Employment Premium Bill, 1975: Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 30 July 1975

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 82 No. 11

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An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Before we take up consideration of the Committee [1076] Stage of this Bill, I should like to indicate that I have ruled that amendments Nos. 4, 6, 7, 10, 10a and 15 standing in the names of Senators Yeats and Dolan are out of order on the ground that in each case the amendment involves a potential charge on State Funds. The Senators have been notified accordingly.

For the information of Senators, amendment No. 10a appears on the Order Paper, not on the list of amendments.

Section 1 agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendments Nos. 1 and 11 are related and it is suggested that they should be taken together.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I move amendment No. 1:

In subsection (1), line 19, after “may” to insert “by order.”

The purpose of amendment No. 1 and also the consequential amendment No. 11 is to try to bring some legislative order into the chaotic situation which exists. Under this Bill the Minister has carte blanche to frame this premium employment programme, called the scheme in the Bill, in any way he likes without any reference to either House of the Oireachtas. He can fix the amount of the premium or the way in which it is to be paid. He can decide on the people who are to receive the premium, the workers in respect of whom it will be paid and the employers to whom it will be paid. Having decided that a certain category of employer or worker shall be entitled to benefit from this scheme, he can modify it so that in specific cases he can remove them from or add them to the schemes. He can decide that industries are not to benefit for any reason he feels like, including the reason under section 4, that they are receiving benefit from the IDA, Fóir Teoranta, or any other body of this kind who give assistance on behalf of the State to industries. All these things can be done by the Minister by ordinary administrative decision with [1077] no reference to either House of the Oireachtas.

We are happy to pass this Bill in the sense that, while we are not certain how effective it will be, the action being taken will benefit industry and agriculture and, to some extent, it will help employment. We are happy to help in passing this Bill pretty rapidly but, nonetheless, it seems that there ought to be some provision for ensuring some kind of legislative supervision over what will be going on under the Bill. Without derogating from or reducing the Minister's powers, I propose in these amendments merely that the Minister should do these things by order, not as is proposed here, by some sort of administrative practice in his own Department. The order should be laid before each House of the Oireachtas with the usual provision that within 21 days either House can invalidate an order, without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under the order.

The Minister should accept this amendment. It would be good parliamentary practice for him to do so. It would not in any way cut down his powers under the Bill. He would be able to do precisely the things he wants to do, but he would have to do it by order and these orders would be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. It would be open to anyone who wished to discuss the details to put down a motion to revoke the order. It would enable a parliamentary debate to take place. As I said, it would not in any way reduce the powers of the Minister. Therefore, in accordance with hundreds of precedents, this is the type of scheme that ought to be brought in by order and I would urge him to accept the amendment.

Minister for Labour (Mr. O'Leary): Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  The only point here is that for a scheme of this kind and for this programme we would require the minimum of delaying procedures. I do not wish to take from the point of having good parliamentary practice wherever possible, but very often it is a choice between good parliamentary practice [1078] and efficiency in operating a programme designed to meet varying circumstances of need. If I accepted the amendment we would be taking on the problem of procedural delays in an area where the utmost despatch could be required. This is why in other programmes and national schemes of one kind or another which involve disbursement of Exchequer moneys, we find that this disbursement can be proceeded with despatch and efficiency to the areas of need without any statutory basis, without that procedural requirement of laying an order before the House. The technical systems, the grant schemes, administered, for example, by the Department of Industry and Commerce operate on the same basis. We have to remember that the Senator's amendment is tied to that later amendment of his under section 5 which would require that the order:

...shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

I would agree with the Senator in most circumstances but, in the circumstance of assessing the need of a particular industry, and ensuring that aid goes to an employer who may take on fresh workers on this month or on that date, all we require here is the general permission of both Houses on the criteria to be adopted in the disbursement of funds. There is, of course, the added built-in safeguard here, that I hope I will be back very early in the autumn to both Houses— or to the other House—for additional funds in aid of this scheme. I am in sympathy with the Senator on the general lines of his argument but I suggest to him that in this case what we require is speed.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I am not greatly impressed by the call for speed. It does not seem to me that any delay is involved. [1079] The Minister, obviously, has to prepare a scheme. The scheme can be amended from time to time and I presume from the way in which this Bill is framed, it is envisaged that there will be considerable amendments from time to time. The initial scheme has to be prepared in some form. I take it that an hour's work also by somebody could put it in the form of an order rather than whatever administrative procedure the Minister envisages. I cannot see what the delay involved there is. These orders, I take it, are put in a very simple stereotyped way. It is simply a matter of ensuring that they comply with whatever the procedure is required for an order. I cannot see that it would involve more than a hour's delay on somebody's part, even if as much as that.

As regards the further procedure in my amendment No. 11, that does not cause delay in any way. It may be that the matter would never be debated but if it were debated it is a matter in each House of persuading the Government to allow time for the debate to take place, and so on. It is made quite clear, as with all provisions of this kind, that should the order be annulled it is without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done. Of course, the Government having a majority in each House, the possibility of this happening is remote. As far as the law is concerned the Minister can carry on, even in the light of the possibility of a debate in either House, without paying any strictly legal attention to this fact. He is perfectly entitled to carry on with his scheme without worrying about the possibility of its being annulled. Even if it should be annulled, which is highly improbable, nothing he has done under the scheme would in any way be vitiated or prejudiced.

The Minister said that in the autumn he hopes to be back with a Supplementary Estimate for more money. He just caught himself up in time. This only applies to the Dáil and it is no help to us in the Seanad. We would not debate such a Supplementary [1080] Estimate. As far as this House is concerned that is really no help. I do not think even a Supplementary Estimate is an adequate alternative to this proposal. I am unable to see how the delay could arise. It is easier to do these things without bothering about an order. Under the circumstances I should have thought that any delay there was would be absolutely minimal.

It is bad practice and the fact that it may have been done in other cases does not really help. That is one of the great troubles with the legislative process. There seems to be a constant duel between each House of the Oireachtas and the worthy persons behind Ministers who seek to put these schemes through and Ministers, of course, are the ones who are responsible. There are Ministers who, in accordance with the best advice available to them, are always trying to arrange these matters so that as little recourse as possible is had to further parliamentary discussion. It is bad practice. One can see that from a Minister's point of view it is a convenient way of doing it. The fact that other Ministers, and even this Minister, have got away with it on other occasions is really no reason for us to follow this precedent now. It is a bad precedent which the Minister has quoted and it should not be followed. It is a vitiation of the democratic process. However, I will not press the amendment further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendments Nos. 2, 5 and 14 are related and it is suggested that they should be taken together. All of these amendments are concerned with the scope.

Government amendment No. 2:

In page 2, to delete lines 26 to 28 and substitute the following:

“The Scheme shall—

(a) so far as it applies to agriculture (including horticulture), come into operation on the 3rd day of August, 1975, and

(b) so far as it relates to manufacturing industries, be deemed [1081] to have come into operation on the 29th day of June, 1975,

and shall cease to have effect on the 26th day of June, 1976, without prejudice to any conditions of the Scheme which continue to apply after that date.”

Mr. O'Leary:  This amendment proposes to bring agriculture within the scope of the Bill. As I pointed out in my statement yesterday, the brunt of the increase in unemployment has been borne by the manufacturing sector. Agriculture remains a major industry and on its continued prosperity depends the possibility of retaining purchasing power throughout the country. One of the relatively bright spots in the economy this year continues to be the condition of agriculture by contrast with the situation in industry. Our membership of the European Community assists here.

We felt that with better prices for agricultural products the need might arise this year for farmers to take on extra employees to do all the jobs connected with farming, farm buildings and so on, and that farmers might be making plans for this year and next year. We decided to extend the scope of the scheme to ensure that, where such additional employment could be given in the agricultural sector, the benefits of this scheme could also be afforded to the farming industry.

In order to avoid normal seasonal increases in unemployment in that sector, the scheme will provide that, to qualify for a premium, employment will have to continue for a minimum period of nine months, that is, the employer will only receive the premium at the end of the nine months' period. This is the difference from the industrial sector. The premiums payable in respect of agricultural and horticultural workers will be the same as for manufacturing workers except that they will be paid in lump sums at the end of the nine months' period. That rate, I repeat, is £12 per week per eligible employee from 3rd August, 1975, to 27th March, 1976, and thereafter £6 per week per eligible employee until the [1082] termination of the scheme. That is, briefly the purpose of the amendment.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Naturally one welcomes any amendment or device that would succeed in one way or another in reducing this enormous number of 103,000 people unemployed. I assume the Minister has this in mind. I respectfully suggest that this is just pure lip service to the agricultural community. This amendment is just an afterthought. This Dublin-based Government realised they were leaving the agricultural sector out of the scheme and they decided to throw in a sop to try to appease the farming organisations and the farmers in general and pretend they were coming to their assistance. The statement made by the Minister clearly indicates to me how far he is removed from the realities of the agricultural position.

I wonder is the Minister aware that in the past two years the price of a dropped calf went from £73 to 73p. I wonder is the Minister aware that the charge for the AI service is £3 and £4. I wonder is he aware of the disastrous situation in the cattle industry and, indeed, in all sectors of the agricultural industry. Is he suggesting that the farmers are in a position to take on extra employees from the month of August? People should realise that agriculture is more or less a seasonal occupation and the most of the work on the farm is finished at present as the hay and silage have been made. What does the Minister expect a farmer would be doing taking extra people into his employment during the winter season when the days are short and he himself has very little to do around his own farm? How could he expect farmers in the present economic situation to pay agricultural wages on the small farms of Ireland during the winter period?

This is not a realistic approach. Some time ago the Government were asked to increase the £17 paid to farmers as relief from agricultural rates paid to the county council. That figure has not been changed for the past ten years despite drastic inflation. I cannot see how this amendment [1083] could be of any assistance to farmers and I should like the Minister to explain exactly to whom it would be applicable. If a farmer who was rearing chickens took on an extra man, would he be eligible? If a farmer decided to employ nine or ten men cutting turf on his farm, would they be considered for premiums?

If because of the oil shortage and the necessity to produce some of our own energy, a farmer employed nine or ten men to cut turf on his farm, would those people qualify for these benefits? I am not suggesting they would cut turf in the middle of winter. If this scheme had come into effect in March it might have had some relevance, but so far as the turf is concerned it has no relevance at present. If the farmer was engaged in producing vegetables, as naturally many farmers would be, would he qualify for this payment if he took on extra people? These are a few points I should like the Minister to answer. So far as I can see, it will not cost the Exchequer much money and will not be of any benefit whatever in reducing the mountain of 103,000 unemployed.

The House should be aware that our farmers have had four extra taxes imposed on them within the last two years, together with the disastrous situation which has developed in agriculture because of the incompetency of the Government and of the Minister for Agriculture, in particular, in handling our case at EEC level; indeed, even on the home front where he was unable to ensure that the intervention moneys were paid to the farmer and producer. Farmers have no confidence whatever in the Government. This type of gimmick will not work either.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  Unlike the previous speaker, I do not think this is a sop, but a very welcome amendment to the scheme, to extend it to what we in the country consider a very important sector, the agricultural community. Certainly I hope this amendment will [1084] create an impetus to employment in this very important sector.

The Minister states that this is operative for the six months up to the 27th March, dated from the 3rd August, 1975. If an agricultural employer considers it is not feasible for him to employ a man before, let us say, the 3rd October, would the higher rate of premiums extend for the six months from October or would they terminate in March?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The last point made is a very valid one. Indeed, the points made by Senator Dolan are very valid also, in this respect, that while nobody has any objection to the inclusion of the agricultural industry from the point of view of employment premiums, the reality will be something very different. The reality is that the scheme is operating from now through the winter months. With the agricultural wage now running at about £30 per week—and that during the winter months when everybody knows there is less need for labour on the land— this scheme, while welcome, and we have no objection whatever to its inclusion, will not be heavily used, to put it mildly. It will have nothing but a very marginal effect on what the Minister is trying to do. However, it is a welcome improvement. There may be particular cases of industrialised agriculture, particularly in the horticultural field, in eastern counties where it may have value. It may have certain value in very large milk farms also. The winter months are coming in. They are months of low agricultural production. It will require some stimulation and persuasion to ask a large industrialised farmer, or a large farmer, to take on men on the basis of a promise of £12 per week related to the agricultural wage which he would be obliged to pay during the same period. That is the backdrop of reality to the matter. It is worthy of inclusion even if it only employs a comparatively few number. Anything in this direction is welcome at present. For that reason, there is no objection to the inclusion of the agricultural industry. All I am saying is that it is very marginal to the overall objective of achieving an extra 10,000 [1085] jobs by this time next year. That is a fair comment on the situation.

The more serious aspect is the omission in the Minister's amendment of any reference to the service industry generally. While I appreciate that the Minister, naturally, could not deal with the seasonal situation such as operates for example in the building trade, I can see that—were he to cater for seasonal rises and falls—the Minister would be getting into a very dangerous area of expenditure. In a Bill which I feel should be as flexible as possible—and to this extent I go along with some of the sentiments made by the Minister—I fail to see why the Minister has restricted himself to a limited range of manufacturing industries which are all that are proposed to be brought within the ambit of the Bill. At the other extreme there is the agricultural industry, the wide area of the food-processing industry, the building industry, the hotel industry, the whole area of transportation, all of these areas are excluded for the purpose of the Bill.

I should like to hear from the Minister cogent arguments as to why areas of the service industry have been excluded. I appreciate that there are seasonal problems in regard to many service industries, and indeed most of the industries I have just mentioned. But, let the flexibility lie with the Minister to decide——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  I should like to intervene for the purpose of saying the Senator has raised the point of service industries and other industries. The concern of the Chair is that we should not have this question debated more than once on Committee Stage. If the House is agreeable, perhaps any discussion on the question of scope might be discussed with these amendments. Then it would be perfectly in order for the Senator to continue but, of course, the matter could not arise later on the section or on the Title. It is a question of when the House wishes to have the debate on the question of the scope and excluded industries.

