National Health Insurance Bill, 1933—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
SECTION 3.
(1) On the passing of this Act there shall be established a society (in this Act referred to as the Unified Society) which shall be known and styled as the Saorstát Eireann Unified Health Insurance Society.

I beg to move amendment 1:—

In sub-section (1) lines 34-35 to delete the words "Saorstát Eireann Unified Health Insurance Society" and substitute the words "Cumann Aontuithe an Arachais Náisiúnta ar Shláinte."

I move this amendment so that the Unified Health Insurance Society may be known by its Gaelic title and by none other. I do not anticipate any opposition from the Minister. We are all aware of the fact that he has on all possible occasions urged and encouraged the use of our language. I assume that in developing the Bill and in devoting time to the details the Minister has overlooked the possibility of adorning the society with a Gaelic title. I do not anticipate opposition from any section of the House. No objection has been raised to the first two words of the title being in Irish. The two words I refer to are Saorstát Eireann. Consequently, I cannot presume that there will be any objection if the remaining two-thirds of the title of the society are in the native language.

It is but fitting that the title of a national institution should be in our native tongue. It may be argued that people will not be able to understand the title if it appears in Irish. Already they have learned to read and speak fluently one-third of the words of the title, and I think we can safely rely on the intelligence of our people, and we can rest assured that they will be able to pick out the remaining portions of the title without much difficulty. We must remember that there are numbers of people in the Gaeltacht who would be unable to read the title of the society if it were in the language of the foreigner. As it now stands, the title appears partly in one language and partly in another. I am sure Deputies will agree that there is no reason why that should be the case. I trust that if the Minister does not accept my amendment as it stands, he will accept the principle of it.

Ma's maith leis na Teachtaí ainm Gaedhalach do bheith ar an gCumann, táim sásta glacadh leis an leas-rún.

I think I am right in assuming that every statute passed by this Oireachtas must be published in the English and in the Irish languages. In that case the name of this society will be recorded officially in the Irish language, and every provision of the measure when it is passed will be published both in the Irish and in the English languages. To my mind this amendment simply proposes to insert in the Bill words that are, in fact, already there. The Bill ought to be circulated in the Irish language. Is it not in accordance with the Standing Orders that Bills should be circulated in both languages?

That does not apply to Bills.

I am surprised that reform has not been introduced under the present Government. I have no doubt that tribute will be paid to the language before long. Anyhow, when the Act comes to be printed it will appear in both languages, and the Deputy's point will thereby be covered.

My anxiety is to have a purely Gaelic title for the society. Dáil Eireann is known as Dáil Eireann; you do not translate it. Similarly, Seanad Eireann is a Gaelic title, and you do not translate it—there is no need. There will be no need to translate the Gaelic title of the society either.

So far as I am concerned, I am prepared to welcome the naming of this society in Irish if it would in any way redound to the credit of the language; but I am not quite sure that it is consistent with the dignity of the national language that chips of it should be interspersed in an English text. If, however, the Deputy thinks that by taking that course it adds anything to the lustre of the national language, I would not object. I would prefer that the whole Act and the title of the society should appear in Irish. As the law stands it will appear in Irish and also in English. I should imagine that is the more dignified course.

I take it that the Minister is adopting the principle of the amendment and will introduce it in another form later.

Yes, I am accepting it in principle.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 3 agreed to.
SECTION 4.
(3) Until the appointed day the following provisions shall have effect in relation to the committee of management of the unified society, that is to say:—
(a) the said committee shall consist of three members appointed by the Minister;

I beg to move amendment 2:—

At the end of sub-section (3) (a) line 8 to add the words "and the Minister shall nominate one of such members to be chairman of such committee until the appointed day."

I think this amendment is a rather important amendment. The committee is usually entitled to appoint its own chairman, but in a case such as is suggested in the section it might not be possible to secure unanimity in the choice of a chairman, seeing that the committee would be composed of only three members. If the Minister would retain the right of the appointment of the chairman when installing the committee, I believe matters would be considerably simplified by such action. Most of the responsibility will rest upon the shoulders of the chairman, and therefore his appointment by the Minister is, to my mind, of considerable importance. I therefore move the amendment standing in my name.

