Thursday, 29 April 1937
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £652,280 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1938, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí i dtaobh Arachais Díomhaointis agus Malartan Fostuíochta (maraon le síntiúisí do Chiste an Díomhaointis) agus i dtaobh Conganta Díomhaointis (9 Edw. 7, c. 7; 10 agus 11 Geo. 5, c. 30; 11 Geo. 5, c.1; 11 agus 12 Geo.5, c. 15; 12 Geo. 5, c. 7; Uimh. 17 de 1923; Uimh. 26 agus Uimh. 59 de 1924; Uimh. 21 de 1926; Uimh. 33 de 1930; agus Uimh. 44 agus Uimh. 46 de 1933; agus Uimh. 38 de 1935).
That a sum not exceeding £652,280 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, 1938, for the Salaries and Expenses in connection with Unemployment Insurance and Employment Exchanges (including contributions to the Unemployment Fund) and Unemployment Assistance (9 Edw. 7, c. 7; 10 and 11 Geo. 5, c. 30; 11 Geo. 5, c. 1; 11 and 12 Geo. 5, c. 15; 12 Geo. 5, c. 7; No. 17 of 1923; Nos. 26 and 59 of 1924; No. 21  of 1926; No.33 of 1930; and Nos. 44 and 46 of 1933; and No.38 of 1935).
The details of the various sub-heads of the Estimate are set out in the Book of Estimates. Deputies will have noted that, in respect of only two sub-heads, is there any considerable change in the amount to be provided. Under sub-head G—Contribution to the Unemployment Fund—an increased provision of £15,000 has been made. The contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund varies with the sale of unemployment insurance stamps, which is estimated for the current financial year at £960,000. The State grant is two-sevenths of that amount and, as it is anticipated that the revenue of the fund will increase during the year, in consequence of increased employment, increased provision in respect of that State grant has to be made.
Under sub-head J—Unemployment Assistance—there is a decrease in the amount required of £379,000. It is estimated that expenditure on unemployment assistance during the year will be less by that amount than the amount provided during last year. As Deputies are aware, it is intended that widespread schemes of employment, financed wholly or partly from central funds, will be continued during the year and will, it is anticipated, absorb large numbers of persons many of whom might otherwise be recipients of unemployment assistance. That provision by way of work obviates, to an extent, the necessity for provision by way of unemployment assistance. I may say that it is intended that the Employment Period Orders to be made during the current year will be similar in scope and in duration to those made last year and no part of the estimated reduction in expenditure is attributable to these Orders. Apart from the decreased unemployment caused by the provision of relief work and by the exclusions effected by the Employment Period Orders, the number of recipients of unemployment assistance is tending to decrease and we think that that tendency is likely to be maintained during the current year. Consequently, we anticipate that the smaller sum asked for this  year will be sufficient to cover the cost of the service.
During the course of the year representations were made by Deputies, by way of Parliamentary Questions and otherwise to my Department, as to various aspects of the administration of this section, both in relation to the unemployment insurance scheme and the unemployment assistance scheme. Speaking generally, the work of the section is now proceeding very smoothly. In connection with the Unemployment Assistance Act most of the initial difficulties which caused complaints during the earlier years of its operations have now disappeared. In fact the complaints now received are few and far between, and capable of being dealt with without difficulty. I do not know if it is desired to have any review of the general employment and unemployment position of this State.
During the course of this year the number of persons insured against unemployment in accordance with the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act increased by 11,708. That increase in the number of persons insured under the Act is not, by itself, to be taken as an indication of an increase in insurable employment, as other causes might conceivably have operated to produce that result. The contribution income of the Employment Insurance Fund has also increased, and that increase in the contribution income is a surer basis on which to base calculations than the increase in the number of persons in insurable occupations under the Act. The report of the Departmental committee upon employment and unemployment published some time ago will have given Deputies a certain amount of information in that direction. A further report from that committee is in course of printing at the present time and will be published in the near future. According to the calculations carried out by the committee, the estimated average weekly number of persons employed in insurable occupations during the calendar year 1936 was 241,000. That figure represents an increase of 16,000 on the calendar year 1935 and an increase of 53,000 on the  financial year 1931-1932. There was evidence also obtained during the course of the year concerning employment in agriculture. On some previous occasions we have had discussion here and we had a certain amount of contention as to the trend of employment in agriculture.
The number of males employed in agriculture in June, 1936, as published sometime ago showed an increase of 4,708 over the number employed in 1931. The 1936 figure showed an increase as against 1931 in each of the three classes for which statistics are compiled, that is the number of females; the number of males who are permanently employed, and the number of other males temporarily employed. As compared with 1935, the figures for 1936 showed an increase in the number of males permanently employed in farm work. But there was at the same time a decrease shown in the number of males temporarily employed. As regards the unemployment situation, it has been contended here that unemployment had increased, and the live register figures are frequently cited as evidence in support of that contention. I have frequently pointed out in the Dáil and elsewhere that the live register figures since 1932 are not comparable with those of the preceding years. The composition of these figures was affected (1) by administrative changes and later on by legislative changes, which had tended to attract greater numbers to the live register. In recent years the live register includes thousands of persons who are not ordinarily unemployed in that sense of the word. The Unemployment Assistance Act rendered these persons eligible for financial assistance. It rendered eligible not only able-bodied persons who are dependent upon wages for their livelihood, but also other groups, such persons as small farmers and members of their families provided they can show that their weekly means do not exceed certain statutory limits. For example, investigations made into the circumstances of the applicants for unemployment assistance returned in December, 1934, revealed that of the  total, 41 per cent. were owners or occupiers, or relatives of owners or occupiers of farms. It was always the case that the great majority of such people were at times unoccupied in the past. They were unoccupied, but they never appeared in the live register until now when there is the stimulus of the Unemployment Assistance Act and the hope of work on relief schemes. On account of these changes the Departmental committee reported that it was impossible to disentangle the effects on the live register of administrative and legislative changes from other causes that were operating, but that there was no evidence that unemployment had increased since 1932, and that after 1936 there was very definite evidence of a considerable decrease as compared with 1931. An analysis of the live register was made as for the 28th September, 1936, in relation to the nearest corresponding date in 1935, that is the 30th September in 1935. That analysis showed that in the four county boroughs during that period of 12 months, unemployment, as represented by the total live register, had decreased by 13.8 per cent.; in the rest of Leinster it had decreased by 18.1 per cent.; in the rest of Munster by 27.3 per cent.; in Connaught by 14.6 per cent., and in the three Ulster counties by 12 per cent. The total average decrease all over the Saorstát was 17.9 per cent. In that connection the committee reported that the total decrease in the number on the live register for the 12 monthly period is, to some extent, attributable to emigration, and especially to emigration to Great Britain, which, as was pointed out in the preliminary report of the Census of Population, was always of considerable dimensions, but which, in recent years, has been stimulated by the cessation of emigration to the United States of America and to the special circumstances prevailing at the moment in Great Britain. The nett loss in population between the middle of 1935 and the middle of 1936 has been estimated by the Department of Local Government and Public Health at 8,886. The decrease in population, therefore, can explain only part of the decline in the number of persons registered  at the local labour offices, especially when it is borne in mind that at the present time a large number of the emigrants are females, while males predominated in the decline in the live register. It is also to be remembered that in the inter-censal period between 1926 and 1936, the male population of the Saorstát recorded a decrease of 6,221 in urban districts, county boroughs and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire, in the number registered at local labour offices as unemployed. That is more noteworthy owing to increasing population, which the Census in those districts has shown.
During the course of the discussion last year reference was made to the decline which had appeared in the total number of vacancies notified to and filled through the employment exchanges. I explained at the time that that was due to certain administrative changes made necessary by the bringing into operation of the Unemployment Assistance Act. During the period when that Act was first being brought into operation, it was necessary to relieve the officers in the local branches of my Department of duties in connection with the filling of vacancies which they otherwise would have filled. Consequently, there was a decline shown in the statistics of such vacancies. In October, 1935, the local officers resumed their work of supplying labour and filling vacancies notified to them, with the result that there was a very substantial increase in the number of vacancies notified and filled. A substantial part of that increase was due to the operation of the relief schemes, the workers for which are recruited through the employment exchanges. It is noteworthy that the number of vacancies notified by private employers and filled through the exchanges was also considerable, amounting on the average to about 2,000 per month.
A number of other matters dealing with the administration of the Unemployment Assistance Act were raised during the discussion last year and during the course of the year, but, as most of them have been satisfactorily adjusted since in one way or the other, it is hardly necessary  for me to refer to them at this stage.
Deputy Flynn yesterday made special reference, during the discussion on the main Estimate, to the position of fishermen under the Unemployment Assistance Act. That matter has been discussed here before and the position was explained to the House. The explanation, no doubt, appears on the records of the House, and I think it is not necessary for me to go into any further discussion of the matter now, unless Deputies so desire, in which case I will, if necessary, be prepared to repeat what I said previously in that regard.
Mr. Morrissey: I think the members of the House should realise the importance of the Estimate just moved by the Minister and they would do well to advert to the very large numbers of our people who are concerned with this Estimate. I think I would be safe in saying that, directly or indirectly, a fifth or sixth of our total population would be affected by this Estimate. I think that members of the House who will advert to these circumstances can only express very keen disappointment at the statement to which we have listened. It did not even pretend to be anything in the nature of a complete review of the last 12 months and was noteworthy particularly for the absence of any reference to the coming year so far as the unemployed are concerned. Are we to take it from the Minister's statement that we have to reconcile ourselves, notwithstanding emigration, to at least 100,000 people signing the register for employment?
