Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1951 - 1952::22 July, 1953::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Dé Céadaoin, 22ú Iúil, 1953.

Wednesday, 22nd July, 1953.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:


P. A. Brady,





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. Mooney (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Diarmuid Ó hÉigceartuigh called and examined.

360. Chairman.—On subhead C, could you tell us the effect of the extra advertising? Did you succeed in getting staff?

—We got a certain number, but nothing like our requirements.

361. Would you say that you were seriously embarrassed by shortage of staff? —So far as the mechanical engineering end is concerned, we were. We had just half the authorised staff in May, 1951, and we are still short.

362. Deputy McGrath.—Are you not offering them enough?—I do not know. There are two difficulties about engineering staff. One is that the opportunities for training, particularly in regard to diesel fitting and big mechanical plant and so on, are limited. The University course is longer than the civil engineering course and students are not as anxious to take it. Also, there appears to be an impression—probably true—that there is a greater field of activity available abroad than there is here.

363. Chairman.—We had a discussion last year on the question of remuneration of staff. I think you gave a figure of £420 as the gross salary in the first year?— Yes. The figure has been increased since by reason of the arbitration award, and at the moment the starting salary for a mechanical engineer of the lowest grade is £520 actual.

364. There are notes on page 18. There is a note with reference to the Irish Employers’ Mutual Insurance Association, Limited. Could you tell us what has happened about that? You were taking it to the Supreme Court?—The judgment of the Supreme Court in that case was handed down on the 3rd July this year. It rejected our claim for State priority of the debt. I have not seen the text of the judgment, but I gather that is its general effect.

365. Would you have any idea yet as to what the effect of that will be?— It means that our claims will have to take their course with all the other claims. As far as it appears to me—I am speaking from figures that have not been verified—the dividend will probably not reach 10/- in the £. I base that statement on some figures that were given before Mr. Justice Budd when authority was sought to accept a payment of £12,000 from Lloyds. In the course of his judgment, he mentioned certain figures, and it looks from those figures that the dividend will not be more than 10/- in the £, if it is as much as that.

366. That, I Presume, would affect the gross amount? Would the amounts that you hold in suspense be taken as assets of the Association, or will you get 10/-in the £ on your net balance?—I think that was argued before, and it was agreed that we would be entitled to set-off.

367. Chairman.—They would not be considered as assets of the company?— No.

368. On page 19 there is a reference to the Letterkenny Railway. Could you say if the amount will now be affected by the recent closing down?—We sold our interest in the Letterkenny Railway recently. The £5 9s. mentioned on page 19 is merely an audit fee and some printing charges. We audit the accounts, and there were some scrivenery charges as well. That is all included in the £5 9s. We were mortgagees in possession of the Letterkenny Railway. It was built a long time ago under two loans, one of £50,000 and the other of £35,000. It was financed in that way. The first loan was made under the Public Works Act, and that fell into arrear very early. The second loan was guaranteed on some of the baronies in Donegal and, I think, in Derry, and that loan was cleared up. We entered into an arrangement with the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway to operate the line. It is a line that runs from Letterkenny to Farland Point. It is a junction line joining the Derry-Buncrana line to Letterkenny. The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Company had an agreement with the Commissioners of Public Works to pay them a proportion of the receipts of the line, but during the First World War when the British Government took charge of the railways that became a token figure, based on the calculations of previous returns. From year to year the charge has been wiped but because there was no money there to pay it. Recently, in order to enable the line to be closed—the Londonderry and Lough Swilly people were anxious to hold on to the station house and a few other buildings which they use for bus traffic, I think—we made an arrangement with them to sell our interest in the line. The transaction was closed actually on the 30th June last.

369. Deputy Cunningham.—I take it, now that the closing down has taken place, that any house property on that section of the L.S.R. will be sold?— They have been sold to the company—to the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company.

370. What was the amount paid?—The net figure was, I think, £12,500.

371. Chairman.—How will that be brought to account?—I think as Extra Exchequer receipts.

372. Deputy Cunningham.—Was it done by public advertisement?—No. It was done by valuation by the Department of Industry and Commerce valuer.

373. Deputy Hickey.—Why was it not done by advertisement and public competion?—You could not sell it.

374. You could not?—Actually, nobody would buy the railway line.

375. Deputy Cunningham.—My view is that the house property had quite some value. I know some of the houses there and the stations. There are about five or six houses, or possibly more. I know that if they were put up for sale, independent of a railway, they would realise a considerable figure. Is that not so?—But the railway had considerable liabilities, too. There is the maintenance of the line and of the bridges, and there is the question of compensation to staff that were dis-employed. Actually, they were liabilities of the railway that had to be set off against assets when arriving at a price.

376. Deputy Hickey.—But were the assets advertised for open competition?— No.

377. In what way would that interfere with the liabilities of the railway?—The railway is a company, and its assets are part of the company’s assets. The Commissioners of Public Works own the whole company, as mortgagees. The only power they had to sell was that they could give title under a special Act of Parliament to the whole railway company.

378. If there was property for sale, too, why was that property not advertised?—Nobody would touch it.

379. You have not any knowledge of that. Is that not so?—Seeing that the railway has been closed down, I do not think that it is an asset. I should say, also, that our main interest was to recover as much money as possible.

380. Would one way of doing that not be by advertising the property for purchase in the open market?

381. Chairman.—I think the Deputies are concerned, Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh, lest some of the assets were worth more than was realised for them. Was there any compulsion to offer the entire thing in one lot or could you sell it piecemeal?—I should not like to say that. The legal position is not very simple

Deputy Hickey.—It is obvious that we were not compelled to sell it en bloc.

Chairman.—I do not know anything about railway companies. I only asked the question to try to simplify the matter.

Deputy Hickey.—I know that, but I take it that lines, tracks and all the steel that was there was sold for scrap.

382. Chairman.—I presume that the rails are being sold for scrap. Is that so? —Yes.

383. Deputy Cunningham.—I tried to study the history of this. I found that, on the setting up of this State, it was handed over to the Government with the Burtonport part of the line. That is the position, so far as I am aware. However, to my mind, one would get willing customers for the rails and the house property. When lifted, the rails are valuable. The house property such as gate lodges, station houses, and so forth, are good solid stone buildings and are pretty valuable. It is a pity that all the houses were not put up, en masse, for sale. What do you think?—The position is that the only way of getting rid of the liabilities of the Letterkenny Railway was to sell it as a railway company and get it closed down. Otherwise, there would be a statutory obligation—and who would fulfil it? —to run trains on it.

384. Could it not have been left until the closing-down took place?—It so happened that it could not be closed down. The Commissioners of Public Works were not in a position to apply for a closing order.

