Wednesday, 11 October 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Lemass: This is a formal amendment designed to secure that the Department of Finance will be consulted as to the date on which the Act will be brought into operation, as that will effect the expenditure in the present financial year. I move the amendment.
Amendment No. 2: In page 7, Section 12 (3), lines 47 and 48, to delete the words “the date of the issue of such certificate” and substitute the words “in case such certificate was obtained by fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation, the date of the issue of such certificate or, in any other case, the date of revocation.”
Mr. Lemass: This amendment is designed to give effect to the suggestion put forward on the Committee Stage by Deputy Norton. He pointed out that the Bill, as introduced, provided that where a certificate was issued as a result of a bona fide mistake or misrepresentation and such was discovered, the certificate so revoked would be from the date of its first issue and, consequently, the person holding the certificate, and who might have received payment, would be liable to repay such benefit from the date of the issue of the certificate. This amendment proposes that where a certificate was issued in error, or as the result of a mistake, the revocation will only date from the date on which the mistake or misrepresentation was discovered. I move the amendment.
Mr. Dillon: Does the Minister recall to mind that when we were discussing, in this House, the Control of Manufactures  Bill, the question arose as to the penalties in the event of a certificate being obtained by a manufacturer by misrepresentation? It was pointed out then that it was very desirable to differentiate, in the statute, between innocent and fraudulent misrepresentation. To this the Minister coolly replied that there was no necessity, and that surely anyone would know that. It was pointed out to the Minister that it was not so simple as he thought it was. Apparently these words have sunk in now. Will the Minister tell us now why if it was unnecessary in the Control of Manufactures Bill and the Wheat Bill to make a distinction between fraudulent misrepresentation and innocent misrepresentation, it is necessary in this Bill to make that distinction? Has the Minister discovered that the sections of the Wheat Act and the Control of Manufactures Act which do not make any distinction are bad sections? If the Minister has discovered that will he tell us when he intends to introduce amending legislation to bring these Acts into line, on the question of misrepresentation, with the Bill at present before the House?
Mr. Lemass: I do not know whether the explanation of the Deputy's speech is that he has not read this Bill or that he does not understand the two Acts to which he has referred. They provided for the revocation of licences which had been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation. This Bill equally provides for the revocation of a certificate if issued as a result of misrepresentation or fraud. But the Bill as originally drafted provided that the revocation should be retrospective. There is no similar provision in either of the two Acts mentioned. This amendment is designed to secure that the revocation shall only date from the date on which the mistake was discovered.
Mr. Dillon: It has everything to do with this amendment. It was pointed out to the Minister that he was then stipulating the same penalty for honest misrepresentation as for fraudulent misrepresentation, and he was urged to amend the Bill in the same way as he is differentiating in this Bill. I think the proposed amendment is a good amendment. I want to know if the same principle is to be applied in the case of the other two Acts which were pushed through this House by the Minister when he did not know quite as much as he knows now.
Mr. Lemass: This is also a verbal amendment. The sub-section as it stands disqualifies a person from home assistance “while he is an inmate of any hospital, infirmary, sanatorium, mental home or other similar institution maintained wholly or partly out of public moneys or by a local authority.” It is purely a verbal amendment.
Mr. Dillon: What is going to happen to a man in receipt of unemployment assistance under the Bill who falls ill and goes into the county home? Does his benefit automatically cease? And if it does, what is to become of his wife and children? It may be some misapprehension on my part as I read the Bill, but I would like to know  what happens in the case of a man in receipt of assistance, in respect to this, who has a wife and five children and is removed to a county home? What becomes of the wife and the children?
Mr. Dillon: I quite understand; so it is described. Normally if a man was working and fell ill he would be entitled to benefit under the national health insurance. But he cannot get any national health insurance benefit if he is an unemployed person of the type with which this Bill is supposed to deal, that is men who suffer from protracted periods of unemployment. I cannot see why a man who falls ill should be removed into another category, such as made by the Minister.
Mr. Dillon: The case the Minister made for the Bill is this—and I think it was perfectly just—that where a man is able-bodied and willing to work he is entitled to get either work or maintenance, and that is specially provided for here. The reason is this— we do not want to put the stigma of pauperism upon men of that character. A special category is going to be created and the justifiable pride and dignity of the workman will be preserved by his statutory right here. If a man falls temporarily ill and goes into hospital for a few weeks the wife may have to get out-door relief simply through the fortuitous circumstances that the man fell ill for a few weeks. I submit that that is a great mistake. You are allowing a passing, and a purely fortuitous circumstance, gravely to affect the man. A great many men are proud of the fact that they never got out-door relief. We all know what human nature is. When playing in the streets young children can be very cruel and they are sometimes ready to  point the finger of scorn at the destitute who have to get aid through the rates. A number of people take pride in the fact that that cannot be said to their children. Here is a case where, because a man has to go into hospital for a fortnight, his wife and children have to go on the rates. Surely that is wrong. These cases are comparatively rare but one such case is going to break up the whole foundation on which this Bill is built.
