Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1960 - 1961::05 April, 1962::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 5 Aibreán, 1962.

Thursday, 5th April, 1962.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:






N. Egan,

P. J. Burke,




DEPUTY JONES in the chair.

Liam Ó Cadhla (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) and Mr. J. McGartoll (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Mr. P. Berry called and examined.

417. Chairman.—This is Mr. Berry’s first appearance before the Committee and I should like to welcome him. As there is no comment by the Comptroller and Auditor General on this vote we shall turn to the subheads. On subhead A.2.—Film Censorship—are the films supplied to Telefís Éireann subject to censorship?— No.

418. How are the fees assessed for these films?—For Telefís Éireann?

No—the ordinary films?—This service is operated pursuant to the Censorship of Films Act, 1923, and the Censorship of Films (Amendment) Act, 1925. The fees at present chargeable under the relevant fees orders are: 9d. per hundred feet for topical and travel films; ½d. per foot for other films except educational films which are free of charge. The fees are varied from time to time by order of the Minister to ensure that income balances expenditure as nearly as possible as required by the statute.

419. Deputy Kenny.—On subhead A.3. —Censorship of Publications—who censors publications?—There is a board which was established under the Censorship of Publications Acts of 1929 and 1946. The board consists of five persons. They examine books on their own initiative or books referred to them by the public or from the customs authorities. From the decisions of the Censorship Board there is an Appeal Board. That in short is the system. Of course, they have a trained staff; they have a secretary and various readers.

420. Chairman.—On subhead A.5.— Irish Legal Terms Advisory Committee— is that committee still in existence? They have not been spending any money for some years?—It is in existence under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice. There are two secretaries, one a civil servant and the other a practising barrister. The fact is that while there is no expenditure, because the outside barrister has not been doing any secretarial work, nevertheless the work still goes on.

421. Deputy Kenny.—On subhead A.6. —An Bord Uchtála—what are the functions of this Board?—An Bord Uchtála was established in 1952. They make adoption orders in respect of children. These orders give all the rights of natural parents to the adopting parents. There are safeguards in the statute which provide that only children who are over six months and under seven years can be adopted.

422. Deputy Booth.—On the Note on page 49 in regard to the £5,009 received in respect of film censorship fees, why is that not recorded as an appropriation in aid to balance expenditure under subhead A.2.?—These are fees paid by stamp duties. They are not cash fees.

So that the money does not come to the Department. It has only a nominal value so far as you are concerned?—That is right.

It is an Exchequer receipt?—Yes.


Mr. P. Berry further examined.

423. Deputy Booth.—On subhead D.— Locomotion Expenses—the explanation for the variation in subhead D. is that claims arising from the granting of increased allowances had not been cleared. What was the delay in clearing these claims for locomotion expenses?—I am told that claims were dated back to 1958 and there was some difficulty in calculating them.

It was a retrospective increase and took more time?—Yes.

424. On subhead E.—Clothing and Equipment—we always find that, on other Votes, there is a credit under headings such as this because goods which are ordered never seem to turn up during the year under review. You do not have that difficulty?—I do not think so.

Deputy Clinton.—Would it be right then to assume that the number of people in the force has been reduced somewhat? —No.

There is a reduction all the way down? —No. The numbers in the force have not been reduced. The price of cloth varies.

425. Deputy Carter.—On subhead N.— Incidental Expenses—how far does the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals co-operate with the Gardaí regarding the disposal of animals?— Under section 19 of the Finance Act, 1927, expenditure in connection with the seizure and disposal of stray dogs and the annual grant for the Dogs’ Home run by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals became a charge on the Vote. The grant is paid in accordance with an agreement which was entered into by the Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Society as far back as 1906. A copy of the agreement is not available but it is known that it provides that the Society should maintain a suitable establishment for the reception of dogs seized in the Dublin metropolitan area. The Society would receive an annual grant of £400 towards the maintenance of the home. All moneys received by the Society for dogs sold and dogs claimed by owners would be paid over by the Society to the Gardaí. They are never satisfied, of course. They are always looking for increases and, naturally, we resist the demands as much as possible.

