Committee Reports::Report - Appropriation Accounts 1962 - 1963::25 June, 1964::MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA / Minutes of Evidence


(Minutes of Evidence)

Déardaoin, 25 Meitheamh, 1964.

Thursday, 25th June, 1964.

The Committee sat at 11 a.m.

Members Present:







DEPUTY JONES in the chair.

Mr. E. F. Suttle (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) and Mr. L. V. O’Neill (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.


Mr. T. O’Brien called and examined.

374. Chairman.—Paragraph 35 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report reads as follows:

Subhead I.—Improvement of Estates, etc.

A payment of £11,962 to Limerick Corporation in recoupment of expenditure incurred on repairs to embankments included £5,810 in respect of repairs to an embankment protecting properties belonging to the Electricity Supply Board, the Limerick Harbour Board and two other concerns. I have inquired whether any portion of the expenditure relating to these properties is recoverable.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—In reply to an inquiry I made in this matter, I received the following information:

This expenditure was unavoidably incurred in protecting lands purchased under the Land Purchase Acts. It arose out of a special arrangement for the financing of emergency repairs to several breached embankments on the Shannon estuary. The breaches occurred on 22nd October, 1961, when hurricane winds coincided with a spring tide to raise the river to the highest level on record. Extensive flooding and hardship ensued and emergency measures became necessary.

Corkanree embankment was breached in eight places and Limerick Corporation undertook the necessary repairs immediately on the assumption that the expenditure would be recouped from State funds.

It was agreed between the Minister for Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance that the cost of such works, being carried out by local authorities, would be beyond the resources of the local interests and that whatever funds were used to carry out the emergency repairs should be reimbursed.

Subsequently, at the request of the Department of Finance, the Land Commission agreed to recoupment being made to the local authorities from the Vote for Lands, pending the investigation and consideration of the transfer of the embankments to the Office of Public Works, for attention under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945. This Act enables the Commissioners of Public Works to reconstruct such embankments. In the event of recon struction, the entire cost is borne by the State. The Office of Public Works are in fact dealing with the Shannon Estuary embankments in convenient sections in this manner.

In the special circumstances the question of recovering cash contributions, from the owners of the flooded lands, did not arise.

Deputy Kenny.—Was this the first time such an instance as this occurred?—Yes. There was a violent thunderstorm accompanied by hurricane winds in and around Limerick; a big public meeting was held to arrange for prompt remedial measures. The flooding had disrupted public communications and was in the nature of a major disaster at local level. The main road at Coonagh was entirely inundated. The expenditure incurred was treated as an emergency measure, and there was no question of recovering any portion of it. The work was carried out by the local authority, and the function of the Land Commission was the recoupment of that part of the expenditure on lands subject to land purchase annuity. The question of recovery would not have arisen at all had the embankment been transferred to the Office of Public Works in pursuance of the 1945 Arterial Drainage Act. On the general question of recovery, I should say that some years ago we had an embankment problem in Clare and this Committee faulted the Land Commission for consuming time waiting to see whether they could get local contributions. The situation then was worsening with every tide, and a like situation could have developed here.

375. Deputy Cunningham.—Is there a scheme promulgated now under a section of the Arterial Drainage Act?—There is. I have a note which reads: The embankment in question was transferred to the Commissioners of Public Works by order of the Minister for Finance dated 3rd September, 1963, entitled “The Shannon Estuary Transfer of Existing Embankments (No. 3) Order, 1963.” It was transferred entirely to their jurisdiction in September last.

Deputy Cunningham.—The work carried out by the Land Commission is part of that Scheme?—It would be offset against that scheme.

376. Chairman.—I take it the Land Commission is not interested in the ESB property?—Except to the extent that some properties endangered by the sea included not only that belonging to the ESB, but others owned by Irish Shell, the Limerick Harbour Board and the Limerick Racecourse, were purchased under the Land Purchase Acts. In fact, all the properties which were covered by our contribution to the Limerick Corporation were, so far as we were concerned, lands purchased under the Land Purchase Acts.

