COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - ESTIMATES FOR PUBLIC SERVICES. MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE—RESUMED.

Wednesday, 18 July 1923

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 4 No. 12

First Page Previous Page Page of 15 Next Page Last Page

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  May I suggest that if you turn to the penultimate page of the information before us, although we had completed the Statistical Department, we had not arrived at the Intelligence Branch.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That is so.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  With regard to the Intelligence Branch, the Assistant Minister for Industry and Commerce, in his introductory statement yesterday, gave us a certain amount of information with regard to the existence of such a branch as this. I do not know if I correctly interpreted him, but it seems to me that the chief service of the officers of this Branch in the Ministry would be to render information to traders as to the opportunities available in other countries, and that such intelligence would be most effectually made available by way of a trade journal, and that certain recommendations had been made by the Department to the Ministry of Finance that such a journal should be established. I think it will be a matter of general agreement that a journal of this kind would be of the very greatest service to the trade and commerce of Ireland. It would be of service, not merely to the traders in this country, but to those in other countries because we have always, in matters of this kind, to remember the fundamental rule that whatever exports occur have to be paid for by imports. Therefore, if we cannot [986] encourage imports we are not in a position adequately and most economically to encourage an export trade. Intelligence of this kind is as valuable to people outside this country who desire to do business with us as it is for people inside the country who desire to do business with nations outside. Therefore, it would be agreed that the inception by the Department of such a trade journal is a very important one and one that cannot help to prove to be of the greatest possible value to this State.

Yesterday when the matter was mentioned, we had not the opportunity or the advantage of having with us the Minister for Finance, who is in charge of the Department to which the proposal was put. That advantage, which was denied us yesterday, has been made available to-day and perhaps opportunity might be taken by the Minister for Finance to let us know how his Department considers this proposal. Deputy Johnson yesterday, somewhat mordantly but with plenty of justification by recent history, suggested that the formulation of such a project as this was one thing, but its fruition was entirely a different thing. Therefore, I urge, in the first place, that somewhat full information as to the exact purpose of this Intelligence Branch may be furnished to the Dáil, both in the event of such a journal being established and in the possible event of its not being established—what then is the Intelligence Department to exist for, and how best can this information be made available to this country and outside countries? In the second place I desire to inquire if the Minister will throw any light regarding the possibilities of such a journal being founded.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  Yesterday, in making a general statement on the Estimates, I referred to the Intelligence Branch of the Ministry, and it is hardly necessary to point out to Deputy Figgis that an Intelligence Branch is an Intelligence Branch, that its business is to collect information useful for the citizens and to distribute that information, when collected, to the best possible advantage. A method of doing that is at the moment under consideration in the Ministry of Finance, and I have no doubt that it will receive very full consideration at the hands of the Ministry. I do not think that I can add anything to that statement at present.

[987]AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  We will pass on to the next item:—“Office of Consulting Engineer to the Government.”

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  I was endeavouring yesterday to get some information with regard to this branch of the Department. I cannot congratulate myself that I was very successful in getting much or any information in a very knowledgeable form, but it was definitely stated that Consulting Engineer's salary, whatever it was, did not appear in this Department's Estimates, and it was suggested that it was a matter for the Ministry of Finance, and when I desired to get the terms and conditions of his appointment I was also referred to the Ministry of Finance. Now, that is a little remarkable. It is perfectly clear that no salary figures in these Estimates, and it is also quite true that no salary figures in last year's Estimates, but there was a Supplementary Vote attached to last year's Estimates, and in that Supplementary Vote appeared these words, “a Supplementary Estimate of the amount required in the year ending 31st March, 1923, to pay.” Then is set out a category of various items that are to be paid and amongst those items is this:—“to pay the fees and expenses of the Consulting Engineer to the Government.” That is in the Supplementary Vote last year of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. We are informed now that the fees and expenses are not now under this Department, but they were in this Department, apparently from those words, so late as a Supplementary Estimate that had to cover expenses up to the 31st March of this year. It is very definitely and distinctly stated that the fees and expenses were the fees and expenses of the Consulting Engineer, whereas we were informed yesterday that he was not a person, but a firm. That, I think, is another change that requires a certain amount of explanation. I wish just to emphasise that before I pass on. Last year the fees and expenses of an individual, who has since become, apparently, a firm, were charged in the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce, and that is now no longer the case, and it was indicated yesterday— I want to be perfectly just to the Assistant Minister that he did not say so, but, at least, to my interpretation he suggested—that these fees and expenses that appeared last year under the Ministry [988] of Industry and Commerce, this year are to be found under the Ministry of Finance.

