Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1951 - 1952::08 July, 1953::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 8ú Iúil, 1953.

Wednesday, 8th July, 1953.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:





Mrs. Crowley,

D. J. O’Sullivan,



DEPUTY SHELDON in the chair.

Mr. W. E. Wann (An tArd Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste), Mr. M. Breathnach and Mr. J. F. Maclnerney (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Mr. S. Nunan called and examined.

113. Chairman.—Paragraph 92 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General states:—

Subhead C.1—Cultural Relations with other Countries (Grant-in-Aid).

I observed that payments for this service in the year under review exceeded the amount of the grant-in-aid, the excess being charged to a suspense account, and I am in communication with the Accounting Officer on the matter.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Wann?

Mr. Wann.—The excess amounted to £791. The Accounting Officer has informed me that it arose through an under-estimation of the cost of displaying photographic exhibitions in foreign countries under a scheme promoted by the Cultural Relations Committee. In some cases exhibition programmes were brought forward and thus liabilities were incurred earlier than expected, and in other cases expenditure was heavier than was foreseen. It is, of course, a serious matter to postpone expenditure properly incurred in one year to the Vote of the following year, but in the case of External Affairs there are extenuating circumstances as accounts of expenditure abroad for the last few months of the financial year arrive in Dublin some time after the end of the year. This matter has been reported to the Department of Finance, which has sanctioned the charge against the Grant-in-Aid of the following year, that is 1952-53, but in doing so pointed out that it is the intention of the Dáil in regard to a Grant-in-Aid that it should suffice for all requirements and that the use of general balances to meet excess expenditure as happened in this instance is irregular.

114. Chairman.—True. Have you anything to add, Mr. Nunan?

Mr. Nunan.—I do not think there is much to add to what Mr. Wann has said. A considerable amount of this excess occurred in regard to these photographic exhibitions in Australia and the United States. They had been estimated to cost —what the figure is I cannot say at the moment—but the exhibitions seemingly were so popular that there were further demands for them. If they were held in one city another city wanted them. Storage charges accrued and all these costs mounted up. Then we were not aware until the accounts came in from the office abroad that the expenditure had been contracted in that year.

115. You had a Supplementary Estimate during that year—would it be true to say that you were not then aware of these excesses?—No, we were not, Mr. Chairman.

116. What about the future? Have you been able to make any arrangements?— We are in communication with the Department of Finance on that matter— that the Grants-in-Aid should be disbursed by the Committee and that they would be responsible for it. They will get the total amount and will handle it themselves as I understand is the case with many Grants-in-Aid.

117. What do you think will happen to them if an excess turns up?—They will not have any money to pay it.

118. I see that. But what would the position be supposing they run into debt somewhere? Surely your position would still be very much the same in spite of its now being handled by the committee? You could hardly allow a committee under your Department to have a debt they could not discharge?—I could not say what the position there would be, but if they are charged with that responsibility, if they have £10,000, I think it is up to them to see that no commitments are entered into that will exceed that sum.

119. I presume if something did look like turning up it would be their duty to come back to you in time?—It would be their duty to come back and ask what they were going to do and whether they could get more money or whether they should kill the scheme.

120. Chairman.—Paragraph 93 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General states:—

Subhead C.2—Irish News Agency.

The charge to this subhead represents repayable advances made to the Agency under section 11 (1) of the Irish News Agency Act, 1949. The advances made up to 31st March, 1952, amounted to £75,000, and I have inquired whether the terms and conditions of the repayment of the advances, in accordance with section 11 (2) of the Act, have yet been determined.”

Anything to add, Mr. Wann?

Mr. Wann.—The Accounting Officer has informed me that since its inception the Irish News Agency has been running at a loss, and it was necessary to increase the State subventions for some years past beyond the amount originally advanced. The question of repayment of the sums advanced did not, therefore, arise and consequently terms and conditions for the repayment of advances have not been determined. So far as can be foreseen at the moment the Agency will continue to operate at a loss for some years to come.

121. Chairman.—Are the accounts of the News Agency audited by you, Mr. Wann?—No, not by me; by an outside auditor, I understand.

122. Chairman.—Do I take it, Mr. Nunan, that you are not in communication with the Department of Finance about getting terms arranged for repayment or is it just being left in the air?

Mr. Nunan.—I do not think we have been in communication, Mr. Chairman.

123. Surely even if the position is that there is no immediate prospect of their being able to repay, that should not be the only consideration. The fact is that the Act laid down that they are repayable advances. Surely the Department should be trying to get the terms arranged. I mean the Dáil in the Act ordered that such a thing should be done?—We will see that it is done.

I think it would be as well, even if there is no immediate prospect. I think it would be as well to have talks on it to say on what terms repayment would eventually be made.

124. Coming to the Vote itself, I think it would speed things up if we took these subheads in groups. Let us take the group of subheads A.1 to A.5. On A.3, Mr. Nunan, there is an item on page 205 which refers to a presentation to the President of France. What form did the presentation take?—That was a copy of the Book of Kells which was presented to President Auriol at Shannon on the occasion of his stopping-off there.

125. Does fourteen guineas represent the price of a copy of the Book of Kells? —I will have to withdraw that. The fourteen guineas represent a presentation to Madame Auriol. The Book of Kells was in a previous account.

