MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 19 Deireadh Fómhair, 1978
Thursday, 19th October, 1978
The Committee met at 11 a.m.
DEPUTY O’TOOLE in the chair.
Mr. S. Mac Gearailt (An tArd-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste) called and examined.
VOTE 3—DEPARTMENT OF THE TAOISEACH
Mr. D. Ó Súilleabháin called and examined.
56. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead D— Information and Public Relations Services —does this include the Government Information Services.
57. The amount, £8,000, is a grant, apparently?
—It is a grant.
How is that grant spent?
—There is no general pattern. Mainly the expenditure is in relation to work done by the Government Information Services.
58. In the case of Extra Remuneration, 10 officers were paid a total of £1,335 in respect of overtime.
—That amount is the overall total.
Each of those would have received sums in excess of £200?
It is not a whole lot.
—Ten officers, on average, received £133 each.
I just wanted to clarify the situation in regard to the number.
59. Chairman.—The total number of officers in receipt of those payments is 10?
—That is correct.
VOTE 5—AN CHOMHAIRLE EALAÍON
Mr. D. Ó Suilleabháin called.
The witness withdrew.
Mr. T. Ó Cearbhaill called and examined.
60. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead A.2—Consultancy Services—there was no money granted?
—That is so. The expenditure relates to a firm of consultants employed in respect of work on a settlement in the banks. No money had been granted and the subhead was opened during the year.
61. Chairman.—Would you expect a recurrence of that kind of expenditure, in any circumstances?
—Yes, and token provision has been made in subsequent Estimates. We did not have expenditure last year but we envisage certain payments out of the subhead in the future in respect of a computerisation project in the manpower area.
There is a provisional grant?
—That is so. 1976 was an unique situation which arose from the banks’ strike.
There is a note on the expenditure under this subhead, which states that the expenditure was met by savings on other subheads. Now that there will be provisional grants made under this subhead there will not be need for this type of provision in the future?
—That is so.
62. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead D —Advertising and Publicity—how did this come about?
—It was because of publicity given to the proposals for a National Pay Agreement at the request of the Employer/Labour Conference.
63. How was it spent—newspapers and television?
—Full page advertisements in the newspapers. Provision had been made for a certain level of advertising but this was raised at the conference’s request.
64. Chairman.—On subhead E—Commissions and Special Inquiries—the amount spent was in the region of 80 per cent less than anticipated. Our previous experience has been of over-expenditure. What was the reason for the change in this case?
—It is impossible to predict what the position will be. The decision to establish a commission is normally taken by the Government or by the Minister. In that year, the expenditure arose on the Advisory Commission on Emigration and on the Women’s Representative Committee, both of which had already been in existence. No new commissions were set up in the year. Some have been set up since.
65. Deputy F. O’Brien.—Are there any guidelines—do you just allocate £10,000 every year?
—There is an element of contingency. First of all, we provide for the continuing operations of existing commissions and add something for possible new ones.
66. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead F— International Organisations—this sum seems to be increasing annually. Is there any reason for this. The figure is now £98,000. Why is this?
—This relates almost entirely to the ILO. Of the £98,000, £68,000 is our contribution to the upkeep of the Organisation. This is based on an allocation negotiated in Geneva. Our contribution is small in proportion to others—it is 0.15 per cent, one of the lowest. There is an allocation of £10,000 to an ILO institute for scholarships to trainees from developing countries who come here to study labour matters. The rest of the expenditure was on sending delegations to conferences. The main reason for the increase over the years is the expansion of the work of the ILO. A second is that our contribution is paid in US dollars and currency fluctuations could affect us, upwards or downwards.
67. Presumably, delegations are given travel and subsistence. Is there separate provision for delegations going to international conferences.
—The budget for ILO is unique. Delegations are sent not only from the Government, but also from employers and trade union organisations. The explanation is partly historical in that it was the first international body the State joined in 1923 and the financial arrangements for it have remained virtually undisturbed since.
In effect, you have two separate travel and incidental expense account subheads?
—That is so.
