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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 3 Feb 1938

Vol. 70 No. 2

Committee on Finance. - Vote 17—Rates on Government Property.

I move:—

Go ndeontar suim Bhreise ná raghaidh thar £5,950 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Rátaí no Síntiúisí in ionad Rátaí, etc., i dtaobh Maoine Rialtais, agus chun Síntiúisí mar chabhair chun íoctha Rátaí ar Aitreabhacha i seilbh Ionadaithe do Rialtaisí Coigríche.

That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £5,950 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1938, for Rates or Contributions in lieu of Rates, etc., in respect of Government Property, and for Contributions towards Rates on Premises occupied by Representatives of external Governments.

The need for this Supplementary Estimate arises out of the fact as indicated here in Part III that first of all there has been an extension of premises in the occupation of several Government Departments notably, I think, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defence and the Department of Local Government and Public Health; but, in addition, it also arises very largely by reason of the fact that an increase in the Dublin City rate took place after the Estimate had been prepared. It will be understood that this Estimate in general is based upon the rate current at the time at which the Estimate is prepared. The Estimate was prepared last year. In view of the desire to bring in the Budget at an early date, the Estimate was prepared before the rates for the city had been fixed and, accordingly, when, due to numerous causes, there was an increase of 1/- in the £ in the Dublin City rates the amount provided for payments in lieu of rates was insufficient.

Would the Minister say when this sum of £5,950 was disbursed because the House will observe that it was disbursed from the Contingency Fund. A well established rule is that, in the event of disbursements from the Contingency Fund, a Supplementary Estimate to replenish the fund should be introduced at the first available moment.

I think that only applies to a case where the payment is not being made for a well established service. This is a service which the Dáil has already approved of in principle, and accordingly as the demands of the rate collectors were made, when it was found that we had an insufficient amount available, the sum required was taken from the Contingency Fund.

I think that as a general principle it would be a very much more satisfactory arrangement if it was acknowledged to be the general practice that the Contingency Fund should not be turned to without the resolute intention of introducing the necessary Supplementary Estimate on the first available occasion, because even where the service is approved of, as in this case, the moment the rates were increased it was possible for the Government to forecast at once what the increase in the rates would involve them in. In addition, they could have had resort to virement if it were necessary.

There was no scope for virement in this case.

Well, at least the Government could have foreseen at once what the accumulated liability was going to be, and there would have been time to introduce a Supplementary Estimate to meet the increased charge. It is not a matter of grave consequence in regard to this particular Vote, but on principle it is a matter in which the Minister himself, particularly, ought to give good example to other Departments which may be tempted to turn to the Contingency Fund, or to ask him to permit them to turn to the Contingency Fund when in fact they ought to ask him to introduce a Supplementary Estimate in this House.

Vote agreed to and reported.