MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 29Iúil, 1971
Thursday, 29th July, 1971.
The Committee met at 11.30 a.m.
DEPUTY P. HOGAN in the chair.
Mr. E. F. Suttle (An t-Ard-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) called and examined.
VOTE 27—OFFICE OF THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION.
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt called and examined.
407. Chairman.—Paragraph 35 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Free Post-Primary Education Scheme
Reference was made in previous reports to the operation of the free post-primary education scheme including tuition, transport services, and free school books and accessories for necessitous pupils. The principal costs of the scheme in the year under review were as follows:—
As stated in previous reports the payments to Córas Iompair Éireann in respect of school transport services were made on a provisional basis pending the finalisation of arrangements regarding financial control and procedures with the company. These arrangements have recently been completed and it is expected that the adjustment of the provisional payments will be effected during the current financial year”.
Mr. Suttle.—The paragraph is generally along the lines as in the previous year and is given for information. I understand that the provisional payments made to CIE in the years 1967-68 and 1968-69 for transport of children have now been adjusted. My officers have not yet had an opportunity to look into the accounts furnished by CIE. I shall be dealing with this matter in my next report.
408. Chairman.—Paragraph 36 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead A.4—Higher Education Authority
The charge to the subhead includes ex-gratia payments, amounting to £6,700, made to members of the Higher Education Authority in respect of services rendered in the period 1 September 1968 to 31 March 1970. The sanction of the Minister for Finance was obtained for the payments”.
409. Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—The payments were made to members at the rate of £500 each except in the case of one member who was paid £200 in respect of service given from December, 1969.
410. Deputy MacSharry.—Does that mean that it is all right?
Mr. Suttle.—Yes. Most of these paragraphs are just for the information of the Committee: I have no criticism to make in them.
411. Chairman.—Paragraph 37 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead C.5—Higher Education Grants
The Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Act, 1968 authorises the making of grants by a local authority to persons ordinarily resident in its functional area to enable them to attend university colleges or other approved institutions of higher education. Section 4 of the Act provides for the refund from voted moneys to local authorities of the annual cost of such grants over and above the total amount £371,953 paid by them in the year 1967-68 by way of assistance and scholarships under the Irish Universities Act, 1908 and the Local Authorities (Education Scholarships) Acts, 1944 and 1961. The charge to the subhead £198,351 represents refunds made during the year to local authorities”.
Mr. Suttle.—Grants under the Act are made by local authorities in accordance with grant schemes approved by the Minister. Grants are paid at maximum rates of £300 or £175 per annum, according to whether the grantee lives away from or adjacent to a university town, and are also subject to a means test.
412. Chairman.—Paragraph 38 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead D.4—Physical Education
The charge to the subhead represents costs incurred during the year on the training in England of twenty male students as teachers of physical education, five on a specialised one-year course and fifteen on a four-year course. The heads of charge were:—
413. Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—Again, this paragraph is for information. I understand that a further group of students has since been sent for training and that it is intended to establish an Irish college of physical training at Limerick.
414. Deputy MacSharry.—I assume that that is in order?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—The preliminary arrangements in connection with it are in train at the moment. While it is hard to put a precise time on it, we are operating on the basis that it should be operable in about two years.
415. Chairman.—Paragraph 39 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead H.11—Voluntary Youth Organisations (Grants-in-Aid)
The original provision of £7,500 was voted as grants-in-aid for voluntary youth organisations and a further sum of £100,000 was provided by way of supplementary estimate in February 1970 being the additional sum required towards the provision of sporting and recreational facilities for young people. The charge to the subhead represents the total of grants made to fifty-eight organisations and I have inquired from the Accounting Officer whether these grants were made in accordance with regulations approved by the Minister for Finance”.
Mr. Suttle.—The grants made range in amount from £100 to £10,000. I have been informed by the Accounting Officer that it has been considered appropriate that regulations in regard to the making of payments out of the grants made should be formulated in the light of the advice of the National Sports Council.