Mr. Morrissey: If the Minister's efforts were directed towards helping the unemployed rather than towards helping me, his action would be much more appreciated. Let me repeat what I have said. Are we to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are going to have at least 100,000 people signing the register, looking for employment, notwithstanding that there are people clearing out of this country at the rate, roughly, of 1,000 per week? The Minister says there are not 100,000 signing the register. There are, I think, somewhere around 92,000 or 93,000 people signing.
The Minister made a Period Order very early this year which deemed some thousands of persons to be at work. That Period Order was made, completely ignoring the weather conditions during that period and completely ignoring the fact that it was impossible for those people, even if work were available, to do that work owing to the conditions which obtained. That ought to be known to the Minister, but the Minister is not concerned. He issues an Order and deems so many thousands to be at work whether they are at work or not. The Minister does not hold out one ray of hope to any of those looking for employment during the coming 12 months. He has not a single suggestion to make, not a single hope to express as to what he expects to do or can do to reduce that tremendous total of unemployed.
Mr. Morrissey: Perfectly in order. The Minister usually does not want to be assured in advance as to whether he is in order; the Minister is not so concerned usually and if the Minister had anything to offer the unemployed he would state it until he was called to order by the Chair. I think if the Minister had anything practical to offer he would not need to come in conflict with the Chair. Let us deal with what he did say. He talked  about certain items and he said the increase in the State contribution to the Unemployment Fund was due to increased employment. If I might suggest it to the Minister, that is not altogether correct. The increase, I suggest, is largely due to the rotation schemes, where the Fund gets two stamps for one week's work. What has been happening? One man goes out for two, three, or four days a week. A stamp has to be affixed in respect of that man. A second man goes out during the same week and another stamp has to be affixed. The Minister did not advert to that.
He conveyed to the House that the reduction of £379,000 in the amount provided for unemployment assistance was due to the provision of work in this country. Why did the Minister not take the House into his confidence and tell us if he knows to what extent it is due to emigration out of this country and to the fact that men and women who cannot get work here, after five years of the present Government, are fleeing to the other side to get work from what we are pleased to call, when it suits us, the enemy? Not only are people fleeing to get work on the other side but, according to Deputy Kennedy of the Fianna Fáil Party, they are going to England in the hope of getting work and if they do not succeed they are prepared to remain in England seeking relief rather than return to this prosperous country where, according to the Ministers, there are so many openings for them. I would like the Minister to give us a more complete explanation of the position. I would like him to tell Deputies and, through them, the people of the country, whether his Department or any Department of State has accurate figures of the number of persons who left this country within the last 12 months or four years.
The Minister said to-day—he said it last year also, and the year before that, and the year before that again, and every year since he became Minister— that there were more people employed and fewer people unemployed. I do not think there is another person in this country who believes that except  himself, and I am doubtful if even he believes it. Certainly, no person who is in close contact with conditions in this country and, certainly, no person who is coming into daily contact with those who are seeking employment, believes that. The Minister may quote figures from the live register. He may tell us of the difference in the compilation of these figures now as contrasted with the methods of compilation in 1931 or 1932, but he is not going to alter what are the facts. The Minister may tell us that he has put an additional 75,000 persons into industrial employment in the past five years. At the same time, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance tells us that he has put 45,000 persons on rotation or relief schemes. We have a falling population in this country, but let us assume that the population has not fallen in the last five years and that it has remained at the same level. The most that the Minister's Party, even in the heat of an election campaign, and when the Minister's imagination was allowed full rein, ever claimed were unemployed in this country was 75,000. Even in the Minister's own election literature—and we all know what that was—that was the most they ever claimed. That was in 1932. The census showed that there were not more than 78,000, and even the Minister himself did not claim that there were more than that number. However, with, as I say, a falling population—but even assuming that the population has remained at the same level—the Minister claims that he has put 75,000 additional persons into industrial employment. He says that there are so many extra thousands —I forget the figure he gave—engaged on the land in addition. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance tells us that there are 45,000 persons engaged in rotation work or on relief schemes. There are certain other thousands—I do not know the exact figure at the moment—who are deemed to be at work under the Period Order; and there is a number of other persons who are not signing at the labour exchanges because they know that there would be no use in their signing there. By the latter, I mean persons, such as British ex-service men  and ex-National Army men, who are in receipt of small pensions.
If we got the true picture of the total number of unemployed in this country who are seeking work and available for work, I say that we would be a long way in advance of 100,000; but there you are—75,000, according to the Minister, plus 45,000, plus those who are not signing because they have no hope of getting unemployment assistance, plus at least 80,000 gone to Great Britain in the last four years—and we still have 93,000 persons signing the register.
Mr. Morrissey: I am not. I am giving the Minister his own figures. I am asking the Minister to substantiate his statement that there are more people in employment and fewer unemployed than there were in 1931. The Minister cannot do it, and I doubt if even his statistical branch could do it. Whatever the figures may be, what is actually happening in this country is known to this House; and that is that there are more people unemployed, by thousands, than there were four years ago; that, unfortunately, there is less hope of their getting any employment in this country, and that the hope is growing less the longer the Minister remains in his present position. The Minister will have to admit, whether he likes it or not, that the only practical reduction that has been made in the figures with regard to unemployment in this country has been made by those who have been absorbed into employment in Great Britain. The Minister has not a word to say about it. He speaks of the reduction in the amount made available for unemployment assistance being due to the provision of employment, but we have not one word from him on the problem itself. He devotes his speech to dealing with what are, in the main, minor details in connection with the greatest problem that is facing this country— a matter that, as I say, affects one-fifth or one-sixth of our total population, and a problem that is growing steadily worse—and there is not a Deputy in this House who does not know that.
 The standard of living of the unemployed, and even of those who are employed in this country, has been forced down to a very low level indeed in the last three or four years. I am doubtful if there was ever—certainly, not in my memory anyway— as much poverty and destitution in the ranks of the workers and the unemployed in this country as there is at the present moment. The Minister says that complaints are few and far between. I do not think he can assume on that account that that is because all cause of complaint has been removed. I suggest that it is largely because people have got sick of complaining. Why complain? On a mere technicality, claims are suspended for investigation. The suspension period may last anything from three weeks to three months, and the unemployed are expected to live on the wind in the meantime. It is very little satisfaction to them, at the end of the period, whether it be for three weeks or three months, to find that the appeal has been decided in their favour. Of course, the Minister will deny that what I say is the position, but those of us who have unemployed persons coming to us every day in the week know that it is the position, and we are meeting it in a very practical way.
We are coming up against that every day, and the saddest comment that I heard passed on the Minister's administration, so far as the employment position is concerned, was made at a meeting which I was addressing recently. I was deploring the fact that so many of our young men and women had to go to Britain to seek employment, and one man said:
I could go into a number of items and details of administration, if I wished to do so, and there is a number of complaints which I could bring before the Minister. I am not going to do so, however, because I know that the Minister would content himself, when replying, with denying every statement made from this side of the House, whether it is true or not. This is a big problem—the biggest problem, in my opinion, that this State has to face—and the Minister has not shown to this House, in his speech in introducing this Estimate, that he realise the gravity of the problem or that he is taking any steps which will be in any way effective in dealing with it.
Mr. Norton: I thought, like Deputy Morrissey, that the Minister would have availed of the introduction of this Estimate to take a much more comprehensive view of the employment position and the unemployment position than he has taken in the course of his rather brief and, in some respects, particularly inappropriate contribution to the debate. This Estimate for unemployment assistance is a signal to the House and to the country that we have a very serious unemployment problem confronting us and the provision which it is necessary to make in this Estimate is the clearest possible indication that everything is not satisfactory with our employment position. I should have thought, therefore, that the Minister would have availed of the introduction of this Estimate to tell the House, in a detailed and comprehensive way, what his proposals were for dealing with the problem which affects so many thousands of our people.
An Ceann Comhairle: It was stated when the Minister's main Vote was before the House that questions of  policy would then be discussed. It was understood that on the other Votes for which the Minister is responsible, administration only would be discussed though Deputy Morrissey did state that on this Vote he would like a rather wide debate. The question of employment schemes does not arise on this Vote.
Mr. Morrissey: On that point, may I recall to you, Sir, that I asked specifically that all references either by the Minister or by anybody else to this particular Vote should be excluded from the main Vote, and that the Minister would make a statement on Vote 61 covering policy and administration? The Minister, might I suggest with respect, should not attempt to cover up his failure to put the position before the House and the country by putting hypothetical points of order to the Chair.
Mr. Lemass: I am not trying to cover up anything. I am trying to expose a certain amount of hypocrisy. We are dealing under this Vote with the administration of the Unemployment Assistance Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act. There is no provision in this Vote for schemes to relieve unemployment and I submit it would be out of order to discuss anything except the administration of these two Acts.
Mr. Norton: If the Minister wants to set a good example, there is one colleague of his own with whom he might begin. I shall give him no prize if the Minister guesses the name of that colleague. What I want to do in this matter is to complain about the unwillingness of the Minister to tell the House what he proposes to do in  respect to unemployment and the relief of unemployment, so that the House will not be called upon to vote large sums for unemployment assistance which is only rendered necessary because of the Minister's failure to implement his own copyright plan for the relief of unemployment. I submit that it is quite in order for me to say to the House that if the Minister would bestir himself to deal with unemployment in a more comprehensive way, it would not be necessary to come to the House and ask for a Vote of the dimensions indicated here. I wish to deplore the fact that the Minister, in the course of his remarks this evening, has not given us any indication that he proposes to deal with a very serious unemployment problem in a way that will make it unnecessary to come to the House to ask for Votes of this type and magnitude. I think it is a very pertinent question to ask the Minister what he proposes to do during the next 12 months so that the State may not have to spend in paltry allowances under the Unemployment Assistance Act the sums of money set out in sub-head J of this Estimate. It is not, I submit, unreasonable to expect some information from the Minister of that description.
