CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFIT.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he has received numerous communications during the past six months from workers previously employed by Wolfhill Collieries, Ltd., regarding non-payment of unemployment insurance benefit; if he can state the total amount due by the official receiver, and whether same has yet been recovered; whether he is aware that the Leix County Board of Health are at present paying home help to the dependents of the unemployed workers at the rate of £12 per week; and whether he will now issue instructions for the payment of whatever amounts are legally due to all concerned.

During the past six months communications have been received from workers hitherto employed by the Wolfhill Collieries, Ltd., relative to the non-receipt of unemployment benefit. Every case was investigated, and it was found that unemployment benefit had been paid in respect of contributions standing to the credit of the workers in question where the conditions for the receipt of benefit were fulfilled. So far as can be ascertained, the total amount of contributions due by the Wolfhill Collieries, Ltd., under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, is £1,162 2s. 6d. As the Deputy is already aware, this Company is in process of liquidation, all work being suspended, and the affairs of the Company are in the hands of an Official Receiver, to whom this Department has sent a claim in respect of the amount due. I am not aware of the amount of home help paid by the Leix County Board of Health to the ex-employees of the Company, but payment of all benefit legally due has been made, and will continue to be made to the workers in question.

Does the Minister mean that the amount legally due only represents the cards that have been stamped, and is he aware of the fact that on that amount of £1,100 odd during that particular period, the cards have not been stamped? Is it not his duty to see that the amount is recovered and that the workers, who paid their portion by the reduction of wages, should be compensated by unemployment benefit to whatever amount they are entitled?

I cannot follow the various questions. I am quite clear that there is confusion in the Deputy's mind. There is an allegation made that certain deductions were made from the employees' wages. If that is the case——

This is not a jeering matter for men who are starving. The Minister for Justice should not jeer at the question.

If that is the case, that money has been illegally retained, we have a claim against the Official Receiver for it. As to the case where stamps should have been put on, but were not put on, and where contributions were made by the employer or employee, that is not a matter in which I can interfere at this point.