Mr. Dillon: I do not quite understand the Deputy's remark. My assumption is that this man is in receipt of the benefits under this Bill —that he is a person receiving unemployment assistance. Say he has four children; the amount of unemployment assistance he would receive would be the amount provided for under the Bill.
Mr. Norton: The Deputy says that for the first time in the history of that family the wife was compelled to seek home assistance. I want to ask the Deputy, if that is the case he has in mind, how did that family live before the man went into hospital?
Mr. Norton: If he had unemployment benefit then that man would also have national health insurance stamps to his credit, and would be entitled, whilst in hospital, to national health insurance benefit.
Mr. Dillon: That is a question which it is very desirable to ventilate. It is worth looking into it to see if that is so. I am not so sure that circumstances might not arise in which a man would not get his national health insurance benefit in a case such as I adumbrate. All I want to ensure is that whatever happens we should not allow a trivial flaw of this kind in the Bill to result in the underlying principle being broken in upon, that is that  where a man is able-bodied, is looking for work and is unable to find it, he is entitled to work or maintenance. I suggest that as the Bill stands at present the dilemma which I have outlined may arise. If it cannot arise I am quite content, but I think this is a matter which the Minister should look into between now and the time this Bill goes to the Seanad. That danger should be safeguarded against.
Mr. Lemass: This is a matter which has arisen since the Bill was introduced, and which has been fully discussed in the Dáil. The Bill is designed to give assistance to persons who are capable of work, who are seeking work, and who, through no fault of their own, are unable to obtain it. That rules out people who are not capable of work, such as the inmates of hospitals or infirmaries, or mental homes. Whatever provision has to be made for them is not made under this Bill. This Bill deals only with people who are capable of work, but who cannot get employment through no fault of their own. If the husband is unable to work, and is dependent on his wife, the wife is entitled to unemployment assistance.
Mr. Curran: I should like to ask, in the case of a person who is in receipt of this unemployment assistance and who has to go to hospital for treatment, is it fair to turn around and take from his wife and children the assistance which they had hitherto been getting? Through the mere fact that he has to go to hospital is it right to deprive them of it? I have listened to the debate, and that strikes me very strongly. Because the man is unfortunate enough to have to go to hospital for three weeks or a month his dependants are deprived of the assistance which they would be getting under this Bill. I do not think that is right.
Mr. Lemass: The second point is that the obligation for making provision for the sick poor rests on the boards of assistance. Some years ago the boards of assistance assisted only those who were sick and destitute. It is only in recent years that home assistance has been given to able-bodied persons. That obligation to provide assistance for able-bodied persons is being assumed by the State under this Bill. That will presumably enable the boards of assistance to give assistance on a more generous scale to those who are thrown on their resources, because their condition arises out of the illness of the bread-winner. This Bill is an Unemployment Assistance Bill. It covers only those who are capable of work, who are genuinely seeking work, and who are unable through no fault of their own to obtain it. The person who becomes ill comes out of this scheme, and goes under a scheme designed to deal with such persons. This Bill is designed to deal with able-bodied persons.
Mr. Dillon: The Minister shows here a pure red-tape mind. Take a man who is in receipt of benefit under this Bill, and who falls seriously ill. The doctor comes in and says: “Now look here, either you go to the county home or you will never get out of this trouble.”
Mr. Dillon: Just a moment. The man says: “I am going to keep on my feet at all costs. If I lie up in bed I will lose my benefit. Whatever I do, I must get up every day.” That man will get up. He will get up so long as he has  the strength to get up, in order to keep in benefit.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Dillon knows quite well that the obligation to provide for people who are rendered destitute through illness rests on the boards of assistance. If the boards of assistance do not carry out that obligation, then there is another story. The difficulty which this Bill is designed to deal with is the recently acquired obligation of the boards of assistance to provide for people who are destitute through another cause than illness, namely, unemployment. The old obligation to provide for the sick poor still rests on the boards of assistance, and no objection to their performing that function has ever been raised— certainly not by me.
Mr. Dillon: I am arguing that here is the intervention of purely fortuitous circumstances that will rarely arise, that can be perfectly reasonably provided for under this Bill, and that ought to be provided for. Any person who knows the mentality of the ordinary labouring man will know that he will keep on his feet to the last minute in order to get the benefits under this Bill, rather than put his wife and children on the rates. I think that is wrong. It is bad enough for the man who is unemployed and who cannot get work to be in that condition, but it is worse if he falls ill that he should have the added anxiety of putting his wife and children on the rates. It is unnecessary, futile and silly. You have machinery under the National Health Insurance Acts for differentiating between a person chronically incapacitated, and a person who is temporarily ill. You can reduce the period which for the purpose of this Bill will be regarded as a temporary illness, and  say if a person is confined to the county home as a chronic invalid he should then pass into another category altogether, as a man who is not fit for work and could not take it if offered it, but you should not apply that standard to a man who is suffering from a temporary indisposition. If you do apply that standard you will create a situation in which a man who ought to go to hospital if he is to get proper treatment and be rapidly cured will not go, and nobody will be able to make him go.
