Thursday, 9 December 1948
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Social Welfare (Mr. Norton): I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The main purpose for which this Bill is designed is to provide increased compensation for workmen who are partially or totally incapacitated for work by accidents arising out of and in the course of their employment.
Under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1934, the maximum weekly payment was 30/-. Under Emergency Powers (No. 274) Order, 1943, this maximum was, in the case of total incapacity, increased to 37/6 a week, at which point it stands at present. In cases of partial incapacity, the maximum still stands at 30/- a week. In total incapacity, subject to the maximum 37/6 a week, 75 per cent. of  the pre-accident average weekly earnings is payable by way of compensation when these earnings exceed £1, and 80 per cent. when they are £1 or less. In partial incapacity, subject to a maximum of 30/- a week, 75 per cent. of the difference between the pre-accident earnings and the post-accident earnings, actual or potential, is payable where that difference is £1 a week or less, and 80 per cent. if the difference is more than £1.
In effect, therefore, only earnings up to 50/- a week are reflected in the weekly amount of compensation for total incapacity. Since 1st June, 1943, when the emergency increase became effective wage levels have risen considerably. An immediate increase in the maximum amount of compensation is, therefore, called for. Section 6 of the Bill raises the maximum from 37/6 per week to 50/- a week for both total and partial incapacity, and extends the increase to persons injured both before and after the date to be appointed by Order under Section 3. The Emergency Powers Orders are being revoked by Section 8.
Due to the absence from the Act of 1934 of a definition of the expression “weekly payment” some persons injured by accident who are in receipt of payments voluntarily made by or on behalf of their employers are unable to secure advantage under some of the statutory provisions governing compensation. These provisions are contained in more than one section, but chiefly in Section 25. That section of the Act of 1934 empowered the courts, on the application of either the employer or the workman, to review the weekly payment being made to an injured workman, and on such review either to confirm, end, diminish or increase it.
Where the workman at the time of the accident is under 21 years of age, subject to certain conditions, the court may increase the amount of the weekly payment to such amount as would have been awarded if the workman had at the time of the accident been earning the weekly sum which he would probably have been earning at the date of the review if he had not been  injured. Again if the review took place more than six months after the accident and it is proved that the pre-accident wages in an injured workman's occupation had increased or diminished by more than 20 per cent. the court is empowered to increase or diminish the weekly payment. It has been held by the courts, however, that Section 25 applies only to weekly payments being made under an order of court or a duly registered agreement. As a result of this defect in the Act persons in receipt of compensation voluntarily paid by an employer, without an order of court or formal registered agreement, cannot have their weekly payments reviewed and adjusted, though the wages in their occupations have considerably increased since they were injured. Section 7 of the Bill enables such workmen to put themselves on the same footing as others and gives them a right of review almost identical with that given under Section 25 of the Act of 1934. The provision is regarded as a necessary complement to the main provision. If it were not made a number of persons would not benefit by the increase of the amount of the maximum weekly payment to 50/-.
There are still persons in receipt of compensation under the Acts that were in operation prior to the 1st August, 1934, and the date of the coming into operation of the Act of 1934. From 17th January, 1944, an Emergency Powers Order provided for the payment to these of a supplementary allowance of one-fourth of the weekly payment they were then receiving. It is now desired to increase their present payments by a further one-third of these amounts. This will make an increase of two-thirds on the payments as they stood on 1st August, 1934, and, as the Emergency Powers Order is being revoked in Section 8, Section 3 provides for an increase of two-thirds on the 1934 payments, subject to a maximum of 50/- a week.
A person employed otherwise than by way of manual labour whose remuneration exceeds £350 a year is an excepted person, and does not come within the scope of the Act of 1934. It is provided in Section 4 of the Bill that  all such persons whose remuneration does not exceed £500 shall be brought within the scope of workmen's compensation. A similar extension has already been made in these cases for unemployment insurance, national health insurance and widows' and orphans' contributory pensions. Another minor provision in the Bill is the correction of a copyist's error in the Act of 1934. It appears in Section 5 of the Bill.
It will be seen, therefore, that the main provisions of the Bill are for the purpose of increasing the compensation at present being paid to injured workmen. This increase cannot, I am advised, be effected otherwise than by legislation. If it could have been done by Emergency Powers Order I should have preferred that course both because it would be more expeditious and because I desire not to undertake avoidable amendments of the present codes of social legislation until the comprehensive scheme which is being devised is ready. The problems inherent in that scheme are, however, so numerous and complex that the task entailed in its preparation is enormous and it will be some time before the examination of the details is completed. Since the commencement of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1934, many defects calling for legislative amendment have come to light. These are not being overlooked and will be examined in connection with the comprehensive scheme of social legislation. It would not be reasonable, however, to defer the raising of the present rates of benefit under the Workmen's Compensation Acts until that examination has been undertaken, and it is for that reason that I have decided to proceed with this Bill so that the most urgent problem—that of increasing the existing rates—may be dealt with speedily.
Dr. Ryan: I think that we need not waste the time of the House in agreeing with the Minister that the sum of 37/6 a week is not enough at the moment for subsistence for a man injured under this workman's compensation code. If the Minister thought fit to bring in a Bill of this kind I am sorry that he did not differentiate  between single and married men. If it is the Minister's intention—and I should like to know if it is—to bring workmen's compensation within the comprehensive scheme he will have some little difficulty in fitting sickness benefit and workmen's compensation benefit side by side. If the Minister has not decided to bring workmen's compensation into the scheme it is a different matter, and this code of legislation can go ahead on its own. I am quite sure that in the comprehensive scheme, as far as the Minister has considered it—and he has spent a lot of time on it—he must have come to the conclusion that there should be different benefits for married and single people. That being so, would it not be well at this stage, as we are making a change, to introduce that differential straight away? The more changes that are made incidentally like this the harder it will be to have a reasonable comprehensive scheme. In this code of workmen's compensation there is a differential where the person is killed.
The maximum sum received in the case of a single person is £300 and in the case of a married person £600. It is hard to know why, in the beginning, the differential was there in case of death but not in case of the weekly payment. Let me say again that I am disappointed that the Minister did not try to introduce that differential at this stage. If it is held, and I think nobody will seriously contradict the point, that a single person needs 50/- per week in present circumstances, then the married person would need a great deal more. I am not prepared to argue about the level of compensation at this stage. If I were in the Minister's place I should prefer if that question were left until the introduction of the comprehensive scheme. I do not know what the Minister may have in mind. He does not, I presume—I shall not argue now—whatever he might have argued in the past, hold that we should provide 100 per cent. of the wages in the case of workmen's compensation, sickness benefits, and so forth. On the other hand, whatever thought the Minister has given to this comprehensive scheme, he must by this  stage have some idea how far that amount can be raised, taking all the circumstances into account, and in particular the cost. He should, therefore, have some idea what the amount will be for a single person receiving sickness benefit and what the amount will be for a married person, taking his wife and dependents into consideration.
It is a pity that the Minister did not try to fit figures in here that would come into his comprehensive scheme when it would be ready. This Bill, as the Minister has told the House, brings in the white collar workers, as they are called, between £350 and £500. They were already, within the last year or so, brought into national health and unemployment insurance. As a result of bringing these people into the national health category, the Minister was able to tell the Dáil and his followers throughout the country that he has 25,000 more in insurable employment. It would be interesting to find out the figure of the reduction in insurable employment as a result of that change-over. The Minister has not got these figures and I am sure that he is glad that that is so, because it would probably puncture his argument very badly if he had to give the figures of those in uninsurable employment alongside those in insurable employment and compare them with the figures of a year ago. I do not know why the Minister should have introduced this Bill instead of his comprehensive scheme. When his last Social Welfare Bill, dealing with old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and blind pensions, was being introduced he said that he was devoting his whole energy to the preparation of a comprehensive scheme. He more or less gave us to understand that he could not devote his whole energy at that point because he was preparing that interim Bill. He has used his energy again in bringing this Bill forward. I do not know whether he is going to make it an excuse for postponing the comprehensive scheme still further. He did say to-day. I think, that it was giving rise to endless points and difficulties.
Dr. Ryan: Yes, I do. When the Minister is winding up the debate I should like, however, to hear how long he thinks this detailed examination is going to take. If he has to desist from his consideration of those details from time to time in order to bring in an interim Bill then these interim Bills will become so pressing, if the comprehensive Bill is not brought in, that many more will appear here before us before the comprehensive scheme is introduced. The Minister should seriously get down to it and give us that comprehensive scheme.
I stated here when speaking on one of those Bills that the data were there, and that when the Minister took over that office it was possible for him, within a few moments' notice, to find out what, say, a penny on the card—the cards that were there—would bring in in the year, what an extra shilling, let us say, on the sickness benefit or an extra shilling for the old age pensioners would cost in the year. It would not take very long to make out what type of comprehensive scheme, in the Minister's opinion, we could afford in this country. I do not know why he has not done so already. In addition, the Labour Party itself published a book about two years ago, giving a comprehensive scheme of social insurance. We were told in that book that everything was worked out with technical advice, and so on, and that everything was ready, if the Labour Party should come into power. The only thing in that scheme was that they failed to balance the two sides of their account, and there was a £10,000,000 deficit. They said that full employment would make that £10,000,000 unnecessary. I suppose the Minister has to think of a more cogent asset than full employment to put against the £10,000,000. We must give him a little time for that.
But I do not see why there should be such a very long delay in bringing in  a comprehensive scheme. I take it that this Bill will mean increased cost. I take it the Minister has some idea as to what the increased cost will be. That increase will, of course, fall entirely on the employer. We are not concerned with the employee, therefore, but we are concerned with the employer. Employers might be divided into two categories. You have the employers who can pass on increased costs on the articles they manufacture. That, of course, will mean in turn a higher price for the goods as far as the consumer public is concerned. In that way the worker will have to pay increased costs for these goods like everybody else. The second category of employers is, I think, the more important one. They are the farmers. The farmer cannot pass on any increase to him on the goods he produces. Farmers cannot increase the price of their commodities. Some of the prices are fixed. Some are sold in a foreign market. They cannot say to the consumer that they have to pay more for workmen's compensation and are, in consequence, putting up the price of this or that particular produce. The farmer must, therefore, bear the brunt of this particular charge.
Dr. Ryan: But he will have to pay an increased premium. I would like the Minister to tell us what the increased premium will be. I take it the Minister has that information, since he would hardly introduce a Bill of this kind without having ascertained what the increased premium would be if the farmer insured himself against liability. I would also like to know from the Minister whether or not he has decided definitely to bring workmen's compensation into the proposed comprehensive scheme.
Captain Cowan: I wish to make a few observations in this Bill. I am very glad to see an increase in the payments, but I do not think the increase is adequate. The Minister has told us that the substantial effect of this Bill is to increase workmen's compensation from 37/6 per week to  50/- per week. There are numerous defects in the present workmen's compensation code which call for amendment. I would like to see those defects remedied by a substantial amending measure, by a proper codification of the law on the matter, or by a comprehensive scheme. As indicated by the Minister here recently, I take it that it is vitally necessary that this Bill should pass into law before the end of the year. That being so, I think the House will pass the measure as introduced by the Minister.
This Bill proposes to raise the ceiling from £350 to £500 in regard to workmen's compensation. £500 per year is equivalent to £10 per week. A man in receipt of £500 a year will be entitled to £2 10s. 0d. per week compensation in case of injury. A man on £250 per year, which is equivalent to £5 per week, will be entitled to a maximum compensation of £2 10s. 0d. per week when unfit to work owing to incapacity. Obviously that figure is entirely too low. The Minister may say that he is increasing the present payment from 37/6 to 50/-. I admit that is a substantial increase. But I had hoped that workmen's compensation would be increased to a figure which would enable a man to maintain his wife and family in reasonable comfort during incapacity. It cannot be said that 50/- per week will enable him to do that. When the Minister comes to reply, I take it he will explain why he cannot increase beyond 50/-. He knows himself—and we all know that he knows— that that is entirely insufficient in view of the present high cost of living.
I do not know whether it is within the Minister's competence to deal with a particular matter I want to raise under this Bill. I have in mind one particular case. Deputy Larkin is aware of it. It is a case where an individual was undoubtedly entitled to workmen's compensation but, through some misunderstanding somewhere, his case was dismissed in the court. That man would have been entitled to compensation were it not for some mischance. He has now been incapacitated for some years and has never received any compensation. Could provision be made for the establishment of a central  fund out of which compensation could be paid in a case where an employer is freed from liability through some misunderstanding? Deputy Larkin and I have discussed this case on many occasions. We were hoping that the Minister might see his way to making some provision in the Act whereby such cases would be covered in the future. Deputy Larkin and I can give the Minister all the information he needs about this particular case. I know that Deputy Larkin will be more than anxious to give the Minister all the assistance he can because the individual in question is a member of his own union. There is no amendment I can suggest which would cover the matter but it might be possible for the Minister and his advisers to find some method of dealing with this case. It is one of great hardship.
I welcome this increase, but I regret that it is not as yet an adequate increase. I regret there is no provision in it for higher compensation for a married man with a family. Perhaps between this and the next stage the Minister might possibly be able to make provision for family allowances in addition to the 50/- per week. If he could see his way to doing that, he would be making a substantial improvement pending the introduction of the comprehensive scheme.
Captain Cowan: Apparently what happened was that the workman was not notified; through a misunderstanding, he was not notified that his case would be heard on a particular day. He was not there and the case was dismissed.
Mr. M. O'Reilly: I am in complete agreement with Deputy Dr. Ryan that it is a pity that the Minister did not decide on introducing forthwith the comprehensive scheme. I am also in agreement with him that there are two classes in the community who will have to meet this. There is nothing to come from central funds. I appreciate  fully that one section of the community, or at least a certain number of that section, will be able to pass on these charges, but the other sections, notably the agricultural community, the farmers, will not be able to pass on any of this. I also think it is a pity that something more could not have been given. At the same time, I would like to know what exactly will be the increase in premiums. People have said that there will be an increase of 30 per cent.
Now, notwithstanding the fact that we all would agree that the compensation to be given to workers should be increased, I believe there are very considerable difficulties in the way of doing that. I think, with the present position of agriculture, the rapid and definite fall in the prices of live stock, the waste and mishandling in regard to the oats position, and the complete waste in certain counties of wheat, it is a very doubtful problem if the State will not have to come in and assist the farmers in their difficulties. There have been other difficulties in the past as well as the question of paying these premiums.
At all times it has been looked upon as being a fairly heavy item to have to meet. But, worse than that, I have at least three or four cases where a workman happened to meet with an accident and where he got compensation from the insurance company and that company refused point-blank to cover the farmers again. Worse still, all the other companies also refused to cover the farmers, with the result that these farmers were in a very doubtful position as to what to do. It was a matter of “chancing their arm”.
If there is compulsion on one side we will have to have compulsion on the other side. There should be some method of compelling insurance companies to cover farmers so far as those liabilities are concerned. Sometimes the statement is made that there is malingering, but that is not the fault of the farmer. There is usually someone else there to carry out an examination. I have known cases which went a good deal further, cases in which if the workman who got the compensation got work with another farmer, the insurance  company refused to cover that farmer as long as that workman was there. That is an aspect which should be examined.
The Minister should consider introducing the comprehensive scheme as rapidly as possible—that is, provided it will reduce the premiums, especially for the agricultural community, who cannot pass one shilling of these premiums on and who are at present, and will be for some time, in considerable difficulties. If this comprehensive scheme will relieve them in any way, I shall welcome it. If it means a national scheme and the national purse will help to meet some of the premiums, I would be very glad.