426. Deputy Kenny.—On subhead Q.— Appropriations in Aid—there is an amount of £1,427 attributed to fees for stamping of bottles. How are these fees collected?—At that particular time we had four sergeants in the glass bottle factory at Ringsend.

How was it collected?—It was collected in cash.

From publicans?—From the manufacturers of the bottles.

Deputy Belton.—But the publicans paid the manufacturers?—This has been abolished by the 1960 Intoxicating Liquor Act but at that time we had four sergeants on the spot checking the stamping of bottles and the receipt of fees in cash.

Deputy Belton.—You still get fees for stamping glasses, pint tumblers, and so on.

427. Chairman.—On the Appropriations in Aid, Note No. 1, in regard to Subhead H., what is the amount of the advances still outstanding?—I am told the amount varies from month to month and there is a floating sum of around £5,000.

428. In regard to No. 2, I notice that in the payment for services rendered by the Gardaí there is an increase?—These are occasions where Gardaí are employed, where the Garda band is hired out, or Gardaí attend at, say, Croke Park, and their services are paid for.

Is it extra services or increased charges?—Increased charges. An increased rate was granted in the last year or two.

429. Again on Appropriations in Aid, Note No. 7, was this estimate of £343 and the realisation purely coincidental? —Purely coincidental.

430. Deputy Booth.—Under Extra Remuneration, on page 53, it is shown that a sum of £130 was received by a Garda from the District Court Vote. Could we have some information on that? —He was acting as a District Court Clerk.

431. On page 52, under Appropriations in Aid, there is a note: “Repayments of sums advanced to Officers and Inspectors under Subhead H.” They must have got some advances?—Advances are normally made throughout the year, to be repaid in not more than four years. When the Estimate is being prepared the only firm figure is the balance of repayments remaining unpaid on advances made which will be repaid during the next financial year. The rest is conjectural, as sometimes officers who have intimated their intention to apply for advances do not do so; sometimes also an officer refunds an unpaid balance on his advance in one payment. This is where a superintendent, or any officer, intends to buy a car; he is given an interest free loan.

And that is repaid out of this?—That is so.

Deputy Booth.—He uses the car then on duty as well as using it privately?— That is right; and he gets an annual allowance plus a mileage fee. Under the regulations he is obliged to have a car. That is the reason why we give an interest free loan.

432. Deputy Kenny.—There is a note —No. 4—“Proceeds of sales of old stores and cast uniforms and forfeited and unclaimed property”. Is this a public auction?—Yes.

433. Chairman.—On page 53, Statements of Losses, there is a note stating: “In 17 accidents involving Garda vehicles the damage amounting to £707 was attributable to Garda personnel.” Was any of this money recovered from the Garda involved as a disciplinary measure?—Scarcely any was recovered by way of disciplinary action.

434. Lower down on the same page there is an ex-gratia payment of £946 to a contractor to cover import duty on stores supplied. In what circumstances was that payment made?—That was wireless equipment for Garda cars. It is a purely interdepartmental transaction. We pay the duty to the Revenue Commissioners on imported wireless equipment.

Deputy Booth. — Does the contractor then quote only the nett price?—That is right.


Mr. P. Berry further examined.

435. Deputy Carter.—On subhead B.— Victualling—it is stated, in the Estimate, that the cost of victualling was something like £39 13s. a head. Does that provide for three, or more, meals per day?—Yes.

436. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead C.— Clothing, Bedding, Furniture, etc.—the note says: “Supplies from the manufacturing department were not available to the extent provided for.” Were the supplies required but not available?— They may have been. Owing to a smaller turnover of the tailoring industry the amount required was less than expected. These things vary from time to time. Even the illness of a tailoring instructor would make a difference in the amount of work done or cloth required.

How is the deficiency made good? Is it from stocks?—Yes.

437. Chairman.—Under subhead H.— Maintenance of Buildings and Equipment —has the Office of Public Works any responsibility for constructional work in prisons?—That is mainly carried out by our own staff. We have a foreman of works and various artisan warders; and, of course, we use the prison labour. It is the cheapest possible way of doing any work that has to be done.