Would that mean the Land Commission would continue to be responsible?—No, our responsibility has now ceased.

Because it is handed over to the Office of Public Works?—Yes; it thus becomes a State charge.

377. Deputy Treacy.—Since Limerick Corporation were recouped as a result of this hazard, have there been any further demands on the Land Commission for recoupment for a like hazard or disaster?—No.

378. Chairman.—Paragraph 36 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

Suspense Account

With the sanction of the Department of Finance costs amounting to £400 paid to a solicitor representing a migrant who instituted legal proceedings against the Land Commission have been charged to a suspense account. The migrant had claimed damages on the grounds that, on the holding allotted to him, the dwellinghouse erected by a contractor employed by the Land Commission was defective. I am informed that the Land Commission proposes to claim recoupment from the sureties who entered into bond for the due performance of the contract.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—The defects in the dwellinghouse referred to in this paragraph were so serious that the Land Commission agreed to transfer the allottee to a larger holding, building thereon a new dwellinghouse and outoffices, including certain improvements and additions which the allottee had carried out on his first holding. The nugatory expenditure incurred in this case so far is £803, and this has been charged to suspense. I understand that two further allottees have now claimed in respect of their houses built by the same contractor but I have no information on these cases.

379. Chairman.—Perhaps you could tell us the nature of the defects?—This is a rather troublesome story and the explanation is fairly long. Item 1 was lack of proper foundations between the back door and the gable of the house; item 2 was the use of inferior damp proof course in external walls; item 3 was the omission of damp proof course in internal walls; and item 4 was the omission to treat wall plates and feet of rafters with wood preservative as specified in the contract. These were the principal defects.

380. Who would be responsible to see that the work was carried out properly?— Engineering inspectors and a supervisor.

Deputy Cunningham.—Of the Department?—Yes.

381. Deputy Cunningham.—Was any action taken against the contractor, or was any effort to take action against him initiated? —We are considering action for criminal negligence and/or obtaining money by false pretences. We are taking the advice of the Attorney General.

382. Deputy Kenny.—Had the contractor any former experience of building houses?— He had, yes. Inquiries made prior to placing the order with the contractor showed that he was a good tradesman and had been a contractor for three years; he had built ten houses, for others, not for us.

Has he got another contract?—Not from us; he has now ceased to be a contractor.

383. Do the Land Commission employ a clerk of works?—No.

It is a local inspector?—Yes, and a supervisor. If a badhat contractor is determined to be dishonest, he will be dishonest no matter what supervision is imposed; unless someone is standing over him all the time he will be dishonest.

Deputy Treacy.—Is the standard of work carried out by these contractors generally regarded as satisfactory?—It is, yes.

384.—Have you had many complaints in regard to work not carried out satisfactorily or have you had any intimation of legal proceedings of this kind?—We have had no intimation of legal proceedings, to my knowledge, in the past five years, other than the three cases in question here. We build roughly 150 to 200 houses per year, more than half by contract.

385. Deputy Kenny.—Are these houses in the same location?

Deputy Cunningham.—Are they in Dublin? —No, Kildare.

Deputy Kenny.—In the same location?— The houses were in two groups. There was one single house and another contract for two houses about half a mile away.

386. Chairman.—What do you propose to do with the defective houses?—We have transferred one of the aggrieved migrants to another holding with a new dwelling house, and the two others who are likewise affected may have to be treated in a similar way. The faulty houses may be capable of being restored and put into a habitable condition. If they are, we will give them to other migrants from elsewhere; if not, we will have to convert them into out-offices or something like that.

387. Deputy Cunningham.—This sum of £400 was incurred in legal expenses to a solicitor in one case only. Is that not very high for legal expenses?—It is, yes, but the migrant commenced proceedings by way of High Court action.

High Court action?—Yes—against the Land Commission for damages.

Was the action at any lower court?—No.

Why?—It was a question of jurisdiction.

388. Chairman.—In regard to the other two cases, have they been settled?—We have settled one and we are in course of settling the second almost in an identical way.

389. Have you any idea of the total cost to the Land Commission?—In legal expenses?

No—overall expenses?—Not yet, because they are not finalised.