The position of the small farmer is not very enviable. He has to meet increased wages. Wages have just been increased. Everyone knows it is essential that they should be, but can the farmer meet that increase? The new system of passing on the burden to the producers is rather unfair, especially where the agricultural community are concerned. National health insurance stamps have been increased and now we shall have this increase. The price of the farmer's products is rapidly coming down. The price of live stock would have gone almost to nothing but for the good luck we have had. It was only by chance the Minister for Agriculture changed his mind and gave an increased quota for the continental trade. Last Monday I saw 600 cattle sold and every one of them went to the Continent. But for the continental buyer the price of cattle would have gone down almost to nothing. That would be a dangerous situation. What most people believe is that if the Continent can obtain cattle elsewhere we will then be in the hands of our best customer.
Mr. C. Lehane: Because I can regard this as only an interim measure, I would not like to be too critical of it, and because it does provide for increased rates of compensation. I would like to give it a guarded welcome. I agree with Deputy Dr. Ryan and Deputy Cowan in their expressions of disappointment that there was not separate and distinct provision made for a workman married and with a  family and incapacitated through an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. I, and many other Deputies, must know of cases of very grievous hardship suffered by men who, through no fault of their own, met with accidents in the course of their employment. There is no point in multiplying instances, but any Deputy who is familiar with the work in the courts, who has at any time worked as a solicitor or a barrister, must know and appreciate that cases of that type exist. It is therefore a matter for disappointment that the Minister was not able to take into consideration the hardship inflicted on wives and families of injured workmen, but inasmuch as this is merely an interim measure I do not want to press that criticism too far.
The raising of the maximum weekly amount to £2 10s. still leaves, in my submission, even the single man in a position where, through no fault of his own, he may be driven to exist almost below the subsistence level. One welcome effect I think the Bill will have. Very many of these cases are disposed of at present by the respondents agreeing to pay to the applicants a lump sum payment in commutation of the weekly payments. The Bill will have, in my opinion, the satisfactory effect that these lump sum commutatory payments will be increased. I feel too that it is a pity—but perhaps this would not have been the proper time for the Minister to do it—that he did not take this opportunity to attempt to recodify the existing workmen's compensation law. I think it was when the Act of 1906 was introduced in England that the Minister responsible for its passage through the British Parliament stated that he was bringing in a measure which was couched in such terms and was so simply worded that no lawyer would ever make a penny out of it nor could there ever be any doubts as to the intention of that Legislature and as to the effect that they intended to achieve. In actual practice, the reverse has been the case. Anybody who has practised in the courts in this country knows the many anomalies, the many injustices that arise on the interpretation of the body of law that we now refer to as the Workmen's Compensation  Acts. I think this might have been an appropriate time for the Minister to consider a recodification of the whole law of workmen's compensation.
Another matter that I should like to bring to the Minister's attention is that there are many border-line cases from the medical aspect. It would be difficult, I admit, to legislate so that those cases could be covered but perhaps the Minister would at some future date, if not now, consider the suggestion made by Deputy O'Reilly, namely, the creation of some fund which could deal with such cases. Another anomaly which exists and which the present Bill will not do anything to remedy is this. Compensation is awarded on the degree of incapacity but, be the degree of incapacity as low as 20 per cent. in the world in which we live to be deprived of an opportunity to earn one's living in the trade, occupation or sphere to which one has been accustomed, even though one's incapacity to do normal work is reduced only by 20 per cent. is tantamount to complete incapacity. I think that is a position which, if it cannot be remedied in the present Bill, must be examined and dealt with under the comprehensive measure which the Minister envisages and intends to introduce in the future.
One final matter to which I should like to direct the Minister's attention relates to another notable omission from this Bill. That is, that while we compel by law a man who puts a motor car on a public road to insure, any man can take another into his employment without adequate insurance. That employee may meet with an accident in the course of his employment so serious that it may entitle him to the maximum weekly payment for the rest of the workman's life. Yet there are many cases where a workman who has got such an award from our courts has been unable to collect one penny of it because his employer was not properly insured or was not insured at all and was not sufficiently solvent to discharge his liability to the worker. While I welcome the Bill, these are matters which I suggest the Minister must at some future stage  consider if he cannot consider them in this Bill. In my submission the present measure would have been perhaps an appropriate time for the Minister to deal with them but at some future stage he certainly must take them into consideration.
Mr. Kyne: As one who, every day, is in active contact with workers and who is very much aware of the defects of the existing legislation, I should like to assure the Minister that the Bill which he is now introducing will be welcomed in the spirit in which I believe it has been introduced. It will be welcomed by the workers in the spirit in which they welcomed the old age pension, the blind pension and the widows' and orphans' pension increases —welcomed just for what it is, an interim measure, the fulfilment of a promise that was made to the workers of this country. We are satisfied that 50/- is not the full compensation that should be paid to injured workmen. We believe that when a workman is injured he needs for himself and his family at least as much as he was earning before he had the accident, if not a little more. We know that the present Minister shares our belief in that regard.
I hope that when the Minister introduces his social service legislation he will incorporate in that a measure dealing with workmen's compensation. I cannot see why accidents that dog the daily lives of workers striving to earn their living should be made a subject of profit for any private companies. It may be said that there is no profit but I should like to know how much of the premiums paid by the employers are returned to the workers in the form of benefit. I would suggest that there is scarcely 50 per cent. Most of it is wasted—and “wasted” is the word— in fighting complicated law cases that could be settled if there was any real intention of giving benefits to the workers. Many of the companies will enter into long troublesome cases costing a lot of money in the hope of defeating the just claim of the worker who is injured. We are aware that there are many defects in the Act—so  many defects that it would be utterly impossible, I believe, for the Minister in a speedy interim measure to cover most of these defects. We hope, however, that when he introduces his social legislation, he will deal with most of these defects, because we believe that he, as well as the ordinary Labour Deputies and those actively engaged in trade union organisations for a long number of years, must be aware of the very many defects to be remedied.
I have been struck by one point made by a number of Deputies, namely, the claim for a distinction between single and married men. I thoroughly agree with that in principle, but I suggest that the words, “single” and “married” are misnomers in these cases, and that what really should be referred to are those who have dependents and those who have not, because in very many cases I have found that a single man has as many depending on him as any married man. In some cases you have married men who have only one person dependent on them, while you have many sons who keep a widowed mother and probably an invalid sister and younger brother. These people should be placed in the same position as married men. As a Labour Deputy I am very glad to welcome the Bill and I hope it will be passed as introduced, because I believe it is only the fulfilment of what the Labour Party Minister has promised in the name of the Labour Party and what other Parties here have professed to be in favour of.
Mr. Lemass: I wonder would the Minister be prepared to indicate now whether I was correct in interpreting his introductory remarks as meaning that, under the comprehensive social welfare scheme which he is preparing, provision will be made for the support of workers injured by industrial accidents and that workmen's compensation as provided for under the existing law will cease. The Minister will appreciate that it is difficult to discuss the Bill and many of the problems arising from it——
Mr. Lemass: ——unless we know what the Minister's intentions are. Let us take it on both assumptions. Assuming the Minister's ultimate decision is in favour of excluding, because of certain practical difficulties, compensation for industrial accidents from the comprehensive scheme, and that this Bill is an interim measure in the sense only that it is a prelude to some more comprehensive change in the workmen's compensation code, then it is clear that a number of questions arise at once: the adequacy of the proposal and the reason why the interim change is limited in the way in which the Bill indicates. If, on the other hand, the Minister contemplates ending the workmen's compensation scheme and the establishment of a State insurance service which will provide for income maintenance where unemployment is caused through industrial accident in the same manner and to the same extent as unemployment caused by illness, I think the Minister is making difficulties for himself by proceeding in the manner in which he has decided.
Taking the first assumption first, I think it is necessary to remind Deputies that we are not now discussing a State service. The Minister says that it is time the maximum compensation payable should be raised from 37/6 to 50/- and, when Deputy Cowan and others say that is not going far enough, I want them to bear in mind that the total cost of the compensation is borne by the employer alone. There is no State contribution. There is no workers' contribution. What we are doing here is spending other people's money, putting upon the employer the obligation of paying compensation to workers who are injured in accidents, where the employer is not negligent. If there was any negligence on the part of an employer, if the accident was attributable in any way to his fault, the worker as a rule will not proceed under the Workmen's Compensation Act, but under the common law. It is where there is no negligence, where the employer is in no sense at fault, that the worker claims under the Workmen's Compensation Act as a rule.
Every time the amount of workmen's compensation payable is increased, the cost of insuring against the employers'  risk is increased also. In fact, I think it is true to say that every time there is talk of a Workmen's Compensation (Amendment) Bill, the cost of workmen's compensation insurance goes up. It is going up at present in anticipation of this Bill.
Mr. Lemass: Perhaps I should not have said that. In the course of the past year, however, the cost of workmen's compensation insurance has risen steeply. That may be due to the increase in wages. Probably it was largely due to the increase in wages which occurred during the year. It was influenced, however, to a great extent by the knowledge that the maximum amounts payable in future were liable to increase under new legislation. I am putting that forward as a reason why the Minister might take steps to ensure that the passage of the Bill will not mean an automatic increase in insurance premiums corresponding to the increase in the maximum compensation. I think that to some extent the insurance companies have covered themselves against the possibility of this legislation.
When the maximum compensation is increased and the cost of insuring against employer's liability arises, inevitably a larger number of employers will cease to insure. Some of those who do not insure are strong firms who are financially able to carry their own risks and calculating from their experience over a number of years, on the basis of premiums paid and claims met, decide that they can afford to carry the risk themselves without danger of a calamity. Numerically, those who cease to insure are mainly persons who are in bad financial circumstances. We all know of cases where workers have suffered incapacity through accidents in their employment and got no compensation because their employer was not insured and had no means from which the worker's claims could be met. Either the worker pursued his claim through the courts and the employer went bankrupt or, more often, the worker  knew the perilous financial condition of his employer and did not pursue his claim, hoping that at some stage the employer's business would improve and that then he would be able to assert his rights.
We are now effecting a substantial increase in the amount of compensation payable. We are going to create a situation in which a larger number of employers will decide not to bear the extra cost of insurance. We are going to increase the risk of workers being injured in accidents and unable to recover compensation at all. That being so, it is obvious that the introduction of this Bill makes much more urgent the comprehensive State scheme, if it is intended that workmen's compensation should be included in the State scheme. If it is not included, then I think the Minister should have taken a little longer and done a better job on this Bill.
I was responsible for the farming and introduction of the 1934 Act. I am not quite sure what Deputy Lehane was talking about when he spoke of the need for codifying workmen's compensation legislation. That Act was a codifying Act and there has been no legislation since. The only alterations made related to maximum payments and were achieved by Emergency Powers Orders. From the day that Act came into operation, defects in it began to appear either through the investigations carried out in the Department of Industry and Commerce as to its operation or because of court decisions which gave the Act a different effect in operation than we had intended when framing it.
In the Department of Industry and Commerce there was built up a series of notes of amendments which appeared to be desirable, arising out of the conclusions of officials and of court decisions, but most of them were so small, in relation to the whole scope of the scheme, that they did not justify the introduction of amending legislation to deal with them alone. It was always intended that the first Bill relating to workmen's compensation which would come to the Dáil would be availed of to deal with all these comparatively  minor amendments which experience had shown to be necessary. The Minister is not doing that, and he is not doing it either because workmen's compensation, as we understand it, is going to cease and the State social welfare scheme will cover cases of workers who otherwise would be claiming under the compensation scheme, or else because he has in mind further amendments of the Workmen's Compensation Act to be introduced later. I want him to tell us which he has in mind. If it is proposed to continue upon the basis of the existing workmen's compensation code, then I think we should go very carefully about the method of increasing the rates of compensation. I am not against it. In case the Minister may have any misunderstanding, I wish to say that I have been for some time past strongly in favour of making the comprehensive social welfare scheme cover all these risks. I know that there are difficulties. I know that the cost of that scheme will be increased considerably if unemployment which is due to industrial accidents is included under it. Everybody knows that there is malingering and fraud in workmen's compensation. It is fraud of a type which it is very difficult to prove.
Mr. Lemass: I speak from general knowledge and not from personal knowledge, but I think it is generally admitted that there is a great deal of fraud which it is very difficult to prove. May I say that, when Deputies talk here about the cost of insuring against employers' liability, the cost is very largely influenced by the experience of insurance companies in that regard? I think that the Minister, if he makes inquiries in the matter, will find that insurance companies make very little profit on workmen's compensation business. Most of the insurance companies will not do it. Only a very limited number of insurance companies in this country are prepared to undertake it because they have found it to be a risky business and, usually, unprofitable.  It is true, as Deputy Cogan has said, that a very high proportion of the outgoings of insurance companies, in respect of workmen's compensation, represents fees paid to lawyers, mainly, and sometimes to doctors.
Mr. Lemass: I think that, if the Minister deals with the matter, he will tell the Deputy that the amount paid by insurance companies in respect of workmen's compensation insurance business, is to the extent of 25 per cent. represented by legal fees.
Mr. Lemass: I want, in case the Minister has in mind side-stepping the difficulties of bringing workmen's compensation under a comprehensive State insurance scheme, to urge strongly that he should face them instead. I think it is completely wrong that a worker who is unemployed by reason of an industrial accident, or ill through an industrial disease, should get very much more in weekly payments than a worker who is unemployed through some other illness, illness not resulting from an industrial accident. If the question is to be approached from the viewpoint of the needs of the workers, and this has been the approach of Deputies who have spoken already, then these needs are no less if the worker's illness is due to the fact that he has been bitten by some bug than if it was due to a plank falling on him at work. In either case, the need for income maintenance on a generous scale is just the same.
If we can devise a satisfactory system of supervision and administration, then clearly the State scheme should provide for payments to workers without having to investigate whether the worker's incapacity was due to an industrial accident, the operation of an industrial disease or sickness of a more ordinary kind. If the Minister contemplates bringing workmen's compensation into the comprehensive scheme,  is he not creating by this Bill a situation in which the minimum payment to a single worker, in the case of illness, under the comprehensive scheme, cannot be less than 50/- per week? If that is what the Minister intends I am satisfied. I think it will mean a very heavy weekly contribution from the three contributing parties: the State, the employers and the workers.
I assume that the comprehensive scheme will provide for some differential treatment for married men, and particularly married men with dependent children, and that there will be a basic rate for single men with supplementary payments varying with the number of dependents. If workmen's compensation is now fixed on the basis of 50/- per week for a single man, and if workmen's compensation is going into the comprehensive scheme, then it seems to me that by this Bill the Minister is fixing a minimum of 50/- for benefits under that scheme. Otherwise, he is going to create difficulty for himself in the future because under the scheme the rate of compensation payable to a single worker who meets with an industrial accident will be less and not more.
I do not know how long the Minister is going to take to produce his comprehensive scheme. I am not trying to make any debating point about it. Deputy Kyne said that this Bill is the fulfilment of an election promise. It is nothing of the kind. Every Party that stood at the last election promised a comprehensive scheme. We had hoped —perhaps we were optimistic about it —that a comprehensive scheme would be enacted by the Dáil by this time. Perhaps that might not have been possible. The Minister, certainly, held out the hope at the beginning of this year, that he would have the Bill introduced before the Christmas Recess.
Mr. Lemass: The Minister should look up the replies that he gave to Parliamentary questions. I am not trying to bring any controversial note into this discussion. I am trying to be non-controversial. The 1934 Act went through the Dáil as a non-controversial measure. Certainly, there was no debate on Party lines on that measure on any stage. The Minister indicated that he was running into certain difficulties in producing the comprehensive scheme at an early date. I want to impress on him that by this Bill he is making it more urgent. He is not in any sense reducing the amount of work he will have to do. On the contrary, he is creating a situation where it becomes far more important that there should be no delay in the introduction of the compensation scheme than it was before this Bill was introduced. If there is not going to be a comprehensive scheme soon—if the Minister is thinking in terms of years not months—the first question that arises is why does this Bill deal only with weekly payments in cases of incapacity. What about fatal cases? At the present time every employer and insurance company knows that it will cost less if a workman is killed than if he is injured. That is true. The 1934 Act provided for certain lump sum payments in the case of fatal accidents and certain weekly payments in the case of non-fatal accidents. The weekly payments have been increased by Emergency Powers Order. The payments for fatal cases have not been increased.
