DÁIL IN COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL BILL. - DEBATE ON ADJOURNMENT.

I gave notice earlier in the day that I wanted to raise two questions. First, to ask the Minister for Home Affairs to take the opportunity to explain the intentions of the Ministry in regard to sweepstakes. There have been statements in newspapers touching this subject, and we are not sure whether these are official statements or not, and, inasmuch as the subject has excited a great deal of public interest, healthy or unhealthy, it would be well that this particular Ministry should state their intentions in regard to the exceptions from the Lottery Act. I do not want to discuss the merits of the Lottery Act, or to say anything about the wisdom of allowing sweepstakes to continue. They have excited a great deal of interest, and there is developing a belief that Ireland is to become an enlarged kind of Monte Carlo, and I would like the Ministry to give us an idea of their policy on this question. The other question is one of perhaps more human concern; it is in regard to the delays in the payment of dependents' allowances. The Minister for Defence gave us details earlier in the day of the scale of allowances, and the conditions under which these allowances were paid to dependents. The point that I am raising is that a month or two ago the Minister very generously informed the Dáil that if any complaints arose in regard to delays in the payments to dependents, if he would be informed directly he would take the matter up and see that it was dealt with as soon as possible. That promise has been kept pretty well, I think. Many cases that I have had brought to my notice have been transmitted to him, and I think in the main they have been dealt with pretty rapidly, but what one would have hoped for would have been a reorganization of the office work, which would have ensured the rapid settlement of these claims, or payments of these dependents' allowances. That has not taken place, and there is a great deal of delay. It is not good to have to rely on the Minister's own personal intervention in a case. We ought to be in a position to say that the work of considering these claims has been brought up-to-date, especially in view of the discussions which took place earlier, and the answers that were given by the Ministers. Within these last two or three days I have had complaints from different parts of the country in respect of claims for the dependents of men who joined as far back as July, and my whole point and intention in raising this matter now is to urge very strongly on the Minister for Defence the necessity for so reorganising, if that is necessary, that particular department so as to ensure that the claims shall be brought up-to-date as rapidly as possible. It is unjust and unfair to the dependents concerned and to the men that decisions have not been come to for claims put in as far back as July. It is not fair that the Minister should have to be specially appealed to in regard to individual cases, and I would ask that he would take that matter in hands at once, with a view to ensuring that all the outstanding claims would be brought up to date, and avoid the very frequent complaints of dependents that they have not received any allowances, or only something on account, or that the claim has not been dealt with after a long period. I am sure it is a matter of office organisation. I would also urge upon him the necessity of taking the matter up immediately, and obviate the recurrence of so many complaints.