Deputy Cunningham.—What was the cost of the action?—This depends on how much can be recovered from the sureties, on whether we get satisfaction, or whether we succeed in our claim against the contractor.

390. Chairman.—You mentioned sureties. Do you intend proceeding against the sureties of the contractor?—Yes, though our solicitor has advised us that, before we do that, we would be expected to take all available steps, including criminal proceedings, against the contractor and that if this is not done, it is open to the sureties to raise that matter in their defence.

391. Deputy Treacy.—I should like to know the price of the contract entered into?— £1,470 in the one instance which is the subject of the note and £3,180 in the other two cases.

392. Deputy Kenny.—Will this make any difference eventually in the rent to the migrant who gets possession of this defective house?—It may.

Deputy Kenny.—Will it raise the rent to the Land Commission?—If the Land Commission have to rehabilitate the building, they will do it entirely by means of a free grant; this will not add anything to an incoming migrant’s rent. If we cannot dispose of it at all to a new migrant, we may give the land out by way of local enlargement. At the time the holding was equipped in 1959, the Land Commission standard holding was 33 acres; it is now as high as 45 acres. So, the people accommodated in those 33-acre holdings have not sufficient land by current standards. We may now not put any house at all on the place; we may demolish the defective house, take away the materials and re-distribute the land to existing migrants, enlarging them by ten acres or so.

393. Chairman.—I take it that the proceedings in this case may be drawn out for some time?—They may be quite prolonged.

And that even the £1,400 on this house may all be lost in the end?—It is impossible to say. If we succeed in an action, well and good. If we do not, we shall have to appear again before the Committee in relation to it and ask the Department of Finance to authorise a write-off. It all stems from a dishonest contractor.

394. Deputy Treacy.—I take it that by reason of the legal advice tendered to the Land Commission in this instance you should now be in a position to say whether or not your case against the contractor concerned is likely to succeed?—It is very difficult to say. The defects can be proved alright and established but whether or not they would constitute legal negligence we are not sure, and the type of evidence required to sustain a case may be very demanding. It may not be easy to supply evidence of the kind necessary to satisfy a court.

Deputy Cunningham.—Contributory negligence on the part of the Department?— That could possibly be pleaded.

395. Chairman.—We will now turn to the Vote. Subhead G relates to Purchase of Interests for Cash and Auctioneers’ Commission. The scope of this subhead has been extended to include Auctioneers’ Commission. I presume that, up to this, the commission was paid in cash transactions. Does this now cover Land Bond cases?—It does.

When did this new approach start?— March, 1963. We have a special arrangement with auctioneers: 5 per cent. commission on the first £5,000 of price; 3¾ per cent. on the next £2,500; 2½ per cent. on the next £2,500 and 1¼ per cent. on balance. This is a special arrangement which we have with the Auctioneers’ Association.

396. Deputy Kenny.—How are the auctioneers appointed? Who appoints them?— The Minister is the appointing authority for our own Departmental auctioneers.

You have auctioneers out all through the country?—If we want to let lands by means of auction we have a panel of auctioneers appointed by the Minister. But the auctioneer receiving commission out of this subhead would be the auctioneer who happens to have carriage of the sale for the vendor in these land purchase transactions.

Deputy Booth.—The actual appointment of an auctioneer for a particular case would be by the Commission from the panel appointed by the Minister?- Yes, in the case of our lettings.

397. Chairman.—How much of the charge to the subhead represents commission?—In that year—it was the first year and was brought in by way of a Supplementary Estimate—the charge was £854.

Do you intend to pay it on Land Bond transactions from this on?—Yes. Where the vendor’s auctioneers give a substantial service in the case, and where no objection is lodged against the acquisition and there is no appeal on price.