Mr. Norton: They could not keep their tempers because they lost. They came into the House in a very bad frame of mind last night because they backed slow horses at Punchestown We have, as Deputy Morrissey stated, close on 100,000 persons registered as being unemployed at the labour exchanges. Everybody knows that that number would be much larger were it not for the fact that, without the slightest pretext, persons are cut off unemployment assistance and sent  to the courts of referees to have their claims adjudicated upon before they can come back on the register again. On top of that we have an Employment Period Order which has taken thousands of pounds off the registers at the labour exchanges. In addition, we have emigration taking place, all of which tends to reduce the number of persons registered as unemployed at the employment exchanges. When we make allowance for the fact that the number on the register is depleted by those who have been taken off owing to the operation of the Employment Period Order, by those who have been forced to emigrate, and by those who have been cut off in a capricious fashion on technical grounds from receiving unemployment assistance, and when we still find that we have a residue of registered unemployed persons numbering approximately 100,000, we can visualise how serious the situation is. Deputy Morrissey is quite right when he says that there are a substantial number of persons who, owing to the fantastic method of ascertaining their means, would receive such small rates as 1/- or 2/- per week and who have lost all interest in registering for that miserable pittance at the employment exchanges. If these persons were to assert their claims to unemployment assistance, the number of persons registered would be very much more than it is to-day.
In the face of that very serious problem, it is not unreasonable that we should ask what are the Minister's proposal for dealing with it. What does the Minister hope to do in the next 12 months to absorb these 100,000 persons in productive employment? How many are to be regularly absorbed in constant employment during the coming year? What steps are going to be taken to deal with that serious unemployment as it exists to-day? These may be awkward questions for the Minister, but these are questions which the unemployed are entitled to ask the Minister. They are entitled to hear from the Minister, who is charged by the State with responsibility in this matter, what his proposals are, for  providing regular employment for unemployed persons. The Minister tries to find consolation in the fact that a large number of persons were employed on rotational schemes during the past year, on large scale schemes of public works. Those of us who are familiar with the provision made in that respect know, and in fact the position has been admitted by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, that a large number of persons who have been employed in that capacity have been getting employment for only three and four days per week. They have not been getting that employment for three or four days for a prolonged period; they have been getting it only for a few weeks and the wages they have been receiving under this notorious rotational scheme of employment, amounted only to 15/- and 20/- per week. Even then, as Deputy Morrissey said, they have been subjected to what is in effect a stamp levy. Formerly, a particular piece of work which would occupy let us say a week, and merit wages of say 30/- or 35/-, carried with it liability on the part of the person so engaged to contribute for two stamps. Under the rotation scheme of employment that same amount of work for the same amount of wages is carrying with it liability to contribute for four stamps, because under the rotational scheme of employment two people are now doing the work that formerly was done by one, and getting approximately half the wages of the job between them. It is because the Minister gets fictitious results based on incidents of that kind that he apparently feels he is justified on pluming himself on the income of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, but an income got in that artificial and fictitious way cannot be regarded as a reliable barometer of employment in industry generally.
We have, Sir, in this Vote an intimation that for the current year the amount paid in unemployment assistance will be £1,121,000 as against £1,500,000 last year, so that  there is provision in this Estimate for reducing the amount to be spent on unemployment assistance during the current year by no less than £379,000. That £379,000, one way or another, is going to come out of the pockets of the unemployed. The Minister may say he is going to provide work for them in lieu of that, but the method of providing work under the rotational schemes is a method which has been devised—and I say so in a very definite and deliberate way—to deprive the unemployed of unemployment assistance. That is the main inspiration behind that scheme. That is why the scheme has been devised in such a way as to give those people only slightly more than they would get if they were not in employment, and depended upon unemployment assistance.
An Ceann Comhairle: On the Vote for Relief Schemes the matter of rotational employment was discussed. Debate should not be duplicated on Estimates. A matter fully debated on one Estimate should not be reopened on another. The Minister on this Vote is answerable for the administration of unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance. There is a regular method of challenging the policy of a Department, which is to move that the Estimate be referred back. That was done yesterday, when the policy of the Department should have been challenged.
Mr. Norton: I was a little more than two minutes speaking on rotational schemes of employment, and I only did so then in order to call attention to the fact that, while the Minister says one of the reasons for reducing the amount to be provided in the form of unemployment assistance is because he believes employment will be provided which will not render it necessary to make the same provision as last year, the kind of employment which is being provided  in the form of schemes of work is of a most unsatisfactory kind. We ought not, therefore, to be asked to accept that as an explanation for voting less money. If we are going to save money in respect of unemployment assistance because perhaps in some respects people may be able to get into employment, nevertheless, I suggest to the Minister that the provision in this Estimate should not be any less than last year, and that there are particular reasons why the provision should be left the same as last year. We have on the Order Paper a Bill proposing to amend the Unemployment Assistance Act. The Bill has been on the Order Paper for some months now. Apparently it was considered urgent to get a First Reading for that Bill, but it has been allowed to remain on the Order Paper for a couple of months, with no indication as to what the scope of the amending Bill will be. There are certain aspects of this whole question of unemployment which ought to be dealt with in an amending Bill of this kind.
My complaint, Sir, about the reduction of this unemployment assistance here is that it is being made in order to take benefit away from unemployed persons, and that far from taking benefit away from unemployed persons at the moment we ought to be making better provision in order to assist those persons who are unfortunately placed in that position. We have had, during the past few years, a very substantial increase in the cost of living. When the Unemployment Assistance Act was being passed in 1933, there was a certain price level in respect of bread, flour, bacon, coal, sugar and various other articles. If we compare the 1933 price level with the 1937 price level, it will be found that the price of bread, flour, bacon, coal, sugar, and a whole host of other commodities essential in working people's households, has substantially risen in the meantime. The effect of that has been to reduce the purchasing power of the unemployed, and cause a still further shrinkage in the purchasing value of the small pittance which they receive under the Unemployment Assistance Act. The policy of the Government under the  Act is to pay certain rates of unemployment assistance, but because of the tendency to higher prices—partly due to our national position here and partly due to world causes—the provision which the State has made to pay benefits under the Unemployment Assistance Act has resulted in those rates of benefit being able to purchase less in 1936 than when those rates of benefit were prescribed under the 1933 Unemployment Assistance Act.
I think, therefore, that on an Estimate of this kind, the Minister ought to tell us what he proposes to do in order to restore to the recipients of unemployment assistance at least the purchasing power of the benefits which were granted under the 1923 Act. Yet, we did not have a single word from the Minister on that all-important problem. Apparently, during the next 12 months the unemployed will have to face up to a position where they are tied to a static rate of benefit, while the cost of living continues to soar still higher, and when the purchasing power of the original rate of benefit is much less than it was when that rate of benefit was granted. I think we ought to have from the Minister some declaration of policy in that respect, and some indication that he appreciates the plight which those victims of the unemployment problem are being compelled to endure to-day.
Mr. Cosgrave: I think, Sir, it was rather a pity that the Minister, in presenting the case for this Vote to the House, did not submit to members returns of the figures which he read out hurriedly, and which it was rather difficult to follow. If I gathered the Minister's statement correctly, he said that there was an average of 16,000 more persons in weekly employment in industrial occupations than there were 12 months ago, and that the average number over that of 1932 was approximately 53,000. It is very satisfactory to learn that, but it is rather disturbing to find, at the same time that we get those figures, that there is scarcely any reduction whatever in the enormous numbers of unemployed which are registered annually. The  figure at the present moment is over 90,000. If so many people have been put into employment, and so many people have gone away, and so many people are still unemployed, something must have happened in the employment of persons who—whether they were insured or uninsured—have had their employment interrupted, and have got to get assistance from some source or other. I find that the total number of unemployed is something like 92,000 persons. That is a very large figure, having regard to the fact that, on the average, 53,000 more persons are in industrial occupation than there were in 1932. Can the Minister give the House any information as to the probable recruits included in that 53,000 persons? For example, were soldiers in the Army registered in 1932, and are they still registered on the same basis? The question which has arisen regarding rotational employment might also be dealt with by the Minister. If the facts are as stated by Deputy Morrissey—and I should say that he is in a position to know—and a man getting three or four days' employment has got to purchase a stamp, the Minister's figures are swollen, the revenue of the Unemployment Fund is swollen, and the amount of money available for expenditure is swollen as well. There was another matter to which Deputy Morrissey referred, which, I think, the Minister ought to take seriously into account. I expect the Minister seldom goes to the country except on election work. Is the Minister aware that during the month of March hunting had to be stopped by reason of the heavy rainfall, and that, consequently, work could not be undertaken in the fields at that time. The period Order was made on the 3rd March, and it is probable that from about the 10th of March to the 23rd or the 24th it was impossible to hunt. The Minister will appreciate that if there was any prospect whatever of hunting, it would not be stopped at that time, but the fact that it was is a clear indication that it was impossible to go on with work in the fields. One of the misfortunes of this particular Department is that it knows nothing whatever about country conditions.
