MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin 7 Nollaig 1967
Thursday 7 December 1967
The Committee met at 11 a.m.
Mr. E. F. Suttle (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) and Mr. T. K. Whitaker and Mr. S. Murray (An Roinn Airgeadais) called and examined.
Mr. P. Berry called and examined.
79. Chairman.—We are continuing this morning with our consideration of paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. They read:
“1. As may be observed from my previous reports I have, with the encouragement and support of the Committee of Public Accounts, extended the scope of my audit from an examination of regularity into the field of administrative efficiency. This is in line with modern State audit as developed and practised in other countries. With the exception which I mention in the following paragraph, I have received the co-operation of Departments and State-sponsored agencies.
2. In the course of audit of votes accounted for by the Office of the Minister for Justice I asked the Accounting Officer for certain files which in my judgment were necessary for the completion of the audit. These, from evidence before me, appeared to relate to travelling expenses, the supply of medicines to Gardaí and an Organisation and Methods report on the payment of witnesses’ expenses in certain Court cases. The Accounting Officer suggested that my request be withdrawn because he saw objection, in principle, to making available any papers which might contain administrative directions or arguments of a policy character and matters of that kind. I have rejected that suggestion because it is quite plain that if Departments were allowed to withhold or delay information, on grounds of policy or interest, the whole purpose of State audit would be defeated.”
80. Mr. Berry, the Accounting Officer, Department of Justice, has come to help us in connection with these paragraphs. May I ask the Comptroller and Auditor General if he has anything further to add to the paragraphs?
Mr. Suttle.—Accounting Officers are appointed by the Minister for Finance to account personally for moneys provided by Dáil Éireann for the public services. It is my constitutional duty to see that these moneys are spent in accordance with due authority, regularity and efficiency, and to draw the attention of Dáil Éireann to instances of irregularity, waste, extravagance, or cases of fraud, misappropriation or administrative inefficiency of one kind or another.
81. With policy, per se, as decided by Dáil Éireann, I am not concerned, but the implementation of policy is an administrative act that usually either directly or indirectly affects the expenditure of public moneys. Moreover Article 33 (1) of the Constitution says that I shall audit all accounts of moneys administered by or under the authority of the Oireachtas.
82. As a result of my audit I have to certify to Dáil Éireann that “I have obtained all the information and explanations that I have required” from the Accounting Officers and this involves such access to departmental papers that I judge to be necessary. You will notice at page 49 of the accounts that I have been unable to attach my usual certificate to the Appropriation Account because the Accounting Officer did not furnish to me the papers that I requested which are referred to later.
83. Very many years ago the Public Accounts Committee expressed the view that no Department has a right to refuse information, even though of a highly confidential character, to the Comptroller and Auditor General who alone is competent to say what information is necessary for the discharge of his constitutional duties. In the course of an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office given in 1955 it was stated that one could not readily imagine that any Minister would allow his accounting officer to withhold information in his Department which was sought by the Comptroller and Auditor General in the course of his audit.
84. More recently E. L. Normanton in his book “The Accountability and Audit of Governments” published in 1965 (a copy of which is in the Dáil library), states (pages 302-3) that “the matter of access to information and records is absolutely basic and fundamental to all State Audit; if executive departments are ever allowed to withhold or delay it on a plea of policy or interest then the auditors might as well assume that arbitrariness has become the rule for the conduct of government, and accordingly shut up their shop.”
85. In the 20th century a contention that only information and records directly relating to finance need be made available is not tenable, because no clear line can be drawn separating supposed “financial” material, for the reason that it is very hard to think of any administrative activity divorced from finance. In most cases it is necessary to use a good deal of non-financial background information to build up a case of clear financial importance.
86. For over 40 years the staff of my office has been examining files in all departments regarding policy administration and matters of a highly confidential nature. On no occasion has there been any complaint about the sense of responsibility of the officers concerned.
87. Perhaps the most vital secret of all time was the atomic bomb project in the U.S.A. during the last war. The financing of the project was top secret. Nevertheless the Comptroller General was able to testify to the Senate that he audited on the spot every item of expenditure from the beginning and obtained all the information and explanations that he required. The director of the project insisted that this should be so.
