Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1960 - 1961::08 March, 1962::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 8 Márta, 1962.

Thursday, 8th March, 1962.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members present:












DEPUTY JONES in the chair.

Liam Ó Cadhla (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) and Miss M. Bhreathnach (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Mr. C. C. Cremin called and examined

40. Chairman. — On subhead B.1.— Representatives Abroad, Salaries, Wages and Allowances—there is a supplementary estimate for £1,900 while at the same time there was a saving of £5,145. Why was the supplementary introduced?— Among the reasons was the fact that there was a new mission opened in Lagos, Nigeria. That mission was opened in the course of the financial year ended on 31st March, 1961. In principle, I understand, it is desirable that any expenditure arising in respect of a new mission be covered in the course of the financial year; in other words that the mission should not be opened until the funds have been voted by the Dáil. That is the primary reason for it. When the supplementary estimate was taken on 23rd February, 1961 there were certain doubts about a number of the subheads. That is why it has been distributed under different subheads. The total supplementary—I think it is given in the appropriation account—was £15,755. Subhead B.1. was one of the subheads under which it was thought desirable for the reasons I have mentioned to include part of the supplementary. That subhead covers not only the missions which are shown in the Estimates but the honorary consulates of which we have quite a number. The expenditure on those is quite small but there is a certain amount.

41. On subhead B.5.—Repatriation and Maintenance of destitute Irish persons abroad—there is an expenditure of £12. Was there only the one case?—Under the existing practice, which has been in force now for some years, the expenditure on repatriation is put into a suspense account and it is only brought into the accounts proper if the expenditure incurred is not recovered. Of course, in principle, all repatriation expenditure is recoverable and every effort is made to recover it. It does occasionally arise that we fail to do so in which case we have to charge it against public funds. That is the only one of that year. The amount provided was £100.

Deputy Belton.—In other words it is a bad debt?—In effect, yes.

Deputy Booth.—It does not mean that only £12 was expended?—No. I have not got the figure. It may well be there was much more expended in that year but it is in a suspense account and it is held there until it is either discharged or. If not discharged written off.

42. Is this an item that comes up fairly frequently or is it comparatively rare?— It is comparatively rare but it depends on circumstances. If, in a given country, difficulties arise you may get a greater demand from people who run short of money unexpectedly and without any culpability on their part. Most of the expenditure is recovered.

Is this more in connection with people who get involved in political upheavals or is it people who just become destitute on their own account?—It is difficult to say. I would say the second is the more common cause. The person overspends, has not got the money available, cannot get a transfer very quickly and applies for help. Naturally every case is scrutinised and if possible we endeavour to get the money from the family. Cases do occur where the claims seem bona fide; in fact we might save money relatively by sending them home fast.

43. On subhead C.3.—Official Entertainment—does this refer only to official entertainment at home, that is, in Dublin or in Ireland?—In principle, yes. Generally speaking, this subhead is designed to meet entertainment at home, by all Departments. It is centralised. In a given year there might be some expenditure abroad from this subhead. If, let us say, a Minister is travelling and has occasion to incur expenditure then it might properly come in here. That would not apply as regards Ministers or officials travelling on organisational business. Entertainment in this case would come under some subhead of the International Co-operation Vote. However, there may be a case where a Minister is travelling abroad on general diplomatic business and may be called upon to undertake some small expenditure. By and large this is for home expenditure only and if there is expenditure elsewhere it is relatively very small. It would be much less than 1 per cent.

44. In the case of Deputies travelling abroad, other than in connection with the organisations which are dealt with in Vote No. 54, has there ever been a case of a Deputy claiming under subhead C.3. of this Vote, where he had incurred expenditure on entertainment while abroad? I am thinking particularly of cases such as recently happened where Deputies were invited to visit Germany. Has a claim ever been made in such a case or if it was made would it properly come under this subhead?—It is difficult to answer the question as to whether a claim has been made. Such claims may have been made. Again, whether a claim would be accepted would ultimately perhaps not depend on the Department of External Affairs. I would say that, in such a case as this, if the Oireachtas did not have a fund available for the purpose and if the claim were admissible, it would be chargeable against this subhead.

45. Chairman.—Does that cover, say, distinguished visitors coming to Leinster House? Does it cover foreign parliamentarians coming to the House?—Again I am afraid my answer is qualified. If there were such a case and the expenditure was admissible I should think it would come under this subhead unless there were a subhead for the Oireachtas. This is the only subhead in the whole of the Estimates relating to Government Departments. If such a charge occurred this would be the proper vote for it.

46. Deputy Booth.—On the Appropriations in Aid, according to the Estimate some proportion of this is in respect of staff seconded to Córas Tráchtála. Does the variation mean that more officials were attached to Córas Tráchtála during the year under review?—The position is this: there was one officer of Córas Tráchtála in New York who was, in fact, transferred to headquarters during the year. It was known that he would be transferred but the amount actually recovered by us was rather higher than estimated. I think, possibly, his transfer was delayed. We recovered in respect of the period during which we paid his salary. On the other hand there were other items in it. There was a receptionist in New York shared by Córas Tráchtála and the Consulate General. Here we recovered about £700. Finally, there is another item mentioned in the note on page 175, a net £770 recovered from An Bord Scoláireachtaí Cómalairte. This is a Board which was established under the Act of 1957 and under which the Minister provides services but is bound to recover his proportionate share of the costs. We service the Board and we recover a sum which is regarded as representing the cost of the services.

That is interviewing applicants, conducting correspondence and that sort of thing?—Not solely. We service the Board. The Board meets quite frequently and an official of our Department is Secretary to the Board. He prepares the agenda, carries out the correspondence and, of course, the interviewing would also occur. A fair amount of money is available, about £30,000 per year for the purposes of these scholarships. Really, the services given to the Board in all capacities were estimated to cost in that year £770.