I have no objection to accepting the amendment, but the words "until the appointed day" there are unnecessary; otherwise I am prepared to accept the amendment.

Is the Minister objecting to the words "until the appointed day"?

They are unnecessary. He will be for the period of the existence of the committee.

Amendment, amended as follows—"and the Minister shall nominate one of such members to be chairman of such committee"—put and agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Section 5 and 6 agreed to.
SECTION 7.

I move amendment 3:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(6) The first secretary and first treasurer of the unified society shall be persons who were on the 30th day of June, 1932, holders of qualifying posts under an approved society.

I think this is a reasonable amendment. It is just and proper that these positions should be reserved for the existing officers of approved societies. There are in the various approved societies throughout the country experienced officers who know their work, and who have been engaged in the work of approved societies for many years. It would be unfair and unjust that they should be passed over for outsiders. In addition to that there is the other consideration that it will save compensation. If outsiders are brought in, it will mean that some officials of an approved society must ultimately be displaced. Consequently from both points of view—that is from the point of view of the existing staffs and from the point of view of economy —it is proper that this amendment should be accepted.

I think there is a good deal in what Deputy Costello says about taking over men who would have had probably long experience of approved societies. While I do not think that I ought to be bound in that matter, I think that the persons to be appointed will in all probability be persons who have acted in such capacity for one or other approved society. However, I would like to feel completely free to get the best persons I can in any way. I say that, while I do believe there is a good deal in the argument that Deputy Costello has used.

I should like to support Deputy Costello's amendment. The Minister has no case against the amendment, and admitted that a good deal was to be said for it. If there is a good deal to be said for it, there can be no objection on the part of the Minister to accepting it. In answer to a question asked here, the Minister stated that there were 360 whole time officers in the approved societies. Now, that being the case, the Minister has 360 whole time officers to select from in the filling of these posts. These people have experience, and I doubt if there is any person outside the existing societies who has such experience. Unless the Minister is contemplating importing some officials to fill these posts there is a large number to choose from. He has 360 full time officers. It is because I believe it is desirable to have officers of experience and officers who have justified their previous employment by their knowledge of the Insurance Acts and the various regulations issued under them that I urge the Minister to accept this amendment, which should commend itself to him. I hope on reconsideration he will accept it. It does not bind him except that it makes him choose from these 360 people. And that is a very wide choice. The Minister is bound by this amendment to do the right thing, and he ought to accept it.

I would suggest to the Minister to accept this amendment. For the reasons mentioned by Deputies Norton and Costello, I think the Minister will agree that in making appointments of this kind it would sometimes be of material advantage to him to have certain statutory limitations on his discretion. It does give him a means of readily disposing of wholly unsuitable candidates by simply pointing to the Statute and saying: "If I had the will I have not the power." Furthermore, it would make it obligatory on him to appoint somebody whose appointment would effect a small saving in the fund that is at his disposal for compensation. As the Minister has been good enough to say at an early stage of this Bill that the limit of his generosity in compensation will be only the limit of his capacity to pay, I am anxious to see every economy of this character made obligatory in order to make the compensation more liberal for those who will be compelled to retire. I suggest to the Minister for those two pretty cogent reasons he might consider this limitation on his discretion.

I just want to put one or two points, as I feel that the Minister if he is pressed a little further, in view of the fact that he recognises the equity of the case, may give way and accept this reasonable amendment which is put forward in the interest of those officials of approved societies who are really anxious to make the new unified society, no matter how they may dislike its formation, a success. I suggest to the Minister that one of the facts that he should take into consideration is that if an outsider is appointed it will cause very severe heart-burnings amongst the officials who are retained and a certain amount of natural discontent. I think the Minister might further take this matter into consideration having regard to the fact, as I am informed, that the Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance in 1925 reported that the first officials of the new unified society should be chosen from the existing officers, so that he has valid and cogent reasons for accepting it, and apparently his own inclinations lie that way. In addition, there is very strong approval for this course in the Interim Report of the Committee in 1925.