398. Chairman.—In the note to subhead J.—Adjustment Advances—there is a Statement of Advances and Recoupment. Could you explain briefly what these are?—These advances arise from over-issued Land Bonds. Land Bonds for any particular tenanted estate can happen to be over issued; this may arise by means of a reduction or an adjustment in the annuity. The Land Bonds paid to a landlord are determined by capitalisation of a tenant’s annuity. The annuity is capitalised at 4¾ per cent and that capitalised sum becomes the landlord’s purchase money. If, later on, the Land Commission feel that that annuity is too high, they reduce it. Then the capitalised sum is based on a reduced annuity, and the purchase money to the landlord is accordingly abated. Sometimes, these revisions of annuity or decreases in annuity have occured after the landlord has been paid so that the amount he has been paid has been over-issued. The extent to which he has been over-paid is advanced to the Land Bond Fund from one of our subheads and is recoverable with interest from the landlord later on. These sums were as high as £60,000 in 1939-40. The whole thing has now abated down to one small item of £27. We expect the entire sum to be closed next year.

I notice the balance is not recoverable. Is it just closed?—Yes, it has in fact been closed.

399. Chairman.—In regard to Item 1 of the Appropriations in Aid—Receipts from Church Temporalities Fund—what purpose does the Fund now serve?—It is a capital sum left over of about £2½ million which is invested in a variety of securities giving a yield of about £95,000 yearly in dividends and there is an annual collection, which brings in about £11,000. That makes a total income of about £106,000. There are a variety of charges on that, including the National Teachers Pension Fund which gets about £26,000, the Department of Education gets £30,000, the Department of Agriculture £10,000, the National University £10,000, cost of administration amounts to £7,000 and we got £22,400. We have an income of about £106,000 and outgoings of about £106,000.

Deputy Booth.—How is the amount received by the Department accounted for here?—It is shown in the Appropriations in Aid, Item 1 (ii), £22,400. The cost of administration is shown in Item 1 (i), £7,000. This Fund has always paid its own way, even to the cost of stamps.

Chairman.—Is there any claim for the original purpose for which the fund was set up?—No. The agitation against payment of tithes in Ireland did not arise from any feeling that they were a penal imposition but because at the time they were paid to the upkeep of a minority Church. That Church became disestablished in 1869 with appropriate compensation, and its former revenue was collected by the State and assigned to the various national purposes I mentioned.

400. In regard to Item No. 4—Surplus income of Rent and Interest Accounts—the Original Estimate was £32,000 and there was a Supplementary Estimate of £16,000. Is there any particular reason why the original was so much off the mark?—A good deal of this arises on the income from lettings of land. That year we received by way of income from lettings as much as £212,000 which was as high as we had ever received. Outgoings on rates and overheads were about £187,000, which left us with a surplus of £25,000 of which we surrendered £20,000 to the Vote. There are other items included in the £48,000 but the surplus arose mainly from the fact that we were able to get attractive letting rents for land that year.

401. In regard to Item No. 6—Contributions towards improvements expenditure—I take it that these are improvements on holdings which are discharged?—Yes, they would arise on general improvement of estates; sometimes people give us money by way of contributions to the improvements. I particularly recollect a case where we had a substantial estate and we did repair works, which were of real benefit to a local authority and in that particular instance the County Council gave us a contribution.

Had the amount contributed been arranged? Is there some scale for it?—No.

Has it to be struck each time in relation to each job?—Yes. There is another case I can recollect where a church was in serious danger down in part of Cork. I think we got £100 from the Bishop of Cork in that case where our work had the result of preventing flood damage. The money received comes in in a variety of ways.

402. What would be the principal items making up the £6,500 in Item 7—Miscellaneous?—These are mainly salary recoupments. For example, the Manager of the Inland Fisheries Trust is an officer in the Land Commission; we pay him out of our Vote but his salary is recouped to us. Another item for that year happened to be some conscience money.

403. In regard to the National Development Fund, Shannon Flooding Relief Scheme, when do you expect to complete that?—We expect to complete it this year. We have already spent £125,000 and another £9,000 will finish it.

That is £134,000 for the estimate?—Yes.


Mr. T. O’Brien further examined.

404. Chairman.—On subhead C.2.—Forest Development and Management—I notice the work was interrupted by severe weather.— There was a severe winter that year with prolonged snow and frost during January and February.

