MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 2 Iúil, 1964.
Thursday, 2nd July, 1964.
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
DEPUTY JONES in the chair.
Mr. E. F. Suttle (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste), and Mr. J. R. Whitty (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.
VOTE 30—OFFICE OF THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh called and examined.
425. Chairman.—Paragraph 29 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“A survey to assess the future essential demand for educational facilities in the State was undertaken by the Department with the assistance of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Organisation agreed to contribute one-half of the total cost of the survey subject to a maximum of £10,600. Preliminary expenses in respect of salaries, travelling, etc., incurred in the year to a total of £4,398 were charged to the Vote, and £5,455 received from the Organisation was credited as appropriations in aid.”
Have you anything to add to that paragraph, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—The total cost of this project is estimated at £21,000. It is being conducted by a team consisting of two university lecturers, a statistician and a secondary school inspector.
Chairman.—Could you tell us, Dr. Ó Raifeartaigh, what progress is being made with this project at the moment?—The study is very nearly completed now. In fact, it must be completed by 30th September of the present year. It is proceeding very well indeed.
It will cover all aspects from primary to post-graduate education?—Yes.
426. Chairman.—Paragraph 30 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Carlisle and Blake Fund.
The Fund represents a number of charitable trusts in the custody of the Minister for Education, the income from which (about £90 per annum) was formerly distributed among national school teachers selected each year. At the request of the Minister the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests made an order dated 6 March 1962 under which the annual income is applied to the award of four premiums of equal value to lay students who distinguish themselves at the final examination in the training colleges.”
Have you anything to add to the information contained in that paragraph, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is to inform the Committee of a change in one of the Trusts administered by the Minister for Education.
Deputy Cunningham.—What is the value of the premiums?—They are prizes awarded to the students in the Training Colleges, four prizes of £22 10s. each at the end of the Training College course.
427. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead A.— Salaries, Wages and Allowances—it is unusual to see the amount of expenditure on salaries, wages and allowances less than the amount granted. Is it due to shortage of staff?— There was the replacement of clerical officers by clerk typists and there were casual vacancies in staff. These accounted for the difference.
428. Chairman.—In regard to subhead D. —Expenses in connection with the Council of Education—could you say what the Council is engaged in at the present time?—The Council is not functioning at the present time.
429. In regard to the Commission on Higher Education, subhead E., has the Commission produced a report as yet? The Commission has heard all the witnesses?— They expect to report before the end of the current calendar year. I understand they have heard all the witnesses.
430. Deputy Booth.—On subhead G.— Appropriations in Aid—there is shown the amount received from OECD. There is a reference to this matter in paragraph 29 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Does the amount received exceed the amount of the expenditure so far, or is there some other expenditure as well?— The contribution from the OECD is on the basis of 50 per cent of the cost of the survey.
Paragraph 29 refers to expenses totalling £4,398 while £5,455 was received. Were there other expenses in addition to the £4,398?
Mr. Suttle.—No. The Department received, in advance of expenses to be incurred, a sum of 75,000 francs.
Dr. Ó Raifeartaigh.—OECD made an initial contribution of 75,000 francs, that is, £5,455.
Deputy Booth.—Payment on account?
431. Deputy Booth.—There is a list of securities held on 31st March, 1963 given at the top of page 65. This is a matter which I have raised in connection with other Votes. Is there a procedure for a review of the investments? Are they reviewed regularly or do they remain static?—They are reviewed from time to time in consultation with the Department of Finance.
VOTE 31—PRIMARY EDUCATION.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
432. Chairman.—Paragraph 31 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead A.1.—Training Colleges.
A scheme for the construction of new premises and the conversion of existing buildings at St. Patrick’s college was approved by the Minister for Education and is estimated to cost £1,250,000. The major portion of the work was put in hand during the year, a bank loan of £750,000 having been made available to the college authorities. An annual State grant to meet the cost of repayment of this loan is contingent on the continued use of the college premises for the training of national teachers or other approved educational purposes, and a formal agreement on these lines is in course of preparation. An initial grant of £21,588 paid during the year was provided by supplementary estimate.”