126. The next group is B.1 to B.5— Representatives Abroad. With regard to B.2—Travelling Expenses—Mr. Nunan, a note on page 206 refers to the writing off as irrecoverable of a payment claim in 1945-46 for travelling and subsistence expenses by an officer who has since retired. Could you tell us a little more about that? I take it it was more than a claim. I take it it had been paid?—It was one of our representatives abroad who was called home for consultations here. After a certain period his representation allowance would cease. I think it was a period of two months. He was kept here longer than that period. Then the Department of Finance were in communication with us on that and his representation allowance was continued on condition that his subsistence allowance would not be payable during the extended period. The officer in question returned to his post, made the claim for subsistence allowance and was paid from the funds of his office. It was queried at this side, and unfortunately was left in the air for some considerable period. Before the matter was finally settled, the officer had retired. He refused to repay the sum. By arrangement with the Department of Finance part of the sum was written off and part of it was recovered from the two officers in the Department whom I considered to have been responsible for the delay.

127. Are you in the Department quite satisfied this balance is really irrecoverable?—Yes, Mr. Chairman.

128. Is the officer a pensioner officer?— He is.

129. Does the State not generally take advantage of that situation to recover claims?—I understand they cannot do that as far as a pension is concerned.

130. What has the Department of Finance to say to that?

Mr. Breathnach.—Our advice is that a deduction of that kind cannot be made from the officer’s pension. We may make it from the gratuity which is paid with the pension initially but not from the pension itself. This, however, arose a few years later after the additional payment had been made.

131. There appears to be a rather odd situation here where a minus quantity turns up. I do not quite follow it. You give the gross total of the expenditure on the Vote and the under the column “less than granted” you mention an item of “minus £5,114 16s. 8d.” You do not get minus quantities in book-keeping?

Mr. Nunan.—The shortage of that amount was made up from the Vote from increased remuneration.

132. How does it arise that there was a minus quantity?—In estimating our savings, when seeking the Supplementary Estimate, at £24,490, we acted on an instruction by the Department of Finance to include in savings the extra sum payable in increased remuneration, any shortage that might occur on that account to be made good from the Vote for increases in remuneration.

133. I should like to hear the Department for Finance officials on that. I was querying it on the Department’s own Vote and the special Vote for extra remuneration but this seems to make it more complicated.

Mr. Breathnach.—I am not familiar with it but I think the note at the end explains it, that an expenditure of an amount not less than £14,007 16s. 9d. has been identified as due to the increases in remuneration, payable from the extra Vote specially voted for that purpose and, accordingly the Department is quite entitled to draw that amount from that special Vote. The excess on the various subheads is somewhat less than that but that is probably due to the fact that certain savings could have been effected were it not for the increases in remuneration, certain savings to bring the total up to £24,490.

134. Chairman.—It looks to me as if this had been done to make the supplementary a nominal one of £10. In other words, savings which did not in fact take place were used to reduce the sum required as a Supplementary Estimate?

Mr. Breathnach.—I think that is what happened, Mr. Chairman.

135. Chairman.—With regard to D-Appropriations in Aid—this salary of a seconded officer, can you say if the figure includes any charge for superannuation?

Mr. Nunan.—It does not. It is not brought to account in our Vote.

136. Chairman.—Can you say, Mr. Breathnach, if the superannuation is brought to account on the Superannuation Vote? Do you recover, in fact, any sum in respect of superannuation?

Mr. Breathnach.—I really cannot answer that question.

Chairman.—Perhaps you would inquire and let me have a note.

Mr. Breathnach.—Certainly.*

137. Chairman.—We next turn to the extra receipts payable to the Exchequer, the details of which are given on page 205. You mention a sum of £260 for repayments on foot of expenditure on repatriation and maintenance. What sum, if any, is on balance in respect of that?

Mr. Nunan.—I cannot give you that figure now but I can get it for you.

138. You do occasionally have to write-off certain sums as irrecoverable?—Yes.

139. In fact, in the notes on page 206 there is a reference to a sum of £2 9s. advanced in respect of maintenance, which was found to be irrecoverable. I take it that is the type of thing dealt with?—We have lost trace of the man in that case and it was not possible to recover it.

140. Do you ever meet a case where a person succeeds in getting a maintenance advance from one of the Consular offices, claiming to be an Irish citizen and where later it turns out that he is not one?— This item of £2 9s. you mentioned was incurred in such a case.

141. What sort of checks do the officers have when a claim is made on them?— This particular man turned up at the Brussels Legation, represented he was a naturalised Irish citizen since 1943, that he had been employed by an Irish company, that his papers had been stolen and that he wished to be repatriated. The Brussels Legation communicated with us to check the files and meanwhile they advanced him £2 9s. for maintenance. Then word came back to them that he was not a naturalised Irish citizen. That ended the matter. We could not get the money back that we had paid out for maintenance.

142. At least the Department was exercising Christian charity?—This happened to be a very difficult position.


Mr. S. Nunan further examined.

143. Chairman.—On subhead B.2— Travelling and Incidental expenses—you say that the expenses were less than anticipated. Can you say why they were less than anticipated? Were there not so many meetings held or what happened? —The travelling that had been estimated for was not availed of to the extent that we had anticipated. That accounted for a considerable part of the saving. In many cases instead of sending delegates we availed of the services of the Ambassador in Paris and of the O.E.E.C. First Secretary there.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. R. P. Rice called and examined.

144. Chairman.—The Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8, for information:—

Revenues Account.

6. A test examination of the Revenue Account has been carried out with satisfactory results.”

Extra-statutory Repayments of Customs and Excise Duties.

