Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 23 Feb 1928

Vol. 22 No. 3


I move:—

Go ndeontar suim bhreise ná raghaidh thar £1,800 chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh Márta, 1928, chun Costaisí fén Representation of the People Act, 1918, fén Acht Timpeal Toghachán, 1923, agus fé Acht na gCoistí Dháréag (Leasú), 1924.

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £1,800 be granted to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1928, for Expenses under the Representation of the People Act, 1918; the Electoral Act, 1923, and the Juries (Amendment) Act, 1924.

This sum of £1,800 which is being asked for, arises out of transactions which took place in the year 1921-22. As Deputies may be aware, the expenses of registration under the Representation of the People Act, 1918, are payable by the county councils in the first instance. These expenses include such matters as the expenses of secretaries or clerks to county or district councils, expenses of rate collectors, and printing and other expenses involved in the preparation of the register. One half of the expenses paid by the county councils was recouped out of voted moneys.

The accounts of the county councils were examined by the auditors for the Local Government Department and certified by them. During 1921 and 1922 a number of councils refused to pay registration expenses. In those cases the British Government deducted sums from the grants going to the local authorities and paid the expenses. Subsequently the local authorities in most cases refunded the money that had been paid, and on their doing so the recoupment grants became payable to them, but in the case of four councils—Galway, Kildare, Mayo, and Tipperary North Riding—the matter was not settled until a few months ago. These councils have now made payments of the amounts paid on their behalf, and, consequently, the sums due on recoupment became payable at once. The amounts payable to these counties are: Galway, £767 1s. 1d.; Kildare, £432 3s. 2d.; Mayo, £1,215 18s. 8d.; Tipperary North Riding, £369 5s. 4d.; the total amount being £2,784 8s. 3d. As full provision had not been made for this contingency in the original estimates, it is necessary now to take this additional sum of £1,800 in order that these amounts may be paid to the county councils concerned.

Will this finish that item as far as all the county councils are concerned?

These are the four last councils.

Why was it not anticipated that this sum would have to be paid during the year?

The matter has been in dispute since 1922. In previous years it had not been possible to effect any settlement, and it was not anticipated that all the four county councils would be arranged with in the present year.

At the same time it was a contingent liability, and the Government should have provided for it in the estimates.

It is a big matter.

It is a matter in which we are interested. Estimates were presented last year which gave the Government calculations for the year. These estimates were presented prior to the general election, and no doubt the Government was anxious to keep the figure as low as possible, and so this contingent liability was left out.

Estimates are prepared nearly 18 months before the end of the year to which they relate. Estimates for the year 1927-28 were prepared in the departments in November, 1926. They were then passed on to the Department of Finance, and discussions took place between that department and the departments preparing the estimates. Finally, the estimates were printed and issued to the Dáil about the 1st March, but they were really prepared about 17 months before the end of the period to which they relate. All estimates are wrong to some extent. In certain cases we have excesses, and in other cases supplementary estimates have to be introduced. Sometimes an entirely new type of charge arises, and although there may be enough of money to cover it, as it was not covered by any sub-head, a token estimate has to be introduced. The object aimed at is not to ensure that there shall be no supplementary estimate, but rather to get an estimate as near as possible to the amount required, so as neither to have an excess or require a supplementary. You cannot get close accuracy in estimates, as the period covered is too long and too many contingencies have to be taken into account.

In the original estimate this year was provision made for recoupment to the county councils under this sub-head?

There was some provision. This contingency was in mind, and a certain provision was put in, but not enough to meet the whole cost that fell due. Some part of the total cost can be found in the estimate.

I think the Minister's statement is altogether unconvincing.

Vote put and agreed to.