At the moment, if there is an industrial accident the employer or the insurance company is financially relieved when the worker dies. It is obviously undesirable that that should be the case. If there is to be quite a substantial increase in the amount payable in non-fatal cases why leave the lump sum payable in fatal cases alone? The Minister's only answer  can be that he is going to introduce a comprehensive scheme soon. If he cannot say that he is going to do so soon then this Bill is obviously defective and we shall have to try to remedy those defects in Committee. I presume that as workmen's compensation is in no sense a State charge it will be practicable for private Deputies to move amendments which will increase the amounts payable or provide for increases in the lump sum payments without running foul of Standing Orders. Deputy Lehane, I think, was going to suggest the desirability of considering compulsory insurance against employers liability if we continue upon the basis of the workmen's compensation code. May I say that I went into that? If my opinion is of any use to the Minister it is that compulsory insurance is completely impracticable. It may be undesirable, and we are all agreed that it is undesirable, that an employee should find himself in the position that as a result of an accident which leaves him minus a leg or minus an arm or deprived of earning capacity, he has to claim compensation against an employer who has nothing. If the Minister is thinking of compulsory insurance, if he considers the enforcement of it, if he will find that it could not be done. I know that there is compulsory third-party insurance for motor drivers. It is quite practicable for Civic Guards, once in a while, to stop cars and ask the drivers to produce their certificate of insurance. If Deputies would consider the enforcement machine required to check up whether every employer of casual workers throughout the country was in fact insured against his employer's liability risk in respect of those employees they will appreciate that the administrative problem is very large and that the administrative cost would be enormous.
It is assumed that workmen's compensation will cost more money if it becomes a State charge than at present, when it is a charge upon private employers, but I would sooner have that increased charge upon the State going out in benefit to workers than in expenditure upon an impossible administrative scheme for the enforcement of compulsory insurance. I wonder  if the Minister could give me any opinion as to how this 50/- maximum rate compares with the provisions now operative in other countries? When we introduced the 1934 Act we were able to say that, generally speaking, we were in advance of other countries. Strong arguments were advanced both in the Dáil and in the Seanad against putting the provision for workmen's compensation here in advance of the provision operative at that time in Great Britain. We did, however, provide for more generous workmen's compensation here than was then current in Great Britain. We had, I think, more generous provision than any other European country, and in that connection I do not exclude the Soviet. Since then there have been many changes in many countries and perhaps fewer changes here. I should like to know whether the Minister has information which he can give the House as to whether we are now coming into line with other countries or whether we are moving substantially in front or whether we are behind. I think it is undesirable to be behind or that we should be far in front, particularly if we continue upon the basis of the workmen's compensation scheme, because it involves a charge upon production which will be a handicap. I have always argued in favour of keeping our social services and similar protective legislation as good as the best in Europe, but I would not argue in favour of pioneering too far in front, particularly in present circumstances. However, I would like assurance that we are moving into line in regard to this matter.
I think it is correct to say that this Bill is overdue; that the alteration in the rates of weekly payments and probably an alteration in the amounts payable in fatal cases would have been effected but for the fact that we had hoped to introduce the comprehensive scheme this year. If we had failed to introduce the comprehensive scheme this year then we would certainly have weakened the excuse given in the Dáil for not proceeding with legislation of this kind last year when other changes in the social welfare services were effected.
 There are some minor questions that I should like to refer to. If the Minister is contemplating any alteration in the scope of the workmen's compensation scheme then, in addition to matters mentioned by other Deputies, I should like strongly to consider whether it is not necessary to deal with cases of disfiguration. One of the matter I noted when I was Minister was the absence of any provision for loss of employability due to disfiguration. I have a very vivid recollection of a skilled worker who was injured in an accident and who recovered from the injury to the extent that the court said he was fully fit to resume his previous employment. He was fully fit to do so being in the best of health and, as I have said, a highly skilled worker. He was, however, so disfigured facially that his prospects of getting employment were almost nil. Every employer who read his qualifications asked him to call. As soon as he called, however, he knew that his chances of getting work were nil if another worker of equal skill and of a more pleasant appearance was offering. I will admit there are difficulties in dealing with cases of that kind. It would be very hard to define in law what degree of disfiguration would be held to involve a reduction in employability but it is practicable to leave the matter to be decided by the Circuit Court just as most workmen's compensation questions are at present decided.
I have heard it suggested—I do not know whether it is true or not—that there is a possibility that insurance companies will avail of the provisions of the 1934 Act to commute weekly payments on the basis of the lower rates now payable rather than the higher rates for which this Bill provides. The Minister is no doubt aware that after payments have continued for six months the employer or the insurance company has the right to commute upon the basis of a scale which is set out in a schedule to the 1934 Act. If there is any risk that that right would be availed of in this period of three or four weeks to prevent workers getting the benefits of this Bill, then I presume the Minister would consider introducing an amendment to prevent that. It may be that the danger is not there and  the provisions of this Bill together with the provisions of the 1934 Act are ample safeguards to prevent that happening. But if there is a danger I think it should be guarded against.
I presume the Minister hopes to get this Bill passed during the present session. We shall be anxious to oblige him in that regard but there will have to be some amendments. Those amendments will have to be considered and I would urge the Minister that he should not take the Committee Stage on the first day of next week's sitting— that is, if the Dáil meets on Tuesday next. With the Bill passing the Second Reading now there would be a very limited time in which to prepare and circulate amendments which we would like the Dáil to consider.
Mr. Cogan: As there is general agreement that owing to the high cost of living a Bill of this nature is essential I do not intend to delay the House very long upon it. I would like, however, to join with the other Deputies who have earnestly appealed to the Minister to expedite the introduction of a comprehensive scheme of insurance and that such a scheme will be sufficiently comprehensive to cover workmen's compensation. It would be a tragic mistake if in any such scheme of social insurance this particular type of risk was excluded. I am particularly anxious that the Minister should expedite the introduction of this scheme because I think the passing of this Bill will add considerably to the difficulties of the smaller employer, particularly the farmer. It is well known that the payment of insurance premiums presses heavily upon the farmer. It is also well known that in a number of cases insurance companies have refused to cover the risks of certain farmers. In most cases in which that happens I think it is where farmers have had claims made against them. That is an intolerable state of affairs and it may be aggravated by the passage of this Bill.
There are also cases where insurance companies refuse to cover certain workers employed by certain farmers. They definitely tell the farmer that they  will not insure if he employs certain workers. That makes it all the more necessary to introduce a comprehensive scheme of universal application somewhat on the lines of national health insurance to cover every type of incapacity from every type of accident. There is no reason why a worker who has the misfortune to suffer injury on his way home from work, or while engaged on his own allotment, or at recreation should not be covered under a comprehensive scheme. Naturally, it would be neither fair nor reasonable to expect the employer to bear the liability. I have never understood why the entire liability for accidents in the case of employment should be placed on the shoulder of the employer. I think there is a clear case for spreading that liability over the employer, the employee and the State.
I do not say that it should be in quite the same proportion as in the case of ordinary illness, but the worker should be secured against loss of employment through injury outside of his ordinary working hours. These reforms are urgently needed. They are not covered under the present measure.
There is grave need, too, for eliminating fraud and dishonesty in connection with compensation. Deputy Kyne said it was intolerable that private companies should make profits out of accidents occurring to workers. I think it is generally acknowledged that insurance companies do not make any excessive profits out of workmen's compensation. Certainly they are very reluctant to cover that type of risk. We all know that as a rule they will not cover workers' risks unless the employer is prepared to give them quite a lot of other business as well—business of a more remunerative type to the insurance company. The question arises then as to how to eliminate fraud and dishonesty. Is there fraud in the present system? I was speaking to a very eminent solicitor who has a considerable practice and he told me that workmen's compensation reeked with fraud and dishonesty. He admitted that, as well as admitting that it was quite a considerable source of income to him. But in the public interest he would like to see the present position remedied.
Another inherent evil in the present  system is the policy of insurance companies computing the compensation by the payment of a lump sum. The average worker will not feign illness indefinitely if he is paid weekly compensation. I think it would be infinitely better if some amendment were made so that workers would receive weekly payments during the entire period of their incapacity rather than be given the opportunity of taking a lump sum.
The desirability of a comprehensive scheme was brought home to me very forcibly recently. I heard of a case where a small farmer employed a man for the purpose of helping him to train a horse. Both the farmer and the casual employee were involved in an accident when the horse shied. Both of them broke limbs. Under the existing law the worker received 37/6 per week for the period in which he was incapacitated but the unfortunate small farmer received nothing at all. He had to pay the worker compensation. The farmer was incapacitated and could not carry on his work. Under a comprehensive scheme such a man should be covered. The scheme should be one of universal contribution and universal benefit. Most of us look forward to that. I would ask the Minister, despite the difficulties, to expedite the introduction of such a measure.
Major de Valera: I am surprised that the Minister was not a little bit more explicit about his intentions. It appears to me that our approach to this Bill, as Deputy Lemass pointed out, must be conditioned by some view of the future. Workmen's compensation provisions, now culminating in the one Act that is really in force here, the 1934 Act, have had a peculiar history. They were a novel thing when they were started. They were a branch of social legislation, so to speak, that was somewhat in advance of its time. It was framed along relatively conservative lines; in other words, it was to some extent modelled on common law precedents for recovering damage. For that reason the machinery of the courts was used and the question of determining a workman's right to compensation or otherwise was regarded as a  legal question to be determined by the courts and the whole system grew up on that basis. In effect, what you have is a code of law by which the workman's rights and the employer's liability are determined very similarly to what is determined in ordinary common law actions for breach of duty between two parties.
The only difference between a workman's compensation case and a negligence case is, firstly, the explicit provision which makes it unnecessary to prove negligence as a precedent to claim and, secondly, the specific provisions in the Act governing the procedure in regard to recovery and amount. The first problem we must face—and other Deputies have touched on it—is one which I would like, if possible, to put as a definite question. It is this: Have we not got to the stage where the question of a workman's compensation, that is, compensation payable to a man earning his livelihood, for disability arising through accident in the course of earning his living, should be dealt with on the basis of general insurance, or continue to be regarded as a question of liability between master and servant as heretofore it has been?
In order to deal with that question we have to look much further afield than merely the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Acts. We must see what is being done in other spheres. The tendency socially has been to try to provide for people physically unable to provide for themselves generally by means of an insurance scheme or at the expense of the State. You have, for instance, the State stepping in relatively early to provide pensions for the aged, for those whose disability or incapacity for earning has resulted from the passage of years and almost senile decay. You had, on the other hand, relatively early introduced again compulsory insurance schemes for ill-health and disability arising through sickness. We went a little further and provided schemes for widows and orphans. In these cases the whole tendency on that line of country is towards a centrally controlled system  and, realising that you cannot pay benefits without collecting the money for paying them from somewhere else, we are gradually coming to the realistic view that special contributions have to be collected; in other words, we are tending towards contributory schemes.
That is the general impression with regard to services for people who are unable to provide for themselves. Here, in sharp contra-distinction, you have a specific code of law that has been the subject of case after case. It is a body of law by itself. It has a separate mechanism of direct appeal to the Supreme Court in itself; in fact you have practically a separate jurisdiction. It is a body of law to deal with all questions of workmen's compensation. Is there such a difference between the claim of the man disabled through no fault of his own, disabled through accident, to get some means of sustaining himself and his dependents, and the claim of the aged or the widow and orphan, or the man who has ceased to earn his living through unemployment? Are these things so different as to justify the maintenance of what amounts to a separate jurisdiction and a separate code of law?
I find myself in the position that, in the absence of further information from the Minister, I am unable to analyse the problem very much further than that. I think from the point of view of administrative economy and from the point of view of both the employer and the workman there is a very strong case to be made for simply realising that this distinction has really been a matter of historical growth rather than a distinction on the basis of facts. This question of workmen's compensation might very well be better catered for under a general scheme than under the relatively artificial system by which it has been catered for up to this.
Major de Valera: I do not want to go into detail. The Minister has not given me enough material to clinch with him and before the question the Deputy  is asking can be answered one has to examine the position and, in their final form, the as yet undisclosed proposals affecting the other thing. It seems to me that if you are going to provide a universal scheme to make provision for the wage earner—and that includes the while collar worker—who finds himself through physical cause—not his own fault—unable to earn his livelihood or to support his dependents——
Major de Valera: Through physical cause—and what I mean by that is that generally he is incapable in the ordinary common or garden meaning, incapable of earning his livelihood. If we are going to adopt the principle that these people must be provided for, then there is a very large number of people who come under that heading—the blind, the aged, the widow and the orphan, the person who goes sick, not as a result of an accident, and the person who is rendered incapable by tuberculosis particularly. I fail to see any distinction in principle between the worker who suffers an accident, something that in law would be termed an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, and these other cases. Therefore it seems to me, both from an administrative point of view and from the point of view of equity as between individuals, whether an employer or an employee, that the general scheme which should cover one, should cover all and that the effort to secure bona fide administration and at the same time ensure that there is no laxity in regard to the payment of benefits, which are not warranted by the facts should be handled by the machinery.
In other words, if there is any doubt that a workman is malingering, if that possibility exists in the case of a person entitled to compensation under these Acts, it exists equally in the case of a person who has gone ill and should be capable of determination by the same medical process in either case, irrespective of the words “arising out of or in the course of his employment.” If you are going to continue this workmen's compensation scheme as  it exists—the distinction is really one that has followed its history rather than its effects—is it justifiable to distinguish merely on the basis of the words “an accident arising out of or in the course of employment”——
Major de Valera: That only makes it worse. The Deputy is bringing me along to the point I wanted to make which is this. There is a workman who is earning a certain weekly wage and he is living on it. Through physical causes, be it accident, be it illness, be it falling down the stairs at home, be it falling off his ladder at work, that workman becomes incapable of earning his wages. Is not what we are striving for, generally speaking, in our social scheme to cover these things, a provision to ensure that that man can continue to survive and continue to support his dependents? Is that not what we are aiming at? If we are aiming at that, why tie up that with legal distinctions as to where or when he got his injury or how?
Major de Valera: We shall come back to that. The Deputy has knocked me off the high road we were travelling. It seems to me that the general tendency is to provide for that man. If that is so, it seems idle to create distinctions as to the question of cause. If you are going to do that it is going to embarrass a large number of people. I am neither committing myself nor this Party, nor am I seeking to nail on the Party opposite any particular view in what I am saying. We may quarrel about the point at which we stop. My point is, if such a comprehensive scheme is to be introduced, why go on with this peculiar scheme? In other words, if you are not going to make the employer bear the cost of the benefits of any employee who happens to go ill why should you seek to enforce these restrictions? Up to this,  these Acts no doubt served a very good purpose but in many ways there have been anomalies and in many ways there have been unforeseen expenses. I think it was Deputy Con Lehane who expressed the hope that the law might be codified. He said that it was a code that had given rise to more law than perhaps any other code. Perhaps it is too strong to put it that way but it gave rise to many cases within a very short space of time. Yet the Minister has not told us what he intends to do in regard to the complete scheme, but it seems to me that if he comes back to the House with a measure embracing a general scheme to cover these things it will certainly be sympathetically considered. I should like to reiterate something which I said when I was sitting on the benches occupied by the Deputies opposite. It is that we must realise that for every benefit we pay, the money will have to come from somewhere—either by contributions from taxation or from somebody else.
Major de Valera: We shall try to get back to the Bill before the House. If that is the procedure, then this Bill is to some extent understandable but let us be quite clear as to what this Bill does. Its effect is to carry on the functions of the previous Emergency Powers Act, in other words, to increase the limits of payments. Otherwise, it cannot in any way be regarded as a Bill in any way adequately amending the Workmen's Compensation Act. From this out, I am going to take it as a Bill simply to amend the workmen's  compensation scheme. It does very little else than amend the Act in regard to the amount payable. In that regard, it brings up one question at once. We are continuing the system by which the individual employer is made liable. I am sure it is an attractive thing for the Minister at the moment, or indeed for any Minister, who would be embarrassed at finding the money. It is the easiest thing a Minister can do in regard to social services—to bring in legislation increasing the amount of money which somebody else has to pay to somebody who is sick. It is a very facile thing but it certainly raises problems in regard to conditions and so on.