47. Chairman.—I see that under “Miscellaneous,” the amount received was nearly double the estimate. What is the general nature of those items?—There are quite a few items in this heading. I might mention the more important of them. We get fees for what we call consular services in relation to estates, These arise primarily in America where Irish people or people of Irish descent die and leave money to which Irish people here are entitled. If our consulates have to intervene we charge a very small fee in such a case and it is smaller if, in fact, legal services are involved. This has been going on for many years. At one time the amount was very high but it is getting progressively less. That represents about one-third of the total. Another item is receipts in respect of charges incurred in prior years; and then there is the sale of material issued by the Cultural Relations Committee. There are honoraria paid to officials, that is to say, if an officer of ours in America is asked to give a lecture there is generally a small fee paid and that is paid by the officer concerned into the Exchequer. Then there is bank interest. In some countries banks pay interest on current account. It is a small item, about £67. We also sometimes make a profit on the realisation of foreign currency into sterling. Then there are what we call commercial reports where our officers are requested to inquire about the standing of a firm. We pay for those reports but we sell them, so to speak. We recover from the firms concerned as far as possible. Then there is an item on repatriation. That is essentially the breakdown of the “Miscellaneous” item. The two biggest items are the consular services fees on estates and the recovery of expenditure charged in prior years.

48. Deputy Kenny.—There is a note regarding gifts presented to foreign dignitaries. Could you tell us who these dignitaries were?—I think I can. We dealt with three instances: as you know, the Minister for External Affairs made an official visit to the Federal German Republic in 1960 and it is usual on such occasions to give some gift. That was one case. The second was on the marriage of King Baudouin. The third was a similar visit to that of the Minister by the Taoiseach whom you may recall, was invited to go to Lagos for the Nigerian Independence celebrations. He gave the gift to the Nigerian Prime Minister. This is the usual practice and those are the actual components of the amount.


Mr. C. C. Cremin further examined.

49. Chairman.—As there are no comments by the Comptroller and Auditor General we can deal with the subheads.

Deputy Booth.—As regards the two subheads C.9 and C.10.—dealing with expenditure in connection with the Congo —could we have some information to show the differentiation between these two items? Is one civil expenditure and one in respect of military expenditure or what is the difference?—Essentially that is the position. The O.N.U.C. is military. It is the United Nations forces in the Congo to which, of course, we sent a contingent. This is the United Nations military force. That is probably a continuing commitment for as long as this particular operation lasts. The other is quite different; it is primarily civil. It was intended to provide funds to enable the Congo to keep going. The United Nations decided to set a target of $100,000,000 and countries were requested to contribute. This was, in effect, a voluntary contribution but it is a once-for-all contribution. As you know the United Nations has run into financial difficulties because of the Congo operation and because a number of countries are not contributing to the expense of that operation and also not contributing fully or in time to the ordinary budget which, of course, explains why the supplementary estimate was taken last year. As the Minister for External Affairs explained at the time, he felt, and the Government felt, that, to put it crudely, cash should be available. We, therefore, anticipated payments in February last year which would normally come up later. This $100,000,000 fund was set up but the response was not very good. This problem is now being dealt with in another form to some extent because the Secretary-General has been authorised to float an issue of bonds limited to $200,000,000 which are repayable. It has been decided to refer to the International Court of the Hague the Congo operation expenses and the expenses on UNEF, i.e. the Gaza strip military force, to determine whether or not these are obligatory. Some nations take the view that these charges are not obligatory but voluntary. That is not going to make for efficient running of the United Nations.

50. Deputy Cunningham.—Does this cover administration or does it include the actual payment of our troops there as well?—The position is this: it is the cost of the force. I am speaking of subhead C.9. It is the cost of the force which has to be met by the United Nations and this is our proportion of that particular budget. It is based on our percentage contribution to the ordinary budget which is 0.16 per cent. The total amount of the cost falling on the United Nations Organisation for the period covered was approximately $50,000,000 and 0.16 per cent of that gives us the figure here. The Government, like all Governments concerned with contingents, pay their own forces but only in the normal way. In other words the Irish soldiers down there, although United Nations soldiers, are nevertheless part of the Irish Army and are paid as such.

That payment would come under Defence?—Yes.

51. Deputy Booth.—The refund to the Defence Vote would exceed the £27,700 we have advanced to ONUC from this Vote?—The financial cost of our contribution to the United Nations is much greater than £27,700 because, of course, we are also paying the basic salaries of the military serving there.

Deputy Clinton.—But there is no corresponding saving in the Defence Vote?—No, not really. This is looked on as a policy which it was felt we should follow and it is costing us money—not an enormous amount I should say, because, while I do not know what the figure is, the great bulk of it would be payable in any case, the difference being that the soldiers would be serving here rather than in the Congo.

Chairman.—Next week we shall be examining the Defence Votes and Deputy Clinton may be able to deal with it then.

The witness withdrew.


Risteard Ó hÉigeartaigh called and examined.

52. Chairman.—Paragraphs 22 to 24 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

“22. Provision was made under subhead E (Urban Employment Schemes) and subhead F (Rural Employment Schemes) for grants towards expenditure by local authorities on road and amenity schemes, etc., to provide employment. The grants, amounting in all to £264,836, 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. The accounts of the expenditure on the schemes are examined by Local Government auditors whose certificates are available to me. The provision under subhead E was supplemented by moneys made available from the National Development Fund. (See page 28.)

23. The expenditure charged to subhead G (Minor Employment Schemes) and subhead H (Development Works in Bogs used by Landholders and other Private Producers), amounting to £287,276, relates to schemes administered by the Special Employment Schemes Office. In certain counties these schemes were carried out by the county engineers acting as agents for the Office.

24. The scheme for which provision was made under subhead I (Rural Improvements Scheme) was also administered by the Special Employment Schemes Office either directly or through the agency of county engineers. The works carried out included the improvement and construction of accommodation roads to houses, farms and bogs, small drainage works, the erection or reconstruction of small bridges, etc. Only works which are estimated to cost not less than £40 are approved and the grants may vary from 50 per cent. to 100 per cent. of their cost. The gross expenditure amounted to £170,096 and contributions by beneficiaries, which are appropriated in aid of the vote, totalled £29,821.

I notice that you got some moneys from the National Development Fund. Do you expect to get more?—No, I regret to say.

Deputy Booth.—Is that for the year under review?—I had a balance of approximately £16,000, and it is all gone. The balance was £16,728 and I spent it all in 1960-61. The details are on page 28.

53. Deputy Carter.—Do you find an even demand or pattern for those rural improvement schemes? Is it a fairly even pattern or is it uneven throughout the country?—We are on urban schemes at the moment.

