Children's Allowances Bill, 1943—Second Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 13 January 1944

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 28 No. 7

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  Every Party, and practically every public representative, favours children's allowances and I am sure the Minister will agree that we are all out to produce the best possible Bill. That being so, it is very difficult to understand the attitude of the Minister—his attitude at least in the Dáil— when he said he would not consider any amendments of vital importance, or used words to that effect. It is also regrettable that the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee has not been circulated by the Minister. Every Party approves of this Bill and I believe it is pitiful that the Minister did not call a joint meeting of both Houses to consider what would be the most suitable and appropriate measure to adopt instead of saying: “This is the Government Bill; the Inter-Departmental Committee's Report is no good and we will not have it.” In my opinion, that kind of dictation is very unwise, to say the least of it. I agree with the Minister that the amount which it is estimated this Bill will cost is quite sufficient and that we should take into account the necessity of cutting our coat according to our cloth. We cannot, I think, afford any big contributions, but while agreeing with the Minister on that, I am in total and complete disagreement with the provisions of the Bill and I am even more in disagreement with the statement made by Senator General Mulcahy.

I am here as a representative of the farmers. We adopt a certain independent attitude in most cases, on this side of the House at all events, and we are not led by Party leaders in matters which we consider are of vital importance. But the point which I want to [413] make is that if I disagree with the provisions of the Bill, I think it would be much better if it were a contributory measure. I feel that the pros and cons of the whole issue should be discussed at a joint meeting of both Houses and I would ask the Minister if it is not yet too late to call that conference. If you want to put it on a non-contributory basis it would be very difficult to get back to a contributory basis, whereas if you tried the contributory basis at first you could easily change to a non-contributory basis afterwards.

In the last Seanad I proposed a scheme for the provision of children's allowances for agricultural workers. Before proposing it, I went to considerable trouble to collect data on the subject. I took a survey of four square miles of my own home which is in a typical rural area, and I found that if the farmer contributed 6d. a week for each of his employed agricultural workers, and if the employed agricultural workers contributed 6d. per week, and the Government another 6d., it would produce 2/6 a week for every agricultural labourer's child under 16 years of age in the district. That would be a great benefit for the children concerned.

I cannot see why the contributory scheme cannot be adopted and restricted to certain classes, because it would be much more effective for the people who require help. It would produce 2/6 a week for every child under 16. The Minister may say that the proposal would not work very well. It would bring in a number of small farmers and other people who would not be contributing. I suggest that the scheme could be drafted in such a a way as to bring in every worker earning less than £4 or £5 a week—that is paying contributions to national health insurance—and the small farmers as well as everyone under £5 a week could contribute to get benefits under the scheme. The principal objection is that it would bring in small farmers, farmers with a valuation of £5, £7 10/- or £10. They would be contributing, because as far as I know, and I have had some experience of these people—as much as, if not more, than any other member of the Seanad [414] or any Minister—the overwhelming majority are for a big portion of the year working for wages.

In that way they and their sons, who are working for wages for farmers or working on the roads, would be contributing. Small farmers could be brought in, as well as everybody under a certain standard of wages or remuneration. The amount contributed by the other two sections, when added to the Government allowance, would mean only about one-third of the present estimated cost or a little more. There has been a great deal of talk, and many objections raised to the means test. I heard Deputies in the other House and members of this House pointing to the social services which have been adopted in New Zealand. It was stated in the Dáil that there was a means test up to £4 per week in New Zealand. If that is not correct the Minister will be able to correct me. When New Zealand is held up to us on every occasion as being the country with ideal social services, and when the means test is in operation there, I cannot see what terrible objection there is to a means test here. It would be better for everybody if a means test were adopted. It was stated recently that the contributions of 6d. weekly from farmers and agricultural workers would be too large. The Minister stated that very much more revenue cannot be raised from income-tax. If the money does not come from income-tax it will have to come from small farmers and agricultural workers, because they are the biggest section of the community. It will come from them in indirect taxation. In that way, I think it would be better to adopt a scheme of contributory allowances and to give 2/6 weekly to every child under 16. I also believe that such a scheme as I suggest would cost the Government very much less. With a means test, the cost should work out at one-third of the £2,250,000 which the Minister mentioned.

At the eleventh hour I appeal to the Minister to set up a joint committee of both Houses to examine the question, and to get all the information that it can procure for the purpose of advising [415] the Government. There is no use in saying that the Department of Industry and Commerce or the Government are infallible. Many of the members of this House and of the other Houses have practical experience and they ought to be able to produce a suitable scheme. I think the Minister should be a little more reasonable and should take the members of the Oireachtas into his confidence, particularly when there is no opposition to the principle of this Bill.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Zoom on Frank Hugh ODonnell  I should like to introduce my remarks by saying as a young member of this House that I was astonished at the statement of Senator Counihan that people were subject to the direction of leaders of Parties in the House. I was always under the illusion that this House was composed of a body of people who were elected as portion of a panel and not as a Party. I hope that the statement he made was made under a complete misconception of the facts. I welcome this Bill from the social point of view, because it has evidenced admission of the principle that the financing and consumption of goods is as necessary as the financing of production.

The Minister in his preview stated that it is a Bill limited in its objective, the only purpose being to remove want in large families. He asked us to suggest alternative forms for the use of the money which is to be expended under the Bill and, while personally I cannot suggest anything in that line, it is possible that some other method might be discovered for distributing the £2,250,000 by the State, through some other channel that might be more productive of real wealth than merely expending it by way of children's allowances. That matter will require a great deal of consideration when we see the cumulative effects of whatever plan is put into force. Senator Counihan stated that the small farmers and other sections of the community will be paying the larger part of the cost of the Bill, but the Minister stated that the larger part would come from income-tax payers. As the industrial producers in this country are, in the main, the chief source of the income-tax [416] payments, it must eventually follow that the total amount spent will be recovered in prices and, as a consequence of the application of this scheme, there will be difficulties.

Mr. Counihan: Information on John Joseph Counihan  Zoom on John Joseph Counihan  If the Budget was balanced it could be raised.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Zoom on Frank Hugh ODonnell  If Senator Counihan wishes me to go into details I can do so. I suggest that we are going to collect money from industrialists in the form of income-tax, and that the only way it can be got back from the public is through prices or, at least, a certain proportion of it. The only reaction I fear is that the Bill may have an effect on the industrial programme of the Minister. We have already had evidence of Irish industrial enterprise capitalised with Irish money, and in the main owned by Irishmen, paying a very heavy contribution to the State in the form of taxation. We had a case recently of a company, which is well known to us and which, out of £26,000 profits, had to pay nearly £19,000 in taxation to the State. If income-tax is raised on companies of that sort it means an eventual reaction on industrial development. While industrialists are as social-minded as any other section of the community—and I am aware that they welcome this Bill from the social point of view—they are also aware of the reactions that it may have upon industrialists and on people who are trying to gather the major portion of the money which the State requires.

I am mentioning these facts because the Minister probably has thought over the reactions himself and will reply to me on the question. I do not mention this as in any way trying to throw cold water on the principle behind the Bill. It is quite evident that the Government's intention was to level out incomes as far as possible so that a man whom God had blessed with a large family might not be denied the right to live simply because he had not developed his acquisitive faculties quite as much as I have or as Senator Foran or some other Senators have. That is the evident point behind the Minister's creation of the Bill and, in [417] so far as it was created out of social consciousness, everybody — banker, worker, and industrialist—must welcome the Bill from that angle. I think it may have peculiar reactions directly on the worker and directly on the industrialist and these are the aspects I wish to refer to, to see if there are any other channels through which money can be put to the creation of real wealth rather than the form of taking it from taxation which is already producing it.

Senator Mulcahy made yesterday a very laudable suggestion when he said the Minister might add to the amount of the Bill and create marriage allowances; but that is not the purpose of this Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to get people out of the difficulty into which they have got through marriage. The Minister says that he is trying to help those with large families; but if he is going to adopt Senator Mulcahy's suggestion and create further large families—as I hope will inevitably happen in this country, which is still family conscious—it will help to create further difficulties and so start a circle. From the Catholic philosophical point of view the Senator's suggestion may be desirable, but it has nothing to do with the Bill before us.

Sometimes I hear people say: “This is as much as we can afford.” I would like to know how people make out what this country can afford, how they base their sense of values of money or wealth. If there were a capitalisation, expressed in terms of money, of the real wealth of the country, we could afford far much more than this Beveridge himself has admitted, in a country which is not as economically independent, in a general sense, as our own, that the lowest amount which should be paid for the upkeep of a child is 8/- per week. On that account, I would like Senators and others, when stating what countries can afford, to explain the peculiar monetary methods whereby they arrive at the conclusion that this country cannot afford more than 2/6 a week. Is it not in itself a commentary on our lack of appreciation of the poor man's right to live that we offer him only 2/6 a week to support [418] his child, whereas most of us would give the 2/6 to our own child to go to the pictures? I presume the Minister will reply to this, as he is at present working under a rigid financial system. Can he say to me that, under any system, 2/6 per week is the amount this country can afford to give as a children's allowance?

There are one or two other points I would like the Minister to deal with. It is not expressly stated in the Bill that refugee children as such, or children who had been taken to this country for the war period, are expressly excluded. My reading of the Bill does not show any exclusion of that type of child. I may be wrong, as my fault is in not reading Bills—I would rather read plays. So far as I can see, refugee children or children of people born outside this country, are not excluded.

It seems rather harsh, in Section 18, that if, through any circumstances, the money due is not claimed within three months, it will not be paid. I suggest that circumstances may arise where parents and guardians for some reason are not in a position to apply within three months, and the Minister should, on the lapsing of a fortnight, make application to those people to find out why they are not applying. There are various circumstances—a man may have been run over, or there may be some lonely people who might not be in touch with others and might forget.