As everybody knows who practises in the country Circuit Courts, these things occur time and again vis-á-vis the farmer, very often the small farmer, the resident in the country town and the workmen employed. How many times have we seen in the courts cases of accident coming under this Act where the man was only casually employed for a week or so? Every one of us who has had anything to do with this Act in the courts has had cases of that nature.
I agree with Deputy Lemass that compulsory insurance in those cases is completely out. On the other hand, prudent farmers and small employers of that kind insure. But then they are up against the problem, firstly, of increased insurance premiums, because that is going to be the logical result, the net result, of this Bill. In other words, this Bill is increasing the cost of insurance on them ultimately. There is no indication that there is any thought of adjusting that particular problem. Then there is the case of insurance companies refusing to insure, because this is not at all comparable with insurance under the Road Traffic Act. In other words, the insurance company can throw over a man, make him uninsurable, either by refusing to reinsure the employer or reinsure in respect of the particular man. All that is going to have an adverse affect on employment. Firstly, it is going to add to the present trend of unemployment in this sense. I am not suggesting it by itself is a very serious thing, but it  is one of those things which are mounting up. It is going to make the farmer and the small employer of that kind chary about employing people.
Then it works very badly against the workman after he has had an accident. Where a worker has had an accident —it may have been a small one and he may have completely recovered after getting a few weeks' compensation— once he has been the subject of an action under the Act he has become, so to speak, black-listed. If a problem has developed between the employer who has insured him and the insurance company regarding his employment, inevitably the result will be that perhaps a very deserving workman, by reason of the fact that he had been the subject of some claim, may find himself becoming unemployable or driven into that category. In other words, there would be a tendency towards something like the “no claims bonus business”. A workman who really should be recovering something under this Act may find it a matter of practical politics to forgo the benefits that he could have for a limited period rather than jeopardise his whole prospect of employment later on.
That is as regards temporary incapacity. As regards permanent incapacity, even if these amendments were not brought in, as the law stands at present—another Deputy indicated it but not in the same way as I am about to indicate it—it is idle to distinguish between partial and total incapacity, because once a man becomes partially incapacitated and has become the subject of a claim he becomes virtually uninsurable, or rather the employer employing him is uninsurable and he is unemployable. These are all difficulties flowing directly out of this peculiar relationship by which the employer is virtually made responsible for the workman's safety, in the same way as he would be responsible if there had been negligence on his part.
That drives me back to the question whether it is not high time to consider it in connection with other schemes. I want to be definite in this, that this is a problem which I am bringing up here now in regard to general schemes and  the workmen's compensation law. I am posing all these as questions. I am not to be taken as committing myself to a particular view in the matter in the absence of further information, particularly in regard to what the Minister intends.
Taking this Bill as it stands, I find some very notable omissions. Those who have had experience of this Act over a number of years have been always talking of the amendments which should be made, many of which were really only matters of drafting a section. The surprising thing about this Bill is that it has all the appearance of being a hurriedly prepared and totally ill-considered document. It does increase the amount of compensation, but that could have been very easily done by an Emergency Powers Order or a short Bill which could have been introduced at an earlier stage.
Major de Valera: The first couple of sections could be introduced at ten minutes' notice any time, once the Government had decided upon it. The thing could be drafted by anybody. As to the other sections in the Bill, these give the appearance of a very hasty and ill-considered measure because, having regard to certain other things which I shall specifically refer to in the workmen's compensation law and, particularly, to the provisions of Section 7 of this Bill, it appears to me that suggestions were shoved in without considering them. I am surprised that the decision in Butler v. the Commissioners of Public Works, which has been a thorn in the side of many workmen since it was given, a decision which put our law at variance with the English practice under the Act, was not the subject of an amendment in this Bill, which, as I say, would be  merely a matter of drafting and would not involve any matter of finance or administration.
The Minister will pardon my explaining such an elementary matter to him as I am sure he is already aware of it. My wonder is that it was not provided for. The Minister will remember that the English courts have held that, even if a tradesman has lost a finger and may be able, because of the peculiar conditions of employment at the moment or the benevolence of his employers to continue working and earn his wages, as long as that situation continues he cannot invoke this Act to safeguard his rights. That is the effect of the decision. I should have explained as a preliminary that the basis of this Act is not physical incapacity, but incapacity to earn wages. That is the test—incapacity to earn wages.
The court, in determining a workman's claim asks itself: is the workman able to earn wages or is he not? If he is able to earn his full weekly wage, he is not entitled to compensation. If the court finds that he is capable of earning, and “capable” embraces that the employment is there for him, having regard to Section 24 of the Act—if he is capable of partially earning his wages he is only considered partially incapacitated and gets partial incapacity. In the case where he is incapacitated from earning wages it is not a question of physical disability at all.
That is the first things to remember about the Act. The second is that the whole thing is conditional on there being a dispute—that is what the courts have held—between an employer and an employee. If there was no dispute, heretofore there was no method by which a workman could invoke that Act. In England, it is competent for a workman to get what is called “a declaration of liability” by going into court, even though at the moment he brings his proceedings, he is able to earn wages. Still, if he has suffered an injury which is likely to give rise to incapacity in the future he can get a declaratory award. The effect of the decision in the case of Butler versus the Commissioners of Public Works  was “that there is no provision in the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934 for proceedings other than proceedings for recovery of compensation, and that the only jurisdiction given to the court by the Act is to hear and determine claims for compensation on the matters arising under such claims. Accordingly, proceedings for a declaration of liability only are not well-founded and there is no basis in the Act on which they could arise.”
I have been quoting from Mr. Shillman's compensation cases. This case is also reported in 1936 Irish Reports. It is very easy to see the effect of what is involved there. A workman meets with an accident. It may be essential in order to secure his rights that he would get a declaration. He is precluded, under the law as it is, from bringing his case. Worse still, if he brings it prematurely he gets it dismissed. That raises a question which I am not going to go into. I merely mention it incidentally. If his incapacity to earn wages, because of a physical injury, which he secures today, takes place at a future date, where is he? The English practice, as I say, is different. The implications of the decision to which I have referred could have been very easily considered by the Minister in this Bill.
Major de Valera: That is neither here nor there now. This Bill is going to amend the 1934 Act. What the Minister has said is no answer to me. My answer to him is: “Why have you not done it?” If this is dressed up to be an Act to improve the workmen's compensation code—I admit it does need some improvement—then I suggest it should have the appearance of careful consideration and should cover a few obvious gaps like these. A very  short provision could bring this measure into line with the practice in England which, I understand, has been of some benefit to workmen. Anyway, it would meet the point that I have tried to indicate here. Admittedly, the courts have tried to mitigate the rigour of the present provision. There is the practical difficulty in court of proving that the accident followed in the course of employment. I think that is a matter which should have got attention in this Bill.
Judging by the Minister's opening statement, I think that the first part of Section 7 has been prompted more or less by the decision in the case of Lyne v. Fahy in 1942. In other words, the decision in that case, I think, was that unless the employee was getting compensation paid to him either under a court award, or under a voluntary agreement, he could not have a review. I think that was the case of a boy of 16 and that the difficulties arose under another section of the Act when he got older. He was tied to where he had been at the time of the accident. I think it is wise to put that provision in, but when you are doing it why confine it to the angle covered by that particular case?
As I have said, a condition precedent to having proceedings under the Workmen's Compensation Act is a dispute between an employer and an employee. If there is no dispute, no proceedings lie. A number of the difficulties that flow from the decision in Butler's case seem to flow equally from cases where an employer voluntarily pays over compensation. That is one of the specific difficulties that the Minister does not appear to have dealt with. There is for instance, the case of Larkin v. Costin. I am again quoting from Mr. Shillman. The decision there really boils down to this that, if the employer pays compensation voluntarily, it remains on a voluntary basis, and remaining on that basis the rates cannot be, so to speak, formally adjudicated on until a dispute arises. In practice, that has led to complications in the courts, particularly where workmen have prematurely brought proceedings. It has been a fertile ground for technical points which,  obviously, we want to avoid in court. The decision in that case seems to have gone even further than that: that, even where an employer intimated that he was ready and willing to discharge his liability but was unable to pay compensation until he had received proper directions for the payment, there is not sufficient dispute. My authority for that is taken from Mr. Shillman's book on workmen's compensation.
It seems to me that here is a question where considerable simplification could be arrived at by some simple provision—something on the lines of what the Minister has in the section, but more general, so as to cover cases providing that, wherever an employer pays a workman voluntary payments during his incapacity, these payments will be regarded as payments under the Act, and that all his rights will follow thereafter. In other words, it seems that it should not require forensic skill to draft a provision providing, as we have provided, that the workman is entitled to compensation if he is incapacitated. If the employer pays that out voluntarily so as to avoid the costs of going to court—if he voluntarily says: “All right, you have been injured. I will pay you”—why should that payment not be regarded as payment under the Act?
Major de Valera: In specific cases there has been this narrowing provision legally, but it is not, generally speaking. I should like to see a general provision making it generally so. I agree with the Deputy that on specific lines there has been a drawing back towards that.
Major de Valera: But there you are. You are into a question of admission  of liability. But you are basing it on a basis of an admission and it raises a number of other points which I need not go into now. I want to approach it on the basis that it would make it simpler either to provide for some immediate recording of that or else that ipso facto it should have effect, without further proceedings, to be subject to review and so forth of an initiating procedure.
That brings me to another point under the Act. Why should there be a distinction in principle, so to speak, in the rules and in the Act between a motion or an application to review an originating summons? I bring, for instance, under the present law an application to review. If I have not got a primary order, so to speak—an order following proceedings, or a registered agreement providing for weekly compensation, or a previous review that has been allowed—if I do not comply with such technical formalities I am not entitled to a review. There have been cases for review, having regard to preaccident weekly earnings. I had one myself to bring in an originating summons and then a summons to review on top of that post haste and so forth. Could we not devise a simpler system by which the workman or the employer, as the case may be, could simply go to the courts as an arbitrator. Remember, the original conception was that the court was an arbitrator. The earlier Acts referred to an arbitrator. Why could they not go into the facts of the thing and cut out such procedure. These are matters which I think could have been easily catered for in this Bill. You have already catered for one thing in that connection. Why not expand that now? I would suggest to the Minister that on the Committee Stage he should consider the matter. He obviously, would be in a better position to do so than anybody else, by reason of the advice he has available, to consider amendments of that nature.
Another point crops up. These sections dealing with alternative remedies have been the subject of many cases and much law. A workman is not stopped by the fact that he is entitled to compensation under this Act from taking an action against his employer  for negligence if such an act arises. Take, for instance, serious accidents where machinery, mines and so forth are concerned. The point is that from the workman's point of view he is liable to get more money if he proves negligence and he will probably get a substantial lump sum. From the workman's point of view, also, however, there are disabilities arising from the fact that first he must prove negligence and he must get over the doctrine of common employment. The Act provides for these alternate remedies and one does not debar the other but at one stage you come to an election. Even though it has been in some regard clarified by decisions—I think it was Walsh and the E.S.B.—there is still room for cutting away the dead weight of legal procedure here. I cannot see why, for instance, you could not adopt as a principle in approaching this matter an attitude such as follows: “Right, you have your two remedies. You can go for either or for both if you like, but if you go for your workmen's and recover it—go for them together—well, that will be deducted from what you recover under negligence.” There is, I grant you, the question that it would be hardly fair to the employer to suffer two actions—he might make him bring the two—but do it in a more simple way than it is done here. I admit that under some sections of this Bill an effort has been made to provide for these alternative remedies without ambiguity and an elaborate provision about recovering for the workman what he had, or treating it as a workmen's compensation case at certain stages and so forth; I shall not go into the details. It seems to me, however, that by asking myself what is the problem, what do you want to do, and forgetting for the moment the traditional legal procedure in regard to it you would get a neater solution than we have here at present.
These are just a few general and, I may say, very offhand points on my part in regard to this Bill. If we were going to revise the whole Act there is hardly a section of it that would not take some careful consideration. I understand that my colleague in this Party, Deputy Lynch, is going to deal  with some other points that arise, notably, in regard to the payment of compensation in fatal cases and so forth and I shall not trespass. But— leaving apart the first question which I posed to the Minister, his general scheme for this; even taking this Act as it is—why, if we are going to have an amending Act, have such obvious things as dealing with the question of a declaration of liability or expanding Section 7 (1) to cover all the problems that are suggested? It is not as if this were an obscure branch of the law that nobody knows anything about. It is happening in the courts every day. We have an Irish text book and we have the cases segregated. There is hardly a practitioner who has not come up against these problems. I am sure the Minister's legal advisers know more about them than anybody else. I do not see why these amendments could not be included. They do not involve any further expense and they would have the effect of making the Acts more beneficial to the workmen than they are at present.
The problem of voluntary agreements is one that should receive consideration. The Legislature was anxious that a workman should not be fooled into taking an inadequate settlement; they, therefore, provided that if a workman made a voluntary settlement for a lump sum the agreement could be recorded but the county registrar could refuse to accept the agreement if he thought it inadequate or if he thought that the workman was not properly safeguarded. The county registrar could accordingly hand the agreement over to a judge for adjudication. That seems attractive in principle. To my knowledge certain difficulties have arisen in that connection. I can quote an example. A workman consults a solicitor in regard to a claim. The solicitor, having consulted counsel—though that is not always essential—finds that there might be some difficulty in establishing the workman's claim. Sometimes it is difficult for a worker to prove that the accident took place in the course of his employment.
Take the case of a lone farm worker cutting a hedge who gets a thorn into  his thumb which ultimately becomes septic. He has difficulty in proving that he suffered such an accident during the course of his employment. There might even be some technical point arising in such a claim, such as going to or coming from work. The workman may have difficulty in recovering, even if he has suffered injury and is incapacitated. His legal advisers, having examined the problem with specific regard to this difficulty, advise him as follows: “You will have some difficulty in proving this claim. On a straight commutation base you would be entitled to £300. The insurance company offers you £100. I think you should take the £100 because I do not think you would succeed in your claim owing to technical points in law.” The workman follows the advice and he goes to the court. I have actually known this to happen. He brings in his settlement for a lump sum of £100 where, if he could prove his case up to the hilt, he would get £300. The county registrar decides the amount is not enough and refers it to the judge. It goes before the judge and counsel is immediately up against the difficulty of disclosing the weakness of his case or putting through an inadequate settlement. For certain reasons it is not always advisable to disclose the witness of one's case. The tendency of the judge is to examine the case from the point of view of what the workman would be entitled to if everything was in order. It is sometimes difficult to convince somebody in a judicial capacity that there is a difficulty in the way. The judge says: “I will not record that; it is not enough; that man should get £300.” The insurance company says: “We will not pay him £300.” They dig their heels in. The judge refuses to record the agreement and out it goes.
What happens? The workman has to bring proceedings. He brings his proceedings and he gets nothing because he fails on a technical point. That raises the question as to whether the agreement should not be compulsory provided the workman is adequately advised separately. In the case of the adult worker it would be better to have a compulsory agreement where the  worker is advised by a competent person. The discretion should be left merely in the case where a workman has to fall back on the court for advice. It is a thorny problem in workmen's compensation as to whether or not to settle.