An Ceann Comhairle: The House is not in Committee, and the Deputy has spoken three times to an amendment; he is entitled to speak once. Moreover, the Deputy has raised some points relative to the principle of the measure. In discussing this amendment Deputies must confine themselves to the amendment and to the section as affected by the amendment. This amendment alters neither the principles of the Bill nor the force of the section as discussed on Second Reading.
Mr. Dillon: I bow to the ruling of the Chair, but might I draw the attention of the Chair to the fact that the amendment is designed to remove the words “hospital, infirmary, sanatorium, mental home, or other similar,” and leave in any institution supported by the rates? Would it be in order to argue that that omnibus term “institution” should be qualified by inserting “except a hospital”? That is the line of my argument—that the Minister should except a hospital. I am not, with great respect, advocating the extension of the principle of the Bill.
In page 10, Section 16 (1), line 36, to delete the words and figures “the Blind Pensions Act, 1920” and substitute the words and figures “Section 6 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1932 (No. 18 of 1932.)”
Mr. Norton: On the Committee Stage the attention of the Minister was drawn to the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 16. As drafted sub-section (2) of Section 16 provides that if a person leaves his employment without just cause he may be disqualified from receiving unemployment assistance for a period of three months. As drawn, the Bill gives the committee dealing with the matter absolutely no power to deal with border-line cases. The Minister undertook to look into the matter and I should like to know if he has been able to do anything in the meantime.
Mr. Lemass: I have looked into the matter and I can see no case for amending the Bill. The Deputy's proposal would, in fact, put upon the court of referees or the umpire, as the case might be, the obligation of not merely determining whether the person had left his employment voluntarily or without just cause, but also the measure of punishment that should be awarded for that. I do not think that that obligation should be put on either of the parties. Their function is to find the facts and if their decision is that a person left his employment voluntarily or lost it through his own misconduct, I think it is much better that disqualification following on that determination should be fixed in the Bill and should be applicable to all cases. Not merely would the Deputy's proposal involve an extension of the functions of the court of referees, not merely does it  raise a grave constitutional issue, but I think it also would make the administration of the Act much more difficult. It is much simpler to have easily understood and generally applicable rules than to have rules which may be available in particular cases. I think it is undoubted that the possibility of securing some reduction would tend to encourage applications to the board of referees and the umpire, even in the case of people who are not likely to succeed, in the vain hope that they may through some defect in the evidence or otherwise succeed in getting away with it. It will be understood that the only case in which the period of disqualification will be applied will be where a person has been held by the board of referees to have left his employment of his own free will or lost his employment through his own misconduct. Once that fact is determined and the decision given, I think the penalty should be uniform. If there is any doubt as to how an applicant lost his employment, then that doubt will be resolved by the board of referees and the umpire. Personally I think that they will be inclined, in border-line cases, to give the benefit of the doubt in favour of the applicant.
Mr. Norton: Does the Minister appreciate the fact that he is really tightening up in this Bill the existing provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920 in this regard? I do not think the Minister appreciates that. At the moment, the position is that there have been cases on record where persons left their employment, contending that the circumstances under which they were employed prevented their continuing their employment. Under the conditions obtaining normally, such persons might be disqualified for six weeks, but there have been cases where the court of referees have reduced the period of disqualification from six weeks to three weeks. I had a case recently on that point. All I want in this section is to give the court of referees the same power as they exercise in such cases, on any consideration of similar cases under  this Bill. I suggest that the Minister might look into the matter.
Mr. Lemass: On general principles I think that the terms of the Bill should be made more rigid than those of the Act to which the Deputy referred, having regard to the fact that under the Unemployment Insurance Act those who received benefits got something towards which they contributed themselves, whereas under this Bill they are getting something to which they contribute nothing. It is much more important to have under this Bill some provision which will deter people from voluntarily leaving their employment than it was under the Unemployment Insurance Act. It is much more important to have rigid provisions in this Bill than in the case of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Mr. Norton: Does the Minister consider that there may be conditions imposed on an employee which would make his position intolerable or make it impossible for him to retain his position? I do not want the Bill widened to any greater extent than the existing Unemployment Insurance Act. The Minister has copied the provisions of that Act in some sections of the Bill and he might well copy them in this section.
“provided however that a person shall not be disqualified for receiving unemployment assistance in any case in which he proves that he is not participating in or financing or directly interested in the trade dispute which caused the stoppage of work and that he does not belong to a grade or class of workers members of which are participating in or financing or directly interested in the dispute, or that the stoppage is due to an employer acting in a manner so as to contravene the terms or provisions of any agreement existing between a group of employers  where the stoppage takes place, or of a national agreement to either of which the employers and employees are contracting parties.”