385. Chairman.—Could you expand on that, Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh? What do you mean by saying that they were not in a position to ask for a closing order? —I am not very familiar with the Transport Acts. An application for the closing down of a railway company can be made only by, I think, the owners of the line or—

386. Deputy Hickey.—In consultation with the people in the area?—In this particular case we were the mortgagees or owners, if you like. The running company was the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company. That gave rise to complications.

387. Deputy Cunningham.—But the Derry and Lough Swilly Railway Company got leave to close all sections, including this one. Did they not?—Yes.

388. When that permission was obtained, could the sale of your part of the railway not have taken place?— We were advised that it was more desirable to sell it beforehand.

389. Why “desirable”? On what grounds?—That there was a better chance of getting value for it and getting rid of the liabilities which accompanied the ownership.

390. Your £12,500, then, would be regarded as the balance of the liabilities and assets. Is that so?—Yes.

391. What were the total liabilities and the total assets?—I do not know if I can give you that figure, but I can give you the nature of them. The assets were the rails, scrap metal, sleepers, poles, buildings and land. The liabilities were annuities and lump sum payments to redundant staff, the caretaking of the line pending disposal and the maintenance of bridges.

392. Is it possible to get these figures? You have them itemised. I take it that it is an easy enough matter to get figures for them. Can that be done?—I can send the Deputy a note.*

Deputy Cunningham.—I should like to get the figures for the assets and the liabilities.

393. Chairman.—Is it your contention, Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh, that this was the best way out of an awkward position, and that if you had not sold prior to closing down you would be left with the job of clearing up the mess?—Somebody would have been left with it.

Deputy Cunningham.—But was there a mess, Mr. Chairman?

Chairman.—I am not saying whether what was done was right or wrong.

394. Deputy Hickey.—Who bought the concern?—The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company.

395. Deputy Cunningham.—And will resell it?

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—They were not to resell it. They will sell the scrap. I presume they will hold the stations.

396. Deputy Cunningham.—So far as I know, there is only one place on the line that can be used for lorries. Is that so?—I do not know the district, and I could not say that.

397. Deputy Hickey.—What land is attached?—The land by the side of the line.

398. Where there is so much scrap, would it not be only fair that there should be a public auction of all these things?

Chairman.—That is usually the contention of this Committee. However, the liabilities were of such a nature that I understand from Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh that it was better to get rid of the whole thing in a lump.

Deputy Cunningham.—We do not know the liabilities yet.

Chairman.—Not yet, beyond their nature. But we know the sort of complications that arise from these liabilities. Take, for instance, the maintenance of bridges.

399. Deputy Cunningham.—After the closing down, who is responsible for the maintenance of the bridges?—The Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company will have to get rid of their liabilities in that respect. They have the liability now, and will have to make arrangements, probably with the county council.

400. Deputy Hickey.—I just thought that the county council would keep the bridges in repair afterwards. There would not be any liability on the purchasers.

Chairman.—That would depend on circumstances. If there was a railway bridge over a road, the county council could dismantle it. They would not have to maintain it.

Deputy Hickey.—If a bridge is serving a useful purpose then, to my mind, the county council would not dismantle it.

Chairman.—A derelict railway bridge over a road could hardly be described as serving a useful purpose. However, all that is a matter for the Donegal County Council.

Deputy Hickey.—I object to disposing of property such as that without advertisement and public auction. I do not agree that the way in which the property was disposed of was the correct way.

Chairman.—Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh has offered to send us a list of the assets and liabilities, and then we shall have a better chance of considering the whole position

401. Deputy Hickey.—Subhead B of this Vote relates to travelling expenses. I see that the expenditure was £27,592 11s. Could the Committee have details as to how that money was expended?

Chairman.—I presume that the Comptroller and Auditor General has seen the details.

402. Deputy Hickey.—Do these travelling expenses relate only to the officials and engineers? Can we take it that no transportation of employees, and so forth, is involved in the amount of £27,592 11s. for travelling expenses?

Chairman.—The best thing I can suggest is to consult the Estimate and see for whom the travelling expenses were provided. There is a note at the end of page 16 of the Appropriation Accounts to the effect that the amount of travelling by professional staff was less than expected, due mainly to unfilled vacancies on the engineering establishment.

Deputy Hickey.—That conveys very little information about how the £27,000 odd was spent.

Chairman.—You will notice that the Dáil voted £32,000 for travelling expenses and must have been satisfied that they were justified. It is not our business to criticise that.

403. Deputy Hickey.—Are details of the expenses incurred shown on paper to the Comptroller and Auditor General?

Mr. Wann.—They are all available to me. They are audited.

Deputy Hickey.—It is a very large sum for travelling expenses.


Diarmuid Ó hÉigceartuigh further examined.

404. Chairman.—Paragraph 9 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Subhead C.C.—Reserve Stores for Building Purposes, etc.

Stocks sufficient to provide a 12 months’ reserve for the maintenance of buildings were purchased and the expenditure amounting to £14,157 0s. 5d. was charged to this special subhead which was opened with the authority of the Department of Finance.”

What type of stores were these?—They were timber, firebricks, plumbing and electrical supplies and painting materials.

405. These were reserve stocks not to be used for ordinary day-to-day work—a special reserve?—A special reserve, yes.

406. How soon would you use them up? When would they come into use?— They would normally come into use when the emergency for which they were purchased appeared to have gone. These stocks were purchased when it was anticipated, in view of the rearmament programme and the general situation abroad, that war was possible.

407. Where was the timber stored?— The timber is stored in Iveagh House. There is not a very big lot of it, but it is stacked there.

408. The reason I mention it is that the Donegal County Council had a store of timber which, in the end, had to be cleared out because there was woodworm in the store. I was wondering if all precautions were taken in this case to make sure that the timber did not deteriorate?—It is very carefully stacked and watched.

409.— Deputy Brady.—Has any been used up since?—It is still in reserve.

410. All of it?—Yes.

411. Deputy Hickey.—How long has it been there?—It was paid for in 1951-52, and, therefore, must be there for two years.

412. Deputy Brady.—There has not been any opportunity of using it since? The period seems rather long, although I appreciate that it was the emergency which gave rise to its purchase?— Recently, there has been an indication that things are getting closer to normal, and when that stage arrives one always gives consideration to the transfer of reserve stocks to current use.

413. Chairman.—In any event, timber, so long as it is safe, improves with keeping?—If it is properly stacked, it does not deteriorate.

414. Chairman.—Paragraph 10 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General sets out:—

Subhead F.F.—Emergency Fuel Stores.

The charge to this special subhead, which was opened with the sanction of the Department of Finance, represents expenditure on fuel purchased but not allocated to Departments during the year. Expenditure on fuel issued to Departments during the year is included in the charge to subhead F.”

Does this refer to coal?—Coal and turf.