There is one other reason that could be advanced, but that has not been advanced so far, in favour of the amendment. When the measure was originally introduced we were not in favour of it. and we have not altogether changed our opinions yet. We view it with some misgiving, because centralisation in one society here in Dublin would make for less sympathetic administration. The Minister knows, as some of us do, that occasionally cases come up for consideration which are borderline cases that can be decided favourably to the insured member when there is a proper appreciation of the position all round. In order to ensure the sympathetic administration of the Act that I am sure the Minister desires, it would be desirable that an experienced official of some society should be appointed to the position. The Minister has shown that he is not unfavourably disposed to the amendment, and with the point I have in mind, as well as other reasons that have been advanced, I ask him to give it favourable consideration.

As I say, my own view is that the Minister ought not to be tied in the matter. I quite agree that there is quite a considerable amount of force in the arguments used by Deputies recommending the acceptance of the amendment. No doubt there is a considerable choice, but there might be a much wider choice. I am not saying that one would get persons better fitted and more efficient and knowing more about health insurance outside people who have acted as secretary or assistant secretary or treasurer of one of those societies. The view that has been expressed here has been already suggested to me, but my own feeling was that I ought, as Minister, to be absolutely free to get anywhere I could the very best persons for these very important posts. However, if the Deputy will withdraw the amendment and put it down on Report Stage I will agree to reconsider it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: That Section 7 stand part of the Bill.

In Section 7 (2) it is provided that the treasurer of the unified society shall also be the assistant-secretary of the unified society. It is quite possible that one officer could combine the two positions, but is there any need to enshrine this in legislation, specifying that in the unified society the assistant-secretary may be required to discharge duties which would make it impossible for him effectively to supervise the financial side of the society? Yet, we are providing in legislation that the two offices shall be one and taking no cognisance of possible changes in the assistant-secretary's duty which may make it impossible for him effectively to supervise the financial side. I suggest that while, in fact, this combination might be possible as a matter of ordinary efficient office routine, it is undesirable to put it into legislation, because if you do you will always have an assistant-secretary who, no matter how burdensome his duties, will be required to look after the financial side. I think it would be well rather to leave it to the administrators of the society to combine the offices if possible, but I think it is wrong to do it in legislation.

I shall look into the point.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 8.
A member of the committee of management of the unified society or an officer or employee of the unified society shall not, while he is such member, officer, or employee, be a member of the committee of management or board of directors of any society or company transacting insurance business or be employed as an officer, agent or employee of any such society or company.

I move amendment 4:—

In page 5, line 2, to insert after the word "company" the words "except with the consent of the Minister."

This is an amendment to add to the section a discretionary clause. I might describe this as the obverse of the medal of the last amendment moved by Deputy Costello, because while it is a useful thing to restrict the Minister's discretion and his range of choice and say that he shall not go outside a certain class of highly-qualified men, it is quite another thing to say he may not enter another class of very highly-qualified men. The general principle that the Minister has in mind here is to prevent the appointment of agents or employees of insurance companies as a member of the committee of management in the unified society and I think the principle underlying that is fairly manifest. I would suggest, however, to the Minister that circumstances might arise where it would be greatly to the advantage of the committee of management to have amongst its members some person who was connected with the insurance business in this country. The case might not arise, but, on the other hand, it might. The Minister is quite free to refer to the principle underlying this section in the event of any pressure being brought to bear upon him to nominate any particular person to the committee of management. At the same time, if it were generally felt that it would be to the advantage of the parties concerned that such a person should be appointed, he would have the right to make an exception in that person's case and it would admittedly be an exception. This is one of those cases in which, I think, the Minister ought to have discretion to make an exception if the advice of one particular person is very necessary for the proper conduct of the unified society.

My feeling is that I would rather not have the freedom in this case; that I would rather have it definitely fixed that persons interested in other forms of insurance work should not be eligible. I know from experience since the Bill was introduced that considerable pressure from many sources would be exercised to get people appointed who may be enthusiasts in the matter, but it might be a type of enthusiasm which might be very embarrassing. I think it would be better for the Minister not to have the discretion the Deputy wishes to give.