Deputy Carter.—I am sorry. You are on urban schemes. I will raise the point later on.

Deputy Kenny.—On paragraph 23, can you tell us why you changed from using the county engineers to direct supervision of the schemes?—That goes back a considerable number of years. When we started on these schemes, in 1932, an arrangement was made with the county councils that the services of the county engineers would be available to do these schemes. After a number of years some of the county councils were not very happy about it because the county engineers and their organisation had more than they could do to manage their own funds. Tipperary and Galway were the first two counties to raise the matter in a definite way, indicating that we would need to make alternative arrangements, so that it was needs must. When we started we found that, in fact, after doing a number of counties with our own engineers’ organisation we got a better job done, but that is understandable. It is not the main job of the county engineers. The county engineers are paid commission for this extra duty which they undertake on a personal basis and not in their capacity as county engineers. In the result we expanded, and we are supervising our schemes in 13 out of the 26 counties at the moment. Although there are 13 supervised by us and 13 by the county engineers something over 60 per cent. of the expenditure is supervised by ourselves leaving less than 40 per cent. for supervision by county engineers. Actually, if Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim were taken over, the great bulk of the expenditure under these schemes would be supervised by ourselves. If I may anticipate a question as to why we are not tackling that problem the answer is that there is a shortage of engineers.

54. Deputy Cunningham.—You gave a figure of about 60 per cent. supervised by Inspectors from your Office and 40 per cent. supervised by county engineers. Does that mean that, in the counties where the schemes are carried out by the Special Employment Schemes Office, they are inclined to get a bigger share of the grants?—It does not. The question as to whether the county engineers or ourselves supervise the schemes does not determine in any way how the grants are allocated. They are allocated irrespective of who will eventually supervise them. I mentioned Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo because they are the areas where the special minor employment schemes grants are given. Minor employment schemes are allocated on the basis of unemployment assistance recipients or the number of dolemen, as they are known in rural Ireland, and, consequently, they are confined to an area west of the Shannon, taking a line going North to South. Bog development schemes are distributed in relation to the turf production in the various areas, and rural improvement schemes are divided, in fact, on the basis of ability, although I suppose “ability” is not a good enough word, the desire of the farmers to pay the necessary contributions.

It would appear to me that the work on these schemes is done 50-50 by the local authorities and yourselves. In other words, half the counties are being done by you people and the other half are being done by local authority engineers, but they are not getting 50-50 in the expenditure of the money. You have 60 per cent. for the schemes done by yourselves and there is 40 per cent. for the schemes carried out by the county engineers?—There is an explanation for that. The expenditure is not high in any of the county engineer counties, as we call them, with the exception of Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. There is not much of a problem for the county engineers organisation in dealing with the schemes in the other counties. For instance, take Carlow which is a county engineer county. The county engineer counties are: Carlow, Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim. Laois, Kildare, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo and Westmeath. The expenditure in Carlow in any year is less than £3,000. In Louth it is considerably less than £3,000, and similarly in Meath, so that the problems the county engineers have in doing their small schemes are relatively very limited. It is an entirely different proposition in Galway which was one of the first counties we took over, and which raised the problem originally.

55. Deputy Carter.—That partly answers the question I was raising on the rural improvement schemes. Would you attribute the failure to promote schemes to difficulties with regard to financial contributions?—The position about the rural improvement schemes goes back a little. The terms were very favourable during the period from June, 1950, up to 1956, but in 1956 the Government of the day were not prepared to finance these schemes on the generous basis then available. The sum provided in the 1957-58 original Estimate for rural improvement schemes was only £150,000, but we had applications then in hand which would absorb two years, at least, at that figure. The new Administration decided to increase the money and provided a supplementary estimate, in 1957-58, but when they provided supplementary and additional money they raised the contributions fairly substantially, in some cases. The new minimum was 10 per cent. instead of 5 per cent. formerly. For instance, the contributions for farmers with a valuation between £9 and £12 was raised from 15 per cent. to 20 per cent. Some of the contributions went up to 30 per cent.-40 per cent. with effect from July, 1957. Up to 1956 the maximum contribution for farmers with a valuation of £18 and over, was 25 per cent.

That is all right?—The actual contributions went up, and in the result the farmers were not prepared to make sufficient contributions to absorb the money in 1960-61. It is only right to say that as a result of this experience the rates of contribution were made more favourable with effect as from June, 1961. The minimum contribution of 10 per cent. was retained. The contributions now are 10 per cent. on valuations below £7; 12½ per cent. on valuations between £7 and £10; 15 per cent. on valuations between £10 and £15; 20 per cent. on valuations between £15 and £25, i.e. the average land valuation. On valuations between £25 and £50 the State give three-quarters of the cost and the farmers are required to pay one-quarter; on valuations between £50 and £100 the State pay two-thirds and the farmers are asked to pay one-third; and in the few cases we meet of valuations of £100 and over, it is on a 50/50 basis. While we were short on our contributions for 1960-61. which we are dealing with today, we will not be short in the current year by any means.

56. Deputy Carter.—I did not want you to go into such detail because we are more or less aware of the contributions, but does not the pattern remain much the same, that, in the better-off counties, they do not get as high an expenditure as they do in the less well off counties no matter what way you change it?— It does not make a great difference. It remains a sort of uneven pattern all the time.

Chairman.—Does that deal with the matter? Perhaps Mr. Ó hÉigeartuigh would send us a note on the matter?— What the Deputy would like is some comparison between the 1960-61 contributions and the 1961-62 contributions.

Deputy Carter.—A rough comparison, please.

Chairman.—The question seems to be on the pattern of the expenditure in the different counties?—I think it would be preferable if I gave the allocations instead of the expenditure. I will give the actual allocations for the year 1960-61 compared with 1961-62, which will finish in the course of the next two or three weeks.*

57. Deputy Clinton.—What authority decides the extent of these schemes or has control over them? Is it by the rating authority that contributions must be made?—It is not the rating authority which makes the contribution. It is the farmers themselves.