I looked through the Vote for the Ministry of Finance, and I failed to find there any such Vote at all. I am, therefore, moved to inquire whether any fee is paid to this firm or individual at all, and, if so, if such salaries are being paid, what they are and where they appear, and on what scale they have been framed. If it should be the case, as I think very possibly, that no salary is paid, and no fees appear anywhere, then I think we ought to be informed in what way the Consulting Engineer gets his remuneration. I am bringing this matter forward here as a Deputy, and it is not a very pleasant duty. I have been urged to do so because I am authorised to say that the position of Consulting Engineer has aroused a great deal of perplexity in the profession as a whole, and the matter has been receiving the very earnest attention of the profession. It is a remarkable fact that the Consulting Engineer, acting as a Civil Engineer, advising in matters of very great importance in Civil Engineering contracts, is not a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. That is an unfortunate occurrence. I believe it should be asserted as a principle that a firm or individual acting as Consulting Engineer to the Government should be required to be a member of the Institute, or that particular branch of Engineering for which he is called to give his specialised advice. There is a reason; it is not a question of amour propre. It is not a question of asking him to fall into line with his brothers in the profession. There is an earnest desire for this. I will read the rules framed by the Institute.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  On a point of order, I must really ask what particular item in our Vote is the Deputy discussing?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  There is a certain difficulty about the Vote. This is a Vote for money for the office of Consulting Engineer to the Government. Deputy Figgis is going into the question of the Consulting Engineer himself, and it seems to me to be a matter for arrangement whether we are to take the whole thing here as if the Consulting Engineer's salary were here or take the whole thing in another place, [989] where the Consulting Engineer's salary may appear. Does it appear anywhere else in the Votes?

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I understand the Ministry for Finance bears all charges in connection with railway compensation and reconstruction and fees for advisory work in connection therewith, and the Supply Department will bear any costs arising under purchases, and it is in connection with the Vote for those matters that a Consulting Engineer's salary will arise. I do not know what way he is paid. Deputy Figgis alluded to the provision made in our Supplementary Vote last year for the fees of the Consulting Engineer. It will relieve the Deputy's anxiety to know that at the time the Supplementary Estimates were compiled we were not sure that our Ministry would not have to bear the expenses of the Consulting Engineer, and consequently that provision was put in. Eventually it turned out that we have to bear only the expenses of the clerical workers in his office. Our Vote does not carry the salary or remuneration of the Consulting Engineer.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  In this matter I am speaking distinctly and clearly to book and at request. It is a matter of indifference to me under which Vote I raise the question. It did distinctly appear on the Supplementary Estimate that it was a matter for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. I desire now only to know where I may raise this matter, which it is proper to have raised, if I may use the expression, to know under which particular thimble I am to find my pea. The matter ought and requires to be raised. If I can be told exactly how and where I can raise it I will raise it in that connection. But I do suggest it is not very candid to be posted from one place to another, and finally not to be allowed to raise a matter which is of urgency to people outside.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  The Deputy has used the word “candid.” I will be candid in the matter, and I will tell the Deputy here and now that his feelings are not altogether so impersonal as he would wish the Dáil to believe. If the Deputy wishes me to proceed further and be more candid I shall do so. I have said that our Vote does not bear [990] or carry the salary of the Consulting Engineer. It does not, and I hope the Dáil will agree with me that I am quite candid in the matter. I have told the Deputy plainly what the position with regard to the preparation of the Supplementary Estimate is, and I think I will say no more.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  I am perfectly prepared, and I intend, to refer fully to the matter to which the Assistant Minister has referred. It was my intention to have done so in order that the Dáil might know exactly where I stand in the matter. I think the right procedure from me in the matter would be to move now, as I formally do, that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £807 in order to raise the question, on which no information is now available before the Dáil, and I desire to ask you, A Chinn Comhairle, whether I would be in order in raising this question now by moving a motion for the reduction of the Vote, and if I am permitted to do so the Assistant Minister for Industry and Commerce will find that there will be no lack of candour.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  This is a Vote for the office of the Consulting Engineer to the Government. It seems to me that relevant to this Vote the question might be raised as to the necessity for a Consulting Engineer, as to what his duties are, and as to why he should be provided with an office. But certainly if a Consulting Engineer receives, as we presume he does receive, fees or salary, the question of the Consulting Engineer himself should be raised where the payment for his services comes in. Deputy Figgis will be quite in order to move to reduce the Vote by £807; that would certainly enable him to go into the question of the duties performed by the Consulting Engineer and the necessity of his having an office.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  In that case I move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £807. If there is any necessity for such an office it can only arise, I think, by the necessity for having a Consulting Engineer, and if there is necessity for a Consulting Advisory Engineer then I lay it down as what would be recognised by the profession as a principle that that Consulting and [991] Advising Engineer should be a member of the Institute.