88. The specific instances mentioned in my report related to (1) Garda Travelling Expenses. The Garda Code indicates rates of travelling expenses for members of the Force. In the course of audit we came across a travelling claim which was revised to give a Superintendent a retrospective increase in his allowances. The reason was not apparent but the vouchers gave a reference to files A.2/21/31 and 4/4/4 which suggested that these files would contain an explanation for the adjustment. The files were first requested on 2nd December, 1966.
89. (2) Supply of Medicines to Gardaí. The second case related to the supply of medicines for Gardaí in the Dublin area under an arrangement of long standing with a firm of Dublin chemists. This arrangement was not covered by a regular contract and the question was raised by my predecessor with the Accounting Officer as long ago as 1956. In the intervening years the file has been examined from time to time and I was officially informed in 1960 that at the direction of the Minister for Finance steps were being taken to regularise the procedure. When the file was requested in February 1967 it was not made available, consequently I am unable to say whether the Accounting Officer has complied with the direction of the Minister for Finance.
90. (3) Organisation and Methods Report on the Accounting Procedures for the payment of Witnesses’ Expenses. The procedures for the payment of witnesses’ expenses are archaic and in my opinion unnecessarily complex and inefficient. Several Departments are involved including the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance, the Department of Local Government, as well as the Garda Síochána and local authorities. Accounting procedures are subject to examination by Local Government Auditors as well as the Auditors in my Office. Clearly it is time for a revision of the accounting methods. I was aware from a previous examination of the file in question that an O. & M. team from the Department of Finance, which investigated the matter in 1956, had made certain recommendations and I considered it my duty to see what progress had been made. The relevant file was requested in the normal way in February 1967 but it has not been made available.
91. Chairman.—We should like to hear a statement from Mr. Berry on this matter.
Mr. Berry.—As a preliminary, I should say that I feel at a disadvantage in listening to this very long and detailed statement by the Comptroller and Auditor General. I would like, if I may, to be given a copy of it so that I may consider it in its implications, and indeed it may be that in the light of what he has said here, I may wish to reconsider my position; but there is too much detail for me to assimilate in these very short few minutes.
92. I would like to be given the opportunity here of recapitulating the circumstances which give rise to my correspondence, my formal correspondence, with the Audit Office in July, 1967 which is referred to in paragraph 2 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report. The circumstances were as follows:—
Early in the year, at working level in the Audit Office and in my accountant’s office, a number of files were requisitioned. The requisition is not a formal document; it is in the form of a scrap of paper of this kind—and this I have here is the actual requisition for this file—this requisition was made for files, as it is made very frequently; and as my accountant had no control over administrative files—he is physically separately situated from the main office—he did not give the file. He then got a verbal inquiry from the same auditor saying that if they could not get the file, they would like a reply in writing. My accountant referred it to the Establishment Division and the Assistant Secretary in charge of that Division sent a reply in writing as follows:—
“Accountant: Items of expenditure are not dealt with on the file which the auditor requests.
The file is merely concerned with the examination by this Department of recommendations made in an O. and M. Report on the present machinery for the payment of lay witnesses’ expenses in the District, Circuit and Central Criminal Courts. The O. and M. investigation was carried out by the Department of Finance which is the Department primarily concerned and a copy of the report should be available there (reference E.97/9/53).
A copy of this minute may be handed to the Auditor”.
93. That was done, and as a result the Audit Office phoned the Assistant Secretary on 25th April, and I quote the recorded note: “To assert the right of the Comptroller and Auditor General to obtain any file whatsoever”. The matter was referred to me at that stage by the Assistant Secretary and I adhered to the view that, as the file dealt solely with policy matters, I was not prepared to release it: the auditor was so informed.
94. On 2nd May, a request in writing was made by the same auditor, at working level, to the Accountant for a number of files which included administrative files A/2/21/31 which was a police file in Garda Headquarters, 4/4/4, a Department of Justice file dealing with police matters and file 4/185/1 dealing with medicines supplied to the Dublin Metropolitan Gardaí. The request was referred to the Assistant Secretary on Establishment matters who gave the following directions: “The files deal with major policy and in accordance with the precedent in the case of the file re witnesses’ expenses we are not prepared to make them available to the Audit Office”.