438. Deputy Carter.—Under the same subhead, there is a token sum of £20 for Sligo. I thought you had disposed of the prison there?—We have still got a very small portion of the prison buildings. It is an outside premises. We still own and control it.

Were you able to dispose of the main premises?—The main premises, in my recollection, reverted to the county council.

439. Chairman.—Under subhead I. —Fine Fund—what exactly are these fines and to whom are they paid?—There is provision in the prison rules that, when an officer is guilty of some misconduct or indiscipline, he can be fined. We do not call them fines, but rather “deprivation of salary”, or something like that. On the other hand, for good work, we can give warders, or prison officers, small sums by way of award or recognition.

440. Deputy Clinton.—Under subhead K.—Incidental Expenses—the note says: “Claims for which provision had been made did not materialise. Expenditure under this subhead includes an ex-gratia payment of £100 to a prisoner in respect of injuries sustained.” What were the circumstances?—A prisoner sustained an injury to two fingers of his right hand while adjusting a fan belt in the boiler house on 20th April, 1959. The foreman of works stated that all machinery was switched off at the time and, in his opinion, the accident was due to awkwardness on the part of the prisoner. A subsequent X-ray showed that there was no bone injury. After release the ex-prisoner claimed that, as a result of the injury sustained in prison, he was unable to follow his usual employment. He claimed compensation for loss of employment, estimating his earning capacity at £30 per week. On the advice of the Chief State Solicitor, the Department of Finance was approached to sanction settlement of the claim within an upper limit of £100.

441. Deputy Kenny. — Under subhead M.—Gratuities to Prisoners—what kind of gratuities are these?—The gratuity system was started about 100 years ago. Up to very recently prisoners got one penny a day for good conduct and industry.

Is that a gratuity or a wage?—It is not a matter of right. It is a matter of grace on the part of the Minister. I am happy to tell the Committee that the rate is now sixpence a day. In that year it was still one penny a day, sixpence per week. The money can accumulate until a prisoner is discharged. Now the rate is sixpence per day—3/6 a week—of which the prisoner may spend 50 per cent. on tobacco, cigarettes, and that kind of thing. A prisoner may allow the money to accumulate or arrange to give it to his dependants outside. On a 14-year sentence it could accumulate to a considerable sum and provide him with something to start off with on release.

Is there a tuck shop inside the prison? —He can spend the money on sweets, cigarettes or, indeed, on books if he wishes. That is the system.

442. Deputy Carter.—Under subhead P. —Manufacturing Department and Farm —what articles are manufactured?— Mainly clothes. We weave the cloth. There is mat making. We make mail bags. The kind of work at which the prisoners can be placed is very restricted.

443. Chairman.—What is the daily average number of female prisoners and how many female prisoners have you?— Offhand I could not give you the figures. In recent years we have not had more than a handful of female prisoners—not more than 10 or 11 at any one time. On occasions the number has dropped as low as three. If you ask me for reasons, all I can say is that there has, perhaps, been a change in the attitude of the courts to committals of women. Very often the number of officers is greater than the number of prisoners; but, since they have a 24-hour duty shift, that is essential.


Mr. P. Berry further examined.

444. Deputy Booth.—There is just one question. It arises on the subsequent Votes too. The note says a sum of £67,000 was received in respect of fees. Are these paid direct to the Exchequer?— Yes.

Even though the amount is paid in cash to the court it does not come into this Vote at all?—No.

It goes direct into the Exchequer?— Yes.





Mr. P. Berry called.

No question.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. Leon Ó Broin called and examined.

445. Chairman.—There are some comments from the Comptroller and Auditor General. The first is paragraph 80, which reads:

Subhead H.2.—Losses by Default, Accident, etc.

80. The losses borne on the vote for the year ended 31 March 1961 amounted to £27,879. A classified schedule of these losses is set out on page 150. At page 151 particulars are given of 26 cases in which cash shortages or misappropriations amounting to £1,791 were discovered; the sums in question were made good and no charge to public funds was necessary.”

Mr. Ó Cadhla.—This is the usual formal paragraph. The amount charged to the Vote is £27,879 as compared with £4,586 in the preceding year. Compensation for loss of or damage to parcels and insured letters is £3,744 compared with £3,124 in the preceding year.