That is not merely a question of professional feeling upon the matter; more is involved. I will read out the regulations and the by-laws of the Institute, from which it will be seen exactly what protection is afforded to clients of such an Engineer by his belonging to such an Institute. The first regulation is:— (1) He shall act in all professional matters strictly in a fiduciary manner in regard to any clients whom he may advise, and his charges to such clients shall constitute his only remuneration in connection with such work. (2) He shall not accept any trade commission, discounts, allowances, or any indirect profit in connection with any work which he is engaged to design or superintend or with any professional business that may be entrusted to him. (3) He shall not, while acting in a professional capacity, be at the same time, without disclosing the fact in writing to his client, a director or member or shareholder in, or act as agent for, any contracting or manufacturing company or firm or business with which he may have occasion to deal on behalf of his client, or have any financial interest in such business. (4) He shall not receive, directly or indirectly, any royalty, gratuity or commission on any patented or protected article or process used on the work which he is carrying out for his clients.” The first three objects are a matter of some importance, and if any Consulting Engineer be so employed by any client, be they a Government, a firm, or an individual, they have the protection of the Institute that these regulations shall be observed. That is why the profession has felt that it would be very desirable in the event of any Consulting Engineer being engaged by the Government that that Consulting Engineer should be a member of the Institute of his profession and of that particular branch of his profession in respect of which he is called upon to give professional advice. We do not know what salary he is receiving. It has been suggested outside that there is no salary; that his remuneration does not arise in connection with salary at all, but in connection with contracts, and therefore it is only right that the Dáil should know fully and clearly if the Consulting [992] Engineer has any direct contract with contracting houses or firms or whether all the contracts are contracts that will be placed by a Contracts Committee outside the direct interposition of any such person or anyone who acts with him. We know, for example, the very large powers that are placed in the hands of such persons under the railway agreement, the memorandum of the heads of which has been placed in our hands.

I read:—

“The Railway Company concerned shall furnish to the Government's Consulting Engineer such particulars as he may reasonably require, and he shall forthwith furnish a certificate showing the amount which he considers represents the expenditure reasonably necessary.”

All through this document, in fact, this person is appearing in a very necessary way, because if any person is to occupy this position he should have the large powers that are entrusted to him, but if those large powers are to be entrusted to any individual, if those very considerable authorities are to be entrusted to any individual, surely it is not too much to ask not only that he should be a member of the Institution of his profession, and that branch of his profession in respect of which he is asked to give his advice, but, furthermore, that he should be adequately remunerated by the State on a clear and recognised basis, and that he should be a whole-time official having no other connections, and should not be connected with other enterprises. I do not know, but I believe it is true, that the firm or individual that is now acting in this capacity has no peculiar qualifications in the Civil Engineering branch, although it is perfectly true that he has the very highest possible qualifications that might be required in electrical matters, but it is not in electrical matters that the chief part of his advice is needed. Several engineers are anxious to know, and have asked me to elicit, why it is that an electrical engineer should be called upon to give this advice, and not only to give this advice, but to follow this advice with regard to contracts. That is contrary to the procedure generally recognised as correct by the profession. I was told yesterday the name of the firm, and I would like to know if it is an English or an Irish firm. The [993] firm was stated to be Messrs. Crowley and Partners. Who are the partners? I think I am correct in stating that the partners in this connection are an English house. That is not perhaps a very considerable matter, because I believe we should take advantage of the highest possible information available to this State, and if information is not available from those of the requisite standard, from those who are citizens of the Free State, we should be free to go outside, but we should at least make an attempt to get those who have the necessary qualifications in the Free State. Now, the Assistant Minister for Industry and Commerce charged against me that I was not, in bringing forward this matter for the reduction of this Vote, wholly disinterested. That is perfectly true, but it does not alter the fact that I have been asked to mention these matters here by those who are wholly disinterested. What is the degree of my interestedness in this matter? I will state it perfectly frankly, and put my position and the position involved before the Dáil. I am connected with a certain company. The Minister referred to that company when he was dealing with this Vote in his introductory statement. I am interested in that company, and I have the honour to have as a colleague in that particular enterprise a Senator who is our greatest Irish engineer. We met the Government, and put the entire facts concerning that enterprise before the Government. We informed the Government that there was no information at our disposal, no matter what it cost and no matter what experience it involved either with regard to finance or with regard to engineering, that we were not willing to put before the Government in all its details, and if the Government had required of us that we should put that information before it in all its details we should at once have said that the Government was doing only what the Government of a country should do, namely, to require of an enterprise that it should put its cards down upon the table, and we were prepared to do that. But since that happened the Government's Consulting Engineer has promoted a company with a similar intention.