Mr. Lemass: What I told the Deputy on the Committee Stage was that he should consider the question of amending the Unemployment Insurance Act to meet the particular point which the Deputy raised. In any circumstances, I think that the terms of this Act should be similar to those of the Unemployment Insurance Act and that we should not accept in this Bill an amendment of the kind suggested by the Deputy until an amendment of the same kind had been inserted in the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920. I would ask the Deputy, however, carefully to consider whether the particular amendment he has on the Order Paper serves that purpose. I have given some attention to the circumstances under which it was inserted in the British Act and the results of its insertion in the British Act have not been such as to show that it is a satisfactory solution of the difficulties there. It was inserted in 1924 and it aroused considerable opposition at the time. In fact in the debates in the English House of Commons, certain trade union leaders, who were members of the House, appeared to hold the view that the pre-existing provisions were preferable to the amendment. Certain cases that have arisen since the amendment was effected seem to indicate at any rate that no change had been made and that the persons who became disqualified from benefit, under the Act prior to its amendment, would have been disqualified under the Act as amended. A committee was appointed in Great Britain after the amendment of the Act was effected to consider the matter and it came to the conclusion that no satisfactory solution of the problem had been found by the amendment and in fact admitted its own inability to find any solution for the problem. They left the matter in the  air. Circumstances here of course are somewhat different to those in Great Britain and it might be that it is easier to find a solution here than in Great Britain.
There is a problem to be solved and I think it is generally admitted that it obtains in Great Britain as well as here. It is not at all clear that the solution of the problem lies along the lines which the Deputy advocates and which appear to have been a failure in Great Britain. However, I am devoting my attention to seeing if we can devise some form of words which will meet the situation. The British Minister expressed his willingness to accept any form of words agreed upon between the trade union leaders and the employers' organisation but apparently that did not lead to anything. I am prepared to give a similar undertaking but in the event of no solution being forthcoming along these lines, I shall undertake to endeavour to find a form of words myself to secure that only those are disqualified from receiving benefit who are participating or assisting in some way in a trade dispute, and which will secure benefit for those who are the innocent victims of such trade dispute. What I undertook to do was to inform the Deputy if I conceived it possible to introduce a Bill to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act along these lines and if not, that he should bring the matter before the Dáil in the form of a Private Bill or by a motion.
Mr. Coburn: I quite agree with the Minister that it is very difficult to find a satisfactory solution of any problem, and pending the introduction by the Minister of an amending Bill to the Act of 1920, I think the Minister will agree with me that, since he thought fit to incorporate this particular section in this Bill—the section on which the umpire decided that the men on strike at that particular period were not entitled to unemployment benefit—at least men placed in a similar position in future should be entitled under this Bill to unemployment assistance. I can quite see the difficulty that the Minister is placed in. I am with him 100 per cent. as regards the non-payment of unemployment  benefit to men who go out on strike for no legitimate reason. I am a strong supporter of the Minister on that point. I know that is one of his difficulties. I never advocated paying benefit to any section of workers who deliberately, for some grievance, sometimes real and sometimes imaginary, refuse to go back to their work. I have no sympathy whatever with them, but I have sympathy with a decent body of men, who were actually against the strike and had absolutely nothing to do with it, being debarred from receiving unemployment benefit, as those men undoubtedly were. It was on the very section and on the very words incorporated in this Bill that the umpire based his decision in that case, namely, that the works of the Great Northern Railway in Dundalk were not commonly carried on as a separate business. It may so happen that a dispute may take place in any other business, and if an appeal is brought to the umpire, against the decision of the court of referees, as was done in this particular case, he will naturally be compelled to base his findings on the findings on the previous occasion. It is in order to prevent that that I put down this amendment.
Let me give a case in point distinct from the railwaymen altogether. The Minister must be aware that all over the country you have spasmodic strikes occurring in connection with road improvement works, and there may be 20, 30 or 40 men who, perhaps, did no work for the previous six months, promised a job on a particular road improvements work, such as are being carried out all over the country under the grant supplied by the Government. Assuming this Unemployment Assistance Bill was in operation and these men went to the local labour exchange to apply for benefit, they would, I am sure, be told by the officer in charge that since there was a dispute they would not be entitled to unemployment assistance, although the men were prepared to work. The Minister knows that owing to conditions prevailing, from fear or some other cause, the men will not go to work although there is no real  grievance. That is the type of case I want to safeguard against.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy is talking about another section now. A person is not disqualified from benefit if he refuses work where there is a dispute on. He is entitled to refuse work where there is a trade dispute and to continue to be entitled to receive assistance.
Mr. Coburn: I quite understand that, as far as sending men to a job where there is a trade dispute is concerned. I am speaking of a job that is about to commence and where men are promised work and a dispute takes place. There was a case of that kind in Louth which, I am glad to say, has been amicably settled. There were 20 or 30 men prevented from taking that job at the particular time. Their places are filled and these men will not get work. It is questionable whether, under this section as it stands, these men will be entitled to receive unemployment assistance. It is for that reason, and pending the introduction of the amending Bill which the Minister has foreshadowed, that I am very anxious to have this amendment inserted to Section 5. The Minister, I am glad to say, practically stated during the Committee Stage that the decision of the umpire was wrong.