Historically, we can understand how this code grew up and how this separate jurisdiction grew. The time has now come for consideration as to whether or not, having regard to social service development generally, there is justification for continuing this particular scheme of workmen's compensation. Secondly, with regard to the trend in social services, the question arises as to whether the test should be incapacity to earn wages, with all the technicalities that follow from that, or from actual physical disability. A man might lose a hand, but if he happened to find a job which would enable him to earn equivalent wages the Act does not apply to him. Whether that distinction in its present form is in line with the general trend elsewhere is a matter that calls for consideration. The Minister has not helped us. Section 7 and other sections would lead one to believe that this is intended to go on for a considerable time. If that is so, I suppose we had better take the code as it is. I think the Minister should consider amendments along the lines I have suggested. If the Act is merely intended as a stop-gap it does little else than increase the rates payable at the moment. It does not alter the situation. I think this opportunity should be seized upon to amend some of the defects in the existing code. Perhaps on the Committee Stage we can go a little more deeply into the details of the sections. I think it is competent for us to supply amendments covering these points even if the points themselves are not specifically covered in the Bill.
Mr. Lynch: I agree with Deputy Major de Valera that this opportunity should be seized upon to clear up certain defects in the code as it exists at the moment. I am glad the Minister has seen his way to increase the weekly compensation. I agree with the other speakers that the Minister should make provision for payments in respect  of dependents. A single man is better able to live on 50/- a week than a married man who has a wife and three or four children.
There is another aspect of the case. A single man in receipt of full, or perhaps partial, compensation, is in many cases approached by his employer or the insurance company representing the employer in order to buy him out. As long as that single man can get the same amount of compensation, he has a far better bargaining power as far as the buying out of his claim is concerned. I have known cases where men who, by reason of the small amount they were receiving in the way of weekly compensation, were forced to accept from the insurance company a lump sum far less than they would be normally entitled to. That was simply because the amount they were getting per week was so small they were not properly able to support their families. When the insurance company dangled a cheque for £300 or £400 in front of them they were incapable of resisting the settlement offered. If these men were single, they would be in a far better position to resist the temptation offered by the insurance company to buy them out.
Therefore, for the reasons advanced by other Deputies as well as this reason, I think the Minister should take advantage of this Bill to provide extra compensation for dependents, whether it be wife or children or wife and children. I do not think the Minister can come forward with the excuse that the necessity for increasing the weekly payment was so urgent that the insertion of a provision of this kind in the Bill would delay its operation. I have an amendment which I do not claim is watertight, but I am sure the ingenuity of the draftsman could make it watertight. It is a simple amendment which would tend to obviate this blatant defect in the operation of the law.
Another aspect with which I think the Minister should have dealt is increasing the lump sum payable on death. The Minister brings in a measure to increase the weekly compensation, but he is acting in an  entirely inconsistent manner when he does not bring in a provision to increase the lump sum payable on death. This lump sum is operated under the Second Schedule. In very many cases this Second Schedule has been a headache in the working out of compensation payable to the dependents of a deceased workman. I disagree with the principle of the Second Schedule. I give all due credit to the actuaries who drafted it. In common with court cases where a judge gets discretion to award lump sums, whether for running down actions or any other kind of common law actions, the judge is given discretion to apportion damages as between the dependents of the plaintiff, but he should not be bound down as this Second Schedule binds him. He should be given discretion to apportion the damages as he sees fit between the dependents of the deceased workman. It would operate far better if the judge has this discretion.
I could instance at least one case arising under the Second Schedule—it arises under many rules of the Second Schedule—where a person is treated as an adult for the purpose of the Act at the age of 15 years. If there are four children of a deceased workman the Second Schedule operates in such a way as to give the greatest apportionment of the compensation to the youngest child and the smallest portion to the oldest child under 15.
In many cases children who have reached at the time of the father's death the age of 14 years and nine months get under the Second Schedule £2 10/- or £3 a week, whereas the younger child of ten or 11 years might get £150 or £180. I submit that the child of 14 years and nine months is as totally dependent as the child of 11. He may not be as totally dependent, but he would still be dependent for a number of years. Even though this is only an interim measure, the Minister should consider abolishing the Second Schedule. Increase the lump sum payable on death, increase the apportionment as between adults and children, and give the judges of the Circuit Court a discretion in apportioning these sums  as between children and adult dependants.
Section 7 clears up defects which have been apparent for some time. From my reading of Section 7 I think it purports to treat as an original hearing the case of a minor who comes in at the age of 21. I do not think it necessitates his coming in first in order to get an award, even though he is being paid voluntary compensation as a preliminary to coming in under Section 7 or under Section 25 of the original Act. I would like an assurance from the Minister to that effect.
A lot of Deputies have spoken on the question of compulsory insurance. That is a very debatable point. I think it operates very unfairly against the workman when the employer has no realisable assets should the workman receive an award against him. Apart from small farmers being affected by compulsory insurance, there are many other cases of ordinary people, be they ever so poor, who might come in under insuring casual employees if it were made compulsory. For instance, a poor widow might be living in a house and a slate would be blown off. She might bring in a handyman to repair the roof and if that handyman happened to be injured while repairing the roof he would have an action against the widow under the Act. If insurance were made compulsory it would give some department a right of action in the district court against this woman. From that aspect, and from many others, I think compulsory insurance would hardly be practicable, in this country at any rate.
In the absence of Deputy Dr. Maguire, I should like to mention another section—I think it is Section 73 of the 1934 Act—under which doctors are entitled to apply for a sum of £5 for attendance on a workman. I again submit to the Minister that in order to be consistent, if he is to increase the weekly compensation, he should also make some increase in the amount payable to the doctor who treats the workman. I submit that in many cases, £5 has been found to be a totally inadequate sum for these purposes. Doctors have been treating workmen in some of these cases over a number of years, and it is only finally  when the case comes to hearing that he is entitled to apply for a payment of £5. The only redress he has is against the workman. I think that generally speaking the smallness of the sum to which the doctor is entitled under Section 73 operates unfairly against the workman himself because most workmen, poor as they may be and small as their compensation may be, have consciences, and they try to make up to the doctor the difference between what he is really entitled to and what he gets under the Act. From that point of view, I submit that the £5 payable under the section should be increased and increased substantially.
Whilst I am on that section, I may say that I have heard of cases where the doctors are put in the unenviable position of having to apply to the court themselves. The section sets out that on the application of the medical attendant the court may, at its discretion, award a sum of £5. I think the Act states specifically that the doctor should not be forced to apply for that £5 himself. Most courts allow the legal adviser of the workman to apply for it, but in many cases judges insist on the application being made by the doctors themselves. We know that in many parts of the country, in cities and towns, doctors are very busy men. They go into court to give evidence, and they may have to leave the court before the cases in which they are interested conclude, and if nobody makes the application on their behalf, they find themselves without any remuneration for the treatment of the workman.
Another matter which I should like to raise with the Minister is the method by which appeals are heard in the Supreme Court. At the present time appeals are heard on the notes of the original hearing in the Circuit Court. In many cases a workman coming before the Supreme Court finds that an essential part of his evidence is not available for hearing at that court. For one reason or another, it may have been decided to go on with his case in the Circuit Court although all the evidence was not available on that particular date and as a result his claim  might have been dismissed. I submit that the workman going before the Supreme Court on appeal should be entitled to have any additional evidence heard by the Supreme Court if it is found to make a material difference to the proving of his case. I do not want it to be implied that I want to get rid of the method of note-taking. I know that some people depend for their livelihood on that. The method of note-taking could be continued but if a workman were in a position to produce any additional evidence on appeal, he should be entitled to have that evidence produced.
The last matter which I should like to raise is in connection with the schedule of industrial diseases to which the Minister referred. As the Minister is, I am sure, aware, most diseases which arise out of and in the course of a person's employment have been scheduled, but many cases, I am told, have arisen in recent years in the effort to combat tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is not a scheduled disease and there have been numerous cases where nurses, maids and attendants in sanatoria have contracted tuberculosis through contact with patients. I suggest that any person who so contracts tuberculosis should have redress under the workmen's compensation code and that the Minister, in his discretion, should schedule tuberculosis for such purposes as an industrial disease.
Mr. Larkin: It was quite natural to expect that advantage would be taken by many Deputies of the very short measure now before the House to urge the need of correcting what they regard as the more outstanding defects in the present code. Nobody could quarrel with members of Fianna Fáil who have taken up that attitude but it would probably be unfair to say that the present Act, or the Act of 1934 could have dealt with all these defects, as many of these defects have only come to light in recent times. The Act of 1934, however, was not the only opportunity presented in recent years for dealing with this problem. There was a later opportunity than that. I recall that two years ago a question was asked of the  Parliamentary Secretary to the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, dealing with increased weekly payments, and a supplementary question was put to the Parliamentary Secretary as to whether the whole code of workmen's compensation was under consideration from the point of view of being reviewed, and he gave us the assurance that it was. I have no doubt that he was speaking in very good faith and under the belief that action was contemplated but if that were so, the present Minister must have very voluminous documents in the office to enable him to proceed.
Mr. Larkin: So I gather. Clearly the matter has been allowed to drag on until we have arrived at the present position when, if we do not try to meet the immediate problem of the sustenance of people who have suffered injuries, we may find ourselves in a very difficult position. Nobody would suggest that this Bill is all that is required to meet the situation. It is quite clear, and it can be argued, that there are many defects in the system and that this Bill could be utilised as an opportunity to deal with them, but there are so many defects to be dealt with that I feel it would be a physical impossibility to deal with them in the form of an amending Bill, no matter how voluminous that Bill might be. Speaking for those who have to deal with this particular problem day after day, from the point of view of the injured workman, not from the point of view of the employer, the insurance company or the legal profession, I can only see this particular problem being dealt with either on the basis of a complete recasting of the whole code of workmen's compensation and a completely new approach to it or, alternatively, proceeding on the lines of trying to deal with it under a general social security scheme. I have no hesitation in saying that from the point of view of the trade unions and the workmen themselves we would prefer to have it regarded as a social insurance problem, to get rid not merely of difficulties experienced by  ordinary employers and the greater difficulties with the insurance companies, but also the not inconsiderable difficulties with the legal profession.
The Workmen's Compensation Act is not a compensation Act, but a hunger Act. The whole code has been based on the physical capacity of the worker to stick it out long enough to get the compensation that he would be entitled to under the Act. If his power of resistance is greater than that of the insurance company or the employer, then he is lucky and he gets all he is entitled to get under the Act. If his circumstances are such that he is not able to stick it out, he forfeits many of his legally justifiable claims. That is a position from which we have to try to get away.
If we provide a system of insurance based on the collective efforts of those who incur the ordinary illnesses, such as we deal with under our national health insurance system, or if we provide insurance for those who incur the ordinary difficulties arising from unemployment in the form of unemployment insurance or unemployment assistance, there is equally strong and sound argument why we should cover this particular problem of injuries and accidents arising in the course of a person's service, not merely to an individual employer but to the community, by some form of mutual insurance. We should approach it, as Deputy de Valera said, not on the basis of a loss of capacity to earn but on the basis of giving to the insured worker and his family the necessary sustenance and support that he requires as a human being during illness. The only way in which that can be properly dealt with is through some system of insurance administered by the State.
There is the other problem of the physical loss incurred when a man who loses a limb or portion of a limb, or the loss sustained by him in contracting a disease which becomes chronic. That is a feature that has to be dealt with over and above the ordinary insurance scheme. Then we have the question of negligence on the part of the employer and the direct consequences arising from that. But the  basic problem which affects the ordinary workingman and his family is the problem of how to live after he meets with an accident and how to maintain himself, not merely in a position where he can continue his struggle for his rights under the Act but how to maintain himself and his family during his period of physical incapacity. That is one problem which I think can be only met and dealt with through an insurance scheme something similar to that which we have for the national health and unemployment insurance. The actual details on the matter will have to be carefully worked out. The question of regarding it as a general system of social service, in contrast to the present approach to the problem, is one which should appeal to every Deputy who considers the problem in the light of the attitude which we have adopted on these general social problems.
There seems to me to be no defence whatever, apart from the innumerable defects which have shown themselves, for the continuance of the present system. Why out of the injuries and the blood and death of human beings insurance companies have been allowed to take for themselves practically 10/- out of every £1 subscribed in premiums, I do not know. We do not permit that in connection with ordinary sickness. Why the insured workman, regardless of the question of risk in employment and the neglect of the employer, who has met with disability in giving service to the community should be the victim of this system of insurance I fail to see. From the point of view of the moneys collected for the protection of these men, at least half of which is retained by the insurance companies in managerial expenses, that sum of money alone would make a very large contribution to the cost of running a properly administered State scheme. But, even apart from that aspect of the matter, there are the difficulties and the worry and trouble and expense that are incurred in trying to administer the present code as between the employer, the insurance company and the legal profession as such, and I think all those who have had experience in trying to  find their way through this jungle in the interests of the workingman would be greatly relieved if we can find a simple and more direct way of dealing with the problem.
On the question raised by a number of Deputies as to taking advantage of this Bill to introduce certain amendments dealing with the more glaring defects, I think that everybody here will have a point of view. I have no doubt that, from the point of view of trade unions, we could submit so many amendments to the Minister that it is more than likely we would get nothing through this House in a matter of months. At the moment we are concerned with the immediate problem that men and women who are in receipt of weekly payments or who are likely to become insured and have to fall back upon the provisions of the Act can no longer exist on the present compensation of 37/6 a week. The sum proposed in the Bill of 50/ is also inadequate. I have no hesitation in saying that we have only started to try to deal with the problem.
The suggestion made by Deputy Lynch that we might try to meet it by providing for payments for dependents is a very attractive proposition. I suggest to him, however, that he should consider the consequences that might flow from that. He should realise that there is considerable reluctance on the part of trade unions to pursue that particular path at the moment unless we have much more protection so far as the code as a whole is concerned than we have in the existing Acts. He should realise that it is not a very simple problem just to suggest that we should provide additional payments for dependents. What he said with regard to the matter of single men as against married men is quite true. But, in an effort to relieve the intolerable position of the married man who has met with an injury, we might create other problems for the married man before he even meets with an injury or obtains employment.
We have got the position so far as the existing code is concerned that in certain trades the employment of men  of a certain age has already become a problem, because by taking steps not to employ those aged men it is possible to cover the employers' liability at a lower figure than if you do not make certain provision with regard to the age of employees. The same thing occurs with regard to men working on the ground or aloft. We have to realise that we are not dealing directly with the employers either as individuals or a group. Behind the employers are those people who really determine in almost all cases the manner in which the provisions of the existing code will be applied to an injured workman, subject to the authority and the decision of the court. They are, of course, represented by the insurance companies who, as we have found to our cost, are the real difficulty in many of these cases.
If the Minister is going to consider some of the amendments that it is suggested will be brought in on the Committee Stage, I feel that he is going to create a problem for himself. If he undertakes to consider favourably some of those amendments, I fail to see how it will be possible to ensure that the immediate purpose of the Bill, namely to increase the benefit, is not defeated. If we try to deal with a defect here and a defect there, it is inevitable, unless we review the whole position, that we shall leave certain very large defects still existing and then we will be asked how it was we took certain steps to deal with certain defects in the Act and did not deal with others. There is no answer to that, because, if we are going to take steps to amend the code and remove certain defects, we should do it in a proper and fully considered manner.
We have to decide whether we are going to maintain the basis under the existing code or, alternatively, look for a new basis and a new approach. We have the present arrangement for the payment of compensation. There is a direct relationship between the individual workman and his employer. Are we going to depart from that and seek for a new basis of social insurance? All these matters give rise to major questions which cannot be disposed of in a matter of weeks. The immediate  problem facing an individual workman requires some easement in a matter of weeks. I suggest that, from the point of view of everyone in this House who is concerned with the welfare of the workman, we should concentrate on giving effect to the objective of this Bill so far as the weekly payments are concerned. If we feel that there are other major defects that require immediate treatment, then I think we should deal with them by bringing into this House, as quickly as possible and even by agreement between all parties, some form of Bill on which we can decide a principle that we are going to apply in regard to industrial injuries. I think it would be an extremely bad mistake on a Bill which was drafted for a particular purpose to deal hurriedly with that problem by introducing a number of amendments, no matter how important they may be. These are not matters which can be dealt with simply by amendments. No matter how carefully the amendments might be drafted, I do not think it would be wise to discuss them now on this Bill which, as I have said, has been introduced for a particular purpose.
