Wednesday, 3 May 1967
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Sweetman: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the amount paid out of State funds to the liquidator of the Equitable Insurance Company Limited in pursuance of the Insurance Act, 1964; and the date of each such payment.
Mr. Colley: A grant of £30,000 was made to the Insurance Compensation Fund by the Minister for Finance on 30th March, 1965 in accordance with section 4 of the Insurance Act, 1964. Payments to the liquidator to meet the claims of Equitable policy-holders have not been made specifically from this grant. The grant, together with the proceeds of the annual levy on the insurers, have been paid into the Fund, out of which payments totalling £100,000 approximately have been made to date to the liquidator.
Mr. Dillon: Is the Minister not aware there are a considerable number of persons who suffered industrial accidents, who got judgments against their employers who were insured by the Equitable Insurance Company but who are unable to get their money and are living in great distress?
Mr. Colley: I am aware there are still a number of claims outstanding, but I have explained to the House already that the liquidator in dealing with these matters is bound to operate in accordance with the procedure laid down for liquidations under the courts and is bound to act on the legal advice he has received. On this basis I am assured that the matter is proceeding as fast as is possible within these limitations.
Mr. Sweetman: No. Why will he not introduce legislation to meet the special case where £30,000 of the taxpayers' money has been put into the liquidation of this company? I am not asking him to interfere in any private liquidations.
Mr. Sweetman: Does he not further agree that he has, therefore, a responsibility to see that the liquidation into  which money has been put carries through in a way to meet the wishes of the House when the legislation was enacted for that subscription to the liquidation?
Mr. Colley: The Deputy may put it any way he likes, but what he is asking me to do is to change the Rules of the High Court under which liquidations take place. There is no other way in which I can interfere.
Mr. Sweetman: Is the Minister not aware that the decision of the court which he mentions refers specifically to the wording of the Insurance Act which was enacted at the instance of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and does not in any way refer to the general rules or statutes affecting liquidations?
Mr. Dillon: Is it not the position that we passed ad hoc legislation primarily to deal with persons, industrial people, who suffered injury in the course of their employment and people who met with motor accidents, who were covered against their employer or against the motor driver, and who found themselves without recourse? In order to relieve these specific hardships, we voted money, and yet the very people we sought to relieve are not getting the relief and are suffering acutely. Surely there is some device, if necessary by legislation, the Minister can employ in respect of these cases? Can he not adopt a short circuited procedure to give effect to the decision of this Oireachtas? If the Minister is aware of the difficulties, will he consider the matter sympathetically?
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