Dáil Éireann - Volume 161 - 07 May, 1957
Committee on Finance. - Vote 54—Posts and Telegraphs (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That a sum not exceeding £5,503,500 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, 1958, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (45 & 46 Vict., c. 74; 8 Edw. 7, c. 48; 1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 26; the Telegraph Acts, 1863 to 1953; No. 45 of 1926; No. 14 of 1940 (secs. 30 and 31); No. 14 of 1942 (sec. 23); No. 17 of 1951, etc.), and of certain other Services administered by that Office.—(Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.)
Mr. M. J. O'Higgins Mr. M. J. O'Higgins
Mr. M. J. O'Higgins: In his concluding remarks last week the Minister paid a well deserved tribute to his predecessor in office and, on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, I should like to associate myself with his remarks. His predecessor was a man who gave  lengthy service to the Parliament of this country and I, for one, am glad that the present Minister took the opportunity of paying tribute to him and of wishing him long years of happiness in his retirement.
The Minister is a man who, when on the Opposition Benches, was a very vigorous and active Deputy. I should like to congratulate him now on his appointment and to express the hope that he will carry his vigour and energy into the Department over which he now presides.
The work of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs is one which has an impact on the lives of all our people. The fact that the annual wage bill of the Department falls not very far short of £1,000,000 per annum gives some idea of the magnitude of the work and the number of employees involved in it. In asking a supplementary question earlier to-day, I referred to the fact that the telephone service seems to show a substantial profit from year to year. In the figures the Minister gave us in his opening statement that position is being not only maintained but improved.
The Minister referred to the fact that for the year 1954-55 the overall deficit in his Department was £246,000 odd. He mentioned that it had been anticipated that the following year, 1955-56, would show a deficit roughly about double that for the year 1954-55, but that did not occur in fact; while there was a deficit, and a larger deficit than in the year 1954-55, the position was considerably better than had been anticipated. For the year 1955-1956 he gave figures showing a deficit in postal services of £264,000 odd, in telegraph services of £238,000 odd and a profit in that year of something over £134,000 on telephone services. The Minister had not got the actual figures for the overall deficit in 1956-1957 but he pointed out that it was estimated at in or about £146,000 while, in the same year, the telephone services are estimated to show a profit in the neighbourhood of £250,000.
He pointed out that the improvement was due partly to increased revenue and partly to the fact that  substantial savings had been made by the application of modern and more economical methods, particularly in the telegraph service. I think it is worth while underlining that. All of us are aware of the criticism which is levelled against Governments because of the height of public expenditure. I think it is worth while underlining the fact that in regard to the administration of this Department for the year 1956-1957, the Minister is able to come into the House, referring as he naturally is to the year under the supervision of his predecessor, and point out that there has been a big improvement in the position and that the improvement is not merely because of increased revenue but also because of the work of the Department and, we may take it, of his predecessor in bringing about substantial savings with modern and more economical methods in the telegraph service.
The Minister mentioned it is anticipated that in the year 1957-1958 further improvements will take place. He referred to the good relations between his Department and the staff and to the conciliation council set up under the arbitration scheme for civil servants. I think all of us will join in expressing pleasure that the conciliation council which was set up is apparently proving to be a very worthwhile instrument and that it has maintained good relations between the Department and the staff. Talking from recollection, I think the Minister mentioned that in respect of about 14 claims which had been dealt with it was possible to secure agreement on all except one.
He referred also to the sub-postmasters' consultative council which had been established by his predecessor. That council is, I understand, to cater for sub-postmasters who do not come within the ambit of the arbitration scheme. He mentioned that this council was also proving to be a most helpful and worthwhile body. I refer to these things because I think it right that when the review of a year's work in a Department has been so satisfactory, as the Minister is able to report in relation to this particular Department,  we should, as I mentioned earlier, underline the fact and we should mention it again as a tribute to the work of the Minister's predecessor who is no longer in this House.