I take it that that affected your planting programme?—It should have affected our programme but, the spring being late, planting went on until late April. We had a planting programme of 25,000 acres and succeeded in planting 24,708 acres.

405. Deputy Kenny.—When the Department buy land for forestry purposes, can the former owner retain the game rights?—Not generally.

What happens if he wants to retain them? —There can be a certain amount of friction between game and forestry and we could not allow forestry to be subordinated to game. Certainly in the early years of laying down plantations, it is necessary that the ground should be disturbed. For that reason we are not disposed to allow retention of game rights. I know that people who own game rights will sometimes insist on keeping them, but certainly there could be no effective shooting during the early years.

Suppose a person has 1,000 acres of land over which he had game rights and he sells that to the Land Commission, can an agreement be made so that he can retain the game rights?—That would be a matter for negotiation but normally we would not be disposed to agree. If at the end of 20 years he was still interested and the trees had come up, and there was some cover for game, then, a new situation would of course arise. We would be disposed to accommodate an existing sporting organisation, such as a gun club.

406. Chairman.—In regard to subhead D.— Grants for Afforestation Purposes—the note says that provision was made for a greater number of planting grant applications than were ultimately received. I know you were interested in this and you intended advertising and embarking on a publicity campaign. Did it not come up to your expectations?— Not to the extent expected. The private planting programme has improved but it has not measured up to what we thought it ought to be. In that particular year, 1307 acres were approved for private planting and, in fact, laid down. That was more than double what it was five years earlier; then it was between 400 to 500 acres. I should perhaps give figures to show the improvement over a few years commencing with 1957-58 when it was 424 acres. In 1958-59 it was 598 acres; in 1959-60 it was 1294 acres; 1960-61, 986 acres; 1961-62, 1090 acres; and 1962-63, 1,307 acres. It has gone up more than double but is still small. The total area of State plantations would exceed 400,000 acres; the total privately planted would not come to 12,500 acres.

407. Deputy Treacy.—May I advert to subhead C.3—Sawmilling? I should like to have an idea as to the financial state of timber factories and what Mr. O’Brien thinks of their future as profit-making devices.—We have actually published the accounts for Cong and Dundrum; they appear in the report of the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee for 1961-62. Cong currently shows a profit but Dundrum does not. We are trying to improve Dundrum; we had a loss of £2,348 in 1962 which was reduced to £491 in 1963, so it is on the point of breaking even

408. Chairman.—I take it that the accounts for the year 1963 will be appended to the 1964 Accounts?—Yes. They have, in fact, already been submitted, and they will be appended to the Appropriation Accounts 1963-64.

Would it be possible to bring the accounts into line with the Appropriation Accounts for the year ending 31st March?—I shall consider that but, so far, the accounting year has been to 30th September.

Then, the whole thing would be in line with 31st March.—Some bodies consider it more convenient to work on years ending 30th September. Boards of conservators work on that basis.

409. Deputy Treacy.—I take it you are happy about the future of Dundrum?—We are not too happy about it. We are not sure that these sawmills should be run on a commercial basis at all; they are more by way of demonstration units. They are partly promotional in character and also afford us an outlet for lots of timber which would not command good prices in the ordinary timber market. We provide a lot of services around Dundrum, fencing posts, gates, scaffolding and other minor incidental things, much of the mill production being purchased by the community centred around the place. The mills also help us to keep in touch with prices for finished timber in relation to what we expect to get for timber ourselves.

You will appreciate I am expressing anxiety on behalf of the men concerned that this shall continue?—I inquired this morning about the employment content and it is quite high at 25.

410. Deputy Kenny.—How many are employed in Cong?—There are 21 at Cong, and 25 at Dundrum.

411. Was there something about the Cong sawmills making furniture?—We should not like to go into competition with the ordinary furniture trade.

Deputy Booth.—I presume the existing sawmills are not in competition. In fact, if they were closed down, there would be no other way of replacing the services through the normal commercial channels?—That is true.

It is a guarantee of keeping people employed, even though not strictly on a profit-making basis?—Yes; it also enables us to carry on research on timber qualities.