Have you anything to add to that, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—I understand that the formal agreement in this matter has not yet been completed.
Deputy Booth.—Has any amount been paid over yet?
Mr. Suttle.—Yes. There is mention in the paragraph of £21,588 having been paid during the year.
Deputy Booth.—That is not covered by any agreement at the moment?
Chairman.—Is there any reason for the delay in completing the agreement?—No. We have asked the Chief State Solicitor to draw up this agreement binding the owners of the College to ensure that it will be used solely for the purpose of training teachers and for other approved educational purposes. The agreement is in course of preparation. I do not think there is any special reason why it is not completed. We have complete confidence in the College authorities and there is no danger of the matter falling through in any way.
Has a period for the repayment of the loan been agreed upon?—Yes, a period of 35 years.
Deputy Booth.—Is it not the usual procedure that the amount of the loan is written down annually? This is a grant, is it not?
Chairman.—There is a loan also.
Mr. Suttle.—The bank is advancing the money in this case and the Minister is just meeting the repayments.
Deputy Booth.—The full capital amount will surely be met by the Minister?
Mr. Suttle.—By the Minister, eventually.
Deputy Booth.—So that the amount of the loan to the College is being written down by way of annual payments?
Deputy Booth.—Therefore, after 35 years, if the establishment continues that long, the loan will have been completely written off?
433. Chairman.—Are you exercising control over the standard and type of building?— We are. The plans have been approved by the Office of Public Works, the Department of Finance and the Department of Education, and the working drawings were also approved by the Office of Public Works.
434. Paragraph 32 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead C.6.—Grants towards the Cost of Heating, Cleaning and Painting of Schools.
A scheme of grants towards the cost of painting national schools was introduced on 1 April 1962. The scheme provides for the recoupment to managers or trustees of two-thirds of approved expenditure incurred by them on periodical painting. Grants paid in the year amounted to £57,800.”
Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—School managers may obtain a grant for external painting every four years and for internal painting every eight years. This is a new provision in relation to primary schools.
Deputy Clinton.—Eight years seems a long period.
Mr. Suttle.—That is the standard for internal painting and internal decoration. The Board of Works standard is eight years internally and three to four years externally.
Chairman.—I take it this is a popular scheme with managers?—It is now. It was slow getting under way in its first year. Since then it is very much in demand.
Deputy Burke.—It is being fully availed of?—It is.
Deputy Clinton.—Does the Department exert pressure on the manager to decorate a school if it needs it badly?—It is the duty of the inspector to do that and he does it when necessary, which happens occasionally. He reports to the Department if he thinks the school is in a bad state.
435. Chairman.—On subhead A.4. of the Vote—Special Course for Teachers of Physically and Mentally Handicapped Children—the saving is fairly substantial. Is there any particular reason for that?—There is. It happened in that year that there were some teachers attending this course who were not trained teachers in the sense of having had recognised training. They were Montessori teachers, and we do not recognise Montessori teachers except in these schools. Accordingly, they would not be receiving the normal salary of teachers. As well as that, one or two dropped out at the last moment.
Deputy Clinton.—What is the length of the course that must be taken by teachers?— It is a six months’ course.
They have to be qualified national teachers before going in?—Yes, normally.
436. Deputy Cunningham.—What is the follow-up to that? Do they continue in national schools, or do they transfer to special schools? Is it intended that they should do that?—It is intended they should continue in these special schools but, of course, these special schools are national schools. The teachers actually do go on working in these special national schools for handicapped children.
437. Deputy Clinton.—Is there any extra salary allowance for this additional qualification?—Yes, £75 per annum.
438. Is there a shortage of these teachers, or are they in sufficient supply?—They are in sufficient supply as long as we keep up this course. At the moment we have 37 of these special schools, but they are steadily increasing in number. Where a special school is sought, the local manager or managing body arranging for this school select their teachers, and these apply to be allowed to take this course. They take the course and then the school is ready by the time they finish the course. That is how the scheme works.