415. Did you draw all this or did you allow the same physical amount to remain?—No; this is drawn immediately the year has closed. In the case of turf, owing to the fact that supplies become very scarce towards Christmas or thereabouts, we have been forced in most years to keep a dump of turf and any turf that is in store but has not been allocated to the Departments falls on that F.F. subhead. The dump is cleared as soon as possible after the close of the financial year.

416. Deputy Cunningham.—Could you say what proportion of that store is represented by turf?—I can, in this case. There were 2,300 tons of coal and 3,300 tons of turf.

417. Deputy Hickey.—Is the coal used for heating?—It is heating coal.

418. For heating all the Public Works offices?—For central heating, in the case of any Government offices in which there are central heating plants.

419. Deputy McGrath.—Is that mainly in Dublin?—It is practically all in Dublin.

420. Deputy Hickey.—You will agree that much more turf than that could be used, when you are using 2,000 tons of coal?—The use of turf up to the present presented certain difficulties. We use coal for practically nothing except central heating plants and for certain cooking purposes in cases in which turf cannot be used—where special cookers are used. Up to recently, the use of turf in boilers presented very great difficulties from the point of view of ash, banking and so on. Considerable progress, I understand, has been made very recently in the development of a special type of burner, and we are at the moment investigating that burner with Bord na Móna to see whether it can be applied to our stations.

421. You have no figures as to the relative costs?—We have not had enough experience to say theoretically if the claims of Bord na Móna regarding this burner will be substantiated. Machine-won turf should be able to compete pretty well with coal, but we have not got sufficient experience to be able to give definite figures. There are two difficulties one runs up against. One is the difficulty of storage. There are a lot of offices in town here where there is not storage for turf. The other is the question of labour. The stoking is different. It is possible to use automatic stokers for coal, but hitherto one could not do it with turf. I think, however, they have now developed something of the same nature for turf.

422. Chairman.—Paragraph 11 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—

Subhead J.2.—Arterial Drainage— Construction Works.

Under section 9 of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, the Commissioners of Public Works are authorised to carry out such drainage schemes as are confirmed by order made by the Minister for Finance. The Brosna scheme was commenced in May, 1948, the Glyde and Dee scheme in June, 1950, and the Feale scheme in June, 1951. It is estimated that each scheme will cost approximately £1,000,000 and will take about five years to complete.

The expenditure on the schemes during the year was £301,282 1s. 4d. and the assessed value of services rendered by the use of plant and machinery amounted to £162,867 10s. 10d. The total cost of the schemes to 31st March, 1952, including the assessed value of services rendered by plant and machinery was as follows:—





Brosna Catchment Drainage Scheme




Glyde and Dee Catchment Drainage
Scheme - - - -




Feale Catchment Drainage Scheme




I notice that the Brosna scheme is rapidly approaching the estimated figure. Are you almost finished with it now?— We hope to finish it this year. So far as we can ascertain, there will be a very small excess on the original Estimate.

423. Which was £1,080,000?—Yes. It may run to £1,200,000, but it has worked out reasonably well, and we expect to finish it this year.

424. Deputy O’Sullivan.—On the conclusion of that scheme, may we expect that there will be an expediting of the work on the Feale?—No. They do not affect one another in that way because the machinery and men on the Feale are scaled to fit in with the programme there.

425. Deputy Cunningham.—It would mean the undertaking of some new project?—The Corrib was put on exhibition two days ago.

426. Chairman.—Paragraph 12 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

Subhead K.3—Central Engineering Workshop and Stores.

In paragraph 15 of my last report I mentioned that stocktaking at the central engineering stores had been postponed pending the introduction of a new system of store accounting. I was recently informed that the physical arrangement of the stores had almost been completed and that the work of stocktaking had commenced.”

How have you got on since? Have you the physical arrangement completed?—It is completed for all practical purposes and the ledger cards, the stock cards, have been written up. The old books have been totted and the balances brought forward. There are about 14,000 of these. In addition, the physical count for purposes of reconciliation has been going on for some time and I should say that it is probably about one-third through at the moment. It is being pushed forward as quickly as possible. The important part, consisting of the reconciliation of the balances in stock with the balances in the books, will start in a month or two.

427. Do you mean that you hope to have the physical count completed by that time or that you will start on the items which are finished?—On the items which are finished, but there are so many items that it will be more or less a continuous audit.

428. Deputy Hickey.—You have not at the moment got what are known as properly audited accounts?—Not at the moment.

429. Why?—It is a very long story.

430. How long has it been going on?— There has been no audit since we went into the building in May, 1951.

431. Therefore, you have no check at all up to now?—We have not got what you might call reconciliation.

432. That means that you have no check on the stock in or out? You have a certain check but no balancing?—No balancing. That is what we are trying to get at.

433. Since 1951?—Yes.

434. There must be many opportunities for irregularities when there is no check or balancing of accounts since 1951?

Chairman.—It is in progress and I presume that by next year there will be some finality and that our successors can then deal with it.

435. Deputy Hickey.—What is the approximate value of the stocks?— £125,000.

436. Is it not a most unsatisfactory state of affairs that there should be no check on any stocks in or out?

Chairman.—That is what the Committee felt last year and that is why the matter is being actively pursued.

437. Deputy Hickey.—What case is made for not doing this efficiently and well? Is it lack of staff?—There are three causes. There was, first, the shortage of accommodation; secondly, shortage of staff; and, thirdly, the sudden expansion of drainage activities. All three combined to create this situation. We knew very well that when the 1945 Drainage Act came into operation our existing store arrangements would not be anything like adequate, and as far back as 1943 and earlier we were looking for a site for stores and engineering workshops. We had negotiations for several sites but they were not successful. We finally got the site in Clondalkin which we intended to build on, but the supply position and world conditions became such that it was quite evident that we would not have the shop and stores ready in time. That is why we went to Inchicore. During the period from 1948, when plant and stores became readily available, until we got into Inchicore, we were entirely cramped for space, with the result that it was quite impossible to get the goods properly segregated and, as I say, the staff position became very acute. We had only half the authorised staff.

438. Seeing that there is £125,000 worth of material in that store, would it not be more advisable to concentrate upon getting a check of the stock immediately? For three years there has been no check at all of the stock going out.

Chairman.—I understand that is going on. This is a new premises. They went into it in 1951.

Deputy Hickey.—That is only doing it on the Kathleen Mavourneen system.

Chairman.—If you are not satisfied—

Deputy Hickey.—I am not satisfied. Here we have £125,000 worth of stock and there is no check of the stock in and out for the past three years. Can we not have some guarantee that the matter will be dealt with immediately? The matter should have been dealt with in three months, not to speak of three years.

439. Chairman.—I have no personal idea of how long it takes to do it. How many items would be concerned, Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh?

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—14,000 items.

