maher?

Mr. Maher.—No, Mr. Chairman. The only information I have is contained in the paragraph that has been read.

Mr. McElligott.—The excess on the Vote, as the Comptroller and Auditor General has said, was caused by excess expenditure on Subhead B. This was an expenditure of unexpected magnitude on additional allowances and gratuities in respect of established officers. The original provision in Subhead B., in the volume of Estimates, was £72,000, and towards the end of 1943 it became evident that this sum would not be adequate to meet the probable expenditure and, as a Supplementary Vote was being taken for superannuation and retired allowances, a figure of £30,000 was added for this Subhead B. That figure of £30,000 was related to the highest quarterly expenditure in the first three-quarters of the year of account which we are examining now. It may interest the Committee to know the figures for the first three-quarters of the year 1943. For the quarter ending June, 1943, the figure was £17,900; for the quarter ending September, 1943, the figure was £29,000; and for the quarter ending December, 1943, it was almost £30,000, or £29,600. We thought that we were safe in making a supplementary provision of £30,000 but, in fact, the actual expenditure for the last quarter reached a figure of £35,780, and this exceptional rise in expenditure could not be anticipated. It was due, in fact, to an abnormal number of deaths amongst male officers in the Service and an abnormal number of marriages amongst the female officers. I can give some figures in that connection. In the four years preceding the year of account with which we are now dealing, the average annual number of deaths and marriages, respectively, were 18 and 28, and in the year of account they were 46 and 136, respectively. So that the average annual number of deaths rose from 18 to 46, and the average annual number of marriages rose from 28 to 136. The average annual expenditure on death gratuities for the preceding four years was £13,000, and in the year of account it was £18,000. The average annual expenditure for the preceding four years on marriage gratuities was £8,500, and in the year of account it was £17,000. Then, there is a reference in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report to the deficiency in the Appropriations in Aid. There was a slight deficiency in the Appropriations in Aid, and this was another matter that affected the Vote.

4. Chairman.—I suppose that the emergency had something to do with the increase in the number of deaths and marriages?—Well, possibly, although most people would not credit the fact that civil servants die of overwork. However, I think so. Excessive strain might tend to shorten life.

5. Chairman.—We can now come to the Vote itself. Are there any questions?

Deputy Dockrell.—The average annual number of deaths and marriages seems to have jumped very much in the year of account over that of the preceding four years. Would it be in order to ask Mr. McElligott whether the average has been maintained since then, or was that a very exceptional year?

Mr. McElligott.—Well, the provision, in fact, has increased since the year of account, 1943-44, partly because the number of civil servants has grown, and the number of women employed has increased. The emergency, as the Chairman suggested, has been to some extent responsible for an increase in the marriage rate; so that additional provision has, in fact, had to be made in recent years, following our exceptional experience in the year of account. For 1945-46 the provision for additional allowances and gratuities in respect of established officers under Subhead B. which we are discussing is £130,000 as compared with a provision of £110,000 in 1944-45 and a total expenditure in the year of account of £108,201, so that there is a steady upward movement in both deaths and marriages accountable to some extent by the increased numbers in the Civil Service.

6. The increased deaths and marriages rates result from the increased number of civil servants taken on during the emergency period?—Yes, to some extent, but the relative marriage rate and death rate seem to have increased as well as the absolute rate in the Civil Service.

7. In future, we can expect a closer relation between the amount voted and the actual amount paid out?—I hope so.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

8. Deputy Sheldon.—In regard to Subhead A., I note that the expenditure on staff temporarily lent was high in proportion to the amount in the subhead—it was 28.5 per cent. I know that it is an established practice, but I should like to know if that high proportion has continued?—It has. I have no figure for the year 1944-45. The accounts have not been audited yet, but owing to emergency pressure it has been our practice to withdraw staff from Departments which are not subject to special emergency pressure and this was one of the Departments. It avoided increasing the numbers in the Civil Service unnecessarily. In spite of that, the numbers have been very materially increased, but they would have been increased still more had it not been for our practice of drawing on Departments which were not subject to special pressure arising out of the emergency. I might mention that the Estimate for 1945-46 contains a footnote setting out that the amount provided for staff includes £209 in respect of one officer on loan to another office so that the demand on the President’s Establishment does not seem to be as great as it has been.