95. He made the following observations on the file at the time: “The Comptroller and Auditor General seems to be abandoning what used to be the standard way of getting information, i.e., the Audit Query, in favour of asking for the whole file”. At this stage I should mention that the Assistant Secretary in question had been a principal officer in the Department of Finance where for several years he had been Estimates Officer with a specialised knowledge of financial controls. I myself, as late as October, 1965, had answered Audit Queries in relation to administrative matters which were related to items of expenditure which had come up during the year and, indeed, there was some talk in this room, 21st October, 1965, in relation to an Audit Query which I think I answered satisfactorily for the Public Accounts Committee. So it seemed at that stage to me that the words of the Assistant Secretary were well justified, that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office were abandoning the traditional form of inquiry.
96. I knew, of course, that the Comptroller and Auditor General had no statutory authority to demand papers relating to administration and policy proper. His powers are set out in the Acts of 1866 and 1921 and in section 7 of the Comptroller and Auditor General Act, 1923; and then there is the constitutional provision in Article 33, subsection (1) of the Constitution of 1937. I knew what were the statutory powers but I also knew that down the years a system had evolved where Government Departments generally, and my Department in particular, I might add, recognised that the Comptroller and Auditor General should have the right to inquire into any questions of extravagance or waste in administrative matters which arose out of items of expenditure which the Audit Office had been looking into. I recognised that fully and freely but I must emphasise that the machinery for ascertaining information for the Comptroller and Auditor General was the Audit Query. That was my view; that was the view of my expert who should be expected to know, and here I found for the first time in my experience the Comptroller and Auditor General was looking, through his officials at working level, for files which contained what might be highly confidential matter.
97. That was my position at that point of time when I had authorised the refusal of files which contained matters of a policy nature. Two days later a formal written request was made by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office to the Accounting Officer for the administrative files which had already been refused at working level and I replied to the Comptroller and Auditor General:
“I see objection in principle to making available any papers which may contain administrative directions or arguments of a policy character and matters of that kind. Accordingly I would suggest that the request be not pursued”.
I felt that I was giving a very cautious, gentlemanly reply which would enable the Audit Office to come back and say to me that they were changing their form of request for information.
98. Up to then, as I say, it was an Audit Query with requests for information, which was always freely given. I have never known in my time the Audit Office ever saying that they were deprived of information of any kind and I should also like to say at this stage that I have the highest respect for the Comptroller and Auditor General and for the functions of his office. Our relations have been uniformly good; I simply do not understand the way in which this matter developed, culminating in strictures in public on me. I simply do not understand it.
99. However, at this point of time, I wrote this letter—as I say, carefully phrased— thinking that the Audit Office would come back saying: “We require these files because during the year some items have come to our notice, which would indicate that there was waste or extravagance”—or something of that kind— “and we have abandoned the traditional form of the Audit Query”. It seemed to me that the Comptroller and Auditor General was changing —I would not say he was pursuing his traditional course but was doing an entirely new thing—changing from the Audit Query. As I say, in previous years, there had never been any question certainly that I know of, of the Audit Office not getting all the information they wanted in relation to any matter. It is more in my interest indeed than anybody else’s to see that extravagance and waste, inefficiency or irregularity in the office of the Department of Justice are rooted out, and I am most grateful to the Audit Office when they bring things of that kind to attention.
100. I should like to impress on the Committee that there is no question whatever of concealment of any particular item. It was in pursuance of general principle, as under my control, as Secretary of the Department of Justice, I have a great deal of highly confidential information. This information is kept on files. The files are not segregated down into small units, one dealing with a policy decision and another with policy implementation and other matters of the kind. The files run all together. The requests made to me in relation to these files were in respect of omnibus files. There was no indication as to an item of expenditure earlier in that year which had drawn the attention of the Audit Office to the necessity of looking further into some administrative practice or administrative arrangement.
101. That was the position as I saw it on 11th July, 1967. I was taken aback, I must say, by the peremptory note I got from the Audit Office three days later, saying:
“With reference to your reply to Audit reference 22/36167 of 8th June, 1967, I am directed by the Comptroller and Auditor General to inform you that he rejects the suggestion that his request for certain papers should not be pursued and that he proposes in due course to report the matter to Dáil Éireann.”