Perhaps I should be content that this amendment has extracted from the Minister the admission of a certain principle which might prove very useful on the Report Stage in connection with another amendment which will reappear. It is regrettable, however, that the Minister and I should disagree on two occasions when the application of this principle arises. I do not agree with him. I think it would be better for him to have this discretion, but I do not propose to press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 8 and 9 put and agreed to.
SECTION 10.

I move amendment 5:—

To add at the end of the section a new paragraph as follows:—

(e) to submit before the appointed day for the consent of the Minister, with the approval of the Minister for Finance, a suitable superannuation scheme for the permanent officers and employees of the unified society.

This amendment is moved for the purpose of securing the establishment of a superannuation fund for the future employees of the unified society. So far as I am concerned, the fund suggested should be on a contributory basis, with the right, of course, of the employing side and the employees to have an equal share or voice in the management of the suggested fund. I understand that the average age of the 360 full-time employees is fairly low, and that would make it much easier for the fund to be established on a solvent basis. Personally, I do not believe it would be right to allow any very old employee of the unified society to go into such a superannuation fund without having to pay some surcharge as from a particular date or age. I have some knowledge of the existence of superannuation funds. I am myself a member of a fund which is supposed to be the biggest fund in the world for clerical employees, and I know that under no circumstances would the committee of management of that fund allow any person to come in late in age on the same conditions as those who came in after passing an examination at 18 or 20 years of age for service in the company concerned. I understand that a few men who are old and who might be given the option of coming over to the unified society as employees are likely to retire at whatever compensation the Minister would deem fit to give them. I understand that four years ago the association representing employees of the existing societies submitted a scheme for the superannuation of the then servants of the societies concerned. If I am correctly informed, I understand that the claim was sympathetically looked into, but that it was deferred until such time as the societies then in existence would agree to unify on a provincial or a national basis. However, that does not get away from the fact that any national organisation of this kind should have some kind of fund created which would enable provision to be made for them to retire at an age to be fixed, and to get a reasonable scale of pension. I hope it is possible, now that the unified society has been formed, that by the time the society comes into actual operation a fund such as that now contemplated in this amendment will be established with the consent and approval of the Minister.

I am afraid I cannot accept the amendment of Deputy Davin, although I think the idea of the superannuation fund a good one, especially a contributory fund. I think any large institution such as the one we are going to set up should have something of the kind. If we were to set up such a fund now there would be not a small number of men of 40 or 50 years of age who might have to be provided for, and in order to provide for them a large capital sum would be necessary. I am afraid our funds at present would not enable us to make that provision, and besides that the individuals concerned would be called upon to put up a considerable sum if there were—as I am told there are— a number who are of an age to have served in the national health insurance, and who are 40 to 50 or over 50 years of age. If the Deputy would be satisfied I would agree with an amendment of this kind: "To examine and report to the Minister as to the possibility of establishing a suitable superannuation scheme for the officers and employees of the unified society, having regard to the moneys available for the purpose under the financial provisions of the Act." I am quite sympathetic with the idea of a superannuation fund, but our funds at present would not enable us to provide the capital sum necessary, so far as I understand at the moment, to provide for the people whose service with the approved societies would have to be taken into account. If we were to take their service into account a large capital sum would have to be provided. If it were merely a question of starting a superannuation fund from now on, it would be a different proposition, but a lot of those men who have already served would not come in.

May I say to the Minister that any such fund which I would have in mind would be based upon actuarial considerations and recommendations. I would not admit, except that I have just casually referred to the conditions which should attach to it, that it should be on a contributory basis. Aged entrants, if they were allowed to come into the superannuation fund formed as a result of the acceptance of an amendment of this kind, should pay as say from 20 or 28 years of age. That surcharge, whatever it might be, may be enabled to be paid over three or four instalments. I would not suggest the formation of any fund except one that would be suggested after actuarial investigation and recommendation, and if there were employees of the unified society who, in the opinion of the management committee, and after the consideration that should be given to a matter of this kind by the actuary, should not be allowed to come into the society for some good reason, I would not endeavour to place any obligation upon the management committee of the unified society that would force them to take over a bad business proposition.