I want to conclude by mentioning one item which may appear to be rather small but to which I would like the Minister to give some attention during the forthcoming year. Every now and again Deputies ask the Minister questions in this House about the erection of public telephone kiosks and very often the reply received is that it is not proposed to erect the particular kiosk in question because the use which is likely to be made of it is unlikely to warrant the cost of erection. I want to appeal to the Minister again, having regard to the fact that the telephone services are undoubtedly the paying end of his Department, that he should not regard this question of erecting additional public telephone kiosks purely from the point of view of hard economics. I do not suppose that any Deputy can disagree that in most of the cases, where requests for the erection of these public telephone boxes are refused, the Department are justified in refusing them on economic grounds—refusing them because they feel that, taken over the year, the number of calls that will be made will not be worth while, worth while in the sense of contributing seriously towards the cost of erection. In many cases these public kiosks are required in areas where, again looking at it from the economic point of view, it would be virtually impossible ever to make out a strong case as to the user of the box meeting the cost within a comparatively short time.
Nevertheless, in view of the fact that telephone services are the paying end, I feel that there should be some elasticity in the approach to this question and that, as far as possible, the Minister should go out of his way towards seeing to it that, even if it is not possible to meet the economic cost of the erection of these kiosks, they should, nevertheless, be erected. That applies not only in rural areas but in some areas in the City of Dublin where it is not very easy for people in a dense population to get to the available  public boxes. I do not think there is anything else I want to say on this Estimate. Again, I should like to congratulate the Minister on his appointment and I hope he will be able to report as successfully to this House at the end of his first 12 months in office as he was at the end of the last 12 months of his predecessor.
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: As the Minister has only taken over the duty of Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, it would be unfair to discuss this Estimate in any embarrassingly detailed way. I do not, therefore, propose to do that, as the Minister obviously has to get a chance to find his feet. I do, however, want to bring some matters to the notice of the Minister. If he is able to reply to them to-day well and good—I shall be glad—but if not perhaps the Minister would in due course let me have his views on the matters. I can quite appreciate it may not be possible for him in the short time at his disposal to give answers to these questions which, no matter how much you try to simplify them, nevertheless, assume a technical aspect when dealing with the Post Office Department.
I was very glad to hear the Minister refer to the fact that the relations with the staff are good. They are good. I think they are better than they have ever been in the history of the Post Office. It is only fair to say that many people on the administrative side of the Post Office, as well as those who represent the staff, have been responsible for bringing about that rather cordial climate. The whole process has been immensely aided by the introduction of the conciliation and arbitration machinery. Through the medium of that machinery, it has been possible to have joint talks between the official side, on the one hand, and the staff side, on the other.
I think these discussions have indicated that both sides have a natural interest in improving the Post Office service and in promoting greater efficiency there. The development of the Post Office service and the promotion of greater efficiency obviously requires that the staff should be treated fairly. The conciliation and  arbitration machinery has brought about, with the aid of the official representatives and the staff representatives, a new standard in staff relations. I hope it will be the aim of all concerned to continue the standard of relationship which now exists and improve upon it, if that be possible.
The Minister referred to post office buildings. I want to dwell on that topic for a few moments. If the Minister looks back over the Post Office records he will find that, certainly since the change of Government in 1922, there has been constant agitation in this House and between the Post Office and the Board of Works to have alterations carried out on post office premises, to have many of these premises rebuilt—some were not originally built as post offices—and to have others extended to provide for the new types of work which have been put on the Post Office, especially in consequence of the development of social services. Over the past 35 years there has been a constant battle to get this essential building work attended to. Down through the years, some improvements have been effected here and there but the improvements have never been sufficient to obviate the very substantial back-log of work which has to be done.
If the Minister had an opportunity of visiting post offices throughout the country he would find in many of these offices an obvious need for renovation, for extension of accommodation and for improvements generally in order to bring these buildings into conformity with modern requirements. I have no doubt but that the Minister will experience, as many of his predecessors did, considerable difficulty in getting the Board of Works to do all the work a Minister for Posts and Telegraphs will feel it is necessary to do in order to provide proper post office buildings but I urge him to go about the task vigorously.
I am afraid that, in the Board of Works, it is a case that the crying child gets the most attention. If he is satisfied to wait for the evolution of a file between the Board of Works and the Post Office in the matter of having buildings reconstructed or extended I  am afraid the Minister will find that a pretty frustrating experience. Now that building work generally has sagged in various parts of the country, I think the lacuna might be filled in by the Post Office undertaking not unnecessary but absolutely vital reconstruction and extension work on many offices throughout the country. I hope the Minister will give that question a high place on the priority list of things which the Post Office should do.
