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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Jun 1925

Vol. 12 No. 2


I move:—

Go ndeontar suim na raghaidh thar £23,133 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1926, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí na Luachála Generálta agus na Suirbhéireachta Teorann féasna hAchtanna 15 agus 16 Vict., c. 63; 17 Vict., c. 8; 17 Vict., c. 17; 20 agus 21 Vict., c. 45; 22 agus 23 Vict., c. 8; 23 Vict., c. 4; 27 agus 28 Vict., c. 52; agus 37 agus 38 Vict., c. 70; maraon le Luacháil Diúite Estáit fán Finance (1909-10) Act, 1910.

That a sum not exceeding £23,133 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1926, for the Salaries and Expenses of the General Valuation and Boundary Survey under the Acts 15 and 16 Vict., c. 63; 17 Vict., c. 8; 17 Vict., c. 17; 20 and 21 Vict., c. 45; 22 and 23 Vict., c. 8; 23 Vict., c. 4; 27 and 28 Vict., c. 52; and 37 and 38 Vict., c. 70; including Estate Duty Valuation under the Finance (1909-10) Act, 1910.

The chief duty of the Valuation Department is to carry out the annual revision of valuation of tenements, when requested by the rating authorities. The valuations include such rateable hereditaments as railways, tramways, electric lighting works, gas works, fisheries, tolls, rights of turbary, and all buildings whether new, reconstructed or otherwise altered in value. This work is done by valuers who are sent out to every district in the Saorstát and make an investigation in each case in which a revision of valuation is requested. When appeals are made against the valuation fixed on revision, a further visit in each case by a different valuer is necessitated and if the appellant proceeds further to the Circuit Court a valuer has to attend the Court and give evidence. Copies of the revised valuation lists and the lists of changes are furnished annually to the rating authorities. The re-valuation of the Borough of Waterford, which was undertaken as a result of a request from the Corporation in 1922, is still in progress and decisions in the first appeals are expected in the near future. In all cases where Estate Duty is chargeable on lands or buildings, the Estate Duty Office refers to the Valuation Department for report as to value and that necessitates an inspection of the ground in nearly every case. Changes in boundaries are carried out in accordance with the Boundary Survey Acts by the Valuation Department. That necessitates examinations of boundaries. The Valuation Department does work for other Departments. It gives lists of changes of valuation to the Revenue Department for Income Tax purposes. It furnishes capital valuation in cases of Old Age Pension claims and also returns to the Customs and Excise all changes in valuation of licensed premises. It certifies claims by local rating authorities for contribution in lieu of rates on Government property. For the Office of Public Works, the Local Government Department and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs it gives estimates of the letting value of premises. It supplies to the public, at certain fees, certificates of valuation and maps in connection with the Land Acts.

There is very little change in the Estimate for the coming year. The principal reduction is in connection with the Waterford re-valuation, which marks a decrease of £500. That is because the valuation is complete. It is only the appeals that are now being dealt with. Dealing with the Appropriations-in-Aid, the first item is a statutory sum which is repayable by counties and county boroughs for the services of the Valuation Department. It is a fixed annual sum. The contribution of £150 by the County Borough of Waterford is half the estimated cost that would fall on the Department this year in connection with the re-valuation. The last item of £750 is the estimated amount of receipts from fees for certificates of valuation from miscellaneous sources. The decrease in the estimated receipts is attributable to the falling off in demand for certificates under the Land Act and to the fact that costs awarded to the Department in appeal cases will in future be credited to Law Charges and Revenue Commissioners Votes, and not to this Vote, as in the past. The normal sum that would be received annually for certificates from the Valuation Office would be about £500. £250 has been added to the Estimate, as representing the estimated extent of extra work this year in connection with the Land Act.

Under sub-head (a) I wish to draw the Minister's attention to what appears to be a very small matter—the wages paid to cleaners in the offices. This year they are reduced to 13/- per week from 25/2 last year. In footnote (e) it is stated that during the summer months two of those cleaners are on part-time work at a wage of 8/6 per week. This is the only page in the book on which I can see any reference to reduction of a wage of 13/6 to 8/6. I understand that the reduction is due to the fact that a couple of fires, which require to be lighted in the winter, are not lighted in the summer months. The result is that these women's wages, which were reduced from 25/2 last year to 13/6 this year, are brought down in the summer months to 8/6. Nobody will say here that there has been any decrease in the cost of living. For the Government, therefore, to take advantage of the fact that there are so many females unemployed in the city in order to get this form of cheap labour, is not right. I would ask the Minister if he would go into the matter and find out why this Department is the only Department in the Government to reduce the wages of widows. I understand that nearly all these cleaners are widows. To reduce their wages in the summer months to 8/6 per week is no credit to the Government.