440. Deputy Hickey.—Does this mean that there has been no check for the past three years of things taken out of this place by every engineer in the Department of Public Works? Is not that what is conveyed now? Here we have stock to the value of £125,000. For the past three years everybody has been taking out stock and putting stock in and there has been no check.

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—That is not right. Every item that comes in on purchase is recorded.

441. Deputy Hickey.—You have no check?

Chairman.—At the moment the Committee is concerned with taking evidence and not with expressing opinions. Our job is to establish what is the position and later on to decide whether or not we are satisfied.

442. Deputy McGrath.—When stocks are purchased for certain purposes have you any check that they are used for that purpose? I am referring more to Cork than to Dublin. When goods are purchased from builders’ providers is it docketed in the order what the goods are got for? Is it docketed for a particular job? Is that on the order? I raised this matter last year in regard to the storage at Cork.

443. Chairman.—Can you answer that, Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh?

444. Deputy McGrath.—Is the special purpose mentioned on the order?—It generally is, I think. What happens is that if a job has to be done the architect in charge estimates what materials he requires for it. He authorises the purchase of these. When the job is finished, if there is any surplus, it is brought in and recorded as surplus.

445. Is there any check that goods got for a certain purpose are used for that purpose?—There is.

446. It must be very lackadaisical. When goods are purchased form a builder’s provider for a certain purpose, I take it from what you say, Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh, that the purpose for which they are required is mentioned in the order. I want to know what check there is afterwards to ensure that they were used for that particular purpose and not for some other job outside public works altogether?—This arises from the suggestion that workmen, carpenters or some other type of workers employed in the Cork works were using some of the material on jobs which were not public works jobs. We were told that, but we were unable to get any definite information as to where the rumours came form or as to what jobs it was supposed to have been used on. We investigated the matter as far as we possibly could and we could get no evidence. That is how the position stands.

447. Deputy Hickey.—Hence the greater need for having a check on the stocks in and out.

Deputy McGrath.—I have no guarantee that what happened could not happen in Dublin as well.

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—We made several efforts to get evidence of the matter and we were quite unable to do so. We are always only too glad to get something specific.

448. Deputy Hickey.—As you mentioned Cork, is it not just as likely that these things will not be recorded in Dublin, where you have £125,000 worth of stock without a check?—The same position does not obtain in Dublin. All the entries and the exits, from the stores in Inchicore are docketed. The dockets are signed by responsible officers. The only thing that has not been completed is the counting and reconciliation. As far as one can see, the system is otherwise sound, but we have not yet arrived at the stage where reconciliation can be effected.

449. Deputy McGrath.—What system of checking up is in operation to determine whether goods got from a merchant were used on the particular job for which they were got?

450. Chairman.—Do goods got form builders’ providers in Cork come into stores or go direct to a job?

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—I am not absolutely certain. When goods are got from a builder’s provider for a particular job, the job is supervised by the architect and clerk of works. The architect estimates the amount of goods required. He see the job when it is finished and if there is any surplus he sees it is brought into store as surplus.

451. In Cork you maintain very small stores, about £120 worth?—Very small. There is a rule that there cannot be more than £200 worth of stock in any of these stores.

452. Deputy Hickey.—Does the same apply to other areas throughout the country?—No. Cork is the only place outside Dublin to which that applies.

Deputy McGrath.—I am not suggesting they went to stores.

453. Chairman.—How many officials would be concerned in any particular order if you were ordering cement, say, and it was going direct to the job?— There would be the clerk of works, the carpenter in charge and the architect.

454. If anything went wrong it would take the connivance of several people?— If it happened in that way it would. We had trouble before. If there was salvage stuff and a worker saw a small piece of wood which he regarded as handy for a small job, he might take that away under his coat. That sort of thing is almost impossible to stop.

It is not the prerogative of the Board of Works to have that trouble.

455. Deputy Cunningham.—One thing strikes me in connection with the point made by Deputy McGrath. Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh says that a full inquiry was made and that there was no evidence to show that these items were used for a purpose other than that for which they were intended. I take it that there was a specific job to be done and specific articles to be purchased. If an inspection was carried out, would it not be easy to check whether the specific articles purchased were used on that specific job?—It is not so easy to answer that, because these items might be anything from a hinge to a certain type of board that would be required for an item of repair. The size of the board or the number of hinges would be estimated by the architect or the clerk of works and they would be purchased. The proof that they were used in that job was that the job was finished. The architect sees the job when it is finished.

Deputy McGrath.—If a postman does away with a half-crown postal order they would not be long finding out.

Chairman.—You will appreciate, Deputy McGrath, that there is a difficulty in regard to the building business. If you specify that certain concrete should be five to one, and if somebody swipes the cement and makes it six to one, that would be very difficult to check.

Deputy McGrath.—I know a private employer who is able to check on it.

456. Chairman.—Paragraph 13 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

“I observed in the course of a local audit that a number of excavators and other machines had been in workshops for prolonged periods awaiting overhaul, and I am in communication with the Accounting Officer on the matter.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Wann?

Mr. Wann.—In the course of a local audit it was found that in some cases machines had been under repair for considerable periods. At the time of the audit there were 26 machines in the Inchicore workshop out of a total fleet of 130. Among the machines in the workshop in February, 1953, were: excavator 4/14, which had been last used in February, 1951; excavator 4/18, which had been last used in January, 1951, and compressor 70496, last used in November, 1950. These three machines had been partially overhauled and were awaiting spares for which tenders had been invited or were on order. Excavator 5/02 was last used in February, 1952, and excavator 6/09 in August, 1951. In these cases the overhauls had been completed and the machines were awaiting test. Excavator 6/01, last used in April, 1952, had been dismantled in preparation for overhauling. Bullgrade T.D.R. 1748 was last used in February, 1952. The routine overhaul of this machine had been completed and it has been passed for service. Excavator 1604, last used in 1951, had been overhauled and was awaiting starter engine spares on order. A number of other machines were awaiting overhaul and spares which were on order.

The Accounting Officer has recently informed me that the difficulties incidental to the development of stores organisation, including accommodation and staffing shortages, caused the delay in the undertaking of repairs on these machines and in making provision for the supply of spare parts required.