58. Deputy Cunningham.—In the case of the rural improvement schemes, where an individual or a group think the contribution is rather high is there provision whereby half the work and half the contribution can be dealt with in one year, and the other half of the work and the other half of the contribution carried over until the next year?—If the farmers cannot make the contribution in one “go”, if I may use that expression, we are prepared to take it in two instalments.

Is that accepted?—It is, provided of course that half the contribution is such that it would be worth while doing half the job. Where the contribution would be £15 only for a £150 scheme, we would not do that in two parts because it would not be worth while discharging the gang and restarting the job maybe some months afterwards.

59. In regard to the method of doing the work, as you say, in some counties it is done by the Special Employment Schemes Office engineers and in other counties by the county engineer. I am referring especially to roads. Is this a policy matter or an administrative one?— It is policy.

Chairman.—If it is a policy question the Deputy must pursue it elsewhere.

Deputy Cunningham.—If it is a policy question I would not discuss it now?— It is a policy matter to decide whether the county engineers continue supervision or we take over from them.

60. Chairman.—Paragraph 25 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:—

“25. The amount charged to subhead J (Miscellaneous Schemes) comprises expenditure on archaeological works and sports fields by the Special Employment Schemes Office, on foreshore and other relief works by the Department of Local Government, and on improvement works on small fishery harbours and piers by the Office of Public Works.”

There is no question on this paragraph so we will turn to the subheads of the Vote.

61. Deputy Booth.—On subhead A.— Salaries, Wages and Allowances—does the under-expenditure arise from what Mr.Ó hÉigeartuigh has told us already in relation to a shortage of engineers. Is that where the vacancies have arisen?— Yes. There is a shortage of engineers and also some vacancies on the administrative staff were not filled; in other words we carried on with some few less.

Has this had a noticeable effect on the actual work? Has it held up the work or is it not abnormal?—It has started to hold up work in the current year, but not appreciably in 1960-61.

62. Deputy Cunningham.—Does that include commission or whatever it is you pay county engineers?—No. The commission comes off the individual schemes, minor bog and rural improvement schemes.

63. Deputy Kenny.—On subhead F.— Rural Employment Schemes—what type of work do you do under rural employment schemes as against rural improvements schemes?—The rural employment schemes are works done by the county councils in small towns with a population of 200 and over. The main type of work done is the provision of footpaths. They include places like Balbriggan, Swords, Lucan, in County Dublin or, in Deputy Kenny’s county, non-urbanised towns. Louisbourg would be one, Belmullet would be another.

64. Would any contribution from the rates be necessary?—Yes. The county councils pay 25 per cent. towards our grants in these cases; in other words the £35,000 available becomes approximately £46,665. The State gave £35,000, the County Councils £11,665, making a total of £46,665.

65. On what basis do you allocate those grants?—They are allocated on the basis of the number of unemployment assistance recipients in those town areas but we also take, to a limited degree, persons in receipt of unemployment benefit. There are 477 towns in the country with a population of 200 and over, and we give grants in about 150. In the last three or four years the number has varied from 149 to 154, say, an average of 150. Of 477 towns there are 150 towns with sufficient persons in receipt of unemployment assistance to justify giving grants. In the other areas there are practically no Unemployment Insurance or Unemployment Assistance recipients and they do not get grants.

I suppose that is why Belmullet gets so much of that. Is it allocated on the basis of the number of people unemployed or on the amount of money given in unemployment assistance?—On the number of people.

Not on the amount of money?—No.

Deputy Cunningham.—It could happen that a town could get a grant against another town that has a higher number of unemployed?—No, because the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit is taken into consideration to a limited degree. If the numbers of recipients of unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance were high we would take that into consideration and determine the amount but, when you divide £35,000 amongst 150 towns there is not very much leeway. For instance, the highest grant, I think, we give is £500 and the lowest is £250 so there is not very much margin in it.

66. Deputy Kenny.—How do you estimate the number of persons in receipt of unemployment assistance or unemployment benefit? You must have some yard-stick?—We take a census of persons in receipt of unemployment assistance and persons in receipt of unemployment benefit, geographically, on the third Saturday of January in each year. Actually, that is done to a large extent by the Department of Social Welfare; they count for us, in each urban area, and in each town with a population of 200 and over, and in each of the 2,874 Rural Electoral Divisions the number of persons residing in those areas on that Saturday. We add to those figures the number of persons whom we employ under this Vote and under one or two other small votes as well, that is the number of persons who would actually be drawing unemployment assistance but for this Vote. We add those to the figures of the Department of Social Welfare and they are the figures for the succeeding year.

It is very complicated?—We take the third week in January because we find that is usually the highest week.

67. Chairman.—On Item No. 2, Appropriations in Aid—in regard to the refund of overpayments of grants made in previous years to local authorities, how do they arise?—They arise out of the system in the Department of Local Government whereby a considerable portion of the grants, sometimes up to 90 per cent., is advanced to the local authorities. Some of these small town areas, in particular, have not very much money and the Department of Local Government advanced 90 per cent. of the total expenditure after the scheme was started. It so happened, in some cases, that the estimate was too high and the expenditure did not reach the 90 per cent. that was advanced. The accounts are not audited until a year after the expenditure occurs and consequently the adjustment cannot be made in the financial year in question. It has to be made in subsequent years. There are only two in this year: Dublin is one and, I think, Wexford is the other—Dublin, £2,900, and Wexford, £121.

With regard to the note you promised to send us, Mr. O’Hegarty, we should be obliged if you could let us have it at your earliest convenience as the Committee hopes to complete its work at an early date?—We are very near the end of this year’s allocation and I presume we can work on current figures for the purpose of the comparison?


The witness withdrew.


Mr. H. J. Mundow called and examined.

68. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead A.— Salaries, Wages and Allowances—is that saving mainly due to scarcity of engineers?—We had vacancies among engineers and architects but the position is righting itself now. Things are getting much better.

69. Chairman.—On subhead C.— Incidental Expenses—as a matter of interest could you tell us what are the drawing machines referred to in the note? —That arose from our reorganising and modernising. The consultants whom we employed thought that by using modern drawing boards—they are not really machines—with the instruments attached in position and movable—instead of the operator having to reach out for this, that and the other—there would be greater efficiency.

I presume the printing machine is for the reproduction of the drawing?—We found we did not need that. We had one and it was thought we should have another but when we increased output we found we did not require the second one.