416. Chairman.—Have these regulations been formulated yet?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—They have not. If I might point out apropos regulations, as such, the most you could hope to do in this case would be to lay down criteria. You could not possibly frame regulations that would cover on the one hand, say, the Cork Bowls Association and on the other Bord Lúthchleas Éireann. It would be impossible to frame detailed regulations in relation to the operation of grants of this nature. What could be done would be to lay down criteria and that is what we propose to do in conjunction with the Council for Sport which has been set up recently.
417. You appreciate, of course, that this is one of those grants-in-aid in which there is an unspecified recipient, and that it presents us with the same difficulty as another grant-in-aid presented?
—Yes, however, details are published each year. They are published in the public Press as to the recipients and the amount that each receives. Therefore, full information is available.
418. Are they laid before the Dáil?
—They are not formally laid before the Dáil but there is no reason why they should not be, if it were considered necessary. They are published in the Press; there is a full announcement of the bodies involved and of the amounts given to them.
419. Could the Committee have a copy of that information?
420. Deputy MacSharry.—Does the Comptroller and Auditor General get a copy of it?
Mr. Suttle.—Yes. I have full details of every payment made.
421. Deputy MacSharry.—Then it is not an unspecified recipient?
Mr. Suttle.—What the Chairman is getting at is that normally in a grant-in-aid granted by the Dáil, the Dáil specifies the grantee. In this particular case the Dáil grants £100,000 and it is left to the Minister to decide who shall get what part of that grant-in-aid. I have been furnished with all details of every organisation that received any part of that money.
422. Deputy MacSharry.—Could we change it to £101,000?
423. Chairman.—Paragraph 40 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead H.13.—Chester Beatty Library (Grant-in-Aid)
The grant-in-aid was paid to the trustees of the Library towards administration costs and the purchase and maintenance of books”.
424. Have you anything further to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is for information. Similar grants have been provided in the years 1970-71 and 1971-72. This looks as if this will be an annual grant from now on.
425. Chairman.—Paragraph 41 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead H.14.—Irish Countrywomen’s Association (Grant-in-Aid)
The grant-in-aid of £5,000 to the Irish Countrywomen’s Association was paid towards the costs of adult education courses and the general administration and maintenance costs of the premises at An Grianán, County Louth. The association also receives a grant-in-aid towards its general expenses from the Vote for Agriculture (No. 37 subhead I.3) which amounted to £9,500 in the year under review”.
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is published purely to correlate the State aid to the Association which derives its income from grants-in-aid borne on this Vote and on Vote 37 for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
426. Chairman.—Paragraph 42 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead H.15—Union of Students in Ireland (Grant-in-Aid)
The grant-in-aid of £5,000 was paid towards the cost of reconstruction of the Union’s premises in Dublin”.
427. Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This was a non-recurrent grant to meet about one half of the total cost of the reconstruction work.
428. Deputy H. Gibbons.—You are talking about the identification of those to whom the grants were paid. The real problem of the grant-in-aid lies in the guarantee that it was used for the purpose for which it was granted. I understand that in the past this was not done. I am wondering if anything like this would be done in the future?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—If the Deputy is referring back to the grant-in-aid for sporting activities, et cetera, the position is that detailed information is given as to the organisations which received portions of this grant-in-aid. It is obvious that the activities of the organisations are related to the purpose for which the grant-in-aid was voted.
Mr. Suttle.—In addition, in practically every case the accounts of the organisations were furnished to the Department and were available to me. It is only in some minor cases that accounts have not yet been furnished.
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—That is the position. Before there could be any question of a renewal of a grant-in-aid in a subsequent year, we get full details of their activities, in addition to accounts as to how they spent the money that was given to them in the previous year.
Chairman.—We now turn to the Vote.
429. Deputy MacSharry.—With reference to Subhead B.6—Technical Assistance in Education—what is the purpose of technical assistance in education?