Deputy Lynch referred to the problem of compulsory insurance. He pointed out some of the difficulties that would arise in connection with it. We have another difficulty in certain cases relating to a very large number of workers in this city. They are actually insured and have no quarrel with their employers. The latter have paid out a sum of about £3,000 over the last five or six years. In return for that a sum of about £500 by way of payment has been made by insurance companies. Now this whole group of workers discover that they are completely outside the scope of the Act over a technicality. I mention that as one of the problems that exist. I have carefully considered this problem, and I suggest that the important thing for us to do now is to try and tackle it. It should have been tackled years ago. It is more important for us to do that than to try and change now our whole approach to this problem of industrial insurance or to decide what form of social insurance we should have,  whether, if the present system is not acceptable we should find an entirely different basis on which to build up our whole code of law in regard to industrial insurance.
These are all major questions that will need to be dealt with later. At the moment it is urgent that an injured workman should receive some improvement in the existing miserable weekly amount. That is so urgent that I suggest to those Deputies who have already spoken urging an amplification of this measure that we should concentrate on the single objective of the Bill, and at a later stage try and deal with the bigger problems that are involved in the question of compensation.
From the point of view of the Labour Party and of the trade unions, I realise that it is not pleasant that we have not got the opportunity at this stage of bringing in the type of Bill that we think is necessary. The difficulties that we have to face are such that we have had to make a choice between trying to achieve an immediate and urgent object and, on the other hand, of postponing it. We hope that the House will soon have time to deal with this problem on a wider basis, either by having a completely new code or alternatively, a comprehensive social insurance scheme. So far as the trade union movement is concerned, the existing code is one that in their view does not merit further consideration. They are in favour of an entirely new approach to the problem.
I hope that the Minister will find it possible to get this Bill through the House rapidly and so make the appointed day as early as possible, thereby making the benefits under it available to those concerned at the earliest possible moment. I hope that he will soon be able to bring before the House a Bill formulated on a completely new approach to this problem. We may take it that this Bill is definitely committed to the principle of social insurance, and that we are going to get away from the basis of the present system. It is the insurance companies and not the injured who derive  the principal benefit from our present system.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: I listened to Deputy Vivion de Valera, Deputy Lynch, Deputy Larkin and other Deputies speak on this Bill. It is easy to forget, when dealing with the question of compensation to injured workmen, that to a large extent it must come out of the pockets of the ordinary employers. We are also dealing with the relationship between employers and workmen. Any increase that will be given to an injured workman is not going to come out of the Central Fund. The increased burden will, to a certain extent, have to be borne by certain employers. They may not be in a very profitable way of business, and they may not find it easy to pay the increase. Therefore we must proceed cautiously. If we were dealing with some form of ideal State there is no doubt that the suggestion made by Deputy Lynch about dependent payments as well as other suggestions that have been made, would be very proper ones to put into operation. Unless you can devise some scheme of compulsory insurance, such as has been mentioned by some previous speakers, it seems to me that you cannot afford to compensate workmen in any sort of an adequate manner.
I know that when Deputy Larkin is speaking of workmen's compensation and matters of that kind, he is thinking of cities, of big firms and big employers with large staffs, all of whom are insured. While that is so, we all know that throughout the country there are small farmers who employ a man or two, that there are people running houses with perhaps a maid, that there are jobbing men who find employment here and there, and that in a lot of these cases they have no insurance to fall back on. In many cases, the employer can scarcely afford the wages he is paying to the employee. For that reason it seems to me that we cannot afford to discuss workmen's compensation on any adequate scale until we devise some form of compulsory insurance.
I know the difficulties there are about it. The burden of meeting the premiums  is one thing that might be urged in a number of cases. I have no doubt, however, that given proper consideration by the Department, that at some time in the near future insurance along these lines could be devised. I think it is a necessary step to bring this particular part of our social service schemes up to any sort of a reasonable level. I was surprised to hear Deputy Larkin referring to some of the defects under the present code. All of us, from our different experiences of the Workmen's Compensation Act, could pick out defects or suggest ways in which we think the code might be better administered. However, I do not know whether Deputy Larkin spoke with any consideration when he suggested that the code at present was more or less a hunger test for a workman, and when he remarked, as Deputy Lynch remarked, that in a lot of cases workmen, by reason of domestic circumstances, shortage of means, had been forced to forfeit some of their legal rights. If those remarks of Deputy Lynch were intended as a criticism of the present workmen's compensation code they are completely unfounded. Under the code as it exists at present no workman can enter into any engagement or agreement of a binding nature with his employer or with any insurance company that may be behind his employer unless the particular engagement or agreement he enters into is examined either by the county registrar or by the Circuit Court judge. That portion of the Act was inserted intentionally to ensure that no workman can, himself, throw away any of his legal rights or proper claims. There is a statutory prohibition on his doing any such thing. There is a statutory safeguard that a workman can only settle his own case with the approval of the Circuit Court judge or the court's representative.
I think that any criticism of the workmen's compensation code, based on those special reasons, is a criticism which is not justified. I think, however, that there is a wide field of criticism of any type of legislation of this nature based on working experience from watching the Act from day to day. I agree with Deputy Larkin that if the Dáil were composed of  different Deputies from those which compose it at the moment, concerned now to remedy all these various defects we would be talking for weeks and we would not achieve immediately one of the objects of this Bill—some increase in workmen's compensation. I hope that sometime in the near future some form of Departmental Committee, or some body of that nature, will give some consideration to the defects which exist in that Act. For instance, there is one very grave defect which I, as a barrister, think is a matter of some urgency which should be dealt with, if not now certainly in some future Act. I am sure that other barristers meet with the defect from day to day too. I refer to the fact that in a number of cases the workman who has been injured so far recovers that he is stated by his doctor and other people to be merely partially incapacitated but not totally incapacitated for work. Such a workman might, for instance, have lost one arm or one eye or have a bad back or something like that wrong with him. He is not able in court to give any evidence as to what his earning capacity is as a partially disabled worker. By reason of a certain decision of the courts based on the Act of 1934 the Circuit Court judge, in such circumstances, is unable to give him any compensation and adjourns the case until such evidence is available—and in many cases it never can be.
I know of one particular case where the workman, in circumstances like that, was described by his doctor to be 80 per cent. incapacitated. In other words, he was a workman who could scarcely do anything. By reason, however, of this peculiar defect in the present Act that particular workman had to have his case postponed for a period of two years before eventually some form of evidence could be found to enable the Circuit Court judge to make an order. That particular matter is something that does require amendment. I know that each of us here could pick out particular defects which we have discovered and that we could discuss them for a long time. The mere fact, however, that certain speakers have mentioned matters of this kind should convince the Minister of the  existence of a wide field for improvement in this particular form of legislation.
I want to refer to one other matter mentioned, I think, by Deputy Lynch. He complained that the Minister, while he was increasing the weekly sum payable in respect of compensation for an injury, was not going the full road by increasing the lump sum payable in respect of death. There is a lot to be said for Deputy Lynch's views and for the other views expressed on this matter. It does seem to me, however, that this whole question of a lump sum payment arising out of the death of a workman is one which must cause some concern to any person who has any experience of dealing with these cases from day to day. At present a lump sum with a limit of £600 is payable to the family of a deceased worker. That lump sum, when divided amongst the dependents—the adult and the children dependents—generally works out at a very small sum to represent compensation for the loss of the breadwinner. No matter how large it may be, more often than not it is gone after a year has elapsed and the unfortunate family find then that not only is the compensation payable to them gone but that they have also lost either the father or husband—the breadwinner for the family.
Instead of increasing that lump sum by £200 or £300—no matter by what amount you might increase it—some system should be devised whereby that end of workmen's compensation would also be based on a weekly sum, in some form of annuity or otherwise, for the widow and dependents. Unless you do that you will not be making any progress towards satisfying the material loss felt when a workman is killed or otherwise dies as a result of an injury. I suggest to the Minister that in future legislation, either legislation based on amending the workmen's compensation code or legislation governing social security, that particular aspect of workmen's compensation should be considered and some form of weekly payment should be devised as compensation in fatal accident cases.
There is very little else that I can  say on this matter. While Deputies are naturally anxious to have a perfect, or nearly perfect, code of workmen's compensation they should restrain their desire to introduce amendments on this Bill in the interests of having the Bill passed into law as expeditiously as possible. I was not in the House earlier and I do not know what suggestion has been made concerning the amendments. It seems to me that amending a Bill of this nature in order to cover the wide field surveyed here reduces the present measure to an absurdity. This Bill deals primarily with only one object— the increasing of the weekly payment of compensation. The question of amending the code itself is obviously a matter for a substantive Bill to be introduced subsequently by the Minister.
Mr. McGrath: If I understood Deputy Larkin correctly, he wanted us to take this Bill merely as something to carry us over the Christmas holidays and for some short time after that. If that were the case I would be quite satisfied. I am very glad the Minister is increasing the weekly payment but I think the payment is out of all protion to the wages paid. I am sure the Minister will admit that. He may say that he could give less, but that is not an answer. No man could support a wife and family on 50/- a week. We all know that when wages were increased the insurance companies raised their premiums. The companies charge so much per cent. on the amount of wages paid. The premiums went up but there was no corresponding increase in the amount payable to the workman. While 50/- a week might be fairly reasonable compensation for a man earning £3 a week in the country, I am sure it will be admitted that 50/- a week is not reasonable for a man living in the city earning £7 or £8 a week. Most tradesmen at the present time earn that in the city. Why should the insurance companies pay only the same rate of compensation to a man earning £400 a year on whom they get a premium percentage as they do to a man who is paid only £150 a year?
Mr. McGrath: It is a percentage rate. I happen to be a small employer and I do know that when wages were increased the premiums were increased. That is an aspect that is entirely overlooked. I know several cases in Cork City where families are suffering terrible hardship on the present rate of compensation. They will be suffering terrible hardship even on the 50/- a week, though it is an improvement.
I believe insurance should be compulsory. I know workers working for small employers in the City of Cork, who were permanently injured for life and who had no redress because they were not insured by their employer. Employers should be compelled to insure in the same way as they are compelled to pay national health or unemployment stamps. Surely, some system could be devised under which it would be compulsory for them to insure their workers. That should be one of the first duties placed on every employer so that their workers would have some safeguard should they become incapacitated through injury or accident in the course of their employment.
Deputy Larkin said that this is only a temporary measure. If that is so I am satisfied. If that is not so, then I do not think we are dealing with the problem at all. I know the Bill is urgent in order that these increases may be given as quickly as possible; but I think the Minister is only going half-way on the job. Fifty shillings a week is entirely inadequate in my view.
Mr. Coburn: I think this Bill is a good measure in so far as it increases the weekly compensation from 37/6 to 50/- per week. The Minister has stated the Bill was introduced merely to give immediate effect to the particular section under which these amounts will be payable. I would like those who advocate that the scope of workmen's compensation should be broadened so as to confer greater benefits on the workers to examine the other aspects of the matter. This will mean an increase in so far as costs of production are concerned. Deputies did not advert at any great length to that aspect of it. An employer who pays out, say, £100 per week in wages has  to add almost 17 per cent.; that means an increased cost to the consumer. That is notably so in house building. Yet, some of these houses are being erected for the very poor.
This is an important matter and it must be considered in the widest in possible sphere. While recognising always that we would all like to be just and fair to the working classes—and I am one of them myself—we must nevertheless consider the capacity of our little country to carry these additional charges. I think the Minister must take cognisance, too, of the fact that the percentage rates here are higher than those obtaining in Great Britain. I suggest to the Minister that in the period which will elapse between the passage of this Act and the introduction of the comprehensive scheme, he will consider the possibility of consolidating the entire code of national health insurance, unemployment assistance and workmen's compensation in the one stamp towards which all three will contribute—the employer, the employee and the State. I think all men who are working should contribute some small share to help to case the situation so far as the contribution from the State and the employers is concerned. I understand that such a scheme is in operation in certain continental countries at the moment. I am sure the Minister has sufficient staff at his disposal to examine this matter in its entirely between now and the introduction of the comprehensive scheme.
The Minister has also raised the ceiling from £300 to £250, thereby bringing in large numbers of other workers into the scope of workman's compensation. This is only a forerunner of what the Minister intends to do in regard to this whole question as it affects social insurance. I hope he will examine that part whereby the State could take over the whole thing and possibly effect such economies as will lead to a reduction in the rate payable at the moment as well as giving the extra benefits which he proposes to pay to those who have the misfortune to meet with accidents in the course of their employment.
Mr. Desmond: This Bill, like all other Bills, may have its shortcomings but, nevertheless, with my colleague, I desire to congratulate the Minister on bringing it before the House. What I consider strange is that some Deputies in the front bench across from me have stated that while they agree to this measure they are withholding opposition simply in the hope that greater concessions will be given in the future. Deputy Dr. Ryan seemed to have two worries. One worry was how long it took the Minister to bring this measure before the House. I do not wish to be sarcastic, but I think the Minister can truthfully say that there is an enormous difference between bringing in a Bill of such importance as this nine or ten months after coming into office, compared with the years that elapsed when other men were in office and kept compensation at a lower figure.
Mr. Desmond: I am not concerned with Party propaganda, but it has been dished out to us in a nice mild way this evening. If Deputies want to be honest with us they should also be honest with themselves. Another matter Deputy Dr. Ryan referred to, and also his colleague Deputy Lemass, was his terrible worry about one section of employers on whom this increase would be put. They were worried so much that they more or less said one section of employers could not pay much. Whether that is right or wrong, we can leave it for the moment. They were perhaps hoping that the State would step in. On other occasions the same Deputies made great capital out of a suggestion that the workers might be asked to pay a penny or twopence extra.
Mr. Desmond: If Deputies want to be honest, let them face facts. If the Minister in a former administration was sincere he must admit that, whatever  agricultural conditions may be to-day, when the original measure was brought before the House in 1934 conditions commenced to alter and they varied immensely after that. Through emergency Orders they may have given a few extra shillings, but no one can deny that even in agriculture, about which they have worried so much this evening, prices did soar enormously since 1939. I am not anxious to delay the House, because I realise that the sooner we get through with this Bill the sooner it will come into operation. I offer my heartiest congratulations to the Minister. This is a great step forward in a direction that will be appreciated by the workers.
One point stressed by some Deputies is of great importance and that is with regard to the insurance company. One thing struck me as rather strange and it has relation to cases under the Workmen's Compensation Act when they came to court. I often thought it very strange that in these court cases there was such a difference of opinion not so much on the legal as on the medical side. Some doctors would maintain a man was entitled to compensation and other doctors held a reverse opinion. These things are of vital importance and all matters affecting the worker should be considered very carefully. That would be one way of safeguarding the interests of the workers. I offer my congratulations to the Minister.
Mr. O'Leary: On behalf of the National Labour Party, I welcome this Bill. It is long overdue. I have listened to people on the opposite benches asking why it was not introduced sooner. They forget that they could have introduced it during their 16 years in office. There is no doubt that insurance is a very important thing for the working man. In my constituency I know of cases where men lost their lives. Their employers were not insured and their dependents cannot get anything by way of compensation. There is a public body in my constituency employing 400 workers and they will not pay insurance premiums. They said they would take a chance. I refer to the Wexford  County Council. If one of the workers loses his life in a quarry or on a road he is not covered by insurance and the burden eventually falls on the ratepayers.
Mr. O'Leary: No, but who will suffer? The ratepayers will eventually suffer if one or two of these men get killed in a quarry explosion. It may mean over £1,000. The county manager will not insure the men. He said: “Oh, we will take a chance.” These men may suffer injury or may be killed and if they were covered by insurance they or their dependents would get prompt payment, which they do not get under the system that the county manager is working. I opposed that at the meeting, and said: “Cover the men with insurance.”