Deputy Treacy.—I take it, Mr. O’Brien, that the feeling of the Department is that it is not favourably disposed towards embarking on any more sawmills?—Not at the moment.

412. Chairman.—In regard to subhead G.—Appropriations in Aid—you made provision for a reduction in timber sales. Was this also due to bad weather?—There was very poor weather for extraction of timber from forests. I should like to say that the following year we more than made good, realising £120,000 more than we had estimated.

Was there another good year afterwards in regard to the sawmills?—We had had a good year; we were a bit over-optimistic in 1962-63 arising from 1961-62 when there were tremendous quantities of blown timber following Hurricane Debbie.

413. The account in relation to Forestry— Grant-in-Aid Fund for the Acquisition of Land—shows that you spent about half the receipts?—That year our acquisition of land was quite normal; we acquired 25,400 acres for £175,000. In the course of the year we took a Supplementary Estimate, in December, but in the outturn did not require it. We hoped that year to get in a few substantial properties, one of which was Glendalough; another was the Charteris Estate at Cahir and a few more big areas of that kind, all of which would come to £100,000. Glendalough has not come in yet but Charteris Estate came in the following year and has been paid for. This money is still available because the balance unexpended in the Grant-in-Aid is not liable to surrender at the end of the year. So we have a rather substantial balance now, and our current demand on the Exchequer under subhead C.I. is low.

414. Chairman.—We are spending about £3 million a year now on forests and forestry development. Can you give us any idea of the value of State forests?—Our capital investment is of the order of £45 million but I could not put a value on growing stock; we are getting about £¾ million at the moment in timber receipts and we expect them to go up. In fact, my hope would be that by 1975 we would break even, that our income from forestry receipts would be £3 million, and our outgoings £3 million so that we would make no demand on the Exchequer.

You gave the figure of £45 million as capital investment. Income from forestry is about £½ million roughly, so there is £½ million on £45 million investment?—I do not think that is a fair way of putting it. The bulk of the investment is as yet not producing anything at all. A plantation 10 years of age has cost quite a lot of money; it has no value at the moment but will have tremendous value 30 years hence.

Deputy Kenny.—What is the chief income item of forests?—Mature timber suitable for constructional purposes. We also get quite a substantial income from selling poles to the ESB and the Post Office; thinnings also contribute to our revenue.

Do you export any?—We export pit props and processed woods like wallboard and chipboard.

You have scantlings?—Yes, and thinnings.

Chairman.—Your investment and income will increase over the years?—Yes.

You will continue to grow both ways?— Yes; we will grow far more rapidly in revenue. By 1975 or 1980, we expect that our receipts would match our outgoings and we would make no demand on the Exchequer.

Deputy Booth.—In the notes there is a reference to machinery and stores valued at £4,041 supplied without repayment to the Department of Defence. Were they surplus materials and stores?—That was the mobile workshop which was the subject of comment by the Committee about two years ago; it has been transferred to the Department of Defence for their transport fleet.


Mr. T. O’Brien further examined.

415. Chairman.—Paragraph 37 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

“Subhead D.5.—Compensation, etc.

The charge to this subhead represents a payment of compensation under section 35 of the Fisheries Act, 1939 amounting to £360 which, owing to delay in proving title thereto, was paid into the Circuit Court in accordance with section 3 (4) (b) of the Freshwater Fisheries (Prohibition of Netting) Act, 1951.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—This payment disposes of one of the last three cases of compensation under the 1939 Act. I understand that compensation of £2,700 and £600 has been agreed in the other two cases.

Chairman.—Can the remaining two cases be disposed of in the same way?—We hope to do something like that and to get rid of them out of the Vote; the two cases involve £3,300. The delay is entirely the fault of people unable to prove title.