I would like the Minister to let us know what the administration of the Bill will cost for one year. He has himself devised the simplest method, and I think one of his reasons in not deciding on a contributory scheme was that it would minimise the cost of administration. All we can do is welcome the Bill broadly from a social point of view. If it has peculiar reactions upon industrial life which may affect the workers, in the course of time, the Minister can then consider seriously some other method of raising the £2,250,000 per year in order to put it to more real use in producing real wealth.

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  I regret very much that I find myself in disagreement with the general approval which, I admit, seems to have greeted this Bill.

[419] I must also admit it is largely beyond my comprehension that there has not been closer scrutiny of the principles underlying the Bill and of the consequences to which Bills of this nature may lead in the future. The Minister made a very able and lucid speech here last night. It was a minor edition of a more able and more lucid speech which he made in the Dáil some weeks ago. In both those speeches I detect —and I think others have detected—a suggestion that even the Minister himself in his heart of hearts is not so wildly enthusiastic about the principle of this Bill as seems to be assumed. He realises that it will cost a good deal of money and that in extending help—to my mind, in a very undesirable way—to one section of the community, it will press extremely hard on other sections.

So far, neither the Minister nor anyone else has produced the slightest evidence of any general demand for this Bill. I have seen nowhere, except in the reports of speeches in the Dáil, any indication whatever that the people as a whole want this Bill or approve of it or are in the slightest degree enthusiastic about it. Far from such being the case, the reaction of the general bulk of the people is that they really do not care about it and do not particularly want it. Only a small handful of citizens expect to get any real benefit from it, and the majority of the people look upon this Bill as the result of a competition between politicians for popular favour. That competition began as a challenge from one politician to another, the challenge was taken up, and once taken up, there was no escape from the consequences. All Parties seem to rush in to welcome the principles of this Bill in what is, to my mind, an atmosphere of pseudo-enthusiasm.

Another defect I have noticed in the whole discussion of this subject is that it is generally assumed that the Bill meets a great need, that we have before us a clear and definite case, with figures and arguments, to prove that there is great hardship in the country among large sections of our people, [420] arising from the existence amongst us of large families. Well, as Senator Mulcahy pointed out last night, one of the most extraordinary features of the whole discussion of this Bill is the total absence of any statistical basis for it— any figures which would show where the hardship exists, what form the hardship takes, and what would be the general effects of the carrying into operation of the proposed measure. I certainly have seen no indication, beyond the most general statements by the Minister himself, as to what effect this Bill is going to have on the problem of poverty in the country. We all admit that there is a problem of poverty, that there is a large section of the community which is very poor and for which something ought to be done to alleviate its poverty; but, personally, I for one believe that when this Bill has been in operation for 20 years the same problem of poverty will still exist and that, instead of having done anything to alleviate that problem, this measure and similar measures of the kind will have done a great deal to make it worse than it is at the present moment. The whole question is being approached, to my mind, in a very casual way, on the basis of a series of more or less sentimental generalities for which no proof is offered. There has been no attempt to base the discussion on any reasoned arguments whatever.

Another assumption that seems to be tacitly made on all sides is that the principle of the Bill is in line with the social teaching of the Catholic Church: that, in fact, it is called for by that social teaching. On the face of it, that is a very strong argument for such a Bill as this, and it was rather astonishing to me, for one, when I looked into the matter in detail, to find that instead of this Bill, or any Bill based on the principle enshrined in this measure, being in line with Caholic teaching, it goes entirely contrary to Catholic teaching on matters of social policy. I think that that is a point of view from which we ought all to approach this matter, and I would appeal to Senators to read some of the books that have been published dealing with Catholic social [421] principles. I think that if any Senator were to read one of these books he would be astonished to find that the best that these writers can say with regard to such measures is that they are merely a temporary palliative and nothing more: that they do nothing more to grapple with the real social evil that is there all the time, the real evil of unmerited poverty, caused by the maladjustment or defective operation of the social and industrial system. It is widely admitted, and has been stated by all responsible sociologists, that the palliative they provide, involving, as it does, a very great extension of the domain of the State over the domain of the family, is in itself an evil which, if it goes on, will ultimately turn the whole community into a chaotic mass of individuals entirely dependent on the State.

We heard Senator Mulcahy yesterday evening quoting that famous document, the Dáil Democratic Programme of 1918. I had thought that the recent revelations of the Minister for Finance had gone a long way towards killing the value of that document, but apparently they have done nothing to shake its authority in the eyes of Senator Mulcahy. What struck me, however, as I listened to the Senator, was that he seemed to be entirely oblivious to the direction in which his whole series of suggestions are leading. Unquestionably, if we think the matter over, all this doctrine— that it is the State's duty to look after everybody, to interfere between the producer and his work, between the employer and his employee, between the parent and his child, and to ensure to everybody a happy home and a contented mind—all this business of the universal power of the State has, as its essential corollary, the universal submission of the individual to the State, the universal control of every action of the individual and, ultimately, as far as possible, of every thought of the individual, by the State. Now, that may sound extravagant, but the series of suggestions put forward here yesterday evening by Senator Mulcahy were surely extravagant enough to warrant the [422] drawing of that conclusion from them. We are asked to contemplate a future for this country in which our whole community will be turned into paupers, and everybody will look to the State to protect him against everything.

We have the war declarations of President Roosevelt, the Atlantic Charter, and other such illusory documents quoted to us as if they meant anything, in fact, in the circumstances of a country situated as we are at the moment, or as if they are going to mean very much anywhere by the time this war is over. The Senator's argument was that, seeing that President Roosevelt can talk as he can, in the middle of a war situation, a war in which his own country is involved, we ought to be able to do more since we are not involved in the war. The Senator left out the fact that President Roosevelt has to deal with problems in his own country which necessitate that kind of talk, and that, when the war is over, and when the opportunity arises to deal with these problems, the same difficulties and the same consequences will have to be faced in America, in England, on the Continent of Europe, and everywhere else. They will have to meet the same disabilities everywhere, and again it will be a question of allowing personal and individual liberty and freedom for human activity or of turning the whole community into slaves of the State, without any right being given to the individual to dispose of his property or anything else that belongs to him, without any right in the individual so far as the education of his children is concerned, or even so far as the findings of his own conscience are concerned. All these things will have to go by the board if we are to go on with this apocalyptic vision.

Listening to the Senator, I was reminded of a Greek poem in which there is a description of a banquet, and we are told in the poem that those who took part in the banquet were “floating on a sea of lies towards the shore of illusion.” Having regard to the rosy future that has been painted here as being likely to be brought about by State action, I cannot help thinking of that poem. I cannot help thinking that we also are in the position [423] of those Greek banqueters—floating on a sea of falsehood towards a shore of illusion which, if we reach it, will be very much less pleasant than we imagine it is going to be.

The Catholic social doctrine on these questions, surely, is that the ideal is a system under which every worker will get a living wage, a wage on which he can support himself and his family in reasonable comfort; and anything short of that is a departure from the Catholic and the Christian social ideal. The true policy in any State is to bring about the ideal, or get as near it as possible, to have such a social system and such a system of taxation, such an organisation of industry and agriculture, that the ideal state of affairs will be arrived at as nearly as possible. If that state of affairs, for any reason, cannot easily be arrived at, then it is admitted that some form of family allowances is very useful as a palliative, as a means of tiding over the period until the best form of society can be brought about.

There are a great many other measures that this State could take in order to bring about a position more closely approaching the Christian ideal than what we have. I suggest we would be far better employed in trying to study what that Christian ideal is and trying to apply it to our own circumstances than in following up this sort of illusory scheme and imagining that, by carrying out any scheme of this kind, we are going to do any real, permanent good. The trouble about all these attempts is that they do not take enough account of the teachings of history. What you are engaged on is trying to cure an evil which has taken several hundred years to develop, a very far-reaching and deep-seated evil. You cannot cure historical evils by vague and airy generalisations, or by State schemes which are founded on the twin pillars of sentimentality and administrative convenience. These evils are not so easily cured as that.

The thing goes further and is far deeper, and there is very little use in our looking across the Irish Sea or towards any of the modern industrial countries for guidance on questions of [424] this kind, because the industrial countries, and particularly England, are themselves the centres from which all these social evils have ultimately sprung. It is the long-continued social and economic revolution that has been going on in England since the end of the 17th century, and in which we are still living, that has led to most of these evils of poverty and mal-distribution of wealth, concentrated the whole wealth of the community in a small number of hands and produced the huge industrial cities, or cities affected as Dublin is by belonging to the industrial environment, with their enormous, helpless populations. It is a long series of historical circumstances that has produced these things and there is no use in our thinking that we can cure such evils as those by simply applying to them some of the agencies that have brought them about.

It has become the fashion in the last 40 or 50 years everywhere to imagine that the State was a kind of universal fairy godmother. For a couple of hundred years before that it was the fashion to deny any economic function at all to the State. All through the early phases of the industrial revolution the State practically abdicated all its functions and refused to recognise that it had any duty to see that justice was done between one man and another or between one class and another. Towards the end of the 19th century, when things were in a bad mess, and when an immense amount of injury and hardship had been inflicted on the unfortunate people, it was recognised that the State had a function and the pendulum swung the other way. Now we are in the full flow of a tendency to make the State responsible for everything, and if the family is in danger, or if there is anything the matter with education or with the way people work or think, we are very easily led to imagine that the State can remedy those defects. I suggest it is worth considering that the State and State machinery are very unsuitable means for remedying any of these defects, even though it is true these defects were mainly caused by inaction on the part of the State for a long time. Over-reliance [425] on the power of the State will not merely fail to cure those evils, but will cause a great many other evils as well.