[1086]Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  If that is the ruling of the Cathaoirleach, I will be glad to do it later, but——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  It is a matter for the House to agree. It is a substantial point. The House is entitled to debate it at some stage, but is only entitled to debate it once.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  It might be more appropriate to take it on the Title itself, or on the section to which the amendment now relates. If that is the view of the House——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Either on this amendment, on the section or on the Title; I think that is the choice that is open.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I would prefer to deal with it later in detail, because I think——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  On the Title? Agreed. Perhaps the Senator would now leave the point on the amendment.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I am obliged to the Cathaoirleach, because that clarifies the matter. At least it is a warning signal to the Minister that this is of very real concern, because it is in this area too that the £12 per person would be of greater value. Particularly in the hotel industry, that is of more real value to a hotelier who is usually paying lower rates than other areas of manufacturing industries.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  The Senator should leave the point immediately if it is going to be discussed again.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Because in areas of manufacturing industry—and this is the point I want to make here—it leads up to the point which is directly on——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  I take it the Senator will not make this point again at a later stage?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I was proceeding to make the valid point, when the Cathaoirleach interrupted me, with all due respect, that in regard to manufacturing industry there are high wage rates involved. Therefore, the £12 a week is not nearly as effective in an [1087] area of employment where there are high wage rates as it is in one where there are lower wage rates involved. That is where the service industry point comes in. As the wage rate goes up, the £12 a week incentive diminishes in value as far as employers are concerned. But where the £12 per week is more accurately related to lower wage rates, then it is of real value to the employer concerned. This applies to areas of manufacturing industry too. I note—which bears out my point—that the textile industry has been a very large applicant to the Minister for the £12 per week under the manufacturing industry side. This is rather significant in that it is precisely in the textile industry, by reason of its high competitiveness over the years, where there are lower wage rates, than in other areas of industry——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Again there is a problem of scope here. The amendments are concerned with the extension of the scope to agriculture.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The point again applies in regard to agriculture—and this is the point I was making initially—that where there is an agricultural wage rate at about £30 per week, it will be very difficult to stimulate a large number of farmer employers, over the winter months, to take on employment when they work out the sums, of £12 per week against £30 a week, of what productive work is available during the winter/spring months; the total effect of adding this area to the Bill—while even if it employs only one person we will not oppose but welcome it—is very marginal and we could add it without any great fuss. But, in the context of stimulating 10,000 jobs over the next 12 months certainly it is not very important. There are other more important areas to which the Minister could have addressed himself.

Mr. Butler: Information on Pierce Butler  Zoom on Pierce Butler  I welcome the amendment. The reason I do so is that, since the Bill was published I have been approached by representatives of the farming community asking why [1088] they were not included. Now that they are included I welcome the amendment. Farmers are interested, even at this time of the year, because we are now coming into the harvest season. From the 3rd August on farmers will be very busy during the harvest season. Usually they employ extra manpower during that season and retain them into the beet season. In itself that is a great help to farmers, if they are getting the £12 per week extra from the Exchequer. Even if they are paid £30 per week, as Senator Lenihan said, £12 from £30 leaves £18, and it costs the farmer only £18 to employ those extra people. They would be employing some of them during the harvest and beet seasons.

It gives them an opportunity to prepare for the spring season and for production the following year. It also affords them an opportunity to reorganise their farm buildings. I welcome the Bill. I welcome the amendment because, as I have said, the farmers themselves want it, need it and are grateful to the Minister for this amendment.

Mr. Russell: Information on George E. Russell  Zoom on George E. Russell  I suppose it is understandable that Senator Lenihan would want to play down the inclusion of agriculture and horticulture in the Bill. But there was very great pressure on the Minister in the other House and from outside organisations to include agriculture and horticulture. We should be grateful that he has brought in an amendment to do so. Even if it results only in the employment of quite a small number of extra men it is a very welcome development. I think it will prove a very effective instrument in easing the unemployployment situation in rural areas.

It is a very difficult thing to legislate for farm employment in view of its seasonality. It is difficult to devise a scheme that will cover all eventualities. The Minister has probably done the best he can in his nine months' period out of 12 months.

I should like to suggest to him, however—in view of the uniqueness of this type of employment that varies all over the country in various farming [1089] avocations—that he leave himself flexibility in regard to the term during which an extra man or men will be employed. In other words, rather than have the farmer waiting until the end of nine months to get his £12 per head, possibly there could be some interim payment, say, at three months or six months to encourage the farmer, first of all, to take on the extra man or men and, secondly, to keep him for the full period of nine months, allowing for the fact that there will be seasonal unemployment. I do not know if there is flexibility in the Bill to do this. But I would suggest to the Minister, having regard to this type of industry, which is so important in the country—on which we all agree—and offers the greatest scope for further development in the years ahead, every possible effort should be made to encourage farmers to take on extra men even in the short term. That would be the wish of the House.

But generally the Minister has done his best to meet what is a difficult case and for which there is no complete and absolute satisfactory answer.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  As Senator Lenihan has said undoubtedly we welcome the addition of agriculture to this Bill. The Bill was limited in form when it arrived before us. It will now be slightly less limited with the approval of these amendments. Nonetheless the change is not really one that will bring about much additional employment.

Senator Russell pointed out that we, on this side of the House, should not be carping about this since we called for it in the other House. We did. I can assure the Chair that I am not going to go into detail on the subject, but we called for the addition of other things also to the Bill. The Minister has rejected our call for these other items to be included— building, service industries and so on. We will come back to that at a later stage in the Bill. He rejected these, which could have provided considerable additional employment, and has agreed only to add agriculture and horticulture. It seems quite clear that the amount of increased employment [1090] given will be very small. I do not know how much, whether it will be 50 or 100 men but it will be something very small. Indeed the total number of paid agricultural workers in the country is, in itself, small and a decreasing one. It is probably approximately 25,000. But there are many more people employed in other sections of the economy than there are in agriculture. I am talking about people who are employed for a wage. Nonetheless, in so far as it goes, we approve this. One wonders, though, why this sector was chosen by the Minister. I wonder would it be unfair or unreasonable to suggest that the choice of agriculture to be added at this very late stage to the Bill is related to the strange situation that arose and caused considerable ill-feeling where the Government, having been persuaded by the EEC to accept a further devaluation in the green £, turned around and said that the cost of this to the consumer was to be paid by agriculture.

That rightly caused a great deal of ill feeling amongst the farming organisations. I suspect that that ill feeling was reflected very strongly in communications to the Government by these organisations and had a considerable amount to do with the sudden last minute addition of agriculture to this Bill, an attempt to pursuade our farmers that they were getting something to make up for the outrageous performance of requiring them to pay the cost of the green £ to the consumer. Two-and-a-half million pounds is being taken from them, in some manner as yet unspecified. I am afraid that the amount that will be returned by means of this addition to this Bill will be very small indeed and in no way compares with the two-and-a-half million.

However, so far as it has much meaning, we welcome this addition. There are certain questions we must ask the Minister about its operation. I am not at all clear about how it is proposed to extend this premium scheme to agriculture and horticulture. First of all, who is entitled to get the premium, that is, which employer. [1091] I take it that the provision of the base date that applies in industry will not apply, that any farmer or any horticulturist, no matter how many he employs, or whether he employs anyone, will be entitled automatically to receive the premium if he employs someone extra for nine months. How will the Minister deal with a situation where someone is dismissed? Is 3rd August the base date by which there has to be a net increase in employment?

More important than that: how will the Minister decide what workers are entitled to have the premium paid in respect of them? For industrial workers we understand that premiums will be payable in respect of full-time employment of persons who are in receipt of unemployment benefit at any time after the 20th June and, in addition, they must either have been on the live register for four weeks or attending an AnCO training centre full-time immediately preceding their first employment under this programme, or they must be employed by the same employer on a shorttime arrangement in the PAYE week beginning on 15th June, 1975.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Again the Chair is becoming somewhat anxious that the Senator is going into detail on dates. I am worried about the question of double discussion because there is an amendment on dates which we will be coming to afterwards.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I am referring to this solely in order to point out that these particular rules which we will discuss later and which apply to industrial workers, cannot be applied to agricultural workers. I want to ask the Minister what the rules are going to be for agricultural workers?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Would this not be more appropriate on the section?

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  As amended?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Or on section 3? If the Senator wishes to discuss and exhaust this point now that is all right, provided it is exhausted.

[1092]Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I think so. Since this is strictly an agricultural matter it would be better to discuss it on this amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  So long as it is not discussed again.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  No. It is related strictly to agriculture, unlike services and so on. Therefore, it would be more convenient to discuss it now. After all, if we are to decide whether to accept these amendments, we should have some idea as to what they involve.

I should like to know from the Minister what the provisions are going to be. What particular workers will be enabled to be given employment by farmers or horticulturists and receive the premium? Must they have been in receipt of unemployment benefit? Surely a great many people who work in agriculture will be on unemployment assistance rather than on benefit? It seems to me that the rules laid down for employment of people in industry do not apply to this particular situation. How is the Minister going to lay down in the scheme for both the people who will get employment and those who will give it? The problem is that this Bill, in so far as it lays down anything at all, is related exclusively to industries. We have these amendments brought in at the last minute and the Bill, as it stands, is incapable of dealing with this addition.

I should be glad to hear from the Minister how he proposes to amend the proposed scheme in order to allow that these new employees be brought in. A whole new section of the scheme needs to be laid out. We have not been told what it is, except for the bare point that the premiums will be paid in a lump sum at the end of nine months.

I should be glad if the Minister could give us some enlightenment on these points.

Mr. A. O'Brien: Information on Andy OBrien  Zoom on Andy OBrien  While I welcome the Bill I am not too sure about its suitability. If a farmer employs somebody for the nine month period and after three months discovers the employee is unsuitable—that can happen in agriculture more so than any other [1093] field—or if, after three months, the employee decides to leave and the farmer finds it difficult to get another employee—it might take a month to get another man—what happens in that case? If somebody has worked for three or four months and then becomes ill for three or four months, in that case would the farmer qualify at the end of the nine months for the premium?

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Just another question: supposing a farmer employs somebody because he has decided to remodernise his whole farm outfit. He might want to lay silage pits, concrete yards or perhaps repair his outhouses or dwelling house. Would the man that farmer would employ qualify under the £12 scheme? If a farmer was doing some drainage and, say, employed somebody to do the job—take the case of a county council worker who might have lost his job in the county council—would he be eligible for such employment and would the farmer benefit from the £12 premium?

Mr. O'Leary:  I think it was Senator Lenihan who raised the question of hotels and service industries. Our big problem there will be their seasonality. I repeat, the purpose of the Bill is to induce employers to bring into gainful employment those employees who, but for the passage of this Bill, might be waiting many more months for gainful employment. Obviously the hotel industry——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  I would be glad if the Minister did not develop this point since we have agreed to take it at a later stage.

Mr. O'Leary:  I will obey the ruling of the Chair. Various questions were raised. One could lose oneself in the details of such a programme. One could be here a great length of time asking detailed questions of application. Senator Dolan wanted to know whether chicken factories, or farmers who engage in chicken farming, would qualify under this scheme. I do not think they would qualify, but this [1094] would have to be investigated case by case.

Senator Lenihan said little or no workers were needed on farms at this time of year. There is always the spring and extra workers will be needed then. Of course, there is still the harvest and, with the expansion occurring in agriculture, there is probably a far greater possibility of employment being offered to workers in rural areas than Senators opposite seem to think.

Senator O'Brien asked what would happen if a worker became ill and there was an interruption in the permanency of his employment. If the farmer employs a replacement within three weeks he will qualify.

Senator Yeats asked if farm workers must be in receipt of unemployment benefit for four weeks, as required of industrial workers. The answer is yes. That is a general qualification for all workers. Senator Yeats asked who is entitled to the premium. Any farmer who takes on extra eligible employees after 3rd August—which differs from the date of industrial commencement—is entitled to the premium.

The question of which workers will be eligible in agriculture was raised also. The same principle applies, as on the industrial side, that workers must have been in receipt of unemployment benefit last year, and must have been on the live register for the preceeding four weeks.

Senator Russell asked about the possibility of consideration being given to an interim payment for farmers. We are trying to arrange for as much permanency as possible in employment. If we started breaking it up into interim payments the criteria of permanence would be interfered with. That is why we have brought in the change in agriculture to avoid administrative difficulties. There are a far greater number of individual employers who might benefit from the scheme in farming. We hope to arrange for this permanence in employment to overcome the seasonality associated with the industry. But we would have to have this requirement of a nine month period.

Senator Ferris asked if the higher [1095] rate of premium terminates in March. It will terminate in March because it is our objective to phase this out at the start of next summer. We hope this legislation will do major work in the period up to next summer and that its need from then on, with the general recovery taking place, will no longer be as acute.

I think those are most of the questions which were raised. Senator Dolan asked whether a worker employed around the farmyard would qualify under this scheme. All cases will be looked at on their merits, but the worker must be engaged in agricultural work, because we do not wish to see perhaps general workers who may be unemployed in the nearby town being kept out of employment which may be theirs. I know there is a thin line, that we cannot go with a bureaucratic rule of thumb to the public and say: “This is agricultural work and this is not agricultural work.” We shall have to look at those cases on their merits, but it would have to be general agricultural work.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The last comment of the Minister makes the Bill even less effectual than we thought it was. Indeed our whole criticism is not in anyway carping. It is about the reality of this and even if it results in only one extra person being employed we are not against it on this side of the House. If the objective of the Bill is to stimulate 10,000 extra jobs between now and next June, it is totally unreal to talk in terms of adding agriculture and not adding the service side of industry. Senator Dolan raised a very valid point and it has just been answered now by the Minister, that along with the obvious limitations of encouraging employment in the farm sector, we now have the Minister saying there will be another division within farm employment as well, and that the scheme, as he envisages it, is confined entirely to agricultural work. The very work that might be stimulated and might encourage farmers to come within the scheme and take on extra people is precisely non-agricultural work on the farm. Over the coming winter months it is quite clear [1096] that the whole pattern of farming will change. In the nature of things there will be a reduction in the employment on any farm and for the farmer himself or whoever he employs a reduction in activity on strictly agricultural work.

Mr. O'Leary:  I have explained to the Senator that I have already looked at it in no narrow way.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The Minister is not answering the main point, which is that precisely the most productive work the farmer can do during these winter months is work around his own farmyard, increasing its efficiency, improving his outoffices, and generally adding to the more efficient running of his farm. He can build extensions to his creamery accommodation. He can build an extension to his stocking accommodation, improve his yard, improve his house.

Mr. O'Leary:  These would be included.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The Minister conveyed the other impression a few minutes ago.

Mr. O'Leary:  I said that one could have an argument about it, but if it is associated with the main direction of farming it would be——

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  All work on the farm is associated with farming. Let us be clear about it. This is the question that Senator Dolan raised: as far as the operation of the scheme is concerned, will the employment premium in regard to agriculture apply to all farm work?

Mr. O'Leary:  Of course, agricultural work.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  And agricultural workers; every form of work on the farm relating to improving the productivity of the farm, even if it includes tradesmen being employed by the farmer or part-time tradesmen or neighbouring small farmers? The Minister went through an area here that he obviously knows very little about, because most of the people who will be taken on by the farmer in that type of situation also in winter months [1097] will not be in receipt of unemployment benefit.

Mr. O'Leary:  We have laid down the requirement that he must be in receipt of unemployment benefit, because the aim of the legislation, which the Senator does not appear to understand, is to take people off the unemployment register. It is to bring people back to work who would not be in work in these months without the help of this Bill.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I am not talking about the huge industrialised farm. I am talking about the medium-size farm or the small farmer who may take on men for the period mentioned and be attracted by the premium and provide extra economic activity in the particular areas. These men would take people, not off the unemployment benefit register——

Mr. O'Leary:  That is the purpose of the Bill.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I am talking about people on unemployment assistance.

