Tuesday, 5 May 1936
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £20,615 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1937, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí na Luachála Generálta agus na Suirbhéireachta Teorann (15 agus 16 Vict., c. 63; 17 Vict., c. 8 agus c. 17; 20 agus 21 Vict., c. 45; 22 agus 23 Vict., c. 8; 23 Vict., c. 4; 27 agus 28 Vict., c. 52; 37 agus 38 Vict., c. 70; 61 agus 62 Vict., c. 37; Uimh. 19 de 1923; Uimh. 3 de 1927; Uimh, 27 de 1930; Uimh. 27, Uimh. 47 agus Uimh. 55 de 1931; agus Uimh. 19 de 1932; agus fén Ordú Rialtais Aitiúla (Achtacháin d'Oiriúnú agus do chur i mBaint), 1925; maraon le Luacháil Diúité Estáit (10 Edw. 7, c. 8), etc.
That a sum not exceeding £20,615 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st  day of March, 1937, for the Salaries and Expenses of the General Valuation and Boundary Survey (15 and 16 Vict., c. 63; 17 Vict., c. 8 and c. 17; 20 and 21 Vict., c. 45; 22 and 23 Vict., c. 8; 23 Vict., c. 4; 27 and 28 Vict., c. 52; 37 and 38 Vict., c. 70; 61 and 62 Vict., c. 37; No. 19 of 1923; No. 3 of 1927; No. 27 of 1930; Nos. 27, 47 and 55 of 1931; and No. 19 of 1932; and under the Local Government (Application and Adaptation of Enactments) Order, 1925; including Estate Duty Valuation (10 Edw. 7, c. 8), etc.
Mr. Flinn: The chief statutory duty of the Valuation Department is to carry out a revision of the valuation of tenements when so requested by the rating authority. There is a net increase of £1,201 on a total of £30,915. That is all included in sub-head A— Salaries—and represents ordinary increments and readjustments under that particular head. There is only one special case of £350, and that is the case of a transfer.
Mr. Dillon: There are two questions, the answers to which the Parliamentary Secretary may not have at his command at the moment. I would be interested to know, in connection with the Ordnance Survey, the significance of certain stones that are set about the country bearing the Ordnance Survey mark. Are they marks on the map by which the Ordnance Survey correct the levels from time to time, or what purpose do they serve?
Mr. Flinn: Those are original bench marks from which all levels are taken. They are the permanent basis of surveying. When these things are ascertained, in the case of another survey one would start taking one's levels from that point.
Mr. Dillon: The other matter is the nature of the receipts from fees payable under 23 Vict., c. 4, s. 9. What is exactly the significance of that? The Estimate follows the peculiar procedure of setting out in the first paragraph of the appropriations-in-aid the net receipts under 37 and 38 Vict.,  c. 70. There is a supplementary note explaining that. Then we come to 23 Vict., c. 4, s. 9, and there is no explanatory note.
Mr. Flinn: The Deputy is good enough to recognise that I cannot be expected to remember all the Acts or significance by titles of that kind. I shall tell him what the appropriations-in-aid are. There is a figure of £6,295 as the aggregate of the fixed annual contribution payable by the various counties and county boroughs in the Irish Free State in respect of the cost of the annual revision of valuations. The payment is made in moities on 1st April and 1st October. As to the receipts from fees for certain books, all our books and maps are expected to realise £675. I think that covers the points raised.
Mr. Flinn: As a matter of fact, I have just in front of me now the actual particulars of that. Every effort is being made in the matter. The Department of Education, the Ordnance Survey, and ourselves are in the closest co-operation in the matter. As the Deputy knows, there has been a considerable number of difficulties on coming to full agreement as to what actual place names were to be used, and there have been certain difficulties in the matter of the type, and so on. The Deputy may take the assurance that everything that is humanly possible has been done and will be done to expedite the matter. More than that I could not say.