I notice in the Minister's introductory statement a reference to the Pearse Street Post Office. There appears to be more timidity surrounding the question of that office now than I have noticed for many years past. The history of the place is most illuminating. The Post Office moved into this old distillery in Pearse Street 35 years ago. While the map of Europe has been drawn and redrawn, while kings and dictators have fallen all over Europe, the Post Office remains there in all its dismal majesty, the occupier of this old distillery in Pearse Street. If good intentions could have rebuilt that distillery, it would by now have reached the sky. Every Minister avers his determination during his term of office to rebuild this distillery and to give Dublin a decent sorting and central distributing office. However, whatever qualities the Pearse Street building has, so far, it has resisted every Minister for Posts and Telegraphs from 1922 to 1957 and the building is there as impregnable, apparently, as ever. It would seem from the Minister's statement on this year's Estimate that there are no brave hearts left to continue the assault on the citadel. The inference is that a shortage of money would now be a compelling reason for delay.
If people had gone about rebuilding the Pearse Street Sorting Office in 1924 or 1925 it could then have been built for about 20 per cent. of the cost which would be involved to-day. We postpone the work every year. Now, in 1957, we are still not ready to contemplate its rebuilding: I do not say “undertake its rebuilding.” In view of the apparent faint-heartedness about the intentions towards the building  in the Minister's statement this year, it looks to me as if, this time next year, we will probably be in the same position, that is, very much the position in which we were very many years ago.
I am not making this a point against the present Minister: it could be made—and properly made—against every Minister since 1922. However, when you think of the way in which countries which were devastated in the war have been able to rebuild themselves, countries which were left with no economy at all, countries which were left with a currency whose value was indistinguishable from wallpaper, and compare our position, then it must be admitted that it is strange that, after 35 years of self-government, we have not yet been able to undertake the building of a new central sorting and delivery office in Pearse Street. Almost everything has changed in Ireland and in Europe in the past 35 years. Our one link with the past is that delightful old-world building, the former distillery in Pearse Street.
This Minister would go down in history if he could be the Minister responsible for starting the rebuilding of the Pearse Street premises. Much as I dislike his politics, I wish the Minister well in going down in history as having done that worthwhile work either in Pearse Street or in Sheriff Street. Something should be done about it. We are probably the only country in Europe which, for the past 35 years, has been using a virtual slum as a central sorting and delivery office. I do not know whether or not it is hoped to celebrate a 50 years' occupancy of the building and to issue a stamp to commemorate the fact, but, if that be the intention, I advise that it be abandoned. It would be very much better to see that building come down and a beginning made on the new buildings which are very necessary from an efficiency point of view and from a staff point of view. Such a new building would, in the long run, repay the investment.
The Minister mentioned that during the year ended 31st March last the number of telegrams handled amounted to approximately 2.1 millions as compared  with 2.7 millions in the previous year. He further indicated that the telegraph traffic has slumped in recent months. I would ask the Minister to tell us, if the information is available to him, at what point the Post Office believe telegraph traffic will settle down? Is the decline continuing and what is the percentage of decline in recent months? Do the Post Office believe they are near rock bottom in telegraph traffic or do they believe they will have, as it were, a continuing decline so far as telegraph traffic is concerned? Is the decline to continue, or can the Post Office foresee the stage at which they will have got the hard core of telegraph traffic which is likely to remain with them under present day circumstances and at present day charges?
The Minister referred to the telegraph reorganisation and other changes in staffing which were rendered necessary as a result of that reorganisation. I know nothing more irritating to staff than to be faced with a redundancy problem. It shows itself in a curtailment of outlets, a retarding of promotion and it involves an assignment of staff to duties which are not proper to their grade and which are, in fact, proper to other grades. That situation is showing itself already in the redundancy which exists in the Post Office. I should like to ascertain from the Minister what are the Post Office proposals for dealing with this problem, and how long is it likely to take before the problems will be solved? I gather we have not yet reached the limit of redundancy and that further redundancy may in fact take place in consequence of the curtailment of staff in railway telegraph offices.