70. Chairman.—The Appropriations in Aid are on page 16.

Deputy Carter.—What do you mean by the term penal interest?—It is principal or interest outstanding for more than 31 days from the date when it was payable. It is prescribed by the Act of 1935 that we must charge 5 per cent. interest on these amounts after 31 days.

71. Chairman.—On No. 2, do the fees you charge vary with the amount of the loan?—They do. There is a schedule which I have here. It is 4/- per £100 or part of £100 subject to a minimum of £1. That is the normal charge but on a loan made wholly or partly on the security of land the amount varies.

I notice also there are expenses. What expenses are brought into account here? —The expenses of the Fund. No. 10 concerns administrative expenses. These are the overheads, the cost of the office staff, the office and various other overheads.

72. Deputy Cunningham.—On No. 4, in the case of arterial drainage a certain amount is charged to the local authority for maintenance purposes. Is it a fixed sum every year or is it determined by the amount of work the local authority does in the line of maintenance?— Actually, we do the maintenance of rivers which have been drained. Our engineers operate the maintenance and the Act requires us to recover the cost from the local authority. These costs are assessed and the authorities are notified of the amount.

Deputy Carter.—Is it at the completion of the scheme or how long after the completion of the scheme do you start to recover for maintenance?—Once the scheme is completed the job is on maintenance and from the very start we maintain it. There is not very much work at the beginning nor, indeed, later if the maintenance is done properly.

Do you assess the maintenance charges right from the start?—As soon as we incur maintenance costs we are obliged to recover them from the local authorities.

73. Deputy Cunningham.—On No. 9, why is the amount realised so much smaller than the Estimate? You estimated £7,300 and you realised only £4,000?—The Fund has been closed and we did not get as much work done as we had estimated. The Act prescribed the Fund should be wound up at the end of 1957 and any balance then remaining and not required for the discharge of existing liabilities would be refunded to the Exchequer. Some of the then existing liabilities have not been discharged yet. The estimate was not very accurate.

Chairman.—Why is it necessary to make recoveries from other Vote Accounts? —Vote 8 is the staff vote and Vote 9 is the works vote. We try to make Vote 8 as realistic as possible by showing those payments under recoveries.

74. On page 17, there is a statement of receipts and payments. On Shannon Navigation, I presume that includes £9,000 from subhead H.2. in the next Vote?—It does. That is the main income of the Fund now.


Mr. H. J. Mundow further examined.

75. Chairman.—Paragraph 14 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General says:—

Subhead B.—New Works, Alterations and Additions.

14. The charge to the subhead comprises £322,470 expended on general architectural and engineering works and £1,260,088 in respect of grants towards the cost of erection, enlargement or improvement of national schools. Of the latter sum £601,878 was paid to managers who undertook responsibility for carrying out the works and £658,210 was expended directly by the Commissioners. A school grant represents not less than two-thirds of the full cost, the balance being met by the manager from local contributions.”

76. Chairman.—Paragraph 15 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:—

“15. In paragraph 15 of my report on the accounts for 1959-60 reference was made to the expenditure of £2,733 on continuation of works of improvement and repair after the transfer of the agricultural institutions at Johnstown Castle and Grange Farm to An Foras Talúntais. As shown in a note to the account further expenditure amounting to £19,864 was incurred during the year bringing the total from date of transfer to £22,597.”

In regard to this expenditure at Johnstown Castle and Grange Farm do you expect further expenditure on these or are they complete?—I think they are complete. Yes, they are all completed, I am told, but in the case of the improvement of the water supply the final account has not been submitted. A sum of £6,000 is provided in the current year for that, of which we have spent £5,400, so that I think you could say they are virtually complete.

77. Chairman.—Paragraph 16 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General states:—

Subhead BB.—Coast Protection

16. The survey and experimental works in connection with the prevention of coast erosion at Rosslare Strand were continued and £20,147 was expended during the year. The total expenditure to 31 March. 1961 on this project amounted to £55,723 towards which the Wexford Co. Council contributed £17,783.”

In regard to these works, what stage have you reached?—We are coming to the end. The experimental aspect of it might be regarded as finished now. We have learned all we can and we are now finishing off the work so as to leave a job that will last.

Might I ask what percentage of expenditure did the Wexford local authority contribute to this cost?— Originally, the agreement was one-third and up to now they have paid one-third of the cost. We hope to get one-third all the way.

Deputy Cunningham.—Is this the only coast erosion scheme being carried out at the moment under this Vote?—That is the only one.

78. Chairman.—Paragraph 17 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—

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

17. The charge to the subhead in respect of construction works in progress during the year amounted to £617,545. In addition the value of stores issued and charges for the use of plant were assessed at £337,793. The cost of each scheme to 31 March 1961 was:—


Estimated Cost

Expenditure to 31 March 1961



Catchment Drainage Scheme:





















Ballyteigue and Kilmore












Existing Embankments:











Certificates of completion of the Clareen and Nenagh catchment drainage schemes were issued on 5 December, 1960 by the Minister for Finance pursuant to section 13 of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945.

The balance of the charge to the subhead is made up of sums amounting to £2,431 being remanets of expenditure on completed schemes.”

I notice in the case of Bunratty-Rineanna the estimate was exceeded by £5,000. Is that near completion now?—It is very nearly finished; it may be already finished.

79. Deputy Carter.—How many catchment areas are scheduled for development and in what number of them is development proceeding?—As well as I remember, about 30 major catchments and a similar number of minor ones. We are about halfway down the major ones. I do not mean that the work is being done but we are surveying as far down as 15, I think. There will be one or two new ones this year, I think. With regard to the minor ones, we have not quite so many of them advanced yet but we would be catching up there I hope very soon.

Is there a priority list of minor catchments?—There is.

80. Deputy Kenny.—Regarding the first one, the Corrib-Clare, I think there was some controversy about that particular arterial drainage scheme? I think only half of that catchment was surveyed?—There is the Corrib-Mask as well. That is the other leg of it.

Is your Office including the Corrib-Mask with the Corrib-Clare? That is what I mean about the controversy over that particular river. What is the real position?—The position is that the Corrib-Clare will be finished in the fairly near future. Then we shall have to consider the Corrib-Mask.

