Friday, 9 July 1982
Dáil Eireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £5,315,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1982, for the salaries and expenses of the Central Statistics Office.
Mr. Boland: Perhaps the Minister could indicate to the House whether it is expected during the remainder of the financial year that spending cuts will be implemented in respect of the Central Statistics Office and whether there will be a staff saving in respect of that office, and the nature of the savings which will be effected?
Professor O'Donoghue: As already indicated, the precise scale and distribution over Departments of the spending cuts have not been finalised. While there is the expectation of economies under all Departments, it would not be feasible to give precise indications at this stage.
Mr. Boland: If it is anticipated as being feasible for this House to pass this sum, it is also feasible that the House should have indicated to it whether it is the intention of the Government that there would be any savings effected on this Vote during this year. There is a simple answer to that — one is yes, the other is no——
Professor O'Donoghue: There is a different answer and it has already been hinted at by the Deputy's colleague, Deputy Barry, who has also reminded the House that the Government have agreed that there will be further discussions  on Estimates in the Dáil when the House re-assembles after the recess. At that stage we will be in a position to give information as to the precise nature of the economies on the spending side.
Mr. Boland: The House have already been told by the Minister for Finance that the Government have identified £45 million of spending cuts or savings, depending on one's definition of it. If the Government have identified that, they must have also identified in respect of which Departments they anticipate those savings to be effected in. In that context, I would have thought that the question was reasonable. However, the Minister has indicated to the House that the question is impossible to answer. That represents an answer in itself.
Professor O'Donoghue: With respect, so that the record may be accurate, I indicated that the precise question put by Deputy Boland was impossible to answer. That does not say that it will not be feasible to indicate the nature and the areas in which economies on expenditure may be sought in the course of the year. That will be done and, as has already been indicated, there will be opportunities later in the year for the House to discuss the merits and demerits of these changes.
Mr. Barrett: (Dún Laoghaire): It is one thing to agree the Estimates, but the question to which Deputy Boland is trying to get an answer is a simple one relevant to what we are discussing here. The matters are intermingled. If somebody makes a statement that there is to be a saving of £45 million, where is the money to come from? Surely someone can stand up and say it will be in this, that or the other Department. Then the matter could be got out of the way. If that statement is going to be made, someone must answer for it. Where is the £45 million, in which Department?
The Taoiseach: This is a little out of order. However, the position is, quite simply, that the Minister for Finance has indicated from time to time that there is a PRSI adjustment and that there are other overruns on Government Departments. I would make the point here, if I wish to be tendentious, that some of these overruns arise from under-provision in the Estimates prepared by the Government of which Deputy Boland was a member. However, we are not going to go into that sort of political argument here.
The Taoiseach: The position about these matters, overruns of any sort on the Estimates, has been mentioned several times by the Minister for Finance. It is his intention, by a combination of staff savings and expenditure savings now and at the end of the year to restore these overruns. That will be done by a combination of these measures. As we are now only halfway through the year, it is not possible to indicate all the areas where the staff savings will occur. However, we are endeavouring to achieve staff savings right across the board and we are endeavouring to achieve expenditure savings right across the board. As I said in relation to my own Department, we are quite reasonably satisfied at this stage that we will have, in the Department of the Taoiseach, staff savings.
Mr. Boland: The Taoiseach has endeavoured to answer the question — a technical question as he quite correctly identified it to be. It is a technical question which he answered quite fairly in respect of his own Department. He has indicated that there he intends to effect staff savings. Apparently, the Minister for Education, in moving his Vote for the Central Statistics Office, finds it impossible to identify whether there will be any savings in that Vote. That is fair enough. I am quite happy to move on. However, if we are to be technical, we had better be careful as to our choice of words. A tax relief of £45 million should not be described as an overrun.
Mr. L'Estrange: I will be very brief because I do not want to prolong this discussion. I was Chief Whip for many years and we made similar agreements. The late Deputy Vivian de Valera came in here and discussed these at length. He asked numerous questions and objected strenuously. What Deputy Boland is trying to elucidate he is entitled to receive. Five or six Supplementary Estimates have been already voted. Last year we had Supplementary Estimates to the tune of £599 million. The previous year we had Supplementary Estimates to the tune of £477 million. The previous year we had Supplementary Estimates to the tune of £360 million.
Mr. L'Estrange: If we have already six Supplementary Estimates with only half the year gone, surely we are entitled to know how there will be savings to the tune of £45 million between now and the end of the financial year. We are entitled to know that. The people are entitled to know where the £45 million savings will come from.
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