Chairman.—Is the amount written off on this occasion a lot, Mr. Ó Broin?—I am afraid it is. Might I say, however, it would be incorrect at the same time to assume that something had gone wrong inside the Post Office system because the amount is large. Actually I was looking only yesterday at the defalcations going back to 1944-45. In one year, 1950-51, there were 28 cases while the amount involved was only £353. From the Departmental point of view I would think that was a worse year than one in which a very large sum of money went astray in one or two cases.

446. In regard to the explanation on page 150, there is one case involving £7,000. How was it possible for the postmistress in this small place to get away with this large sum?—The misappropriations in this and many other offices were mainly from Savings Bank funds. They were possible because a number of depositors trusted the subpostmistress beyond the limits of ordinary prudence. I could give the Committee, if they were interested, some instances of the sort of excessive confidence which facilitated these misappropriations. For instance, in this case in Cloghan, some twenty depositors had agreed to leave their Savings Bank books in the safekeeping of the subpostmistress. A depositor opened an account with a deposit of £400 and asked the subpostmistress to keep the book for her. Another depositor opened an account with an initial deposit of £225. She was given a Savings Bank book, but the deposit was not reported to us. The depositor apparently did not notice, or pay heed to the notice we have in the book that a receipt will be sent from headquarters for any lodgement of £50 or more. In another case the depositor left his book with this subpostmistress from 1951 until 1959, when the frauds were discovered. On one occasion he mentioned to her that he had not received a headquarters receipt for £100, which it is clearly stated he should get, but he was satisfied when the subpostmistress showed him what she said was a receipt. This is an area in Donegal where there is a great deal of migratory labour; very many of these people go to Scotland every year to earn their living and many of them trusted the subpostmistress to look after their affairs for them. Among them are people who are barely literate and the subpostmistress was able to do a fair amount of substitution of her own signature for theirs on documents.

Chairman.—I think the previous Committee also referred to the fact that too much trust by depositors might lead to difficulties.

Deputy Belton.—Would it be possible at this stage to state what wages are paid to the subpostmasters and subpostmistresses?

447. Deputy P. J. Burke.—Might it be possible to make it an offence for any subpostmaster or subpostmistress to hold a Savings Bank book?—It is an offence. We take most serious notice of it. Of course, it is only when something really goes wrong that we know they have been holding the books.

If a substantial fine were imposed on the person concerned it might deter them from starting to fiddle at all?—I think we would go even a step further: we would sack a subpostmaster for deliberately holding on to these books. Undoubtedly this is at the root of all these defalcations. If you look at the current savings book the very first statement on it is “Keep this book safely in your own possession” and inside are clear instructions, sometimes in red ink, about what is involved.

448. I suppose a public announcement would not have any effect because people might not read it?—As I said last year, we are rather slow to make public announcements about this matter. In this very exceptional year the total amount gone astray is high, but it is hardly worth taking into account when you consider the amount of money handled by the Post Office.

Deputy P. J. Burke.—Indeed it is a very small percentage.

Deputy Kenny.—What people are interested in is the amount of money entered in the books. If the figures are there they are quite satisfied, whether or not there is anything to meet them. They rarely, if ever, read the instructions. They treat the subpostmaster as a kind of bank manager.

Deputy P. J. Burke.—I wonder should a notice be put up in every post office saying it is illegal for subpostmasters or subpostmistresses to hold books for depositors, although I think this is really merely a storm in a teacup?—We touched on this last year. The trouble is that we have so many excellent subpostmasters and subpostmistresses that we would not like to put up anything in their offices that would reflect upon them.

Deputy Clinton.—Do depositors who foolishly allow this sort of thing to happen ever be at any loss themselves? —I suppose we have the option to penalise them but our practice has been to pay up. We offer to take their money and we must carry the responsibility that goes with that.

449. Deputy Booth.—I cannot quite see how the amount of £1,791 is made up. At page 151 particulars are given of 26 cases in which cash shortages and misappropriations amounting to £1,791 were notified. It says the sums in question were made good and no charge to public funds was necessary. I do not see any reference to the items on page 150. Are they entirely separate?—You will find it on page 151.