9. Deputy Sheldon.—I mention it because I noticed in one or two cases that the payments were made by the Department which borrowed the staff and because I thought attention should be drawn to it in case the practice should grow up of concealing the expenditure of one Department in another, that small Departments which are not contentious might be used to conceal excess expenditure in others.

10. Deputy Dockrell.—With regard to Subhead E., I take it that the motor cars referred to are for the use of the staff?— No, this is a grant towards the replacement of the President’s own motor cars. The President has to provide his own cars and he does not get any capital sum for their provision. He gets an annual sum of £300 and purchases the cars required for his own use.

11. Is the £300 for petrol?—He has to bear the expenditure arising out of the maintenance and running of the cars— insurance, provision of petrol and oil and all running expenses. That £300 covers everything—running expenses, depreciation, etc.

12. Chairman.—Has the President to provide himself with a car?—Yes, he has to provide his own car.

13. What is the position when a vacancy arises?—The £300 Grant in Aid is paid to the outgoing President up to the time he leaves office. If he leaves office in the middle of a year he would get, I think, only a proportion of the grant which starts to run in favour of the incoming President immediately he takes up office.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

14. Deputy P. Cogan.—With regard to Subhead A, what is the explanation of the decrease in expenditure? Was it due to deaths?—The savings on Subhead A. and C. as stated in a note to the Appropriation Accounts were mainly due to vacancies. The vacancies were in the Office of Leas-Cheann Comhairle from the time of the general election in June, 1943, to 19th October, 1943. There were seven vacancies in the membership of the Dáil between April and June, 1943, and one vacancy from July, 1943, to 31st March, 1944, due to the death of another T.D. In regard to Subhead C., relating to Seanad Eireann, there was a vacancy in the office of Leas-Chathaoirleach from the time of the election in August, 1943, to 27th October, 1943. Four Senators were elected to the Dáil. They vacated their seats in the Seanad with a consequential saving in the allowances for Senators for the period from June to August, 1943.

15. Deputy Dockrell.—What are the witnesses’ expenses in Subhead H.?— There was no expenditure during the year. The amount is intended to cover the expenses of witnesses called to give evidence before Select or Special Committees of either or both Houses, but there were no such Committees requiring evidence from witnesses during the year.

16. Chairman.—With regard to Subhead I—Inter-Parliamentary Union, Grant in Aid—I assume that now that the emergency is drawing to a close we can anticipate the total expenditure of this grant?—It is quite likely, if the Union has further meetings. The meetings have been suspended during the war but I take it they will be resumed in due course.

17. Deputy Pattison.—There is a note in regard to Subhead J.—Restaurant contribution—which says: “Expenditure cannot be accurately estimated.” As a member of the Restaurant Committee, I have raised quesions with regard to the excessive charges and the unsatisfactory manner in which the restaurant has been run since it was taken over by a private concern. I am told that audited accounts are submitted showing the expenditure and receipts of Messrs. Mills and I cannot understand the statement that expenditure cannot be accurately estimated? —We pay an amount in recoupment of the expenses of catering as shown by certified accounts, but we cannot determine in advance what the loss in the catering accounts is likely to be. These Estimates are drawn up several months before the financial year to which they relate. For example, the Estimates for 1943-44 would have been drawn up in the previous December or January and published usually in February, and it is difficult to forecast what the deficiency in the accounts of the restaurant will be. It depends on the number of sittings of the Dáil and Seanad and the length of the sittings. In any case, there is a ceiling in respect of the expenditure under the arrangement we have with the restaurant people and the recoupment in respect of losses and expenses of catering cannot exceed £500.

18. Deputy Sheldon.—Is it only where a loss is shown that payment is made? They are not guaranteed so much profit? —Their losses are recouped to the extent of £350 and then there is a maximum sum of £150, being the remainder of the £500, available, to such extent as the Ceann Comhairle thinks fit to recoup the caterers in respect of the expenses of catering. There would, no doubt, be an element of profit in that £150 as well as an element to cover the overhead expenses.