General Mulcahy: The Parliamentary Secretary says that a map of Ireland is actually being prepared. I want to know whether anything further has been done in the preparation of county maps or anything like that. Do I understand that any practical work done up to the present is in the preparation of a map of Ireland in Irish? If so, will he say on what scale it has been prepared?
Mr. Flinn: The map is on the scale of eight miles to the inch and that would be the basis of county maps. The information collected for that would be available for breaking up into smaller maps, extension into larger scales, and the rest. Work is at present proceeding on that particular map and I think that the ground-work of all the maps will be done at the same time.
Mr. Flinn: A list of names has been referred to the Department of Education and is under examination between them and the Ordnance Survey. I cannot say that the whole of the names required on the map have yet been submitted to the Department of Education, but we are using the expert service of various people for the purpose of getting that forward as far as we can. The Deputy might take the assurance that everything that can be done will be done in the matter.
Mr. Morrissey: There is one matter that arises on this Estimate to which I should like to refer, and to which I referred before in this House. It is the question of valuation. When premises have been improved or reconstructed in any part of the country,  the valuation officials come to revalue them and it is stated that the value put upon the improvements or additions made to the premises are out of all proportion to the work done. There are, as we know, in this country premises, both in town and country, that can very well do with being improved. Apart from improving the premises and the appearance of some of our towns and villages, the work gives a certain amount of employment. There is, however, one great deterrent, and that is, that when, say, a business man decides to build an addition to his premises or to improve the existing structure the valuation officials come along and his valuation is increased very substantially. When this happens to a licensed holder it hits him in two ways. There is an increase in the shape of higher rates, and there is an increase in the amount of the licence to be paid. My particular interest in the matter might be said to be twofold. Firstly, there are a great number of those dwellings crying out for improvement. Many of them require additions, and others proper maintenance. Secondly, such work gives a certain amount, of employment, and people ought to be encouraged to spend money on improving and enlarging their premises, rather than that they should be penalised for doing so, by increasing their valuation at a rate which has been represented to me as excessive. I raised this matter before and I do not want to develop it at any length now. But I think it would be a good thing if the Valuation Department would soft-pedal a little, on this subject, which might encourage people to improve their houses, and to give some little more employment.
Mr. Flinn: I think this is the Vote under which fall matters of this kind. It is apparent that the Valuation Department has no ultimate authority in the matter. Great care is taken to see that, in practice, what the Deputy is worried about does not occur. In carrying out their work valuers are sent down to each district in which revision of valuation is made or requested. When appeals are made a further visit, in each case, by a different valuer is  made. If the applicant is still dissatisfied with the result of the first appeal he can proceed to the Circuit Court. There are three stages before the unfair valuation, or the valuations that a man would regard as excessive could be imposed. In 1935 the number of tenements dealt with was 44,602 as against 31,000 in 1934. The number of first valuations appealed against was 1,063, as against 868 in 1934, showing the people are appreciative of the advantage of appealing. The number of appeals to the Circuit Court was 23 as compared with 26 in 1934. In other words, after the second appeal to the Revenue Commissioners the number of cases in which people concerned thought it in their interests to go to an outside tribunal was only 23 out of 44,000, rather suggesting that the valuations made by the Department are considered fairly right.
Mr. Morrissey: It might suggest something quite different. It might well suggest that people were not willing to throw good money after bad. It may be bad enough to have the valuation increased without incurring the further expense of going into court against the State. I can say this. I know of one case where a merchant spent a substantial sum of money improving his premises, with the result that his valuation was increased to such an extent that it frightened every other merchant in that town. As a result one or two others who, to my own knowledge, were considering making structural alterations decided not to proceed because they felt they would have to pay substantially for those improvements.
Mr. Flinn: Then here is the dilemma. There is a safeguard against any wrong procedure in the Department of imposing upon anyone excess valuation. That is clear from what I have just stated. There is a further legal  safeguard in addition. The only thing that could be done to meet what the Deputy desires is that there would have to be an alteration in the law, and that the Deputy, unfortunately, cannot raise at this stage.
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