In connection with this Vote, the total for salaries, wages and allowances is put down this year at £36,334. Last year the figure was £36,382, so that it is practically a line ball as between the two years. The number of people employed, as detailed in the list, is 93, as compared with a hundred last year. That, too, is practically a line ball. The amount put down for bonus is £12,248 this year, while last year the figure was £12,039. It appears from these figures that to the salaries practically fifty per cent. is added as bonus. That seems to me to work out at a very high figure. It seems strange that the salaries should remain practically unchanged while the number employed is seven less than last year.

I do not really know the facts in regard to these cleaners, but I am sure that what is done in this office is just the same as is done in other offices in similar circumstances. I am sure they are being paid on the recognised general basis. They are paid according to a recognised scale. Offices do not act individually in matters of this kind. The scales are sanctioned by the Department of Finance. The scales for bonus are the scales in operation everywhere in departments. Where you have on a staff a number not very highly paid the bonus will be well over fifty per cent. It is the ordinary rate of bonus that is paid here.

I would ask the Minister whether he justifies the deduction of wages during the summer months in the case of these cleaners. They have got to pay the same rent and to eat in the summer months just as in the winter months. In view of the fact that they get no holidays and have to be in twice a day, I hope he will not attempt to justify a wage of 8/6 a week.

All this depends on the amount of work. This is really part-time employment. For instance, charwomen who are employed one or two days a week in different houses are paid less than 8/6 where they are only employed one day a week. All this is really a question of part-time employment.

I think Deputy Byrne is wrong in one respect. There is no change in the Estimate, as compared with the last year, for the rate for cleaners. It was 13s. plus bonus, I take it, in each case. I agree that some justification should be made for reducing the pay in the summer months from 13s. a week, plus bonus, to 8s. 6d. a week, plus bonus. I am assuming now that bonus will be paid even when they are on part-time employment. The case, I think, is a fair one to make, that women who are employed in the winter months have to live in the summer months, and the opportunities for paying for food and clothing are not reduced by the fact that the warm weather comes in. There may be less work in the summer, due to the absence of fires, but that would apply, I suppose, to most other departments. There are certain seasons when there is less work, and certain seasons when there is more work, and if you have staffs which are required to carry on the work of an office, I think the justification for a reduction in the case of two cleaners in the summer time, is a very slight one, indeed. It is rather too petty to make in the case of persons who are required all the year round, at any rate for some part of the operation of cleaning.

The only thing I can suggest to Deputy Byrne is that if he will put down a general question on the point, I will then have the information for him. I really have not the information at the moment.

Will the Minister say why it is necessary to continue to employ four temporary assistant-valuers and surveyors? I notice that the number employed last year was five. I would also like to know why the three messengers employed last year are designated as temporary messengers this year. I thought that all the messengers associated with Government departments were on the permanent and established staff.

These particular messengers do not appear to be on the established staff. Of course, I should point out to the Deputy that there are temporary messengers as well as established messengers employed in the Government service. If he looks over the Estimates I think he will find that there is quite a number of temporary messengers employed. Some of them may become permanent later. The temporary valuers are, to some extent, employed on work in connection with the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act. I think it is the falling-off in that work that accounts for one less valuer being employed. The work in the Valuation Office fell into arrear to some extent, the staff being diverted to work in connection with the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act.

In looking up last year's estimate, I find that the messengers were not designated as temporaries, while that description is applied to them this year.

They are different people probably.

I did not think that messengers were changed about like that from year to year. It must be obvious that a permanent messenger attached to a Department will be required as long as that Department carries on its work.

Once a messenger is established, he remains an established messenger unless he is dismissed for misconduct or retires in the course of years.

I would ask the Minister not to overlook the point that these women should get a week's holidays. I would ask him to make inquiries into the conditions under which the women cleaners in the offices in Ely Place are engaged.

I have suggested to the Deputy that he should put down a question on the matter. If he does that I can deal with it further.

Vote 23 put and agreed to.