7. Extra-statutory repayments of Customs duties and of Excise duties amounting to £6,649 15s. 2d. and £1,112 13s. 1d., respectively, were made during the year.”

Remissions and Amounts Irrecoverable

8. I have been furnished with schedules of the cases involving a loss of £50 or upwards in which claims for duty under the Revenue Acts were remitted without statutory authority or passed as irrecoverable during the year ended 31st March, 1952. I have made a test examination of the items included in the schedules with satisfactory results.

The schedules show that the total amount remitted or passed as irrecoverable in the year was £3,140 1s. 9d., made up as follows:—





Income Tax






Estate, etc., Duties—











The distribution according to the grounds of remission or write-off was:—







On compassionate










Amounts irrecoverable.














Miscellaneous: Liability not enforceable,














145. Deputy Hickey.—With regard to subhead K—Motor Cars for Frontier Patrols—is it costing us £5,927 14s. 11d. for motor cars there?—It covers various things such as purchase, maintenance, running expenses of official cars, driving licences, driving allowances, premiums, and so forth. It also covers the purchase of new cars.

146. Chairman.—Under subhead M— Law Charges, Expenses of Prosecutions, Fees, Rewards, etc.—I notice that there was a decrease in expenditure whereas under the Appropriations in Aid, item 5, we realised a great deal more than was anticipated in respect of fines, forfeitures, law costs recovered, etc., and similarly under No. 7 in respect of proceeds of customs sales (seizures, etc.) Is that not so?—Yes.

147. The two things seem to be slightly at variance. What is the position?—On the inland revenue side, we have these prosecutions and all the charges would be shown there, so they do not necessarily tally in such a way that you can correlate the items you have mentioned.

148. I thought that perhaps your legal business was becoming more profitable, that you were cutting your expenses and getting more in. Is that not the position? —No. Of course, we also charge under that head the various costs of the Special Inquiry Branch. The costs are there but the receipts are reflected elsewhere.

149. With regard to subhead Q—Losses by Default, Fraud and Accident—considering the amount of money your Department handles, is the figure under this subhead not very, very low?

Deputy O’Sullivan.—It is very low.

Mr. Rice.—Yes. I like the way you say that, but, unfortunately, when you come to read our notes you may find that it is not quite so nice.

150. Chairman.—Are you not covered by bond in the major cases?—Yes. There is no loss of money. I thought you were complimenting us on the fact that nothing was wrong.

151. I was complimenting you on the fact that nothing went wrong in those cases in respect of which you are immediately responsible and not covered. This does not mean that you are not as careful where you are covered?—We are careful in everything we do.

152. Under No. 10—Miscellaneous Items which appears on the top of page 15, we see an item of £548 17s. 1d. in respect of recovery of salaries of officers on loan. I take it that that refers to officers outside the service. In the ordinary way, there is no recovery when you lend officers to another Department. Is that not so?—I think we do get a credit for this.

153. Usually, that is not so. Why is it so here?—It is outside the Service, I see, so you are right, Mr. Chairman.

154. Deputy Hickey.—With regard to No. 10—Miscellaneous Items—under subhead R.—Appropriations in Aid—on page 14, do you not consider that a sum of £2,805 is rather a large amount to be covered by the title “Miscellaneous Items”?—I can give the Deputy the details if he likes.

I do not want them just now but I consider that £2,805 is rather a large sum of money to put under the heading of “Miscellaneous Items”, without giving some reference to the major items, at least.

155. Chairman.—I take it, Mr. Rice, that, in this case, the sum covers a large number of small items, or are any of them considerable?—Some of them are considerable. If you will look at the realised figure rather than the estimated figure you will see that we realised £5,819 4s. 7d. At the top of page 15 are set out details of the miscellaneous items. For instance, fees under Merchant Shipping Acts amounted to £28 15s. Bill of Entry receipts came to £3,420 18s. We give information to traders as regards quantities of goods under various titles such as spirits, wines coming in, and so forth. Some traders want this information for business purposes but we have to make a charge to recoup the cost of compiling the information.

Deputy Hickey.—Yes, the information on page 15 is sufficient.

The witness withdrew.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe called and examined.

Chairman.—We wish to welcome you, Mr. Ó Muirthe, on this your first occasion to appear before this Committee.

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

156. Deputy Hickey.—With regard to subhead B.2—Travelling and Incidental Expenses—is there any way of separating the travelling expenses from the incidentals?

Chairman.—Could you, Mr. Ó Muirthe, give us the figure for travelling expenses?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—The travelling expenses would comprise much the greater part of that expenditure, that is, the travelling expenses incurred by our inspectors in the course of their ordinary duties.

157. Deputy Hickey.—How many inspectors are there?—Altogether we have 67. We have eight senior inspectors, eight divisional inspectors, three deputy chief inspectors, and so forth.

158. Do they deal with particular zones?—There are eight divisions in the country. The three deputy chief inspectors share the country among themselves.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe further examined.

159. Chairman.—Paragraph 42 from the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Subhead A.3—Preparatory Colleges, etc.

The average boarding cost per student in the school year 1951-52 ranged from 15/- to 20/- per week as compared with 14/9 to 18/1 per week for the previous year. The average fee paid by the students was £20 8s. 4d. as compared with £19 12s. 2d. for the previous year.