“That where one firm carries on two businesses a stoppage of work in one of the businesses should not disqualify from insurance benefit a person employed in the other business if that person becomes unemployed.”
“The wording of sub-section (5) of Section 16 provides that ‘where separate branches of work which are commonly carried on as separate  businesses in separate premises are in any case carried on in separate departments of the same premises, each of those departments shall, for the purposes of this sub-section, be deemed to be a separate factory or workshop or separate premises as the case may be.’ The bar to the drawing of benefit or assistance applies only in the case of men actually employed in the factory or works where the stoppage takes place. If another business is carried on in the same premises it is, for the purposes of these Acts, deemed to be separate.”
The umpire decided, although these men were employed in separate works, and also in separate departments, that those works were not commonly carried on as a separate business—“commonly,” the very word which the Minister has incorporated in this Unemployment Assistance Bill. It is a matter of splitting hairs. There is no doubt, from the Minister's own statement on the Committee Stage, that these men were, in justice, entitled to receive benefit. I am sure that the men in Dundalk will read the Minister's statement with pleasure, because they will see that there is common-sense in it, even if it is not strictly the legal interpretation which was placed on the Act by the umpire. The Minister should accept this amendment, because it will not place any undue difficulties in the way of determining whether benefit should be paid or not, as far as the officers at the exchanges are concerned. It is only to ensure that men placed in future in a similar position to that in which these men were placed will be entitled, if not to receive unemployment benefit, to at least receive unemployment assistance. I need not put the case further, because the Minister knows that the men to whom I refer paid contributions since the inception of the Act in 1920, and it was only when the revenue of the railways began to decrease, and when the men were placed on short time, that they drew anything from the unemployment fund. I think it was a great hardship. It is agreed by men who are very eminent in legal circles that that decision was altogether wrong  and contrary to the facts submitted on behalf of the men. For those reasons, I hope the Minister will accept the amendment.
Mr. Lemass: I am prepared to accept the contention of the Deputy that there is, in relation to the Unemployment Insurance Act, a case for the reexamination of that particular section and for its amendment, if we can get a more suitable form of words. I want to draw his attention to the fact that successive British Governments, and committees appointed by them, have not succeeded in getting a more suitable form of words:
Mr. Lemass: Exactly, and in relation to that I may inform the Deputy that in the following year a British committee reported that the problem had not been solved. There was a very lengthy report on it and, in effect, the committee announced after long consideration their own inability to find a form of words that would solve the problem. Since the British Act was amended cases have been decided by the umpire which were on precisely the same basis as the decisions under our Act here, and in some cases apparently the effect of the amendment would be to give a narrower interpretation of the section, whereas it is now generally agreed that the second part of the amendment relative to the breaking of agreements by employers has proved to be completely inoperative. There is a case for examination for amendment of the Insurance Act if suitable words can be found. Suitable words have not yet been found. I will undertake, if suitable words can be found, to inform the Deputy. Whether we amend the Unemployment Assurance Act or not, I am strongly of opinion that this amendment should not be accepted. Both Acts should be amended together, for if one is amended the same formula would need to be adopted in the case of the other so as to have the same procedure. It would be an anomaly  if we had different wording in both Acts with the possibility of conflicting decisions being given by the same umpire in relation to the same set of facts. The only way to consider the amending of the Unemployment Acts is to leave both stand over until both Acts are amended together.
Mr. Coburn: I should like to point out to the Minister that unfortunately he is interpreting exactly the same words in different ways. In the Dundalk case the umpire decided against the men's case. The umpire decided that this separate branch of work was not commonly carried on as a separate business in a separate workshop. That was because of exactly the same words that the Minister is incorporating into this Bill.
Further, it was pointed out to the umpire that this was a case very different from that existing in Great Britain, that it was a case where locomotive works and constructional works were carried on in practically the same workshop. He was told that this case came under the Act of 1920 which applied that time to Great Britain and Ireland. On that point he held that there was no such thing as locomotive and constructional works in the Free State. I know the umpire acted strictly according to the interpretation of the law and he would do the same again if any disputes came before him of a similar nature to that of Dundalk. The result is that men who have for years paid to the unemployment funds and who did not receive any benefit, will not be entitled to receive even assistance under this Bill if a dispute similar to that which took place last year were to arise again. I hold that pending the introduction of an amending Bill, amending the original Act of 1920, the putting in of this amendment would not preclude the Minister from introducing an amending Bill at any time in the near future. It is in order to safeguard these men, or men placed in a similar position so that they will not be denied unemployment benefits, that I am pressing the amendment.
Mr. Lemass: I do not wish in any way to prolong the discussion except to say that this Bill is the same as  the Unemployment Insurance Act and I do not think that the Deputy's amendment would alter the position at all. If the Unemployment Insurance Act had been amended in the manner in which it is proposed that it should be amended, there is every possibility of the same decision being given by the umpire on a similar occasion.