—There are really three main purposes. The first one is to enable officers of the Department to go abroad to attend educational courses for the purpose of study. The second purpose is to help the managerial bodies and the teacher organisations for the same purpose, that is, to enable them to go abroad for courses of study. The third purpose is where we bring some experts from abroad to advise on aspects of education.
430. On Subhead C.1—University Scholarships—is there any reason why this should not be fully taken up?
—This is merely a carry over. University scholarships as such have ceased and have been replaced by grants. When an estimate is framed, it is framed on the basis of a number of the then existing students continuing to avail of their scholarships. Some of them may terminate their course and may not go on to post graduate courses. Therefore, it is very difficult to estimate how much will be required. However, this is mainly a carry over from the time when university scholarships were awarded by county councils.
431. Deputy H. Gibbons.—On Subhead C.2—Scientific Research Grants to Students —how do students apply for those grants? What type of persons get them, are they university or post-university students?
—These grants are maintenance allowances payable to university graduates for training and research in science and engineering. The existence of the grants is notified to universities and other appropriate institutions. The candidates must have a university degree with first class honours or second class honours, grade 1. At the moment they are confined to training courses at the three university colleges and Trinity College. There is an advisory committee, comprising representatives of the colleges and of the Department, who make the selection each year from amongst the applicants.
432. Deputy Tunney.—On Subhead C.3 —Student Exchange Scholarships—I should be happier if I saw an excess here. Is there any reason why you did not spend that additional £1,100?
—These are exchange scholarships. They are related to students coming from abroad, not to Irish students. In return for scholarships awarded to Irish students by various countries we award scholarships to students coming here. In that particular year some of the scholarships that we were prepared to award to foreign students were not taken up and that is the reason for the saving.
433. Did that have an effect on the scholarships given to Irish students?
—No. It is a reciprocal arrangement and whether or not they would send somebody to us, we could send somebody from here.
434. Deputy H. Gibbons.—On Subhead C.4—Fellowships—what is the difference between fellowships and scientific research grants for students?
—The scientific research grants are given to students who have immediately graduated from college with first class honours, or second class honours grade 1. In the case of the fellowships, the majority are post doctorate research fellowships. In other words, the persons concerned already have at least a Ph.D. or its equivalent. They are available to Irish students and to some foreign students, either at the universities here or at research institutions, such as the Agricultural Research Institute.
435. Chairman.—With reference to Subhead C.5—Higher Education Grants—what are these particular grants?
—These are the higher education grants. They result from the 1968 Act and, as the Comptroller and Auditor General pointed out, the amounts of the grant are £175 at maximum in the case of students residing at home and £300 in the case of those not residing at home. This payment represents the amount paid to all the local councils, and is in addition to their contribution which is at the rate at which they contributed in 1967-68: the Department in effect pays the difference in cost of awards. Prior to 1967-68 there were about 270 scholarships a year: now there are between 1,100 and 1,200 grants awarded in a year.
436. Deputy H. Gibbons.—Arising out of Subhead G.2—Scholarships and Prizes—do they get grants on the same basis as university students?
—This relates to students in the College of Art. They do not. As you are probably aware, the grants to the universities and to other institutions of higher education are confined to those who get at least Grade C, in four honours subjects, in the Leaving Certificate. These scholarships to the College of Art are awarded as a result of a special competition confined to those in the preliminary course in the College of Art.
437. Deputy MacSharry.—By the Committee of Education? Are these grants given by the Committee of Education to the College of Art?
—No. These scholarships to the College of Art are paid directly by the Department.
438. Are there not scholarships already being granted from the Committee of Education to the College of Art?
—A local vocational education committee is free to give a promising art student a scholarship to the College of Art.
439. Deputy Tunney.—On Subhead H.6 —Adult Education Courses—I wish to refer to a small point. Would it not have been better to include the amounts out of the grant of £5,000 to the ICA which went on adult education, as an excess under H.6?