I did not understand it. I had refused nothing. It was the Audit Office which was changing direction without any notification or without my knowledge—changing from the Audit Query to a demand for an omnibus file—one of these files covered a period stretching back to the year 1931, another to 1944 and another to the early 50s. There was no relationship whatsoever drawn between an item of expenditure looked at during the year which required further looking into by asking for an explanation by way of Audit Query or even looking for additional papers.
102. That was my position. At that stage I reported the facts to the Department of Finance—facts; no more. I heard no more until I opened my newspaper, on 22nd November, I think, to find that the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General which had been circulated generally, a day or two before that, was now highlighted and I was censured in paragraphs 1 and 2. I put it very mildly, Mr. Chairman, when I say I felt a sense of grievance. I felt that I had not been fairly treated. It was inexplicable to me that matters could have developed in this way. However, this was said and I saw that I was censured in public for my apparent failure to give the Comptroller and Auditor General papers which he required for the proper carrying out of his duty; but when I read it more closely in the light of what was said in the first and second sentences and then I moved to paragraph 2, I saw that what was being said was that the Comptroller and Auditor General was being deprived of papers to carry out the audit—not the form of audit as I know it but a new conception of audit which is referred to in paragraph 1, and not the traditional one.
103. The first statement made was:
“As may be observed from my previous reports I have, with the encouragement and support of the Committee of Public Accounts, extended the scope of my audit from an examination of regularity into the field of administrative efficiency.”
As I mentioned earlier, I have always recognised that the Comptroller and Auditor General has the authority to look into waste and extravagance by way of the Audit Query but it does seem to me that the Comptroller and Auditor General and his Office were entering into a new field completely. Not alone were they changing their method of approach but they were going now into a brand-new field.
104. The following line says:
“This is in line with modern State audit as developed and practised in other countries”.
I have no knowledge of the audit practice in other modern states—they are not specified— but I would imagine that whatever has happened there has been done with the sanction of Parliament and with the knowledge of Government; but here we have a new development. I am censured in a published report in relation to a new development about which I am hearing for the first time on 22nd November, 1967.
105. Now, as the Committee members will have seen, this report has got extensive publication outside and a certain amount of disquiet has been caused, and it has been caused by the phrase:
“I asked the Accounting Officer for certain files which in my judgment were necessary for the completion of the audit”
—the audit, of course, he should say, as newly conceived.
106. In the last sentence in paragraph 2, the Comptroller and Auditor General says:
“I have rejected that suggestion because it is quite plain that if Departments were allowed to withhold—”
I am paraphrasing—
“—information on grounds of policy or interest, the whole purpose of State audit would be defeated.”
But I want to reiterate, Gentlemen, that there was no question at any time of withholding information. What the Comptroller and Auditor General has been asking for is not that he should be given information or explanations but should be given omnibus State files, containing information perhaps of a highly confidential character.
I cannot emphasise too often that there has been no reluctance on the part of the Department of Justice at any time to giving any explanation or any information requested. It has been willingly given at all times. It is the change of methods and the inquiry into administrative efficiency which I am hearing of for the first time. As I said earlier it may be that the statement by the Comptroller and Auditor General this morning would require me to look at the whole matter all over again. It was read fairly quickly and I could not be expected to assimilate all that was said at that time. I would be grateful for an opportunity to consider what was said.
107. Chairman.—In that respect, you are not in a position now to state whether you would be prepared to give the files or not?—No.
108. When will you be in a position to do so? How long would it take you to assimilate the memorandum before you?—I think I should be given a half an hour or an hour.
109. Deputy Healy.—I would like to know if Mr. Berry would like it if we adjourned this matter for a week?—That would be very suitable.
110. Deputy Crowley.—I would like to second that. There are several references to books and Articles of the Constitution and various other arguments have been put forward by the Comptroller and Auditor General to stress the importance of his arguments. I think Mr. Berry should be allowed ample time to study this and be able to answer the points raised in the statement by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
111. Deputy Cluskey.—I agree that he should be given ample time to consider it but as Mr. Berry has indicated that a half an hour or so would be sufficient I would like to have Mr. Berry’s view as to whether, if the Committee were prepared to re-convene at 3 o’clock or 3.30 this afternoon, that would give him sufficient time?—My great difficulty is that I just do not know what is in those papers at the moment. It would suit me if the other suggestion of an adjournment for a week was accepted but I am in the hands of the Committee about this.