On page 151 there is £1,791. Are those the only ones in which no charge to public funds arose?—There is a breakdown on page 151.

There is, but that is entirely separate from the ones on page 150?—It is entirely separate from those on which there is a charge on public funds.

450. On the top of page 151 there is a reference to stamps presented—this was a matter I raised on the last occasion— and that is of course purely the face value of the stamps?—Yes, the nominal value.

It seems to me odd that they should go in as a loss. The reply I got the last time was that if those stamps had been sold, they would have realised that amount of money?—Yes.

In actual fact it is not like the stock of any normal commodity, which has an intrinsic value of its own. When statements are public statements and you find the losses on this Vote are £27,000, it is enough to cause very adverse criticism, I think, quite wrongly. Is there any way in which the distribution of the stamps could be excluded from the statement of losses? —Actually the method of accounting for the presentation of stamps will be different in this year’s account. They will be accounted for by a suitable adjustment in the postage stamp stock account and will not fall into the Vote or revenue account.

Deputy Booth.—That is my point.

451. Deputy Belton.—I notice on subhead H.2.—Losses by Default, etc.—that no credit is given in cases where portion of salary is withheld for the amount withheld. The figure in regard to Cloghan is £7,252. To my mind that should read £7,234, and all down along where a balance of salary was withheld. Should there not be a credit there?—What we are showing is the net deficit in accounts in each case.

Would you not recover £28 from the salary due to that person?—Yes.

Deputy Clinton.—That is already deducted?—Yes, withheld.

452. Chairman.—Paragraph 81 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:


81. A test examination of the store accounts was carried out with satisfactory results.

In addition to the engineering stores shown in Appendix No. II as valued at £1,151,734 on 31st March, 1961. engineering stores to the value of £35,463 were held on behalf of other government departments. Stores other than engineering stores were valued at £448,965 including £187,052 in respect of stores held for other government departments.

Including works in progress on 31st March, 1961 the expenditure on manufacturing jobs in the factory during the year amounted to £46,208, expenditure on repair work (other than repairs to mechanical transport) to £70,113, and expenditure on mechanical transport repairs to £12,862.”

There is a sum of £35,463 in respect of engineering stores held on behalf of other Departments. What stores would they be? —We purchase a very large variety of stores for all Government Departments. We are the purchaser-in-chief for these stores for the whole of the Government service and practically anything you can think of we buy for some Government Departments.

Deputy Belton.—Uniforms?—Yes.

453. Deputy Booth.—Could we ask the Comptroller and Auditor General are these stores very much better controlled than the Board of Works stores on which adverse comment has arisen?

Mr. Ó Cadhla.—There is a first-class system of control.

Deputy Booth.—This is the ideal system?

Mr. Ó Cadhla.—It is a very good system.

454. Deputy Kenny.—Have you central stores for keeping these commodities in? —Yes.

Are they situated in various parts of the country?—Mainly in Dublin and in Dublin district. We have depots for poles in places like Clondalkin, for safety sake; in certain other parts of the country we have depots for mechanical transport, but, by and large, the stores are concentrated in Dublin.

Do you rent these or own them?—We own them, generally speaking.

455. Chairman.—Paragraph 82 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—


82. A test examination of the accounts of Postal, Telegraph and Telephone services was carried out with satisfactory results.

The net yield of revenue for the years 1960-61 and 1959-60 is shown in the following statement:—







Postal Service



Telegraph Service



Telephone Service






£9,700,000 was paid into the Exchequer during the year leaving a balance of £812,769 at 31st March, 1961 as compared with £758,930 at the end of the previous financial year.

Sums due for telephone services amounting to £3,950 were written off during the year as irrecoverable, as compared with £3,824 in the previous year.”

The revenue of the telegraph service has improved somewhat? That is inclusive of the telex system?—Yes; the telex system, and we have also been doing somewhat better on foreign telegrams. The loss still continues however, on the internal service.