Mr. Cosgrave: I would say that it is probable the Minister would do it in a month. If it were the President who had to do it he would probably require two months to make up his mind on any question. In a matter of this kind, I would advise the Minister in future to consult an agriculturist before making up his mind. If he does he probably will be able——
Mr. Cosgrave: What they are likely to be in a week or a fortnight. Anybody with any experience in agriculture would be able to do that. They could have told the Minister during the month of February that work on the land at that time was practically impossible. The Minister could have seen, week after week, that there was no improvement whatever in the weather. Is the Minister aware of the fact that there was a very heavy downfall of snow during the month of March, and that the only employment available then was in saving sheep and cattle. To do work at that time on the land was out of the question altogether. It was really indefensible to make the Order at that time.
I am glad to hear that there are more people working on the land, but I do not believe it. Except that I have the Minister's word for it, it does not convince me. I have very grave doubts that the Minister himself is convinced about it. The position in which we now find ourselves is this: that there are more persons in industrial employment, more persons going to England, more persons  unemployed and we are getting better off. We have more persons in employment, more emigrating and more persons on the land.
Mr. Cosgrave: Then the Minister should make the information intelligible to Deputies by circulating it in tabular form. There is another point that was lightly touched upon by Deputy Norton that I want to refer to. I find that administration expenses are down by £3,000 on what the Minister calls the distribution of £1,100,000 this year, as against an estimated distribution last year of about £1,500,000. The administration expenses are down by about £3,000, but the amount allocated for unemployment assistance is down by nearly £400,000. While that is so, I find that the Minister has to provide this year a sum of over £7,000 for bonus in excess of what he provided last year. He has 35 or 37 less people on his roll of employment, but his bonus charges are up by  £7,000. That bears out what Deputy Norton said, that there is some case for reconsidering the rates of allowances. The Minister for Finance takes credit to himself and to the Ministry for the sums of money made available for unemployment assistance. He gives the figure of £1,052,000 for this year. That is a very remarkable figure, but looking at the Estimate the first item there is a salary of £1,000 for one official. Would any unemployed person believe the Minister for Finance if he said to him that, included in that sum of £1,052,000, was a salary of £1,000 a year for one official? It is a little bit humorous. I will deal in a moment with the figures for unemployment assistance.
Mr. Cosgrave: I will come to them in time. I know that as a result of the arduous labours in which the Minister has been engaged, in view of the prospects for the next few months his temper is probably a bit ruffled to-day. As far as unemployment assistance is concerned, and the Government's contribution towards the unemployed, there is this to be remembered that the first person to get paid is that man with a salary of £1,000 a year. But there is a more remarkable figure even than that. The Minister is providing £287,850 approximately for administration expenses. The Minister will admit that he is providing for contributions to the unemployed fund of £275,000. These two figures give a total of £562,000. I deduct that from the Vote, and I find that much less than £500,000 is available now, so far as the Ministry is concerned, for unemployment assistance.
Mr. Cosgrave: The unfortunate man who gets three days work in the week  is contributing towards it. He has to put stamps on his cards. He has to contribute, and, according to his income, he has to contribute more than the wealthy taxpayer.
Mr. Cosgrave: There is the item of £185,000, the first item in the Appropriations-in-Aid. From whence does it come? There is the second item of £250,000 from the Unemployment Fund. From whence does it come, but from the contributions of, amongst others, the unfortunate men who are only able to get three or four days work in the week? The Minister does not put up that money. In essence, the Government's contribution towards unemployment assistance on this Vote is £490,000, and no more. I would like to hear the Minister on that point. It is quite true that the local authorities are salted to the extent of 1/6, including Dun Laoghaire. It is quite true that the urban authorities are also expected to contribute at the rate of 1/- in the £. Their contribution does not come down, no matter how the Minister saves on his Vote. It was on the basis of a contribution from the State —I forget the exact figure, but I think it was £1,500,000—that the local authorities were to contribute that much. In order to save some of the money included in this Estimate local authorities are invited to contribute towards employment schemes amounts varying from 20 per cent. in rural areas up to 50 per cent. in the case of municipalities. So that the more money the Minister saves the more the local authorities are called upon to contribute. I should certainly like to hear how the Minister will prove that the actual Government contribution towards unemployment which is set out at £1,120,000, is a penny more than the £490,000 I have mentioned. It may be that he will claim that the local authorities should pay for the administrative costs. The Minister cannot escape this, however, that the Government, according to law, are bound to provide £275,000, or the equivalent proportion, towards the  Unemployment Fund. I must take off that sum and also take off the administrative expenditure, and so I arrive at £490,000.
There is one thing which the Minister has learned during the last four or five years—that he talked an awful lot of nonsense before he came into office. Like his colleagues, he has learned much and there are many things which he said at that time that he wishes now were unsaid. We are approaching a period in this country when the discussions in Parliament and the consideration of economic problems will be no longer political playacting. This is a serious Vote. The Minister, like his colleagues, whenever he is discussing current affairs, must compare them with 1932. The newspaper which is attached to his Party did not recognise anything in the nature of world depression in 1932. It has since learned that there was a depression about that time and that it reached its peak point before the previous Administration went out of office. The Minister's selection of that particular year is very favourable, having regard to the changed conditions since. The Minister and his colleagues have had the advantage of spending very large sums of capital moneys during the last four years—money on housing, money invested in industries, and flotations of one sort or another, all of which tended to the circulation of money and to giving employment. Now, after four or five years of the extraordinary prosperity which we were promised, and which the Minister, alone amongst his colleagues, tells us we have, we are providing for 92,000 unemployed in this country. It is very serious. It is no satisfaction to us whatever that it is the Minister's problem, because it is a national problem and will not be solved by political nectars. It is a problem which would, in the normal course, take the combined wisdom of all persons in this State to deal with, I should like the Minister to approach it from that angle rather than the angle of politics and realise the importance and obligations of his office. When he is bringing in a Vote for so much money, he should take the House and the people more fully into his confidence  and not run off his figures in such a way that it is practically imposable to take a note of them and certainly not easy to follow them. The sum and substance of it is—more people in employment, more people going to England, more people unemployed, and more money for the unemployed.
Mr. Bennett: As the Minister did not allow himself to make any reference to any method of getting rid of unemployment, I suppose I would be precluded, just as Deputy Norton was precluded, from making any reference to any remedy.
Mr. Bennett: I am going to make some allusion to the Minister's figures, and to point out that, if any faith can be put in any of these figures, this Vote ought not to be presented at all. It ought not to be necessary to ask the House to vote this big sum for unemployment assistance and unemployment insurance, if we can place any reliance on the statistics the Minister and his colleagues have given us at various periods during the last few months. Deputy Morrissey referred briefly to them, and the Minister laughed at him. I should like to make the House laugh at some of the Minister's figures. As Deputy Cosgrave stated, the Minister has claimed that at least 53,000 persons have gone into industrial occupations. He practically admitted, if not exactly in words, that probably thousands have migrated— how many thousands I do not know. He only claims that the small number of 4,708 extra have gone into permanent employment in agriculture. But the Minister for Agriculture claimed a much greater number than that. He even suggested that one item of agriculture alone, namely, wheat, was responsible for putting 20,000 persons permanently into work last year. When he was challenged on that, the Minister in replying made the fantastic explanation that, because he assumed £2,000,000 worth of wheat was sold, it did not matter whether 20,000 persons were employed or not, as there were  20,000 units of £100 there, and it could be assumed that they were employed. I wonder if the Minister for Industry and Commerce has assumed that these 53,000 people were employed in industry in the same way; that he has assumed that a certain amount of goods was manufactured and sold for a certain number of million pounds, and, if that were divided up into £80 or £100 per head, or whatever would give a decent wage, it would make so many thousand units, and this wonderful number of unemployed people were disposed of. That was the Minister for Agriculture's explanation.
He ran away definitely from the statement that there were 20,000 people employed on wheat alone. He could not stand by that. His explanation was that there were £2,000,000 worth of wheat sold, and because of that it must be assumed that 20,000 people were employed permanently in agriculture last year. I want to know if the Department of Industry and Commerce makes calculations in the same manner. If it does, we can readily get rid of all difficulties as to the numbers unemployed. If the Minister's total of the recently employed is added to that of the Minister for Agriculture, and if to that we add the number of men and women who have emigrated, and deduct the number that the Minister in his most extravagant estimate assumed were unemployed, the answer would be in the region somewhere below zero, and instead of having the present Vote for unemployment insurance and unemployment assistance, we ought to have a Vote in the opposite direction, to make a presentation to the Minister for so arranging matters that there was not a single unemployed man or woman in the country; that, in fact, more were in employment than was originally estimated. As far as we can judge by the statistics, that is what the figures would mean.
Some day we ought to get to the point when some figures will be given in this House, and to the people, that would appear reasonably reliable. To ask any Deputy, or any intelligent person, to believe that the figures  that the various Ministers have given have any relation whatever to the conditions that prevail, is asking something that would stretch the imagination of the meanest intelligence. I believe there is no great reduction in the numbers unemployed in this State. My observations do not apply so much to the industrial spheres in the cities and towns, because I am not as familiar with the position there as in the agricultural districts. I say positively that there has been no relief in the way of diminishing the numbers unemployed in agricultural districts, and that whatever figures were given by any Minister as against that contention were erroneous. If any reliance could be placed on figures given for industrial employment, I, for one, cannot place any great credence in the statistical figures the Minister gives. If possible, I should like, in a debate like this, to make some reference to the causes of unemployment. I am precluded from doing that, so all that remains to me is to point out as far as I can the absolute—I cannot find a word to express what I mean—ridiculousness of the whole situation as far as figures are concerned.