Accounts have been furnished to me showing the receipts and expenditure for the school year 1951-52 in connection with the farms and gardens attached to the colleges. Three of the accounts disclose deficits and three show excesses of receipts over expenditure. Periodical inspections of the farms are carried out by officers of the Department of Agriculture, and their reports are available to me.”

Mr. Wann.—That is for information.

160. Chairman.—Paragraph 43 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Subhead D—Superannuation, etc., of Teachers.

Paragraph 6 of the National School Teachers’ Superannuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Scheme, 1940, provides that a person who is entitled to a teacher’s pension under the National School Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme, 1934, and to a military pension under the Military Service Pensions Acts, 1924 to 1934, shall not be entitled to reckon the same period of time for the purpose of both pensions. A person who, but for the provisions of paragraph 6, would have been entitled to reckon a period of time for the purpose of both pensions may elect either to retain or surrender his military pension and, if he elects to retain it, no period of time which was reckoned as a service period or part of a service period for the purpose of his military pension shall be reckoned as pensionable service for the purpose of his teacher’s pension.

I noticed that in reckoning service for the award of a pension under the National School Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme, 1934, to a person who was in receipt of a military pension and who had elected to retain such pension, a period of time which had been reckoned as part of a service period for the purpose of the military pension was included. I am in communication with the Accounting Officer on the matter.”

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

Mr. Wann.—The pension in this case has been revised and the amount overpaid has been recovered.

161. Chairman.—With regard to subhead C.1—Salaries, etc., of Teachers in Ordinary and Model Schools and in Reformatory and Industrial Schools, and Grants to Schools paid on a Capitation Basis—may we take it that the excess here is a net figure and that it would be affected by some savings due to vacancies in the ordinary way?—Yes, it would but I think the saving would not be very much under that head. You would not have very much variation in the number of teachers in a year.

162. Normally, in a year when there is not extra remuneration like this, is there usually a saving on the salary subhead?—There usually is a small cushion.

163. Deputy Mrs. Crowley.—With regard to subhead C.3—Van and Boat Services—how is it possible for these services to vary? Surely the children have to be taken by van or boat?—That is so. It is very hard to estimate at the beginning of the year what demands will be made for transport services. Some of them are fairly static—for instance, the special scheme for conveying Protestant children to schools—but others may increase or decrease in a year. The other schemes for conveying Catholic children to schools vary somewhat, and even when we make provision for some extra services, it is sometimes not possible for a manager to get a contractor to undertake the service.

164. Chairman.—The note on subhead C.4—Incidental Expenses—says that the excess was due to payment of rent for premises used temporarily as national schools. How does that occur?—If a school is burned down, as does occasionally happen, the manager is encouraged by us to get, and very often of his own initiative does get, temporary premises which might be a private residence. I am referring now to the small school in the country. If the parish is not well endowed with the goods of this world, the manager makes an application for a Grant-in-Aid of the amount he has to pay, and we give him something in that respect.

165. Deputy Hickey.—With regard to the amount of £63,000, grants towards the cost of heating and cleaning, is that availed of by the managers in full degree? There are some schools, and one would be ashamed to let a stranger see how they are kept. What is the chance of having some kind of supervision by the Department of that work?—This Grant-in-Aid of heating and cleaning schools is very old—almost as old as the Department.

166. I am not objecting to the amount; I am speaking of the condition of the schools?—Would you prefer a grant for heating and a grant for cleaning?

167. I am not objecting to the amounts being lumped together. What supervision does the Department exercise with regard to the carrying out of the work? —We have our reports from our inspectors on the occasion of their visits, both to the manager and to the Department. We notify the manager that it has been reported to us that his school is not kept in a clean condition, and we ask him to take steps to remedy the defect.

168. What happens when it is not done?—It would be very hard to say that.

169. I know schools which are in a shocking state. If the taxpayer is contributing a sum of money for the cleaning of these schools, surely the Department is to be blamed if it does not see that it is carried out?

Chairman.— I understand that the case for the schools is that the Department’s grants are niggardly and do not go any distance at all towards either heating or cleaning.

Mr. O Muirthe.—The grants for heating and cleaning are limited—there is a ceiling—and they represent only half the actual cost. In fact I do not think the departmental grant represents half the cost.

170. Deputy Hickey.—If we provide money for cleaning, we should see that the schools are kept clean. As I say, I could give cases of schools the condition of which would shock anybody?—The manager has to fill in a form in connection with the heating and cleaning of his school. If it is reported that the cleaning has not been carried out, the manager does not get the grant.

171. Deputy O’Sullivan.—Could you give an approximation of the number of buildings involved?—Roughly 4,800.

172. Deputy Hickey.—You are satisfied that the cleaning of the schools is quite all right from the reports you get from your inspectors?—I am not at all satisfied.

173. From the reports of your inspectors the schools are quite satisfactory?— Do not misunderstand me. If an inspector calls attention to the fact that a school is not kept in a clean condition, we notify the manager, as does the inspector, and it is the manager’s business to act in accordance with the advice given.

174. And if he does not?—We can either reduce or stop the grant.

175. Have you done either of the two? —Yes, both in respect of heating and cleaning.

176. You have reduced the grant?— Yes.

177. What happens then?—We hope the lesson will be effective.

178. Do you then order that the school should be cleaned by somebody?—No; we have no authority over the school in that respect.

179. I am at a loss to understand why schools should be allowed to be as filthy as they are when we spend so much money at the other end on hospitalisation, treatment of T.B., and so on?— We only give a Grant-in-Aid towards the cleaning. The schools are the property of the trustees, who act through the manager.