416. Chairman.—Paragraph 38 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

“Subhead D.8.—Pond Fish Culture

I referred in paragraph 38 of my report on the accounts for 1959-60 to expenditure incurred on the construction and equipment of two demonstration units on privately owned lands to encourage landowners to undertake small scale fish farming for the production of rainbow trout. Four such units have now been completed and a further unit is in course of construction. The agreements made with the owners of the lands provided that part of the cost of construction and equipment together with the running expenses for the first year of operation would be repayable with interest over a period of twenty years. I have made inquiries regarding the expenditure incurred and the amounts repaid in the case of three completed units and I have also inquired regarding rates of interest charged.”

Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?

Mr. Suttle.—As a result of our inquiries, these matters have been satisfactorily settled except in the case of one unit where the owner died and there is difficulty over a water supply.

Chairman.—Do you intend to construct further units?—These are largely in the nature of demonstration units. I think we have about five or six now and we shall stop there for a while.

Do any of them operate at a profit?—I would say that the one at the Glen of Aherlow and that at Enniscorthy are pretty well established and should be showing a profit. We have not too much difficulty in collecting from them, which may be a fair indication that they are running at a profit.

Has there been any comparable development by private enterprise?—I think there has. Cement Limited have a substantial unit at Woodenbridge. A Dane has a 100 pond unit at Waterville in Kerry. They are two large-scale commercial units and there are also one medium and two small ones.

417. Chairman.—Paragraph 39 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:

“Salmon Conservancy Fund

The income of the Fund is derived from levies on exports of salmon, from excess duty on salmon rod licences and from contributions from the vote. Payments are made from the Fund to Boards of Conservators of such sums as the Minister may think fit to supplement their incomes and towards expenses incurred in connexion with any scheme for the improvement of inland fisheries. An account of receipts and payments is appended to the appropriation account.

£8,171 has been paid from the Fund towards the cost of construction, by the Galway Board of Conservators, of a salmon hatchery and rearing station at Cong. The cost, estimated at £11,200, is being met from the Fund subject to a local contribution of £1,000. 50 per cent. of the net expenditure from the Fund is repayable by the Board by means of an annuity over a period of twenty years commencing on 1 April 1964.”

Deputy Kenny.—I notice you have a station at Cong. What service does that provide?—The original idea was to provide for the restoration of the Corrib because of arterial drainage; it will also supply fish for stocking other rivers including the Moy.

There is a similar one at Treanlaur outside Newport?—That is different; it is a research station of the Salmon Research Trust. Its operation is financed partly by the Department and partly by Arthur Guinness Son and Co. Ltd. The Department pay one-third of the running expenses subject to an over-riding maximum of £1,000. The capital cost of the salmon hatchery station at Cong is financed half by grant and half by advance which would be repayable by the Galway Board of Conservators.

Was this established because the salmon content of the Corrib was getting low?— Partly that. I think that was the idea of having an artificial hatchery to replenish the stocks there and to provide for the western area in general.

418. Chairman.—In the Vote itself, subhead C. 4. relates to the Exploratory Fishing Vessel. Was the vessel not in full time operation at all?—It was, yes, The saving is relatively small; it is just about £2,000 out of £14,000 for expenses which are difficult to estimate.

Deputy Kenny.—What are the functions of this vessel—to locate fish?—That is part of it—and to engage in research for which it has biologists on board. It tries to locate shoals of fish and in that year, I think, the Achill herring fishing, by virtue of some operations it carried out, was opened about three to four weeks earlier than usual.

The Clew Bay one?—Yes.

How many months of the year would that vessel be at sea?—Practically all the time at sea, except when in for maintenance and overhaul. The investigations carried out that year were concerned with herrings, whiting, plaice, Dublin Bay prawns and hake. The vessel was also used during the first half of the year to search for herring off the coasts of Donegal, Mayo and Galway, and it assisted in the location of shoals in the Dunmore East area in the winter months. As a result of those activities and the co-operation of some fishing skippers, the herring fishing season in the Achill area was opened earlier than in the previous years.

Deputy Booth.—Would this subhead cover maintenance on the vessel itself?—Yes.

So, the saving could easily have been that you were a little bit pessimistic originally about maintenance and the maintenance costs were slightly less?—That is right; it is very difficult to forecast for a ship.

Deputy Kenny.—How many crew and personnel has the vessel?—Eight—a Captain and about seven members.