Mr. Halligan: Information on Brendan Halligan  Zoom on Brendan Halligan  That would be a new Bill.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The Minister has no sense of the real situation in rural Ireland. I am not including here the industrialised farms of the eastern part of the country. I am talking about the whole of the midlands, the north-west, west and south of Ireland. The sort of employment that might be stimulated in these areas is extra employment which would cater for small farmers on unemployment assistance, casual workers, all those within the unemployment area. If the Minister is going to restrict this measure further to farmers who take on people in the neighbourhood who for four weeks prior to being taken on have been in receipt of unemployment benefit, then he is restricting the scheme to practically zero, because the expanded employment in this area relates largely to people in receipt of the dole, in receipt of unemployment assistance not unemployment benefit. It is good that we have that clarified at any rate.

The other point—I think it was [1098] raised by Senator O'Brien—lights up the unreality of the continuous nine-month period of employment as regards farm work, again, excluding the industrialised type of farm, the huge milk production farmer, the huge horticultural type of farmer. What we are talking about is the majority of farms where the nine month period running through the winter includes three months in which there is no farm work as such and in which the only work possible is the work I have mentioned and about which the Minister has reassured us, that is, work in and around the farmhouse and the outoffices and work again where the farmer would take on people, and it would be far more productive if he could take them on outside the UB register.

The Minister is now running into the period of low peak farm employment. Senator O'Brien's point is very valid, that the nine-month continuous employment is unduly restrictive in terms of our agricultural situation. This is an area where the Minister must be more flexible. Senator Russell also made this point. Certainly if for three month spells over the next nine months farmers could be stimulated to take on workers during that period for a three-month period, that would have some validity. But I do not see any farmer carrying a man who was on unemployment benefit at the full agricultural rate over the months of November, December and January, or at any other rate, if he has to pay more than the agricultural wage if he is doing some tradesman's or quasitradesman's job in and around the farmhouse itself or the outoffices.

The unreality of the scheme is heightened by the Minister's reply that the same period of reduction from £12 to £6 will apply in respect of agriculture as well. You have a situation where, through the months of winter when there is very little work to be done, the farmer will just get £12 per person recompense, but in the final three months that £12 will be cut to £6, including, say April, May and June, the precise period when the farmer might be taking on [1099] some extra personnel and when it would be good economics for him to do so, and when there would be jobs available in the agricultural sector: that is the period in which the employment premium will be reduced from £12 to £6.

I would suggest that all these matters add up to a sense of unreality as far as this extension is concerned. The Opposition welcome the Bill; they are not opposing it; it is worthwhile inserting this amendment if it will mean that one extra person will be employed. The most important way in which this Bill can be related to reality is by providing for longer continuous periods than nine months, to provide for three-monthly periods within the nine months as coming within the scope of the Bill. Even though the Minister may say—and I agree with him—that extending the Bill beyond unemployment benefit recipients is not the purpose, the reality of the situation is that in rural Ireland those people who might be taken on in fairly large numbers under this Bill are people who are on unemployment assistance. That slack could be taken up by farmers during the winter months. The Minister says this does not come within the scope of the Bill and I understand that, but it further restricts the objective of the Bill as far as the rural areas are concerned. The Bill will, in effect, apply only to industrialised agriculture and is unrelated to the rural areas. Basically, it will apply only to the horticultural-type 400-or-500 acre farms. We do not object to the Bill, so long as its limited nature is recognised. It is not a panacea, by any means, for agriculture.

Mr. Butler: Information on Pierce Butler  Zoom on Pierce Butler  Having listened to Senator Lenihan I am a little perturbed because it is during the slack time of the year that farmers have an opportunity to prepare for the coming season. As Senator Lenihan said, there will be no work for three months. In the area I come from there is a slack period but there is still plenty of work to keep extra people employed. A farmer who employs a person from the live register [1100]—only a person completely unemployed should benefit from the scheme—will have this premium of £12. He will be able, during this slack period, to programme for the coming season. It is only during a slack period that a farmer can do this. If he wants to be productive the farmer must consult with his agricultural adviser and draw up a programme for the slack season. As a result, he will be able to employ men who the Minister feels should be employed.

The farming season does not end on 1st November and start again on 1st March. The farm work continues for the 12 months but there is a slack season, and this Bill will give the farmer the opportunity of employing extra people to prepare for a more productive season in the coming year.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I want the Minister to understand that farmers are hardheaded businessmen. They do not enter into a commitment lightly. If a farmer feels like employing a man he must know what it will cost and what the benefits will be. This is only natural. It is all very well for Senator Butler to talk about slack periods. We must admit that there is a fall-off in agricultural employment in the winter season. There is not the same amount of activity in the creameries. They are not open the same number of days and there are not as many people employed as during the peak summer period.

If the farmer wants to improve his farm by erecting new buildings, draining the land and so on, he would want to be assured that the people he employs for these tasks will qualify for the £12 premium. As Senator Lenihan rightly pointed out, there are many areas where the number of people on unemployment assistance is not so high because unemployment such as in factories, does not exist. According to this Bill these people will not qualify. Therefore, the neighbouring farmer cannot employ them. That is a defect in the Bill.

The House has had ample evidence of the haste with which agriculture was included. I agree with Senator Yeats that the reason was that farmers were asked to pay an extra £2,500,000. [1101] Creameries, cattle marts and so on will soon be issued with instructions to deduct from the farmers the premiums necessary to provide the £2,500,000. That will be about the fifth taxation imposed on farmers during 1975.

The Minister should have provided for a period of three months, in view of the seasonal aspect of farming during the winter period when farmers are not inclined to employ extra men. At present on large farms we have reached a stage where one man can take charge of 60 or 70 cows. The farmers are endeavouring to cut down on the number of employees. If this Bill were to encourage them to keep men employed, we would welcome it. I do not think the Minister has sufficient knowledge of farming or of the hardheadedness of the farmers, who have been overburdened in the past three years, who on many occasions have been fooled when selling their cattle; even the co-operatives have extracted the maximum payment from them, no matter what their financial position. Many of these co-operatives are now looking for store cattle. They realise that the small farmer will be ruined. If the people whom the farmer wants to employ, in order to carry out improvements on his farm, do not qualify for the premium it will result in no extra people being employed in most rural areas.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  The longer this section is being discussed the more confusion is being created, and there is the danger that we will lose the point of it. As I understand it, it is the type of employer who is concerned, not the employee. If any employer who is not in a processing or service industry employs a person from the live register he will qualify for the premium. My reading of the Bill is that it is the employer who is important, whether it be an employer in the agricultural sector or in other industries apart from the service industry.

I was disappointed that it did not extend to the food processing industry. It is the employer who is the criterion for qualifying under the Bill. I was surprised to hear that a chicken farmer would not necessarily be an employer in agriculture, because in a [1102] fairly well-known court case the producers of eggs were deemed by the High Court to be agricultural employees within the meaning of the Social Welfare Act and their employees were deemed by court order to be subject to the payment of agricultural workers' unemployment stamp. Therefore, even a chicken farmer would be a suitable employer under the Bill.

I agree with Senator Butler that it is at the slack time, when a farmer is unlikely to want a man, that the Bill is of most benefit, and that that is what will build in a certain degree of permanency into the employment that will be stimulated by it, and not at the very busy period in the spring next year when employment will be necessary anyway. When the premium will taper off, that is the time when a farmer will really have a man whether he has a premium or not. Senator Lenihan's argument under that score is not valid. Whether an agricultural employer employs a man to do renovations and improvements on the farm, the important thing is that he is an agricultural employer; he is employing a man off the live register and provided he pays the man on a weekly basis and not on a contract basis, he should qualify. I am pleased that the Minister specifies that anybody engaged on any activity on the farm is eligible to qualify for this premium.

Mr. Garrett: Information on Jack Garrett  Zoom on Jack Garrett  I do not think this amendment will be of much benefit to the farming community. In my estimation it is only going to satisfy a certain type of farmer whom we, in the west, would classify as a rancher. I cannot see the logic in the argument put up by Senator Butler that it is in the slack period that the farmer is going to employ men to carry out farm improvement schemes. The type of farmer this amendment relates to will have a difficult time during the slack period which this amendment covers, to find enough work for the regular staff on his farm, be it farm improvements of any description, drainage, buildings, land reclamation and so on.

Does the step of employing more people mean that he is going to dispense [1103] with the service of the people who have worked over the busy period and then take other people off the live register? I do not think he qualifies for a premium then. What do they intend to do? It will be very difficult for the big farmer to whom this Bill relates to find work during the slack period to which this amendment also relates for the regular farmhands who are working on his farm during the spring and harvesting of the crops. The amendment is a small bit of appeasement to a certain type of farmer, but it does not apply at all to the small farming communities of west Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Donegal, Mayo and all the western coast. It is a very slight improvement to include the type of farmer that this amendment is going to bring within the scope of the Bill, that is the rancher, who does not need any premium to give employment. As far as I can see, at the rate we are going on and with the hand outs of about £70 million to £75 million a year in public assistance, home assistance and unemployment assistance, and handouts now to the rancher to give a couple of men employment, I do not know where this Government will finish up or where they will find the money to do all the things they are supposed to do.

Mr. W. O'Brien: Information on William O'Brien  Zoom on William O'Brien  While no Bill is perfect, this will act as an incentive for people to return to the land. In the immediate future we may not get the desired effects as regards employment, but each year for the past 20 years, the number in the agricultural sector has been decreasing. The farmer could not afford to pay and as a result no worker was prepared to tie himself for an uncertain period.

This Bill is some sort of a guarantee to the worker that he will be kept for nine months. If we succeed in getting the workers to realise that agriculture is as good a job as industry, it will be a good day for this country. Up to now, no incentive has been given by any Government to the farmer to give security to the employee. This will bring people back to the land. While we hear a lot about [1104] industry and the advantages for the worker, many rural people would be willing to work in agriculture if there was some guarantee of security. This, at least, gives security for a period of nine months.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  When I asked the Minister how he was going to fix the categories of workers who could benefit from these premiums in agriculture, it never occurred to me that he would reply that he was going to stick to the rules laid down for industrial workers, including the basic requirement that every worker to benefit from a premium must have been four weeks on the unemployment register. As has been pointed out, this simply means that in large parts of the country there will be almost nobody who can benefit from this scheme. The number of paid agricultural workers who when unemployed can get unemployment benefit is very small. I mentioned a figure of 25,000. I am not sure if it is even as high as that now, but it would be in that range, restricted to fairly limited areas.

Senator O'Brien asked a very valid question: what happens during the nine-month period if the worker concerned leaves? The Minister replied that the farmer would have three weeks to find someone else. In very many cases, if the farmer is to be limited to a person who is not only receiving unemployment benefit but is an agricultural worker receiving unemployment benefit, he might find, having employed this man for six months, that he was unable to replace him and might lose the entire premium. As I understand what the Minister has said, approximately the same provisions will apply in the case of agriculture as in the case of industry: the worker concerned must be four weeks on unemployment benefit and on the register on 3rd August. Therefore, in relation to Senator O'Brien's very good point, if a farmer must employ a man for nine months, and if the scheme ends on 26th June, 1976, the farmer must take on the man on or before 26th September next; otherwise there will be no nine months.

[1105]Mr. O'Leary:  No, nine months beyond the date of the closing of the scheme.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  Then we have a whole new field.

Mr. O'Leary:  It is.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The Bill states in section 2:

The Scheme shall be deemed to have come into operation on the 29th day of June, 1975, and shall cease to have effect on the 26th day of June, 1976.

That is one of the few things that is coherent and clear in this Bill.

Mr. O'Leary:  We have an amendment.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The Minister had better have.

Mr. O'Leary:  Amendment No. 2.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The Minister has me there. Then, as far as farmers are concerned, they can take on workers up to, shall we say, the 26th day of June, 1976, for nine months. This further heightens the point I was about to make that the workers concerned must have been in receipt of unemployment benefit on the 3rd August. It seems, to put it mildly, unreasonable that a farmer who is perhaps taking on a man for a nine month period in June, 1976, must find someone who is actually on the unemployment register on the 3rd August, 1975. The Minister had better vary this because otherwise it would be an impossible hunt. If he insists that the only people who qualify are those who happened to be on the unemployment register for a four week period up to around the 3rd August, 1975, it will be utterly impossible for farmers to find people once you get into the autumn, winter, spring and next summer. Some new thinking must be done there.

I should like to raise a point with the Minister on his amendment No. 5. I have looked at his amendment several times and I am unable to find out why it is being made. I am sure there is a reason but it escapes me. As a result of the adoption of amendment No. 5 the first subsection of section 3 will read as follows:

[1106] The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, so far as the Scheme applies to manufacturing industries, determine (and shall specify in the Scheme) the industries or the activities in specified industries to which the Scheme applies and the persons or classes of persons to whom it applies.

This section is the only one in the Bill under which the Minister can lay down these matters, the industries and so on to which the scheme applies and the persons or classes of persons to whom it applies. Nowhere else in the Bill has he this power.

On a reading of this amendment No. 5—I have read it several times and I cannot do any better with it— it seems to me that the Minister is deliberately excluding agriculture from the scope of this section. I imagine there is a reason for it, but he appears, on the face of it, to deprive himself by means of this amendment of the power to decide the persons or classes of persons in agriculture to whom it applies and the employers and so on to whom the scheme will apply. If he leaves the subsection alone and does not move amendment No. 5, he has all the power he requires already in the subsection, which refers merely to specified industries which quite clearly, can also include agriculture and horticulture. The only boundary fixed for his powers under that section would be the Title of the Bill, which he proposes to amend. I am unable to see the point of amendment No. 5 and in particular I am unable to see how, in the light of amendment No. 5, he proposes to fix these matters for agriculture.

Mr. O'Leary:  Just to answer Senator Yeats, we do not have this requirement that he must be on the unemployment register before August. The criterion is that he is continuously on the live register for not less than four weeks immediately preceding the first employment under this programme, any period up to the close of the scheme. It has that flexibility in it. It is not simply that we are imposing the penalty on the farmers [1107] of Ireland to search the country looking for somebody who has been on that register for a period before August of this year. It is throughout the scheme for any period of four weeks.

It might be difficult to find people who are unemployed. Regrettably, it is not a difficult task at present with the present high rate of unemployment. It seems that there must be many workers in rural Ireland with knowledge of agricultural work who may have left that particular work but who are there over this period in between jobs. As Senators have pointed out, there has been a great drainage from the land in recent years, of manpower, womanpower, farmpower. That has been going on for many years now. This is the first time the State has directly intervened in this area. We now here assist farmers directly in augmenting their work force in this period of extreme recession.