68. Could you give me the figure again for travel and incidental expenses for international organisations, if you have it convenient?
—I have a figure, for expenses of sending a delegation, which would include travel, of £19,462. I should explain that in the year in question the Minister for Labour was president of the annual session of the conference and this involved a substantial increase in the expenditure. For one thing the delegation had to remain in Geneva longer than normal. The Minister had a lot of additional expenditure because he was president. The expenses of the presidency are not borne by the organisation and have to be carried by the president for the time being.
69. Would it not be better accounting procedure if these expenses were, notwithstanding the fact that they go back as far as 1923, included in subhead B rather than have them hidden, in effect, in subhead F? Even allowing for the fact that the president was the Minister for Labour at the time, £20,000 is quite a substantial amount and should, perhaps, be accounted for under the one heading. We are talking about computerisation and making the whole operation less costly and more efficient but here we have two accounting procedures which obviously mean more work.
—Indeed I would think that if the figure had been included in subhead B, it would be more hidden than it is here because it would not be identifiable unless we took special steps to do that. We would certainly be happy to look at this to see whether there are any complications in doing it.
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—In connection with subhead B, the travelling is generally by permanent civil servants and members of the Labour Court. The idea behind putting the expenses of delegations into the special subhead, International Organisations, is to give the Dáil an opportunity of seeing what extra expenses would fall on the country by being a member of the organisation. The Dáil would like to have the whole cost to the country of membership. That is an additional reason for having the cost under that subhead. As I said subhead B is for travelling and subsistence for civil servants and permanent members of the public service.
70. Deputy N. Andrews.—That would be readily ascertainable in the breakdown in travelling and incidental expenses if so requested?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—Indeed, yes, but I think that is why it has been done this way. You will find in a number of Votes that travelling and subsistence is spread over a number of different subheads.
Deputy N. Andrews.—It is a common practice?
Mr. Mac Gearailt.—It is. In a number of Votes you will find that it is not all in the one subhead.
71. Chairman.—What is our position as regards Deputy Andrews’s request, that consideration be given to including this particular expense under subhead B, in the light of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s comment that it is normal practice to confine subhead B to permanent civil servants? Would it be better to keep it as a separate entity under the ILO heading?
Deputy N. Andrews.—I do not wish to complicate the issue. I wanted to clarify for the Members of the Committee, and the public, how these matters occur. The Committee should think about it and if in due course they have any recommendations they can make them.
72. Chairman.—I agree. I should like to ask the accounting officer if, in view of the fact that he is dealing with two items, travelling and incidental expenses under subhead B and then repeating this under subhead F, it involves any great difficulty in accounting procedures?
—No. Travelling and subsistence in connection with the affairs of the International Labour Conference are quite identifiable. As I said earlier, this organisation is unique in that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federated Union of Employers have a status in a tripartite sense with the Government. Delegations are formally appointed by the Government to go to the conference. With regard to the increase, a large slice of this arose out of the fact that Ireland had the presidency at that conference. This is a non-recurring factor.
73. Deputy F. O’Brien.—I believe that the fact it is the ILO we are funding we should keep it as a separate entity. From an accounting point of view I would prefer to see it as it is given because this is a particular organisation which is not part of the civil service. We are committed to it and it is easier to examine it under one subhead rather than looking at it and then going back to another subhead.
74. Chairman.—From the point of view of accountability it is probably easier to have it under subhead F but from the accounting point of view to a layman it looks better under subhead B. As a result of what the accounting officer and the Comptroller and Auditor General said it would be more appropriate to leave it as a separate entity, if it does not create any difficulties accounting-wise. Deputy Andrews would like to have this discussed later.
Deputy N. Andrews.—I am satisfied.
75. Deputy F. O’Brien.—On subhead G— Research—there is a figure of almost £22,000 less than granted, a saving due to delay in carrying out some research projects.
—The expenditure here is the amount of money paid out in that year on a number of projects. The practice is to commission research, to pay at different stages and settle finally when the job is finished. If the Committee wishes I can give an indication of what is covered.