Mr. Corish: I should like to take this opportunity to ask the Minister to what extent he or his Department are responsible for the regulations governing the rotational schemes of employment. As the Chair pointed out, there was an opportunity of going into this matter within the last fortnight.
Mr. Corish: I understand, but I would like to find out from the Minister, what is his attitude as far as the employment of single men is concerned on schemes of this kind. He is aware that one of the regulations of the Department is that a man must get a certain amount of work within a certain period or show reasons why he was not able to get that work in order to qualify for unemployment assistance. There are large numbers of single men with dependents anxious to get work, who are  not called upon in the urban areas under the rotational scheme, and numbers of them have been brought before the court of referees and told that they were not genuinely seeking work. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance promised that he would make some experiments in connection with the employment of single men in my constituency, and I hope he will have the co-operation of the Department of Industry and Commerce, as far as the position of single men is concerned.
Deputy Norton pointed out that £379,000 had been taken off the amount voted for unemployment assistance during last year. That is roughly about one-fourth of the total amount. Although that large amount was taken off, nothing was taken off the contribution that had to be paid by the local authorities. The four boroughs in this State are paying 1/6 in the £ and other places are paying 9d. in the £. I suggest that a reduction in the same proportion as was taken off should be made, in so far as the contributions of these public bodies are concerned. If one-fourth were taken off the contributions of local bodies, it would mean 2¼d. in some urban areas with populations over 7,000, and 4½d. in Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, and places of that kind. It is a pretty high impost upon the local authorities concerned. Although 9d. and 1/6 is mentioned in the Unemployment Assistance Act, it really means that the sums contributed are equivalent to 1/7 and 10d. in the £ by reason of the fact that the Minister insists on getting 9d. and 1/6 on the gross valuation, whereas certain deductions which are being made in various municipalities necessitated 10d. in place of a 9d. rate. That is a pretty high impost and, on top of that, by reason of the fact that the rotational schemes are in operation, boroughs like Wexford have been called upon to bear an extra cost of about 1/- in the £ to finance these schemes. As far as Wexford is concerned, I can state definitely that unemployment assistance and rotational work has cost this year 1/10  in the £. That is certainly a rather high impost at a time when local ratepayers are put to the pin of their collar to pay heavy rates, and I suggest that the Minister should make some reduction in the contributions asked from local authorities.
Deputy Norton referred to the inadequate amount which has been paid to the unemployed under the Unemployment Assistance Act. I think we are entitled to assume that when the Minister was fixing the figures for unemployment assistance in 1933 he took into consideration the cost of foodstuffs at that time. We all know that the cost of foodstuffs has increased considerably since then. In addition, a large number, if not most of the unemployed people, have been recently put into new houses. Many of them were slum-dwellers and were transferred from slums where they were paying 1/6, 1/9 or 2/- weekly in rents to houses for which they have to pay 4/- or 4/6 a week. Such a charge is in itself a big demand on people in receipt of constant wages, but when it has to be taken out of 12/6 or 15/- a week received as unemployment assistance, the Minister will agree that very little is left with which to provide the necessities of a family. I only hope that the Unemployment Assistance (Amendment) Bill, which has been on the Order Paper for a considerable time will include a clause to enable the Minister to increase the inadequate allowance that is now been paid. Some time ago, when there was a debate upon this matter, the Minister denied that there was any increase in the cost of foodstuffs. I think he will find from statistics published by his own Department that the increase over the last couple of years has been very considerable. Again, I would refer to the question of single men and ask the Minister to endeavour to get the Board of Works to agree to have a proportion of single men employed on these schemes, that is, those single men who have dependents and who are in the same degree of need as many married men.
Mr. Anthony: I should like to refer to the hardship created in many cases by the section of the Act which makes it obligatory on an applicant for unemployment assistance to be genuinely seeking work. I quite agree with what I foresee the Minister will reply —that it is essential to have that provision in the Act—but I should like to have the Minister's interpretation of the phrase “genuinely seeking work.” Cases have come under my notice in which applicants for unemployment assistance have repeatedly appealed to employers of labour for work, and, on many occasions, I have given letters to various employers to these men. On occasions, these employers have responded and have given work to these applicants, but in many other cases I have failed to secure employment for them. I should like to know from the Minister if it would suffice to supply courts of referees with the names of the persons to whom those applicants applied for work and that they would thus come within the meaning of the term “genuinely seeking employment.” I have dealt with some cases which were brought before courts of referees and have testified in writing that these men have come to me and that I have frequently given them recommendations for work to various employers. In one case in particular, a man has come to my house and asked me for letters to various employers. I responded to his request but the man has not even yet got work. Undoubtedly, hardship has been created by that section, although I fully agree that unless a man is genuinely seeking employment, he should not be entitled to unemployment assistance.
Another matter which I believe is also creating an amount of hardship for unemployed persons is the fact that mechanics and artisans have been asked to accept work on relief schemes. The Minister must know that the work on those schemes, in the main, is work appropriate to skilled or semi-skilled labour, and to ask an unemployed clerk or mechanic to accept work at breaking stones, or some such work on these schemes is unfair, firstly, to the labourer who has  a better right to that kind of employment and, secondly, to the unemployed artisan who has had no experience of that kind of hard manual labour. One or two cases have been brought to my attention. One was the case of a gardener who had never done very hard or laborious work, who was offered work with which he could not cope because his strength would not allow him to perform it. When he appeared before the court of referees, he was allowed his unemployment assistance but it was held up for a period. In another case, a stonecutter was offered labourer's work down the country and he was unable to take it because he was physically unfit to undertake hard manual labour.
We, in the City of Cork, as a result of the acceptance of these grants under the Unemployment Assistance Act, have had to increase our rates to a considerable extent and the complaint made here by Deputy Corish is one to which I would subscribe, that it is asking too much of the local authorities to increase the rates to the extent to which they have to be increased to meet the position created by the offering of these grants. I do not want to develop that line of argument because I know it has been discussed on the general Vote, but I would ask the Minister to make matters a little clearer for those who are administering the Unemployment Assistance Act, most of whom, by the way, are men of considerable experience, very highly efficient and, let me say, most sympathetic and humane. I have had considerable experience of the officials of the employment exchange in Cork and I must say that a more efficient, a more courteous and civil and, let me say, humane body of men I have never met. They interpret the Act in the only way in which it can be interpreted. As the Minister must be aware, these officials are frequently blamed for the policy of the Government. Everybody knows, and every member of this House appreciates, that officials of these Government Departments have nothing whatever to say to the framing of policy. They have merely to administer it and I pay that tribute to those  officials, as I do to all officials of Government Departments with whom I have any dealings.
At the same time, a considerable amount of worry will be saved to those officials if a wider interpretation were put on the section I refer to which precludes an applicant from receiving unemployment assistance if it is found that he or she is not genuinely seeking work. That can be translated, as the Minister is aware, in two ways, and if he gives a more liberal interpretation to that portion of the Act, he will be doing very good service to some considerable number of applicants who are undoubtedly genuinely seeking work but cannot prove it to the satisfaction of the court of referees. Generally speaking, the Act has been of wonderful service to many persons who would not otherwise be receiving relief of any kind. It has not, however, relieved the local authorities to the extent we all anticipated, and I hope the Minister will see to it that a wider and more liberal interpretation will be given to the section I have mentioned.
Mr. Hogan: I should like to travel over all the ground travelled so far, but I do not think I will, because it has been covered very effectively, and most of the points I should like to make have been made much more effectively than I could make them. There are a couple of points, however, that have either not been made or stressed sufficiently to the Minister. They concern administration purely. The Minister knows that in a great many cases people are knocked off unemployment assistance for what to them seems to be no reason. We know that some person comes to the conclusion that somebody in his district is drawing unemployment assistance and that he should be stopped from drawing it, and he writes an anonymous letter to the local employment exchange, and that person's unemployment assistance is suspended for a period of anywhere from three weeks to four or five months. I am speaking from experience. I know people whose unemployment assistance was suddenly stopped. They had a family to maintain and no reason was assigned for the stoppage, and, notwithstanding  repeated applications by myself and representations as effective as I could make them, those persons' unemployment assistance was held up in some cases for three or four months. The situation has, I admit, improved considerably. As Deputy Anthony said, I think that there was not sufficient staff to deal with the amount of work which had to be done. There were not sufficient deciding officers, but that is no consolation to the person whose benefit has been stopped and who has to endeavour to support his wife and a few children for a couple of months on nothing. The Minister should get somebody to look into that matter and see that benefit is not held up for an unreasonable period. Anonymous letters should be treated as they are treated in other quarters—with the disrespect that is due to them.
There is another matter over which, I think, the Minister has administrative control. I refer to the area of employment. When works are being carried out in a district, an area of employment is created and the contractor takes men from that area. We all know what contractors are. They go where they can get the cheapest labour. If a water supply or sewerage scheme passes through a rural area, they will fix upon the purely rural districts and look for labour there, so that when the scheme reaches the village which it is intended to serve, and in which there are 40 or 50 unemployed men, most of the work has been allotted. That has happened in my own constituency. A water supply had to pass through a fairly large rural area to a village in which there were 40 or 50 men idle. Farmers' sons and others were employed along the rural route, to the detriment of the men in the village. I think the Minister has power to secure that the area of employment be widened so as to include the district where the largest number of unemployed are. These are the two points on which I wanted to focus the Minister's attention.