The whole idea is that the future employees of the society should have some such superannuation scheme. If it is possible on the basis of the actuary's report to bring in those who would be taken over from the other societies, and whose average age I am informed would not exceed 35 to 40 years of age, I do not think it would be a bad proposition to bring those in on certain defined conditions so far as surcharge is concerned. If the Minister cannot see his way to accept the amendment as now worded, and I admit it is not worded in a model manner, I should be glad if he would between now and the Report Stage give this matter further consideration. I would reserve the right to move the amendment on the Report Stage, and then see whether or not, after having heard the Minister on the matter and after the Minister had reconsidered the whole matter from the point of view I have just put forward, I would withdraw the amendment.

Of course any superannuation scheme anywhere would have to be actuarially examined before being set up. Since the amendment was put in we have not had an opportunity of having an actuarial examination. You would have to have a full investigation into the age and health of all the people concerned before any scheme could be set up. I think it would take even a longer time than between now and the Report Stage.

I did not suggest that at all. So long as before the appointed day the scheme would be considered by the management committee in consultation with the actuary, and that the principle of the amendment is accepted, I am satisfied.

Is the Deputy then accepting what I suggest—"to examine and report to the Minister the possibility of establishing a suitable superannuation scheme for the officers and servants of the unified society, having regard to the moneys available for the purpose under the financial provisions of the Act?" Speaking as a Minister, I am quite willing and anxious to have a superannuation scheme set up, but without actuarial examination and full consideration one could not bind oneself at this stage.

Will the Minister put in a date in his suggested amendment?

What would be a reasonable date? First of all I think there is only one actuary in this country so far as I know.

There are two or three.

There were two on this matter previously.

There is one in this Department.

I know that, and I do not know if there is another.

There is.

It is not easy to get actuaries. It would probably take months to get them to make their arrangements. You would have to give them months for the examination, and it is not easy to fix a date.

Make it "not longer than such a period."

Would a year be too long?

I would accept a year.

"To examine and report by this time 12 months."

The Minister is in agreement with the necessity for such a fund?

In principle, I am with you entirely.

Is the Minister saying within 12 months from the date the unified society is set up or within 12 months from the passing of the Bill?

This report would have to be made by the provisional committee. The provisional committee will go out of office in three years, and it would certainly have to be done long before they go out of office.

The Minister means 12 months from the date of the passing of the Bill?

The Minister has accepted the principle? Let there be no misapprehension about what his intention is. He will have to constitute his entire unified society before he can have an actuarial investigation into the risks involved in the scheme for the employees. He will have to have his roster of employees.

That has nothing to do with compensation.

I am not talking of compensation. I say that he will have to have his roster for the purpose of a State superannuation scheme. He will have to have his list before him before he can float his scheme. At the present time he does not know who is to be taken over into the unified society. Let us suppose he takes over 350, and they form the nucleus of a new society. It is upon that he will have to lay the foundation of the new compensation scheme, and it is upon that he will have to rest his calculations, and he cannot start his calculations until he has his roster, so I suggest to the Minister that to make a promise to set a scheme on foot in the next 12 months is not safe.

I did not promise to set a scheme on foot. I said an examination would be made as to the possibilities, taking the officials as they are known to the Department, getting the numbers of the officials in the existing societies, and basing our scheme upon the information we get with regard to employees, and any other particulars we can get as well.

The position is this. If you make an actuarial calculation on the basis of 350 employees of the societies, you are taking into consideration the elderly men as well as the younger ones. The tendency of the Minister will be to pick a lot of the elderly men type and compensate them. You might get an actuarial compensation basis upon the number of 350 but that would be out of all proportion to the actual facts if the Minister sets up his society. If the Minister waited until he gets his roster in the unified society the possibility might be better. I would prefer that the Minister, before he proceeded actuarially to examine the scheme, would have the actual employees he is going to retain and on that basis make his calculation as to what the risk would be.

I do not think it is necessary to wait until such time as one gets the names, ages and history of all the individuals to be taken over, in order to ask the actuary to prepare a scheme which will contemplate the employment of a certain number of people and enable the Minister to say what percentage of salaries will be necessary for the employee he is dropping in order to bring the measure into operation.