76. What type of research projects are covered?
—We had a series of labour-availability surveys carried out mainly at the request of the IDA and sometimes with the collaboration of local development groups. One was carried out in Bantry and one in Castletownbere that year. We had a survey of employment problems in central Dublin city, a survey of attitudes to equal pay for women, one on attitudes to pay expectations in conjunction with negotiations for a national pay agreement, and also a school-leavers survey. In some cases a lot of the personnel expenditure was under subhead A because officers of the Department who took part in this work were paid their ordinary salaries. If we had to go outside, the cost of some of these would be much higher. Officers of the Department can combine survey work with their normal duties.
In other words these payments are only for external people?
—Yes, and fees due to people outside.
77. The previous year the same sum was voted for this. In other words, you had £30,000 and I should like to know if you do a cost-analysis assessment first?
—We do. From our experience these jobs, especially jobs which are given outside, are much slower than we would expect. In virtually every job there has been a delay. I must admit, however, that we have not exploited this particular function of research as much as we might have done. We have been working on several ideas for projects. It is very difficult for a Government Department to organise research on its own. We have, of course, access to the research activities of various bodies, including the universities. The Economic and Social Research Institute every quarter publish a register of research projects to which we refer and on which we can draw. It contains a number of projects which are of interest to us. By relying on these we can save the Vote from incurring further expenditure. Also all projects undertaken by the Department have to get the approval of the Minister for Finance.
78. Chairman.—If you use the services of third level institutions like universities and colleges or the ESRI, I presume you could also use that as a source of information for research purposes—is the fee on a contract basis?
—We would negotiate a fee.
Prior to using the services?
79. Deputy O’Brien.—Given the extent and complexity of this area—labour relations and labour problems—the expenditure of £8,000 is pretty low?
—In manpower and training areas AnCO are spending a vast amount on research and we would not want to duplicate their efforts. I should also say that expenditure in subsequent years will be substantially increased.
80. On subhead J.I.—An Chomhairle Oiliúna—there was a fair amount of money unexpended, roughly £1 million, in respect of training projects.
—Decisions were taken to expand training very substantially in 1976 and it was simply not possible physically to expand the resources and engage training and other personnel to use up all the money.
There was a substantial increase between 1975 and 1976.
—In fact, the training programme did not suffer very much because when AnCO were unable to recruit all the people required they made contracts to have training done for them in factories with the capacity. Even though the money was not fully expended the actual programme of training people did not have to be reduced proportionately.
81. Chairman.—I should like to know how the moneys which came from the EEC Social Fund affected expenditure at national level here.
—It has enabled the training to be expanded more than would be possible. The figures are shown in the accounts for AnCO for the year.
82. That figure in the AnCO annual report looks very small but I understand it has been increased substantially?
—It is small and the explanation is that even though much more money was authorised payment was not made in the year. There was a long delay and this has been our experience in a number of cases with the European Social Fund. Even though allocations are approved it takes a long time before the money is actually received.
83. Will it be shown in the subsequent account?
—Yes, it will. It sometimes involves organisations in interest payments on overdrafts. Of course, it is not in substitution for Exchequer money.
According to the AnCO annual report the European Social Fund allocated £5,850,000 to AnCO for activities in 1976. In fact the amount actually paid in that year is very much short of the £5.85 million allocated. Only £800,000 was paid in that year and there is a carry-over effect.
—And with AnCO being involved in overdraft situations and the paying of interest we have made strong representations to the authorities in Brussels as a result of which the procedures there have been streamlined and payment is now being made earlier. The delay is not so great now. Instalments are now paid on production of certificates showing work in progress.
84. Has this payment been made yet?
—Yes. It will appear in a later AnCO account.
85. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead K —National Industrial Safety Organisation— I notice there has not been any substantial increase in the figure for industrial safety, and in view of the fact that we are moving more and more towards industrialisation, surely there is need for an increase in the allocation to NISO. I know they enjoy free air time on RTE as a public service, but I suggest that an increase in funds would be desirable.