Mr. Brennan: As Deputy Cosgrave pointed out, this is really a national question, and one would feel inclined to be sympathetic to the Minister in charge. One's sympathy, however,  oozes out when one remembers the glorious promises we had about unemployment, and the cures which the Minister had ready before the last election. It is a surprise to me that the Minister has not a fresh cure prepared on the eve of this election. Looking down the figures of unemployment, it is sad to find that, after all the people the Minister tells us he has put into employment, there are practically 93,000 people still unemployed. I believe the number is much more than that. As the Minister knows, the live register goes in cycles. My experience in my own county is that, if there is a prospect of employment, fellows come in and register, but if not, they do not. That is not to say that they are employed. They are not. In my own district, they have been registering and registering, and when they did not get employment they stopped doing so. When there is a prospect of employment, they come on the register. In Roscommon, where there is very little employment, you will find that the register is low, but that is not an indication of the condition of things there. If the Minister is building on statements made by the Minister for Agriculture, he is, as Deputy Bennett pointed out, on the wrong road. The necessity for bringing in a Vote of this kind will continue while you have that type of mind. The Minister for Agriculture endeavours to persuade everybody that there is more employment in wheat growing than in any other activity to which farmers can turn their hands. That is absolute humbug.
Mr. Brennan: The Minister has told us of the number of extra people who went into agriculture. I say that that is not so. If the Minister for Industry and Commerce is being influenced by the figures and statements of the Minister for Agriculture, he is entirely wrong. Is not that statement quite in order?
Mr. Brennan: I say they do not represent the number of unemployed people, and, if they are based upon the ideas of the Minister for Agriculture, they are absolutely wrong. We have these employment periods from 1st March until 26th October. The Minister tells us that he cannot be expected to be a weather prophet. Even Old Moore could not prophesy as to the weather, but does the Minister know any form of activity in the first week of March which would employ a small farmer with a valuation of £4? There never is work for the small farmer even in the best years, save to a very small extent, at that time. The figure of 92,000 does not represent all the unemployed. There is a lot of unemployment among the farming community. They are not registering, and they are not looking for the dole. It is my experience, and the experience of my colleagues in Roscommon County Council that, when relief works come to the district, and when we are ordered to put a certain number of people into employment, we find there are many more people looking for employment than are registering. That is, I think, the general experience all over the country.
It is evident from the complaints made to me that the machinery which deals with the granting of unemployment assistance requires to be speeded up or replaced so as to secure that people entitled will get unemployment assistance within a reasonable time. A sad case was brought to my notice recently in that connection. An unemployed man was living in a labourer's cottage. He did not take the necessary steps to get a qualification certificate. It was two months before he could get unemployment assistance, and he had a wife and six children. He was told that it would be two months at the office. I am sure the Minister could devise some machinery whereby, when a man would get a qualification certificate, inquiry would be made so as to obviate subsequent delay. It is a very hard thing for a man in that position to have to wait for two  months, and to be dependent for credit on some shopkeeper. If the Minister can devise some machinery to speed up the granting of unemployment assistance where, on the face of the claim it is just to grant it, it should be done.
Mr. Lemass: The Leader of the Opposition spoke after Deputy Morrissey and before Deputy Bennett and he, nevertheless, had the brazen audacity to plead that the question of unemployment should be considered on a non-Party basis. What were Deputy Morrissey, Deputy Bennett and Deputy Brennan trying to do but make all the political capital they could out of this question of unemployment?
Mr. Lemass: The whole tenor of their speeches revealed the desire to turn this unemployment situation to the capital account of their Party. And in spite of that we had this appeal of Deputy Cosgrave's to consider the question on a non-Party basis. His audacity took my breath away.
Mr. Lemass: At any rate, if there is any desire on the part of Deputy Cosgrave or on the part of any member opposite to consider the question of unemployment on a non-Party basis, I am prepared to meet them. If they have any concrete proposals to put forward for dealing with unemployment I invite them to do so. They cannot do so to-day on this Estimate but they will be given a further opportunity next week. They will be given an opportunity on the Second Reading debate on the Finance Bill; there will then be a suitable opportunity to put forward their proposals. They will be in order in putting forward, for the consideration of the House in a non-Party spirit, any proposals they have for putting people to work.
Mr. Lemass: So far as the Government is concerned, what we are doing is known. It has been discussed here in recent weeks. Everybody is familiar with the provisions that are made for the organisation of relief schemes. Everybody is familiar with the provisions made for the carrying out of other public works that do not come within the category of relief schemes. Everybody is familiar with these things. Everybody is familiar with the schemes that are going on to secure the building of houses throughout the country; everybody is familiar with the efforts made to promote industrial development and such reorganisation of agriculture as will promote increased employment in that industry. People are all familiar with these things. If it is the attitude of the Party opposite that the amount of work that is being done in these directions or that the progress made is insufficient let them say so; but if they have something to suggest in the way of putting people to work, over and above these measures, I invite them to say what it is. I submit that it is mere hypocrisy and merely fooling with this House and with the people of this country to plead for the consideration of this question on a non-Party basis and to criticise as inadequate at the same time the provisions made for the improvement of the unemployment situation which the Government has adopted. For Deputies opposite to imply that they have something better to suggest and then to keep silent is not good enough. I strongly urge them to break their silence. I pleaded with them time and again in the course of the past 12 months that they would come to this House not as members of a Party trying to serve the interests of that Party but as representatives of the people seeking to serve the interests of the people. I have appealed to them to put forward their proposals here; let these proposals be examined and, if in the opinion of the majority of the people of this House, they are right and an improvement on what has been done, these proposals will be adopted. If they are not an improvement,  they will be rejected and they deserve to be rejected. In any event I think it is completely foolish from any point of view and particularly from the point of view of a political Party to suggest that they have a policy for dealing with unemployment and to imply that it is better than the policy now in operation.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Morrissey says 75,000 people and in addition that 80,000 had emigrated. We can put these two figures together. Then he tells us the population is going down. If all these factors were in operation obviously there must be a smaller number of people unemployed.
Mr. Lemass: I take it that Deputy Morrissey's point is that there are more unemployed and that in addition 80,000 people have emigrated and over and beyond that the population has gone down. Then he says there must be fewer people in employment. I have the figures here and I am going to repeat them for his information. In 1936 there were paid into the Unemployment Insurance Fund £903,666.
Mr. Lemass: On an average, in 1936, as compared with 1931, there were 53,000 persons more at work each week and paying contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Deputy Morrissey apparently believes that these 53,000 people are unemployed supporters of Fianna Fáil and that they are paying 1/7 a week each in order to make political propaganda for the Government. Somebody is paying the money. The number of stamps purchased in 1936 represented 53,000 more workers than in 1931. People are not doing that sort of thing for fun. Each stamp fixed to a card represents a week or portion of a week's work done by an individual. If Deputy Morrissey wants any serious consideration given to this problem of unemployment—and I do not believe he does—he has got the facts right there in the amount paid for stamps. The first fact is that increased employment has taken place. If all the indications point to that being a fact let us accept it and let us make it the basis of our examination of this problem and the basis of the plans for dealing with it. If a certain line of action and certain activities in the matter of industrial development and housing have produced that employment additional to the amount of employment that was given before, can the extension of these activities produce more employment? That is the question we are approaching. Merely denying the obvious is not a working policy. It is only going to produce the type of result that Deputy Cosgrave got a few moments  ago when he started his amazing deductions from the financial Estimate as set out in the year's Estimate.
Deputy Cosgrave once described himself as an authority on finance. Certainly any reputation he had in that respect disappeared rapidly to-day. He got the amazing result in any event that the total amount which the Government is providing for unemployed assistance is £400,000. The Estimate provides £1,121,000. That is the amount of money we are estimating is to be paid out in cash. The first point I want to make clear is that we are estimating that amount is going to be paid out without deducting one penny for administrative expenses. A sum of £1,121,000 will be paid over the counter of the employment exchanges. It will be paid in cash. Against the expenditure the Government has certain revenues. The revenue is set out amongst other items in this way:— £250,000 by unemployment insurance; £196,000 by the local authorities. Other appropriations set out are relating to the unemployment insurance scheme and to unemployment as a general scheme. It costs nothing; it costs the Exchequer nothing, or practically nothing. The finances of the Unemployment Insurance Fund are not dealt with in this Estimate at all. There is no figure there for expenditure in unemployment insurance benefit; it comes out of the Fund and amounts to about £500,000 a year. It is into that Unemployment Insurance Fund goes the amount of the Government contribution. From that Unemployment Insurance Fund comes the appropriation against the expenses of administering the unemployment scheme. It is true that some part of the expenses are directly attributable to the unemployment assistance scheme, but the unemployment insurance scheme can be regarded as self-contained and self-supporting and the only sum that stands to be deducted from the amount provided for unemployment assistance is the £540,000 represented under the two sub-heads in the Appropriations-in-Aid to which I have referred. The balance is provided by the taxpayer.
Mr. Lemass: I repeat that it has nothing to do with unemployment assistance. I submit that we are providing over and above what was provided for unemployment insurance at any time, a sum of £700,000 additional to meet the cost of unemployment assistance.
Mr. Lemass: Deputy Brennan as a financial authority is about as good as Deputy Cosgrave. The position definitely is that there is an increase in employment. Deputy Morrissey suggests that there is no decrease in unemployment; he assures us that unemployment is increasing. There may be a logical explanation of the facts other than the one that occurs to me, but, if so, I do not know what it is. If people are unemployed they can get unemployment assistance. In addition to that, they are given a chance of getting work merely by going to the trouble of registering at the exchanges, and I think most of the unemployed will register.