19. Chairman.—I take it the only function you have concerning the returns which Messrs. Mills make is that if they show a loss you have to meet it out of the £500 grant?—Yes. We accept the recommendation of the Ceann Comhairle about the expenses. In the current year’s Estimate, that is for 1945-6 under Subhead J., the note states that:—

“Payment will be made to the caterer, on the recommendation of the Ceann Comhairle, in recoupment of the expenses of catering as shown by certified accounts.”

The accounts are examined by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Mr. Maher.—That is so. The Ceann Comhairle sends the accounts to us for examination in respect of any item on which he would like to have our advice. We generally have a look at the accounts and make whatever recommendation we feel justified in making.

20. Deputy Cogan.—Is the deficit on the restaurant for the year under review greater or less than the average deficit, or is the deficit over a period of years about uniform?—For the year under review, 1943-44, the net loss was less than in the preceding year, but, in the years preceding that again, the losses were greater. For the year 1943-44 the net loss was something like £328; in 1942-43, the loss was £156; in 1941-42, the loss was £393; in the year 1940-41, the loss was £598, and in 1939-40 the loss was £865. To a large extent these losses are proportionate to the infrequency with which the Dáil meets.

21. Deputy Sheldon.—Mr. McElligott speaks about losses. What I am anxious to find out is this: Is there an actual trading loss and no profit at all? Was there, during the year under review, an actual trading loss which called for the payment of this grant of £300 to bring the caterers out square, or are they actually running the restaurant as a charitable effort to feed Deputies and Senators?—In most of the years that I have mentioned, there was an actual trading loss and no element of profit.

22. Deputy Cogan.—In some of the years that Mr. McElligott mentioned there was a substantial loss?—Yes, from the year 1937-38 the largest loss occurred in 1939-40 when it was £865.

23. Chairman.—This is always a contentious matter?—It is.

24. Deputy Pattison.—I am a member of the Restaurant Committee. I accepted nomination on that committee mainly for the purpose of trying to have some of the grievances that I had heard members of both Houses speak of, and that I have experienced myself, rectified. In fact, for some years past I have been taking my lunch outside. I find that I can get a much cheaper and a much better lunch outside. I have drawn the attention of the members of the Restaurant Committee to an article which appeared some time ago in a very well-known provincial newspaper under the heading: “Food Vouchers for Senators and Deputies”. The article went on to try and convince the public that the members of the Oireachtas, in addition to getting their allowances free of income-tax, were getting very fine meals here free, gratis and for nothing.

Chairman.—I am afraid, Deputy, that is slightly outside the functions of this Committee.

Deputy Pattison.—I am raising the matter mainly for the purpose of bringing to the notice of the Department of Finance the fact that it has been impossible to get the Restaurant Committee to tackle this matter. All the members of that Committee seem to take up the line of leaving it alone.

Chairman.—I do not want to stop the Deputy, but I suggest to him that the way to deal with that is to take it up with the Restaurant Committee. The functions of the Department of Finance are concerned only with the accounts, and if these show a loss the Department has to make up the deficit.

Deputy Pattison.—I have read the reports of the Restaurant Committee from 1923 to 1934 when, I think, the change in the catering arrangements was made. I noticed in the statement of accounts that, in all those years, a surplus, in fact a very considerable surplus, was shown. I think that in one particular year it was as much as £400. I would like to know how the question of fuel and light, in the case of the restaurant, is dealt with.

Chariman.—The Deputy is not suggesting that the Deputies and Senators got the benefit of the surplus.

Deputy Pattison.—It went to the benefit of the taxpayer.

Mr. McElligott.—In those years I think the position was that the Dáil and Seanad met more frequently. There are, I suppose, other receipts to be considered apart from those of the restaurant—other activities of the caterers, and these have shown a declining trend in recent years.

