To ask the President whether it is the intention of the Government to take steps, either by arrangement with the British Government or otherwise, to compensate those workers who suffered loss of wages as a result of the destruction of, or injuries to, buildings, factories, workshops, or machinery during the period between January 21st, 1919, and July 11th, 1921, as has been done in respect to compensation for losses caused by the destruction of or injuries to property.
CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY AND WORKERS' LOSSES.
It is not practicable for the Government to provide direct compensation in the circumstances mentioned except in so far as they may be legally bound to do so. Apart from the fact that the loss is only an indirect result of the actual damage and that the workers affected have been in a position to take employment elsewhere, if available, the Government is already under a heavy liability in this connection in having provided substantial grants towards the relief of unemployment and in maintaining the system of Unemployment Insurance.
Is it contended that that kind of a grant would suffice in such cases as Balbriggan, Mallow, Tralee and Cork?
The case against the Government in respect of those damages is a case covered by the Criminal Malicious Injuries Act. That is the only case in law that stands, and it is really against the local authority. The Government has no responsibility in the matter as far as that is concerned, but it has accepted responsibility, in view of the fact that the sums so decreed against the local authorities are far in excess of their ability to pay.
That is exactly the point. There were special arrangements entered into to compensate the owners of property. The workers suffered equally and perhaps to a greater extent comparatively by those bombardments, wreckings, fires and the like. They have to chance the Unemployment Fund, and so on.
This question has arisen before the Shaw Commission, but a definite ruling has not yet been made on it, and it would be unwise to conclude that it is likely that a favourable decision will be given because something in the nature of a corresponding loss is borne by the owners of those factories inasmuch as there is no compensation for consequential damage, or losses sustained by reason of the destruction of those buildings.
Would the President say whether in negotiating, with the British Government, on the terms of the Shaw Commission, they pressed forward the inclusion of damages of the kind I referred to.
Those negotiations were conducted by, I think, two, three, or four Members of the Government. I was not one of them. I was ill at the time. I believe it would be rather difficult to find anything they did not bring in with a view to safeguarding the interests of the people of this country. I cannot say, specifically, whether that item was considered, because I was not present, and I did not see the report until long after they returned.