180. Deputy Ormonde.—Is the amount of the grant limited to the local contribution and the average attendance?—It is, yes.

181. In the case of a particularly bad school, is there no Grant-in-Aid for such a school? Some schools require more by way of grant than others for their maintenance and upkeep?—We are on heating and cleaning.

182. The heating and cleaning of such schools require more?—In what respect?

183. A particularly bad school requires more to heat and clean than a fairly modern school?—I suggest that the remedy for that is to get rid of that school.

184. Deputy Hickey.—If there is a careless manager, there is no redress?— We do what we can, by letter and by action through the inspector.

185. Yes, but your inspectors go round year after year, and the schools are in the same condition, with nothing done. The children have to submit to the same conditions, and nothing is done by the Department because of the manager’s indifference to the whole situation?—I am telling you what we do—try to get the manager to improve conditions.

186. Chairman.—I will not ask Deputy Hickey is he is satisfied because I know he is not, but he appreciates that the Department does all it can legally do to interfere with someone else’s property.

Deputy Hickey.—I should like to see the schools kept clean.

Mr. O Muirthe.—All I can say is that I am in thorough agreement with Deputy Hickey. On the whole, I think we are improving, although the rate may be a little slow.

187. Deputy Hickey.—With regard to subhead C.9—Holiday Scholarships in Gaeltacht (Grant-in-Aid)—is the amount of £1,600 not rather small?

Chairman.—If you want to query the amount, you will have to do so in the Dáil.

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—That has reference to a special scheme for enabling children to go to the Gaeltacht during their holidays.

188. Chairman.—Is the increase in the number of candidates for training as teachers continuing?—There is no dearth. It is inclined to grow rather than to diminish.

That is very satisfactory.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe further examined.

190. Chairman.—Paragraph 44 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—

Subhead B.1—Incremental Salary Grant.

Rule 3 (c) of the Rules for the Payment of Incremental Salary to Secondary Teachers provides that the rate of incremental salary payable to a teacher under that rule may be increased by a special increment in the case of a person who holds an honours degree of an Irish or British university or a university degree or diploma accepted by the Minister for Education as equivalent thereto.

A teacher was admitted to a degree on 29th October, 1927, which was subsequently accepted as being equivalent to an honours degree for the purpose of the rule but, owing to an oversight, the special increment payable was not granted. As noted in the account, arrears of incremental salary amounting to £745 3s. 3d. have now been paid to this teacher.”

I take it that that is merely supplementary information?

Mr. Wann.—Yes, Mr. Chairman.

191. Chairman.—I take it that subhead B.1—Incremental Salary Grant—of £635,000—is the same as the similar item in the previous Vote, a net figure?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—Yes.

192. With regard to the statement on page 119, I take it that securities held by the Registration Council are the amounts at par and not the present value?—I think that is so. Of course, all these investments have been converted.

193. How do you mean converted?— They are all converted into 3½ per cent. Government stock.

194. Since the date of this?—Yes.

195. Deputy Hickey.—Does that mean that we got what we really paid into them in the transfer of them?—Yes, and there is a little bonus going with every £100.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe further examined.

196. Chairman.—Paragraph 45 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report reads as follows:—

Subhead A—Scholarships.

The sanction of the Department of Finance was obtained in December, 1940, for the award of eight scholarships annually to students attending Coláiste Muire le Tíos, but it was observed that nine were awarded in each of the years 1950 and 1951. In reply to an inquiry I have been informed that the covering sanction of the Department of Finance has been sought for the additional awards.”

Has that sanction been given?—Yes.

197. The only point is that I am wondering how it arose that you awarded

more scholarships than the number for which you had sanction?—The position was that 10 scholarships were to be awarded. In the early days six of these were reserved for students in the Gaeltacht. Then it was four scholarships and finally two; but the intention always was to award 10 scholarships If sufficient candidates did not qualify from the Gaeltacht areas, additional awards were made to students who qualified from non-Gaeltacht areas. Observing that in some years two scholarships were not awarded to Gaeltacht candidates the Comptroller and Auditor General raised the issue as to why an extra scholarship was awarded to a non-Gaeltacht candidate when only one candidate qualified from the Gaeltacht. The intention always was to award 10 scholarships.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe further examined.

198. Chairman.—Paragraph 46 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report reads as follows:—

Subhead A.6—Purchase of Books, etc. (Grant-in-Aid).

In paragraph 45 of the report on the accounts for the year 1947-48 reference was made to the proposed purchase of an important collection of Irish historical records and to the fact that, after the purchase price had been paid and the records lodged in the National Library, difficulties were encountered in connection with the legal transfer of title in the property. It was found necessary to obtain a court order empowering the trustees of the estate of the vendor to sell the records, and in the meantime the documents remained lodged in the National Library. The purchase money was placed on deposit in the joint names of the trustees of the estate of the vendor and the Director of the National Library. The sale was completed on the 13th February, 1952, and, following legal advice, a sum of £129 17s. 3d., being interest which had accrued on the purchase money from the date of the court order to the date of the completion of sale, was paid over to the trustees of the estate of the vendor in addition to the purchase money of £20,000. A sum of £385 15s. in respect of interest which accrued on the purchase money up to the date of the court order has been brought to account as an Exchequer extra receipt.”