All that is the inevitable outflow of telegraph reorganisation but it would be helpful if the Minister could indicate what are his proposals for dealing with the matter. If it is just intended to allow the redundancy to be solved by retirement, by emigration, by superannuation and deaths, it will take a fair time to solve, but there are other methods by which a solution could be supplemented. For instance, the Post Office could secure agreement with the  Department of Finance whereby that Department would allow redundant Post Office clerks to be siphoned off the Post Office clerk grade by providing them with entry into general service clerical officer grade.
Vacancies occur in that grade from year to year and these vacancies are sometimes filled from outside, but if the Post Office has a redundancy of clerks it seems to me, by merest exercise of intelligence, that the redundant clerks in the Post Office should be assigned to general service clerical officer posts instead of recruiting new clerical officers at a time when the Post Office has a surplus of Post Office clerks who could be released from their present duties to undertake clerical work that is available. At present there are many clerks doing duty as telephonists because there are no Post Office clerical vacancies available. If the Post Office could manage to have a substantial number of clerks taken out of the Post Office grade and assigned to clerical officer posts it would help to bring about normalcy in a reasonable period of time.
I would urge the Minister to take a personal interest with his Department in this problem and that both should do their best to bring redundancy to an end because so long as it exists it will prove irritating to the staff and wasteful to the Department.
I was glad to learn that recently discussions have taken place between the Post Office and staff organisations on the question of providing a weekly half-holiday for Post Office staffs. As the Minister knows, while we provide legislation to ensure a weekly half-holiday for many other classes of workers, Post Office workers have so far been denied the right to a weekly half-holiday.
Nobody will attempt to minimise the difficulties in dealing with the problem. These difficulties are there, but are by no means insuperable, and I feel satisfied that given goodwill on the part of the Post Office administration and co-operation by the staff on the other hand, it should be possible to evolve arrangements whereby a weekly half-holiday could be provided for staff  whose employment is of a character that requires them to serve the public all round the clock.
I am sure these discussions will have the goodwill and benediction of the Minister and I hope that the Post Office administration which has shown a new outlook and a new approach to staff problems particularly in recent years, will endeavour to find a solution to this problem because I have no doubt a solution can be found if the matter is tackled earnestly and with a desire to give this long-withheld right to the Post Office staff.
I think there is nothing further that I desire to raise on this Vote and if any of the matters which I have raised are too technical, or inconvenient for the Minister to reply to at this stage I shall be quite satisfied if he will let me have his views at some later date. I realise that no matter how simple one tries to make these matters they may be too technical.
May I conclude by saying that I hope the Minister will have a pleasant period in office? There is no reason why he should not, and nobody would wish him anything other than a period of happiness and peace in his new post.
Mr. Healy Mr. Healy
Mr. Healy: Very briefly I should like to make a few points to which, perhaps, the Minister would reply when concluding the debate. They concern the general policy of Radio Eireann.
An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
An Ceann Comhairle: That comes under the next Vote. If the Deputy would wait for the next Vote, he may raise these matters. If he wishes to speak on the Post Office, he may proceed now.
Mr. Healy Mr. Healy
Mr. Healy: It is on Radio Eireann I wish to speak.
Mr. McQuillan Mr. McQuillan
Mr. McQuillan: I should like to congratulate the Minister on his appointment and to wish him well. As a young man, he will, I have no doubt, bring a fresh mind to bear on the problems in connection with the Department of which he is in charge. I only hope that his youth and enthusiasm will not be blunted by the  old-timers who seek to smother youth at all cost on all occasions.
There is one section of the staff under his control that I should like to mention. I do not know whether or not other Deputies have referred to them—I mean the more or less forgotten sub-postmasters and postmistresses throughout the country. I would have thought that some of the Labour Deputies would have made a case on their behalf. I suppose many Deputies will say that at the present time things are so serious in the international sphere that it is ridiculous to suggest that any section of the public service should be better remunerated. I maintain this section, the sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses, have never received remuneration in accordance with the work they do. The State gets away from its responsibilities by suggesting that alternative means of livelihood are available, as many of these postmasters have a sideline such as a small business. I think in many cases, that is a very flimsy excuse. The hours which these people have to work are very long. There is no allowance worth talking about for the employment of assistants, and every day that goes by sees new duties imposed upon sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses.