112. Chairman.—You said you consulted the Department of Finance in this matter?— No, I said I informed the Department of Finance.
You reported it to the Department of Finance?—Yes. The correspondence has not been completed.
We can take that up with the Department of Finance. The Department of Finance representative is here.
113. Deputy Molloy.—Before you leave that, I would like to ask Mr. Berry a question. Which section of the statement would you like to have time to consider further?—I have not seen the statement.
Did you not hear it read?—I am a little hard of hearing and I do not think it would be quite fair to ask me to answer questions on something which I have not considered carefully.
Deputy Cluskey.—It is not very much except a reiteration of the facts. If Mr. Berry was given some time to study it, perhaps that would be all right?—
114. Deputy Molloy.—My question to Mr. Berry was if he had an opportunity of reading it could he not answer the queries then? Mr. Berry said he had not an opportunity of studying the statement?—
Mr. Berry.—That is precisely my position
115. Deputy Healy.—I am in a different position. I am not so much interested in the time Mr. Berry needs but I have two viewpoints brought by two different people and I want to see each of them making their case. I am not satisfied that Mr. Berry would be able to assimilate all this in an hour. I am not satisfied with that and I do not see any reason for rushing this. He should have at least a week. We could leave this over for a week in fairness to Mr. Berry.
Deputy Kenny.—We should give Mr. Berry ample opportunity to study this.
Deputy Andrews.—I agree with that. This is a matter of such great importance that we should give Mr. Berry an opportunity to study it. There are a number of references to the Constitution, there is a reference to a particular book and there is also a reference to the Attorney General’s Office in 1955 which I do not think he could get by 3 o’clock. I think in the interest of the Committee, the interest of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office, the interest of the Department of Finance and the interest of the country this matter should be left over for a week.
Deputy Cluskey.—If Mr. Berry feels it desirable to have a week I do not object.
116. Deputy Molloy.—I would agree if he wants a week that it is fair enough because he has not read it yet?—Mr. Berry.—May I put it this way? Paragraphs (1) and (2) of the Report before you are quite brief but there are a number of what I would call assumptions, assertions and conclusions in it which I think need consideration.
117. Deputy Andrews.—In view of the week we are about to take before we see Mr. Berry again, could we have a transcript of his evidence made available to the Committee?
I do not know if it is the usual practice of the Committee?—I have no objection to that in so far as we have one from the Comptroller and Auditor General.
118. Mr. Berry.—While the bells were ringing, I have had an opportunity of reading this statement. I do not feel any great difficulty —certainly if I get the week, it would be very good—but I must say that I see again that the only difference there is between the Comptroller and Auditor General and myself is that he is talking in paragraph 4 of the refusal of information. We seem to be examining the elephant from different ends. I have never refused information at any time by way of the Audit Query. It is the Comptroller and Auditor General who has changed his mode of procedure, as far as I know. Looking at the descriptions of the files he wanted, I could have dealt with them fully and adequately by way of answer to an Audit Query and, if I had not dealt adequately, then the Audit Office could have asked me at that stage for further information or could say: “We should like the papers in relation to the specific items.” I want to emphasise again what I was asked for was, as I produced a couple of minutes ago, on a chit of paper containing the following message: “The following files are required for inspection in this office: 4/185/1, Medical Supplies for Dublin Metropolitan Area”—the papers in this case go back 30 years.—“(2) Witnesses’ expenses recoverable from Law Charges Vote, and so on”. Again, the papers go back many years. If I were asked specific questions in relation to specific items, I could have dealt with them in one half-hour.
119. Chairman.—Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—On the question of files and papers, it is no new practice for the Audit Office to look for files and papers. I am in the office for the past 40 years and, from the very beginning, we have always obtained files and papers without reference to direct expenditure. But, on the question of Audit Queries, they generally arise after we have examined all the papers and files dealing with expenditure. When you have the complete background, it is then that we issue a query to put the accounting officer on notice that we are investigating a particular matter and to bring it to his notice and to get his views before we report to Dáil Éireann on any question. The reference sheet is to bring to notice some question we are in doubt about and that we are querying and to put him on notice so that he will not be taken unawares when he sees our report on the matter. On the question of files, I would say that for the past 40 odd years, since the office was set up, we have always had access to all files of the Departments.