The two features in this scheme that Senator Mulcahy welcomed were its non-contributory and its universal character. Like Senator Counihan, these are the two features in the scheme to which I take the strongest objection. The non-contributory part of it is not nearly so important as its universality, although it would surely be possible to arrive at some scheme for giving help to the family which might involve not merely contributions from the State and the individual parent, but also contributions from the employer. It would be only just that if the State—that is to say, the community at large—is to be called upon to make up the defects of the wage system, employers as such, the people who have got the greatest benefit from the wage system, should be called upon to make a special contribution for that purpose. It should not be all left to the State. Those who direct and draw profits from the industrial system should be called upon not merely as citizens or taxpayers, but in their capacity as employers, to devise schemes of that kind, and to make contributions to them in order that the social balance, which has been upset by the industrial system, might be redressed.

If there is to be a system of family allowances, I suggest it should not be regarded as a cure or as a permanent part of our social system but as a temporary palliative, a temporary means to redress evils which can only be finally cured by much more drastic treatment. If family allowances are to become part of our social services for a time, they ought to take a form in which there will be contributions to them not merely from the State but from their beneficiaries and from the employers.

The whole idea that people should draw benefits from the State for nothing seems to me to be an entirely vicious idea. In the old days, 40 or 50 years ago, such schemes were unknown. I heard a lot in this debate [426] about large families and about parents struggling to bring up large families in poor circumstances. Senator Mulcahy talked about the hardship involved, the very severe hardship, in large families, when the children grow up. There is no Senator here who cannot well remember the time when there was no help at all from the State for families, large or small; no old age pensions or social services of any kind. It is, of course, admitted that things were very bad then, and they were particularly bad among the working classes of the towns. I was brought up on ten acres of land in a country district when there were no old age pensions, no contributions of any kind whatever from the State coming into the house. There was no help from America or anywhere else. Our family of six was brought up on a small holding in the West of Ireland, largely under the Balfour régime, when things were supposed to be very bad. But we were well brought up and we did not suffer any great hardships. I often think my own children have not as pleasant or happy a childhood as I had in those circumstances.

I cannot help wondering, when I hear all this talk about hardships and poverty, whether a lot of the people who indulge in such talk have any real knowledge themselves of what poverty means. A great many contributions of this sort come from people who have never known what it is to be poor, and who are inclined to look upon everybody that does not live in the way they live as having no life at all. A great deal of this talk, if not most of it, comes from well-to-do people in the cities who have woken up in their middle age to realise that there is a social problem and think that this social problem is that everyone is not as well off as they are. It was possible in those days, when things were a good deal harder for the small farmer than they are at present, and certainly than they have been many times since, to live without old age pensions and such helps. I well remember the period when old age pensions were first introduced. Those independent small farmers in the part of Galway from which I come, looked upon old [427] age pensions with as much aversion as they looked upon the workhouse. Indeed they had that feeling for ten or 15 years afterwards until the war, and the demoralisation which it brought, supervened. You often met cases then where people were entitled to the full old age pension and did not want to draw it.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  That is true.

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  It is true, and anyone who has any experience of the country will admit that. It was true in those days when poverty was much more widespread than it is now. What has happened is that there has been a universal competition in pauperism. When one family sees another family getting the old age pension, they believe that they are entitled to draw it also. I have seen, since that time, people with 40 and 50 acres of land given old age pensions. One family sees this happening to another family and they feel that they are being done out of something. In the end you get a sort of race amongst these families to draw as much as they possibly can from the State. The whole community, by that sort of legislation, is being rapidly drawn on to the stage when it is going to depend completely on the State. Remember this is not going to end with the Children's Allowances Bill. The £2,250,000 which has been mentioned is not going to be the last contribution in this way. The expenditure will be increased time after time, as years go on. Very large classes are going to be drawn into it and in the end you will have everybody in the community, whether or not he is a parent, dependent on the State and having to go to the post office, to take his place in the queue every Tuesday to draw his 2/6. That is the sort of situation we are gradually walking into in this country. I am not speaking as a reactionary, or as a bloated capitalist. I know from personal experience, as well as any Senator in this House, what it is to be poor. I know also from personal experience what it is to be independent, not to be asking anyone else to help you in your poverty [428] but facing your poverty yourself like a man.

I have the feeling and I think every decent man should have the feeling— and this brings me to another aspect of the Bill—that if anyone wants to ask his neighbours to help him, he should at least be called upon to prove that he needs their help. We have the principle of universality in this Bill. That means that a system of State dependence, which began on the plea that we had a lot of poverty and that it was necessary to help the poor, is intensified enormously on the further plea that not only are we poor but we are too genteel to admit it. We have this element of gentility introduced into it as well. If I want State assistance, if I am not able to earn my own living, I do not regard it as any hardship to be called upon to prove to the State, which means my neighbour or someone who may be in as bad circumstances as I am, that I need this assistance. I regard this whole principle of universality, this whole principle of shrinking from asking people to prove they are poor, as just genteel sentimentality and nothing else. Again, it is a principle in the name of which you are going to extend this system of pauperisation to the widest possible extreme. I do not know what arrangements the Minister has in contemplation for the adjustment of income-tax to this Bill. But I gathered, when the scheme was first put forward at any rate, that the intention was that everybody, the well-off, the moderately well-off, and the poor, would have to go and queue up at the post office to draw their half-crowns. I believe that is not so now. They will now not have to go, there every Tuesday, but that is a change which has taken place since the Bill came up for discussion. I think the original intention, because we were so genteel, was that nobody would have to admit that he needed this money and that everyone would have to go to the post office and draw it.

The real objection to this whole business of children's allowances, brought in in this hasty and ill-considered way, is that it is taking a long step in the [429] direction of further and further radical dependence on the State. There are a great many other consequences which will flow from it as well. Take the case of a man with five or six children. He is entitled to draw this 2/6 a week for three or four of them but a great many people who will draw it will be people who will not need it at all. Many of them would spend 2/6 a day on cigarettes. In order that they may get that 2/6 which a large proportion of them will not need at all the father with one or two children will be called upon to pay probably an increase of 1/- in his income-tax in order that these allowances may be paid to people who are far better off than he. Probably he will also have to pay other taxes on commodities. This 2/6 is not going to come out of nowhere. The taxation which the Bill will involve is going to press very heavily on some people, yet a very large proportion of the people who will receive the allowance will be people who will not want it at all and who, if they did want it, would spend it very badly. In other words a large proportion of this expenditure of £2,250,000 is going to be sheer unnecessary waste, just as much as a large proportion of the £8,000,000 we are spending on our social services at the present moment is sheer unnecessary waste. If there was any kind of reasonable attention to the necessity for a proper coordination and a proper systematisation of the social services I have no doubt whatever that a good quarter of the money that is being spent on them could be saved. That they are being spent wastefully and uselessly in a great number of instances, people know very well.

There is another objection to this whole system and that is the extension of it to the producers of the country. You are going to put the small farmer or any kind of farmer who is in a position to produce wealth from the land on the same level with the needy worker or unemployed man in the town. I say there is no analogy whatever between them, that it is not right to put them on the same level. If you put the comparatively well-to-do farmers, with valuations of £10 and upwards, on this scheme you are [430] inflicting on them a most unnecessary pauperisation. It would be far better if such farmers were given an incentive to make more wealth out of their land. I think everybody will admit that there are very few farmers, be they big or small, who could not produce more wealth than they are producing at present. This system of making everybody dependent on the State and doling out to farmers and producers of the country from some fund, to which they themselves, of course, ultimately will have to contribute, is radically unsound. Presumably the farmer, whatever his income, will ultimately have to contribute towards this fund. The farmers and producers of the country will have to pay the greater portion of it themselves in their taxes, and, at the same time, you are handing out half-crowns in the way which will be least valuable and least economic and taking a long step towards turning these people, who ought to get every incentive to be selfreliant, independent and productive members of society, into complete paupers.

If you have this kind of scheme at all, if it is necessary for a temporary purpose, it should be confined to wage-earners and the unemployed of the towns. It ought not to be extended to a class—a very large class—half the recipients of this allowance—who do not really need it and for whom this dole will be not merely of no real advantage, but a positive injury in so far as it is an incentive to them to lessen their production. If you want to do good to the small farmers, Senator Baxter and I, between us, or Senator Baxter himself, in one half hour could tell you 40 ways in which you could spend this sum of money to far better purpose than by doling it out at half a crown per week. I do not think there is a Senator who does not believe that, and still this is inevitably to go on. The tide of that sea of illusion seems to be impossible to turn and we are to go on with our mixture of simplicity and sentimentality until we are all turned into slaves of the State.

The two great dangers in any scheme [431] of this kind are these: the notion that you gain something by administrative simplicity, and the notion that you ought to extend pity, or sympathy, without understanding and having no real knowledge of whether the pity or sympathy is needed or not. Sentimentality, I suppose, consists in extending sympathy where it is not wanted, and much of the discussion on the Bill in the Dáil, so far as it went, was inspired by the most foolish and shortsighted kind of sentimentality. One example of that was the proposal that these allowances should be given to the mother instead of to the father—an idea which runs entirely contrary to any kind of Christian principle about the family. It was proposed by sentimentalists looking for support, looking for votes, that we should take a step of that kind, which would be one of the severest blows one could inflict on the most precious institution in this or in any other country, and it was to be done merely in order to satisfy the sentimentality of Deputies who had not given five minutes' thought to anything but the number of votes they could get out of it. That is the general tendency of the whole approach to this question. It is an approach from the point of view of what will be its effect on the voters.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  Is it in order to impute such motives to a member of the other House?

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  I did not mention a Deputy.

Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  The Senator mentioned no names.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  He clearly indicated the Deputy.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  The Deputy would, perhaps, be proud of it.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I do not know who the Deputy was, but I think Senator Tierney did distinctly state that the Deputy suggested it and had never given any thought to the problem but merely wanted to get votes. I think it advisable for us to avoid that kind of thing here.

[432]Cathaoirleach: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  Senator Tierney said the suggestion was made, but he did not mention the Deputy. I agree, however, with the general proposition that references to the Dáil debates are not desirable.

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  There is only one other thing I want to say. Indeed, it is largely a repetition of what I have said already. I do not see why such destitution as there is in the country cannot be approached in a scientific fashion, on a statistical basis, in such a way that we can delimit it, find out where it begins and ends and what its causes are, and can deal with the problem, as a problem, in a rational way. If there are a certain number of people living below the subsistence level, by all means give them any assistance you can. The manner in which you give it to people of that kind is largely immaterial, except that you should not make it the thin edge of the wedge of State tyranny. There should be as little interference with their families and their private lives as possible. If there is destitution, let it be dealt with, but let us not, on the supposition that we are dealing with a problem of destitution which is capable of being limited, turn the whole country into a community of paupers.

This Bill, I am sure, will go through. I do not see that there is any chance of stopping it now, although if I could do anything to stop it, I certainly should. So far as I can gather, however, from the general tone of the debate, everyone is enthusiastic about it except me.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Oh, no; we are not so bad as that. The Minister himself is not enthusiastic.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  The Senator would like to say: “Thank God, I am not like other men.”

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  In any case, it will, I think, go through. I see no likelihood whatever of stopping it, and even those who have so recently signified their dislike of the Bill will not go very far in opposition to it. It will go through; it will be put into operation; a sum of £2,250,000 will be [433] spent; and just as in the case of the Dublin slum problem, and the Dublin housing problem, a Minister will be coming back here in 20 years' time with the same or a bigger problem of destitution, trying to think up other and equally illusory means of dealing with it.

Liam O Buachalla: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Ba mhaith liom ar an gcéad dul síos aontú leis na Seanadóirí eile a chur fáilte roimh an Bille seo. Tá sé in am go dtabharfaí isteach é. Tugadh isteach é mar gheall ar go mbeigin é do thabhairt isteach. De bharr imeachtaí i gcursaí geilleagair, i gcursaí tionnscáil agus i gcursaí dlí ar feadh na blianta, go mor mór ó cuireadh an Stát ar bun, sin é is cinntiocar leis an mBille do thabhairt isteach ar chor ar bith.

I want to say, in the first place, that I suffer from a handicap in two ways in rising to speak on this Bill. The first handicap is that I was unfortunately unable to be present last night for the Minister's statement in introducing the Bill. For that, I am scarcely to blame—I had to be elsewhere on urgent business—but I want to apologise for my absence and to say how much I regret having missed what I understand was a very fine statement. The second handicap from which I suffer is that I made a suggestion earlier in the evening that we might do our best to-get through the business as expeditiously as possible, in order to avoid the necessity for meeting to-morrow and the necessity for meeting next week. Because of that suggestion, I am bound to set some kind of example in brevity.

There were many things I wanted to speak about, but I shall have to forgo the raising of quite a number of points. There are, however, one or two points which I shall insist on bringing before the House, but, before doing so, I want to say that, during the course of Senator Tierney's speech, I could not help feeling he was over-pessimistic. Many points were raised by him which I do not think will bear scrutiny. If his contention is true, it would seem that all the efforts we have expended on industrial and social development have [434] led us nowhere and that we are really as badly off to-day as we were 40 and even 20 years ago. I could not help, while he was speaking, drawing a kind of graph which would go to show that that contention is not true. For instance, it is quite clear that if one were to take a period, one would find that the line representing wages would be horizontal, or to be precise, not quite horizontal, but rising slightly.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Would that be real wages?

Liam O Buachalla: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Real wages. We know that, in the last 100 years or so, the standard of living has risen very considerably. I think that most statisticians would agree that it has risen approximately by four, but, if one were to try to plot for the responsibilities— I use that word for want of a better one—of the wage-earner—the married wage-earner, I mean—one would find a curve which would rise very considerably after, say, about eight or nine or ten years of married life. In fact, it bulges very considerably in the case of the large family and then begins to fall somewhat rapidly after, say, the 16th year. Therein is proof that, firstly, the contention that what we have attempted to do has not been without positive result and, at the same time, you have further evidence that there is need for assistance to certain families, notwithstanding what has been achieved. If one tries to realise what the national income is, and what becomes of it, one would find also a justification for the introduction of a measure of this kind. The national income finds its way to the community, under four different heads: rent, wages, interest and profits. There are certain very definite laws which govern the fixing of wages, and because of the operation of these laws the people who obtain wages, the workers, are a helpless section relative to the other three. Therein is a further argument, a further justification, for the State to intervene to aid that particular element which we all admit is, to a considerable degree, helpless.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  We do not. It is not so helpless.

[435]Liam O Buachalla: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  It may be, relatively. However, there is no point in that interjection. Again, Senator Tierney raises the question whether there is a necessity for help of this kind. He quoted his own experience and proceeded to say that there is no justification whatever for any system of help of this kind. Senator Tierney was very fortunate to have been reared in the country. I am just wondering, in view of his statements, if that ten-acre farm did not receive assistance from some other source. I would be surprised if things could have been so easy on that ten-acre farm as Senator Tierney suggests unless there was help coming in from some other source. For my part I have very vivid recollections of my youth. I happen to be one of nine reared on from 28/- to 30/- a week. In this matter it is my word as against Senator Tierney's word. As I say I have very vivid recollections from very early times of the struggle that my parents had to see that the best that could possibly be done was done for me and for the rest of the family. I have not the responsibility—perhaps I should say I have not the honour—of having to provide for a family, but I can see my own relatives, my own brothers, struggling with their large families. I can quote from experience —not alone from examples so close as those of my relatives—but also from my investigations in many instances, that there is need for assistance of this kind. It does not mean that the people I have in mind are just in poverty, but why should they not enjoy some reasonable measure of comfort and security above the subsistence line? It does not follow that we should allow people to remain on the subsistence line if we can help it, and if because of the economic laws which govern the fixing of wages the worker cannot do better than he is doing, then we are bound, by every means in our power, according to the Encyclicals as well as according to our own proper judgment, to do all we can to see that the people with the heavy responsibilities which large families entail, get as much assistance as we can provide for them.

The Senator was worried as to the spending of the 2/6 per week. Would one infer from what he had to say [436] that some system of spending this money would be mandatory for the farming community and also for the remaining members of the community, but that is not so? Should it happen that the people who get this money consider it wise to spend it on artificial manures, on lime, or anything else rather than on boots or food or such like, there is nothing to prevent them doing it, so there is really no point whatever in that objection.

I would rather that the Bill had provided for the provision of allowances in kind, to some degree at any rate. There are a whole lot of reasons why I would much rather that. Perhaps it would have been possible that certain items might be prescribed and made available at controlled prices to people with these allowances and that these items could be secured through an organisation such as, for instance, our present central purchasing department, a department by which, undoubtedly, great savings have been made in the interests of the community. I make the suggestion that there is one item in particular we ought try to provide, that is, something in the nature of a rain cape for every school-going child. I stand very often in the country watching children going to school. Their clothes may be patched and they may not have boots. I do not think these are evils. Their clothing, though patched, may be very warm and the absence of boots may not be the horror that some people imagine. But here is the difficulty and here I believe is what has led to a good deal of the illnesses and the diseases which we notice amongst children: that they often have to trek long distances in the rain to school and perhaps have to stand all day in a cold school. They have their clothes drying into them. If there is a fire provided for them in the school they stand around it, which is equally bad because they have the clothes drying into them. Everyone in the L.D.F. admits the benefits that result from the use of rain capes. It follows that similar or indeed greater benefits would accrue to the school children if they were provided with a kind of standard rain cape. I [437] would make an appeal to the Minister to consider the point. If it does not come within his province, then I hope the Minister for Education will consider it in due course.

Again, this most commendable idea of making the assistance available to the parents of large families will, in many cases, go for naught unless something else is done besides. What I have in mind, mainly, is that a campaign just as intense as the campaign in regard to tuberculosis should be instituted in regard to the matter of diets. The different food values should be stressed and every effort should be made to convince people of the necessity of planning the menus, especially for young children. Much good food is available in the country. Much of it is being wasted. That is a further suggestion which I make in connection with the granting of these allowances.

With one thing mentioned by Senator Tierney I am, to a degree, in agreement. I refer to his statement that, if there is to be a scheme, it should be on a contributory basis. I know that the Minister must have had at least three alternatives before him and I am sure that he had before him the results of the operation of these schemes in the various countries in which they have been in operation for so long. I am satisfied that he has adopted the scheme which, in the circumstances, is best suited to this country. I do not quarrel with that scheme, but I do feel that there is something in the statement that there is a danger inherent in the Bill that people will conclude that the Government is in the nature of a bottomless well from which an unending flow of money can be drawn. No man went to greater pains than did the Minister himself to point out that danger.

I remember reading his speech in the Dáil which, as I said a few minutes ago, was, certainly, one of the finest speeches I have read by any Minister for a long time. He had to deal with a very difficult subject but his treatment of it was well done from the social point of view and well and lucidly done from the economic point of view. He put before us very clearly the economic [438] repercussions of this Bill. Because of the danger I mention I should like if some effort could be made later to make this a contributory scheme so that people would realise that the money has to come from some economic source and that it is not obtained out of a hat or a bottomless well. The difficulty for us here in Ireland would seem to be that we have so many people who are not workers. Those we have in mind mainly are the small farmers. I do not know exactly how we could get over the difficulty of contribution from the small farmer but it occurred to me that we might fix his contributions to the fund as a percentage of the rates which he has to pay. I feel that the whole principle of allowances would be the stronger for our putting it on a contributory basis, if such is at all possible.