Senator Lenihan makes the valid point that it is no panacea for unemployment or recession. I accept that. Nobody is claiming that this legislation is the panacea, the cure all for unemployment. That can only come about when conditions of general recovery are evident in our main export markets and here at home. This programme is designed to induce employment in areas where but for this legislation extra employment would not occur. It is designed to take people off the live register.

The arguments can be made that agriculture has difficulties. The position is that, relative to the position of industry at present, agriculture has a very secure future. It could be said also that our agricultural prosperity is of tremendous importance to the entire economy because the purchasing power of those engaged in agriculture is essential to the recovery of industry in general. The bright spot this year is the relatively secure position of agriculture. We have, as a result of our membership of the Community, gained acceptance of the needs of Irish agriculture and we have had the energetic leadership of our own Minister for Agriculture and [1108] Fisheries in making sure that that acceptance was gained in Europe for Irish agricultural objectives.

We believe that this inducement to farmers over this period of slackness, this subsidy by the State to bring people into farm employment, can be used to solid advantage by the farmers of Ireland. We will look at every case. The question has been raised about the kind of work that could be regarded as agricultural. One could lose oneself in semantics here. We are concerned about work on a farm in a recognised farm context. We hope this programme will be taken up fully by the farmers. I believe it will. Senator Garrett was concerned about whether it would only help out large farmers. Any farmer who is about his business, who sees the possibility of getting extra help on his farm during this period for any plan or project he may have in mind, when he sees there is State money available for such a scheme, he would need to be very soft headed indeed not to take up that possibility when it is there. Unemployment is such at present that there must be many people in rural areas who would be ready to take up such farm work.

Overall, the scheme was designed to assist initially manufacturing industry because that is the area of the nation's life which has been most affected by the present recession. The greater amount of unemployment has occurred there. There is a great underused capacity in Irish industry at present. This, we hope, could be relatively improved by the passage of this Bill and that is primarily what it was designed to do—to help our industry in taking back workers so that when conditions of more general recovery take place next spring and early summer in certain industries, where workers might have been let go, they will still be available to the employer. Our objective, as I said at the outset, is 10,000. That is a target we will work very hard towards achieving. The extension of the Bill's provisions into agriculture will help us materially in that task.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I do not believe this Bill will mean ten extra people employed [1109] on farms in County Cavan. There seems to be an uncertainty as to how people will qualify for it. I would like the Minister to let us know immediately how a farmer contemplating employing somebody would be sure that those he was employing would be eligible for this grant. He would want to know this beforehand. Who will give him the required information? Because of the long period of nine months there is not much encouragement in it for farmers. Where will he go to have this matter clarified immediately?

Mr. O'Leary:  I have explained the position of the National Manpower Service in relation to the administration of the entire programme. They will obviously be the authority concerned with that.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Where in a county will a person contact these officials? Will it be under the agricultural officer for the county? Will he advise on this matter?

Mr. O'Leary:  It is the National Manpower Service, as I explained at the outset, who will be the administering agency throughout the country. They have offices over most of the country. They will be working closely in liaison, naturally, with the agricultural officers but these will be the formal administering agencies. Of course, since this is an extension into agriculture, they would have at local level to consult with agricultural officers.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  There is a problem here too because the farming community are divided into three sections —transitional, development and the commercial farmer. All these things will come into play in this matter. Consequently, the farmer who is thinking of taking on somebody during the winter, if he fully understands this scheme, will still be hampered because of the administration of the traditional, the development and the commercial farmer. He will want to know in what category he is classed.

Mr. O'Leary:  The National Manpower Service office in Cavan will be [1110] in touch with the local agricultural officers to find out what the demand will be as we will have a general instruction that the benefits of this legislation will be propagated as soon as it is passed.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Several points have been raised about what would qualify under the agricultural heading and what would not. I should like to get back to the point Senator Yeats raised and which the Minister did not deal with. Under amendment No. 5 the Minister seems to have confined himself even more than section 3 already confined him to deal in the scheme only with specified industries. The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, determine and shall specify in the scheme the industries or the activities and specified industries to which the scheme applies, and the persons or classes of persons to whom it applies.

He proposes to confine himself even further by saying “so far as the scheme applies to manufacturing industries”. It seems to me that section 3, which is the key section in determining the application of the scheme, as it stands at the moment states, the Minister may not put anything in the scheme or may not specify or confine or determine in any detail in the scheme what areas of agriculture would qualify and what areas would not. As the position stands at the moment anybody who is engaged in agriculture appears to have a right under the Bill as it stands to qualify for this premium. The Minister would be acting ultra vires if he tried to confine it to particular types of agriculture, to particular employers or to particular employees.

Therefore, having enlarged the Bill to include agriculture in so far as the Title is concerned and in so far as section 2 is concerned, the Minister does not appear to have done so in section 3. He does not appear to have given himself the power to include in this scheme regulations and details of who shall be included in agriculture. In fact by amendment No. 5 the Minister has excluded himself from this rather than making some allowance for it. As it stands at the moment [1111] there are two possible interpretations: that nobody in agriculture can be specified in the scheme and nobody will qualify, or, alternatively—I think this is the proper interpretation—that, having provided in the Bill that those working in agriculture and horticulture are to be covered, anybody in that category may apply and the Minister is not entitled to confine himself in any way.

Mr. O'Leary:  I do not quite follow the Senator. The provision of powers as arranged under the section is such as to permit me the widest flexibility, which I thought was the desirable thing in this area of selection, subject to the criterion that applies to the unemployed to whom the Bill is directed.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The problem is that as the section stands the Minister is perfectly right. Under the section the Minister has power to decide the people who will receive the premium, the workers in respect of whom premiums will be made. He has complete carte blanche and indeed, with the subsection as it stands he can include agriculture. The subsection at the moment speaks of the industries or activities in specified industries, which includes agricultural, horticulture and so on. Once the Minister has changed the wording of the Title of the Bill, then he is empowered to extend these industries to agriculture if not to anything else. He does not need this amendment. If he want to move this amendment and have it passed, the problem arises that he has limited the extensive powers given to him. Instead of giving him power to determine the activities in specified industries to which the scheme applies and so on we find that it states that “the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, so far as the scheme applies to manufacturing industries, determine and shall specify in the scheme the industries or the activities in specified industries” and so on. The Minister is limiting himself, so far as one can see, to manufacturing industries and specifically excluding agricultural industries from this subsection.

[1112]Mr. O'Leary:  Surely the distinction is that in one case I am consulting with the Minister for Finance. Opposition Senators pointed out that this was possibly a restricting influence, although, as I have already explained there would be no ceiling on expenditure in this area since all expenditure in this area is in a sense a saving to the Exchequer. There would be no ceiling whatever in respect of the expenditure in relation to the scheme in general.

The criticism was made that so far as there was restriction this consultation with the Minister for Finance was such. In the agricultural area this figure, the Minister for Finance, does not appear at all. I would have thought the criticism could be made that there were even wider powers available to me in agriculture. How would one say that there is restriction? In agriculture it is the Minister for Labour alone who will determine the persons or classes of persons in the agricultural and horticultural sectors to whom the scheme will apply subject to the criterion mentioned elsewhere in the Bill.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  The heading of section 3 is: “Determination of application of Scheme.” Subsection (1) seems to say quite clearly that the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, so far as the scheme applies to manufacturing industry, and in that respect only, shall specify in the scheme the industries or the activities in specified industries to which the scheme applies and the person or classes of persons to whom it applies. I am not trying to make a legalistic point but it seems to me that as it stands the Minister may not say anything about agriculture.

This, of course, is looking at it in one way. Anybody who applies can say: “I am engaged in agriculture and I am in the situation envisaged by the Bill, I am taking back a man who is unemployed and I want the premium.” There may be a snag for the Minister and his Department, that if anybody just makes that flat statement he must be given a premium because the Minister cannot say: “You are not covered by the scheme. [1113] The scheme says you are not covered because you are in this aspect of agriculture” or something else. As it stands, anybody who is covered by the basic provisions of the scheme must get the premium. The Minister has no power to stop anybody in agriculture from getting it.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Might I ask the Minister a few further questions on this? I know it is not easy for him to adjudicate on every individual case that might arise but one has come to my mind, that is, the case of a farmer who during the winter period decides that there is some future in the tourist industry and applies for permission to build ten chalets on his farm. Would he qualify for the £10 if he took on some handyman to assist in doing that particular job during this period? Suppose we had a farmer who decided he would go into greyhounds, that he had 30 or 40 greyhounds over the winter period and he took on an extra man to take care of them, would he qualify for the £12? Suppose the man had a rabbit farm——

Mr. O'Leary:  A greyhound is a domestic animal.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  These may be borderline cases but there can be such cases. Suppose a man has a rabbit farm.

Mr. O'Leary:  Is the greyhound a domestic animal?

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  That is a question for the draftsman so far as this is concerned. Lastly, especially in the western counties and in the north western areas, farmers purchase harvesters for making silage and they do ploughing by contract for their neighbours and so forth. If a man such as that decided in the winter period that he would do ploughing for his neighbours and so on and had a few extra tractors and a few men doing that, would he qualify?

Mr. O'Leary:  We can stretch these possibilities and take special cases out but I think greyhounds in general, nurtured in care, would come under the general heading of agriculture. In relation to the building of chalets and so on, it is up to the farmer concerned [1114] to state what agricultural purpose they serve. The general criteria is that the person comes off the unemployment register and that he is engaged in employment connected with an agricultural holding or work of that nature and I think within those broad parameters you can see the possibility of workers being taken on by farmers for the period specified. In all cases the National Manpower Service will be in consultation with agricultural interests in an effort to see that the benefits of the scheme are spread most widely.

In relation to the other question raised by Senator Ryan I explained that we have this provision of consultation with Finance but in agriculture the fact is that we do not have such consultation on the basis, I suppose, of the number and multitude of individual decisions to be made there. In the other case it is quite simple because there is consultation over a sector. I do not see the difficulties he raises there, nor is that the advice available to us. Under the scheme with this amendment I will have the power to say what classes of people will be entitled to the premium and what conditions will apply.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Am I to take it that so far as the scheme applies to manufacturing industries it relates merely with the consent of the Minister for Finance?

Mr. O'Leary:  Yes. That is the intention of the Bill.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  I will not press the point because it is not really my concern if more agricultural employees get into the scheme but I think it may present difficulties.

Mr. Garrett: Information on Jack Garrett  Zoom on Jack Garrett  I would like to ask the Minister to consider the case of the small farmer whose 18-year-old son is signing on for the dole and is on the live register. His dole money amounts to something like £8 per week as a single man. Is the farmer entitled to the £12 per week if he employs that son, which will mean an extra £4 of an income into the house. Is he entitled to the £12 per week to take that young man off the live register and off the dole?

[1115]Mr. O'Leary:  That is the point. In the case the Senator mentions that person is unemployed and provided there is a genuine contract of employment—the Senator could see possibilities where this would not be the case—he would qualify. The Senator will understand that the agricultural wages should be correctly paid.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Things are looking better now.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Might I ask the Minister if this provision will also apply to the daughter because there are many cases where there might be no son at all on the farm? I assure the Minister she would appreciate the money too.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  One last query about the Minister's amendment No. 2. The Minister pointed out to me—I regret to say that I had not noticed it—that there is a last sentence to it which provides that certain conditions of the scheme continue to apply after the closing date of the 26th June, 1976. This is obviously intended to mean that where a farmer has started on his nine months of getting the premium, say next June, that he can continue on to the following March. Am I also right in saying that this would also give the Minister power, if the circumstances should warrant it, to say to manufacturing industries, who may be benefiting from premiums, that they can continue getting the £6?

Mr. O'Leary:  No. We ask in agriculture for this nine-month period to preserve continuity. In industry it comes to a full stop next summer at that date. In agriculture it does not because of the difficulties associated with agriculture.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The Minister misunderstands me. I am not saying that that is the Minister's intention. I accept at the moment that obviously it is not but I think he is giving himself power to do so in this. The section states that it will cease to have effect on the 26th day of June, 1976, without prejudice to any conditions of the scheme which continue to apply [1116] after that date. This certainly gives the Minister power to continue to pay premiums.

Mr. O'Leary:  I do not intend to exercise it. I take the point.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  It gives the Minister power but he does not intend to exercise it. I asked really because if it is to be extended it should be brought back to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  In view of the fact that there are so very few large farmers in many of the north western and western counties and in view of the very few one envisages will be employed as a result of this, would the Minister consider the case of four or five small farmers who might be grouped together, and one man taken on by the first farmer would find continuous employment if he was able to go from Mick to his brother-in-law and right around the ring for the winter. Five small farmers would be able to keep one man in constant employment for the nine-months' period whereas any of them individually would not be able to do it. Consequently they would not qualify for the scheme. That would also promote the meitheal idea, the idea of co-operation among small farmers. They could hold machinery in common and so on.

Mr. O'Leary:  If one farmer acted as the contracting employer such a person would qualify for the scheme.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  That is a good concession.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is now 12.30. Does the House intend to adjourn for lunch?

Mr. O'Leary:  Is there any possibility of getting the remaining Stages? I am anxious to get this through to the Dáil.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is a matter for the House.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  It will be finished by 6 o'clock.

[1117]Mr. O'Leary:  Is there any possibility of finishing it now?

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  It would not be through by 2 o'clock. There are a fair number of points to be raised. We appreciate that the Minister must go back to the Dáil today. We accept that completely.

Business suspended at 12.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I move amendment No. 3:

To add to the section the following new subsection:

“(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3), the net additions of employees to whom the Scheme applies made by an employer to his total insured workforce shall be measured by reference to the level of the workforce on the 20th day of June, 1975, provided that a date which is later than that date may be specified in respect of certain industries or activities.”

This is an important amendment. It deals with the date of 20th June which does not appear in the Bill at present but which appears in the various indications that have been given by the Minister and by the Government Information Service with regard to the manner in which the scheme will be prepared. The Minister says the scheme will be governed by the work force in respect of any particular industry. This does not apply, of course, to agriculture, but in any particular industry the work force on 20th June will be the governing factor. After the scheme comes into force an employer will be entitled to get a premium in respect of a worker and any employer who makes a net addition of eligible full-time employees to his total insured work force will be entitled to a weekly premium and the net additions to the work force will be measured by reference to the level of the work force on 20th June, 1975.

The problem here is that a factory, for example, which employs, say, 200 workers on 20th June, 1975, should it let off workers, or close down altogether in September, October, [1118] November, or at any time after 20th June, when it reopens and starts to take on workers it will not be in a position to benefit from this scheme. That would be all very well if one could be sure, not merely in relation to the country as a whole but in relation to each particular factory or other unit of industry taken individually, that June 20th, as it were, was rock bottom and that after June 20th things could only improve. Unfortunately, it seems only too likely that matters will not improve. They may in certain instances, but the overall position is only too likely to be that the number of unemployed between now and, say, next February or March is likely to increase perhaps by as much as 20,000 or 30,000, but certainly it is likely to increase rather than decrease.