Mr. HUGHES: Information on Peter Hughes  Zoom on Peter Hughes  And there is the rub.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  Deputy Hughes says that is the rub. That is the rub so far as a legitimate enterprise [994] is concerned, and I will deal with it, but let me say before I do so that before that situation had occurred I had been asked to raise this matter in the Dáil. I had not intended to go into the other matter, except on reflection feeling that others might be tempted to say that is the rub. I had intended to go into that matter and to put my cards on the table, which I now do with the fullest and completest candour.

Let us see what is involved. A company, never mind for the moment that I am connected with that company, is asked by the Government to put its information, which has cost it considerable expense to acquire, before the Government. The Government's Consulting Engineer is acting, however, in competition in the promotion of another company. Any information, therefore, that this first company puts before the Government, information which has cost it a great deal of expense, is at once rendered available for the rival company, and I think that is a situation that is not desirable.

If I spoke with interestedness in the matter, whatever my interest is, I frankly and honestly confess to it. I nevertheless say that, on its merits, it is not right that a Government, going to any one company, should ask information of that Company when it has, as its Consulting Engineer, a person who is engaged in an enterprise of the same kind, so that the information which that Government reasonably asks is made over normally, naturally to its competitors. I do not believe that will make for commercial wisdom in the future of this country. When I raised this matter, I want to say quite frankly, that I did realise, very fully and fairly realise, that during the past year there has been a very great deal of improvisation, necessarily. No one could blame any Government for having improvised in matters of this kind and gone ahead as rapidly as it could, and I am not blaming them. What I am saying is, if it should subsequently be found that the improvisation leads to commitments that are not natural, not right, not in the interests of frankness, not in the interests of industrial development or professional rectitude, that then the Government should say: “We do not recognise this commitment, and as it appears to have been involved in our original arrangement, [995] made in the very best possible interests, we will end an arrangement that has resulted in such a situation.” Therefore, I do urge—and I think I am only urging what will appear to everybody, not only to engineers, not only to those who might be, as I have frankly said I am, interested, but to all parties as recognised principles in such appointments—that any person acting as Advising and Consulting Engineer to the Government ought to be a person who is amply recompensed, and being amply recompensed, however widely that word “amply” may be judged necessary, that the individual acting in that capacity should be removed from the industrial sphere and from the contractual sphere and should be a whole-time official of his clients—in this case the clients being the Government. Then it would be possible to fulfil this regulation of the Institution of Civil Engineers— that his charges to such clients should constitute his only remuneration in connection with such work. I have raised this matter, but I frankly confess to the Dáil that I had not been looking forward to it with any particular relish. I did not desire to do so. I have had a fair amount of experience as a speaker in various capacities, good and bad, and I am not very much afflicted with nervousness, but I have been to-day, because I would very much rather not to have undertaken the task to-day that I have done. But the matter has been brought before me in such a light—whether it be interested or disinterested—that it is no longer evadable, and I have now discharged what I have conceived to be my duty by raising it in the Dáil.