Looking back over the years, the former administration introduced a scheme but the benefit they gave was very miserable—37/6 for a disabled man with a family. He was earning probably £4 a week before the accident. An injured man will go on drawing insurance and then there is a stoppage. What happens then? We heard Deputy Vivion de Valera speaking about the lawyers. They are the people who get the benefit. The case goes to a Circuit Court judge for a decision. I know of one case where a man was killed by a lorry and his wife got £600 and £300 went to the youngsters. Under the last Government she would not get a full widow's pension. She was allowed only four shillings because she got the compensation after her husband's death. It is time that sort of thing was wiped out. When the breadwinner goes, everything goes.
I welcome the Bill, but I think there could be further improvement. People must not be left on charity. In a Christian country such as this our people should live in conditions of reasonable comfort. The scheme that was worked out under Fianna Fáil was a disgrace. The allowance was 37/6 and that depended on how long the man was in employment. Some people did not get the 37/6.
Mr. O'Leary: It depended on how long a man was employed and where he worked. Agricultural and industrial workers differ under the Workmen's Compensation Act. I am surprised the Deputy did not know that.
Mr. O'Leary: He is not getting the 37/6 a week that you say you gave them. Some of them in the Forestry Department got less because they are not long enough in employment. All these things need improvement. I welcome this Bill and I am glad that since the new Government was elected in February these improvements have come about. People outside who for years back have been trying to live on the meagre amounts awarded them as compensation have been looking to us to get them these improvements. In my own constituency a number of people who for some years past have been trying to exist on 37/6 a week hoped that the new Government would improve their conditions and that is why we are taking this step to-night.
Mr. Norton: We certainly had a mixed grill on social welfare this evening, judging by the assorted views we have heard on this subject. When some of the Deputies opposite were speaking, I was reminded of a little couplet which I learned when I was many years younger than I am now:
It has a peculiar appositeness to the discussion we have heard this evening because most of the Deputies who spoke from the opposite benches were “nearly going” to raise workmen's compensation benefits and were “nearly going” to introduce an improved Bill. They have done nothing in that matter, however, since 1934 except to provide a paltry increase of 25 per cent. some years back. They  now pretend to moan with disappointment that this Bill is not doing more, even though it is doing nearly twice as much as they have done during the past 14 years. I shall take Deputies to the mathematics of the Bill in a few minutes.
I think some Deputies must have spoken without having heard my introductory remarks because if they had been present they would have learned very clearly and very simply that the purpose of the Bill was to provide for an increase in the weekly rates of payment and to step up the ceiling for workmen's compensation purposes in the case of persons employed, otherwise than at manual labour, from an income of £350 per annum to an income of £500 per annum. That is the simple purpose of this Bill. It has no other purpose and I shall tell the House why at this stage it has no other purpose. Some Deputies, for instance, Deputy Lehane, have suggested that the whole question of the codification of the Workmen's Compensation Act should be undertaken. That statement I felt could not have been based on any great research into the matter of the workmen's compensation code because in fact the 1934 Compensation Act repealed practically every clause of the previous Workmen's Compensation Act and to the extent to which codification was desired or attempted, we had it, such as it was, in the 1934 Workmen's Compensation Act. Various Deputies who spoke to-day desired amendment of the whole workmen's compensation code. I do not know whether these Deputies spoke with a copy of the 1934 Act in their possession. When one talks about a comprehensive amendment of the 1934 Workmen's Compensation Act, one has got to open one's eyes to look at the Act and to open one's mind to envisage the enormity of the task involved in any such comprehensive amendment to the 1934 Act. There were in that Act 79 sections, many of them very long sections, and six schedules. Many of the sections were framed to implement what has been built-up case law on the whole question of workmen's compensation right down the years.
I was faced with the position that there are many provisions in the Act  that I did not like. There are a great many that I should like to amend and substantially improve but to do that would take a considerable amount of time. There is another, and I think a more urgent, job waiting to be done. That job is the question of stepping up the present weekly rates of compensation. Under the 1934 Act the maximum compensation fixed was 30/- a week. Until the 1934 Act the maximum compensation was 35/-, but the 1934 Act brought it down from 35/- to 30/- and to that extent we were retrogressing in the matter of actual compensation paid.
Mr. Lemass: The Minister has said nothing about the difficulties with which we were faced. There was a very substantial fall in the cost of living and the British Government had reduced the weekly rate to 30/- years before. They were well in front of us.
Mr. Norton: And lower than it was two years prior to that. So much for the benefits of the 1934 Act. If anybody were to attempt to amend that Act it would take a very considerable time to do so. Even if my Department  were to attempt to amend it, it would be a very long period before a comprehensive measure to replace it could be introduced. Even then perfection might not be attained because Deputy de Valera said here this evening that there is not one section in the Act that he would not amend if he had the opportunity. I venture to say that if you were to submit the 1934 Act to every judge, every barrister and every solicitor throughout the country, each of them would produce an entirely different Workmen's Compensation Bill because it is a piece of legislation on which there is a variety of differences of opinion, on which it is not possible to get complete unanimity and on which persons have different concepts as to the way in which the Bill should be drawn in accordance with their own experience of the working of the Act. Forgetting for the moment what the ultimate destiny of what workmen's compensation is to be, whether it is to be run on the present pattern of legislation which puts on the employer the obligation to insure and permits him to transfer his liability to an insurance company which will meet that liability when the time arrives, whether it is to transfer his liability to an insurance company which will meet that liability when the time arrives, whether it is to be a separate State-administered scheme by which the State will collect the premiums in some form or another and pay compensation to persons temporarily or fatally injured, or whether it is to be integrated in a comprehensive scheme of social legislation, let us leave that aside for the moment.
My choice for the moment is as to whether I should amend the Act, with the inevitable delay involved in doing that, with the inevitable delay which would ensure as a result of its passage through this House and through the Seanad, and when all that was done provide for some higher rate of compensation than is provided for in the 1934 Act, as amended by Emergency Powers Order No. 43. It seems to me that if I were going to amend that Act comprehensively I would have, until that amendment had been completed, to defer any question of stepping up the present rates of workmen's compensation.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce in 1943 had at his disposal the  Emergency Powers Act under which he could make an Order which had the same validity as legislation passed by this House and, through the medium of the Order, could increase the compensation, as he did, from 30/- to 37/6 per week, an increase of 25 per cent. I have no Emergency Powers Act at my disposal. If I had, I would simply make an Order stepping up the compensation from 37/6 to 50/- per week, lay it on the Table of the House, and it could become effective to-morrow morning. Nor have I power, so I am legally advised, to make any Order under the Supplies and Services Act, either the one now current or the one which has been introduced. The result is that I can only achieve now an improvement in the rates of compensation by asking the House to pass this amending Bill. I have, however, to go through the form of an amending Bill and, consequently, as an amending Bill, it has got to run the gauntlet of criticism in this House.
In 1943, the Minister was able to insulate himself against all criticism, because he simply made the Emergency Powers Order, laid it on the Table of the House, and increased workmen's compensation by 7/6. No one would, obviously, move to annual it. The Minister was thereby enabled to dodge the criticism—I do not use that in any derogatory way—was able to avoid, let me say, the criticism which would naturally have been levelled at his 1934 Act if he had to come into the House in 1934 with an amending Bill such as I have to introduce for Second Reading to-day. All the criticisms we have heard to-day are criticisms of the 1934 Act, an Act for which this Government are not responsible and for which I certainly am not responsible, because I tried to amend it and improve it in 1934.
There is the simple issue. Will we wait until we amend this Act comprehensively and delay improving the rates of benefit, or will we do what I feel sure every injured workman desires us to do, get on with the job of improving the rates of benefit so that they will get in future, not a ceiling of 37/6 per week, but the ceiling of 50/- per week which is provided for in the Bill? A  ceiling of 50/- per week is not a bad ceiling in the present circumstances.
Mr. Norton: You brought down the £ until it was worth almost nothing. Under the Fianna Fáil Government, Deputy Kissane, former Parliamentary Secretary, wrote into the records of this House that the £ is worth only 8/-, and when asked who brought the £ down from 20/- in 1938 to 8/- in 1948, Deputy Kissane did not know. Was it not as clear as daylight who brought it down?
Mr. Norton: We are being blamed for a lot of things because we are in office, and the folk who are blaming us are not miles away from us. Let me measure up what the 50/- is. In the 1934 Act the ceiling for workmen's compensation purposes was 30/-. Under the Fianna Fáil Government it was increased by 25 per cent. This Bill is making an increase, not of 25 per cent., but of 66 per cent., and that is a good job from the point of view of the insured workman. When all this froth blows over about what should be done in connection with the 1934 Act and every other Act and the courts, so far as the injured workman in this country is concerned the benefit of this Bill to him can be put succinctly when I say that the original compensation payable under the 1934 Act was 30/-; Fianna Fáil increased it by 7/6, or 25 per cent., and made it 37/6; this Government is making it 50/-. In other words, we are stepping up the percentage increase from 25 per cent. to 66 per cent. That is an undeniable fact. Deputy McGrath may express his sympathy for everybody for whom he showed no sympathy when on these benches. Let him go back to Cork and tell injured workmen there that under this Bill they will get 66 per cent. increase in workmen's compensation, while Fianna Fáil only gave 25 per cent. Deputy McGrath was bursting all that time to give them something more, but they never got it.
Mr. Norton: I think a fair amount of Deputy Lemass's intelligence at times and sometimes I think a good deal of it. But, when he makes a statement like that, he shatters completely any faith I have in his judgment. I say now publicly so that it can be challenged by anybody that Fianna Fáil never had any hope or intention of passing the comprehensive Bill this year. I make this offer to the Deputy. Let this House set up any committee it likes to examine all the records in the Department of Social Welfare or any of the Cabinet minutes to see if there is a glimmer of evidence there to support any contention that the Social Welfare Bill would have seen the light of day this year or even next year.
Mr. Norton: He is too wise a political bird to accept. Let him throw out assertions and repeat them two or three times. The Deputy then mistakes what was originally just a shot in the dark for something that came out of the Book of Revelations. The Deputy cannot try these tricks on me about the comprehensive scheme. I say that anybody who says on behalf of Fianna Fáil that they were going to introduce the comprehensive scheme this year or next year is compounding with the truth and saying something that he knows is not true.
Mr. Norton: If Deputy Lemass or anybody else on the Fianna Fáil Benches wants to accept my challenge to set up a committee to investigate the truth of what I am saying against what Deputy Lemass is saying, I will give them all the facilities possible to establish that the truth on this matter is not emanating from these benches.
Mr. Norton: That reminds me of what Deputy Dr. Ryan said this evening. Deputy Dr. Ryan was always full of hopes, especially in connection with Bills of this kind, after 16 years in office and doing nothing in the last few years in connection with the production of a comprehensive scheme; certainly not taking it to the stage at which anyone could see any tangible form of a scheme. He said that I had wasted my energy in introducing a Social Welfare Bill during the year, a Bill which raises old age pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions and blind pensions.
He suggest now that I am wasting my energy in stepping up workmen's compensation benefits under this amending Bill. If doing these things is wasting energy, then Deputy Dr. Ryan is entitled to be regarded as a kind of modern Hercules, because he certainly did not spend much energy in stepping up old age pensions, in stepping up blind pensions, in stepping up widows' and orphans' pensions, and he certainly did nothing except vegetate on the question of stepping up workmen's compensation. If Deputy Lemass could introduce a comprehensive scheme in a month—that is the Deputy's claim now—I wonder why he did not whisper into the ear of Deputy Dr. Ryan when he was Minister for Social Welfare, how to improve workmen's compensation in a year.
Mr. Norton: I advise the Deputy, for the sake of his own dwindling asset of veracity, not to keep on repeating that statement. I am actuated by nothing but the kindliest feelings towards the Deputy and the preservation of whatever dwindling reputation he has for veracity.
I was asked by certain Deputies why I did not make provision in this Bill whereby workmen's compensation could be paid not as one fixed sum to a  workman without regard as to whether he was married or single or whether he had dependents. It was suggested that I should have made provision for the married man as distinct from the single man, with some other provision for the single man who had dependents. I was attracted towards that scheme and am still, provided it can be implemented in a different atmosphere and under a different pattern of workmen's compensation from that which we have at the moment, and which I am seeking to amend to some extent now. I would like to see provision made in our workmen's compensation code whereby a married man, with children, would get a higher rate of workmen's compensation than a single man who had no dependents, and whereby provision would also be made for the single man with dependents—they might be young brothers or sisters or an aged mother.
There are certain difficulties in doing that. It is attractive at first blush to make that provision, but, under the present Bill, I am not so sure that in the long run and in present circumstances it would be in the interests of the married worker, because if you put on the employer the obligation to pay a higher rate of workmen's compensation to a married man and a still higher rate of compensation to a married man with a wife and children, then I am afraid that, in a good many instances, you might tempt an employer to say when recruiting staff: “I want single men, No. 1, because if I carry my own risk, I will only have to pay them as single men, whereas if I employ married men, I will have to pay them a higher rate, I will have to pay for their wives and I will have to pay at least for some of their children.”
In circumstances such as these, where the employer is not compelled compulsorily to insure with the State, where he can carry his own risk or lay it off with an insurance company that may charge him a lesser premium if he employs only single men, my fear is that if you devise under this pattern of legislation a scheme by which a married man with a wife and children will get a higher rate of compensation than a single man, you may create a situation in which that will put a preference for employment on single men, and that  married men, in the long run, will go to the wall.
I have no power to make an employer take on married men. He still has a free choice in the matter of his employees. To-morrow morning any employer can go to a labour exchange and say: “Give me ten men, all single.” I cannot prevent him doing that. Any employer doing a road job, a sewerage or a waterworks job, can exhibit a notice saying: “Fifty single men wanted.” I cannot make him take married men, and to the extent that he would get a lower premium from an insurance company by employing single men or that he might carry the risk himself, the entire workmen's compensation arising would, therefore, be less for single men. To that extent he would be attracted towards recruiting single men instead of married men.
I do not want to be just prophetic on that or to imagine that as a real danger line, nor do I want to be guilty of the possibility that I was conjuring up difficulties which might not, in fact, arise. Some trade union representatives came to see me about the Bill. I asked them: “What are your views on this issue? I threw the problem into the arena and I said, ‘bite it’.” They were attracted to it at first blush. I said to them: “Bear in mind that if the employer gives a preference to single men, or if the insurance companies will write policies for single men cheaper than they will for married men with children, I cannot protect the married worker.” After discussing the matter on two or three occasions, the representatives of the workers said: “We prefer, for the present, while this pattern of workmen's compensation is running, if you would follow the present pattern,” because they, too, were afraid that there was a genuine risk, so far as preserving employment for a married man with a family is concerned.
I was naturally anxious to make sure that no Bill that I would introduce would have the effect of drying up the possibility of employment for married men. It is because of that fear that I follow the existing pattern of legislation giving the workman—as he gets  under the 1934 Act, as he gets under the 1934 Act amended by the Emergency Powers Order of 1943—a fixed rate of compensation per week of 37/6. I am merely making that now 50/-, but I am leaving the pattern and the principle of payment undisturbed, because I think that, so long as the insurance companies are handling insurance, and so long as an employer is not compelled compulsorily to insure a worker for workmen's compensation, there is a risk in any departure from that pattern of compensation. It might have repercussions for the married working man. As I say, I was anxious to preserve him from the possibility of a blizzard in the matter of unemployment.
I do not, think, however, that we should permit ourselves for all time or for a very long time to follow this pattern of legislation. Deputy Lemass asked me what were my views on the question as to where workmen's compensation was ultimately going to settle. As I say, no final decisions on the matter have been taken. Certain aspects of a comprehensive scheme are still under examination. My own view now—I express it as a personal view and one to which I have given some consideration—is this. My preference is for something in the way of a rational scheme of social legislation. My preference is that workmen's compensation should be woven into a State pattern of social legislation, because I think more than anything else that workmen's compensation can only be effectively administered as a comprehensive State scheme of social legislation.