This is likely to happen for various reasons. First of all, home demand for Irish produced goods has been going steadily downwards. There is no particular indication at the moment that there is likely to be a change there. Secondly, exports so far this year, which take approximately half of all Irish industrial production, have been well below the figure for last year in volume and the indications are that it will become in the coming months still more difficult to export than it has been in the past. This is likely to be so because of the continued weak demand in the various countries on the Continent of Europe and elsewhere to which we export but, in particular, because of the position in Great Britain where more than half of our total exports go. Under the recent Government steps the average rise in wages over the next 12 months or so will be about 10 per cent only to meet a rise in living costs of 26 per cent or more. The result obviously will be highly deflationary.

The result will be a very considerable fall in purchasing power on the part of the British public. The result will be that it will be far more difficult than ever before in the past for us to export to Britain. On the other hand because of the deflationary aspects of the British proposals, if they can be made to stick, and it seems [1119] they will be made to stick to a considerable extent, the extent of inflation in Britain is likely to fall considerably, perhaps to as little as half of the present figure inside the next 12 months. Costs in Britain, in other words, are likely to go downwards much more rapidly than here and, for this reason, not only would it be difficult for us to export to Britain because of lack of purchasing power, but we are likely to be costed out of the British market. Our exports will become less and less competitive. On the other hand, because British industries' costs will be falling, they will find it easier to export to us, thereby still further reducing the home demand for Irish-produced goods.

For all these reasons, and because of the fact that from 1st January next there will be a further cut in tariffs between us and the old countries of the Common Market, the likelihood is that Irish industries will find it still more difficult to sell over the next 12 months, and certainly over next autumn and winter. Therefore, unemployment is far more likely to go up than to come down. In these circumstances it is difficult to understand the Minister's purpose in fixing one single date, June 20th. Even though he says he may vary this by a day or two on each side, apparently he is not willing to make it infinitely flexible so that it will provide for a situation where a company in the autumn or winter is taking on extra workers unless in doing so it was passing the figure it had at work on June 20th, 1975.

This scheme is dealing with past history rather than with the months and years to come. In view of the fact that the Minister has complete power under the Bill to decide to apply the scheme practically any way he likes, both in regard to conditions for payment of the premium and the amount of the premium, it is difficult to understand why he is being so rigid in this matter. We seek to insert this amendment to make it clear that this date of 20th June which the Minister has in mind will not be an inflexible date. [1120] The Minister has the power in the Bill already but we want to add the words: “...provided that a date which is later than that date may be specified in respect of certain industries or activities.” This makes it quite clear in the Bill that the Minister has the power to fix different dates. We feel he should accept this amendment. He would probably be willing enough to accept it unless he is being urged from some other source not to take such a step which could involve him in spending more money. If ever there was a scheme which ought to be an expensive one, this is it. We should be in favour of anything which could lead to greater use being made of the scheme and greater funds being required to implement it.

Whatever about the actual cost to the Department of Labour it is difficult to see how there can be much cost to the general Exchequer because any additional workers employed must be taken off the Unemployment Register. Therefore, while £12 a week and later £6 a week will be paid in respect of them, there will be a far greater saving in respect of unemployment benefit which will not need to be paid. I urge the Minister to accept this amendment. He will have terrible problems if he tries to adhere rigidly to 20th June. Undoubtedly, there will be many cases in the coming months and year of industries either closing down or letting off workers. There will be great disappointment and disillusionment if people find—as they will under the Minister's present scheme—that they can benefit in no way from these premiums.

Mr. O'Leary:  A similar point was raised in the other House by a number of Opposition spokesmen. This amendment, if accepted, would permit me to set different dates for assessing the base levels for different industries for the implementation of this programme. Of course, a date for a temporary programme of this kind must be selected and the date selected is 20th June. This would obviously include certain industries on either [1121] side of that date for which a case could be made by saying that their predicament would be worse if I had chosen that particular date and that they would not benefit from the scheme. That is why there is this flexibility in setting a notional figure for the number of employees in a particular firm.

A case was mentioned in the other House of a firm in County Louth where approximately 600 employees were working on 20th June. That was the maximum. Arrangements had already been made with Fóir Teoranta for a reduction in that work force. In that case, I would be able to fix a notional figure. I have that discretion and that flexibility to provide for situations of real hardship and to ensure that the employees of such firms can partake of the benefits of the scheme and even where the work force was reduced after the coming into operation of this programme, they will benefit from the scheme where such a reduction had already been decided upon in consultation with a State agency.

If we start shifting around the actual date we will be trying to achieve the same thing but in a much more messy fashion. It will be the subject of much greater argument and much more interpretation and unsatisfactory in every sense. I believe the date of 20th June should remain unaltered. Deviations from that date could result in different firms, within the same industrial sector, having different base levels assigned to them. It could lead to different industries pressing to have different base levels assigned to them. It could lead to all manner of confusion. I have sufficient discretion in deciding on the complement of workers in a particular job and therefore I believe the date should remain unchanged.

Mr. Dolan: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Will the Minister be able to consider workers who are under notice of redundancy but who are not actually out of work on that particular date?

Mr. O'Leary:  I would have such discretion on the notional level.

[1122]Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I would be in favour of the Minister being left a discretion if he proposes to use it in any real sense of the term. As I understand the Minister now, the only way he intends to use his discretion is in respect of decisions which have already been taken, perhaps in collaboration with Fóir Teoranta, to run down a factory's work force.

I will put it to him this way. An industry or factory has, say, 200 workers. It closes down next September. In the months after that it will be endeavouring to find markets to open up again. I take it I am right in saying that the Minister does not propose to apply the premium system to that factory? In other words, no encouragement whatever will be given to a factory under these conditions to open up again and take on more men. The scheme will not apply. Of course, the Minister has the power to do that under this Bill but, from what he says, I take it he does not propose to use that power in this respect. Am I right in that?

Mr. O'Leary:  I have the discretion, even outside State companies, where a case is brought to me. I have the discretion to decide on a notional base level of employment on that date. Where a firm had, perhaps the day before, employed workers they could easily have employed the following Wednesday I have discretion. One cannot set down in statutory form the extent of that discretion. That would have to be examined by the local manpower officer. If it were a case of people being employed three months before, that would fall outside the ambit of discretion. We all wish to see that genuine cases are not excluded from the benefits of the scheme. The concept of a notional base level of employment on that date gives us that flexibility.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I am not talking about the day before or about industries that may be in the process of closing around the period of June 20th. I am talking about an industry that lets off workers in September, October, November or December. In that case, [1123] the Minister does not propose to apply the premium scheme as an encouragement to get those workers back. Is that not the position?

Mr. O'Leary:  The scheme comes into force on that date in June. The scheme's benefits are designed to assist those employers who increase their work force from that date onwards.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  In other words, leaving aside marginal cases around the last half of June, in the case of factories that let off workers or closed down, during the autumn, winter and spring, the Minister does not propose to pay premiums to them as an encouragement to get workers back. That is clearly the position. Now we know where we are. This seems to me to be quite wrong. A worker is unemployed or on the register, irrespective of the fact that the work force in a particular factory may have been such-andsuch on June 20th. Many industries have been able to resist so far the problems facing them and they have been able to keep on their workers. Some industries have kept on workers past June 20th at a loss to themselves because they were unwilling to let workers go until it became absolutely clear that they had to. Industries of this kind may well find themselves having to let workers off in the autumn and winter.

I am unable to see why, under these circumstances, the Minister cannot agree to use the powers he undoubtedly will have under the scheme to pay premiums in such cases. I can see that there could be possibilities of evasion but, after all, the Minister is specifically giving himself power in section 3 to decide not merely the industries that will benefit but individual premises, individual factories, inside each industry. He is empowered to say this worker will get it and that worker will not. He has absolute carte blanche. It is perfectly open to him to say: “On my honest assessment of your claim for a premium, I do not think it is justified. This is a fiddle.” He need not put it that way. He can say: “I will pay the premium here and I will not pay it there.”

[1124] I can see that the Minister might feel he had a problem in deciding whether an industry had genuinely let people off during the autumn because they simply had no work for them, or whether they were letting them off with a view to re-employing them and getting the premium. After all, he has the power to decide off his own bat whether or not a case is justified. In addition I would have thought he has the guideline of redundancy payments. If someone has been let off in industry during the autumn or winter, if it is a case of redundancy as opposed to merely somebody being sacked for some other reason, if he is in receipt of redundancy payment, I should have thought the Minister was perfectly safe in assuming that it was a genuine case of redundancy. After all investigations are made before he is allowed his payments. In that case the Minister could pay premiums as an encouragement to that industry to open up. If an industry lets off workers or has to shut down, the time comes when markets have improved a bit, or stocks have been run down, and the manufacturer may say: “Perhaps I could open”, and then he thinks: “It is a marginal matter and I am afraid I will continue to lose money.” In such a marginal case —it inevitably arises sooner or later— the payment of premium could be the thing that decided an industry to start up again in November rather than in January or February. It could make all the difference and would be a considerable help to employment. Limiting it to either 20th June or a week, perhaps, one side or the other, will simply mean that any further falls in employment in industry during the autumn, winter and spring, will not qualify for premiums under the scheme. As I said, it is entirely past history and does not cover future events.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I referred to this matter on Second Stage. In the Minister's reply on Second Stage I presumed that he was referring to the cases mentioned by Senator Yeats. I am appalled that the flexibility he talks about, and which should be enshrined in the Bill, does not cover [1125] cases that may arise in the autumn and winter of this year. If the Minister is only referring to marginal cases in and about the end of June, that is not enough. We are into an economic crisis now that will not blow away in a matter of weeks. We are into one that we will have to live with for at least a year. We will have this type of situation arising throughout the autumn and winter.

I presumed from what the Minister said in reply to Senator Yeats' amendment that he has the statutory flexibility not to tie himself to 20th June, or thereabouts, and that he can, as he said in relation to the agricultural sector this morning, deem any other day, from now until the scheme finishes on 26th June, 1976, to be an operative day for the purpose of the functioning of the scheme. There is no need for the Minister, or the Minister for Finance, to be apprehensive about any abuse of the scheme because we have the Minister's own manpower service; we have the criteria on which redundancy payments are established; we have ample scope. Tied in with the flexibility of the Bill which appeals to me, the discretion is his on the information available to him from existing State agencies to decide whether or not there is a bona fide case arising in September, October, November, or December, to whom the scheme should apply.

I am thinking in particular of the efficient industrialists who have so far weathered the storm, the industry that has lasted through the economic storm of the past nine months, and is still there, maybe at a loss but still functioning. If such an industry, in face of a rising economic blizzard, finally goes under in September or October for the most genuine reasons —reasons that can be assessed by the Minister and by the Minister for Industry and Commerce—in that situation cannot the Minister exercise the wide powers he has under the Bill and regard the date the industry finally runs into trouble as the operative date? It floundered for genuine reasons and if it wishes to restructure the company and get going again, [1126] surely it should get the employment premiums set out in the Bill. That is the purpose of our amendments.

The last two lines of Senator Yeats' amendment referring to the level of workers on 20th June, 1975, reads: “...provided that a date which is later than that date may be specified in respect of certain industries or activities”.

Surely there is no man better equipped than the Minister, with the information available to him from State agencies, to specify a later date in respect of specific industries or activities where he is satisfied the case is completely bona fide. I am only pleading in respect of bona fide industries who may wish to re-start after being forced to stop at any date between now and the end of the scheme. It is not enough that the Minister will limit his flexibility to marginal cases in and about 20th June. What we are seeking is that he would apply himself under the scheme envisaged in the Bill on an ongoing basis to troubles that might arise in areas of industry between now and the expiration of the scheme. I should like to hear the Minister on that aspect.

Mr. O'Leary:  Of course the Bill refers to all cases after its start in June. Firms or industries that bring on any increase in their workforce after that date will benefit from the scheme. Firms such as the Senator mentioned which are encountering difficulties now, in the autumn or at any time during the duration of the scheme will benefit from it if they bring on any extra workers. The scheme is intended as an aid to industry over the months of waiting until the general economic recovery takes place, which is expected by economists in most countries to take effect next summer. The effects of that general economic recovery will be slow in reducing unemployment. But we hope to see the first effects of the unemployment reduction becoming more marked in the early summer months of next year.

[1127] The legislation is designed to bring us to that point. It is not designed at all nor do we claim it to be designed as a measure to assist industries closing and opening. Obviously, the industry in the kind of difficulty mentioned by Senators would be that ideally suited for purposes of this legislation, the small firm or industry which has been undergoing considerable difficulties and which believes that there is a possibility of doing extra work during the coming months and which the State can now assist in bringing on extra workers. That is really the purpose of the legislation. I understand the feeling of Senators that it should face in all directions, considering the industrial difficulties that may arise at present. The Bill can only succeed by adhering consistently to the objectives set out for its success, namely, inducement to industry to take on extra employees over these ensuing winter months or early spring until the general recovery itself is sufficient inducement for industry to take on workers who have been let go.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The Minister is simply not correct in saying that this Bill will cover industries that take on workers in the autumn. It would cover them in the single case—and indeed the somewhat likely case in most cases— that they are in a position during the autumn to take on workers beyond what they had in June. That might be so if, say, an industry has closed down on June 20th. Obviously, anything after that is sheer gain. Any workers they take on from then on obviously will rate for the premium. But a firm that closes down in, say, September is in a totally different position. If a firm with 200 workers closes down in September the Minister says it can benefit from the premium. So it can, provided it goes past 200. In respect of the first 200 workers it takes back it gets no premium at all, because it had 200 on June 20th. It closes down in September. It has to take back 200 workers with no assistance whatever from this scheme. Only then, if it manages to get the 201st or 202nd worker, does the premium system begin to apply. [1128] That is not realistic in present-day terms.

How many industries will be in a position in practice to increase their activities under present economic conditions? That is not really the problem we face at all. If an industry's export markets are such that it is in a position to expand, I should think it would find it very profitable to expand, irrespective of this scheme. I would not have thought that was a problem with which we should be dealing at all. I am sure it is not what the Minister had in mind in introducing this Bill. The problem with which we are dealing in this scheme is quite different. It applies where an industry is working at well below its maximum possible output, has had either to close down altogether or to reduce its workforce and I should have thought, the aim of these premiums was to encourage them to take back people. This is what happens to firms around June 20th. A firm that was working with only half its workforce on June 20th which takes on anybody beyond that figure will get the premium, whereas a firm that closes down or cuts its workforce in September, October, November, December, January, right through to spring, gets nothing at all until and unless it gets past the figure for June 20.