Even within the last few months, a further onerous responsibility was placed on sub-postmasters throughout the country, namely, the duty of collecting money under the Prize Bond scheme. When banks or any other concern carry out such a duty, they are well remunerated by the State in the way of extra allowances, but no such allowance was made to the sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses throughout the country for the extra work involved in that case. I should like that section of the staff under the Minister's control to receive more sympathetic consideration.
I should like to know, a Cheann Comhairle, whether it is on this Estimate or on the next Estimate that a Deputy is entitled to refer to television?
An Ceann Comhairle Patrick (Clare) Hogan
 An Ceann Comhairle: That would arise on the next Estimate.
Mr. McQuillan Mr. McQuillan
Mr. McQuillan: The only point I wished to raise was in connection with the staff and I would ask the Minister to bear that section of the staff in mind, if he has any power at all to squeeze more money from the Minister for Finance.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: I wish to acknowledge with very deep appreciation the kind remarks and good wishes that have been offered to me from the other side of the House and I hope that during my time in the Department, I shall justify in some small measure the things that have been said.
I shall briefly refer, so far as is possible with my limited knowledge of the Department at the moment, to some of the matters which have been raised in the debate. Deputy M. J. O'Higgins raised a matter which he raised earlier to-day, the question of telephones and the extension or improvement of the telephone service. He very rightly indicated that, as the telephone service is one of the branches of the Post Office service that show a profit, it is a very sound argument that it is the one service that should not be limited because of the lack of capital. That is very much my own personal view, but there is this difficulty about it, that the capital must, first of all, be raised before we can seek to reap the benefit that is obviously obtainable. The big problem is where we are to get the capital to start with and that is the problem that I, as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, find myself up against at the moment and it is a problem that the Government are up against, not only in regard to this matter, but possibly in regard to many other matters that would, in their own way, contribute to the welfare of the entire community, if there were sufficient money to get them all going immediately.
I shall try to extend the telephone service because I believe it is very necessary to do so, but I must bow to the general good and to the general demand for whatever capital is available. If I cannot get all the money  required to give the service that is being demanded by the public—and I feel that it is impossible at this stage to do so—Deputies can take it very definitely that I will have this matter always uppermost in my mind and will try to get that service to the people in the shortest possible space of time.
There was one other small point that Deputy O'Higgins made which, again, struck a bell, so far as I am concerned, that is, the provision of public telephone kiosks. I take it that the Deputy meant telephone kiosks for public use, not only in the cities and towns, but possibly in parts of rural Ireland. It is true that, generally, the need for such kiosks is gauged purely and simply, at the moment, by economics. Judging from replies that I received as a Deputy from former Ministers, it can be taken that economics are the ruling factor in the provision of public telephone kiosks, but I am not without sympathy for those like Deputy O'Higgins who advance the argument that, as the service as a whole is paying its way, each isolated application for a public telephone should not be judged purely on the economics of the individual case, that a wider view should be taken and that regard should be had to the very grave need that sometimes exists for such a service.
That may not conform to past policy in the Department and at the moment I am not prepared to say that I will depart from that policy, but I can assure the Deputy and the House that the view he has expressed is one with which I have considerable sympathy and that the matter will be examined sympathetically, so far as I am concerned.
In regard to the Deputy's remarks in respect to the improvement shown in the working of the Department in various directions over the year, I would point out to the Deputy that the improvement outlined in the introductory speech, the economies and savings that have been effected as a result of the installation of modern and new equipment of various kinds, did not just start last year; it has been going on, I understand, for a considerable number of years. The one fly in  the ointment that I should indicate at the start of this financial year is that I am afraid we cannot look forward to the same rate of advance in the matter of savings and economies in future as we were fortunate enough to secure last year and the year before, for the very good reason that the cream of the economics has been skimmed off, naturally enough, in the first flush of enthusiasm with which this matter was tackled and, therefore, it is the smaller and less weighty economies that we can look forward to in future.
I am afraid that it will be impossible in future to show the same substantial decrease in running costs that economies over recent years have made possible. I only hope that that will not prove to be the case but it is only right to point out here and now that that is likely to happen. Nevertheless, the economy drive will continue and the policy of modernising our offices and equipment and reorganising the entire service will continue so long as it is felt that any worthwhile saving can be effected or, indeed, any improvement of service can be brought about without increasing the cost to the community.