But it will not automatically follow that you will do the Corrib-Mask as a kind of subsidiary to the Corrib-Clare?— It will not follow automatically.

Deputy Kenny.—Could you tell me why that particular catchment area was not included in the scheme?

Chairman.—I think we cannot pursue that, Deputy. Mr. Mundow is here just to explain what has been done.

81. Chairman.—Paragraph 18 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—


18. Reference was made in paragraph 19 of my previous report to stocks of surplus spare parts held at the Central Engineering Workshops, Inchicore, which had been purchased for the maintenance of machinery used mainly on drainage schemes. These purchases, I am informed, arose from the need to ensure an adequate supply of parts so that no disruption of the drainage programme would be caused by machines awaiting essential spares and the parts were purchased in a period of uncertainty when market conditions were difficult.

The availability of spare parts to the value of £50,600 was brought to the notice of other government departments and public bodies but spares to the value of only £5,400, approximately, were disposed of in this manner. The balance of the spare parts of a book value of £45,200, approximately, realised £5,440 on sale by auction.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Ó Cadhla?

Mr. Ó Cadhla.—I was informed that it was necessary to put in adequate supplies at a time of uncertainty, about the period of the Korean war. I think the Accounting Officer will be able to give some information regarding the circumstances which obtained at that time.

Chairman.—Actually, I think a previous Committee dealt with this and referred to it in its Report.

82. Deputy Booth.—For our information, could we know whether the consultants have finally completed their reports now? Paragraphs 18, 19 and 20 merely refer to it. Is it the position that the recommendations have still to be fully implemented or is any further report to be received?—As far as Inchicore is concerned, we have finished and we have all the reports from them on the various aspects of running that place. It will take probably another year before they are fully implemented but a great deal of progress has been made and we are quite happy now that things are settling down and that everthing will be all right. We have made a number of new appointments, a material controller, for instance, and a purchasing officer and we are quite happy with the system operating there now. We hope in about a year’s time it should be running as smoothly as any system can.

Chairman.—You are satisfied you have effective control now?—We believe we have. We shall be watching for the next year or two to make sure we are not mistaken. I do not believe we are.

Deputy Booth.—Are the consultants still supervising the implementation of their recommendations? Are they still working on?—We have kept them on for another assignment, not in Inchicore, but we have arranged that if we feel we would like to have their services for a day or so they would come along and discuss or look at things for us.

Deputy Carter.—Did they ever arrange for a complete catalogue of stocks?—Yes, that has been attended to.

83. Chairman.—Paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General state:—

“19. I inquired as to the position regarding other stocks of spares valued at £45,000 which seemed to be surplus to requirements and I am informed that the lists of stocks are being examined to decide which items may definitely be declared surplus and to determine the manner in which they might best be disposed of.

Management consultants have investigated the whole position and have made certain recommendations which are being put into operation. It is anticipated that the changes will provide for the more effective control of stocks.

20. I referred in paragraph 20 of my previous report to the second complete stocktaking at the Central Engineering Workshops. Investigations of the discrepancies was completed in August 1960 and disclosed surpluses of £11,500 and deficiencies of £10,300 approximately.

I am informed that these discrepancies were in the main due to confusion in issue of items and loss of issue of issue dockets. Final adjustment of the stock records will not be made until the recommendations made by the consultants on the organisation and method of material control are implemented. The reorganisation of part of the stores, including the preparation of standard stock lists, has been supervised by them. The report on material control is expected soon but the re-organisation and checking of the remaining stores is not expected to be completed until the end of the financial year 1961-62.”

Has any final decision been arrived at about the disposal of surplus spares?— They are doubtful spares. There was a feeling that some of them were slow moving and some probably obsolete or redundant, and it was felt that they should be segregated and further examined to see if they were really required. We found in the last year that some of them were required but the bulk of them will probably turn out to be disposable.

Deputy Kenny.—At scrap value?—We might do better than that but we are very much in the hands of the people who want them.

84. Chairman.—Paragraph 21 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:—

Suspense Account

21. In paragraph 21 of the report on the accounts for 1959-60 reference was made to the charge to a suspense account of £19,436 expended on the acquisition of a site for a television transmitter and the construction of an approach road. Further expenditure of £624 during the year under review brought the total outlay by the Office of Public Works on this project to £20,060 which has been recovered from Radio Éireann.”

85. As there are no questions we will now turn to the Vote itself on Page 18. On subhead A.—Purchase of Sites and Buildings—what branch of the Department of Finance is at 73 Lower Baggot Street?—That is the Economic Research Institute which was set up in the last couple of years. I suppose it is not really a branch of the Department of Finance but, so far as any Minister has to be answerable for it, it is the Minister for Finance.

86. Chairman.—On subhead B.—New Works, Alterations and Additions—the members have been supplied with a detailed list of expenditure* which we can deal with at this stage.

Deputy Belton.—On Item 1—Arás an Uachtaráin, Improvement of Planthouse Accommodation—I see that £7,500 was the estimate for 1960-61, and the estimate is the same for this year. It seems to be recurring each year?

Chairman.—Up to 31st March, 1960 the sum expended was £262 5s. 11d. There seems to have been no expenditure in 1960/61. Is that the position?—Yes, there was no expenditure this year because we have not yet got a satisfactory design for these glasshouses.

Deputy Belton.—Is it for the erection of new glasshouses?—Yes.

87. On Item 2A—Leinster House, Alterations and Additions—I presume that is the work which is going on at the moment out there?—It is the beginning. We are getting ready to instal a new Electricity Supply Board sub-station, and there is a screen wall to separate Kildare Place from these premises. There is also a new boilerhouse and the new wing for the Oireachtas.

I presume it is not intended to spend £350,000 in this coming year. You are making provision for it?—That is the total estimate for the whole job. We will not spend it all this year. It will take two, or possibly three years.

88. On item 3—Reconstruction of Loggias at Leinster House. Is that the little place under the archway as you go out?—Yes. The stonework is not standing up to the weather and has to be replaced. Work is also going on at present in the National Library.

I understood that underneath the loggias some new offices were provided?— Yes, new offices have been provided.

£17,700 seems to be an outlandish price?—There was, at the time, more work going on the loggia on the other side.