The only argument one can see against the Minister exercising the flexibility we ask is the possibility of evasion, that a factory might sack people in order to take them back and get the premium. With the ample powers the Minister is taking in this Bill I should have thought it would have been perfectly possible to weed out such cases, particularly if the Minister were to go by the figures for redundancy payments. If a firm was behaving in the way I have suggested, quite obviously the people concerned would not be awarded redundancy payments. But where redundancy payments are in force it would seem very simple for the Minister to deduce therefrom that there was a genuine case of redundancy and that, therefore, the premium ought be payable.

By limiting it in this way the Minister is very greatly limiting the number [1129] of people who could benefit from these premiums. It becomes a kind of a lottery. Even if a factory closed down, shall we say, last May, opened up briefly in the second half of June and then closed down again in September it would not benefit from these premiums. It is mere chance as to the number of people a particular industry happens to employ around the second half of June. The Minister is limiting it, for whatever reason, in such a way that the scheme will benefit fewer people that it could otherwise benefit, in particular the 20,000 or [1130] 30,000 people who lose their jobs between now and the spring. For practical purposes they will not benefit at all.

Mr. O'Leary:  I have already replied to Senator Yeats. There is disagreement between us. The scheme is of a limited duration until next summer. Senator Yeats has a different conception of what the scheme should be doing, a different function.

Amendment put.

Brennan, John J.
Browne, Patrick (Fad).
Dolan, Séamus.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Garrett, Jack.
Keegan, Seán.
Lenihan, Brian.
Ryan, Eoin.
Ryan, William.
Yeats, Michael B.

Blennerhassett, John.
Burton, Philip.
Butler, Pierce.
Codd, Patrick.
Daly, Jack.
Deasy, Austin.
Ferris, Michael.
FitzGerald, Alexis.
Halligan, Brendan.
Harte, John.
Kerrigan, Patrick.
McCartin, John Joseph.
Moynihan, Michael.
O'Brien, Andy.
O'Brien, William.
Russell, George Edward.
Sanfey, James W.
Walsh, Mary.
Whyte, Liam.

Amendment declared lost.

Question proposed: “That section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I have a very small question on subsection (3). I would be interested to know why the change was made in dates. They were originally as listed in the Government Information Services bulletin on this —from 27th June, 1975 to 30th June, 1976.

Mr. O'Leary:  I think it was a question of the PAYE week.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  Does the PAYE week begin and end on a Sunday?

Mr. O'Leary:  Begins on a Sunday.

Question put and agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Amendment No. 4 has been ruled out of order. Amendment No. 5 has already been debated. I understand there is a textual correction to be made.

Government amendment No. 5:

In page 2, line 30, after “Finance” to insert “so far as the Scheme applies to manufacturing industries,”

Mr. O'Leary:  There is a question here of perhaps an extra comma. The intention of this amendment is to provide for consultation between myself and the Minister for Finance in determining the manufacturing industries and activities in those industries which will be included in the scheme. As regards agriculture, including horticulture, the intention is that determinations [1131] under the scheme should be my sole decision, without consultation with the Minister for Finance.

The amendment, as it appears on the list of amendments, contains a comma after the word “industries”. That comma should not have been inserted. I have consulted the parliamentary draftsman. His advice is that I refer to this typographical error that a comma appears in the amendment which would result in a duplication of commas. Therefore, the amendment to be passed should not include the comma. Unless anyone feels very strongly about the question I will, with the permission of all, drop the extra comma.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I would hate to have a duplication of commas. But I feel that the whole meaning of this important amendment is changed because of the non-existence of a comma. It makes life rather difficult for anyone in future years trying to understand what this is about. I suggest that it might be possible on Report Stage to make a rather more specific amendment to this subsection which would make it quite clear what the Minister intends to do without relying in this way on commas. I might try and draft something for Report Stage which would, without altering in any way the meaning as intended by the Minister, make it considerably clearer because I hate the thought of a section changing its meaning utterly because of the non-existence of a comma or the duplication of commas.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  If the position is that the comma is now removed that will not prevent Senator Yeats from putting down an amendment on Report Stage. Therefore, it is agreed that the textual correction of the removal of the comma at the end of amendment No. 5 be made.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 3, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I shall not go into [1132] the technicalities of the amendment just referred to, but the basic thinking behind the Minister's decision is to exclude the agricultural sector from the necessity on the part of the Minister for Labour to consult the Minister for Finance and get his consent. That is excellent. Provided that is what——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on James CI Dooge  Zoom on James CI Dooge  Is the Senator aware that the amendment has already been debated?

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The point I am making is that under this section the consent of the Minister for Finance is still required in respect of manufacturing industries. In the amendment the Minister has correctly, although it may not be clear, excluded the agricultural sector from the need for this consent. The Minister said this morning that the reason he did that was that the various applications from the agricultural sector would be many, varied and of different categories. I would suggest to the Minister for Labour that he consider seriously, between now and Report Stage, extending the principle he adopted in his amendment vis-à-vis the agricultural sector to manufacturing industries as well. The Minister still has around his neck the albatross of the consent of the Minister for Finance written in to subsection (1) of section 3. I fail to see the need for it, particularly in the context of what the Minister is doing in this section. What the Minister is doing, in effect, amounts to a relief as far as the Exchequer is concerned. If the Bill is being confined to people on unemployment benefit going out of benefit—£12 to be diminished after six months, £12 being paid to the employer—there is a net gain to the Exchequer in that situation. Therefore, every person taken out of benefit, provided they come within the scheme will, in effect, cost the Exchequer £12 only, which would be a saving when related to benefit and in particular in relation to pay-related benefit.

I take it that is the situation. In that type of situation—and I am open to correction if I am wrong in that [1133] analysis—I fail to see the need for the consent of the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Finance is necessary in a Bill of this kind to curb a Minister who engages in excessive expenditure to the detriment of the Exchequer. Here is a case where the Minister for Labour is being obliged to operate the scheme on certain criteria, the main criteria being that the employer takes on people who are in benefit. By reason of taking on people who are in benefit, he, the employer, then benefits to the extent of £12 for each such employee. It is not a situation where there is any danger of the Minister for Labour exceeding his mandate in regard to expenditure. It is a situation where, within the ambit of this scheme, the Minister for Labour will be giving the Exchequer a net gain in the balance between premium payment and benefit. Surely it would be, in the interests of expedition and of flexibility to ensure that the matters designed to be cured by this Bill are dealt with as a matter of urgency.

I would ask the Minister to consider between now and the passage of this Bill, either in this or the other House, asking the Minister for Finance to delete the words “with the consent of the Minister for Finance”, thereby having a section that would be totally flexible, giving the necessary authority to the Minister for Labour to deal with this matter in a flexible, open and, above all, urgent and expeditious manner. I am certain that he, as Minister for Labour, would welcome a section of that kind. I would urge him to get his colleague to agree to that deletion. The deletion has already been adopted by him in respect of applications from the agricultural section. I am saying that a much greater degree of urgency and immediacy exists in regard to the applications from the manufacturing industry sector, because obviously the great weight of the Bill is directed at relief in that direction.

This is the area where the Minister requires flexibility, requires a mandate to act in an immediate and urgent [1134] manner. He is restricting and inhibiting himself by incorporating in this section the consent of the Minister for Finance. In particular, I do not see its necessity in a Bill of this kind which represents an overall benefit to the Exchequer, apart from being of benefit to the economy, socially and economically, if it is successful.

Mr. O'Leary:  I know it is no defence to say it is just usual. But in any expenditure at all it is customary to have consultation with the Minister for Finance. I do not see any possibility of difficulties arising here because the point has been made repeatedly that there would be no ceiling to expenditure under this Bill. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to think that expenditure in this area must not be carefully scrutinised because it is designed to induce employment where it would not have occurred other than through the inducement offered in this legislation.

We do not mention the necessity of consultation in the case of agriculture because that is a generic name for an entire industry. That does not hold for the industrial section. There are subsections of that industrial sector. Therefore, we think it tidier to refer to consultation in that context. There is no particular limitation seen on the success of the scheme because of the necessity to consult the Department of Finance in general. It is a necessary dimension in all legislation of a spending character.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The Minister was using the words “consult the Department of Finance.” If that was all that was involved we would not really worry about it. Unfortunately it is not “consult” that is involved at all. It is to get the consent of the Minister for Finance, which is quite a different matter. Because of the insertion of these words in this subsection it means that, in so far as it relates to manufacturing industry, not one single penny can be spent by the Minister, nor indeed any other arrangements made for the implementation of the scheme without the [1135] actual consent of the Minister for Finance, with all that that involves.

I attempted to put down an amendment to delete those words. I was told that in accordance with precedent and so on I could not do so, on the grounds that deleting these words imposed a potential charge on public funds. The implication is very strong there that the consent of the Minister for Finance is a method of saving money. I have no doubt at all that the Minister is more than willing to carry through this scheme with the utmost effectiveness. Unfortunately, I am equally certain that the Department of Finance, or I suppose the Minister for Finance is the man we must refer to in this House, will inevitably, and particularly in the light of the present budgetary situation, be trying to cut down as far as possible on expenditure. It is all very well to talk about open-ended expenditure, but the extent of the open-ended expenditure will depend on the manner in which this scheme is framed. I fear that because of the words “with the consent of the Minister for Finance” the arrangements made in this scheme will be as limiting as is reasonably possible for the Minister for Finance to devise.

It is particularly difficult to understand the continued insistence on the insertion of these words in the light of the fact that the Minister had specifically and rather ambiguously removed the Minister for Finance from the proceedings with regard to agriculture. His point appears to be that because of the numerous employers involved in different parts of the country in agriculture it could be difficult and time-consuming to bring the Department of Finance in on every case. Once the decision has been taken in principle to exclude any reference to the Minister for Finance and exclude the necessity for getting the consent of the Minister for Finance in respect of agricultural matters, it is difficult to see in principle why the same could not be done in relation to the manufacturing industry. It is hard to see why this should be required.

[1136] I feel—I hope I am wrong—that the Minister for Finance has insisted that this should be inserted and retained in the Bill and that he does not feel the same urgency about the agricultural aspect of it on the grounds that the amount of money that will be involved will inevitably be relatively small. The Minister feels that the main bulk of expenditure will be in industry rather than agriculture and he wants to keep his hand in there.

There are other matters that arise under this section. First of all a small point: I attempted in an amendment to delete subsection (3). It was out of order on the grounds that there was a potential charge on public funds. I sought to delete subsection (3) because I am not clear why it is necessary to have it. It is not that I object to what is in it but it seems unnecessary and tautological. We are told in subsection (1) of this section that the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, determine the activities and specified industries to which the scheme applies. Further down in subsection (3) it is stated that the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, specify the industries and classes of persons to which the scheme does not apply. This, I have no doubt, is in accordance with some obscure tradition of the parliamentary draftsman. It seems eccentric and quite unnecessary that in the first subsection you say the Minister can set down precisely what the scheme applies to and in the third subsection he can also say what it does not apply to. If one eliminates the things to which it has not been applied by the Minister——

Mr. O'Leary:  It is a normal convention.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  It seems a bad convention. If you eliminated subsection (3) not even a comma of this Bill would be changed. However, I am not going to fight over it. I mentioned it because it is one of these conventions of the parliamentary draftsman that we could do without. Bills are complicated enough without adding subsections that have no meaning at all. [1137] There is a far more important point on subsection (2). At lines 36, 37 and 38 it states:

...in respect of such a determination of a person or class of persons the Minister may include a requirement of a specified minimum period of unemployment.

The Minister has said he proposes in his scheme to require that before a premium can be paid in respect of any person he shall have to be continuously on the live register for not less than the four weeks immediately preceding his first employment under this programme. This seems quite unnecessary. The feeling apparently is that if a person were to be given a job and had a premium paid in respect of him inside the four-week period he could be merely changing jobs. I cannot see that that matters.

Mr. O'Leary:  Surely the Senator will accept that there is a necessity for a period of unemployment before the person can benefit from the scheme.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  That is the point I am making. I do not accept that. I will explain why. The aim of this scheme is to put more people at work and off the register. If a factory is taking on workers in circumstances in respect of which the Minister is prepared to pay a premium, they are taking people off the unemployment register, people probably that they would otherwise not take. Whether they take a person who is three days unemployed or six months unemployed is of importance to the worker concerned, but in so far as the Minister's aim is concerned to get people into extra employment, the situation is unchanged either way. One must look at the industries concerned. Maybe they had let off workers or closed down altogether and were therefore below their normal level and are now taking people on in circumstances under which a premium can be paid. The aim is surely achieved if they take on extra workers, with the encouragement of these premiums. Whether the [1138] worker is unemployed for a short or long period does not seem to me to effect the matter in principle at all.

The danger is that if you have in a small country town a factory which lets off workers on a Friday and the other factory in the town is hoping to be able to increase its work force beyond the 20th June level, it will offer the job to one of the people who became unemployed on the Friday to start on the following Monday. Under the Minister's scheme as it stands, they cannot do that because they will not get the £12 premium. They might have to go 20 miles before they would be able to get somebody who would qualify under the scheme. The local worker who is going to be on the register with everybody else will not get the job because of the absence of a premium around his head. I do not think the Minister's point is a good one. We must think in terms of the overall number on the register and not the actual length of time the workers have been unemployed.

Mr. O'Leary:  The Senator and I disagree again about the need for a qualifying period of unemployment. It would be a mistake to think that one should not have criteria. One of the criteria of the Bill is that it should assist those rendered unemployed as a result of the current recession, mainly in manufacturing industries, but there is a possibility that workers may be usefully re-employed in agriculture. The main brunt of the legislation is directed towards the manufacturing industry—textile and footwear and all the industries which have suffered most grievously over recent months. These are the industries which require some form of inducement to bring back workers. We therefore had to establish a genuine basis of need to ensure that that criterion is fulfilled in this legislation.

The consent of the Minister for Finance puts no limitation on the effectiveness of this legislation. I accept the Senator's sentiments as being genuinely meant, but I am satisfied with the section as it stands. I do not see that the amendment suggested, [1139] which has already been discussed, would add anything to the section.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  There is a further point I would like to make. What is the position of someone who has been in receipt of unemployment benefit for the maximum 312 days and who then has to go over to unemployment assistance? Is the Minister saying that under his scheme such a person will not qualify for the payment of a premium?

Mr. O'Leary:  If they had even one day's payment of benefit in the preceding year they would qualify.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  The scheme as I understand it was that premiums would be paid in respect of full-time employment of persons who (a)—and this is the essential point—were in receipt of unemployment benefit at any time after 20th June, 1974. I am speaking of a person who has been out of work for maybe a year.

Mr. O'Leary:  He would have to be in receipt of at least one day's unemployment benefit in the previous year. If he was not he would not qualify.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  It seems to me from looking at the weekly unemployment figures that come to us that about 3,000 people, on June 20th, had been on unemployment benefit for the full 312 days and had gone over to unemployment assistance.