Mr. Lemass: Through the employment exchanges last year we filled 106,000 vacancies. In addition to the prospect of work which that figure represents, I might point out that there was paid £1,120,000 in unemployment assistance and £500,000 in unemployment insurance benefit through the exchanges. With all these benefits available, is it not reasonable to assume that every person who can qualify to get one or other of them by registering at the exchanges will do so? I think so, at any rate. Therefore, although the total on the live register may not be an absolutely reliable index as to the trend of unemployment, it is nevertheless reliable enough for our purposes. On  1st of March, 1936, the number on the live register in all the employment exchanges in the Saorstát was 139,695. On the 1st of March, 1937, that number had fallen to 92,224, a decrease of 47,471. That decrease indicates a decline in unemployment during the period.
Mr. Lemass: I said small farmers and farmers' sons. The Deputy talked about the total of unemployed revealed in the census of 1936. In that total, persons engaged in agriculture, the sons of farmers and small uneconomic farmers, even if they described themselves as unemployed, were not included. If the Deputy carries out a simple calculation based on the results of that census and adds to his 78,000 all those who would have been registered if the inducements and the facilities for registration existed then which exist now, he will find that the live register, if calculated on the present basis, would not be much larger than 150,000 or 170,000.
Mr. Lemass: What we claimed was that if the Government statistics then published were accurate, if 75,000 was in fact the actual number  of unemployed, that number could be put into work, and that number has been put into work.
Mr. Lemass: There was an average of 53,000 more employed in 1936 than in 1931 in industrial occupations, occupations insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Act, and, in addition, there was an increased number employed in agriculture. Deputy Brennan disputes my figures. The Civic Guards throughout the country on the 1st June of each year carry out an enumeration of the persons engaged in agriculture. These statistics are published. If Deputies try to persuade me that the Civic Guards cook the figures in order to make Fianna Fáil propaganda, then anyone who likes to believe those Deputies can, but I do not.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy knows that agricultural employment in this country presents peculiar features. The average output per head of the persons employed in agriculture in the Irish Free State is much lower than in a country such as Denmark. There is a great amount of under-employment. It is possible to take out of agriculture a large number who do not regard themselves as unemployed and still it would not be necessary to replace one of them to enable the same production to be maintained. There is in existence in agriculture a pool of potential workers altogether different from the unemployed of the cities or urban areas. They can engage themselves in farm work, but, if attractive employment offers in industry or commerce, they will take it and farm work will not suffer in consequence. That always has been the position.
Mr. Lemass: They are now being returned as unemployed for the first time in statistics in this country, those of them who can qualify to receive unemployment assistance. The fact remains that there are more people employed. All the statistics point to that. These additional people in employment are buying unemployment insurance stamps and paying for them. The money is going into the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and the stamps are being affixed to their cards. There are fewer upon the register in each week of this year than in the corresponding weeks of last year. Deputies may say that that is due to emigration. Nobody denies emigration; nobody denies the seriousness of emigration as an indicator of defects in our economic organisation. There is only one cure for emigration, and that is to provide increased employment at home, and make the conditions of life here more attractive. We can provide employment in agriculture, in industry or in public works of one kind or another. At present all the energies of every Government Department are being concentrated to that end. The plans which we are operating have proved effective to that end, but not as effective as we would like them to be.
We are prepared to take advice and suggestions from anybody as to how these plans can be improved, but when we seek advice or suggestions or ideas from the Party opposite, they immediately assume a clam-like silence, or resort to speeches like that which we had to-day from Deputy Cosgrave. He appealed to have this matter considered upon a non-Party basis. Apparently, in his opinion a non-Party basis is one which commits his Party to nothing. It was obvious Deputy Norton was merely trying to make to-day the speech he intended to make yesterday if he had been here. He said the reduction in the amount provided for unemployment assistance represents something taken from the unemployed. That is not correct. We provided in the Estimate a sum of £1,500,000 last year, but it was not necessary to spend that amount. Unemployment diminished during the  year, and the relief works which were provided for in the Estimates were undertaken. Consequently, the actual expenditure upon unemployment assistance was less than the amount voted—substantially less.
Mr. Lemass: And because of the reduction in the Estimate this year, it was possible to give remissions in taxation. Of course, Deputies could reasonably contend that the saving in the cost of unemployment assistance, consequent on the reduced number of unemployed, should have been availed of to increase the rates of unemployment assistance.
Mr. Lemass: Yes, or give more people unemployment assistance. However, the Government decided to use it in another way. They decided to use it in reducing the cost of living, by remitting or reducing the taxes upon tea and sugar, and reducing the price of butter, and so forth. In my opinion, that was the wiser policy to adopt, because it gave benefits that were universal to all sections of the people, and particularly the sections of the community most in need of relief, and for whom the cost of living had the greatest significance. That, however, is a question of policy —a question upon which, I admit, two opinions can be reasonably held and argued; but this is not the occasion to argue it. The one point I want to make is that it is not correct to say that the amount represented by the difference in the figure for this year and the figure for last year is being taken from the unemployed. That is not correct.
It has been said, of course, that the increased revenue of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and the average weekly number employed, has been inflated by the scheme of rotational employment which is now being operated by the Board of Works and  by certain local authorities where State grants are made towards the cost of relief schemes. To some extent, that is correct, but certainly not to the extent suggested by Deputies, because a very large proportion of these works is of a class, the workers in which are not insurable under this Act at all.
Mr. Lemass: It is impossible for me to give that figure at the moment, but all the minor relief works and all the works on drainage and peat development have been held by me not to constitute insurable employment. That view of mine has been contested, and I understand that the Trades Union Congress, in fact, seek a decision in the courts to reverse my ruling in the matter. The position at the present time, however, is that I have decided —and my decision operates for the time being—that all these classes of work are not insurable and that the workers employed on them are not expected to have their cards stamped or their employers expected to make a contribution. Consequently, the number of persons contributing to the fund is not affected by the extent of these works.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy can find out from the appropriate Minister what proportion of the total amount spent upon relief works goes to the minor relief schemes under the Drainage Act, under the Arterial and Barrow Drainage Act, and so forth, and under the peat development schemes.
Mr. Lemass: Yes, but I mean the arterial drainage works. We are told, of course, that there has been a substantial rise in the cost of foodstuffs, and that that should also be taken into account in connection with the administration of the unemployment assistance  scheme. The food price index for Saorstát Eireann, in February of 1937, was 1 per cent. higher than the corresponding month of 1931.
Mr. Lemass: The total increase in the cost of food in 1937, as compared with 1931, was 1 per cent. in this country. In Great Britain, in the same period, food prices rose by 1.4 per cent. What happened is that the economic war, as it is called, started in 1932 and the full effects of the British duties upon our agricultural exports were experienced in 1933 when the various schemes for the relief of agriculture had not yet become operative. So far as the economic was was concerned, the worst consequences to the farmers were experienced in 1933 and 1934, but what, from the farmers' point of view, were the worst consequences, were in many ways a benefit from the consumers' point of view, because the price of food was considerably reduced. From 1934 onwards, when the various schemes for the relief of agriculture had become operative, the rise in the cost of living became considerably greater.
Now, in so far as Deputy Norton is concerned with the contributions payable under the Unemployment Assistance Acts, he has a point in that regard; but in so far as Deputies on the opposite side of the House are trying to compare economic conditions now with the economic conditions which prevailed before this Government came into office, they have no case at all. I do not say that the rates payable to unemployment assistance applicants under the Acts are immutable. It will be a serious matter to decide upon any change in them. They were prepared with very great care. As Deputies know, there are no less than 66 separate rates of assistance, all designed to ensure that the amount of money made available from the national Exchequer for this service  would be distributed as equitably as possible to meet the circumstances of a wide variety of cases. Furthermore, each one of these rates is liable to deduction according to the means possessed by the applicants for them. It may be that the altered economic conditions here will necessitate, or permit of, a re-casting of these rates, but the matter is one which has got to be examined in very great detail, because one must be quite clear that the circumstances justify it, bearing in mind that even a small percentage increase will involve a considerable addition to the cost, an addition to the cost which must be made good by increased taxation, which would not be welcomed by Deputies, and which might have serious adverse economic consequences at the present time.
Deputy Cosgrave spoke about the inadvisability of having the first Employment Period Order commence during a spell of bad weather. It was, of course, impossible to foretell the weather. If Deputies want my opinion about the suitability of the unemployment assistance scheme for providing relief for small uneconomic landholders, I do not think it is suitable at all. I do not say that these agriculturists, whose holdings are less than £4 valuation, do not require relief from State funds. I think they do, but I think that at some time it might be possible to provide that relief in some form other than the payment of unemployment assistance. The unemployment assistance scheme is not suitable to their particular circumstances and consequently all sorts of anomalies are bound to rise. It is necessary to decide upon the period of duration of an Employment Period Order——
Mr. Lemass: I was remarking when that unmannerly interruption took place that, in my opinion, the Unemployment Assistance Act is not entirely suitable for dealing with the question of relieving small farmers or uneconomic holders and while the responsibility for providing relief for uneconomic landholders rests upon the unemployment assistance scheme, certain anomalies are bound to arise and cannot be avoided. As I said, the Employment Period Orders have to be decided upon some time before they are made and, when decided upon, reasonable notice has to be given to those who are likely to be affected by them as to the periods during which they will run. Despite the wisdom and foresight of the Minister and officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce, we were not able at the beginning of February to foretell the weather in March and we made the Employment Period Order run for exactly the same period as it ran last year.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy was not here when I was dealing with the matter much more fully than my more recent remarks would have conveyed to the Deputy. I do not know that I should go over it again. However, the main point I wish to make is that the relief of uneconomic landholders through the unemployment assistance scheme is not very easy to effect without anomalies. I hope, in the course of time, it will be possible to devise some method of affording State assistance to such people otherwise than through that Act. Certain Deputies, including Deputy Corish, complained about the obligation placed upon certain local authorities to contribute through the rates towards the cost of the unemployment assistance scheme. I do not think that there is any reasonable ground for that complaint.