You would require some idea of the ages.

All this requires is the numbers of the unified society taken after such a year. It is an enquiry based on maximum and minimum numbers.

Suppose we have 300 employees. The unified society has 100 over 50, 100 over 40, and 100 under 40. This consideration will be placed before the Minister as to the practicability of the superannuation fund. Supposing the Minister started and took five of the men over 50 and five over 40 and 150 under 40. I put both sides to the Minister. If he submitted five over 50, five over 40 and 160 under 40 it would make a more unified calculation for him in the setting up of the superannuation scheme than if he submitted to an actuary an average of 350 from whom he is going to make his decision.

I agree that not having exact facts and figures you would not have the exact actuarial position before you, but it would be possible to make a shot at it. But it runs the risk of not being as inviting as it otherwise would be with the full facts and figures. But I suggest that the amendment meets what the Deputy has said. The matter will be examined, I am sure sympathetically, by the committee, and certainly it will be examined sympathetically by the Minister.

But it might be held to represent three years from the appointed day. Would the Minister agree to have it expedited?

I will agree to have it examined at the earliest possible moment.

Amendment 5, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 10 and 11 agreed to.
SECTION 12.
(1) No society shall after the passing of this Act be approved by the Minister under Section 23 of the Act of 1911.
(2) After the passing of this Act no person shall be admitted to membership of an approved society.

I move amendment 6:

In sub-section (2), line 52 to delete the words "passing of this Act" and substitute the words and figures "31st day of December, 1933."

The unified society will not have any machinery for dealing with new entrants into insurance until some time after the passing of the Act. It is considered desirable to allow existing societies to admit new members until such time as the unified society will be in working order.

There is no possibility of a situation arising in which the machinery for accepting persons into the unified society would be ready by 31st December, 1933?

I do not anticipate that.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 12 as amended agreed to.
SECTION 13

I move amendment 7:—

Before Section 13 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) It shall not be lawful for any approved society without the consent of the Minister to pay to any person, who, on the 5th day of April, 1933, was rendering service to such society in any capacity (whether as officer, member of the committee of management, employee or otherwise), remuneration in respect of any period subsequent to the passing of this Act at a rate greater than the rate of remuneration of such person on the 5th day of April, 1933.

(2) It shall not be lawful for any approved society without the consent of the Minister to pay to any person, who, after the 5th day of April, 1933, and before the passing of this Act, was appointed to render service to such society in any capacity (whether as an officer, member of the committee of management, employee or otherwise), remuneration in respect of any period subsequent to the passing of this Act at a rate greater than the rate of remuneration of a person employed by such society in a similar capacity on the 5th day of April, 1933.

(3) It shall not be lawful for any approved society without the consent of the Minister to fix or alter the remuneration of any person appointed after the passing of this Act to render service to such society in any capacity (whether as officer, member of the committee of management, employee or otherwise).

This new section has been found necessary by reason of the efforts made in some places to rush large increases of salaries to officials so as, I presume, to enhance their compensation. Efforts have been made already and we have heard of others likely to be made in this connection. We think it necessary that this new section should be inserted so as to prevent inflation of the salaries and emoluments of officials during this period.

It is only right that this amendment should be introduced for the purpose of forestalling any such attempt but is not the number of such cases very limited?

It is limited.

Possibly there is not more than one case where an advance was given to a county secretary and that was not with the full approval of the managing committee. It is only right that the Minister should make clear that this practice is not general.

It is not general.

Can we have an assurance that this section will not be used to prevent an official getting a normal increase in salary?

In some cases officials may be entitled to increments and those increments may become payable during the period mentioned.

Ordinary increments will certainly not be interfered with.

New section agreed to.

Can the Minister explain on Section 13 why there is a differentiation as regards the appointed day?

There is a later provision in connection with that. There are extras to be examined between this and 31st December.

Special provision had to be made in regard to these societies. Additional benefits were largely given out of the funds provided by the two institutions concerned. Special provision, therefore, had to be made in regard to them.

Is there any suggestion as to excluding either the St. James's Gate Health Insurance Society or the Dublin United Tramways and Omnibus Employees Health Insurance Society from the unifying provisions of the Act?