Mr. O'Leary:  312 days would bring us back to 1973, so, in effect, the Senator is giving an even longer payment period.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  312 days?

Mr. O'Leary:  You would include a year's benefit?

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  It would appear from the figures that come to us weekly that, while the overall figure of 101,000—102,000 remains the same, there has been an increase of about 3,000 in those on unemployment assistance and a fall of about 3,000, inside the overall figure, on the number on unemployment benefit. It would appear, therefore, that there [1140] are at least a couple of thousand who are now on assistance who had formerly been on benefit. I should have thought that it would be pretty easy to arrange the scheme in such a way that such people who were on assistance only after June 20th, provided they had exhausted their unemployment benefit, would qualify. I am not suggesting the Minister should bring in people who are on assistance simply because they never had stamps. I am talking about a case where somebody had been on unemployment benefit and was on assistance on or after June 20th. I would have thought the Minister really should allow for such people.

Mr. O'Leary:  I think in that case he would be all right, because he would at least have one day's benefit in the period in question. The whole purpose of the Bill is to tide us over the present recession. As we pointed out at an earlier stage in this discussion, always in this country unhappily we have lived at the best of times apparently at peace with the world in which we had over 7 per cent of our insured population unemployed. All through the sixties we lived with that extraordinarily high unemployment rate. As I said, no other European country would tolerate such a figure. We did tolerate it throughout all those years. Now in the present recession superadded to that chronic unemployment situation which this country has always suffered we have extra thousands of workers unemployed——

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  35,000.

Mr. O'Leary:  Yes. In all the years of the so-called economic miracle of our predecessors they tolerated an unemployment figure that no other democratic country would.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  With 35,000 and——

Mr. O'Leary:  That extremely grave economic situation—and it was always an extremely grave unemployment situation—has been aggravated as a result of the present recession, and this Bill is intended primarily to assist industries affected by this recession [1141] and those people who are out of work as a result of the present recession. The Senator may cite this or that example, but the fact is that in most cases the unemployed person will have drawn one day's benefit and any of these men and women would qualify under the section.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I could follow the Minister down the political path of past history he has taken, but as I am interested in the production of a good Employment Premium Bill I do not propose to do so. I should just say I do not accept his interpretation and leave it at that. Again on this question of unemployment assistance, if any person has exhausted his unemployment benefit before June 20th, under the Minister's scheme he does not qualify. It is no use telling me that if he even has one day after June 20th he will qualify. I am well aware of that. I am not talking about that case. I am talking about a case where somebody has exhausted his unemployment benefit before June 20th. That person will not qualify for a premium. The Minister may tell me that no one before June 20th has exhausted his unemployment benefit. If he says that, that is all right but I believe there are at least 2,000 or 3,000 who before June 20th had exhausted their unemployment benefit. If that is so, they should be in a position to qualify for premiums. It is as simple as that and there is no problem involved. The Minister could with the greatest of ease arrange in his scheme that such persons would qualify.

I am not suggesting, as I say, that the ordinary recipient of unemployment assistance should qualify under this scheme. I am not talking at all about people who are on unemployment benefit on June 20th and who went on to assistance after that. I am talking about the people who went on unemployment assistance before June 20th. The Minister may tell me there are no such people, but I suspect there are. My own interpretation of the figures is that there are probably 2,000 or 3,000 but whatever the number, even if there are only a [1142] couple of hundred, they should certainly be brought in under this scheme.

Mr. O'Leary:  We have a disagreement.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  If the Minister tells me there are no such people then that is all right. I will accept that. If there are no people who have exhausted their 312 days unemployment benefit before June 20th the point does not arise. If there are such people then it is not a matter of disagreement. It is a matter of bringing them under this scheme. The Minister for Labour in any Government should certainly regard it as outrageous that a man who has been unemployed since 1973 and has exhausted his 312 days on unemployment benefit, is unable to qualify for a premium because of a technicality. We must get an answer on this one.

Mr. O'Leary:  The Senator will have the answer. I am satisfied with the scheme as it stands here. That is the answer. The position is that a person who first lost employment in July, 1973, as far back as that, would not exhaust his unemployment benefits until June, 1974, and he would qualify. It would be a very small, unrepresentative group indeed who would fall into the special category mentioned by the Senator. I do not propose to deal with that category. The section is satisfactory to me as it stands. That is the answer the Senator has from me.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  At least we know where we are. The Minister for Labour, in other words, says that if there is somebody who has been two years on the unemployment register before June 20th, who has exhausted his unemployment benefit and gone on to a much lower level of unemployment assistance, in fact, himself and his family suffering considerable deprivation, he does not propose to include such a person in the scheme. He has the power to amend the scheme. In fact there is no amended scheme. He has the power to frame this scheme in such a way that without the slightest difficulty such people, be they many [1143] or few, can be included. The Minister has stated categorically that he does not propose to include such people. I can only regard that statement as outrageous coming from a Minister of Labour.

Mr. O'Leary:  All I can say is that whatever other gifts he may possess, the Senator does not know very much about the statistics of unemployment. One cannot be an expert in every area. The State has amply provided for unemployment in social welfare benefits. The Senator may have noticed the changes which have occurred in social welfare generally. This Bill is designed to bring people, out of work due to the present recession, back into gainful employment. A person who was unemployed for the length of time for which the Senator is concerned would be unemployable under this scheme. That person's needs would be totally different; he would need a long training course. The Senator may know that this year the Government are spending almost £9 million in the expansion of their training programme. I answered Senator Ferris on this point yesterday. Never before in the State's industrial training history have the Government spent more in the expansion of training resources.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Thanks to the Social Fund of the EEC.

Mr. O'Leary:  And the Exchequer contribution of 50 per cent and—the Senator is correct—our energetic representations in Europe to ensure that the benefits of the Social Fund would be spent at home. If the Senator wants these global answers on sections of the Bill I am prepared to give them. I can assure Senator Yeats that the needs of the minority he mentions are looked after by a different approach entirely; either in retraining them for industrial employment at some stage or, if they are totally unsuitable and regard themselves psychologically unsuitable to re-enter employment, then they are looked after by the Government's unemployment schemes. In general [1144] their problems are much more deepseated and serious than those of the newly out of work for whom this scheme is primarily designed. For the longer-term unemployed it is a question of retraining; they will be given new skills so that they can enter the work force at a higher wage than they had when they left. It belongs to a different department. I would refer the Senator back to the Bill and this section with which I am totally satisfied.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Surely Senator Yeat's point will become increasingly valid over the next 12 months if unemployment continues to rise at the same level as over the last 12 months. What the Minister has just stated in relation to the difference in category between people who are on quasipermanent or permanent unemployment assistance—the Minister has a valid point there—refers back to 1972 when there was reasonably full employment. The Minister is talking about a permanent unemployed force who are in receipt of unemployment assistance. Senator Yeats was talking about the situation over the past year and in the coming year, where capable working people will go from unemployment benefit to unemployment assistance by reason of the long period of their enforced unemployment. These people do not fall into the category covered by traditional unemployment assistance.

Mr. O'Leary:  In the case outlined by the Senator, those people would qualify. Any person who has been working as far back as July, 1973, will qualify.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Is the Minister quite serious?

Mr. O'Leary:  Any person who drew unemployment benefit in 1973 will qualify under the Government's scheme.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  As far back as 1973?

Mr. O'Leary:  Yes.

Question put and agreed to.

Government amendment No. 8:

In page 3, line 2, to delete “weekly”.

Mr. O'Leary:  Subsection (1) empowers me to make amendments to employment premiums. The payments will be made to an employer who is eligible under the scheme and in respect of employees who are also eligible under the scheme. In case there is misunderstanding, I have suggested the deletion of the word “weekly” as a drafting amendment to avoid confusion between the rate of the premium proposed, which is £12 per week, and the actual method of payment of the premium which will be four-weekly in arrears in the case of industry and by way of a single payment in the case of agriculture.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I was under the impression when I saw this amendment that it was to cover the agricultural situation where they are to be paid in nine-monthly lots. I suppose it becomes even more necessary because of the change in the agricultural position. I should like to inquire about the method of paying the agricultural premium, but I probably could do it on the section rather than on the amendment. We do not have any objection to this amendment as it stands.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I move amendment No. 9:

In subsection (2), line 6, to delete “amount” and substitute “percentage of applicable wage rates.”

The problem here is that the Minister's figure which he intends to pay under the scheme of initially £12 and after next March £6 is geared to the lower-paid workers, particularly female workers in textiles who because of the delay in industry of introducing equal pay are still grossly underpaid in many areas of the economy. Any resulting increase in employment will be welcome. But in [1146] many other sections of industry, particularly where skilled workers are involved, bearing in mind that the average male industrial wage is approximately £45, the amount of the premium—£12 or £6—is inadequate and will not have more than a marginal effect. The Minister would achieve a much more effective result by fixing some kind of percentage on the wage and this would greatly help the skilled workers—earning approximately £50 or £60—who, as the scheme stands, will derive very little benefit from these premiums. It will not be any incentive to an employer to take on additional workers. On the other hand, in the case of textiles, particularly in the case of female workers, a £12 premium will be a considerable incentive. This scheme will have an unbalanced effect. The Minister should have more flexibility in regard to the fixing of these premiums. As it stands, the Minister will not get the full effect which he would get if he accepted this amendment.

Mr. O'Leary:  For a programme of this sort, even in the sense of perhaps not being totally sensitive to the individual problems of a particular firm or sector, it is better for its success and ease of administration that the rules are simple and easily comprehended. This is the basic argument for the payments we have devised on a flat rate. Premiums differentiated in relation to wage rates would give rise to very serious difficulties and would mean that the Government would be forced to adopt a very cumbersome administrative machine to implement the provisions of this legislation. It is my intention to keep the administrative side of the programme to the bare minimum; to operate the programme directly for industry and see that its benefits go directly to industry; to avoid as far as possible the establishment of yet another body of inspectors.

If we were to have a percentage rate such criteria would have to be brought into effect as wage rates that are based on such a great variety of factors, the nature of the employment, [1147] skills involved, what the particular wage rates were in relation to the skills, the time work and the piece work element, duration of the employment, which would have such elements as service pay, location of the employment, regional differences and so on. All these matters would be part of the criteria which would have to be taken into account if we were to adopt a percentage approach. Then there would be different rates applying to different industries, from textiles to engineering. There would be possible allegations between one employment or another, of one group saying that X got more than we got. For all these reasons, and certainly for ease of administration, the flat rate is preferable. I take the Senator's point that ideally, perhaps, percentage might have some arguments behind it for a programme that was to operate for the period of this recession, to answer its problems and to aid those industries which would be most affected. The flat rate seems to have the better of the argument.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  I appreciate the Minister's point. Undoubtedly the flat rate idea eases the administration of the scheme. Senator Yeat's amendment is the right one in principle, that it should be varied as a percentage of the wage existing in particular industry. I can see a whole area of industry where this £12 premium will not be sufficiently attractive, particularly with the diminution after next March. The Minister will find himself tied to low wage rate industries where it may be attractive. I am thinking particularly of the textile industry. From his own statement that would appear to be already the case. The textile sector has been a major applicant so far in regard to the applications received in his Department since the announcement.

I do not think tying oneself to the particular varied aspects of the textile industry, the making-up sector, which has traditionally been a sector of low wage rates, by reason of a fairly low flat rate, having regard to wage rates that existed in more sophisticated [1148] industries that the Minister will reach his target of 10,000. When one considers the limited number of industries,—the textile and the shoe industries are two obvious ones—and when one considers that this low flat rate diminishes after nine months would be largely applicable to these low wage rate industries, I fail to see how the Minister will get his target of generating 10,000 jobs when he is confined to this area by reason of the low level flat rate. The Minister may be able to convince me otherwise, but in any area where the wage rates are running beyond £40 per week the £12 premium is a diminishing incentive as far as the employer in that area is concerned.

Mr. O'Leary:  I take the Senator's point but experience will bear out one or other interpretation. I have already indicated the reason that inclined us to the flat rate argument. Only experience will show if we reach the target and whether this flat rate constitutes a bar to reaching it.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I am willing to withdraw this amendment. I can see that there would be considerable difficulties in applying it in full. I hope the Minister will keep an open mind with regard to the possibility of changing the rates of premium and having higher rates of premium for specific industries. He may well find that industries that have been hard hit are simply unable to make any use of the scheme. He has given himself the power in the scheme to vary rates of premium and I hope he will keep an open mind as to the possibility of having higher rates for certain sections.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  The Minister may do that. He is not tied to the £12 and £6.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  He has power.

Mr. O'Leary:  Except that it should be noted that for a worker on £60 per week the £12 premium would represent something like 20 per cent, which is not inconsiderable assistance.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  On the other hand to a woman on £25 per week it represents nearly half.

[1149]Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  A woman in the making up industry, for instance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Brosnahan): Information on Sean Brosnahan  Zoom on Sean Brosnahan  Amendment No. 10a, as set out on the Order Paper, has been ruled out of order.

Question proposed: “That section 4, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  First of all, with regard to the nine month payment to farmers who take on extra workers or indeed to horticulturists, I take it that if the nine months begin, say, at the beginning of January next, there would be three months at the £12 rate and the remaining six months would be at the £6 rate. Is the Minister reasonably sure that this wait of nine months will be already an incentive to farmers?

One of the Senators opposite suggested that there might be payments on the way. I know the danger with payments say, every three months, is that a farmer might let somebody go. If a farmer knew that he was liable to be sued by the Department of Labour for repayment of the sum, that would be a disincentive to behaviour of that kind. It would be a considerable incentive to farmers if they could feel that they would be paid something along the way, perhaps a quarter of the total after three months and again up to six months. To ask a man to wait nine months before he gets anything is a discouragement. After all, who knows whether any of us will be alive in nine months time? One likes to see something in the hand straight away. The Minister should consider this.

There is a more important point under subsection (3) where the provision is that: “the Scheme may provide for the reduction or non-payment of an employment premium in a case where the Minister is satisfied that the employer concerned is in receipt of, or has received, moneys by way of a grant or loan from any body established by statute for the purpose of promoting, encouraging or assisting employment or industry”. The two [1150] bodies one thinks of in this connection are the IDA and Fóir Teoranta.

I take it the Minister can hardly have Fóir Teoranta in mind because it would be unreasonable, to put it mildly, to say to industries which are suffering from unemployment and which in many cases are being helped by Fóir Teoranta that they cannot get premiums. I take it that the IDA is intended. I would be glad to hear from the Minister what exactly he has in mind in this regard. The fact that an industry is being helped by the IDA is irrelevant in this context. Surely the point is that the industry is not doing well. It has had to let people off. We all want to encourage the taking on of extra workers, and the fact that they may have been paid money by the IDA, or are still being paid by the IDA, should not affect the basic issue, which is, getting as many people back to work as possible.