25. Deputy Pattison.—So far as I have observed in recent years the bar is usually pretty well packed so that there should be no loss of profit there. What is the position with regard to the furnishing and heating of the place, and the provision of cooking apparatus?—The State provides the permanent equipment as well as light and heating, except heating for cooking. As the Chairman says, this is a matter primarily for the Restaurant Committee. We have even less to do with it now than we had before, because we now accept, without qualification or question, the recommendation of the Ceann Comhairle about losses, and he arrives at his recommendation after studying the accounts as examined and certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Mr. Maher.—We do not examine and certify them. The accounts are examined by an outside firm of auditors. The certified accounts to which you refer are certified by an outside firm of auditors. We examine the accounts only in so far as the Ceann Comhairle wishes us to do so.

Deputy Pattison.—The majority of the Restaurant Committee appear to be allowed to do what they like and to leave it to Messrs. Mills. I think the Department of Finance should keep an eye on the activities of that Committee.

Chairman.—I am afraid that the principle of majority rule obtains in the case of most committees. I think the function of this Committee stops at securing from the Department of Finance the information it is required to give to this Committee.

Deputy Pattison.—Is it not the duty of the Public Accounts Committee to see that public money is properly spent?

Chairman.—The function of this Committee is to see that the money voted by the Dáil is spent in the manner in which it has been appropriated. We have no control over other committees.

26. Deputy Pattison.—I have attempted to raise this matter in the House on the Estimate but the Chair will not permit it. I have no desire to raise it publicly. I am anxious that the matter should be in a more satisfactory position from the point of view of good administration?— If I may say so it is open to the Deputy to raise it on the Vote of the Houses of the Oireachtas, because that is the Vote which contains the provision for the grant.

Deputy Pattison.—When we do attempt to raise it we are told we cannot do anything. At a meeting of the Restaurant Committee recently I suggested that tenders should be invited from other firms. I do not agree with this policy of allowing Messrs. Mills to continue as caterers without interruption and of increasing their charges. A very large number of members of the Oireachtas are not having their lunch in the restaurant. It is true that they take their tea there in the evenings. Quite a number of members go to outside restaurants for their lunch. There is dissatisfaction at the prices charged and with the service given, and on top of that you have the taxpayer being called upon to foot the bill. During all the years when the restaurant was under the control of the House a surplus was shown. I have thought it my duty to call the attention of this Committee to that state of affairs.

Chairman.—If there is no other question on the Vote, we can now turn to Vote 3.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

27. Deputy Cogan.—With regard to Subhead E.—Allowance to Taoiseach for Motor Car—what is the position?—The allowance is intended to cover all the expenses incurred by the Taoiseach in using his private car for official purposes. The salaries of the chauffeurs and the cost of their uniforms are provided out of the Gárda Síochána Vote.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

28. Chairman.—On Subhead A.A.— Actuary—is the actuary, for whom provision is made under this subhead, loaned to other Departments?—The actuarial services provided here really relate to outside actuaries, the British Government actuary in particular, whom it might be necessary to call upon for assistance. We have an actuary in the Department of Finance itself, and his services have been made available to outside Departments. His salary would be borne on subhead A. of the Vote that we are considering, not on subhead A.A., which, as I say, is intended to recoup any expenditure incurred in calling on the services of the British Government actuary. During the year under review—1943-44—we did not have occasion to call on the outside actuary at all so that there was no expenditure.

29. Chairman.—Can you say if the National Health Insurance Society avails of the services of our own actuary?—It has called on an outside actuary. Of course, our actuary has not got the staff that the British Government actuary has. He is operating on his own. The British Government actuary has a large department which is accustomed to dealing with insurance and pension matters. They have considerable experience in all branches of actuarial activity.

30. Chairman.—I notice that “Extra Receipts payable to the Exchequer” showed a considerable increase on the estimated sum. Can you give any explanation of that?—The main reason is that investments undertaken on behalf of various funds controlled by the Department of Finance were more considerable than we had anticipated. The sales were also greater than we had expected them to be. Miscellaneous receipts also contributed to the increase. Those receipts cover fees in respect of stockbrokers’ licences and payment by an outside body in respect of injury to an officer of the Department of Finance as a result of an accident. The officer in question was, of course, paid by the Department while he was incapacitated. The Department then recovered a certain amount in respect of the injury.