—I agree. The explanation is that in a previous year, in preparation for an international conference on safety a very big increase was made in the Vote. Indeed NISO made a profit on that conference. That is why the Department of Finance decided not to approve of any further grant until that surplus money had been exhausted. The surplus has since been exhausted and they are at present in receipt of substantially higher grants.
It does not appear here.
—That was 1975.
86. Chairman.—As a final point, the note on this subhead states that the “grant was not paid to NISO because the organisation had sufficient reserves from previous years”. For the benefit of the Committee, it would have been better if the amount of the reserves had been stated. Looking at the Vote itself, obviously some money was spent in that year.
—The NISO accounts have been made available to the Committee.
Could you let us have a note on that?
87. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead N —Grants for Advisory Services for Emigrants—there seems to have been a decrease on the previous year, when the grant was £7,000. Has that been increased or decreased in subsequent years?
—This was introduced to provide a grant for voluntary bureaux, of which there were 36 in various parts of the country at one time, to help them to give advice to intending emigrants. The number of these bureaux has since declined. The biggest grant given in that year was £4,000 to an emigrant advisory organisation in Dublin. Only two other bodies were given grants in that year. Another element is that the EEC have now introduced arrangements for the free movement of workers between the different member countries and there is an official liaison between the national manpower services of all the countries. Information given to intending emigrants formerly can now be handled by these official agencies.
88. Chairman.—On subhead P—Premium Employment Programme—the note states that applications for payment of premiums in that year were fewer than expected.
—These premiums are paid a little in arrears. Some of the payments in respect of employment in 1976 under the scheme were paid in 1977. It is very difficult to forecast what will be needed by a scheme of this kind, even though it may be fully advertised and promoted, because decisions to avail of the scheme are taken by employing enterprises.
89. On Extra Remuneration, the note states that two executive officers, three clerical officers, five clerical assistants and seven messengers received sums ranging from £206 to £1,382 for overtime, the total cost of which amounted to £14,227. We have been discussing this matter with the other Accounting Officers and we have been asking them if possible to give us the total number of persons who have been in receipt of overtime—to give us some idea of the average overtime. With the possibility in mind of the creation of extra jobs, we are anxious to get a clearer picture of the number of people involved in overtime payments and the actual payments made to them.
—The number is 17.
They are people who each received sums of more than £200. We are also anxious to ascertain the number who each received sums of less than £200. Could we have a note of the total?
We are not concerned with the particulars: we should like to know the total number who were in receipt of overtime, regardless of the individual accounts.
—The information will be made available.* I would explain that the bulk of this overtime was in respect of after hours work in the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Most of the recipients were messengers of the Labour Court. Senior staff would not be entitled to overtime.
Even though they are burning the midnight oil?
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 47—FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr. A. O’Rourke called and examined.
90. Chairman.—We welcome Mr. O’Rourke to his first meeting of the Committee since his appointment. We hope to see him many times in the future.
—I am grateful.
91. On subhead D—Repatriation and Maintenance of Destitute Irish Persons abroad—it seems there were fewer destitute Irish people abroad than had been anticipated. In which circumstances would the Department come to the rescue of destitute persons, and what constitutes destitution?
—Only Irish nationals in possession of Irish passports receive assistance from us. Generally, we repatriate only from the Continent of Europe, though in exceptional circumstances we repatriate from outside Europe. Effectively, destitute persons are those who are not in a position to maintain themselves in the countries in which they find themselves, or who are not in a position to pay their fares home. The assistance we give is normally a single ticket back home and subsistence for 24 hours. The individual amounts are small. Before we help them we endeavour to obtain assistance for them from their families.
92. Are there circumstances where you seek recoupment of moneys so advanced?
—We always seek recoupment. Indeed we recoup a great proportion of these advances.
93. On subhead F—Information Services —does this include promotional activities?
—This is part of the normal work of missions abroad—indeed it is one of their priority activities. The subhead accounts for publications, including the booklet Facts About Ireland. It covers the purchase of books, photographs, and expenditure on the production of films for showing abroad. It is a valuable method of promoting tourism. Some of the films also help to promote industry because some of them deal with Irish industries such as glassware or tweeds.