Deputy Booth.—There was a considerable amount of work done on the facing of the building. From my recollection it was not just interior work, but work on the exterior facing of the stonework.

Deputy Belton.—I had forgotten the job that was done on the Library side of the building.

89. Deputy Sherwin.—I raised a few questions in the House in the past year or so about the sound system. Was anything done last year to improve the acoustics of the House? Last week we were told that something was being done to improve the ceiling, and that, if that failed, there would be further provision regarding the sound system. We were told also that there would be indicators in the Party Rooms in order that Deputies would know what was going on in the House. Has anything been done in that regard?

Chairman.—That is something which we cannot ask Mr. Mundow. It will have to be pursued further in the House. Mr. Mundow is answering only for expenditure incurred in the past year.

Deputy Sherwin.—That is something that may be done this year?—You will notice that under “Extension of Indicator Board System” there is an estimate of £5,000. Expenditure has not been incurred, but it is in planning.

Deputy Sherwin.—If it is in planning that is all right.

Chairman.—It is probably tied up with the new building?—It is part of the work of the new building, I think.

90. Deputy Belton.—On Item 4—State Apartments, Restoration of Burnt out Drawing Rooms—I presume that is the fire that occurred in the Taoiseach’s Department?—In the early years of the war there was a fire in what were Ministerial offices at that time. That was the beginning of it, but we have discovered a great deal of dry rot and other work that has to be done.

91. Chairman.—On Item 9, Mr. Mundow, have you moved your Central Furniture Stores and Workshops into the new premises?—Yes, in Rathmines. We have been there for a year.

What have you done with the old stores?—That is Coleraine House. We are not using it at the moment except as a store for some bulky things we have. We have plans for making use of it.

92. On Item 9A—Central Engineering Workshop and Stores—I notice you spent very little during 1960-61. What is the position there?—That was a workshop but it had nothing to do with stores. It is a sort of bicycle shed and various shops.

93. On Item 15—Dublin Castle, Rebuilding of Cross Block—have you an overall plan for that, or are you doing it piecemeal?—The old block has been knocked down, as you know, and we are now excavating the foundations. We have been delayed by the archaeological excavation work but that is completed and the contractor will go ahead now.

You are working to an overall plan?— Yes. The cross block will be finished first, and then the other plans for that portion of the Castle will be spread over ten years perhaps.

Deputy Booth.—The cross block will be reconstructed substantially in the same form as previously with as much of the old stone work as possible?—Yes. The stones have been numbered.

94. Deputy Cunningham.—On Item 17 —Brigend Customs Frontier Post, Improvements—the estimate is £1,000, what is the nature of the proposal there, briefly?—I am told that the original drawings had to be revised because they were not acceptable to the Revenue Commissioners. The new ones have been completed now and have been submitted to them.

95. Deputy Clinton.—On Item 23—Dún Laoghaire Harbour, Mail Boat Pier, Improvements—has there been any contribution from the Dún Laoghaire Corporation?—No. We pay all the casts.

96. Deputy Belton.—On Item 21— Rotunda Gardens, Garden of Remembrance—the total expenditure is £144,000?

Chairman.—No, that is the estimate.

Deputy Belton.—It is a very small plot of ground on which to spend £144,000.

Deputy Sherwin.—It depends on what you are going to build.

Chairman.—It is something we cannot pursue further on this occasion.

97. Deputy Booth.—On Item 18, what is envisaged there for the Carrickarnon Customs Frontier Post?

Deputy Belton.—It is a wooden structure at the moment.

Deputy Booth.—Is it complete rebuilding?—It is, I believe, yes.

Would it be comparable with the British one?—I have not seen the British one but I am told it is rather palatial.

It is palatial?—Ours will not be.

You are not budgeting for a long future for the post?—I asked about it and I was assured that even if it is not required for this purpose it will be required for some other purpose.

98. I noted no provision for cooking in the existing hut. Can you say at this stage whether any provision will be made for cooking facilities for the staff?—I have not heard of it but if they are required I am sure the architect will provide for them.

There is some expenditure on maintenance. £487 has been spent so far. What work is represented by that expenditure? —I am afraid I would have to inquire about that.

Would maintenance come in under that?—No. That would not be maintenance. That would be new work.

99. On Item 42/3—Dublin Castle, Special Branch: Provide Drying Room —is that for clothing?—I am sure it is for drying clothes because that is being looked after in all these new buildings and as far as possible in the old ones.

100. Deputy Carter.—On Item 43— Dublin Custom House: Improvement of Heating—expenditure is ahead of the estimate there. Was more money spent than visualised or was the job more difficult than was thought?—Sometimes the estimate is made a long time before the works are done. Various things delay it and the costs go up in the meantime; wages may increase.

101. Chairman.—On No. 44—National Schools: Grants for Building, Enlarging, Enclosing, etc.—has any estimate been made of how long it will take to catch up on the backlog?—It depends on how fast we can work. I do not like to commit myself in any way but I think that, in ten years, most of it will have been cleared off. We have had a reorganisation of the staff there too; we are getting a great deal more output and we shall spend a great deal more money in the future.

102. Deputy Cunningham.—On Item 45 —Colaiste Brighde: Fire Precaution Works—the estimate seems very heavy for fire works. However, the question I want to ask is: a decision has been taken to close down that and yet in the last year £5,600 was expended.

Chairman.—Up to 31st March, 1961.

Deputy Cunningham.—Was there any notification to your people that this place was being abandoned or were you just allowed to proceed?—We had no knowledge. Once we were notified they were closing down we stopped new works but we had to finish works that were actually in progress.

103. Chairman.—On No. 49—National Library and National Museum: Renewal of Defective Stonework—is there any estimated cost of the renewal of stonework on the various buildings around Leinster House?—The Library is the only one we are doing at the moment and the estimate there is £30,000 for the second stage. We have spent most of that already.

Deputy Belton.—This work is done by contract?—Yes.

You estimate the cost of that renovation? Is it an estimate by your Office or are you working on the tenders submitted by contract?—Our architects estimate the cost first and we go to tender after that.

You apply then for the money?—The £30,000 was our original estimate.

That is the Office of Public Works estimate?—Yes.