Perhaps I may refer back to the point I mentioned a few minutes ago when I spoke about rain capes for children. This may seem socialistic, in a way, but it is a point we might look into. I should like to see something done with regard to the provision of—what shall I call them?—say, standardised or utility clothing and utility shoes for school-going children. I should like to see those goods produced in such a way that profit would not be made out of them. The State might do it through placing the orders and getting whatever advantages are to be obtained from large-scale orders or indeed the workers might consider the giving of a few days of their labour in the year to the production of those things as a contribution to the solution of the problem. But we should, at least, make available to such children as may need them, at a reasonable charge, something in the nature of good clothing and stout footwear. If people do not wish to use these utility articles, well and good but, should they be needed, then children should not be left without them.

The suggestion with regard to the marriage allowance is one that, I think, we should reject. Marriage is an institution of a very high and noble kind and I should certainly be sorry if we should take such a step as has been suggested in regard to it. With [439] regard to further social advance, I am not so pessimistic regarding our ability to provide further advisable social schemes as some people are. We have so far done exceedingly well and the country has not suffered undue strain in consequence. A good deal of our present expenditure is not of a permanent nature and I believe that considerable funds may be made available in due course for further social services. If the money were available, I think it would be wise, as an alternative to the suggestion regarding the marriage grant, to devote it to subsidising a nursery system or, perhaps, the wages of nursemaids in the case of families above a certain number. Such a suggestion was made, shortly before his death, by the late Professor O Maille, the details of which can be found in a very fine article published in the Press of the time. As an aid to the promotion of the national language, Professor O Maille suggested the subsidising of the wages of nursemaids from the Gaeltacht. Even that is a matter which we might consider as being in the nature of providing family allowance in kind.

If the money were available, I should like to see allowances provided for every child in the family. But in view of the circumstances of the times, I think that there is much to be said for the Minister's decision to concentrate what funds he has on families above a certain number. He could have divided the funds available over all the children of a family. That would have achieved a certain good result but that result would not be comparable with that which can be achieved by the concentration of the moneys available on a lesser number of children, as is envisaged in this Bill.

Finally, I want to say that I am in complete agreement with the principle involved in this Bill. Circumstances have compelled us to introduce it. We have legislation, industrial legislation, which precludes children from going out to work and so helping to augment the income of the home. We have, among other restrictions, compulsory education. If we take such steps as these, we must also see that compensation [440] is made available in some other way. With the laws of wages as they are, there is no alternative open to us, as I said at the beginning, but to assist wage earners in the way it is proposed to do through the medium of this Bill.

Mr. Colgan: Information on Michael Colgan  Zoom on Michael Colgan  I should like to join with other Senators in welcoming this measure. I personally feel that the Government, and the Minister in particular, are to be congratulated on their courage in introducing the Bill at this time.

As we know, we are going through a difficult period, and while I might agree with Professor Tierney that the Bill is only a palliative, it will help considerably the economic condition of many of our people at the present time. Last night I sat here, rather enthralled, listening to Senator Mulcahy criticising the measure—its frugality in certain directions, and so on. He went on to suggest that the scheme could be extended, and should be extended, in various ways. Sitting here, I was reminded of the 1/- lost by the old age pensioners, and of the unemployed who were told that it was not the function of the Government to find work for them. I wonder whether we are honest in criticising this measure which, although it does not fully meet the requirements of the people, recognises at any rate the principle of family allowances. For that reason, I believe it should be welcomed by the Seanad.

Professor Tierney spoke of illusions. As a member of the Dublin Corporation who has to go around tenement dwellings and through the slums and to try to do what we can to alleviate the plight of these people, I can certainly say the half-a-crown a week for children under 16 years of age will be no illusion so far as the slum dwellers are concerned. It will add considerably to their weekly income and help them, in some measure, to meet the terrible problems of living in these difficult times. There is no illusion about the poverty of those families in the city. Professor Tierney told us he was born on a 10-acre farm and that the majority of those on [441] 10-acre farms know nothing about poverty. But I claim to be a poorer man. I was born in a one-room tenement in Middle Gardiner Street and I lived in a slum for the greater part of my life and know what poverty is. Therefore, I am rather annoyed to hear people saying that we do not know poverty, and that, at this juncture, we should not spend so much money helping people over difficult times.

We know that the ideal is the family as envisaged by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, but until we get the ideal Catholic social system, and the ideal Catholic home, I suggest that there is no use in criticising a Government which attempts in some way to meet the problem as it is. We should avoid wishful thinking and hoping that the problem is not there, and pretending we have ideals we have not got.

There are one or two points I feel the Minister might consider, although I understand that the Bill was put to the Dáil in this way: “There is the Bill for you. It is costing so much. There can be no change in it that may increase the cost in any way.” I felt that possibly the Minister might consider the possibility of paying 2/6 to the third child and not only to the third child under 16. An aspect of this measure that, I think, has not been thought of, appeals to me and that is that in this country we have, thank God, been noted for rearing large families. In these days of artificial birth control, so prevalent throughout the country, large families should not be interfered with but should be encouraged. Each married couple should exercise their God-given rights to have large families, if they so desire, and the problem of marriage allowances can be met. I am satisfied that the fewness of marriages is due to economic reasons. These allowances should have the dual purpose of helping the man and wife to rear their family in decent and frugal comfort, but also of encouraging people to have children, so that, by force of economic circumstances, they should not be compelled to resort to measures we all condemn.

There is another point I would like [442] to bring to the attention of the Minister—the question of widows. If he is not prepared, and I am not so sanguine as to believe he is, to extend the 2/6 to the third child, he might consider the extension of the 2/6 per week to the third child of a widow or to the third child of a woman with a disabled husband. The difficulties of these people are very great and I do not imagine that the extra cost would be very much. My second suggestion is that the third child of a widow or the wife of a disabled husband, that is, the third child born, instead of the third child under 16, should be allowed the 2/6 per week.

I would like to mention a point raised by Senator O Buachalla—the question of utility clothes and shoes. Personally, I would object strongly to that because I know something of the work of the Police-Aided Clothing society. Any child who got a suit of clothes or a pair of boots from that society could be picked out as an object of charity and was always regarded as having the badge of poverty. It has been suggested that the principle of poverty is enshrined in the Bill. I feel that utility clothes and shoes would place the stigma of pauperism on children who got them. They would be pointed out as having got clothes from Government sources and would be made the object of scorn and pity by other children.

The other suggestion of nursery maids is far-fetched. The people I am concerned with have scarcely enough to keep themselves without thinking of the idea of nursery maids. Although I welcome the Bill, I want to say that the whole system which necessitates the payment of family allowances is wrong. The ideal system is one in which the man of the house would earn sufficient money to enable him to keep his family and himself in frugal comfort. Until we get an ideal system, I think this is a very good substitute and a help to parents to provide their children with some of the necessaries of life. On that account I welcome the Bill.

Mrs. Concannon: Information on Helena Concannon  Zoom on Helena Concannon  Like my colleague, Senator Professor Tierney and, I feel, [443] the Minister himself, I am not overenthusiastic about this Bill. My want of enthusiasm for it rests in the history of the Bill. My reading of the position may be different from that of Senator Professor Tierney. Senator Professor Tierney suggested that the Bill had been germinated by certain politicians from an attractive idea which would blossom forth into something all Parties would contend for. To my mind the idea behind the Bill is more deep. It goes back to the Constitution.

Among the storms of controversy which raged around our Constitution when it was first launched there was none which came nearer to wrecking it than that centring round Article 41. In that Article, which concerns itself with the family, tribute is paid to the special support to the State, and the special contribution to the common good made by woman by her life within the home. Then the promise was given that—

“the State shall endeavour to ensure that mothers of families shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”.

There was, it will be remembered, considerable discussion as to what these words meant. Many women interpreted them as a prohibition on engaging in any work at all outside the home, and were stirred up to such opposition to the Constitution as to threaten its acceptance when it went to the people for their decision by way of Referendum. The most fantastic interpretations were put on Article 41.

I remember one good woman, a loyal supporter of Fianna Fáil, who on being canvassed for her affirmative vote in the Referendum protested with great sorrow that she could not give it. That woman worked hard in the house all day but, in the evening, she always went for a little walk. Fearing that the Constitution would deprive her of that modest recreation she said she would vote against it. The Constitution was ratified and as we all know, our hard working friend can still have her evening constitutional, and women [444] can still take and keep jobs if they get them. In fact, the position of women is exactly as it was before—no better and no worse. What then did the Article profess to offer them? Those of us who defended it believed that implicit in an.

“endeavour to ensure that mothers of families shall not be compelled by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home”

was a promise of a scheme of something like family allowances.

We were very much fortified then to learn that some three years ago an inter-Departmental committee was set up to examine the question, but very much disillusioned when we were finally presented with the Bill we are now debating, and to learn from the Minister's introductory speech that it was the Government's last word, for the moment, at any rate. It must be admitted that as far as this Bill is concerned mothers of families will still be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour outside their homes, though they have young families who would need them there. In fact economic necessity does not—except in an incidental way—enter into the field of vision of the Bill at all.