94. Deputy N. Andrews.—How would that differ from the kind of operation carried out by the IDA, Bord Fáilte and Córas Tráchtála? There seems to be an overlap which we hear so much about from time to time here. Do you think there is an overlap there? You are commissioning films which will be shown abroad in an effort to attract various industrialists and to show the country off in a good light but there are other organisations such as Bord Fáilte in tourism and Córas Tráchtála, IDA and so on. Is this overlap a premeditated thing or is it just one of these things that happens?
—There may be a certain overlap but we are very conscious of the need to co-ordinate our activities with those of the State agencies. To a large extent our function is to try to correct an incorrect image which might exist in a particular country in regard to Ireland. The subject matter of some of the films would suggest, perhaps, that we are promoting the same sort of activity as the State agencies and this is true; but I would hope that any overlap is kept to a minimum. What we are doing is trying to co-ordinate the activities in the various fields.
The purpose is the same but the necessity is different? The purpose is to promote our image abroad in certain respects and to correct false images?
—Yes. Our objective would be to present a general image abroad, a favourable one. In doing so we of course present information about particular sectors of the economy. In this sense we are doing the same sort of work as a particular agency but the objective is to present an overall image across the whole range of activities of industry and culture.
It is very important that that is clarified because questions are raised from time to time on this. As far as I am concerned I am happy with the explanation.
95. Chairman.—From what the Accounting Officer said, I believe the term “Public Relations” might be more appropriate as a heading for the activities outlined by him than “Information Services”. What does the Accounting Officer think? Would it clarify the situation and get us away from the danger of overlapping? “Information” suggests that you are overlapping to some degree into other fields while “Public Relations” would correct an erroneous image which might be held by some people abroad about our country.
—It is quite true that a considerable proportion of the activities under this subhead fall into the public relations field. Some of it also falls into the purely informational field, such as the distribution of books and Facts About Ireland. Perhaps we could look into this and consider whether the suggestion made is one which we could put into effect.
96. Deputy Morley.—I wish to ask the Accounting Officer if the dissemination of publicity like this would be in response to requests for such information from abroad or if the Department take the initiative themselves in issuing such information.
—The answer is, both. Our embassies and consulates abroad receive a large number of inquiries to which we respond by sending out printed material or films. But we also in our offices abroad draw up lists of individuals and firms we consider would usefully receive material on Ireland and from which we would hope to secure a response to the activities which we wish to promote abroad.
97. Deputy Kenneally.—Arising out of what Deputy Andrews asked, is there liaison between the various Departments in this? Did I read recently that Roinn na Gaeltachta opened an office in Bonn, Germany, and I should like to know if there was liaison between our Ambassador in Bonn, Roinn na Gaeltachta and the other agencies who opened offices in that country recently. Is there duplication in a lot of this work between certain Departments and semi-State bodies? Do they issue the same type of material?
—There is very close liaison between our Department and the State agencies engaged in promoting particular aspects of policy abroad such as the IDA, CTT and Gaeltarra Éireann. I do not think that Gaeltarra Éireann are opening an office in Germany. They did visit very recently Italy and Germany and I can assure the Deputy that on that occasion there was very close liaison between the visiting group and the embassies in those countries. Indeed, if I may say so, we received letters of commendation for the officers in question on the return of the mission of the Department of the Gaeltacht.
98. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead G —Contributions to Bodies in Ireland for the furtherance of International Relations— could the Accounting Officer give us any idea of these bodies?
—There is a grant of £2,500 to the Irish Council of the European Movement and a grant of £500 to the Irish UN Association.
99. Chairman.—Will other bodies be eligible for a grant under this heading, such as cultural bodies interested in international relations, languages, for example?
—From time to time we receive applications for grants from other bodies. They are considered on their merits, but we have to obtain approval from the Department of Finance in any such case.