Mr. Lemass: Well that has been the experience elsewhere, where not great change was made, and in fact in certain cases there was a tightening and not a widening of the definition. What I undertook to do on the Committee Stage was to consider what amendment could be made in the Unemployment Insurance Acts and, if it were deemed desirable, to introduce a Bill to amend these Acts. This Bill could then be amended so that we could keep the principle of uniformity intact between the two. I gave the Deputy a personal guarantee that if I failed to find a form of words that would meet the common purpose I would inform him and let him have another try at it.
Mr. Coburn: I am prepared to accept the Minister's undertaking, but I do not like his qualifications, which are rather suspicious. He rather suggests that it can never be done and then he hands the baby over to me.
In page 11, Section 18, to delete all words from the word “vary,” line 54, to the word “proper” in line 56, and substitute the word “reduce”; and in line 57 to delete the word “fixed” and substitute the word “reduced,” and in page 12, line 4, to delete the word “variations” and to substitute the word “reductions.”
The Bill provides that the powers under it can be varied by order. A constitutional point has been made in that connection, that whereas an order increasing the payment would involve increasing taxation without consulting the Dáil, and therefore it is proposed to change “vary” to “reduce.” It will, therefore, read that while payments can be reduced by order, to increase payments would necessitate an amending Bill.
25.—In every financial year commencing after the 31st day of March, 1934, there shall be transferred to the Minister out of the Unemployment Fund established and maintained under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1930 as amended by any subsequent enactment, the sum of £250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand pounds).
 (a) by the council of every county borough and the council of the borough of Dun Laoghaire a sum equal to the amount of a rate of one shilling and sixpence in the pound on the rateable value at the beginning of the immediately preceding financial year of such county borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire, as the case may be;
(b) by the council of every urban area (other than an urban area which is a county borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire), a sum equal to the amount of a rate of ninepence in the pound on the rateable value at the beginning of the immediately preceding financial year of such urban area.
(2) It shall be the duty of every council by whom money is payable to the Minister under this section in a financial year to pay such money to the Minister in four equal instalments, on the 30th day of June, the 30th day of September, the 31st day of December and the 31st day of March in such year.
(3) Any money payable by a council to the Minister under this section shall be raised by means of, in the case of the council of the county borough of Dublin and the council of the borough of Dun Laoghaire, the municipal rate, but as a separate item thereof, or, in the case of any other council, the poor rate, but as a separate item thereof.
(4) Where any money is payable to the Minister under this section by a council, the amount thereof may in default of payment by such council be deducted from sums payable from the Local Taxation (Ireland) Account directly or indirectly to such council, and be paid to the Minister in discharge of such money.
(a) in relation to the county borough of Dublin, the valuation under the Valuation Acts, as deemed to be reduced by Section 69 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930 (No. 27 of  1930), of the hereditaments and tenements situate in such county borough rateable to the municipal rate;
(b) in relation to the borough of Dun Laoghaire, the valuation under the Valuation Acts, as deemed to be reduced by the said Section 69 of the hereditaments and tenements situate in such borough rateable to the municipal rate;
27.—Any moneys transferred or paid to the Minister under the two immediately preceding sections shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall direct.—(Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.)
Mr. Lemass: The new amendment looks rather formidable, but it is really very simple. It is designed for the abolition of the unemployment assistance fund which it was proposed to establish. There is no particular advantage in having a fund apart and separate from the Central Fund. The whole purpose of the amendment is to provide that receipts will come into the Central Fund and that payments will go out of the Central Fund.
Mr. Lemass: I think there will be no difficulty in publishing figures which will indicate the amount of the receipts. There will be no difficulty in ascertaining what they are. In any case it will not make any difference as the figures will be available for any Deputy who requires them and they will appear in the finance statements published.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Corish raised this point in Committee and I must say that I did not quite understand what he was getting at then. I afterwards discovered that he was trying to drag me into an old war which was going on between the urban councils and the Department of Local Government and Public Health. I must remain neutral in this war. For a long time this bone of contention between the urban councils and the Department has been there. The Department have always held that a poundage rate should be assessed and levied on the total valuation of certain urban districts. The urban districts have urged that it should only be on what Deputy Corish called the effective valuation of the urban district. The Department of Local Government refused to agree to this. They do not know quite what it means.
The position is that we are calculating, for the purpose of this Bill, on a certain annual sum from each urban district. That sum would be produced by a rate of 9d. in the £ upon the valuation, under the Valuation Acts. It is that sum we want and any proposal which would mean that a smaller sum would come would, of course, upset the financial provisions of the Bill. Deputy Corish's amendment would tend to reduce the contribution which we calculate should come from the urban districts. I may say that no objection to the provisions of the measure has been received in my Department from any of the other ten urban councils which are similarly affected. To admit the term “effective valuation” would mean that we could never ascertain with any certainty what amount we would get because it would vary from year to year in consequence of exemptions under the Housing Acts, the facility with which rates could be collected, and so on.
 I do not think the amendment could be accepted. When Deputy Corish was explaining the matter on the Committee Stage, I did not quite catch what he was driving at. I was of the opinion that the amendment I moved met this point, but I find that is not so.
