The first business is the Report by the Minister, for Finance for the half-year ended 30th June, 1922. That report will now be moved by the Minister for Finance.
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - REPORT BY MINISTER FOR FINANCE.
Before proceeding, Mr. Chairman, if a matter of this kind is to receive anything like adequate consideration it ought to be placed in the hands of Members more than an hour prior to discussion. Perhaps it is not unreasonable to excuse it for the first time, but I hope it will not be the custom.
I beg to move the adoption of this Report—Dáil Eireann Trustees' Account for the year ended 30th June, 1922. It has been submitted in exactly the same manner as it had been previously submitted on every other occasion that I recollect at Meetings of the Dáil. The usual procedure was to read out the Report of the Auditor. If it be the wish of the Dáil I will read it out. It if is considered that it would be better to discuss this on some other date, it is open to the Dáil to move that it be discussed on another, date. I beg to move the adoption of this Report.
13 WESTMORELAND STREET,
DUBLIN, 19th August, 1922.
TO THE MEMBERS OF Dáil Eireann.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
I beg to report that, acting on the instructions of the Minister of Finance, I have audited the Accounts of the Trustees of Dáil Eireann for the half-year ended 30th June, 1922. I enclose certified copy of Receipts and Disbursements Account for that period. On the Accounts I have to report as follows:—
The Cash Balances at 1st January, 1922, as per last audited Accounts, amounted to £237,603 18s. 9d., and the amount received in the Half-year from all sources came to £199,905 1s. 1d., making a total on the Receipts side of the account of £437,508 19s. 10d. The Disbursements for the Half-year amounted to £277,034 8s. 3d., showing a balance of Funds in hands of £160,474 11s. 7d.
The principal items on the Receipts side are:— £34,780 6s. 11d. remitted from U.S.A. in respect of Loan; the proceeds of £400,000 remitted from U.S.A. for special investment (this item appears also on the Disbursements side); Self-Determination Fund, £22,571 7s. 6d., of which £22,524 was remitted from Australia; £22,725 2s. 11d. representing cash returned by British Authorities with Interest thereon; £5,953 178. 9d. Interest received and accrued on the Bank balances; £8,566 0s. 6d. Revenue Receipts; and £12,665 1s. 6d. various refunds.
The items of Disbursement are shown in detail and Departmentally, the total amount, as already stated, being £277,034 8s. 3d.
The composition of the figure of cash balances at the end of the half-year is the only feature in the account which calls for comment. In my report dated 17th February, 1922, on the Accounts for the half-year to 31st December, 1921, I said:—
"I think it would be well for the members to take into account the advisability of now dispensing with Bank and other accounts opened in the names of private individuals, and of consolidating the funds of An Dáil in one account. There appears to be no necessity now for these individual accounts, and if they are transferred into the names of official Trustees possible complications would be avoided.
This recommendation, though I understand approved by the Dáil, has not been fully carried into effect. The result is that some cash balances are still returned as in the names of private individuals, and in one instance at least the individual has not been residing in Ireland for some time. The amount included as unexpended cash in the London Office (£7,225 19s. 7d.) is subject to audit of accounts of that office. Another item included in the cash balances is £10,000 lying in a Bank for safe keeping in the name of an individual. This money (taken in now and at 31st December, 1921, at £2,659 10s. 0d.) in present condition, is not only sterile as regards interest but has also depreciated owing, to the operation of the rate of exchange. I understand the intention was at one time to form a dollar reserve, which accounts for the fact that the dollars were never converted. Another item in the cash balances is a sum of £22,955 8s. 0d. due by the Finance Department to the Trustees. This sum has arisen in this manner:—The Trustees have not met for some time and Requisitions of the Finance Department have not been paid by the Trustees. The Finance Department has received money on behalf of the Trustees to the extent of £35,905 2s. 0d. The amount of the Requisitions unpaid (Requisitions Nos. 157 to 16O inclusive) amounted to £12,949 14s. 0d. The Finance Department charged themselves with holding on behalf of the Trustees at 30th June, the difference between these two amounts, viz., £22,955 8s. 0d. It is obvious that the Trustees should at once be called together to regularise these matters.
I would again strongly urge the advisability of consolidating the cash balances in one account.
Perhaps I should mention that during the course of the audit of the Trustees' Account I had not the advantage of the attendance of any representative of the Trustees.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Auditor, it will be noticed, has not taken into account the possible complications for some of the trustees if they happen to attend some of these meetings. It will be noticed that in connection with page 2 the item, cash returned by British authorities less the amount handed by trustees to the Department, was the sum seized by them, and was made up of moneys belonging to various Departments, and, in the case of one Department, it was due out of this a sum of £2,433 12s. 9d., which was returned to that Department, having previously appeared in the accounts of that Department. In another case, where the interest is set out, there is bank interest on the temporary overdraft. By reason of the unexpected disappearance of this sum an overdraft had to be raised, and the interest on the overdraft has naturally to be set off against the interest that has accrued on the sum. I think I had better just formally move the adoption of this account, and if any questions arise I hope to be able to answer them to the satisfaction of the Dáil.
I beg to second.
Are we to understand that the Dáil Account are entirely distinct from the Provisional Government Accounts?
It is to be presumed that the Accounts of the Provisional Government will come before us also. As I understand this Dáil is the successor of the previous Dáils that have met since 1919. We are also the body to which the Provisional Government is responsible. In addition to the Accounts which have been presented by the Minister, of Finance, I think this Assembly should also have, before it the Accounts of the country generally which have come under, the purview of the Provisional Government.
It will be noted that the accounts are being submitted on the 13th September, and that they deal with the period up to the 30th of June, 1922. A Deputy referred to the fact that the accounts for the past six months have not yet been completed. It would obviously be rather difficult to provide members with the actual receipts and expenditure for the six months when the six months have not yet elapsed. I got a further letter from the Accountant in connection with this matter, but as far as I can see it does not refer to, nor is it bound up with the items under consideration here. I dealt with only some of the matters, and I would prefer, and I think members themselves would prefer, if a report such as this was subjected to some criticism, or at least if there was some request, for information. On page 4 of the accounts it will be observed that there were some sums given by the Local Government Board for relief in Tory Island, and there was a refund of part of the rates levied by Volunteers in Sligo. These are properly items that would come in for criticism. The reason for the refund in the case of-Sligo is that during the difficult period of the war, when it was almost impossible to collect money, the Volunteers collected the rates that were outstanding in that county, and they charged £1,000 for the work they did. The Department on being made aware of it disallowed any such payment and eventually there was an understanding arrived at, after many Conferences, that the Department would contribute £750 if the Volunteers put up the other £250. As far as I know, and I have not made recent, enquiries, but up to the time of the last meeting of the Dáil no information had come to me that the other £250 had come in. That is a sum of money which should, in the event of the Volunteers not restoring it, be paid by the Government to the local authority. Functioning as a Government the Dáil was not entitled to countenance any such action on the part of an organisation that was functioning under their authority. Various other items and receipts of expenditure are set out at some length, but if there is no criticism I suppose we can take it the Report will be adopted.
To explain our silence in this matter in response to the query of the President we take the view that that was a matter rather for our predecessors than for ourselves.
There are two further nominations for the Committee on Salaries, Deputies Alfred Byrne and Liam de Róiste. If no other names are proposed the list will be closed. Voting papers will be distributed at 4 o'clock, and I wish to remind Deputies that each Deputy must sign the Voting Paper in order to provide a check on the voting.