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

Mr. Wann.—When reviewing the accounts for the years 1947-48 the Committee was informed that any interest accruing on the deposit would be paid over to the Exchequer. Apparently, since then it has been decided that the trustees were entitled to the interest up to the date of the completion of the sale.

199. Chairman .—What time elapsed between the court order and the completion of sale? I thought the position was that the Department was sitting waiting with everything done and all you required was the court order. Yet, judging by the amount, it looks now as if some considerable time elapsed? A sum of £129 17s. 3d. accrued as interest?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—On a £20,000 investment.

200. It would only be one investment, I presume?—I could not say. I can look it up.

201. It seems odd that when waiting for a court order to complete the business some delay occurred?—I cannot say the reason offhand. I will look it up and let you know.*

202. You could not say whose legal advice this was?—I think it is the legal advice generally obtained by a Department of State.

It would be the Department’s legal advisers.

203. Chairman.—Paragraph 47 of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Subhead B.1—Publications in Irish.

A number of works acquired in connection with the scheme for the preparation and publication of works in Irish, for which fees to authors and translators were paid in 1931 and subsequent years, have not yet been published. I have inquired whether any decisions have been reached regarding the publication of these works and the disposal of stocks of books which remain unsold.”

Mr. Wann.—This matter was referred to in the Report of the Committee of Public Accounts for the year 1944-45. The paragraph concludes: “The Committee would like to be informed in due course of the amount of any loss arising out of non-publication of manuscripts which have been paid for, and the disposal of surplus stocks.” At that stage there were 111 works still unpublished, and the Accounting Officer has recently informed me that of the 111, 40 have since been published, 23 others are at present with the printers and no final decision has yet been come to in the case of the remaining 48. With regard to the surplus stocks, a total of 80,000 on hands in 1944-45 has been reduced to about 30,000. A further offer of items at greatly reduced prices has been made, and it is hoped that a considerable reduction in the number of unsold books will be achieved before the end of 1953.

204. Chairman.—I presume that in the circumstances you are not getting very remunerative prices?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—I regret to say that that is true.

205. I presume also that you will not be able to say what loss, if any, there was until this transaction is completed? —That is right.

206. Have you succeeded in selling more since the date of this?—Yes.

207. What about the other manuscripts which you have not published? Have you come to any decision about those? —Some of those are under review. As to whether some of them will ever be published is another question. We have come to the conclusion that possibly it would not be worth while to publish some of them but, in due course, when we come to a final decision on these matters, we must go to the Department of Finance for authority not to publish.

208. Do you still purchase manuscripts?—Yes.

209. Do any of them get left on the shelf?—I hope not.

210. Chairman.—Paragraph 48 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report reads as follows:—

Subhead B.11—Centenary Commemoration of Thomas Davis and the Young Ireland Movement.

Arrangements were made with the National Film Institute of Ireland for the production and distribution of a film in connection with the commemoration of the centenary of Thomas Davis and the Young Ireland Movement, the cost of production, amounting to approximately £3,400, being charged to the account for 1945-46. Receipts from the distribution of the film in Ireland and Great Britain amounted to £906 4s. 3d., of which £59 0s. 11d. was brought to account as an exchequer extra receipt in the year under review and £847 3s. 4d. in previous years. I understand that arrangements were made for the distribution of the film in the U.S.A., but that no receipts have accrued therefrom and that all copies of the film have been returned to the National Film Institute of Ireland, where they are now held.”

I take it that this figure of £906 represents the total receipts?—Yes. Of course, receipts are still coming in. The film is still being shown in Ireland. The American venture was not a success.

211. What happened that there were no receipts?—I think all the revenue was eaten up in the expenses of the company that undertook the task.

212. What sort of arrangement had you with the company?—I think this company undertook to show the film in America. Apparently it was not too well handled there, and all the receipts derived from the showing of the film were eaten up in the expenses of the company. We thought it better, therefore, to get back the film. We may possibly try another company.

213. Were you able to satisfy yourself that their picture was the true one? Had you any opportunity to examine the accounts?—I do not think so. I do not know sufficient about it to be able to give any worthwhile information at the moment.

214. It was a commercial company in the United States?—It was, yes.

215. Deputy O’Sullivan.—There is still a demand for this film in Ireland?— Yes, there is.

216. Chairman.—Was it shown in schools and halls here?—That I could not say.

217. Deputy Mrs. Crowley.—Was it the 16 mm. or the full-sized film?—As far as I know it was the ordinary-sized film. I do not know whether it was transposed into the 16 mm. suitable for showing in schools and halls.

218. Deputy O’Sullivan.—With the development of the 16 mm. one would think it would be possible to have it available in that medium?—Yes.

219. Chairman.—Deputies might press that elsewhere. Paragraph 49 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report reads as follows:—

Subhead B.18—Purchase of a Collection of Irish Volunteer, etc., Medals.

A collection of Irish Volunteer, etc., medals was acquired for the National Museum at a cost of £935, of which £250 was paid from the grant-in-aid account for the purchase of specimens, and the balance, £685, charged to this special subhead which was opened with the sanction of the Department of Finance. As a sum of £299 7s. 1d. remained to the credit of the grant-in-aid account on 31st March, 1952, I have inquired regarding the circumstances in which this balance was not expended before a charge was raised against the vote.”

