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

TOMAS MAC EOIN

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if it is the intention of the Executive Council to promote legislation to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts, so as to extend the period of benefit; and, if so, if he will state when the Bill will be introduced.

The Unemployment Fund has at present a deficit to the amount of £1,515,000. Assuming that the revenue of the Fund and the expenditure on benefit remain at their present annual levels it will take some 15 years to discharge this debt. In the circumstances I cannot recommend to the Executive Council any legislation which would have the effect of still further increasing the deficit.

Has the Minister any scheme to recommend to the Executive Council that will give relief to the unemployed during the coming winter?

That is a matter I dealt with somewhat in my reply to Deputy Lyons. I repeat now my invitation to Deputy Corish: if any opportunity is desired to discuss this matter in more detail than can be afforded by way of question and answer, I am quite willing to attend to it.

Will the Minister answer the question I put to him?

Other schemes have already been in force. They have been voted upon by this House. Moneys have been supplied for the purpose specified and those grants are still being continued.

I asked the Minister whether he had any scheme to recommend to the Executive Council which would give relief to the unemployed during the coming winter. The Minister has not answered that question.

The implication of my answer is that I will recommend the continuance of the schemes already in force.

Are we to understand that the many thousands of unemployed who are not in receipt of unemployment benefit or who have exhausted their contributions will have nothing done for them? Is nothing going to be done by the Minister's Department to give relief to them during the coming winter?

The Deputy is not to understand that. I would like to point out that my Department cannot give relief to anybody. I have no funds at my disposal for the purpose of giving any relief, except in the matter of unemployment insurance.

Is not that the same thing? Nothing is going to be done for the many thousands of unemployed who have dependents; they will get no relief.

The Deputy has failed to understand my reply to Deputy Morrissey. Outside of unemployment insurance benefit, grants have been allocated for the relief of distress.

The unemployment insurance benefit that is being paid and the schemes which are in operation are not sufficient to give relief to two-thirds of the unemployed.

I am not prepared to accept that statement at all.

Have you any information as to the number of unemployed?

I cannot give a definite answer, with figures supplied, at this stage. I will give them in detail if there is an opportunity provided for discussion of the matter.

What scheme does the Minister refer to?

Take the road scheme as one example.

Is the Minister aware of the implication in the statement made by the Minister for Finance prior to the adjournment? The Minister for Finance indicated that the question of continued benefit would be given serious consideration during the recess. Has that been done?

I have had communication with the Minister for Finance on that point. At the moment the position is as I have described it in my answer to the question under discussion. I have not, at the moment, recommended to the Executive Council any legislation on that point.

Is the Minister satisfied that the unemployment question is any better now than it was this time last year?

I feel pretty certain it is.

God help you! You are living in a fool's paradise.