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I have just to repeat that the Vote for the salary or fees of the Consulting Engineer does not appear in our Estimates, but in justice to the gentlemen who fill the office of Consulting Engineer to the Government, I think I should intervene here and say that the Consulting Engineer to the Government is a Consulting Engineer; he is not a whole-time Engineer. Who ever heard of a Consulting Engineer being a whole-time Engineer? Drop the word consulting, if he is a Government Engineer, if he is an official, but the Consulting Engineer to the Government is not an official. The Government consults him, and from certain [996] experiences which I have had in consultation with him, has consulted him to the advantage of the common purse of the State, running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, in connection with one public company alone. He is a Consulting Engineer. I have yet to learn that a Consulting Engineer must be a whole-time official of the Government. What I do feel most about this is, that any Deputy in this Dáil will stand up and read out a code of regulations, setting out in detail the professional code for an Institute of Engineers, and by implication, for there has been implication, leave it to the Dáil to suggest that the Consulting Engineer to the Government has not observed that code; by implication suggest that the very thing which the code makes it incumbent on members of the Institute not to do, are done by this Consulting Engineer to the Government. Now, I think it would become Deputy Figgis as a man, not to speak of him as a gentleman, better if he would repeat outside the Dáil, or in the public Press, a statement on similar lines to that which he has made here, under the privilege of the Dáil, about the Consulting Engineer to the Government. I, here and now, invite him to do so, and I promise him, when he repeats it outside the Dáil, I shall take the matter up, and see that the Consulting Engineer deals with it, or we shall deal with him.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  This is practically new matter to me, but I think the Minister has not dealt with the case made by Deputy Figgis in a manner the Dáil has a right to require. Apart from the question of the status of the Consultant in his profession—that is, in the professional organisation—there is a statement made by Deputy Figgis that I think should be met. That was, that the Consultant is not a Civil Engineer, but an Electrical Engineer. If the Ministry have called in as consultant, to deal with civil engineering work, a man who is not a Civil Engineer, and are paying anything at all for that service, I think they are misusing public funds to that extent. At least, I think they are spending the funds unwisely. The second point that seems to call for attention is the statement that the Consultant is a promoter of a company, and that the rival company was asked— and this I want to have made clear, [997] whether it is true or not—to submit particulars relating to their proposed undertaking to the Government, so that the Consulting Engineer to the Government, who is promoting a rival business, will be able to read and take what he can out of them. If that is true, then I think it is a misuse of the position, and I think the Consulting Engineer himself ought not to accept any such responsibility.

The third point that was raised, not quite so directly, by Deputy Figgis was that the Consulting Engineer was rewarded through the medium of contracts which have been given, or may be given, such contracts being upon specifications that have been approved or drafted by that Consultant. I hope I am not misinterpreting what Deputy Figgis alleged, but that is the allegation implied as I heard it. If it is a correct summary of the allegation, it ought to be met. The Minister in his opening statement did, as a matter of fact, claim credit for having called in, or rather having given assistance to firms or companies that were interested in the promotion of electrical supplies for the City and County of Dublin. The kind of assistance that was given is not made known. Whether it was the same kind of assistance to each of the companies concerned we do not know. Was it engineering assistance? Was it consultation respecting finance, or respecting public rights or respecting the Government's attitude towards the schemes that these companies are promoting? In view of what has been said and hinted at here, both by the Minister, in his reference to the consultations with these companies, or by Deputy Figgis, in his reference to the Consulting Engineer, I think the Dáil is entitled to a fuller statement from the Minister in charge of this Vote before we decide to vote for or against the proposed reduction.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  In answer to Deputy Johnson, who has asked about the qualifications of the Consulting Engineer to the Government, I may say that the Consulting Engineer is a firm. There are Civil Engineers members of that firm, I understand.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  Who are they?