Mr. Wann.—The normal practice is that when exceptional expenditure is necessary owing to the exhaustion of a Grant-in-Aid, only the sum required after the full balance in the grant-in-aid account has been exhausted is charged to a special subhead of the Vote concerned. In this case the Department of Finance stipulated that at least a £250 contribution should be made from the Grant-in-Aid account. The Accounting Officer has informed me that museum purchases are obviously greatly restricted by the maintenance of the present Grant-in-Aid at the present low figure of £500, and it would be most undesirable in the interest of the National Collections to exhaust the balance completely at any particular time as moneys must be readily available for essential purchases, the necessity for which frequently arises unexpectedly.

220. Deputy Hickey.—Where were the medals laid?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—In the Museum.

221. Chairman.—It is the Finance people I would like to hear on this. Surely, in the ordinary way, the sensible thing to do is to exhaust the Grant-in-Aid and then look for extra money if it is required. Why should it be necessary to preserve a balance?

Mr. MacInerney.—The procedure applied to Grant-in-Aid services is very rigid. There have been a few instances in which a certain latitude was allowed for the reasons mentioned by the Accounting Officer. The Department has been cutting down these Grants-in-Aid over a period of years. It must be remembered, too, that objects of special interest may become available just at a particular moment, and if the vendor has to hold over the sale in order that money can be procured he may easily dispose of them elsewhere if a Supplementary Estimate were necessary to provide funds. In that way the Museum would lose.

221a. Chairman.—In other words, objects might be lost to the Museum by Finance delays if they had to look for special sanction?—It might not merely be a question of Finance sanction but also of Dáil approval.

222. In a case like this sanction from Finance will come reasonably quickly?— Reasonably expeditiously when it is needed.

223. That is what I would have thought, and that is why I wondered why it was considered necessary to maintain a balance in the Grant-in-Aid. You seem to be suspicious of yourselves?— The Grant-in-Aid was £1,500 not so many years ago. We do not want to be too restrictive.

224. With regard to subhead D.1— Publications in Irish—do you want to raise some question, Deputy Carter?

Deputy Carter.—Yes. I should like to know the number of books printed and published and the number held in stocks by An Gúm. I do not suppose it would be proper to ask for that information in respect of the last five financial years.

Chairman.—I think you would probably get your information more quickly if you put down a parliamentary question.

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—I could give Deputy Carter a general idea, but the figure would only be approximate.

Chairman.—I think, Deputy Carter, that a parliamentary question would probably cover that.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe called and examined.

225. Chairman.—Paragraph 50 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Subhead F—Appropriations in Aid.

In paragraph 49 of my last report, I referred to the decision, following legal advice, to apportion as from 1st July, 1950, between the Minister for Education and the responsible local authorities all contributions by parents, etc., towards the support of children in certified schools, whether received by the Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools or by the local authorities.

From particulars furnished to the Department by the local authorities it appears that sums amounting to £448 16s. 9d. were received by four authorities during the period 1st July, 1950, to 31st December, 1951. One-half of these sums was recovered by the Department by deduction from the proportion payable to these authorities out of the parental moneys received by the Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools. The net payments made to the local authorities during the year under review amounted to £8,128 9s. 11d., and £9,340 0s. 9d. has been credited to the vote as appropriations in aid.

Mr. Wann.—That is for information.

226. Chairman.—With regard to the note on subhead F-Appropriations in Aid—the difference between what you got and what you estimated for is due to that decision?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—Yes.


Labhrás Ó Muirthe further examined.

227. Chairman.—Do you audit the accounts of the Institute, Mr. Wann?

Mr. Wann.—Yes.

228. Where are you now in relation to the audit?—The last account certified was that for the year 1948-1949. I have only recently received the accounts for the years 1949-1950, 1950-1951 and 1951-1952. The account for the year 1951-1952 was received only a few days ago.

229. There seems to be some delay. Can you do anything about this, Mr. Ó Muirthe?

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—I am assured that the accounts for the year 1952-1953 will reach the Comptroller and Auditor General before the 1st November, 1953. All the other accounts are with the Comptroller and Auditor General up to date. There was very considerable delay in furnishing those accounts but I think that has been completely remedied. I am assured that the accounts for the year 1952-1953 will reach the Comptroller and Auditor General before the date on which they are due, the 1st November, 1953. I shall do what I can to see that that undertaking is carried out.

230. I take it that you are satisfied, Mr. Wann?

Mr. Wann.—Certainly.

Chairman.—That completes your Votes, Mr. Ó Muirthe.

Mr. Ó Muirthe.—Thank you.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. Thomas McGreevy called and examined.

231. Chairman.—I see you were able to dip a little bit into your balance during the year. Did you make any purchases of note?—Yes. We got a Madonna and Child by van Orley; a picture from Mrs. Dockrell—Portrait of her Father, Signor M. Esposito, by Celia Harrison; and an Annunciation by Pieter Pourbus. We also got a picture by Reinagle of General Congreve and his son which was already represented in a picture that we had, of Mrs. Congreve and her daughters. In addition to being of good quality in itself, that gives it a quality of uniqueness. I think all these pictures were pretty important acquisitions.

232. Could you say how much of the amount expended during the year was for purchases and how much for the repair of pictures?—Our purchases amounted to £4,537 10s. 0d. The actual repairs amounted to £276 13s. 0d. The insurance, while the pictures were out for repairs, amounted to £193 17s. 4d. and then framing and all that sort of thing goes on inside the Gallery all the time.

233. I think the Department of Finance might very well let you keep the cloakroom receipts as an appropriation in aid. It would not break them. It would be very useful?—I hope to get more than that out of them, sir.