456. Chairman.—Paragraph 83 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

Post Office Savings Bank

83. The accounts of the Post Office Savings Bank for the year ended 31st December, 1960 were submitted to a test examination with satisfactory results. The balance due to depositors, inclusive of interest, amounted to £101,557,983 (including £14,872,403 in respect of the liability to Trustee Savings Banks) on 31st December, 1960, as compared with £96,265,590 at the close of the previous year. Interest accrued during the year on securities standing to the credit of the Post Office Savings Bank Fund amounted to £3,717,082. Of this sum £2,483,328 was applied as interest paid and credited to depositors, management expenses absorbed £286,287 and the balance, £947,467, was set aside towards provision against depreciation in the value of securities.

The introduction in January, 1961 of a mechanised accounting system enabled precise figures of interest paid and credited to depositors to be ascertained and included in the accounts. Only estimated figures had been available formerly.”

Mr. Ó Cadhla.—As will be seen from this paragraph, the liability to depositors increased by over £5 million. Deposits received during the year amounted to £19,500,000 as compared with £18 million in the preceding year.

457. Chairman.—In the final part of that paragraph there is reference to the introduction of the mechanised accounting system. You have this for over a year. Do you find it satisfactory?—Yes. The Committee has shown an interest in this matter for a number of years and will be very pleased to hear that we completed the mechanisation in 1961 and that it is working very smoothly. The main feature of the reorganisation is the introduction of automatic processing of accounting data, largely by way of an electronic calculator with ancillary punching, collating and printing machinery. The renting cost of the equipment is £19,000 a year and odds and ends such as the purchase of cards and other accounting material cost about £4,000 more but we are realising a net saving of £50,000 a year over the cost of the equipment. This is largely achieved from the release of staff who are absorbed quite easily on other work.

458. Chairman.—On subhead D.— Purchase of Sites, etc. (Postal and Telegraph Services only)—there are some sites you did not acquire?—Yes. We did not spend very much out of that subhead in the year of account. It is always very difficult to forecast with any degree of accuracy how much we should provide because of the difficulties and delays inherent in negotiations for sites and subsequent legal clearances. Actually we had a whole sequence of setbacks of that sort during that year in relation to a number of cases in Cavan, Donegal, Thurles and elsewhere.

Deputy Burke.—You must not have been buying this land around the city or county of Dublin.

459. Deputy Booth.—On subhead E.1. —Conveyance of Mails by Rail—this is a matter we have had before, the question of the contract between the Department and Córas Iompair Éireann. Are you still working on the same arrangement?— There has been no change except as you will see, in this particular year we paid Córas Iompair Éireann some more money.

I was just wondering was the hitherto excellent arrangement beginning to turn sour on you now?—No, not at all.

It was just that more stuff had to be transported?—No, it was not that so much. There was a certain element of that but following certain wages increases on the Córas Iompair Éireann system they asked for more money, in accordance with the contract between us and we conceded something.

460. Chairman. — On subhead E.4— Packet Services—British and Foreign— there is an explanation which is also given in respect of subheads E.5. and H.3.: “Incidence of settlement of accounts.” What is that?—Generally the position is that some accounts come in at the very end of the financial year or after the financial year. For instance, the international air companies very often submit their accounts to us very late. We often have wrangles with them about details and one way or another the accounts are not settled within the year of account.

Deputy Clinton.—Does one year not balance out the other in that respect?— We have to look at each year. We do take it into account when we are actually compiling the estimate for a particular year whether there is likely to be any sort of a carry over.

461. Chairman. — On subhead I.1.— Salaries, Wages and Allowances—there was a saving on personnel, and in subhead K.—Engineering Materials—there was an increase. How did that come about? Was this just extra purchases of material not used?—There is obviously not a very close correlation between these two things. I cannot answer that question immediately. I have not got the details before me but I can send you a note.*

462. Deputy Booth.—On subhead L.1— Cross-Channel Cable Maintenance—is that something like a grant-in-aid or is it just luck again that it came out so very near the estimate? Do we contribute to the cross-channel cable maintenance or do we do that on our own?—We have no cable ships. The British Post Office does this cross-channel work for us and we share the cost with them fifty-fifty.

It was just luck or good estimation?— We have been doing it for a very long time. We can anticipate a certain amount of the cost. We know when a ship is going to come around. One is not always available.