31. Deputy Cogan.—As regards extra remuneration, has this system of permitting higher officials of the Department to receive extra remuneration as directors of firms been long in operation or is it in operation in other States? The point which I want to get cleared up is as to how that affects the status of officers of the Department. An official drawing remuneration in addition to his salary might be more highly paid than an officer who was his senior?—That sometimes happens.

Deputy Cogan.—Is not that an undesirable position?

Chairman.—I am afraid that that is a question of policy. Under statute, permission is given for the appointment of civil servants to these positions. The question, therefore, is not a proper one for this Committee.

32. Deputy Cogan.—May I ask if the system has been long in operation?

Mr. McElligott.—It has been a long time in operation.

33. Deputy Cogan.—Perhaps Mr. McElligott could tell us if it is in operation in other States?—It is allowed in Great Britain. I cannot speak as to other States.

34. Deputy Dockrell.—As regards “Extra Receipts”, there is an item representing “Commission charged to sundry funds on purchases of securities by the Government Stockbroker”. How does that appear as an item of income?—Commission to the stockbroker concerned is an outgoing which is paid by the Department of Finance in the first instance. Charges are then made in respect of the outgoing to the funds concerned.

35. What funds and how does the item exactly arise?—The Department of Finance pays a compounded sum in respect of commissions, in the first instance. It then makes a charge to the individual funds for the services rendered by the broker, proportionate to the amount of the transactions carried out for those funds. Those funds have to stand, more or less, on their own feet and to meet whatever commissions are properly chargeable in respect of their Stock Exchange transactions.

36. What funds would those be?— Mainly the Post Office Savings Bank Fund, National Health Insurance Fund, Unemployment Fund and Widows’ and Orphans’ Pensions’ Fund.

37. Deputy Sheldon.—Where, do the outgoings to which you refer appear in the accounts?

Chairman.—The salary of the Government stockbroker appears on the Vote. He has an inclusive salary of £1,200.

Deputy Dockrell.—That includes all commissions?

Chairman.—I take it that it does.

Mr. McElligott.—It includes all commissions in respect of transactions which he can carry out himself. If he has to operate in the London market, he has to pay commissions to London stockbrokers and those commissions are borne by the funds.

38. Deputy Dockrell.—I am still rather at sea as to how the item appears as a credit?—The outgoings were borne, in the first instance, by the Department of Finance and the subsequent recoupment came in as an “Exchequer Extra Receipt.”

39. It is really only a book item?—It is an in-and-out transaction.

40. A debit appears somewhere else in respect of this credit. Is that the position?—Yes.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

41. Chairman.—Is a check kept on the apparatus and chemical equipment?

Mr. McElligott.—Yes. The stock is checked from time to time.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

42. Chairman.—Here, again, Exchequer Extra Receipts show an increase on the estimated sum?

Mr. McElligott.—Yes. The number of examinations held and the number of candidates were greater than had been anticipated. As you will see, there was excess expenditure on A.2, B., C., and D. As stated in the notes, that was due to the greater number of selection boards held, to the additional number of candidates, additional advertising, and to the provision of accommodation for examinations. These factors, naturally, resulted in increased expenditure and higher contributions from the local authorities.

43. Chairman.—Could you say if the increased expenditure was due to increase in staff or replacement of officers who had either retired or died?—The increased expenditure on the subheads?

44. On the examinations?—That was due to the larger number of candidates for the various posts in the Civil Service. The number of Civil Service examinations was higher and the number of candidates greater than had been anticipated.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

45. Deputy Cogan.—Are the accounts of the Tourist Board examined by the Accounting Officer?

Mr. Maher.—They are examined by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Under the statute, they are laid on the Table of the House each year. The accounts for 1943-44 were laid on the Table of the House in June of last year.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

46. Chairman.—I notice that no expenditure was incurred under D.1 for salaries by the Committee on Post-Emergency Agricultural Policy.

Mr. McElligott.—No special reporters were employed during the year and there was no special expenditure on salaries. The Committee is staffed by officers from the Department of Agriculture whose salaries are borne on their own Votes. The main element in the provision made for Commissions and Special Inquiries relates to the employment of special reporters and, as I have said, there was no need to employ special reporters during the year. Hence the saving.