—I am afraid I do not follow the Deputy’s question.
440. We have the expenditure under Adult Education at £8,959. We also have particulars of £5,000 that was paid to the ICA in respect of adult education courses. Would it not have been better to include that as an excess at H.6, rather than having it in a special category of its own?
—It developed as a separate project because in relation to that grant to the ICA it is for the specific purpose of the activities carried on in An Grianán in Termonfeckin, County Louth. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries make a grant towards other activities of the ICA related to organisers employed throughout the country. There might be some validity in including the two together.
441. It would make the expense on adult education appear to be higher than I would like it to be here?
Mr. Suttle.—There is just one slight difficulty there. It is far better from the point of view of financial control that for every grant made, where it is possible, the grantee should be specified. In this particular case, you could have a heading for adult education and have the two separate subjects together. From the point of view of financial control, the grantee should be named.
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—As a matter of interest, now that the matter has been raised in relation to that particular grant-in-aid for adult education, it refers really to two bodies: the College of Industrial Relations and the Dublin Institute of Adult Education. Those are the two main bodies involved in relation to it.
442. Chairman.—Arising out of Subhead H.9—Overseas Club—what precisely does the Overseas Club refer to?
—This is a club for Afro-Asian students.
443. Deputy Tunney.—In relation to Appropriations-in-Aid—1. Fees for tuition in National College of Art. Is there any reason why these are only half what was expected?
—The fees for tuition in the National College of Art—Sorry, I thought that we had come to Appropriations-in-aid.
444. Deputy H. Gibbons.—On explanations, H.3, what about the dictionary of New Irish—how is that doing?
—Our latest estimate in regard to the new Irish dictionary is that it will take 12 to 18 months to complete.
445. Deputy Tunney.—On Appropriations-in-Aid, fees for tuition in National College of Art, the estimated amount was £4,500 and realised £2,423. What is the reason for this?
—The actual deficit was due to a fall in the number of students in that year. There is also the fact that now owing to the operation of the scheme of free education in the College of Art, no fee is charged for the preliminary course.
446. Deputy H. Gibbons.—On Income and Expenditure of Non-Voted Funds, is the Carlisle and Blake premium awarded now?
—It is awarded on a completely different basis. We do not award it to teachers any more. We award it to students who secure the highest place in the training colleges at the final examination.
447. Deputy Tunney.—What is the Murphy Bequest: I have never heard of it?
—The Murphy Bequest was a bequest made to the National Museum. It is used for the purchase of objects and so on.
VOTE 28—PRIMARY EDUCATION.
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt further examined.
448. Chairman.—Paragraph 43 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads:
“Subhead C.8.—Special Educational Project
The charge to the subhead represents expenditure in the year under review on a special educational project of the Department of Education in association with the Van Leer Foundation of the Netherlands. The project is aimed at offsetting the educational disadvantages of children in the Rutland Street schools area of Dublin and is being financed broadly on the basis that the Department will meet such educational expenditure as would normally fall to be met from voted moneys and one half of any abnormal expenditure, the balance being met by the Van Leer Foundation. It is expected that the project will continue for an initial period of five years at an estimated cost of £180,000. During the year under review a contribution of £15,776 was received from the Van Leer Foundation towards the expenditure on the project and credited to appropriations in aid (subhead E.3)”.
449. Have you anything to add Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is given for information in regard to what is a novel and continuing research project undertaken by the Department of Education in cooperation with the Van Leer Foundation. In addition to the contribution of £15,776, mentioned in the paragraph, a further contribution of £10,590 was received from the Foundation shortly after the close of the year. This relates to the school in Rutland Street.
450. Deputy H. Gibbons.—On subhead A1—Training Colleges—the Department had a scheme for a short course of training for untrained female teachers. Has this course been completed or when do you anticipate that it will be completed?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—It has not yet been completed. It has about three or four years —I am only giving an estimate here—or possibly more to run.