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  Deputy Figgis, I think, has asked who are they. If he will put down a question to the Minister [998] for Finance he will have an answer, I am sure. There is no foundation whatever, for saying that Deputy Figgis, or the company of which I understand he is a director, has been requested to submit schemes to the Government, nor that the Government would ask a firm stated to be interested in another rival scheme to consider it; none whatever. In my opening statement I did refer to the services the Ministry had rendered to certain parties interested in electrical development. One was the Dublin Corporation, and another was the Company of which Deputy Figgis is a director. Both have had exactly similar advice from us, and I told Deputy Figgis, at the interview which he had with me in the Ministry, what exactly my attitude was. The part of the Ministry was to render assistance in pointing out, so far as possible, what the procedure should be in regard to the promotion of any scheme of electrical development, and this assistance was given to anyone who approached us. There was, perhaps, a third party. People who are interested in hydro-electrical development, combined with peat, had the same facilities placed at their disposal. That is the attitude of the Ministry. That is all we have had to do with it. Deputy Figgis was told that at any time at all it was open to him to promote a private Bill, and for the Dáil to pass that Bill or reject it. The final approval of whatever scheme is put does not rest with the Ministry, does not rest with the Executive Council, but rests with the Oireachtas. I hope I have answered Deputy Johnson's points.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  I went into a number of matters, and I am sorry that all of them have not been dealt with as I think that they might have been dealt with. I think it might have been accepted as a principle that if any person had been appointed as a consulting or advising engineer to a Government, and that person happened not to be a member of the institution in respect of that branch of engineering for which he was called upon to give advice, he should reasonably be required to get such membership before being continued in his position. I stated that I had failed to find anywhere any method by which the consulting engineer was rewarded for his services. I adhere to that. It is obvious. [999] I have yet to find where he was to be rewarded as he should be rewarded, as any person occupying his position should be rewarded. When I stated that he should be required to be a member of the institution, I did state that there were certain bye-laws and regulations which all members are required to fulfil, and I read all these bye-laws. It is perfectly clear that any person who is a member of the institution is required to fulfil these regulations, and may be charged before any such institution if he fails to adhere to the principles it lays down. The Assistant Minister states that I charged a failure in these regulations because I read out what the institution requires. I fail to see how that construction could be put upon my words I have asked, however, and no answer has been provided, if contracts given, either in connection with this agreement with the railways, or any other large engineering tasks, were being given directly by this gentleman in connection with his duties; whether it was part of his duties, or whether it was not part of his duties, or whether all those contracts had to go to the Contracts Committee in the same way as all other contracts, and that the present Adviser had nothing whatever to do with the contracts in respect of which he advised. That information had not been provided. Deputy Johnson did not quite accurately interpret my words, which I chose very carefully, with regard to the schemes in the matter, where I frankly confessed I am an interested party. I would like to say my being an interested party in that connection does not in any way reduce the position revealed by that interest. What I did say was that we had offered to give all information that might be required, and we are willing to give that information because we conceive that a Government should justly require such information. But we also do say that a Government whose Consulting Engineer is the active promoter in the industrial sphere of a rival scheme does not hold that same justification for the demanding of the information which we so frankly tendered, and that is very obvious. In the interviews to which the Minister has referred he told us, with his ordinary, customary frankness, that it was the intention of the Government to observe as between all competitors in enterprise, [1000] either this or any other, an attitude of absolute impartiality. We welcome that, and I am perfectly sure that it is the intention of the Department and of the Ministry to keep that attitude of absolute impartiality. But I suggest that if a consulting engineer employed by the Government is to enter that sphere, that impartiality automatically becomes impossible, and therefore I suggest that the Government should do something to ensure that these engineers should be full-tone officials, with no other interests or activities. The Assistant Minister formulated a challenge. Most of the matters that I have referred to to-day have also been discussed between himself and myself, and I have forwarded him a letter to-day in which that information was put in writing. He is at liberty to make any use of that letter, or the one that preceded it, that he judges desirable. If the result of that correspondence should be that legal proceedings should be instituted, we shall be very glad indeed.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  All contracts placed for reconstruction works on the railways, or for any engineering works, pass through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Finance, and the contracts are signed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and are placed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and not by the Consulting Engineer. That is, I think, quite plain as to contracts. I made no charge against Deputy Darrell Figgis, but the Deputy has referred to letters which he sent me. If the Deputy writes a letter to me and marks the letter “Private and confidential” I am not going to take any action on such a letter.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  May I interrupt just for a moment——

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Order.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  He says now he has written a letter to me to-day. I could not have taken any action on a letter which I have not yet received, but if the letter be not marked, as his last letter to me was marked, though it dealt with the practices of the consulting engineer, if it be not also marked “Private and confidential,”. Deputy Figgis may absolutely rely that I shall take action in the matter. The Deputy at least is helpful when he sends a letter which I hope is not marked, as his last one, in red ink, “Private and confidential.”