And the size?—Eighty feet long, a draft of 9.9 feet aft and 6.7 feet fore.

Deputy Booth.—Does the crew of eight include technicians and biologists?—There is accommodation also for two technologists and two biologists.

The navigational crew is eight?—Yes.

419. Deputy Treacy.—Subhead C.5. relates to Training Schemes for Fishermen. Could we have some elaboration as to the underexpenditure on these schemes.

Chairman.—This is a hardy annual.

Mr. O’Brien.—Actually, what happened was that the number did not come up to expectations that particular year. We have improved the conditions. We have increased the allowances from £4 to £5 a week and the position has considerably improved since. I could give the Committee some information which I have here. There are two schemes. One is for training fishermen as skippers. Ten fishermen obtained certificates of competency in 1962-3 and twelve in 1963-64.

Deputy Kenny.—How many started that course?—Practically all who started finished. Since the inauguration of the scheme for training fishermen as skippers in 1958, forty-three fishermen completed courses under the scheme and 40 of these received certificates of competency under the Merchant Shipping Acts administered by the Department of Transport and Power.

Would they be entitled to get a ship?—

Yes—of a certain size.

By grant and loan from the Department?— Yes, through An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

They would get priority?—Yes.

Deputy Treacy.—I take it that you guarantee these men secure employment when they qualify?—Not quite guarantee it, but they are certainly better fitted and they have priority for the purpose of getting a boat.

Deputy Kenny.—I understand that most of these trainees come from inland places?— Curiously enough, some of them do—not from maritime places at all. That is in the case of the second scheme for the training of boys as fishermen. Their allowance has been increased to £5 a week with effect from July, 1962. Interviews were held at a number of centres. By decentralising the interviews, we were able to attract more. A residential course is now established with the co-operation of the Department of Defence, at Haulbowline, and 20 boys attended the first course which began there some months ago. On 31st March, 1964, there were 67 boys in training under the scheme while 40 former trainees were in full employment as ordinary crew members on fishing boats. That comes to over one hundred.

Do these trainees live in or stay out in digs?—They may stay out in digs. Generally, they are assigned to a boat to be trained as an ordinary working member of the crew; they would be a type of apprentice for two years.

There is no regular college?—The nearest approach to that is the naval base at Haulbowline, where they stay for ten weeks learning the fundamentals of navigation, seamanship and net-mending.

Deputy Treacy.—They come mainly through the vocational schools?—Mainly. In fact, that is the best recruiting ground for them.

420. Chairman.—Subhead D.6. relates to the Contribution to Inland Fisheries Trust (Grant-in-Aid). What proportion of Trust income is represented by State contribution? —About 95 per cent. The income from their members and from donations would be about £3,500.

421. In regard to Item 1 of the Appropriations in Aid—Proceeds of fines and forfeitures incurred in respect of fishery offences —the explanatory note says that the surplus arose from successful prosecutions involving forfeiture of fish and gear of foreign seafishing boats. I take it that the catch is disposed of?—The fish would be sold. Actually, the principal source of revenue that year were three French trawlers, two Polish and one German which yielded about £3,500.

Deputy Kenny.—Do you mean the forfeiture of the gear?—Yes, the fish and the gear.

Is that sold by auction?—Sometimes it is.

Deputy Booth.—Is it re-purchased?—It is almost invariably re-purchased by the offender.

422. Chairman.—In regard to Item 7 of the Appropriations in Aid—Recoupment from American Grant Counterpart Special Account in respect of Technical assistance, (Subheads A and F)—the note says that projects were curtailed owing to concentration on those involving expenditure not eligible for recoupment. Is there any reason for concentration on projects of this kind?—No, that just happened to fit in that particular year.

423. In regard to Item 9—Miscellaneous receipts—could you tell us what the principal items are?—They are for staff on loan to other bodies.

424. In regard to the Salmon Conservancy Fund, on the payment side, I notice that the cost of administration was £250. How do you ascertain the cost of administration?—It is a very fractional cost of the services of four officers.

The witness withdrew.

The Committee adjourned.