451. Chairman.—On subhead A3—Special Courses for Teachers—what courses are these?
—They are mostly confined to induction courses in relation to the new curriculum for primary schools. These special courses have been organised for teachers all over the country to make them aware of the methods which will be necessary in applying the new curriculum.
452. Deputy MacSharry.—On subhead C6—Grants towards the cost of Free School Books for Necessitous Children—there is a note in the Explanations which says that applications for grants were less than expected. Is there any further elaboration on that? In my experience of committees of education I found that there was not enough money at all to go round?
—We are dealing now with the primary schools. From second class upwards there are 320,000 pupils in primary schools. We operate by reference to our experience and we framed our Estimate on the basis that 25 per cent of such children would be likely to be claiming free books. One pound per pupil is paid in primary schools for this purpose. In fact, the number that claimed was that much less than we had anticipated.
453. I have had complaints from primary schools that the amount given to a primary school with 400 pupils was so small that it would barely go round?
—The position was that we estimated that 25 per cent of the total involved in these classes—about 320,000 pupils—would be seeking free books. In fact, only about 22 per cent sought free books.
Fair enough, I will remind them.
454. Deputy Tunney.—On subhead C8— Special Educational Project—I have one small point to make. Last year you explained to me—and I see the same thing here again—about a “free grant”.
—I explained to you last year that that was a survival. I could see—as I think I pointed out then—that there is quite a good deal of force in suggesting that the word “free” might very well be omitted. It is a carry over from history.
455. Having looked at it, you are quite happy that it should remain to be so described?
—Quite frankly, we do not have any strong views one way or the other.
VOTE 29—SECONDARY EDUCATION.
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt further examined.
456. Chairman.—Paragraph 44 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead J.1.—Secondary Schools— Annual Repayment of Building Loans
Reference was made in paragraph 37 of my report for 1968-69 and in previous reports to a scheme whereby secondary schools which could not meet from their own resources the cost of new buildings or major extensions could be paid annual grants not exceeding 70 per cent of the repayment charges on loans obtained by them towards such cost. Grants totalling £298,820 were made during the year in respect of twenty schools. In addition a sum of £72,350 was paid to the Dublin Vocational Education Committee being 70 per cent of the cost of pre-fabricated classroom units to be made available to secondary schools”.
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is for the information of the Committee. The charge for pre-fabricated schoolroom units is not strictly within the ambit of the subhead and we have decided to ignore the position with regard to them.
457. Chairman.—Paragraph 45 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead J.2.—Secondary Schools— Building Grants
I referred also in previous reports to the extended scheme introduced to enable the Department of Education to make funds available for building or extending secondary schools on the basis of 70 per cent free grants and 30 per cent loans repayable over fifteen years. The charge of £2,763,991 to the subhead comprises £2,264,029 in grants and £499,962 in loans. Repayments of loans under the scheme amounting to £20,124 were received during the year and credited to appropriations in aid (subhead M.4.)”.
458. Have you anything further to add Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph gives the total amount of grants made available during the year for secondary school building and also the amount made available during the year by way of loans to meet the 30 per cent element of costs not covered by outright grants. The loan repayments noted are the first to be credited to the Vote as the earliest gale day under the Department’s loan scheme was 1st May, 1969.
459. Deputy Tunney.—In the case of prefabs being provided as a temporary measure, as in the case of a new school being built, when the new school is subsequently built how do we decide on the destination of what might be described as fairly good prefabricated units?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—In such cases we normally put up what we describe as roller prefabs. They are, in fact, demountable. Immediately the new school is completed we make arrangements whereby they are transferred to another school site. They may be retained at such a site pending the erection of a new school there. In other words, they are not left lying idle on any site.