[1001]Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  I may say that this was not a letter which was marked “Private and confidential.” The Minister asked me if I would remove those so that he may be at liberty to take action. The letter I wrote to-day asked him to remove those words, and repeats the original communication.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  Which request to the Deputy I hope he will take as evidence of my bona fides in the matter.

Mr. DARRELL FIGGIS: Information on Darrell Figgis  Zoom on Darrell Figgis  These have never been questioned by me.

Mr. HUGHES: Information on Peter Hughes  Zoom on Peter Hughes  I think you might put an end to these shabby transactions, Sir.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I object to the word “shabby.”

Mr. HUGHES: Information on Peter Hughes  Zoom on Peter Hughes  On the part of Deputy Darrell Figgis.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Deputy Johnson raised a question yesterday with regard to the law of picketing. I do not know was it answered, but I do not think it was. This is a matter of vital importance to the country, where trade or industrial disputes exist, to know under what law we are living, and whether or not it is, as Deputy Johnson says, an adaptation of the English Trade Law, or what it is the rules of picketing provide. It would be well that this was definitely stated for the public benefit and the knowledge of those who are trying to know where peaceful picketing begins and intimidation ends.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I did not hear this question by Deputy Johnson yesterday. I did not think that it was raised, but surely it was not permitted to ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce yesterday what the law of picketing was? Was it asked yesterday?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  No, sir, it was not raised by me.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I have a distinct recollection that Deputy Johnson referred to it, and what they were allowed to do, under this Vote.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Perhaps it was a question of Trade Boards, was it not?

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I raised the question of Trade Boards: I did not touch picketing. [1002] I raised the question of factory inspectors, but that did not touch on picketing. I do not know what other Vote would allow me to mention the word “picketing,” and I do not remember using the word.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Did you refer to interfering with labour pickets?

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Does Deputy Gorey refer to the question raised by Deputy Johnson here yesterday under the head of Industrial Section, in which he spoke of Factory Inspectors and Trade Boards?

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  No; I am referring to the Industry and Commerce Vote.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Was I in the Chair myself?

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I cannot say.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  The only recollection I have is that Deputy Johnson raised the question of the policy of the Ministry with regard to Trade Boards and Factory Inspectors, and no question was raised with regard to pickets. In any case the Minister for Industry and Commerce cannot be asked to state what the law of picketing is when he is asking money for the administration of his Department.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  I was present during the whole of that discussion yesterday, and I never heard any such question. I think there is nothing in the Estimates about the payment of pickets.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  I am not talking about the payment of pickets.

AN CEANN COMHAIRLE: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It could not be raised.

Mr. GOREY: Information on Denis John Gorey  Zoom on Denis John Gorey  Then my hearing is very badly at fault.

Mr. CORISH: Information on Richard Corish  Zoom on Richard Corish  You hear too much; that is the fault.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I have nothing to say to sub-heads B, C, or D, but in regard to E—Contribution towards expenses of Stall at “Daily Mirror” Fashion Fair—I invite the Minister to satisfy the Dáil, if he can, as to the value received from the expenditure of £150, or the value expected to be received from the expenditure out of this year's Vote in a contribution towards the cost of the “Daily Mirror's” advertising Fair. I invite [1003] him also to tell us whether he expects any payment from the “Daily Mirror” as an advertising fee. There was a total amount of £1,000 agreed to, and the final half of the expenditure, chargeable to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, is to be paid out of this Vote. I think it would interest the members of the Dáil and other people, particularly other newspaper people, to know what value may be expected from the Fair, and whether the “Daily Mirror” has assisted the finances of the State as a quid pro quo for the expenditure on this Fair.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  With regard to the Vote of £150 towards the exhibit at the “Daily Mirror” Fashion Fair, many countries participated in the exhibition, and we are satisfied that the expenditure was fully justified by the results. Thirteen Irish firms exhibited there, and the report from those firms indicates that numerous enquiries were received from prospective customers during the Fair. Purchases were made and orders have been, and are being, booked since. We feel perfectly satisfied that the expenditure was to the benefit of industry and commerce generally within the country.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  In regard to sub-head K. which relates to the Dublin-Cork steamer service, and payment to the British and Irish Steampacket Company in respect of the net loss on the steamer service between Dublin and Cork, could we have any statement from the Minister as to the circumstances under which that guarantee, or subsidy, of £1,000 was given to the British and Irish Steampacket Company in the first instance, or how the Ministry was committed to that amount?