439. Deputy Booth.—On subhead C.2.— Model Schools—Miscellaneous Expenses— last year we raised the question of the exact definition of “model school” and we were informed that these schools were dying out— I think that was the phrase used. It does not appear that any of them have died so far. Have you been able to get them into the normal organisation yet, or is any progress being made to make them ordinary schools rather than having them under this heading which now appears to be out of date?—It is just a matter of the form of management. That is the only difference really, that the Minister is joint manager, and we would not feel called upon to take any special steps to put an end to that. We did have perhaps two or three school closures or something of that sort in certain cases some years ago, but nothing has happened in the meantime.
You are quite happy to leave it there, let them die in their own time?—They will not necessarily die at all, some of them. I can think of a few Model schools which are flourishing in numbers. The joint managership might die in its own time by request of one side or the other, but it is not a matter we push because it does not raise any real difficulty.
To all intents and purposes they are treated exactly the same?—Yes.
Mr. Suttle.—They are maintained by the State. In the case of the ordinary national school, maintenance is the responsibility of the manager, but the Model schools are maintained by the State.
Deputy Cunningham.—Is there any hope of dropping the name “Model school”?— It is a popular name; people have always called them so.
Deputy Booth.—It is a misnomer at the moment.
Deputy Burke.—It is still regarded as a certain status sign for people to send their children to a Model school.
Deputy Booth.—Even if it does not happen to be a model?
Deputy Burke.—That is a matter for argument on another occasion.
440. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead C.5.— Free Grants of School Requisites—what kind of requisite comes under this head and for what type of school?—These are for new schools or complete reconstructions. They would include maps and globes and equipment of that kind.
They are educational aids?—That is right.
It seems a very small sum for educational aids, even the total grant?—It just covers the bare essentials for a new school, or a completely reconstructed school.
Deputy Burke.—The amount seems small here?—It is only part of it. I think the manager is expected to make a contribution also.
441. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead C.6.— Grants towards the Costs of Heating, Cleaning and Painting of Schools—what was the cause of the under-expenditure of £20,000? Was it that the new painting scheme was envisaged as being more expensive than it turned out to be?—It was not that, but that it takes time to apply and to get things done. Sometimes it is very hard to get painters quickly at one end of the financial year. It arose entirely from the fact that it was the first year of the scheme.
442. On subhead C.7.—Grants towards the Cost of Free School Books for Necessitous Children—what sort of yardstick is applied here? Is there any definite rule for determining what is a necessitous child?—That would be on the manager’s recommendation.
Deputy Burke.—I suppose the teacher gives his opinion to the manager?—Yes, he would advise the manager and you would have the school manager’s recommendation then.
Deputy Clinton.—What would it cost to provide free books for all primary school pupils?
Chairman.—A very considerable sum since there are something like 550,000 pupils.
Dr. Ó Raifeartaigh.—Over 500,000 pupils.
Chairman.—If you average that even at 10/- each, it would be a considerable sum.
Deputy Clinton.—I raise this because we have come back from Israel, and the books there were entirely free?—The maximum amount payable to a school here for this purpose is the sum arrived at on the basis of 1/- per head for all pupils on the roll.
443. Chairman.—In the Appropriations in Aid, No. 10—Miscellaneous receipts, including repayment by County and County Boroughs Councils of part of the expenses of examinations conducted on their behalf—what do the expenses consist of, and are there other items included?—The principal other item is salary overpayments, and the increase over the estimated receipts arose on the recovery of the previous year’s salary overpayments. That is always happening to some extent on the appropriation side.
VOTE 32—SECONDARY EDUCATION.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
444. Chairman.—Paragraph 33 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General is as follows:
“Subhead E.—Publication of Irish Text Books.
No repayments were received in the year under review from the publishing company which had undertaken the publication of Irish text books with the aid of repayable grants. I have been informed that the matter was referred to the Chief State Solicitor for his advice in regard to the recovery of the amounts due.”