460. Chairman.—Paragraph 46 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead K.1.—Comprehensive Schools— Running Costs
Subhead K.2.—Comprehensive Schools— Capital Costs
I referred in previous reports to the erection of comprehensive schools at Cootehill, Carraroe, Shannon Airport, Glenties, Raphoe and Ballymun. The schools at Cootehill, Carraroe, Shannon Airport and Glenties were in operation during the year under review and the charge to subhead K.1. represents their running costs including the salaries of the teaching staffs. Expenditure on the building of the six schools including site costs is charged to subhead K.2. and totalled £1,206,346 at 31 March 1970 including £155,745 for professional fees. Expenditure on furniture and equipment totalled £49,349 at that date. During the year site costs of £23,354 were incurred in connection with a comprehensive school to be built in Limerick”.
461. Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This paragraph is purely for the information of the Committee and I have nothing to add to it.
462. Deputy MacSharry.—On subhead I —Audio-Visual Teaching Aids—is there any reason why this amount was not taken up?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—It meant that the number of applications we had was less than we had anticipated.
463. Chairman.—What type of audio-visual aids are provided? Are they just projectors?
—We provide projectors and so forth.
464. Deputy Tunney.—On Appropriations-in-Aid—Examination fees of students— would we have any figure for the administrative cost of collecting the £76,305?
—The administrative costs involved are practically negligible because the fees are collected by the schools and transmitted to us from the schools.
465. A point that often crosses my mind is that they are collected in schools but not without some effort at times. You might have a headmaster, and an assistant headmaster spending quite an amount of time collecting fees when he might be more appropriately engaged on other work. I wonder if at any stage the Department has considered eliminating examination fees?
—The only comment I should like to make on that is to ask where is there a quid pro quo. You are not likely to get any reduction on the amount you pay the principal teachers.
466. But you might get work which would be more appropriate to the salary you are paying him?
Mr. Suttle.—Of course, Deputy, you must realise that quite a lot of that work would be related to registering the students for the examination. The collection of the fee is only incidental to getting all the particulars of the students who have entered for the examination.
467. Deputy Tunney.—“There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
VOTE 30—VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt further examined.
468. Chairman.—Paragraph 47 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead I.1.—Regional Technical Colleges—Running Costs
Subhead I.2.—Regional Technical Colleges—Capital Costs
Reference was made in previous reports to the building of Regional Technical Colleges at eight centres— Athlone, Carlow, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Letterkenny, Sligo and Waterford. The colleges at Athlone, Carlow, Dundalk, Sligo and Waterford were in partial operation during the year under review.
The charge to subhead I.1 comprises:—
The research project which is being carried out by a London consultancy group at an estimated cost of £58,000 was originally designed to cover manpower forecasting in relation to scientific and technical personnel and was later extended to include the forecasting of the supply of and the demand for university graduates.
Reference was also made in previous reports to the appointment of a consortium of architects, engineers and quantity surveyors at a specially negotiated fee to provide for five of the colleges the services normally rendered by these professions. With the sanction of the Minister for Finance the fee payable to the consortium has been increased from 9 per cent. to 11 per cent. The capital expenditure on the Regional Technical Colleges to 31 March 1970 was as follows:—
469. Have you anything further to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—Again, this paragraph is for the information of the Committee in regard to the cost of the colleges to date. The charge to subhead I.1. cannot really be classed as running costs in the sense in which the term is normally used. As can be seen, it relates to loan charges, purchase of audio-visual aids and fees for research. I understand it was found that the firm engaged to carry out research work were not fulfilling the terms of their brief and that their contract was terminated. Sums amounting to £16,000 were paid to the firm representing the value of work done.
470. Deputy MacSharry.—Why do you think they would not be running costs?
Mr. Suttle.—The main bulk of it would be teachers’ salaries and that sort of thing. That has not come to that stage yet. They are at the preliminary stage yet to that extent.