100. What I want to establish is that you are not confined to the EEC or UN aspect, that your grants could cover a broader area than these two areas?
—For the moment, I understand we are confined to these two bodies.
You are confined or you are confining yourselves to them?
—This subhead is, for the moment, confined to these two bodies. But there is always the possibility of extending this sort of activity. It would depend on the availability of funds. Certain other activities are carried on under the auspices of the Cultural Relations Committee which is dealt with under subhead E.
101. Deputy N. Andrews.—On subhead I —Cross Border Study of Communications— what kind of studies are carried out under this subhead? What kind of a structure have you got within the Department? What kind of communications?
—If I could go back a little bit over the origin of the matter, it originated at a meeting between the former Taoiseach and the then British Prime Minister, Mr. Heath, in September 1973. They agreed in principle that the two Governments should make a joint approach to the EEC Commission for financial assistance for a development study of the north-west region. After discussions at official level, agreement was reached early in 1976 and the detailed brief was given to consultants to carry out this study. The study related to communications, including transportation—roads, railways, ports, airports and telecommunications—in the Derry-Donegal area. The purpose of the study was to determine the adequacy of these services and make recommendations for future development, having regard to financial constraints. The study has been completed in this case. The consultants have recommended certain improvements: the modernisation of the telephone system in north Donegal and for cross-Border calls; the modernisation of road links to provide easier access to ports, airports and major centres of population and the provision of local air transport facilities and services. The two Governments are at present examining these recommendations with a view to working out programmes of action with aid from the European Community, where appropriate. That is the study which is dealt with in this Appropriation Account.
102. Chairman.—Does that mean that subhead I will not be recurring?
—It could be. There has been a further development subsequently. In May this year the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Mason agreed that further studies should be carried out on cross-Border co-operation. There are two studies going on. One, which for the present is under the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs is a study of tourism and drainage in the Erne catchment area. The second study is on herring stocks off the County Down coast, which falls under the responsibility of the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry. There will be financial assistance for these two studies from the European Community of 50 per cent. These are only studies.
Administered by your Department at the moment?
—The first of these is administered by our Department at the moment.
103. On the question of Extra Remuneration, we have been discussing this particular heading with other Accounting Officers and the Committee feel it would clarify matters for us if the total number of personnel in receipt of overtime payments were mentioned in the Explanatory Note concerning Extra Remuneration, regardless of what amount they received in extra remuneration. The Committee wish to have an overall average figure of the amount paid in overtime. Could you ensure that the total number in receipt of overtime, regardless of the amount, is outlined under this heading?
—We will arrange for that.
VOTE 48—INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION
Mr. A. O’Rourke further examined.
104. Chairman.—On subhead F—Payments for the Benefit of Developing Countries arising from Membership of the European Economic Community—do I take it that the Commission’s budgets were revised downwards?
Which accounted for a lesser expenditure on your part?
—Yes. We were very dependent on the estimates provided by the European Community in this case.
105. Is there a constant ratio between the provisions made by the EEC and your liability?
—There is. The calculation is based on the share of gross national product within the Community.
The witness withdrew.
VOTE 16—VALUATION AND ORDNANCE SURVEY
Mr. D. F. Ryan called and examined.
106. Chairman.—There seems to have been a substantial saving on subhead A— Salaries, Wages and Allowances.
—The explanation for this is that we were unable to fill a number of vacancies, for six valuers, three district valuers, seven draughtsmen and a number of clerical assistants. We had made provision of £36,630 for those posts. There were also vacancies for cartographers. Part of the explanation is that we have to go through the Civil Service Commission. We have tried to get those posts filled and there have been several competitions after the necessary advertising. Candidates are then written to and have to give notice to existing employers. Some of them have refused to take up the jobs. The cartographer posts were not filled because of lack of qualified people. Candidates for these posts must have a certain number of years training to acquire the necessary qualifications. We did our best to fill the vacancies. The saving on this then was £132,000. Had we been able to fill the posts we would have been within £2,000 of the Estimate.