457. Chairman.—would you say that all this is due to your having started off with a new machinery yard?

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—Like the stores, there are three or four contributing causes. The delay in getting the new machinery yard meant that we were unable to bring the machines up and overhaul them and be ready to start work on them. Then there was a shortage of staff. We are still short of staff. There was also a very sudden expansion of drainage work and a very sudden growth of machinery in our possession. We were, if you like, caught in a trap. The supply position was very bad up to 1948. We could not get machines. We normally got them from England and there was no difficulty about getting spares. We generally kept the type of machinery used to a minimum. That meant that the men knew their machines and knew precisely the life of the different parts. Owing to the expansion of the drainage works and bigger works undertaken, we had to use larger machines. By reason of the difficulty of getting supplies from England we had to go to the United States and buy machinery with which we were not familiar and with which, in fact, nobody on this side was familiar. The manufacturers supply information to the best of their knowledge as to the life of various parts of these machines, but they are not always reliable. As I say, it took a long time to get the workshops equipped and they are not fully equipped yet. All that meant that there was a considerable delay in dealing with the problem of overhauling machines. The situation is gradually improving. The machine shop is being organised and it is pretty well in shape now. The processing of machines in the course of repair is practically in order and the control of stores, that is to say, the system of settling what minimum spares and what type of spares should be kept in stock is going on. The difficulty we found was that in 1948 supplies were fairly easily obtained, whereas about 1950, due to world conditions, we could get neither spares nor machines. That situation has not quite resolved itself, because some of the spares which were ordered in 1951 for one or other of the machines which the Comptroller and Auditor General has mentioned have not arrived yet.

458. Chairman.—In regard to the machinery ordered from the United States, what pressure are you able to bring to bear on a firm in the United States about spare parts?—Very little. You can only communicate with their agents here.

459. Do you contact the Department of External Affairs to bring pressure in that regard?—Yes.

460. The thing that worries me in regard to drainage machinery, and so on, is that, even where they are stored under cover, they can still deteriorate? The normal way of protecting them is to spray them with oil of a certain type. Do you do that with excavators lying a long time?—They are kept oiled. So far as the heavier parts like the caterpillars, and so on, are concerned, they do not suffer very much for the length of time they are left for repair.

461. Deputy Hickey.—Would they not get very rusty in a period of two years? —Yes, but they would rust even if they were working.

462. Chairman.—Of course, the difficulty this Committee experiences is that it is hard for us to visualise the whole situation. I do not know whether we have the power to move from place to place, but would it be possible for the Committee to visit, even in an informal way, the Inchicore works?—Certainly, we would be very glad. If you would let us know there would be no difficulty.

It would give the Committee a better appreciation of your problem and a better idea of the whole set-up.

463. Deputy Brady.—Has the position rectified itself to any extent?—It has considerably improved.

464. There would not be so many of these machines in the workshops at the present time?—We will always have a fair number of machines coming back. They will be coming back from the Brosna now, and they will be due for overhaul. Owing to the hold-up, it would be two or three years before we are able to overtake some of the work.

465. If you had all those machines ready you would have sufficient work for them?—That may not always be so. For instance, we have some big machines which have only a limited use, but we must have them. There are two very big machines on the Feale. Their work on the Feale is approaching completion. They are too big for the rest of the job and I do not think we will have any use for them until we start on the Corrib.

466. Deputy Hickey.—The paragraph refers to a large number of excavators which, I take it, would be in use if repaired?—Probably, but I would not be too sure. That would depend on certain circumstances. There will always be a certain number of machines out of use. There is, then, this other aspect that we do not expect the machines to work more than 40 weeks in the year.

467. You mentioned shortage of staff. What class of staff?—Mechanical engineers in the main and fitters with a special knowledge of diesel engines.

468. Do you manufacture any parts in the works?—Very few up to the present.

469. Is it possible for them to be done? —We are examining that. The trouble is that you want to make sure that it does not cost you more to manufacture them than it would cost you to purchase them elsewhere.

470. Have you any reason to believe that it would cost you more if the manufacturing were done in an efficiently-run workshop?—We do not know. We are not yet sufficiently advanced in our equipment to say that. We do make bucket teeth because we can make them more satisfactorily than we can buy them. We are examining some of the other parts to see how the cost of manufacture by us would compare with the purchase cost. There is also the problem that some of these are proprietary.

471. Chairman.—How many low loaders have you?—I could not say offhand.

472. It does strike me that there might be delay in bringing things in for repair if you have a shortage of low loaders?— I do not think there is. There are 129 or 130 excavators altogether. They are supposed to have a major overhaul every three years. That means you would be passing them through at practically the rate of one a week. We have not been able to do that up to the present. The result will be that there will inevitably be a certain number of these machines awaiting repair at any particular time.

473. Deputy Cunningham.—Have any machines been sent to the Six Counties for repair?—No.

474. Deputy Brady.—Would you think it is shortage of staff or difficulty in getting spare parts that is mainly responsible for your present difficulties? What is running through my mind is the position as regards spare parts. Is it as bad as it was in 1951?—It has eased a little but not appreciably. We are getting them, but there is still delay.

475. If you were able to get the mechanical engineers you require, would you have lots of work for them?—At the moment we are short of five engineers.

476. Chairman.—Paragraph 14 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Subhead L—Appropriations in Aid.

Receipts amounting to £21,938 12s. 2d. from the hire of plant to other Government Departments and outside bodies are included in the credit to this subhead. The estimated cost of overhaul of plant is taken into account in fixing the hireage charges, but the expenditure on certain overhauls considerably exceeded the estimates. I am informed that it is the intention to review the hireage charges when a sufficient period has elapsed to enable the general trend of the cost and frequency of overhauls to be reliably ascertained.”

Have you been able to come yet to any finality on this? There is a reference to a sufficient period and I am wondering has it elapsed?—No. The position about that is that the estimated life of an excavator is ten years. They are supposed to go in for an engine refit after one and a half or two years and for a major overhaul after three years. Until machines have been through the major overhaul at least once, we will not have a reasonable idea as to how the cost of overhaul compares with the estimate. You have to strike an average for the machines. Machines engaged on rock wear a great deal more than those engaged on soft material and the cost of overhaul may be greater. I have been speaking to our chief engineer about this and he says that, having regard to the fact that the machinery was bought in the main between, say, 1948 and 1951, and that we have not been able to run them through the workshops for overhaul at the rate we anticipated, it will probably be about 1956 or 1957 before there will be sufficient information available to justify a general revision. Machine histories are being built up and are practically up to date. These would reveal any alarming trend in a particular item and that would be kept under observation, but so far as making a general review is concerned, our chief engineer is of opinion that the necessary information will not be fully available for three or four years yet.

477. By that time the earlier machines will nearly have passed out of useful work?—Yes.

478. They will be coming near the end of their ten years of life?—Yes. The earlier machines will, but the number of those compared with the total is not so great.

479. Chairman.—In connection with subhead B.—New Works, Alterations and Additions—the Committee have a list before giving them details of the items.*

480. Deputy Cunningham.—In connection with the Houses of the Oireachtas, I noticed during the year a door was installed.

Chairman.—That is not the year of account. I think they are working on the restaurant at the moment.

481. Deputy Cunningham.—This actually happened last year. A single door was installed and subsequently that door was torn down and double doors installed. Are things like that repeated generally in Departments and institutions under the Board of Works?—I take it that some job that was done had to be changed.