The first criterion is the number of children in the family under 16. In the Dáil several Deputies pointed out that for a widow with a non-contributory pension as her sole resource, who may have as many as four children, the eldest being 17, the Bill can do nothing, while people who do not know, by personal experience, at least, anything of the pressure of economic necessity, because they have a certain number of children under 16 may draw the allowance. That to my mind is the great blot on the Bill. The Minister told us that the aim of the Bill was to alleviate want amongst large families whose wage-earners did not earn enough to support them. People who do not know what want is—Senator Tierney, perhaps, never knew what want is— can draw the allowance while people like the widow to whom I referred will not draw it. I think that is the great defect in the Bill. It seems to me that the Government was in a hurry and [445] that the great desire was for over-simplification. The Minister rather prided himself on the Bill being so simple. To my mind it is far too simple. It seems to reduce itself to some sort of mathematical formula, so much money to be raised by way of taxation and the amount divided by the number of children under 16. To my mind that was not the way to approach the problem at all.

I think that if the Inter-Departmental Committee did not, as we gather, produce a scheme some other committee should have been set up. In the scheme suggested by Senator Counihan there was a nucleus for another scheme. The Senator had it worked out pretty well for certain classes. It might have been tried first on certain classes as a contributory scheme, with the option to people within certain income limits, of going in voluntarily. That might have been examined by the Government. This mathematical scheme has been evolved and my grievance is that there has been over-simplification, that the Government took the easiest way out without adverting to Article 41. At the same time it must be admitted that the Bill is bound to do good to a large number of poor families with the requisite number of children under 16. If they get £6 10 0 every half year it ought to help them in what seems to be one of the most terrible problems for the ordinary poor family, the provision of boots and clothes for the children. We hope that the nation's bounty may be applied in that direction. There is no provision whatever in the Bill that the drawer of the allowance, the father, will be bound to apply it to the needs of the family. He has just to take it. If he is a decent man he will apply it as intended but, unfortunately, some of us have in mind cases where many fathers of families could not be depended upon to spend the money in the right way. There should be some provision in the Bill that the prerequisites for which the money is taken from taxpayers, and which is a heavy burden on them, should be applied first to the children for whom, in the mind of the nation, it was intended.

[446] I do not know if anything could be done to ensure that now, but these are one or two reasons why I am not very enthusiastic about this Bill.

At the same time, this is a recognition of a very, very serious need, and the Government is deserving of great credit for bringing in this measure at the present moment, when faced with so very many other problems. We all know that fathers of families should have employment and wages on such a scale as would enable them to keep their families in human comfort and under human conditions. We do not ask for more than that. We know that that is the idea, but it is not by making speeches here that we can reach it. We have to keep that idea before us, and that is the use of speeches; but it is by hard work that we will realise it. We have to realise that this unemployment problem is the worst problem we have, and all our energies should be bent towards its solution. In the meantime, help has to be given to those who suffer, and, in so far as this Bill is a contribution to the alleviation of their need, I welcome it.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  I welcome this Bill, and welcome it as a recent convert to children's allowances. Fifteen years ago, or even in more recent times, I would have opposed the Bill on account of the advantage which would have been taken by employers to reduce wages. Now, the working class have organised support which enables them to resist employers who would exploit the family allowances in order to reduce wages. However, that danger is not entirely eliminated; it is there all the time, but to a more limited extent than it existed at the time I mentioned. As a consequence, I am a convert to this idea.

I welcome this Bill as a first step in the development of our social services. Unlike Senator Tierney, I think that when legislators come to deal with this matter 20 years hence, the reason that makes it necessary to provide children's allowances will have largely disappeared. I hope that the wit of man, and particularly of the people [447] of this country, will have arrived at a solution for the awful problem of unemployment, which is the main reason for this Bill. I do not believe that, at the end of 20 years, we will find ourselves in the same social predicament as we are in to-day. I am certainly more optimistic than Senator Tierney. Listening to him, I saw visions of a chap in a skittle alley putting up skittles and knocking them down; while at other times the Senator seemed to be more like the man with the knacker's mare. His exposition of Catholic philosophy may be right or wrong—I am not in a position to judge it—but I certainly am not in agreement with his interpretation of it. He deplored the march into pauperism and by pauperism he meant the social measures—old age pensions, unemployment benefit, and so on—pauperising the people. He then talked about the old state many years back, but he stopped there. If he had gone back a little further, he would have arrived at primitive man, when the survival of the fittest was the law. That was the alternative to State interference. The primitive method was for a man to get what he could from the other fellow. Of course, that was developed in a more scientific way through modern industrialism, where the capitalistic employer was able to exploit the worker. The State, of necessity, had to interfere in order to protect the mass of the people.

Senator Tierney would have all those restrictions removed and allow the people to be exploited and to live in misery. I certainly do not agree with that. He challenged those who were interested in this thing as to whether they knew anything about poverty. Apart from the fact that he was reared on a farm of ten acres and succeeded in making good, I want to tell him that his knowledge of poverty is very limited.

I was reared in a slum in the City of Dublin, and I was fortunate enough to get on to a certain measure; but, having got there, I cannot forget the misery and degradation of the people who were schoolmates of mine. Does he wish to go back to that state of [448] affairs? I have not come to any conclusion as to what his ideas were in regard to this Bill. Sometimes he was for Governmental interference and sometimes he was opposed to it. He left me just as wise at the end of his long address as I was at the beginning.

Generally speaking, this measure has become absolutely necessary for the protection and assistance of the community. The people who have large families are contributing something, and every child born is an asset, or ought to be, under normal, natural conditions. As things are now, they are an encumbrance, and, consequently, it is the duty of the State to relieve the misery that exists in our midst. Apparently, the State is recognising that duty in allocating £2,250,000 for this purpose. Senator Tierney does not believe the misery exists, and does not see it, but the great mass of the people do. This is not a political measure, as he interpreted it; it is an act of social justice to the very deserving section of the community which requires help. I sincerely hope that the Minister will persevere and put the burden of the cost of this measure on the right shoulders. Senator O'Donnell spoke of the amount of money of other people which would be involved in this. On account of the emergency, our Defence Forces have had to be increased, and the Estimate is up by £5,000,000. That money has been found—and would not have been found were this not an emergency—and nobody is complaining about it.

Money can be found for measures of that kind. People believe it is necessary to have Defence Forces of a certain proportion and, consequently, we must have the money to meet that, and the money comes forward.

I welcome this measure as a first step, but not by any means as the end. Maybe in the near future some form of contributory scheme will be devised, but at any rate we have taken a step on the right road. I hope that this class of legislation will be presevered in, perfected and brought into line with the best social services that the country can provide for its people until such time as the Christian ideal, about which Senator Tierney spoke, [449] exists here, when everyone will recognise that he or she has a duty to the poor and the needy. I welcome the measure because it is a step in the right direction.

Mr. Hawkins: Information on Frederick Joseph H Hawkins  Zoom on Frederick Joseph H Hawkins  Many Senators have spoken on this measure and, throughout the country, since the Bill was introduced in the Dáil, it has received great consideration and has been the subject of much discussion. Very few Bills have been introduced in regard to which there has been such an amount of misunderstanding—that is, so far as I can gather from what I have heard people saying. I think that misunderstanding is not so great in this House as it was in the other House, but, at the same time, from what I have heard here, I am convinced that there are some Senators at least who do not fully understand the provisions of the Bill.

As the Minister indicated when he was introducing the Bill, its purpose is to come to the assistance of people with large families. As we understand it, it is not a Bill to encourage large families, and it is not a Bill to encourage marriages. It is a Bill which aims at giving assistance to those people who are already married and have in family at least three children under 16 years of age. To those people 2/6 a week will be paid, and, so far as I understand the Bill, the money will go to the parent or parents of the children.

As Senator Concannon has mentioned, where a widows' and orphans' pension is being paid, the children's allowance will not be interfered with. I hope I am correct in my interpretation that where a man leaves a family, his widow will receive, together with the widows' and orphans' pension, a family allowance in respect of the number of children entitled to receive it.

We have heard Senators regretting the universal application, as they termed it, of the provisions of this Bill. Those people must be very far removed from life in the country and they must have given very little consideration to existing conditions. If we were to bring in a contributory [450] scheme, under which we would have to collect contributions from different sections of the people, then only certain sections would benefit under such a scheme. The people most in need of this assistance include the small farmers and those living in the Gaeltacht areas. How could you devise a system under which these people could contribute? These are the people who have the largest families. If you organised a scheme under which you would hope to collect contributions from the people in Connemara and other Gaeltacht areas, from the employers of agricultural labour and from the agricultural labourers themselves, do you really think you could operate it? I think it was Senator O'Donnell who asked the Minister what would be the administrative cost of such a scheme—what it was to cost to collect the contributions.

I congratulate the Minister and the Department on having brought in a very simple measure, legislation that everybody can understand. It will be quite simple in its administration and in that way more of the £2,250,000 will go to those who are entitled to it rather than towards the payment of officials. Those of us who move among the country people have heard the farming community in particular cursing from day to day because of the large number of officials, yet if a Bill is brought in here there are appeals made for the appointment of more officials.

In the train recently I had a discussion with a gentleman. We were trying to calculate the number of officials administering various schemes. I am not sure that we succeeded. So far as this measure is concerned, we have heard appeals for the appointment of additional officials.

A suggestion has been made that this money should be paid to the mother. If we were to carry that suggestion to its logical conclusion, we would need to bring in a measure under which every employer would be obliged to pay the wages of his employees to their wives. We would then have to regard the male employee as a person not fit to discharge his responsibility and not competent [451] to bring home his wages and give his wife sufficient to meet household requirements. The Minister is very wise not to accede to these requests. Some Senator mentioned that there were cases from time to time where fathers were brought up in court. But there are also cases where mothers are charged with neglecting their homes. I believe if investigations were made it would be almost a case of fifty-fifty.