A question has been raised here—I think it has been raised rather thoughtlessly by Deputies who do not know the difficulties of compelling persons to insure their workmen. We had the analogy of people being required to insure their cars. That has been offered as a simple guide to the way in which you can compel employers to insure workmen under the present pattern of workmen's compensation. I do not think these are comparable commodities at all.
There are approximately 70,000  cars, I think, in the country. There are at least 650,000 workmen. All the cars undergo a road licensing device and they can be discerned, recorded and regulated in other directions as well. Can you imagine, however, what a staff of inspectors would be required to go right through the country to ensure compliance by employers, and particularly by small employers, with a scheme of compulsory insurability of workers under the Workmen's Compensation Act? I think there would be such enormous difficulties in that connection that the scheme would break down in respect of a large number of small employers. However, whilst it would be difficult to administer in that way, I see no difficulty whatever in compelling an employer to insure his workmen under a comprehensive State scheme of social legislation on the understanding that workmen's compensation is made part of that State scheme. For instance, there is no difficulty in devising a scheme of insurability for all workers which will cover national health insurance, unemployment insurance, unemployment assistance, workmen's compensation, widows' and orphans' pensions, children's allowances and any other form of social service you care to provide and which will require the employer to do in respect of workmen's compensation what he is already, compelled to do in respect of national health insurance and unemployment insurance where that applies to the workmen whom he employs. In a State scheme of workmen's compensation dovetailed into a comprehensive scheme covering the various other social services, you can impose upon an employer an obligation compulsorily to insure his workers. It is along that line of a State operated scheme of workmen's compensation integrated in a comprehensive scheme covering other social welfare services that you can impose, I think, a satisfactory scheme of compulsory insurance for workmen to give them the benefits or something equivalent to the benefits now provided under the workmen's compensation pattern of legislation that we now have.
Mr. Lemass: Can the Minister solve  all the problems that arise there? Is the Minister contemplating a system under which the insurance premium payable by employers would be the same for all classes of employees?
Mr. Norton: Do not commit me to the details and do not expect me to send out a prospectus this evening as to what the rates would be. For any State organised scheme of that kind we will have to create one pool. What the pool is going to be, how it is going to be created and in what quantities the money is to go into the pool for the financing of these schemes are matters which have not yet been determined. However, in the long run it may very well come down in th direction, as a matter of efficiency and good administration, of having a national pool for workmen's compensation. Bear in mind that that is what the British have done under the National Injuries Act and that that is, I understand, what has been done elsewhere. In other words, you can know in a year on an average what demands will be made on the pool. You have to ensure, therefore, that sufficient goes into it so that assets are there to meet whatever claims are made. I hope I have explained to those who wanted compulsory workmen's compensation insurance in existing circumstances and to those who wanted a differential in compensation in favour of married men the difficulties confronting the adoption of these remedies at this stage. I hope, however, that we will be able to attain both objectives under a comprehensive scheme, that is, to compel insurance for all workers so as to give them adequate cover if they meet with accidents arising out of their employment and that we will be able to get at least consideration, if not the complete adoption, of a scheme of compensation recognising the special obligations which married workmen have necessarily to shoulder.
Captain Cowan: Might I ask the Minister to consider the provision of a fund by which the State would pay an allowance to a married man who is in receipt of workmen's compensation so as to get over the difficulties in regard  to employment that the Minister has mentioned?
Mr. Norton: ——I am afraid I cannot do it in connection with this Bill. Obviously somebody has to provide that fund. That is a matter of going back to the Government to see if that fund would be provided. It would involve quite a considerable amount of research before it could even be ascertained what risks we were, in fact, being asked to meet.
Mr. Norton: Let me put this point of view, because I have met it and it has been argued in certain circles. When an employer employs a workman he pays him, regardless of whether he is a married man or a single man.
Mr. Norton: The Deputy might be in difficulties with trade unions if he tried to get away from that line. It has been argued that if a worker gets a fixed rate of wages when working, without regard to whether he is married or single, it is reasonable to give a fixed rate of compensation. The principle which applies to his employment ought to follow when, due to an accident, he ceases to be employed. I do not like that argument and I hope to get away from it, but I do not think there are any short cuts in Deputy Cowan's suggestion, attractive though it may be. I think the real remedy is to wait until such time as we get the comprehensive scheme.
There were other suggestions about procedure before the courts, about the hearing of cases by the courts, about the compensation that should be paid to doctors, and about the increase in the compensation that doctors should  get. Again I have got to come back to the point that this Bill has a simple and limited purpose, that is, to step up the weekly rate of compensation to insured workmen. That is what I am striving to do. Quite frankly, in all these matters I am actuated by seeing that the workman gets justice. But there never has been a Workmen's Compensation Bill introduced in this country without the workmen being able to get the unsolicited assistance of quite a flock of people, each one of whom wants to advise the workman what is his best card to play and how he can best play it. I am not at all too sure—I think I had better express these views frankly—that the original purpose of workmen's compensation has not been forgotten.
The original purpose of the first Workmen's Compensation Act was to provide the workman with a remedy against the employer if the workman met with an accident. Down through the years, however, a variety of agencies have come in in the operation of that scheme to assist the workman until now the workman is assisted by quite a collection of people and his original part in the original Act is being somewhat obscured. I want to try to re-establish the identity of the workman in the melée which has taken place to clear the position for him because quite obviously some people are losing sight of the laudable intention of the first Workmen's Compensation Act, namely, to provide the injured workman with the right to compensation.
There is an old story told—it is a classic in trade union circles—of the workman who fell down the man-hole. Having been rescued from the man-hole and taken advice of one kind or another from a variety of people who came along to assist him he was finally offered some compensation; but by the time everybody had a bite at the workman's compensation there was very little left; the workman stood in the middle of his advisers and said: “Look here, who fell down the man-hole?” I am not too sure that a fair amount of that inquisitiveness on the part of the workman who fell down the man-hole is not called for to-day.
Captain Cowan: I think the Minister will give way to me on this. Under the Act at the moment and under the regulations governing this matter there is a maximum, in so far as legal proceedings are concerned, of £15. I can assure the Minister that the average legal practitioner in Dublin does not want to be worried with workmen's compensation cases because they are merely a waste of time. I want to make that quite clear.
Major de Valera: While agreeing that there are a lot of technicalities to be cleared away, the actual amount paid to the workman has never been affected. A certain amount of money is paid in costs but the actual amount of compensation paid to the workman is never affected.
Mr. Norton: One point has been raised here and I think this again is relevant as to whether the workman is made for the Workmen's Compensation Act or the Workmen's Compensation Act is made for the workman. Deputy Lemass opened his speech by enjoining caution. He said that we had to remember that workers did not contribute towards workmen's compensation benefit; that it has got to be paid for by someone and we have, therefore, to make sure that the insurance companies are not allowed to charge unreasonable premiums. I think that is a fair summary of what the Deputy said. He gave the House some facts  on this matter. I have here a group of companies. I looked at their income from 1934 to 1947. Here is what the year 1947 discloses. The net premium income in 1947 was £199,000. The claims paid and outstanding amounted to £91,000. The claims paid and outstanding represent only 46 per cent. of the premium income; £58,000 was spent in commission and expenses of management. That represents 29 per cent. of the premium income; and the estimated profit at the end of the year was £47,000. There you have a situation revealed where 46 per cent. of the premium income is paid in satisfaction of claims. I am satisfied that not all the 46 per cent. is actually paid to insured workmen.
From such inquiries as I have been able to make in the matter I am inclined to the view that there is lumped into that figure of £91,000 expenses which are regarded as claims, these expenses not being expenses of a kind received by the injured workman. As a matter of good business, therefore, and as a matter of intelligence these figures call for some examination and survey in the light of what an employer is required to pay to cover his workmen and what proportion of his premium goes to the insured workmen. Out of that £199,000 paid in premiums £91,000 goes back as a maximum to the insured workmen and that includes expenses other than the compensation actually received by the workmen. That is a matter that calls for examination.
Mr. Norton: I think that matter must be examined. But I do not think you can delay increasing the payments to an insured workman until this examination has been made. It seems to me, however, to be a case well worthy of examination and it seems to  me to pretty well make the case for integrating our present pattern of workmen's compensation into a comprehensive State scheme.
When we see figures such as those I think that, before we contemplate compelling people to insure compulsorily, we have obviously first got to see that even if we were to attempt to do that in advance of a comprehensive scheme, or apart from a comprehensive scheme, nobody in their senses would permit the continuance of a condition of affairs such as is revealed by these figures. There may be an answer from the people concerned. But there can be no answer to this. Like the workman in the man-hole, he is only getting 46 per cent. of the premium paid and he is getting that as a maximum.
Deputy Lemass raised the question of increasing the compensation paid in fatal accident cases. I took the view that this Bill was doing just one thing —it was doing, by amending legislation, that which Deputy Lemass did by an Emergency Powers Order in 1943; he made an Order then and the Order was effective next day. I was following that pattern by stepping up the weekly compensation because I felt the increased wages, especially during the past two years, justified an increase in the amount of weekly compensation payable.
For that reason, and for the other reasons which I have given, I did not dive into the various sections of the 1934 Act to seek there the many blemishes which call for remedy, some of which are indexed on the files in my Department. I confined myself, therefore, to stepping up the weekly rate of compensation. I was influenced in doing that by the fact that since the 1934 Act was passed there has been an improvement in the position of the widow whose husband is killed in a fatal accident inasmuch as the widow, if her husband is an insured person under the Widows' and Orphans' Compensations' Act, can get the widows' and orphans' pension. That pension is not in any way affected by the fact that she may receive under the 1934 Act a certain rate of compensation where her husband is killed as a result of an accident.
 Whatever compensation was paid under the 1934 Act it has been improved by reason of the fact that her husband is now insurable under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act and she could therefore get the rate of benefit under the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act to which her husband has contributed.
That is the reason why I did not break into that country of stepping up compensation in fatal cases, but I have sympathy with the claim and I would have particular sympathy if we were going to follow the present pattern of workmen's compensation payments. I will put this question to Deputies for the purpose of informing the House of the issues involved. I think it is very true—and I have seen so many cases of it that I am convinced it is true—that in many cases workers, when they die as the result of an accident and when they place their widows in a position in which they will get compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the maximum is £600. Many of these widows have never seen £600 before, except on paper. Kindly neighbours flock in to sympathise and I have seen all too many cases in which that money was dissipated with a thriftlessness that was shameful.
There may be people who prefer the pattern of a lump sum compensation. There are cases where we may find a woman, honest to God, decent, simpleminded, not asking much from life. Her husband is killed. She is overwhelmed with grief. She has a house full of young children, clamouring all around her. She wonders where the money is to come from next week. She gets £600 from the Court. It was hard enough, perhaps, to live on £300 the previous year. With burial and incidental expenses, there is so much more added to her household costs. The £600 clearly will not last two years and when it is gone there is no continuing compensation for the husband's death.
Mr. Norton: Yes, except in the case of the children, but then the available  £300 goes quicker. I am satisfied that the real remedy in a case of that kind is not to throw out £600 to people who may spend it imprudently. I think the main worry of the widow and children is, are they going to get something each week coming into the house that will replace the wages the father brought in? That is the main concern. There is no purpose in having a Roman holiday for a year or two years. The main thing is to put something in the place of the father's income. The only thing is a State income in the form of a pension and my mind would travel in the direction not of a lump sum payment which may be frittered away, but of a rate of pension which will make some reasonable atonement for the husband's death and provide some security for the widow and children in the absence of the husband.
Mr. Norton: My view would be, in workmen's compensation cases, that we should do something better than what we would do in respect of widows and orphans. If a breadwinner dies as the result of pneumonia, we pay a widows' and orphans' pension.
Mr. Norton: No, it would have to be done under a different scheme. Even if we did step up the lump sum payable in fatal cases I still think we would have to switch to a scheme of pensions for the widow and children as the best means of providing compensation in respect of injuries causing death.
Mr. Norton: We can examine that. I think it has been done in Britain and in Northern Ireland. The physical possibility of doing it presents no difficulty. Actually it has been done. The wisdom of doing it is another matter. That is a subject on which we can have the collective wisdom of the whole House in deciding what is best to do.
I think I have covered all the points that were raised, but before I pass from the lump sum payment I may say I am sympathetically disposed towards raising the lump sum payment. I would not resist an amendment to raise it, but is it wise to do it, bearing in mind now that since the 1934 Act was introduced you have superimposed upon it the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Scheme, which provided for widows and orphans? It may not provide compensation for the single man who is fatally injured and who has a mother and sisters and brothers. However, we can discuss that aspect on another occasion and we can also discuss a lump sum payment as against a weekly pension scheme. I am not going to justify the scales in the 1934 Act, but if I were assured now that there was a feeling that they want the lump sum payment stepped up from the 1934 Act, I am prepared to introduce an amendment on the Committee Stage to do the stepping-up.
Major de Valera: Will the Minister say if, in proposing to keep the workmen's compensation scheme in a general insurance scheme, the principle will remain the same, namely, the employer to carry the whole liability?
Mr. Norton: I cannot give the Deputy precise information on that matter. Let me tell the House what the British have done. They built up a scheme of contributions. They put the bulk on the employer, but made the worker pay a small contribution. They have got two Acts, the National Insurance Act and the National Injuries Act. If we had a comprehensive scheme here, there would be one contribution to be paid by the workman,  one by the employer and then there would be a State contribution, which possibly would be equivalent to the worker's contribution and the employer's contribution. These two contributions need not necessarily be equal contributions. In the working out what the contribution would be per week for national health insurance, unemployment insurance and widows' and orphans' pensions, you would put these in one column. On the employee's side you would say “You are liable to pay that contribution.” On the employer's side you would put down what he is liable to pay. You then make up your mind whether you will divide equally or in certain proportions the liability between both for workmen's compensation. You can divide them equally or give a proportion to one and a greater proportion to the other, or say to the employer “Here, you always paid this and you will pay it in future.”
Mr. Norton: That is one of the big difficulties in any scheme, whether you have a national scheme or a scheme graded by contributions; whether you have a low wage scheme and a high wage scheme and put them in different wage categories; whether you make an agricultural labourer pay the same contribution as a skilled employee in a printing works or a fitters' shop; or whether you take a certain contributaion from a man who can buy the full range of benefits or a contribution from a person who can afford only a lesser number of benefits.
Mr. Norton: He does not pay for risks in respect of sickness. However, these are some of the difficulties that have to be dealt with. Having heard the view of the Government, Deputy de Valera will probably agree that they would hardly have produced a scheme of this kind in a month.
Captain Cowan: May I ask if I understood the Minister aright as stating that he intends to introduce an amendment at the next stage to increase the amount payable in case of death? I gather from the Minister that if it was desired he would do so.
Mr. Norton: I am not too sure that even that is possible within the scope of a Bill of this kind. Subject to its being possible, I am prepared to consider that very sympathetically in any case and prepared to take a favourable view of it, if a desire is expressed from all parts of the House that it should be done.
Captain Cowan: There is a suggestion arising from that that I want to make to the Minister. So far as the allocation of these moneys by the court is concerned, the judges have expressed the view that the method prescribed by the Act is very unsuitable and difficult. Would the Minister consider leaving it to the court to allocate the money amongst the children or other dependents as the court may think fit?
Mr. Norton: The difficulty is that if you agree to take a few steps of the ladder you are invited then to go to the top. If I go on nibbling at sections of the 1934 Act in this way nobody may know where it will stop. My main purpose in introducing this Bill was to step up the weekly rate of compensation.
Mr. Lemass: We will not take responsibility for the late beginning of this session: nevertheless we shall try to co-operate with the Minister. Some Deputies will be anxious to suggest amendments. Up to what time will amendments be taken?
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