Mr. Russell: Information on George E. Russell  Zoom on George E. Russell  I would like to go some of the way in supporting Senator Yeats. I have in mind Shannon Airport Industrial Estate, where almost all the industries there have been given grant aid or were aided through other State sources. I am aware that this is an enabling clause, but I would like to have the Minister's assurance that it will be used with discretion, particularly having in mind industries which have received grants through the IDA and are giving substantial employment and for reasons completely outside their control are going through a very difficult period just now. As I said, I have in mind Shannon Airport, which is suffering from reason that are well-known, but are mainly due to falling off in export markets for which most of which were established some years ago.

Mr. O'Leary:  This discretion is mine under this section. The point had to be made that where moneys were coming from another State agency, maybe for a conflicting reason—very often grants come from Fóir Teoranta for the purpose of reducing the work force to ensure that there is greater security in extra efficiency resulting from the reduction of the work force [1151] for those remaining behind. That is a factor maybe of Fóir Teoranta's work. At least one instance, which I mentioned earlier today, indicates the kind of discretion permitted me and the discretion we are using positively where, in fact, that firm did not qualify in terms of the starting date, where Fóir Teoranta were already in and where we have already come to a decision that they will qualify. That should be ample confirmation to Senators to realise that I will use discretion here in this area always on the side of assisting genuine cases, even where such firms are in receipt of moneys from other State agencies.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I can see all right that where Fóir Teoranta have actually made arrangements with a firm to run down their workforce and they are paying them money as part of this general arrangement, one could put up a case for saying that no additional State funds are necessary since Fóir Teoranta have, presumably, made arrangements to provide enough cash to keep the operation going. Does the Minister envisage that the fact that payments have been made or are still being made by the IDA to any industry——

Mr. O'Leary:  Take an example, say, an IDA grant scheme. Say that we had such a scheme for provision of employment for 40 employees on the 1st October next. Under our scheme it would not be proposed to give premiums to that employer in respect of those workers. At least, I would not envisage that that would be something we would do. If the employer, as a consequence of the scheme, could show a few days later that he employed extra workers then he would qualify for those extra workers.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  There was a minor question that I asked about the weekly sum. Has the Minister closed his mind completely to the possibility of paying, perhaps, instalments to farmers rather than wait the full nine months?

Mr. O'Leary:  Our problem there is [1152] to ensure continuity. The Senator will appreciate that seasonality is one of the things that kept us away from certain industries, their seasonal nature and the doubt that the employment would have occurred in any case without the scheme. We want to ensure that funds here go to the areas where employment would not have occurred. The possibility is that the benefits of this programme have brought about more speedy entry into the workforce for people who are now unemployed and, to avoid this seasonality problem we have to ensure, we have to insist on, this nine-month period. That is why the provision is there.

Question put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 11 not moved.

Section 5 agreed to.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 are cognate and may be taken together.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  I move amendment No. 12:

In page 4, line 7, to delete “£300” and substitute “£100”; and in line 8, to delete “£400” and substitute “£200.”

I will not fight a war in defence of these amendments. I really put them down to make a point. The Minister provides that where various offences are committed, the usual type of thing, obstructing or impeding inspectors, refusing to produce records and so on that the people concerned

shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £300 or, in the case of a second or subsequent such offence, £400.

A recent Bill which arrived before us which was discussed at length and has disappeared at least for the moment without trace, the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Bill, had very similar sections where the penalties were £100 and £200. The offences in that particular case—of [1153] course it was the same Minister who was involved—were in respect of similar types of offences where an employer was suspected or accused of employing some unfortunate youth of 14 or 15 years for 50 hours a week and refused to produce records or gave false information and so on. In that case the penalty was only £100 and £200.

This seems to be a typical example in this Bill of where the Revenue was involved, where the Department of Finance and its minions come in and start worrying about their money being mis-spent, the penalties in such cases go up. The position of some unfortunate youth who is being maltreated, made work for excessive hours and so on, should be at least as important or more important than the minor financial worries of the Department of Finance and the State in general. I simply put down this amendment because, on principle, it is unreasonable that the fines in this case, simply because Revenue is involved, should be so much higher than where young people, who were being employed for excessive hours, were involved.

Mr. O'Leary:  We consider that the fines proposed are aimed as a deterrent course against the presentation by employers of fraudulent claims which could be very substantial because the premium in respect of any single worker could amount to £400. We believe the fines we have imposed here are appropriate for that kind of offence. I believe if we reduce those fines it would seem to indicate approval of that kind of offence. Therefore, I would not accept the amendment that we would reduce the fines in the section.

Mr. Yeats: Information on Michael B Yeats  Zoom on Michael B Yeats  For the very same reasons, in order not to have approval of such offences, the Minister should raise the fines in the other Bill.

Mr. O'Leary:  Perhaps that is possible to do.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed: “That section 6 stand part of the Bill.”

[1154]Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  What I have to say relates not only to section 6 but to section 7 also. Anybody turning to this Bill to see the sanctions and penalties for breaking its provisions would find that the offences are stipulated opposite section 7 and would be forgiven for taking that the only offences created by the Bill are in section 7. Nevertheless, section 6 also creates an offence and says there is a fine of £300. It is really only a drafting point, but section 6 should have dealt with inspectors, and section 7 should have dealt with furnishing false information. There should have been a separate section dealing with offences. As it stands at the moment section 6 partly deals with offences and section 7 partly deals with offences. It is a rather sloppy drafting, and it would be better to group the offences, who may prosecute, the time for prosecution and so on under a section dealing with offences generally.

Mr. O'Leary:  I do not think there is any serious matter at issue here as the Senator himself says. This is really the province of the parliamentary draftsman and this is his wording.

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  It is not a very important point but it could have been drafted better.

Question put and agreed to.

Amendment No. 13 not moved.

Section 7 agreed to.

Sections 8 and 9 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 14:

In page 2, lines 8 and 9, to delete “Employers engaged in certain manufacturing industries” and substitute “Employers engaged in agricultural (including horticultural) and certain manufacturing industries”.

Amendment agreed to.

Question proposed: “That the Title, as amended, be the Title to the Bill.”

[1155]Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  On the Title, this concerns the principle to which I have already referred in the course of several amendments earlier. I should like to have a definitive statement from the Minister on this aspect. In my view the Bill, as framed, particularly in regard to its Title, confining it to manufacturing industries and agriculture, which will contribute only in a negligible way to employment, but largely confining it to manufacturing industry, is too narrow and too restrictive. I feel very strongly that the whole range of economic activities, particularly the service industries, should be included here in the Title of the Bill, that the Title should not be just confined to certain manufacturing industries. The Minister's amendment means that employers engaged in agriculture are added in, but we should also have our other economic activities. I am thinking primarily in terms of the service industries in this respect.

I do not have to tell the Minister for Labour the important segment of our economy that comes under the heading of service industries, the building industry, hotel industry, transportation industry, to mention just three very large sectors. It is an area of industry I feel would respond very quickly to the stimulation of the employment premium system. The whole food industry is also excluded from the employment premium system as well. The Minister is in reality confining himself to a very limited range of industries.

Indeed, what he had to say to us in his opening speech rather confirms what I have been saying. He talked about the 400 inquiries that have come into his Department since the announcement of the scheme. I take it that these inquiries can be regarded as a fair straw gallup poll of the type of industry to benefit under this scheme over the next twelve months. The Minister said:

The largest volume of inquiries so far received came from the textile sector.

The Minister said that inquiries have also been received from employers in such sectors as plastics, footwear and engineering. That represents a reasonable [1156] cross-section of the 400 inquiries the Minister has received in his office so far. It is reasonable to assume that that will represent the range of industry that will be helped by this Bill.

I am suggesting very strongly to the Minister that that range of industry is too narrow if he is to generate 10,000 jobs by reason of this Bill over the next 12 months. For practical purposes I will disregard the agricultural sector, in any sort of real employment increase. It is only marginally important in the context of generating 10,000 jobs.

If we are to achieve the target of 10,000 new jobs we will have to be realistic and deal with manufacturing industry. The Minister has circumscribed himself to basically the textile industry, the plastics industry, the footwear industry and some forms of light engineering. These are all areas where low wage rates obtain, particularly in the textile area. It is an area where you will get some people, hopefully, back to work. By reason of the oil problems these are three industries where the whole trend of economic development appears to be running against them, industries where certain low wage rates obtain and where they might be marginally helped by the £12 premium.

But the whole range of sophisticated industry on which we are hoping to build a growing industrial base will be outside this employment premium system. The one industry of potential real growth, the food processing industry, is outside the scope of the Minister's field. The industry that we will be largely dependent on to revive our economic state of health, the building industry and the construction industry, is outside this scheme. The transportation and tourist industries are outside the scope of this scheme. Even if the Minister says that many of the industries I have mentioned are seasonal surely it is not beyond the wit of the Minister's Department, the National Manpower Service, the Department of Industry and Commerce and the expert agencies attaching to the two Departments to draw the appropriate distinctions between the degree of seasonality involved in regard to the base [1157] date of late June and any application that may be made subsequent to that date in respect of a particular employer.

It is not enough to say that these industries have been excluded because at the end of June this year there may have been a degree of seasonal employment which may not have been there three or six months after and the Minister would have difficulty in applying the scheme to any industry where there was a degree of seasonal employment. That is not enough.

There is sufficient expertise available to the Minister to distinguish between what is seasonal employment and what is real employment within the context of a particular industry or sector of industry. It should not be beyond the wit of the Minister's advisers to assess the content of seasonal employment. It would then be left open to the Minister to have these industries within the ambit of his Bill. This is designed to provide the Minister with a more flexible instrument. Why should he eliminate from the Title of the Bill the possibility of these industries other than manufacturing industries being included by him over the course of the next six or nine months? He rightfully, claimed that his whole objective was to secure a flexible instrument. Indeed, I would go along with much of what he said in that direction during the course of the debate. Why then should he circumscribe himself in the Title, by not including these industries? By including them in the Title he is not being compelled to help the whole lot of them. It is a matter again for the discretion of the Minister within section 3, where he can determine to what industries and to what activities in specified industries the scheme should apply. He has a very wide discretion, subject to the consent of the Minister of Finance, under section 3, to determine what range of industries, and what activities of industries should receive help. In that context the Minister can reject applications from tertiary industries, from food processing industries, from the building industry, if he regards them as having [1158] a seasonal content and as not meriting help under this Bill.

The Minister can separate the wheat from the chaff and decide in this area what industries or activities or aspects require help. In the interests of giving the Minister the widest possible degree of flexibility I would suggest that he widen the restriction he has here in the title to manufacturing industries and widen it to every form of economic activity in the State. Giving the Minister that power, he can pick and choose what he thinks desirable. Whether within the manufacturing area or this service area, or in the food processing area, he can pick and choose himself where he can stimulate employment over the next three, six or nine months.

Having regard to the low rate of premium of the flat rate of £12, I would think another industry, like the textile industry which is not noted for its high wage rates, to which this would be immediately attractive, is the hotel industry. I mention that industry straight away. Whereas a £12 a week employment premium to employers in other industries with high individual wage rates might not be attractive, a £12 employment premium would be very attractive in the hotel industry. It is just one example that I take. It is an industry, rather like many aspects of the textile industry, where relatively low rates have always obtained and where the £12 would be highly attractive in stimulating expansion and employment. I just mention that as one example where this premium could be a very real stimulus. The Minister may say there is an obvious seasonal content in employment in hotels at the end of June in a particular year, but surely it is not beyond the wit of the expertise at his disposal to separate the seasonal content from the permanent content and do the sums accordingly.

Short of hearing a very good reason from the Minister, I do not see why he does not extend manufacturing industry to cover the whole range of economic activity. It is no answer for the Minister to say that brings in a whole [1159] range of seasonal employment, the building industry, the hotel industry, and all sorts of difficulties. Of course it brings in difficulties but the Minister is not compelled to say that every aspect of economic activity should be automatically helped. As set out in section 3, this is very much a flexible discretionary measure. The Minister is not obliged, because these are contained in the title, to help every service industry.

The Minister can plead that there is a seasonal content in A, B, C, D aspects that may come to him for help. He and his advisers can separate the wheat from the chaff. I would suggest that there are bona fide cases within the service industry area that could be considered on their merits by the Minister's advisers where economic stimulation providing employment could very quickly be obtained. The Minister is circumscribing himself from moving into that area at all by reason of not having a broader definition in the title of economic activity, and by restricting himself to manufacturing industry he is needlessly and to an unnecessary degree binding himself in regard to really stimulating the economy towards the target he aims at, and with which I agree, of getting 10,000 extra jobs through the mechanism of this measure over the next 12 months.

Mr. O'Leary:  I am confident that even on the Title and the direction so far in the legislation here, we can in fact achieve the target of 10,000 people being returned to work. The Senator has mentioned textiles. That is certainly one of the areas interested from inquiries made so far. There are metal work, electrical appliances, domestic appliances, plastics, the furniture industry, the footwear industry, engineering, paper manufacturing, and so on. I am reasonably convinced from the range of industries interested in this programme that we will be able to achieve that figure of 10,000 people returned to work.

Reference was made to only low wage industries being interested. When you consider a wage of £60 a [1160] week a premium of £12 a week is quite a sizeable help to any employer bringing a man back into employment. The range is there. Such are the straits of much of the industry I have mentioned here that I am convinced that the industries are there with the vacancies which can be filled from the unemployment register to help us reach the target of 10,000.

It is better that we should direct the main emphasis of this legislation into the area of most need, that we should not lose sight of the fact that this programme is designed to help industry which has been suffering grievously under the present recession. It is not there to assist the entire range of industry. It is especially designed to give much needed aid at this period of recession to those industries which, hopefully, will resume full economic activities in the spring and early summer of next year. We must not lose sight of the fact either that it is of temporary duration.

I am confident that those conditions of recovery are even now present in some of the major industrial countries and will become even more evident here in the home economy during the course of next year. This legislation can assist us materially in retaining workers in jobs until that recovery takes place. Therefore, in that spirit I think the title gives me ample room to ensure that people can get the jobs and be brought off the unemployment register. The premium is satisfactory. The direction of aid mentioned in this legislation is satisfactory. The addition of agriculture will assist us also in reaching the target of 10,000. All I can say is that it will not be the fault of myself or my officials if we fail in that objective of bringing back 10,000 people to work. Indeed, we will not consider the target of 10,000 as our ceiling. We will try to go far above that if we are given the needed co-operation from employers and I am confident we will get it.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I have to report specially to the Seanad that the [1161] Committee has amended the Title to read as follows:

An Act to enable the Minister for Labour to make, by means of a scheme to be known as the premium employment programme, payments to employers engaged in agriculture including horticulture and certain manufacturing industries for the purpose of encouraging employment and to provide for other matters connected with the aforesaid matter.

Bill reported with amendments.


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