Senator Tierney spoke on this Bill. He also addressed the House on other occasions when we were discussing motions in relation to this matter. I do not propose to follow up what the Senator said or comment on some of the points he brought forward, but one statement of his was to the effect that we had no proof of any necessity for this measure. Surely we have sufficient proof in the demands that were made throughout the country for a number of years for a measure of this kind. Senator Tierney remarked that it was merely the cry of politicians. I have heard statements made by persons other than politicians. I attended a meeting which was addressed by very high church dignitaries and this proposal was expounded.

Being, like Senator Foran, a worker, I do not wish to clash with other Senators in deciding whether Senator Tierney is a proper person to expound Catholic teaching. Apart altogether from Catholic teaching, this proposal is certainly in keeping with social justice, and that is what we require. We know the agricultural worker is not in a good position; he is not as well off as he should be, particularly where he has a large family to support. You might say the proper remedy is to increase his wages, but the increase in wages must be made all round. It is only through the family allowance that you can pick out the man with the large family and give him some assistance, and that is what the Government propose to do under this Bill.

I welcome the Bill, and I was glad that Senator Colgan and Senator Foran, on behalf of the Labour Party, [452] gave it their benediction, because on some other occasions I know that trade unionism in this and other countries was opposed to a measure of this kind for the reasons referred to by Senator Campbell. I hope, at the same time, that the fears that were expressed by trade unionists when a measure of this sort was first mooted will not be realised, that no employer or organisation of farmers will try to take advantage of the conditions of this Bill, and that they will not meet applications for increased wages from any section by saying: “It is not an increase in wages that is necessary; it is the Government's duty to increase the family allowances; if you get an increase in that way it will solve your problem.”

I heard Senator Mulcahy mention last night that he would move an amendment to this Bill and I just thought what a great loss it was to the country that Senator Mulcahy and his colleagues had not remained in office for at least another ten or 12 years. With all the promises and suggestions they are making now I am afraid Senator Tierney would have to organise some Party to try to combat their excessive generosity. However, we must ask ourselves why they were not so generous when they were in power. We are all, I think, in general agreement on the principles of the Bill and we all hope—I do at any rate— that as a result of the help given to large families by the Bill, a great saving will be brought about in other ways, a saving in the proper building up of our young people, a saving brought about by less unemployment and, consequently, by less need for unemployment assistance. If anybody tells me that 7/6 or 10/- a week added to the wages of an agricultural worker with a large family is something of an illusion, it must be very easy to create such illusions. This, however, is something real. It means that a man can put more nourishment on the table for his family and clothe them better. That is bound to have a good result for the nation and I believe will eventually result in a saving. I hope that that saving will eventually enable us to increase the allowances [453] payable under the Bill and not alone to grant allowances in respect of every child from the third onwards, but in respect of every child in the family. I think that that will be possible as a result of the savings brought about by the proper use of the money expended under this Bill.

Mr. Sweetman: Information on Gerard Sweetman  Zoom on Gerard Sweetman  In introducing this Bill, the Minister made it clear that it was the fixed intention of the Government to set aside £2,250,000 and only £2,250,000. He, or rather his colleague, the Minister for Finance is, of course, responsible for the collection of finances. That is their responsibility and I have no quarrel for that reason with the statement of the Minister. It is obviously his duty to make up his mind how much money he proposes to make available for any particular service. Where I do quarrel, and quarrel seriously, with the Minister is in his subsequent statement that members of the Oireachtas will have to make up their minds whether they want to spend this sum in the way indicated in the Bill or to spend it on other social services.

If he felt that, I suggest that it was surely his duty in introducing the measure to put before the House information that would enable each member adequately to judge the effects that were going to arise out of the provisions here, to put before the House the statistical information which the Government, and the Government alone, must have, to enable the House to judge whether that amount was being spent to the best advantage in the manner indicated in this Bill or whether, in the Minister's own words, it might be better spent on other social services. Without the advantage of those statistics I find it extremely difficult to discuss in any way the general principles of the measure.

I welcome one aspect of the Bill, what Senator Tierney referred to as its universality. I think the Minister in that respect is perfectly right in ensuring that there will not be any more investigation into family circumstances than is absolutely necessary. I disagree, however, with the Minister in the fact that he has made the measure [454] a non-contributory one. I think it would have been possible and wise to introduce a scheme that was partly contributory and partly non-contributory, in spite of the fact given to us in the only figures we got from the Minister, that almost 50 per cent. of the people employed, are employed on their own account. However, without some further information, and as the Minister has quite clearly made up his mind on that line, I do not think it is much use my pursuing it further.

I think it would have been desirable if the Minister explained to us how much of the £2,250,000 will be expended in actual allowances and how much in administration. I must say I was rather amused by Senator Hawkins's references to the multiplicity of officials and his own simple reference to the simplicity of this Bill. The Bill is far from simple and the Bill creates a new host of officials. You get a different class of officials no matter what page you turn over. You start off with investigation officers, you go on then to deciding officers, and then you come to referees. I may be very stupid, but I do not understand why all that machinery for all that duplication is necessary. It seems to me, so far as the referees are concerned, that it would have been at least possible, after the initial stages at any rate, to avoid the necessity for that type of official and to allow the work to be done by district justices. You would already have a sifting through the investigation officers and the deciding officers. Surely whatever could get through the mesh of the net at that stage, could be dealt with by district justices without imposing too heavy a strain on their work.

I would like the Minister to give the House some information as to the manner in which they have made up their minds that the referee will do his work. Will it be possible, for example, for a body such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to make representations to the referee on behalf of any claimant? It seems to me particularly desirable that bodies such as that should be in the position of being able to put forward, on behalf of those [455] who may not be lucky enough to be able to express themselves satisfactorily, claims that will inevitably arise.

I do not understand some of the qualification provisions in the measure. As I take it, the qualification that has been decided on is one of residence, and in the words of the Bill the person with whom the child is residing is deemed to be the person by whom it is being maintained. I would like the Minister to consider the case of a man and wife and five children, and a sister of the wife married and in some other household, but childless. These childless people may have one of the five children staying with them in the country for reasons of health or for other reasons. As I see it—and I would like the Minister to say whether my interpretation is correct or not— the man who had the four children will get an allowance in respect of two of them, and there will be no allowance payable in respect of the fifth child living in the country. If that is correct, as the scheme is drafted, I would suggest that it is hardly fair, because it is going to penalise and prevent—the prevention being far more important —children from being sent out of the slums into the country for reasons of health.

In Section 3, sub-section (4), in which the Minister takes power to pay the allowance to somebody else, where the persons who had been receiving it had died, there is a discretionary power there, and for the life of me I cannot understand it. If a father during his lifetime was entitled to a children's allowance of say 10/- a week, and he dies, then under sub-section (4) the Minister may, if he thinks fit, pay that allowance to somebody else. Surely there must be no question of whether he thinks fit to pay the allowance to the mother. I would suggest to the Minister that that particular sub-section should read that the Minister shall direct that the children's allowance, or any part thereof, shall be paid to such person as he thinks fit. But it should be absolutely mandatory on him to pay the allowance.

[456] In the following sub-section there is a similar discretionary power entitling the Minister, where a person entitled to the allowance is in prison or is in a mental home, or where the Minister is satisfied that the person receiving the allowance has neglected the family, to pay it to somebody else. While I quite appreciate that that power is wisely phrased, I do suggest to the Minister that there should be an additional power given to the district justice that in any case where the father is brought up before the justice and convicted of not having supported his family, the district justice should there and then, and without having to go back to the Minister, also have power in addition to registering the conviction to direct that the allowance should be paid to the mother or to such other person as the justice will think fit. It would seem to me that otherwise you are going to have the additional cost of a duplicate investigation between the district justice and the Minister, both, in effect, into the same thing—whether the person getting the allowance did or did not neglect the family.

I am mentioning these points, although they are to some extent committee points, to give the Minister an opportunity of considering them, and I hope he will see his way to meet me in some part, at any rate, before the Committee Stage. In Section 11, sub-section (1) the Minister takes power to get the repayment of children's allowance paid to a person not entitled to it. I can quite appreciate the necessity for that, but I do not see that it is either practicable or reasonable when the allowance is supposed to be spent that the same power of recoupment should be given against the personal representative, or whoever may be there, after the man who has spent it has died.

I am not at all clear about the provision that the allowance is to be inalienable. I quite agree that it should obviously be made payable in such a way that it cannot be mortgaged or charged. But, unfortunately, it does happen at times that a husband and wife have differences, and unfortunately we occasionally have to be called in as solicitors to make arrangements [457] by deed in such an event. It should be permissible that in a case where there is a break-up of the home there could be a direction as to who was going to receive the allowance in future. As the section is drawn, any such provision would not be worth the paper it was written on, and the person who made the agreement could afterwards come along and completely wash it out.

There has been a great deal of muddled thinking on all sides in regard to the way in which the allowance is going to operate with regard to the allowance for income-tax, and while I agree that it is more perhaps a matter for a Finance Act, I would like the Minister, if he is in a position to do so, to give us an indication of whether it is going to be possible for a person who does not claim the allowance under this Bill thereby to have his income-tax allowance left as it would be in respect of the children, were it not for this Bill.

The difference is negligible in either case, and I am not proposing to argue about what there would be by way of difference in a full tax case, but it would seem to me that a method could be adopted to make for simpler administration, in the shape of the production of a certificate stating that a person had not applied for an allowance under the Act and the allowance under the Income Tax Acts would then be granted. It would save a great deal of unnecessary post office work. I should like the Minister to tell us also whether it is proposed that the regulations to be made under this Bill shall or shall not be tabled.