47. Deputy Dockrell.—Under Subhead E., a saving of £757, out of a total expenditure of £992, seems large?—This subhead provides for commissions and committees which may be appointed during the financial year and for remanets of expenditure on committees and commissions from previous years. It is difficult to frame an accurate estimate for this subhead on either of those counts. We do not know what commissions or committees are likely to be appointed during the financial year and we do not know what remanets of expenditure on previous commissions and committees not specifically provided for in other subheads will fall for payment. Particulars are given at the foot of page 5 of the various committees and commissions covered by the subhead—Central Savings Committee, Tribunal of Inquiry re Great Southern Railways Stocks, Inter-Departmental Committee on Money-Lending and Hire-Purchase and Commission on Youth Unemployment.

48. Chairman.—Is the Committee on Hire Purchase in existence at the moment?—No, it has finished its work and has presented its report.

48a. Deputy Dockrell.—In view of the uncertainty of arriving at anything like an accurate estimate, would Mr. McElligott say whether some other method of dealing with this Estimate might be undertaken, say, something in the nature of a Token Vote because the present method gives rather a false impression of the surplus to be surrendered on the whole Department?—As a matter of fact, on account of the big savings on that subhead, we reduced the provision in subsequent years. For the year 1944-45 we reduced it to £1,000 and for 1945-46 to £800 so I do not think that there will be anything like a large saving in subsequent years.

49. Chairman.—I take it that that indicates that we shall have less Commissions?—I hope so.

50. Can you say if the official reporters engaged on this work get any extra remuneration?—No.

51. It appears to me that it is a pretty considerable hardship occasionally on them to have to engage on this extra work?— Well, of course they usually take it on only when the Dáil or Seanad is not sitting. It is part of their conditions of service that they are required to do this work if they are available for it.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

52. Chairman.—In regard to Subhead B.—Contributions towards Rates on Premises occupied by Representatives of External Governments—can you say if we are receiving any contribution from foreign Governments in respect of premises occupied by their representatives here?—We only make such contributions where there is a reciprocal arrangement with a foreign Government so that it may be taken that the exemptions which we confer here are paralleled by similar exemptions to our representatives abroad.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

53. Deputy Dockrell.—We seem to be wide of the mark in our Estimate of expenditure on this Vote?—The Secret Service Vote has been kept at this fixed figure of £20,000 but there are usually very large savings on it. More than 50 per cent. of the provision has been saved, as a rule, for a number of years. It is obviously a Vote on which it is undesirable to have a supplementary. We have kept to that figure in spite of the large savings. For the year 1944-45, which is the year subsequent to that with which we are dealing now, the expenditure was much greater. It was about £14,000 and the saving was about £6,000, instead of £12,000.

54. Deputy Sheldon.—Would it be indiscreet to ask how the item of 10/11 arose?—We do not know the details of expenditure on Secret Service matters. We get a certificate from Ministers to the effect that the amount actually expended by them on Secret Service in a particular year was so many pounds and that the balance on hands on the 31st March at the end of a particular year was so much. They make a solemn declaration that the interests of the public service require that the payments be made out of the Secret Service moneys and that they were properly so made. Beyond that, we have no information.

55. Deputy Cogan.—The details are not given to the Comptroller and Auditor General?

Mr. Maher.—No. We give a qualified statement in which we say that the amounts expended are supported by certificates from the responsible Ministers.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

56. Chairman.—In regard to Subhead B.—the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for Ireland—can you explain why only £300 of the £500 grant was expended?—This grant is made towards the expenses of procuring and publishing reports of the decisions of the Higher Courts and a decennial digest of these reports, the outlay was less than we expected during the year.


Mr. J. J. McElligott called.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

57. Chairman.—With regard to Subhead A.2—State Solicitors—can you explain why the expenditure was so much less than the grant?—The saving was due to some vacancies that occurred during the year.