Mr. Keyes: Under this amendment the local authorities would have a definite idea of what the actual contribution would be. Deputy Corish merely wants to have the calculation made on the effective valuation. Since those who come under the Bill are not going to be completely removed from assistance through the medium of home help, I think it would be better if the urban councils were placed in the position of knowing definitely what their contribution would be. They would be in a position under this amendment to say that they were going to pay upon the effective valuation for the year, and it would be within their own discretion to supplement the amount, if that course were necessary in hard cases. The Minister wants to be on the safe side and Deputy Corish wants to put the local authorities on the safe side.
Mr. Lemass: For the purpose of this Bill we are calculating upon a certain definite amount. It is obviously important that the contribution should be fixed so that we can calculate in advance on what it is going to be. Otherwise, you will have a position which will lead to a very considerable financial upset.
Mr. Dillon: There are two items in the Bill to which I wish to draw particular attention. It astonishes me that the Labour Party has made no representations in regard to one matter. If the Minister will refer to the Schedule he will see that the scale of benefit ceases to rise when you reach the man with the dependent wife and five or more dependants. A man with five  children is entitled to 20/- a week. What is the man with ten children going to get? If the Minister will refer to column 1701 of the Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 49, No. 5, he will find that Deputy Briscoe said:—
Mr. Lemass: I stated at great length on the Committee Stage that the question as to whether a person receiving unemployment assistance can or cannot get home assistance rests with the board of assistance.
Mr. Dillon: For the 1½ per cent. I think Deputy Briscoe will come in and do his gymnastics for our edification. Now we have the situation that where an unemployed man has a wife and more than five children he must go to the public authority for the balance.  The difference between the Minister's attitude and our attitude is that from the Minister's point of view this is a grand bribe for the boys. It is public bribery.
Mr. Dillon: You must not expect perfume from cattle. The difference between our attitude and the Minister's attitude is this. The Minister brought in this Bill with the object in mind that it was necessary to oil the Fianna Fáil election machinery. His attitude towards proposals for the improvement of this Bill has made it perfectly clear that he cares nothing for the principle. My view is that where a man is eligible for assistance under this Bill no situation should be allowed to arise which would drive him on to the rates. Here you have a situation where a man is penalised because he happens to have more than  five children. He ceases to have the statutory rights conferred on him by this Bill in respect to any children he might have above five. I am clear that is wrong and that he should have statutory rights under the Bill for each one of his children; that is on principle. Now let us view it from another point of view—that of expediency. You have a man with seven or eight children. I have a case here, the details of which are before me, of a Dublin man who has a wife and eight children. He gets unemployment relief in respect of five children. But he then has to go and make application to another font for relief in respect of the other three children. What sense or meaning is there in a position of that kind? Either a man is entitled to maintenance or he is not. It is no crime in this country yet to have a big family. I can see no reason on earth why a man with a large family should be differentiated from his neighbour who has a small family. The number of cases that would arise would be small and the burden that would be laid on the Exchequer would be trivial. Nevertheless it was not open to me to put down an amendment in this sense because technically it would be an amendment designed to add a burden to the Exchequer.
I urge the Minister to introduce such an amendment in the Seanad. I urge him also to consider and to give heed to the observations I made at an earlier stage of the Bill, because I think it is of prime importance that the principle upon which this Bill is founded should not be interfered with in any single case, and that we should give it to nobody to be able to say that where expediency dictates the principle has been abandoned. I ask the Minister to introduce an amendment dealing with two things in the Seanad: (a) where a person in receipt of unemployment benefit is temporarily incapacitated by illness and is removed to hospital that he should not be deprived of the statutory right under the Bill; and (2) where a man has a family in excess of five children he should be entitled to unemployment assistance in respect of children  over and above five at the same rate as he receives assistance in respect of the five. That would be an addition of approximately 2/6 per week per child in excess of the five children.
Mr. Lemass: I do not think the Deputy has said much that needs to be replied to. Before dealing with one or two points he raised, I would like to give him a little advice. There was a great French philosopher who on one occasion paused from his labours to give certain advice to politicians.
Mr. Lemass: This French philosopher's maxim was: “Never attribute to your political opponent motives meaner than your own.” Deputy Dillon said that our motives are to bribe the electorate. I suggest there may be another explanation for the introduction of this Bill, and he might think it over. At any rate the Bill is here and what I am anxious to discover is the attitude of the Party opposite towards it. I have not discovered that yet. When the Bill was introduced at first the extern leader of the Party opposite declared that its introduction was an attempt to pauperise labour and evidence of the failure of our industrial policy and started to rally the country against such a measure. The intern leader of the Party followed somewhat in the same strain. When the Party came to discuss the Bill, on Second Reading, each one followed the other with some meaningless phrases about the principle of the Bill being good, and then proceeded to speak against the introduction of the Bill in terms that went to the very root of the principle on which it was founded. They paid lip service to the principle but they did not want its implementation. It was that conduct that made me say, on the debate on Second Reading, that there was deficiency of moral courage in the Party opposite. It was quite clear that they were anxious to defeat the Bill as ordered by their leaders but they had not the moral courage to walk into the Division Lobby and vote against it. I do not know what their attitude is now.