482. The job was done in a certain way and a month afterwards the whole thing was taken down and the work done in a different way? I do not know the cost, but it must be pretty hefty. If that kind of thing is repeated in other Departments and institutions under the Board of Works I should imagine it would mean quite a big sum in wastage each year. Is there any check on that sort of thing? Are matters of that kind brought to your notice? Are you aware of the particular item to which I am referring?—I know the particular case.

Chairman.—I think in that particular case we will have to wait until the year in which the expense is charged to get information. A general question can be raised, but not particular items, if they do not come within the year under review.

483. Deputy Cunningham.—Have many cases of this kind come up during the year under discussion?—I would say there would be very few cases.

484. How many cases would there be in which a job was done in a certain way and then torn down and done in a different way?—I know of very few cases. They are all supposed to be reported to the Commissioners.

485. Deputy Hickey.—Engineers differ, I suppose?—That can happen or a mistake can be made. They can and do make mistakes.

486. Chairman.—Such mistakes might be due to errors in your Department and some might be due to original instructions?—Some would be due to our own. technical officers. They might not envisage what the results would be. A number of them could arise from the fact that a Department might change its mind as to what it required.

487. We will take this document page by page. First of all, there are a number of items where the amount of finance sanctions considerably exceeds the total estimate. I take it the figures given for total estimates are the original estimates?—Yes.

488. Would it not be possible where a change has taken place to give the final estimate rather than the original one? —There are certain types of cases that are done by stages and the original estimate is put down as the total estimate.

489. I am not thinking of that particular type. In item No. 6 the original estimate was £6,000. There is only one finance sanction and it is for £7,277. That item relates to the Custom House. How did the Department of Finance come to sanction £1,277 more than you provided in your own estimate?—I think that can be explained by saying that the estimate was £6,000. In the course of the work the £6,000 was exceeded and we probably approached the Department of Finance for the balance. I think that is the explanation of that item.

490. In item No .7, relating to Clondalkin, the work was abandoned after an expenditure of £21,923. Is that the gross or the net expenditure?—It is the gross expenditure.

491. There was a saving against that because you sold some steel work?— There is a small sum. The point about that £21,923 is that it includes an expenditure on a contract that was abandoned, but it also includes expenditure on the development of the site and the introduction of a water supply and that sort of thing.

492. Item No. 42, on page 4, shows that there was an estimate of £420 for the fencing of Coláiste Muire and the job was actually done for £150. Can you say off-hand what change took place—I could not, but I think it is fairly obvious that there was a change of policy. Probably the fencing was altered or the run of it was altered.

493. Item No. 82, adaptations for the London Embassy, on page 6: the building cost £76,000?—Yes.

494. And the adaptations were estimated to cost £93,000. What were you doing to the building? Were you taking it down and putting it up again?—There was an enormous amount of work. It was an old residence and it was damaged during the war. It had to be converted into offices and into a residence for the Ambassador. It houses the Passport Office, the Department of External Affairs proper and the Ambassador.

495. I would have thought that for £169,000 you could have built a very substantial building in London?—Nothing of this type.

496. Deputy Cunningham.—Will anything be forthcoming from war damage? —I think, in fact that has been received. There is about £8,000 war damage.

497. Deputy O’Sullivan.—What is the explanation for the postponement of these post office works, item No. 70, on page 5?—That is a change in plan.

498. The building has been acquired for quite some time?—It has, but the plan was changed. I take it the position is that our architects have not been able to reach it. I am pretty certain that the drawings are fairly well advanced. This statement goes back to 1952.

499. Deputy McGrath.—What work was done in Collins Barracks, married quarters, in Cork—item No. 77?—There were five houses with five garages built and four garages for four houses already built.

500. Were they for officers?—Yes.

501. Deputy Hickey.—At a cost of £5,000 per house?—There were five houses with garages attached and four separate garages had to be built. They were very expensive.

502. Was it the engineers in the Board of Works who planned these?—The architects.

503. Chairman.—On page 9, item No. 18, there is a provision for a meat safe. Is that an accurate description? It seems a lot of money for a meat safe?— It is a room actually.

504. On page 10 there is a rather fascinating item: Department of Agriculture, headquarters, facilities for serving morning tea. What type of facilities would these be?—They would be boiling rings and urns, I would imagine.

505. Is this the only occasion on which such an item has cropped up or have these facilities been provided on previous occasions?—It is quite common to provide boiling rings and kettles for staff. The tendency has crept in generally.

506. Deputy Cunningham.—Is there a canteen there?—No.

507. Deputy Hickey.—What time does the office open?—Half-past nine generally.

508. And lunch is at 1 o’clock?—Yes. I think the general hour for morning tea is 11 o’clock. I do not know very much about it because it is generally the ladies who have it.

509. Deputy Mrs. Crowley.—Have all Departments got these facilities or is it only the Department of Agriculture?— Most of them have facilities of one type or another.

510. Deputy Cunningham.—Are cups and saucers provided?—No, only equipment.

511. Deputy Hickey.—On page 1, item No. 4, Dublin Castle renovations: would the supply of chairs be part of those renovations? During the past year a number of chairs were put into Dublin Castle.

Chairman.—I think that would be a separate item.

512. Deputy Hickey.—Where will it appear?—It will not appear this year. It will not be brought into account until 1952-53.

513. I am referring to what is on page 20 of the Appropriation Account.—That will come into next year’s accounts. I take it that the Deputy is referring to bentwood chairs.

514. I am referring to the importation of chairs and the importation of furniture?—That particular item, as far as I know, does not come into this year’s accounts, but will come in next year.

Deputy Hickey.—In my opinion, there should be no furniture imported into this country for any of our State establishments.

Chairman.—There is another place where the Deputy could raise that question.

Deputy Hickey.—We were told in the other place that the Board of Works ordered them.

Deputy McGrath.—We were definitely told that it was an official of the Board of Works who ordered them.

Chairman.—The Deputy has been talking about the policy involved in purchasing furniture. I have pointed out that there is another place in which to raise that question.

Deputy Hickey.—When it was raised there we were told that, due to the action of officials of the Board of Works, the furniture was brought in.

Chairman.—Well, that does not take it out of the realm of policy.

515. Deputy Cunningham.—I take it the position is that, out of the sum allocated to it under the Vote, the Board of Works decides not only on the purchase of furniture but on the type of furniture to be purchased. I should like to know if that is right?

Chairman.—The Board of Works are the agents for the various Departments. If a Department says that it wants a certain type of chair the Board of Works can say: “That is not the sort we are going to give you.” I presume, however, that the Board of Works would normally have to give it the type of chair it asked for.