I think we all hope that. Thank you, Mr. McGreevy.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. C. C. McElligott called and examined.

234. Chairman.—On the Appropriations in Aid, can you say what the miscellaneous receipts amounted to and what they were?—The receipts under Appropriations in Aid amounted to £6,295 from local authorities and then there was £1,254 from miscellaneous fees. These fees are paid to us in respect of extracts from our valuation lists and for copies of our maps. We charge fees on a fixed scale. We got 1,688 requests in the year 1951-1952, and our average charge was 15/-.


Mr. C. C. McElligott further examined.

235. Chairman.—The note on subhead F refers to the cost of erecting trigonometrical stations. In connection with that, may I ask if you have been laying the ground for new surveys by any chance?—No. The point is that we co-operate with the French, the British and the Northern Ireland authorities for the purpose indicated. We give all the technical assistance at our disposal.

236. I take it that you do not get a grant from them?—No. It is the practice for ordnance surveys of all adjacent countries to co-operate with each other, and help as much as possible in all these technical matters.

237. If, by any chance, there was ever a new survey here, would the work done on this be of any help?—Yes. It is of great assistance to us. For one thing, it trains our men in this very difficult art.

238. What is the explanation with regard to the sale of surplus zinc plates?—These were plates which we no longer needed. They were old stock, and when we decided to get rid of them, we asked for tenders and sold them to the highest bidders.

239. There is also a note about the loss of a Zeiss level. I see that the officer concerned was fined. That seems an extraordinary thing to do?—The word “fine” is perhaps too harsh a term, but if any of our men lose any small items we make them refund half the cost. In a case, however, where they lose an article of higher value such, for example, as a Zeiss level, we consider each case on its merits and fix the amount which the man has to pay. This man, I may say, had no grievance as regards the amount.

If he had no grievance then I suppose there is not much point in my raising it.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. J. S. Martin called and examined.

240. Chairman.—Are charitable bequests still coming in to you?—I would say that, while the well has been maintained, the contents of it have altered somewhat with the passing years. That is to say, that the secular nature of charities has altered. The tendency is now more towards religious bequests. May I illustrate that by quoting some figures? During the month of December, 1952, we inspected 248 extracts or charitable bequests. We sub-divided them into their various subsections, and, of these 248 bequests, 19 were for the benefit of the poor, 27 were either for educational, hospital or public purposes and 202 were religious, the nature of the religious bequests being for the celebration of Masses, the upkeep of churches and the maintenance of foreign missions. The Committee will notice that there has been a change in the nature of charity. I should say that charitable bequests are increasing.

241. What amount would you have under your control?—Our funds on the 31st December last amounted to £1,599,951. The amount increases, approximately, by £20,000 to £30,000 each year. The funds represent, principally, perpetual trusts: that is to say, the income is applicable for a multitude of charitable purposes ranging from the parish poor to perpetual Masses or the upkeep of particular institutions.

242. Has your Department the function of deciding whether or not a bequest is a charitable one?—No. We merely apply judicial principles. We are not really a judicial body.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. Diarmid Coffey Called and examined.

243. Chairman.—You have not any keeper of State papers?—No. The keeper of State papers, who was originally the Master of the Rolls, is now the Minister for Justice. The assistant deputy keeper is the officer of highest standing in the office.

244. Have you got a deputy keeper? —No. Mr. Morrissey was for many years the assistant deputy keeper in charge of the office and eventually he was appointed deputy keeper. When he retired, for reasons of economy, they retained me in charge of the office as assistant deputy keeper.

245. On subhead B, the note says that the excess indicated was due to unanticipated expenditure on a valuable collection of documents. What were the documents referred to?—These were a collection of extracts mostly from parish registers in the Diocese of Cloyne made by the late Colonel Grove White. There were between 40 and 50 volumes, many relating to parishes where the parish records had perished in 1922.

246. Perhaps if you were to get round them again they might keep a deputy keeper?—That would be very pleasant.

The witness withdrew.


Dr. W. J. Coyne called and examined.

247. Chairman.—As regards the appropriations in aid, on what basis do you account for the farm produce that is used? Do you use current market prices?—A little less than current market prices on account of the labour being free. There is not very much labour now.

248. I believe that is fairly common in such institutions as this?—It is part of the modern trend. They will not work on the farms nowadays.

249. Deputy Mrs. Crowley.—The appropriations in aid refer to receipts from leatherwork, rug and mat-making. Are the patients allowed to choose what they will do, or are they compelled to do certain kinds of work?—No. They have complete freedom of choice. Some of them do work for themselves. They get their relatives to bring in materials to them and they make things for themselves, and in that way make a little money for themselves. For example, one man has made eight boats since he came in. He sells them at between £45 and £50 each. Some of the patients work on the farm, and others, as I say, take in materials to do work for themselves. Our business is to try and accommodate them as much as possible, but there is no compulsion whatever.

250. Are they allowed to go out in charge of attendants and work on outside farms?—No. This is a Criminal Lunatic Asylum and the Act says that the patients must be kept in strict custody. I know that in some mental hospitals patients are allowed to go outside, but we cannot allow our patients to go outside the walls.

251. Chairman.—Has the number of patients varied much from the number given here?—The number has gone down from 112 in 1948 to 94 at present. There were five discharges and the remainder is accounted for by deaths.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.

* See Appendix V.

See Appendix VI.

* See Appendix VII.