 This Bill embodies a sound principle. It gives effect to that principle. The lower the rates of assistance and the fewer the classes covered by the Bill the less the cost will be although the cost such as it is is very considerable. It is easy for any Deputy to suggest that the scale of payment should be increased or that additional classes of people should be brought under the scope of the Bill, and that it should be amended in various ways to provide for larger payments and easier payments. But if such increases in the scale rate or in the number of persons likely to be affected are made there will be a large increase in the cost, and a point could well be reached where the cost could not be met except by greatly increased taxation, which would have the effect of increasing the very problem that the Bill was designed to deal with.
Deputies in opposition can escape responsibility, but some Deputies would be irresponsible in any event. Deputy Dillon might consider the effect upon the taxation of the proposals that he is making if they were adopted. He talked with a sob in his voice about unemployed men who became ill and had to go to hospital, and about having their wives and families thrown upon the rates. I tried to explain, as lucidly as I could, that the principle of the measure confined its application to able-bodied persons. There are various schemes in operation in this State for providing for people who cannot provide for themselves, such as the blind, the old-aged, and the sick. Heretofore there was no adequate scheme for providing for those whose inability to provide for themselves arose out of their difficulty in obtaining employment. This Bill is designed to fill that gap in regard to able-bodied men seeking work and who cannot get work through no fault of their own. Once a person gets out of that category he is outside the scope of this Bill and inside the scope of some other measures, such as the National Health Insurance service, and home assistance service met by the local rates. It is not to-day or yesterday that this principle of excluding from the scope of certain measures of this kind people who were  unable to work was adopted. It was always the practice under the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Persons entitled to unemployment insurance benefit could draw it unless they were capable of working. That practice must prevail, otherwise you would have not an unemployment scheme, but a scheme with general provisions for dealing with all classes of people in distress. If distress arises out of illness it is not covered by this Bill. If a man because of illness is dependent upon his wife that wife is entitled to get assistance under the Bill provided that the wife is not employed and is herself seeking employment. If their destitution or poverty arises out of other causes, such as blindness or perpetual ill-health in the case of a person insured under the National Health Insurance Act, there is at the present time some other State provision for such people.
Mr. Lemass: Pardon me. If the Deputy will make inquiries he will find that every board of assistance in the country has drawn up schemes of assistance on the basis of usually four children as a maximum payment. It must be done. I explained here at length on the Second Reading that in a number of cases assistance provided under this Bill will be inadequate because of certain circumstances. The case of a very large family is one which should commend itself to the local board of assistance so that the assistance provided under this Bill would be supplemented by assistance provided by that body. In a national scheme you must  have broadly defined and easily applicable rules, designed to cover the majority of cases but likely to leave out the odd cases that exist in every community. You can deal with those odd cases only by some scheme which permits of personal investigation of the circumstances. The boards of assistance have machinery which permits of that personal investigation. The Department of Industry and Commerce has not, at least not to the extent that would enable it to deal with individual cases on their merits. They deal with all cases on a general plan, and the odd cases that cannot be adequately covered by that plan can be assisted by the boards of assistance following that personal investigation which they are prepared to make.
I do not think the Bill can be criticised on the ground of fixing a maximum number of children, particularly having regard to the necessity of limiting the cost, and preparing a scheme in connection with which it will be possible to estimate with some reasonable accuracy from year to year what the cost is likely to be. That is the sole reason why the scales were fixed and why the various limitations in the Bill were decided on. If there were unlimited funds at our disposal, or if it were possible to effect economies with the co-operation of the Party opposite so as to make more funds available, we might be able to increase the payments, but until the Party opposite decides to co-operate with us in making those economies that cannot be done.
General Mulcahy: I should like to ask the Minister whether in making that estimate he did not omit the main thing, and that is that we consider the Bill makes very small provision for the very deplorable state of affairs brought about in the country through the  policy pursued by the Executive Council.
Mr. MacDermot: Might I ask the Minister a question? I only want to ask whether he is serious in the suggestion which he has just thrown out that there should be an alliance between the Government and the Opposition for the promotion of economy, because if so I certainly would be prepared to discuss it.
General Mulcahy: My recollection is that we had it from Deputy Corish himself that the condition of affairs in this country had been brought to such a pass that it was almost impossible for a public man to live—that his life was being made impossible by people coming to him and asking him for God's sake to do something to enable them to get work.
Mr. Lemass: In reply to Deputy Mulcahy I should like to say that I will admit there are circumstances in this country which never existed before. One of those circumstances is, of course, the fact that we have now a larger population than ever we had since the Free State was established. Another is that there are more people in insurable employment.
Mr. Lemass: I gave figures on the previous discussion of this Bill. I gave the increased revenue of the unemployment  insurance fund, and the number of unemployment insurance books exchanged within the year, which show a substantial increase in the number employed.
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