Mr. Lemass: I do not know that there is anything in that. The amount which is provided from State funds has to be collected through taxation on beer, tobacco and other things and is paid no less by workers in rural areas than in urban areas. The workers in rural areas receive less unemployment assistance than workers in urban areas and county boroughs and the contribution which local authorities in the cities and the towns make to the cost of unemployment assistance is not sufficient to provide for the higher rates of unemployment assistance which are payable in these areas. In any event, I think it would be unwise at this stage to provide for any alteration in these contributions, at any rate until the future of the unemployment assistance scheme has been reconsidered. I have frequently mentioned here in the Dáil that the unemployment assistance scheme being new, it was not possible to forecast with accuracy at the beginning of each year what it was going to cost. We estimated on the basis of £1,500,000 last year. In fact, the expenditure was considerably below that. We estimate this year on the basis of £1,121,000. No one can be certain whether that amount will, in fact, be expended or whether a Supplementary Estimate will be required as was in fact required in 1935.
The phrase in the Act about “genuinely seeking work” is not for me to interpret. So far as the legislation is concerned, the Dáil enacted the Bill with that phrase in it and the interpretation of it was left to the courts of referees. I think we are entitled to assume—and experience justifies our assumption—that the courts of referees are putting a commonsense interpretation on it. I do not know if any real hardship has been caused by the application of that condition because it has been the general tendency of the courts to be as sympathetic as possible to the applicant for unemployment assistance, at the same time maintaining the incentive, whatever incentive the refusal of  assistance may afford to all these applicants, to seek work on their own behalf. If a clerk, an artisan, a mechanic or any of the class of persons mentioned by Deputy Anthony is allocated for employment on relief work and finds that employment unsuitable, having regard to his age, his strength, the distance it is from his residence or any of the other causes stated in the Act, and refuses to take that work, he will find that the unemployment assistance officers and the court of referees will uphold his decision. Our experience, however, has been that that case very rarely arises and that persons in these categories are in fact usually found amongst the applicants for that class of work whenever it is available and are anxious to be sent out on it.
Mr. Anthony: If I may interrupt the Minister, I should like to put to him one concrete case. Would it be an instruction from the Minister that a carpenter would not be required to do labouring work, for which, by the way, there is a very large reserve of labourers?
Mr. Lemass: That is a different question. A man is not debarred from receiving unemployment assistance by reason of his refusal of work which is unsuitable for him, having regard to his age, strength, state of health, or any of the other things which are mentioned in the Act, but we could not get ourselves into the position where a carpenter drawing unemployment assistance could never be required to take work which is not in his trade. Persons who are getting that assistance from State funds should be required to take any work which they are physically capable of performing.
Mr. Lemass: In the case of relief works, the practice in the Department is to send out the persons who, under the regulations, are entitled to preference, that is, the persons who are getting unemployment assistance at the higher rates, who are longest  unemployed, and so forth. In the case of other classes of work—work with private employers, or work arising in the ordinary way, other than relief work—the person best suited to meet the requirements of the employer is the person who is chosen and sent, whether he is getting unemployment assistance or unemployment insurance, or neither. In this case, of course, the object is always to put persons at the particular class of work which they have been doing previously, and in which they were trained. But in the case of relief works, where those are started for the purpose of giving those persons employment rather than assistance, the only ground on which a person can refuse to accept employment is that the work is not suitable for him, having regard to the distance which the work is from his home, or having regard to his age, or strength, or sex, or certain other things which are specified in the Act.
Mr. Lemass: So far as the matter of anonymous letters is concerned, that has been very greatly exaggerated by Deputies. The Department cannot refuse to take notice of any information that comes to it, but the actual stoppage of benefit is not effected unless there are bona fide grounds for believing that the person receiving benefit is not entitled to it. The case is always investigated, and payment is stopped only if there is good reason to believe that it should be stopped, in which case the whole matter is referred to the board of referees, whose decision is final. So far as the area of recruitment is concerned, the Department of Industry and Commerce has nothing to do with that. The area of recruitment is fixed by the employer, whoever the employer may be, whether the Board of Works, the Forestry Department, a local authority or anyone else.
Mr. Lemass: The Deputy must not get two things mixed up. Any employer is entitled to go to any exchange and ask to have a vacancy notified to the workers registered at the exchange. That is one matter. The withholding of unemployment assistance on the ground that a worker had refused employment is another. Unemployment assistance is not withheld where the refusal of employment is reasonable, having regard to the matters to which I have referred.
Mr. Lemass: That is a matter which depends on individual and local circumstances. It is not possible to lay down a hard and fast rule as to the distance that the work must be from the worker's home. In each case the board of referees will decide upon the facts.
Mr. Lemass: If the Deputy or any other Deputy can suggest a better system of administration, I am prepared to consider it. The position is that the decision in the first instance is made by the unemployment assistance officer. He is a trained officer, a permanent civil servant specially instructed in this work. If the decision is unfavourable to the applicant he appeals from that decision to the court of referees.
Mr. Lemass: Three weeks would be the maximum. The period varies in different parts of the country. In Dublin, I think the position is that any case arising during the week is decided that week. In other places the delay is longer. The majority of the courts meet weekly; it is only in rare cases that they meet at less frequent intervals, and then only because the number of cases coming forward is limited.
Mr. Lemass: All the cases in which persons appeal against the decision of the unemployment assistance officer go to the court of referees, and not merely the cases of persons appealing against the decision of the unemployment assistance officer but the cases that always arise under the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Mr. Lemass: Oh, no. Additional kinds of appeals officers are appointed to deal with an entirely different matter. There was considerable delay in determining appeals against the refusal of qualification certificates. Those appeals had to be heard in Dublin. In fact, we introduced amending legislation to change the machinery and set up a new type of appeals officer who deals with those appeals—that is appeals against refusal of qualification certificates—and 35,000 or 40,000 arrears have been wiped out. The  appeals officers have nothing to do with the type of cases to which the Deputy is referring.
Mr. Lemass: My recollection is that the amending Act was passed early last year inserting those appeals officers between the appeals committee and the unemployment assistance officer. As a result of the creation of these new officers a very large volume of arrears of appeals, against the assessment of means or the refusal of certificates, was wiped out.
Mr. Lemass: The type of case that the Deputy is referring to has nothing to do with it. The Deputies are referring to types of cases that are determined by the courts of referees. They are local bodies consisting of a neutral chairman appointed by me with an equal number of representatives of employers and workers appointed from panels prepared by trade union councils and employers' organisations in the locality. These courts of referees decide, and decide finally, all appeals on the particular matters to which Deputies have referred, subject, in certain cases, to a final appeal to the umpire. Appeals to the umpire relate to the interpretation  of the law. The decision of the umpire is final. So far as the Minister and the Department are concerned, they have no function whatever in determining these cases. The courts of referees are, in fact, the final authority.
Mr. Lemass: Some cases may take a long time. An applicant may be asked to produce fresh evidence that he was seeking work, or was available for work, and before a final decision is taken the case may have to go before the court of referees two or three times, fresh evidence being produced on each occasion. Some cases take much longer than others.
Mr. Lemass: That might happen. I, however, am not thinking of that kind of case. I am talking now about the ordinary routine cases which come before the court of referees. A man may say that the work offered was too far for him, that it was work unsuitable for his physique or something like that. Cases of that type do not take long. The question of how far a man can go to work that is offered to him depends on a number of circumstances: the transport facilities available, whether he has to walk to his work, whether he has a bicycle, his age, and the nature of the roads in the vicinity. All these matters will be present to the minds of the members of the court in deciding the question, and it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules, because while these might apply in some cases they would not apply in others. I do not think there is any other point I have to deal with at this stage.
Mr. Lemass: So far as the employment exchanges are concerned that is not a matter for them. The only obligation upon the manager of the exchange is to supply the workers applied for by an employer. The question of policy in the matter of giving a proportion of relief work to single men, or any similar question, is one for the employing authority, whether it is the Board of Works, a local authority or whoever it may be, and not for the employment exchange. If they determine to give a certain proportion of the vacancies that are offered to single men, and if they notify the exchange to that effect, the exchange will supply single men.
Mr. Morrissey: I would ask the Minister to clarify one figure that he mentioned. In the course of his remarks he repeated the statement that he made earlier, that there were 53,000 more persons in industrial employment in 1936 than there were in 1931.
Mr. Morrissey: The Minister has a rather confusing way of putting these figures before the House, and I would like to have them explained. Would he now tell us what is the relationship of the figure that he has just given to  the figure that he gave a fortnight ago, when he said that they had put an additional 75,000 persons into industrial employment in the last five years?
Mr. Lemass: I said that that was the average number employed each week, but the number employed each week is not uniform throughout the year, nor has the progress of the Government's policy proceeded in jumps at the beginning of the year, and remained stationary throughout the rest of the year. Employment has been going up throughout the whole year, and, consequently, the actual number of persons getting new employment must be higher than that. The number of persons in insurable employment since 1931 has increased by roughly 100,000. The actual number that got new employment is somewhat less than that. The correct figure must be somewhere between 53,000 and 100,000. I think 75,000 is as near to it as we can get.
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