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—In regard to the various Departments there are, of course, standard items of furniture. The ordinary office chair and table are standard items. If a Department wants to get articles of furniture other than standard items it has to make a case for that. If we are not satisfied with the case it makes, we direct it to get Finance sanction before we supply them.

516. Deputy Hickey.—Before you give an order do you make every effort to find out whether Irish firms are capable of manufacturing the chairs that you require?—In fact, the quantity of furniture that we buy which is not manufactured in this country is absolutely negligible.

517. That is not what I asked. If you want any kind of a standard chair for an office or anywhere else, do you make every effort to see whether there is any firm in this country that can manufacture the chair?—We do.

518. That was not done in the case of the Castle chairs?—They were bentwood chairs.

519. Deputy McGrath.—Have you permission to order above a certain amount without getting the sanction of the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister?

520. Deputy Hickey.—You did not ask any firm in Ireland whether it was able to supply that chair?—Yes, we did.

521. When I said in the Dáil that you had not, it was not contradicted?—That is a matter which comes close to policy. There are cases where it would be very unwise, in the interests of Irish manufacturers, to disclose the steps you took.

522. The manufacturers kicked up a stink that they were not asked?—I know.

523. I am at a loss to know who is telling the truth. I was told that they were not asked and there was no contradiction of that in the Dáil. Are there officials in the Board of Works at liberty to order supplies and have them imported?—No, not without authority.

Chairman.—I must again point out to the Deputy that the question of policy is not the concern of this Committee. If the Deputy is not satisfied with the way policy in the Board of Works is carried out, then the Dáil is the place in which to raise that. All that this Committee is concerned with is to see that the money voted is spent in accordance with the terms of the Vote.

Deputy Hickey.—When I raised the matter in the Dáil I was told that the purchase was made on an order through the Board of Works.

Chairman.—Even that does not make it the business of this Committee. It might be the business of an Estimates Committee.

Deputy Hickey.—How are we going to prevent a recurrence of this practice?

Chairman.—By talking about it in the Dáil.

Deputy Hickey.—That is not my view.

524. Chairman.—There are a number of items on page 15 which refer to urgent and unforeseen works. They refer to the Department of External Affairs—to the furnishing of Legations. The amounts sanctioned are very considerable, but the amount expended in the year was small. I take it that these items would come into the ordinary part of your Estimate, rather than under the heading of urgent unforeseen works, in the succeeding year. This, I take it, was to cover something that was started during the year?—That is so. Normally speaking, they would come into the ordinary Estimate in the following year. There is a type of case where that might not occur, that is where it was anticipated, when the Estimates were being framed, that the item would have been completed in the financial year. In that case any expenditure would go to Minor Balances.

525. Take the case of work done for the Revenue Commissioners. On this, may I ask a general question about the construction of customs posts. Where a post is found unsatisfactory by the staff and they make a recommendation to have an alteration carried out, would that recommendation be made to their own Department or would it go direct to you? —It would be made to their own Department in the first instance. The Revenue Department might agree or disagree with it. If the Department agreed with it, then it would probably come to us to carry out the alteration.

526. Deputy Hickey.—May I come back again to this question of the £25,000 that was expended at Collins’ Barracks on the five houses and the nine garages? Does that figure include the cost of building the houses or is there any question about the cost of the furniture in addition to the building of the houses?—There would be certain furniture, but it would be built-in. As far as I know, the practice is that where we build new houses and supply furniture, it is all put in as new work. In the ordinary case, we do not supply furniture for officers’ houses except what would be built in.

527. This figure, then, represents the cost of each house?—Yes.

528. Deputy McGrath.—Were the houses advertised by asking for public tenders?—They were.

529. Chairman.—On page 16 there is a reference to work carried out at 21 Upper Merrion Street—a luncheon club for the Department of Lands. Is that a sort of a staff restaurant?—Yes.

530. I understood that the one in St. Stephen’s Green was to serve that whole area?—It was, but the number of civil servants using it was so great that it could not accommodate the whole of those in that area.

531. Deputy Hickey.—On subhead K.1. —Purchase of Engineering Plant and Machinery—have you disposed altogether of the Dundalk dredging plant?—It was sold.

532. As scrap?—Yes. We got £10,000 odd for it.

533. What was the cost of it?—The total expenditure, as far as I know, was about £12,200. It was costing £600 a year to mind it.

534. Chairman.—On subhead K.2.— Maintenance of Engineering Plant and Machinery—it seems to me to be evident from the figures that you were not able to maintain your engineering plant?— We were not able to keep up to our programme, but that situation has gradually improved.

535. Did you get certain expert advice on this from a firm of efficiency experts that was brought in?—Yes, we had a firm in for nearly a year, I think.

536. Where will the expenditure on that be accounted for?—I think under subhead A of the Vote. It will be included in salaries.

537. Would you not have thought it proper to have advised the Committee or the Dáil of this by drawing attention to it in a note? It is a very special circumstance. As far as I can see, there is no reference in the Appropriation Accounts to the fact that these experts were brought in. Can the Department of Finance say whether charges in respect of these people arise in the case of other Departments?

Mr. Breathnach.—Yes. They have also been making investigations in the Department of Agriculture.

538. Chairman.—Could you give us a note for this particular year as to what the expenditure was in the various Department under that head?

Mr. Breathnach.—Very good, Sir.*

539. Deputy Hickey.—Is there any chance of getting the number of engineers you have in the whole Board of Works?

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—The number we are supposed to have?

540. Deputy Hickey.—I only want to know how many you have?—That varies from day to day, unfortunately. There are temporary engineers and permanent engineers.

541. I went through the Book of Estimates. That is why I am asking you the question. I could not calculate the number. I would like to know how many engineers there are?—The shortage is mainly in the temporary staff who come and go. I could give them on a particular date. I am not able to give you exact present figures.

542. There is an indoor staff of engineers. How many permanent engineers are there?—I would have to count them up. There is a chief engineer—

Deputy Hickey.—I will not ask that question. I could get it from the Book of Estimates. It is difficult to know how many there are all the time.

543. Chairman.—I think the Deputy is anxious to know the number of engineers employed. Would you give us a note showing the number employed under the various heads in that year and we could compare it with the Estimates?—Related to the particular year?

Deputy Hickey.—And the number of engineers in regular employment in the Board of Works.

Chairman.—At the present date.

Deputy Hickey.—Yes, or even for the past year. It should be possible to find out the number of engineers we had employed.

Mr. Ó hÉigceartuigh.—I did not anticipate the question. I have the information available, and I can give it to you without any difficulty but, as I say, it will relate only to a particular date because the temporary engineer position changes. Men come and go.*

544. Deputy Hickey.—You mentioned a while ago shortage of staff. I am anxious to know how many engineers you have on the permanent staff of the Board of Works?—I can give it to you if I get time to tot it, but I did not anticipate the question and did not take a note of it.