Sections 13 and 14 agreed to.
SECTION 15.

I move amendment 8 which stands in the name of Deputy Davin and myself. It is as follows:—

To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:

The following amendment is hereby made in the Act of 1911, that is to say:—In Section 8, sub-section (1) there shall be inserted a new paragraph as follows:—"In the case of an insured person requiring dental treatment on and after the 5th day of July, 1936, payment in whole or in part of the cost of providing such treatment (including dentures) in accordance with regulations to be prescribed by the Minister."

At present, many of the societies, especially those in a financially sound position, provide dental treatment for their members. Indeed, dental treatment is now extensively provided by all societies, but specially generous provision is made in the case of those societies in a good financial position. In practice, dental treatment has become one of the statutory provisions so far as insured persons are concerned. Most of the societies provide such treatment. Under the unifying provisions of this Bill, all the societies will be thrown into one common pool. This amendment seeks to give the insured person a definite right to dental benefits in the same way as if they were provided in the Act of 1911. The amendment seeks to ensure that a provision now made available to insured contributors by practically all the societies will be made available to them as a matter of right in this Bill in the same way as if that provision were included in the Act of 1911.

I am afraid that I cannot accept this amendment. The contributions at present paid are all required to finance the present statutory benefits. There is no money and, so far as we can anticipate, there will be no money available for this purpose. It may be that the actuarial report at the end of this quinquennial period will be better than forecasted. If so, the money will be there for such additional benefits as may be thought advisable. At this stage, we do not see any likelihood of money being available for this admirable object.

If the Minister declares this proposal to be actuarially impossible, that finishes it, but the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister might have drawn his attention to this aspect of the case—that probably one of the most prolific causes of permanent disablement in the later years is one or other form of rheumatism. The Parliamentary Secretary will, from his expert knowledge, tell the Minister that what is popularly styled "rheumatism" is, very often, some form of arthritis and that that largely results from dental infection of one kind or another. A large number of the cases which we call "chronic cases," which come on the funds for six or sometimes seven years towards the end of the insurable period by reason of permanent incapacity, could and would have been kept off the funds had the persons concerned received adequate dental treatment in middle age or when about 30 years of age. One of the great objections to this whole unification system is that certain people who are members of solvent societies are going to be deprived of benefits they used to have. We know from the Minister's speeches on the Second Stage that that is unavoidable under the circumstances, but when a proposal is made that may at first place an additional burden on the funds, but may reasonably be expected substantially to relieve the funds later on—I think the Parliamentary Secretary will bear me out in my contention that we could reasonably expect to relieve insurance funds when persons reach the ages of 60 and 70 if dental benefits were provided —the Minister might take a risk. I do not think that he has had advice that this proposal is actuarially out of the question. The actuary has said no more, I imagine, than that it would be dangerous to do this until they had found their feet. I suggest that there is as good argument for maintaining that this is an economy to the fund as there is for maintaining that it is an excessive burden. I suggest that on this occasion the Parliamentary Secretary might break loose and join with us in bringing judicious pressure to bear on the Minister to make a concession in respect of this important matter.

I did not know that Deputy Dillon had a knowledge of dentistry in addition to all the other knowledge he seems to possess. This treatment that is spoken about here— putting a man in a chair, hauling the teeth out of his head and leaving him, to use a vulgar word, "gummy" for the rest of his life—is not dental treatment, in my opinion. Some method should be taken to preserve the teeth rather than pull them out. As regards the dental treatment suggested by Deputies here, I would like to know what they mean by it. Preserve teeth by all means with dental or other treatment, but do not make poor people, men and women, victims of indigestion for the rest of their natural lives after a visit to a dentist's chair.

This amendment attempts to make certain that at the end of a particular period insured members who are to-day in a position to get this benefit will have it continued. It also makes provision for people not now in receipt of this benefit to receive such benefit as from the date set out. I am afraid that the Minister, when approaching the consideration of sections of the Bill dealing with the future financial position of the unified society, was altogether too nervous and moderate. So far as I know, the Minister, has not made the House fully aware of the resources that will be available for the unified society, when it comes into operation. I understand the contingency fund is in surplus to the extent of £65,000 and that there are reserves amounting to very large figures. I would like the Minister to indicate what the reserves amount to, so far as available information goes. The House will be interested to know what amount of reserves will be at the disposal of the unified society. I am now speaking of reserves as distinct from surpluses.