107. Although there is merit in the saving, how does lack of staff affect the efficiency of the office?
—We have had expansion of the market value section in the office because of new capital taxes. Efficiency may be affected because some staff are overloaded. We have a very big mapping expansion programme for which we have had sanction in principle as a result of a mapping advisory committee set up in 1964. It includes a programme for the entire country, to bring all our maps up to date. At the moment some of our maps are 45 years old, some of them up to 90 years. In Ordnance Survey we hope to increase the staffing by between 50 and 80 per year to bring the staff up to a total of 650 within five years.
108. Are there qualified trained personnel available for this work? You mentioned the non-availability of cartographers.
—We do two things. We advertise for trainees and we hold competitions through the Civil Service Commission for cartographical trainees. The traditional method of recruiting cartographers is through the Survey Company, Army Corps of Engineers. We train them in the various skills—how to use the various instruments. It takes at least two years to train them to a proper standard.
109. In regard to extra remuneration, 21 officers received sums varying from £214 to £523, making total overtime payments of £15,986. We have been requesting other Accounting Officers to give us the total number of people in receipt of overtime, regardless of the individual amounts. The note here does not include those who received less than £200.
—We can supply those details. I should like to point out that, particularly in the Valuation Office, overtime is of a sporadic or seasonal nature. One of the main functions of the Valuation Office is the annual revision of the valuation and we have a statutory deadline date. Approaching this date we have six weeks or two months of overtime. Overtime would not arise during the rest of the year. As far as the Ordnance Survey is concerned the amount of overtime is quite small.
Deputy Kenneally.—We do not want all this in detail. All we want is the number of personnel in receipt of overtime payments.
Chairman.—The total number of personnel in receipt of overtime payments.
—We will supply the number.*
110. Deputy Morley.—I should like to know if every revision of valuation involves a visit by an officer from the Valuation Office to the property involved?
—Generally speaking every revision of valuation can involve the visit of an officer. However, over the centuries since the time of the first Commissioner—I am the 14th— there have been cases where, if property is dealt with on annual revision and appeal, and if it comes up again on revision in those cases there might not be a visit because the person concerned still has the right of appeal if anything is wrong and because it has already been dealt with at two levels, the previous revision and appeal directly to me as commissioner. If it is obvious that no change has taken place in property it is a matter of trying to save time and money and there is no point in annoying everybody when nothing can be done.
111. I am not too clear. I am thinking of a case where the valuation of a person’s property has increased. Does that necessarily imply that an official fom the Valuation Office has visited that property, has seen that it has been improved and considers it to be of greater value?
—That would follow, yes.
And it could not, in those circumstances, be increased without a visit by the valuation official?
—The valuer would have to see the property. It is possible that the property might have been vacant at the time of the visit, but he would have to see it and know what has happened.
VOTE 17—RATES ON GOVERNMENT PROPERTY
Mr. D. F. Ryan further examined.
112. Chairman.—On subhead B—Contributions towards Rates on Premises Occupied by Representatives of External Governments —there is a note to the effect that a large number of claims had not been submitted for payment before the end of the financial year. Do I take it that there is a carry-over here to the next year because of the lack of claims submitted in 1976?
—There was a carry-over and the money was paid in 1977. The final figure paid was approximately £28,231.
While I appreciate that there is a certain amount of conjecture involved here, the estimated grant is £43,000, as against expenditure of £2,231, there is a very substantial discrepancy there, putting it very mildly.
—I have a good explanation for that. As far as subhead B is concerned, there are two elements in the rates paid. There is the beneficial element and the non-beneficial. As far as the representative of an external Government is concerned, beneficial would be such things as water, sewerage, fire-brigade and so on, and he pays that. We pay the non-beneficial, hospitals and so on. In 1976 the local authorities went over to programmed budgeting and changed it into different headings. We had long discussions with the local authorities concerned, mainly in Dublin city and county, and with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and we eventually arrived at an acceptable distribution of what now constitutes the beneficial and the non-beneficial elements. To get that finalised and settled took us until the middle of December 1976.
The witness withdrew.
The Committee adjourned.