Mr. Suttle.—This matter was considered by the Committee in connection with its examination of the 1961-62 Appropriation Accounts. In his minute of the 11th May, 1964 the Minister for Finance states that he will keep the Committee informed of developments.
Chairman.—Has the advice of the Chief State Solicitor yet been received?—It has been, and we are considering it at this moment.
The sales we had covered the period up to 1960. Were there sales subsequent to that?— We do not know yet.
445. Deputy Booth.—On subhead A.2.— Laboratory Grants—was the saving due to the fact that applications for grants for equipment did not come in, or was it because they did not come in in time? What has been the response to this grant generally?—The saving in that particular year was due to the same cause as in the case of painting: it was the year of the introduction of the grant and so there was a time lag. There has been very great demand for these grants, and the scheme has been very successful.
Deputy Booth.—That is exactly what I had hoped.
Deputy Burke.—I suppose there is no room for setting up the laboratory in certain schools?—That is so. You occasionally find that, in city areas especially, but on the whole the scheme has been going on very well indeed.
446. Deputy Clinton.—On subhead A.4.— Bonus for Choirs and Orchestras—how is that bonus paid?—There is an examination and, based on it, a bonus is awarded for four-part choirs, three-part choirs and two-part choirs.
Is the bonus very small?—The four-part choir would consist of 38 voices, or alternatively, an orchestra of 20 instruments and the bonus for that would be £15, first class, and £12, second class. The three-part choir would consist of 20 voices or an orchestra of 15 instruments and the respective bonuses are £10 and £5. The two-part choir would mean 10 voices or 10 instruments and the bonuses are £5 and £3 respectively. A small team of experts visit the schools towards the end of the year to examine.
Is the bonus more in the nature of a prize related to the quality of the orchestra or choir rather than assistance towards their establishment or running expenses?—It is really a prize in relation to quality.
Chairman.—On a rough calculation you would seem to have a large number of choirs? —In the year concerned, 1962-63, we had 327 choirs and orchestras.
447. Deputy Booth.—On subhead E.— Publication of Irish Text Books—does this cover simply Irish texts or instructional books in Irish? Is it for teaching other subjects through Irish?—It is for teaching other subjects through Irish.
Is the delay in publication in the preparation of the material or is the delay at the publisher’s end?—It is in the preparation and completion of the works concerned in that particular year. They simply were not completed as expected. We were hoping that some more would be published, but there was delay at the publisher’s end. In fact the delay arose partly from what we have discussed already.
You thought the publisher might be catching up on arrears and, in fact, he was not?—He did not produce the goods for us.
He was already in arrear at the start of the year but you thought he would catch up? —Yes. There was also a small number of our own that did not quite mature that year, but it was principally the publisher.
VOTE 33—TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
448. Deputy Booth.—The explanation for the saving on subhead A.—Scholarships— states that proposed revised arrangements for payment of allowances were not subsequently adopted. Has this matter of payment of allowances been dropped, or is it still under review?—The matter has been dropped. The idea was that we would replace the scholarship system by a system of repayable advances of the training college fee, or portion of it, and we found the difficulties so great that we left the scheme as it stands. It works well enough.
449. Chairman.—On subhead C.—Training of Teachers—I notice that the Woodwork Teachers’ training course was not held. Was there some particular reason for that?—A further review of the situation in regard to teaching posts did not seem to call for it but, in fact, the course was held the following year.
VOTE 34—SCIENCE AND ART.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
450. Chairman.—In relation to subhead A.1.—Salaries, Wages, and Allowances—the note says that the difference between the grant of £106,967 and the expenditure of £99,873 was due mainly to vacancies in staffs of the National Museum and National Library. Have these vacancies been filled since?—Yes.
451.—On subhead A.2.—Travelling and Incidental Expenses—though you had several vacancies your travelling and incidental expenses were up. Why was that?—There was greater expenditure on foreign travel. That accounts for the increase.