Candidly, I do not quite like the implications of Section 19, which gives the Minister power completely to vary, in any way he may wish, the provisions of this Bill, and yet I do agree that it will be difficult to foresee what difficulties will arise during the first year. I think that position could fairly be met by a provision giving the Minister that power, provided it did not override anything specific in the Bill as passed by the Oireachtas. These are, as I say, all matters of detail and I mention them now in order to give [458] the Minister an opportunity of considering them before Committee Stage.

I differ on the general principle from much of what Senator Tierney so very ably expressed, but I differ from him particularly in that I believe there is a genuine desire for some sort of allowance of this nature in the country. I do not think, that desire has been engendered by what may be described as the bidding of politicians, but, as I said in the beginning and say now in conclusion, it is quite impossible for this House or any other House to discuss the real implications of this measure, or the manner in which it could be bettered, whether by the provision of marriage bonus, the giving of a bonus on the birth of the first child—because obviously the first child will be the most expensive in any family—or any other way, without the Government putting before the House and the country the details and information which they and they alone have and which it was their duty to put before the people.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Patrick Kehoe  Zoom on Patrick Kehoe  My contribution to this discussion will be mercifully short. I was beginning to wonder for the last half hour whether the Parliamentary draftsmen knew their business at all and beginning to get a little muddled about the Bill. I think we must all regard this Bill as a valuable contribution towards the alleviation of the endemic distress and poverty which undoubtedly exist in our midst, and which will never be completely cured by any social remedies, no matter how far-reaching or far-seeing. I think the Minister and those responsible for the Bill deserve the highest credit for bringing it forward. It is admittedly, as Senator Tierney said, merely a palliative, but unfortunately in this world we cannot do without palliatives, or palliasses, either. The truth of the matter is that this problem of endemic poverty is always with us and any step, even in the nature of a palliative, which can be taken, without burdening the community at large too heavily, must be regarded as a definite step forward in the social system.

I must say that I feel a good deal of sympathy with Senator Tierney's diatribes on the social system. His [459] speech, to my mind, though it might not meet with the approval of the political neophytes who entered our Chamber lately, was a stimulating and provocative analysis of the social situation, and I for one am wholeheartedly with Senator Tierney in his remarks on the social system as regards State interference, while acknowledging at the same time that this interference is necessary. The spirit which used to manifest itself in our old social system is becoming conspicuous by its absence. There was a time, as Senator Tierney said, when people would not take the old age pension, when they would die rather than take it—a laudable, if perhaps sentimental, outlook on the social situation —and I do regret to a certain extent the universality of this measure. Advantage will be taken of this measure by people who are not in the least in need of it. I tell the House that because in going through the country I have heard the measure spoken of, jocosely and otherwise, and certain sections of the population, happily married and with large families, who could rear them quite well without any incentive in the way of cash, are quite prepared to sink any pride they may have and accept this help, which obviously is not meant in the ultimate for them. That cannot be helped. Universality has been adopted as the motto in this regard and we must stick to it.

As Senator Tierney rather ruefully admitted, this Bill will go through, and hence I do not propose to criticise it in detail. The principle, I think, cannot be objected to in any way. It is a definite attempt to alleviate poverty, but even though handicapped in certain ways by restrictions, and even though the principle of State interference is very strongly laid down in it—and perhaps there is a danger of that being implemented in the future—we must, nevertheless, recognise that that is the trend of the present day. In so far as this measure is a genuine pioneer attempt in this particular sphere, I welcome it.

I should like to ask the Minister, without in any way asking him to commit [460] himself, what particular machinery will be adopted. Will the onus of administering the measure fall on the existing pension officers, a very hardworking body of men? If so, I would point out that it would entail a very great amount of work for them. I think that in the whole of Eire there are only about 100 pension officers. There may possibly be 150,000 claims in connection with the Bill, and dealing with these would throw a very heavy burden on these officers, some of whom are very apprehensive lest the burden of working this Bill be thrown on them. I think they would like to be made fully aware as to whether that is so. Naturally, if they were charged with the execution of the provisions of the Bill and the performance of additional duties, the matter of additional remuneration would also arise. In company with others, I welcome the Bill and congratulate the Minister and those responsible for having brought it forward.

Mr. Campbell: Information on Sean Patrick Campbell  Zoom on Sean Patrick Campbell  I have very little to say on the measure, but I should not like to let the debate pass without saying that, notwithstanding the inadequate provisions in regard to payments in the Bill, I heartily approve of it. Senator Tierney said that he doubted the existence of any great hardship, and I think he also said that he had not sensed any general feeling in favour of the Bill, or any great demand for it in the country. I want to say, as an officer representing one of the biggest organisations in the country—I refer to the Irish Trade Union Congress—that this measure has on several occasions been demanded by the annual Congress of our organisation. I have no doubt whatever, notwithstanding as I have said the inadequacy of the allowances in the Bill, that it will be welcomed by all wage-earners. We are in the particularly fortunate position that the 300,000 people affiliated to our Congress are all wage-earners. I speak, therefore, with more authority on this matter than many of those who have already addressed the House. Senator Tierney, in his apologia for poverty, painted a not too dismal picture of the conditions that prevailed when he was a boy on [461] a ten-acre farm. I suggest to him that the conditions of poverty that he endured or enjoyed on that ten-acre farm are not at all comparable to the conditions of poverty that some of us experienced in our youth.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  The Senator did not do too badly, and neither did Senator Colgan or Senator O Buachalla.

Mr. Campbell: Information on Sean Patrick Campbell  Zoom on Sean Patrick Campbell  Senator Colgan, Senator Foran and Senator O Buachalla referred to the conditions of their youth, but I can assure them that their experiences of their childhood are not at all comparable to mine. I was the eldest of a family of nine, so that with my father and mother we had 11 living in one room, under terrible conditions, on the low wages then prevailing. I think Senator O Buachalla said that his father was earning a wage of 28/- a week. My father had a wage of 17/- a week. That is what 11 of us had to live on. I make that statement here in all sincerity. The only bright spot in my life when I was a boy 40 years ago was when I, as a “printer's devil”, had to go to my distinguished colleague, Senator Rowlette, with proofs of the journal of which he was then editor. I used to enjoy the few minutes I spent in his house while waiting for him to correct the proofs before retiring to my heights in this slums of Dublin. My memory has been scared by the conditions under which the working classes in Dublin then reared their families.

Senator Baxter, referring to Senator Colgan, Senator Foran and myself, has said that we have not done too badly. I suppose that, like Senator Tierney, who prefers the rugged individualism of which he is such an advocate, some of us have risen to the top. I do not know whether that was due to character or to hard work. Perhaps it was due to hard work, but we got there. I would not like that to be taken as an indication that dire poverty does not exist in this city. The people who will benefit most under this measure will welcome it, and welcome it heartily. I think it was Senator Sweetman who said that it will have to be paid for. That will not concern so much the people who at present are finding it [462] very difficult to live on the wages they are receiving. So long as wages are restricted—so long as restrictions are imposed on people from securing an adequate means of livelihood—this measure will certainly be welcomed by them.

It was my pleasure six or seven years ago to attend an International Labour Conference. I think I have attended eight of these conferences, at two of which I think the Minister for Industry and Commerce was present. It was my honour and pleasure at those conferences to pay tribute not alone to the present Government but to the Government that preceded it on their record in the sphere of local legislation. In that sphere this country has no mean record. It was one of the first countries to introduce measures that will ultimately result in the establishment of social justice not only in this country but throughout the world. I suppose that by paying tribute to both Governments I may be saying something which will be to my own political detriment ultimately. I am not, however, afraid to repeat now that I have nothing but praise, tribute and honour to pay not alone to this Government but to the Government that preceded it for the progress that has been made here in the sphere of social legislation during the past 22 years. This Government, undoubtedly, has made the greater strides, but I do not want for a moment to take from the credit that is due to the Government that preceded it for the steps it took to introduce certain social legislation.

Senator Tierney is a hard hitter, and I think we all admire him for that. He says that he does not know of the existence of any great hardship. I can assure him that even among well-paid workers at the present time frightful hardship exists. I know that in their case the small allowance that will be given to the third child will be very welcome, small and all as it is. Personally, I would prefer to see every worker getting from the industry or profession in which he was employed, a competence that would relieve him of the necessity of depending on State funds to supplement his income. In [463] that respect, I rather like the rugged individualism advocated by Senator Tierney and have a lot of sympathy with him. I say that because if the State has to interfere in every aspect of our life it will not be good for the community as a whole, and, ultimately, probably some people controlling the State will end their careers before a firing squad. In any event, I think it would be very hard to convince the people who are going to benefit under this measure that they are going to float, as Senator Tierney said, on a sea of falsehood towards a floating illusion.

Mr. Baxter: Information on Patrick Francis Baxter  Zoom on Patrick Francis Baxter  Towards a shore of illusion, I think he said.

Mr. Campbell: Information on Sean Patrick Campbell  Zoom on Sean Patrick Campbell  Perhaps that was the word he used. I had not an opportunity of attending the Senator's Greek classes. I want again to pay tribute to this Government and to the Government that preceded it for their efforts in social legislation. I want to compliment the Minister on his courage in introducing this Bill. With Senator Sweetman, I do not believe that the measure was introduced for the purpose of obtaining political kudos or votes. On behalf of the people I represent, I sincerly thank the Government and the Minister for introducing this Bill. It will be a great relief to many people to get even the small allowances set out in the Bill. One of my colleagues has asked me to make one point that he forgot to mention when speaking. At the present time the old age pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions are paid on a Friday morning. He asks me to make the point to the Minister that the allowances under this measure will not be paid on the same day. In other words, his suggestion is that the payment of them should be staggered over the whole week.

Mr. Ruane: Information on Sean T Ruane  Zoom on Sean T Ruane  I move the adjournment of the debate.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.


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