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—If I might, by way of further explanation, mention that these sites were purchased in advance of the planning of the colleges. They were purchased through a loan obtained by the vocational education committee. It has been traditional in relation to these loans got by vocational education committees, that the recoupment is by way of the ordinary annual grant that we give to the committees. As the regional technical colleges got going we opened a separate capital subhead and items which are properly relateable to capital are now included under that heading.
471. Deputy MacSharry.—Where there is a financial programme coming to you from a committee running both a post-primary school and a regional college, are they separate?
—They have to be separate because we have a separate provision on the one hand for the vocational schools and——
472. They are separately submitted but the bulk is given back?
—Yes, but, in fact, the charges are made to different sections of the Vote. The regional technical colleges are charged to one section and the vocational school end of it is charged to another section.
473. I am thinking of the committee’s difficulty in relation to the grant they get or the financial sanction they get. They have to decide as between the post-primary school or the college as to which is knocked and where?
—I see the point.
474. This arises in Sligo anyway.
—It is the only case, in fact, where it does arise.
Possibly; but, unfortunately, I happen to be in it.
475. Chairman.—In respect of these regional colleges and the expenses to date, in the final figures here you have given payment to contractors, professional fees and other expenses. These professional fees amounted to £323,000. It would appear that the sum for professional fees is rather high as compared with the contractor’s cost to date?
—I have figures here.
476. Deputy Tunney.—The graph there is reducing. Mr. Chairman, I was doing the same calculation as you were doing yourself on the figures there and it would seem that it is much higher than 11 per cent but you have to, presumably, bear in mind that the architects are in for a bigger percentage.
Mr. Suttle.—They are in before the contractors.
477. Deputy MacSharry.—Is it not true to say that the reason why this system was operated by the Department was to cut those fees substantially in relation to the regional college programme?
—In fact, the ultimate fees in connection with the regional technical colleges will be considerably lower than the normal fees paid because we employed a consortium rather than individual architects.
478. Chairman.—I understand. That point was made last year.
—Yes. From the point of view of actual work to date there is £3,300,000 worth of work completed.
479. Deputy MacSharry.—These fees would be in relation to that?
—Yes, and in relation to other things that are going to develop because they have initial costs in connection with this which have to be met.
480. As soon as there is a sheet drawn there are costs involved.
—It might also be of interest—I think I mentioned this also last year—that as against the original estimates in relation to these colleges the employment of the consortium will save us something in the region of about £2 million.
481. Is it true that, in relation to the regional colleges being finished, BDA will be non-existent in relation to any damage that might occur or faults that might arise in relation to any of the buildings and there will be nobody to claim against?
—As regards any faults that might arise this will be the responsibility of the individual contractor.
482. They will tell you it is BDA’s responsibility?
—No, the BDA group simply designed the colleges and prepared the quantities but the contracts were carried out by individual contractors.
483. Who employed the contractors. Was it BDA?
—Oh, no. The Minister for Education employed the contractors and the individual contractors are responsible to the Minister.
484. We understand the point the Comptroller and Auditor General was making is that what is contained in subhead I.1.— Regional Technical Colleges—Running Costs—should be in subhead I.2.—Regional Technical Colleges, Capital Costs?——
Mr. Suttle.—The repayment of loan charges incurred is providing a capital asset, if you like to put it that way. To that extent it is capital expenditure. Personally, I think it is providing a capital asset and that you have paid for the land and site.
485. The tax man would view it that way, anyway?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—Yes. You could call the interest part of the annuity a running charge, whereas the capital portion is capital expenditure.
486. I agree. Under subhead I.1.—Regional Technical Colleges, Explanation of the Causes of Variation between Expenditure and Grant—the arrangements for the staffing and furnishing of the regional technical colleges were not completed within the year and we had £99,981 left. Is that sum carried over into the following year?
Mr. Suttle.—No, there is no carry forward in these subheads. That £99,981 is surrendered at the end of the year and a new amount will be voted for 1971-72.
I would say we will be that much short this year.
VOTE 31—REFORMATORY AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS.
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt further examined.
