asked the Minister for Finance if he is now in a position to state the total cost to the Exchequer of the recent referendum; and, if not, the cause of the delay in having this information made available.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cost of Referendum.
I would refer the Deputy to my replies of 19th March and 4th February, 1969, on this subject. About one quarter of election accounts are still outstanding.
In regard to the second part of my question, when will the Minister have this information available?
I do not know.
Is it not unusual that now, six months after a referendum, the Department of Finance are not in a position to tell us what the referendum cost?
Not a bit unusual.
They do not want to tell us.
Would the Minister indicate what his forecast is or has he any figures?
Yes. I have already given that information and I shall give it to the Deputy again now if he will sit down and listen.
The sum was originally estimated at about £100,000. It is now anticipated that it will probably be a little more. We do not yet know how much but it will be something between £100,000 and £120,000, I think.
Has the Minister any figures available at the moment?
Many of the accounts are in but a considerable number are still outstanding. We are relying on the returning officers to submit to us the accounts.
Would the Minister make available to the House the figures in respect of constituencies from which he has received accounts?
That information may be available. I think we have received 29 accounts so far, and looking at these accounts the indications are that the figure of £100,000 may be slightly, indeed, marginally, exceeded.
Will the Minister circulate those figures with the Official Report?
That is a separate question.
I have not got them here to circulate.
If I ask a question next week——
Let the Deputy keep on asking questions and we shall do our best to answer them.
Would the Minister say, if, as a result of the referendum, the Government have gained much in wisdom from the expenditure of this money? How would he assess the position?
We cannot have a discussion on this matter. We are dealing with the cost of the referendum.
We are discussing the sum of £120,000 of public money and at least £500,000 of private money expended on circulars, meetings, advertisements and so on and I am asking the Minister have the Government gained in wisdom as a result.
Deputy Murphy is very much like myself in these matters. He is a confirmed democrat. Mark you, I was very distressed to hear a rumour that he may be beaten in the next election. I do not think the expenditure of whatever money is involved should be baulked at if it is necessary for the full working of the democratic process.
That is why the Fianna Fáil cumainn are so much in love with the Minister for Local Government at present.
Please allow questions to continue.