120. Chairman.—Mr. Berry?
Mr. Berry.—What the Comptroller and Auditor-General has said, now, you see, obviously is not on all fours, as I said earlier, with the position as known to me. I should say that literally hundreds of files are passing through my Department every year to the Audit Office. The requisitions for administrative files are very infrequent. In the normal way, I never know what files are going out. It is only when it is a file dealing with administration or policy matters that it comes to my notice at all. We never withhold information. We are anxious to give it. We are as anxious as the Comptroller and Auditor-General to root out extravagance, waste, and so on but always the request for information in relation to administrative and policy matters follows on an examination by the Audit Office of items of expenditure. In their examination of the items of expenditure, a doubt is created in the mind as to whether so and so has been properly handled and it is at that point that information is asked for. The Comptroller and Auditor-General has cited an authority. I have an authority here in my hand also—Durrell on Parliamentary Grants—in which this matter of the authority and functions of the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the authority and functions of accounting departments are all set out at very great length indeed. I am speaking this morning in the knowledge of what is said here, which is a standard work, too. For all these reasons, I think that a week’s respite would be very desirable.
121. Chairman.—Mr. Whitaker is here and he has read the statement by the Comptroller and Auditor-General and has heard Mr. Berry’s observations. I wonder if he would be in a position to help us further on the matter?
Mr. Whitaker.—Not that I have anything much to say just now. I also got a copy of the statement by the Comptroller and Auditor-General while the bell was ringing but I am afraid I was not as assiduous as Mr. Berry was in reading and studying it. I shall want to say something to the Committee about the view of the Department of Finance on all of this—of the functions of the Comptroller and Auditor-General in relation to administration, “administrative efficiency” as he calls it, and his access to documents. But I wonder if it would not be more appropriate if I reserved that until the Committee meets again. I should have a better chance of studying the up-to-date position of the Comptroller and Auditor-General as given in the statement this morning.
122. Chairman.—Yes. Could we have a memorandum some time before the meeting?
Deputy Andrews.—An extract of the evidence.
Chairman.—We will get it and we shall have time to absorb it if we get it a day or so beforehand so that the Committee would have time to read and study it.
123. Chairman.—Mr. Whitaker has something to add?
Mr. Whitaker.—I should like to make something clear. What I will be supplying to you at the request of the Committee is a written preview of oral evidence, as it were. It is not a formal statement from the Department of Finance. I would like it to have the style and character of the kind of evidence I would give orally here—a contribution to the discussion and debate rather than a taking up of any formal position by the Department. I don’t want it to have the air of being the law and the prophets. It is a contribution to a discussion at this Committee, not a formal final statement of a viewpoint.
124. Deputy Cluskey.—In fact, the Department of Finance have no rigid attitude?
Mr. Whitaker.—They have an attitude but I made it clear the last day that we would not want to reach a final decision until all the evidence and discussion had taken place. To this Committee I am giving an interim statement by way of evidence of what our viewpoint is. I am giving that in written form in advance.
125. Chairman.—Will it be a statement we can put on the record?
Mr. Whitaker.—Anything I submit will be the same as if I am giving it in oral evidence and therefore it is for the record.
Mr. Berry.—One further small point—would you please authorise that I be given a copy of the transcript for this morning—apart from the members—so that I may consider it?
126. Deputy Cluskey.—Would it not be desirable that any communication being sent to the members of the Committee would also be conveyed to Mr. Berry, including Mr. Whitaker’s?
127. Deputy Cluskey.—Is it permissible to ask Mr. Berry one question?
Chairman.—Very good; I hope, not too embarrassing.
Deputy Cluskey.—Had your own Minister indicated his attitude to you, Mr. Berry, regarding disclosure of or making available these files?
Mr. Berry.—I am sorry that I forgot to mention this—thank you, Deputy, for calling my attention to this point. I would like to say that my functions as Accounting Officer appointed by the Minister for Finance are to the Public Accounts Committee. As Accounting Officer I am not responsible to the Minister for Justice at all. As Accounting Officer up to 11th July, 1967, when I sent that reply demurring from giving files, that was my decision.
The witnesses withdrew.
The Committee adjourned.