452. Deputy Booth.—On subhead B.3.— University Scholarships—the explanation for the saving is that some scholarships were not renewed. Does that mean people did not continue with them or were they withdrawn from the holders?—Both. In some cases they were withdrawn because the persons did not qualify in the examination. In some other cases the students did not proceed with the post-graduate courses.
Are they post-graduate scholarships, or ordinary university scholarships, or both?— They are ordinary university scholarships but may be continued, if the student so desires and if he qualifies for a post-graduate course.
You make provision to enable people to do these courses?—Most of them, I think, go on to a higher degree. Certainly a great many do.
453. Chairman.—On subhead B.6.—Grants to Colleges providing Courses in Irish—what is the basis of these grants? Do they get grants from any other State funds?—The basis of the grant is capitation. There are courses for national, secondary and vocational teachers. There is a second type of course for people of 18 years and over. A third type of course is for pupils from 10 to 18 years. The grants paid by the Department of Education are entirely concerned with teaching. These summer colleges may also receive building grants from Roinn na Gaeltachta and I understand that that Department also gives grants for childrens’ holidays in the Gaeltacht.
Do these colleges submit accounts?—Yes, they have to submit accounts, and these are checked in the Department.
Are these all confined to the day colleges in the Gaeltacht?—To day colleges, but we pay grants to boarding colleges outside the Gaeltacht.
454. Deputy Booth.—In regard to subhead B.7.—Grants to Periodicals published in Irish and Newspapers publishing current News in Irish—could we have a note on the actual payments made to each of these newspapers, just to have it on the record?—Yes, certainly.*
455. Chairman.—In regard to subhead B.9.—Grant towards Cost of Short Films in Irish—is much use being made of these films?—Yes, these newsreels are shown weekly, I understand, in cinemas throughout the country.
Deputy Booth.—This grant is a Gael Linn grant?—Yes.
Is there any restriction on that? The amount has been overspent—it was probably very well done—but is there any limit to what Gael Linn can look for, or are they paid purely on results?—No, there is a limit. They make application and we decide how much is reasonable to give, and that is a ceiling for that particular year.
In this case, the estimate only provided for £3,250. Were there signs of increasing activity on the part of Gael Linn that you subsequently authorised £6,000? It seems a very large increase?—That is right. They were able to make a case that they needed more. At that particular time there happened to be an increase in the cost of production. The increase was estimated to be about 50 per cent. The grant for the year 1963-64 is £6,000.
456. Deputy Booth.—In regard to subhead C.9.—Catholic Workers’ College (Grant-in-Aid)—it is unusual for a Grant-in-Aid not to be paid in full. Is there any particular reason why the College was left short of £40 in this case?—There is a ceiling of £2,000 to that particular grant but it is only a ceiling. The grant actually paid depends on the deficit in the working of the College for the year. The remaining income of the College is derived from students’ fees and subscriptions from associate members.
VOTE 35—REFORMATORY AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
457. Chairman.—I notice from the notes that the number of committals to reformatory schools was less than expected, that the number under detention was less than anticipated, but that the number sent on remand or committed to places of detention was greater than expected.—It sounds paradoxical but actually it fits in, because what sometimes happens in the Children’s Court is that the Justice says that he will remand a child for a month to the house of detention, and that he will then review the position. Often then, on obtaining further information of the circumstances, or if a child conducts himself well there, the Justice decides to give him the benefit of probation.
It seems to work anyway?—It does.
VOTE 36—DUBLIN INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh called.
VOTE 37—UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES.
Dr. T. Ó Raifeartaigh further examined.
458. Chairman.—Paragraph 34 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor reads:
“Subhead B.—University College, Dublin.
Included in the charge to the subhead is £424,000 paid towards the cost of construction of new Science buildings at Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, estimated to cost £2,175,000.”
Have you anything further to add to that, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—No, I have no further information.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 5—COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL.
Mr. K. M. Fowler called.
The witness withdrew.
The Committee adjourned.