Deputy Norton raised a number of matters. He described in his usual flowery and descriptive language the building in Pearse Street and elsewhere in the city that house some of the most important branches of the Post Office. The Deputy can take it from me that, short as my time has been in the General Post Office, I am fully aware of the conditions under which the people he referred to work, not only in Pearse Street, but in a number of other premises. These are not only unsuited to their particular job and detrimental to the service which the workers may give us but they are inefficient in their operation. It is the wish of the Department and myself, from what I know of this problem, to try to get something done which will not only give better working conditions but produce greater efficiency in our service; and that includes not only the Pearse Street operations but the various operations in other buildings which are scattered about the city.
So far as going down in history as  having got rid of this is concerned, I will not even attempt to quote what the Deputy said—it is a little beyond me. It would be a matter of historical importance to get rid of this monument. If it is at all within my power to wipe out the building at Pearse Street, I will do it, whether there is any question of its being recorded in history or not. The Deputy need have no fear what-ever that my Department or myself will attempt to issue any stamp to commemorate the 50 years we have been housed there.
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: That is consoling.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: We do not have to waste any of our good time in that direction. Again, there is the question of staff relations generally which the Deputy will appreciate is so full of complications and difficulties that to fully understand it is a matter which takes quite a while. He may be assured that the machinery which has established these good relations with staffs over the years will not be interfered with by me, until a very good case has been shown why it should be changed in any way. I should like to say that good staff relations are absolutely essential in a service such as that carried out by the Post Office. Its functions are so wide, varied and individualistic that, without good staff relations, our postal service could not give the good service it has rendered down the years. I will do everything in my power to maintain those relations during my term in office.
The question of redundancy, related to reorganisation and modernisation, is something which the Deputy has realised, and has agreed with, must arise. I can quite appreciate his fears and the statements he made here to-day about the difficulties being created for some of those people who have become redundant as a result of the change-over and the continuing change-over. All I can say is that we do understand the situation as outlined by him here to-day and the departmental and general conciliation councils are fully aware of the whole situation. The suggestion made by Deputy Norton that these clerks should be absorbed into clerical officer vacancies is, I  understand, still under active consideration by these people. I think it is only fair to add that it does seem a sound argument that if we are to try to place these people, we should not at the same time, if it can be avoided, continue driving people into a grade which might, in fact, be filled by those who are now being made redundant by this reorganisation.
So far as the question of how long this may go on is concerned, I understand that the expectation is 12 months at the moment and that then we will have the complete problem to grapple with and dispose of finally. Our reorganisation should be complete in about 12 months' time.
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: I take it that redundancy will then have disappeared.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: No; I could not just say quite that. I feel that redundancy will cease to be created in approximately 12 months' time. We will see the end of the growth of the problem, but in so far as the actual resolving of the problem is concerned, I cannot say with any certainty that it will be ended in 12 months. The Deputy can take it that we are doing everything possible to try to keep track of this redundancy and to resolve it with all possible speed. In regard to another suggestion by the Deputy in connection with the half day and the conditions of service of our people, I can only say that the matter is under consideration by the Departmental Conciliation Council but we cannot say at the moment what may come from these deliberations.
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: Before the Minister goes on to another point, has he any information about telegraphic traffic and the rate of fall?
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: In regard to the rate of fall of telegraphic traffic, I am not quite sure. I think I did see a report very recently——
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
Mr. Norton: If the Minister has not got the figures, it is all right.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: I have not got the figures at the moment but I can forward them to the Deputy.
Mr. Norton Mr. Norton
 Mr. Norton: That is all right.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: In regard to one matter raised by Deputy McQuillan about sub-postmasters and their remuneration and conditions of employment, particularly relating to new and added duties piled on to them, this again is a matter which the consultative council is considering. I am not quite clear what the functions of all the various councils are, but one thing about which I am sure is that they all have functions and seem to be carrying them out quite well. The council will consider any claims made on such matters and will consider the question of the handling of Prize Bonds. This is a matter on which the sub-postmasters are to be congratulated, from all sides of the House, for the manner in which they have carried out the handling of them.
Vote put and agreed to.
Dáil Éireann 161 Committee on Finance. Vote 54—Posts and Telegraphs (Resumed).