Is it more supervision of the cable than repair of breakdowns?—It is mainly supervision, mainly the overhauling of the cable. Of course, breaks do occur.

It is more a constant check?—Yes.

463. Chairman.—On subhead L.2.— Contract Work—the saving was mainly due to the deferment of renewal works at coast radio stations. Why was the renewal work deferred?—Renewal was deferred pending the outcome of discussions we were having with the Department of Transport and Power regarding the future of these stations. We had some doubt whether these stations should be continued in existence at all but the Department of Transport and Power finally held that they should be. It was really their responsibility in the final analysis, and they have agreed that the surplus of expenditure over revenue —we had been losing a good deal of money—would now be charged as a service rendered to that Department.

Deputy Burke.—They are availing of it?—Yes. Very many of the ships are covered by British radio stations although they are perhaps operating in the Atlantic near our western shores. We shall continue to maintain them at Malin Head and Valentia but the Department of Transport and Power will be charged with surplus of expenditure over revenue.

464. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead L.3. —Rent, Rates on Wires, Light, etc.— What are these?—I have not got a detailed note but my recollection is that we have to pay rates on what is set out here, telephone wires and telephone poles.

To the local authorities?—To the local authorities. I would not like to commit myself too positively but we have to pay somebody for some of these things.

Deputy Clinton.—On what basis is it paid? Is there a valuation?

Chairman.—Perhaps it would suit Mr. Ó Broin to send us a note?—I shall be very glad to send you a full note about that.*

465. On subhead O.3.—Travelling and Miscellaneous Expenses—there is a note to the effect that works provided for were not undertaken. Was this again awaiting the outcome of discussions?—There is a very extensive list of miscellaneous works that were contemplated but deferred for various reasons. Some were not proceeded with because of a change of plans; others because of delays in delivery and things like that.

466. In regard to the Appropriations in Aid, in some cases estimation and realisation are very, very close, but in the case of “Works for railway companies and others” the sum is about three times the estimate. Is there any special feature in that?—The explanation is that it is mainly due to an unforeseen settlement of one large repayment account. Alterations to plant at Shannon Airport were carried out in connexion with the new jet runways. Payment for the work done was not expected in 1960-61 and we did not, therefore, provide for it at the estimate stage. In fact, however, the Department of Transport and Power discharged the account before the year was up.

467. Deputy Kenny.— What kind of stores would come under the heading of “engineering stores”?—These are stores that are recovered and returned to the Stores Branch where they are graded “fit for re-issue,” or “scrap.” Sales of scrap engineering stores are arranged periodically. We generally have two sales every year.

Then, on the next page, 149, you have “Sale of non-engineering stores”. That would be the same process with a different type of stores?—I have a note here on that. Receipts are in respect of the following items: sale of postal stores, including old vans and cycles and scrap metal.

468. Deputy Clinton.—As to item 14 (b) in the Appropriations in Aid—Commission on repurchase of stamps—does the Department buy stamps?—We do. We buy back stamps, for instance, used in connexion with newspaper competitions. They are taken back at a handling commission of 7½ per cent. on the value of the stamps.

You make a 7½ per cent. profit on the deal?—We charge the newspapers a commission. On the other hand, we lose a good deal of money on the 6d. postal orders. We find them a very expensive item.

The witness withdrew.


Mr. Leon Ó Broin further examined.

469. Chairman.—There is no comment by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The Committee asked, in its Report on the 1958-59 Accounts, to be informed of the value of the short wave transmitter and stores transferred to Radio Éireann. The Department of Finance have told us that it is £1,000.**


Mr. E. F. Suttle called and examined.

470. Chairman.—I notice, Mr. Suttle, there have been savings on salaries. The work has not suffered in any respect on that account, has it?—No. Over the past few years we have been attempting to streamline our work in the interests of greater efficiency. To a certain extent that has resulted in a reduction in staff.

Do you intend to fill vacancies?—Some of them, yes.

471. With regard to the note at the end of the Appropriations in Aid, is this officer still on loan to An Coimisiún Um Athbheochan na Gaeilge?—He is.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.

* See Appendix XXI.

* See Appendix XXII.

** See Appendix XXIII.