487. Chairman.—Paragraph 48 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead B.—Industrial Schools
Apart from capitation grant the charge to the subhead includes:—
Mr. Suttle.—As the subhead is intended to cover capitation grants in respect of pupils in industrial schools, I deemed it desirable to draw attention to other items charged which do not come within that description.
488. Chairman.—Why did you specifically advert to this, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—The provision in the Estimate is for a capitation charge.
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—By way of explanation there were really three items involved there. There was an ex gratia payment of £15,000 made towards an expenditure of £26,000 incurred by the resident manager of the school in Kilkenny to provide safe and suitable accommodation for the children committed there. That was No. 1 item. Then, we carried out a survey of the education problems and the facilities in reformatory and industrial schools. That survey was carried out by members of the Department of Psychology in UCD. The third item related to some expenditure on the provision of minibuses for St. Conleth’s in Daingean. These were all activities that were related to the operation of the schools.
Mr. Suttle.—If you have a copy of the Estimates there you will see at page 89, B.—Industrial Schools—Capitation grants payable at the rate of 42/6d per week. That is the only information the Dáil was given. On the face of that the only charge against the subhead would be a capitation grant, whereas they went a bit outside that. I agree with Mr. MacGearailt that these things are to the benefit of the schools from every angle and they should be provided. However, it might be no harm if, in your Estimate, you made some provision for sundry expenses other than capitation grants.
489. Deputy MacSharry.—Perhaps an extra explanatory note?
VOTE 32—UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES AND DUBLIN INSTITUTE FOR
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt further examined.
490. Chairman.—Paragraph 49 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General reads as follows:
“Subhead L.—Institute of Higher Education, Limerick—Capital Expenditure
The charge to the subhead includes a payment of £40,250 towards the purchase price (£70,000) of a site for the Institute at Limerick. The payable order in favour of the vendor’s solicitor was retained on behalf of the Department by the Chief State Solicitor pending clearance of title which was not effected by 31 March 1970. As the subhead was charged before the liability for payment had matured I have deemed it desirable to draw attention to the departure from regular procedure.
491. Have you anything to add, Mr. Suttle?
Mr. Suttle.—This is what you might call a breach of a technicality of accounting. The £40,000 was not due for payment at the time the cheque was issued. I can understand the accounting officer’s position in that he had the £40,000 this year and as it was coming towards the end of the year he knew it was going to arise sometime shortly afterwards and he said: “I will pay it out and let it stand in this year and not have to look for a supplementary estimate next year”. From the point of view of Government accounting it is a technical sin.
492. Deputy MacSharry.—It happens every day.
Mr. Suttle.—It is an unusual occurrence and an unusual payment in this case. However, we did not want to impose a penance on him but it is something we frown upon in the normal way because you would lose complete control if you allowed payments to be issued in advance of their due date. In other words, payment can only be made and chargeable to the account when it is finally due.
493. Deputy MacSharry.—Was it made payable to the builder or the solicitor?
Mr. Suttle.—It was held for about seven or eight months afterwards because the final clearance of title was not carried out until the following November.
494. Deputy MacSharry.—The solicitor would probably hold it for half that time himself?
Mr Suttle.—It was not cashed until November.
495. Deputy Tunney.—I should like to ask one general question on subhead H.1— Dublin Dental Hospital—Dental Education Grant. They ask for £150,000 and they get it. Do they give you returns for the justification of providing this amount? Do they subsequently tell you how this amount has been spent?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—In relation to their claim, which they submit every year, they have to tell us what the financial position is and they must tell us how the money that was voted in the previous year was spent.
496. Deputy H. Gibbons.—With reference to subhead J—College of Pharmacy—has the Department any say over the curriculum in that college, or any say in relation to standards?
—The position now is that the College of Pharmacy operates in conjunction with University College, Dublin, from the point of view of the award of qualifications.
The witness withdrew.
The Committee adjourned.
* See Appendix 16.