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I referred to that matter yesterday, but I think the Deputy had left the Dáil at the time. It was during the time the railway service between Dublin and Cork was dislocated, and we undertook to be responsible for any losses, to the extent of £1,000, that might be entailed in running the service between Dublin and Cork. As a matter of fact, none of that money will be required. The service very probably made more than the expenses of working it. The Estimate was made out before the sum could be removed from it.

Mr. DAVIN: Information on William Davin  Zoom on William Davin  Why I raised the question [1004] was because the explanatory statement says “in respect of the net loss,” and I thought the loss was incurred, and that the Ministry was responsible and had to pay that amount.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  We merely guaranteed that in case of loss we would be responsible up to that amount.

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  With regard to the contribution to the Unemployment Fund under Sub-head “L,” I wish to know from the Minister if the £200,000 specified is the full extent of the State's contribution towards the Unemployment Fund, and is the £250,000 that we voted in a recent Bill to be added to this?

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  That £200,000 is a contribution from the State which goes with the contributions from the employers and employees. In addition, the Ministry of Finance, the Deputy will recollect, had a resolution passed here on the occasion of the passing of the Unemployment Bill for a further sum of £250,000, I think.

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  That is not included?

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  I think the sum was £500,000 altogether.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  That is an advance in order to fund the particular fund in question. The fund was not able to meet the charges which came on it, and this was to finance it. It is a loan in order to finance the fund. The £200,000 in this case is the State contribution towards the funding of this particular service. It might be taken to be the estimated loss which falls on the State in order to provide this service.

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  Is the £250,000 in excess of this?

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I think the Deputy misunderstands me; I think the amount is half a million. It is a separate Vote altogether. It is, I think, on a separate sheet, as a matter of fact. I will get the information later for the Deputy.

Mr. JOHNSON: Information on Thomas Johnson  Zoom on Thomas Johnson  I would like if the Minister would give us some information with regard to fees for licences under the Dye-stuffs Act. He expects to receive a sum of £100. I would like to have some statement from the Minister respecting the payment of these fees—whether [1005] there is any encouragement being given to firms in the Saorstát to accept these licences for the purchase and importation of dye-stuffs, and whether this £100 is merely an estimate or if it could be increased. I think I am right—perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—in saying that this has some relation to the prohibition of the importation of dye-stuffs unless under special licences. If it has, I think the Dáil would be interested to have a statement from the Minister as to whether any decision has been come to respecting the free importation of dye-stuffs from Germany, which have been prohibited under British legislation.

Mr. WHELEHAN: Information on Joseph Whelehan  Zoom on Joseph Whelehan  The scale of fees in force at present in connection with the Dye-stuffs Import Regulation Act range from a minimum of 2s. 6d. to a maximum of £5 per licence, the complete scale being: Goods licensed value under £100, 2s. 6d.; between £100 and £200, 10s.; between £200 and £500, £1; between £500 and £1,000, £2; £1,000 to £2,000, £3; £2,000 to £3,000, £4; £3,000 and upwards, £5. I might state, for the information of the Deputy and the Dáil, that a Bill for the repeal of this Dye-stuffs Import Regulation Act is at present before the Executive Council, and I might also state that we have had no difficulty at all in issuing licences to anybody who sought them for the import of dyes.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  I have the information now which Deputy Wilson asked for. It was published in a sheet which gave the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1924. This particular item is No. 2 in Part (C)—capital raised for special purposes. “Under the Unemployment Insurance Act to provide advances for the Unemployment Fund, £536,700.”

Mr. WILSON: Information on Richard Wilson  Zoom on Richard Wilson  What I wanted to ascertain was what was the exact commitment of the State towards this Unemployment Fund.

The PRESIDENT: Information on William T. Cosgrave  Zoom on William T. Cosgrave  The exact commitment in respect of the Fund is this sum of £200,000. This sum of £536,700, which I have just mentioned, is a loan in order to finance the particular Fund and to enable it to discharge its obligations.

Vote 55 put and agreed to.


Last Updated: 16/05/2011 18:42:45 First Page Previous Page Page of 15 Next Page Last Page