58. Deputy Dockrell.—What do the Appropriations in Aid consist of?—They are costs and fees recovered by the Chief State Solicitor in respect of court actions.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

59. Chairman.—I notice that there was a Supplementary Vote under Subhead B. of £70,000 although the original Estimate was only £380. Can you say how such a large supplementary Vote came to be necessary?—That supplementary was due to the fact that representations were made to the Minister for Finance by University College, Dublin, that it was seriously embarrassed by the existence of a large overdraft at its bankers and it saw no way of liquidating this indebtedness except by a grant from the Minister. The accounts of the College were examined very closely and a considerable number of discussions were held with the President and a number of members of the staff of the College. It was decided, after a careful examination of the position, that the College, by increasing the fees to students or by trying to tap other sources of revenue, could not possibly liquidate the overdraft at their bankers. The Minister for Finance accordingly decided to come to their assistance and he made this supplementary grant of £70,000, which went within a few thousand pounds of clearing off the total indebtedness of the College.

60. Chairman.—Do you think it likely to occur again?—We hope not.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

61. Chairman.—The Comptroller and Auditor General has the following note:—

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

An account of the expenditure by the Bureau of issues out of the Grant in Aid has been furnished to me and has been examined with satisfactory results. Expenditure during the year amounted to £22,984 18s. 2d. and the unexpended balance of issues at 31st March, 1944, was £2,032 17s. 1d.

The activities of this Bureau have come to an end?—Yes, they came to an end on 31st March.

62. Deputy Cogan.—Will it be continued by another Department?—The Industrial Research Council of the Department of Industry and Commerce will continue similar activities.

63. So that there is really no interruption of the work?—Not on the whole. Of course they were doing a considerable amount of work in the Emergency Scientific Research Bureau for the Department of Defence in connection with explosives and allied matters and I take it that that will come to an end.

Mr. Maher.—We have examined the accounts and found them satisfactory as explained in the note.

64. Deputy Sheldon.—I take it that the unexpended balance should be added to the savings of £5,600 indicated in the Vote?—What would happen is that the issues for the following year would be reduced by that amount. The Committee might like to know that since affairs have been wound up they have surrendered to us £5,000 from the Bureau Banking Account. That money has been lodged to suspense for the present but will be brought into the Exchequer. There is still some balance lying in the Bureau’s banking account which is being retained for the possibility of other liabilities maturing against the Bureau.

65. Chairman.—I think the efforts of the Bureau were very successful?—On the whole, yes.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

66. Deputy Sheldon.—The note under Subhead A. states:—“saving mainly due to the fact that compliance with reinstatement conditions was slower than anticipated”?—Reinstatement provisions affected building. The awards made in many cases were in respect of buildings and had a reinstatement condition attached so that they would be paid only as and when rebuilding was undertaken. Owing to the emergency conditions building supplies were not available, and, accordingly, issues under this subhead were less than we expected. The expenditure under the Act of 1941, as a whole, up to 31st March, amounted to £396,430. That was apart from any losses in respect to personal injuries, which are dealt with in a subsequent account to be considered this morning.

67. Will this amount be recoverable?— Nominally recovered. So far we have lodged claims. We lodged a claim in respect to the damage done at Campile, County Wexford. The damage occurred in August, 1940, and a claim for £15,000 was lodged. We accepted an offer in settlement of £12,000 but it has not yet been paid. In respect to the North Strand we lodged a claim for £476,000, including personal injuries. We lodged certain other claims but we have got no payment. There were also incidents at Terenure and at Sandycove. The one at Sandycove occurred in December, 1940, and that at Terenure in January, 1941. We have got no payment.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined

No question.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

68. Deputy Sheldon.—The note to Subhead B. states that there was an advance to the Irish Red Cross Society of £100,000 which was unexpended. I take it that a new Vote in the Dáil will be necessary to make that money available to the Society? —Yes, a new Vote will be necessary.


Mr. J. J. McElligott further examined.

69. Chairman.—Details of the expenditure under this Vote are given on page 252 of the Accounts.

70. Deputy Sheldon.—I notice that we cannot make any forecast regarding triplets?—That is beyond the power of the Department of Finance.

Chairman.—We are very much obliged to you, Mr. McElligott, for your attendance.

The Committee adjourned.