The variation afterwards is because the tender—?—We might not have been as lucky as we expected to be.

Deputy Cunningham.—Is it the same contractor who will be doing all this renovation work or is each piece of work put out to contract separately?—I cannot say. I think at the moment we have only the contract for this Stage II. I am not sure but I presume we shall get a new contract for the Museum works.

Deputy Belton.—I would suggest that the same contractor could put in a cheaper estimate than a new one. He would have the same quarries working for him, and so on.

104. Deputy Booth.—On Item 57— Dublin: New Central Sorting Office— have you any idea of the progress being made? There is an expenditure of £1,200 without the structural work apparently being started at all. Would you have any idea when the structural work might begin?—Immediately, I think. We placed the contract for the steel work and we expect to start before the summer.

105. Deputy Cunningham.—On Item No. 88A.—Custom House: Demolition of Annexe—there is no total estimate. What is the £3,100 for?

Deputy Belton.—Wooden buildings on Memorial Road?—At the East End.

Deputy Cunningham.—And it cost that figure to have it removed?—There was a great deal of labour and it was a fairly substantial building. There was a good deal of accommodation in it.

Was it sold afterwards as scrap?—I cannot say what happened.

Deputy Belton.—The bulk of it was sent to the Clontarf dump. I think there was some timber they disposed of.

Deputy Cunningham.—It was a timber building?

Deputy Belton.—It was a timber building with concrete base.

106. Chairman.—On Item 89A.—Government Offices, Kildare Street.—Ministerial suite and accommodation for displaced staff—what is the connection between this expenditure and expenditure at No. 74/4 on page 23—provide Ministerial suite and adapt accommodation for displaced staff?—It is the same job, I understand, but it had been closed down and no provision was made in the subsequent years for it. It had to be reopened then and No. 74/4 is the balance to complete the work.

107. Deputy Belton.—On Item No. 16, page 16—Cork Government Buildings: Lift:—may I ask if there is any chance of a lift in this place?

Chairman.—That is a question of policy. We can now revert to the other subheads of the Vote.

108. Deputy Cunningham.—On Note BB: More works were carried out during the year than had been envisaged. Is that still Rosslare?—Yes.

109. Deputy Booth.—On subhead K.— Purchase and Maintenance of Engineering Plant and Machinery and Stores—the note refers to a saving arising because purchases of stores were curtailed. Does this arise from the advice of the consultants?—It arose out of their assignment in a sense. We were very cautious about buying anything until we knew it was really wanted. It might be possible to use something else already in stock. I think you could describe it as due to caution in the circumstances. It is a relatively small saving, only one fortieth.

110. In Extra Receipts Payable to the Exchequer, in regard to sales of property, what properties were sold?—These are extra receipts. There are three major items. One was the Ballyfair Estate. It brought in £9,000 which was the bulk of the amount. There were also some cottages at Roche’s Point Coastguard Station and there was a wayleave licence at the Curragh. These made up the £9,388.

111. In the Appropriations in Aid, what accounted for the large increase in receipts in the case of No. 3. The estimate was £7,500 and £18,435 was realised?—That was largely engineering workshop surplus parts. We had an auction there and we got over £12,000 for this surplus stock.

112. On No. 6—Admission tickets at parks, piers, etc.—what parks and piers are these?—The bulk of it comes from Garnish Island which I think had about 30,000 visitors last year and the number is increasing. Each visitor pays 2/6 for admission. There were also car parking fees in the Phoenix Park, and receipts from visitors to the State apartments in Dublin Castle. That is the whole of it, I think.

113. Deputy Cunningham.—In No. 7— Arterial Drainage Maintenance—did some county councils fall down on contributions towards maintenance?—They did not fall down but were late with payments. The payments did not come in until after the end of the financial year.

114. Chairman.—In regard to No. 9— Sales of Property—how do you make a distinction between sales here in the Appropriations in Aid side and on the previous page in the Extra Receipts to the Exchequer side? How do you distinguish between the two?—I do not think I could answer that out of hand. It has never come into my own mind to ask, but if you like I could get a note on it.

Chairman.—At your early convenience, please.*

Deputy Carter.—We did have some discussions previously about what would be regarded as extra receipts and why certain items should not be treated as Appropriations in Aid.

115. —Chairman.—I notice that £576 was expended in replacing an ineffective drainage system at a national school. Was that faulty workmanship or something else?

Deputy Clinton.—Was the work done by a contractor?—This was a school which was designed in 1944 and the design included provision for dry latrines. While it was being constructed it was decided to replace the dry latrines and have a flush water system. The surface water system, which used open pipes, was drained into the sewerage pipes and stones, sand and silt were carried into the pipes and choked them. It ultimately became necessary to instal a completely new drainage system. This was done by the Manager at a cost of £576 covered by a 100 per cent. grant. Those are the circumstances. We enquired into the responsibility for this to see could it be placed on our architects but we were satisfied with the explanation we got that they could not have foreseen this difficulty.

116. Chairman.—As a matter of interest, Note 8 refers to a quantity of painting materials surplus to requirements supplied to the Kilmainham Jail Restoration Committee. What circumstances rendered them surplus to requirements?—This paint had been bought at the time of the Korean war for stocking up as emergency stores. We had no use for it ourselves. It was not in the best condition and we were glad of an opportunity to dispose of it and as Kilmainham Jail is our property we thought it would be reasonable to present it to these voluntary workers for use in the restoration.

Deputy Clinton.—£640 would pay for a lot of paint?—There is a great deal of painting.

117. Chairman.—We shall now take the statement of accounts dealing with the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park.*

Deputy Belton.—What is the size of this park; what is the acreage?—10,550 acres is the whole estate that was presented to us.

It is costing a lot of money?—We have a certain revenue from it, of course, but it costs money to administer.

118. Chairman.—In regard to the compilation of the property rental, how near is this to being finished?* *—We have speeded it up very much in the last few years. I was enquiring recently and most of the counties have been finished but there is a considerable number of properties in Cork and one or two other counties. When I say a considerable number of counties are complete, that does not mean that the work is mainly finished but I would say three or four years will probably see the end of it.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.

* See Appendix VIII.

* See Appendix IX.

* See Appendix X.

* See Appendix XI.

* * See Appendix XII.