545. Deputy Cunningham.—On subhead K.2, is it possible to farm out any of these repair jobs to outside engineering firms?—Very few of them, because most of this machinery is of a very specialised type, and the outside firms would not be fitted to deal with it.

546. Deputy Hickey.—Is it to you that the engineer in charge of those workshops is responsible?—Yes, he is responsible to the Board.

547. Chairman.—We have already discussed subhead K.3 on the note by the Comptroller and Auditor General. You refer in the notes to credits amounting to roughly £100,000 for work done. That would include work done for other Departments and work done under the various subheads. The amount provided in the Estimate for that deduction is £150,000, so that you got £50,000 less than you anticipated?—Yes.

548. The amount of the expenditure in the year was £183,904 5s. 1d., whereas you expected to spend £440,000. All I want to draw attention to is that the differences are not in proportion. I was wondering how that occurred?—This is a very peculiar subhead and we are examining it from the point of view of altering it. It has certain drawbacks. The expenditure is estimated under three headings, that is, wages, stores and workshop plant and machinery. The wages item very closely followed the Estimate. The stores and materials and purchases were very much less than anticipated. Purchase of workshop plant was very much less than anticipated. The deduction depends upon what you issue. The fact that our repair programme was slowed down means that the credit to that subhead is less than it would normally be. I think we will be in consultation with the Department of Finance about simplifying the layout of this Estimate. It is very difficult to understand and very difficult to estimate.

549. In regard to subhead L.—Appropriations in Aid—the note on No. 1 refers to rents and fines on leasing of Government property. I take it that the amount given for the fines on leasing, £3,545, was something that you had not anticipated at all?—Yes. £3,000 of it was property which had been rented and which we sold. The others are small plots that are required, say, by the E.S.B. for transformer stations and that sort of thing.

550. Deputy Hickey.—You only sold them to organisations like the E.S.B. You do not sell them to any private individual?—No. If we do, they are advertised.

551. Deputy Mrs. Crowley.—In connection with No. 7 of the Appropriations in Aid, do you still find it necessary to employ somebody to shoot the deer when the deer-stalking is let or is it only when the deer-stalking has not been let that you have to employ somebody?—We keep a deer-keeper all the year. He is a constant employee. He is required whether the stalking is let or not.

552. What happens to the deer that are shot? Are they sold or how are they disposed of?—If they were shot and if they were fit for sale they would probably be disposed of, but very often they would not be fit for sale.

553. Chairman.—There is a note on page 24—(1)—in which there is a reference to mesne rates. What are they?— I am a tenant and my tenancy is determined, but I remain in possession. The mesne rate is what I should pay while I am not a legal tenant.

554. The note says that mesne rates amounting to about £55 were waived?— We served notices of determination of tenancy on the occupiers of these houses, but they did not clear out. They did not comply with the notices. As they could not get other accommodation, we did not press them to get out, but we regarded them as still being under rent, but it was not rent under a legal tenancy. That is what a mesne rate is. I am not making it very clear perhaps, but that is what it is.

555. In note (12) there is a reference to the site of a former coastguard station. How did it happen that that site did not come under the State lands difficulty?—I believe it did, but we have a method of dealing with that. We had acquired the fee simple and the State tenancy was a burden on the fee simple title. What we do in cases like that is, we sell the fee simple subject to a lease for the period of the State Lands Act tenancy, and that goes before the House in the normal way. It is a legal device for dealing with property of that type.

556. Deputy Cunningham.—In regard to the sale of that railway line, is the deal completed?—Yes. The deal is completed. It was finished in June, I think.

The witness withdrew.


Risteárd Ó hÉigceartuigh called and examined.

557. Chairman.—On this Vote there are paragraphs by the Comptroller and Auditor General as follows:—

“15. Provision was made under subhead F (Urban Employment Schemes), subhead G (Rural Employment Schemes) and subhead J (Development Work in Bogs acquired by Local Authorities) for grants towards expenditure by local authorities on road and amenity schemes, etc., for the provision of employment. The grants were paid in instalments, during the progress of the various works, by the Department of Local Government acting on behalf of the Special Employment Schemes Office. Accounts of the expenditure on the schemes are subject to examination by Local Government auditors whose certificates are furnished to me in support of the charge to the Vote.

16. The expenditure charged to subhead H (Minor Employment Schemes) and subhead I (Development Works in Bogs used by Landholders and other Private Producers) relates to schemes administered by the Special Employment Schemes Office. In some counties the schemes were carried out on its behalf by the county engineers who account directly to the Special Employment Schemes Office for the expenditure incurred.

17. The scheme for which provision was made under subhead K (Rural Improvements Scheme) was mainly administered by the Special Employment Schemes Office either directly or through the agency of county engineers. Grants varying from 75 per cent. to 95 per cent. of the expenditure were made towards the cost of works, for the joint benefit of groups of two or more farmers, consisting of accommodation roads to houses, farms and bogs, small drainage works (excluding field drains), roads which connect two county roads, and the erection or reconstruction of small bridges. Only works which were estimated to cost not less than £40 were considered. The gross amount expended was £173,210 and cash contributions amounted to £22,517 5s. 10d. leaving the charge to the subhead £150,692 14s. 2d.

18. The amount charged to subhead L (Miscellaneous Schemes) comprises mainly the cost of improvement works on small fishery harbours carried out by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Special Employment Schemes Office, and the labour content of works approved by the Department of Industry and Commerce on certain commercial harbours.”

The only point is—in connection with paragraph 17—you are making a change now. The amounts are being brought into Appropriations in Aid?—That is so. It is simplification of accounting procedure.

558. In connection with Extra Receipts payable to Exchequer, what are the miscellaneous receipts?—They represent a number of different items, all of them small ones. For instance, there is bank interest on the imprests that we give to the county engineers. There are sales of stores that are not worth transferring when a job is done. For instance, minor marine works on the sea coast are in very inaccessible places, and the cost of transferring stores would be out of proportion to their value. Consequently, it is preferable to sell them on the site and the receipts would be included in this. Then there are some other small items, such as insurance contributions due to increased salaries and witnesses’ expenses, which are an unusual item. If a witness from our office was sent to court in a case with which we were not directly concerned and the parties who brought him down had to pay the expenses, these would be included under Miscellaneous Receipts. The bank interest is about £30. The proceeds of sales of materials on the type of scheme I mentioned amounted to something over £70. Witnesses’ expenses amounted to something less than £20 and insurance contributions for increased salaries to £23. That makes up the bulk of it.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.

* See Appendix X.

* See Appendix XI.

* Note by witness: The total amount paid by Government Departments to organisation and management consultants in the financial year 1951-52 was £5,504 (See also Appendix XIV).

* See Appendix XII.