If my information is correct, I understand that the majority of societies in existence, although they are small, provide this benefit for their insured members, in addition to other valuable benefits; but only one-third of the members of national health insurance societies get that benefit. In other words, the insolvent societies, which appear to be the large societies, do not provide this benefit. I have sufficient knowledge of the administration of national health insurance on a nationwide scale to be able to prophesy that a great deal of the malingering which has been going on all over the country will be cut out by the unified society by reason of its stricter administration. By cutting out that malingering, you are going to bring the unified society to a solvent state much earlier than if it were to be committed to a continuance of payments on the present scale. I am sure there is no Deputy here who will not agree that malingering has been practised. Most Deputies know why and for what reason, and perhaps they could tell the House what all that has cost the large societies whose members have not, for a variety of reasons, been in a position to get this very valuable benefit. In any effort we make to secure that members of the unified society will obtain this benefit in the future, we should not interfere with the people who have been getting such benefit in the case of societies that are solvent. I believe we can look forward to the time when the unified society will be in a position, not alone to provide for the continuance of this benefit to those now in receipt of it, but also to make provision, because of its financially sound position, for this necessary benefit in the case of all its members.

I would like to see dental benefits extended to every member of the unified society. I hope when the society is put on the new basis its work will be so efficient and its financial security will be such that dental benefits will be added to the other statutory benefits. I hope the society will be in such a position that that benefit will be continued for those who have been lucky enough to have got it so far and will be extended to others. I am informed, however, that the finances are not in such a position that we could accept this amendment and insert it in the Bill, thus binding ourselves to grant these dental benefits. I am advised the money is not there and we are by no means sure that the money will be there by the date the Deputy suggests. If it is there, there is no reason why the committee of management that will be in existence should not do the same as other approved societies have done. When they had a surplus, they spent it on their members and I hope the unified society will be in a position to do the same. I hope they will be able to distribute the surplus amongst members in the way of increased dental, hospital and other benefits.

How many approved societies give these benefits now?

I am not certain. This afternoon I was told nine or ten and I was told later 16, but I have no opportunity of checking it up.

What is the amount of the reserve fund that is likely to be at the disposal of the unified society in addition to the surplus in the contingency fund?

There is only the reserve. I am aware of a reserve of £3,000,000 which will finance the whole scheme of national health insurance.

That figure has not been mentioned before.

It was mentioned.

What has that to do with the benefits?

It has nothing to do with the benefits. If it were not there the whole scheme of national health insurance would fall to the ground.

The Minister could borrow on the strength of that.

I think the Minister might well take a risk in this matter. The passage of this Bill will ensure to the contributor certain statutory benefits which were set out in the Act of 1911. How is it we can still pay these statutory benefits and yet not be in a position to give an extra statutory benefit in the way of dental treatment? If the Minister's speech is based on an actuarial examination of the position then, of course, we cannot argue, but I am not sure that it is. Has it been determined, for instance, that we can pay benefit for the full period of 26 weeks or, say, for 24 weeks? I am rather sceptical that there has been an actuarial examination of the position. I think it is desirable to have dental benefit provided as a statutory right.

We are building houses to-day on a very large scale. More and better houses ought to mean improved health. By reason of the huge allocations to hospitals from the proceeds of the sweepstakes we ought to have better methods of fighting disease. The Minister for Industry and Commerce talks of growing industrial development which will mean less unemployment. If we are going to have more and better houses, better methods of fighting disease and the industrial development that the Minister for Industry and Commerce tells us of, surely there is a good case for taking a risk in this matter. The provision of dental benefit would be a great boon to insured contributors. I implore the Minister to take a risk in this matter. The Bill ought to be amended so as to make it capable of providing the dental benefit which we all agree is so necessary. As it is contributors cannot make any financial provision for that treatment on their own.

Has the Minister examined this question with expert advisers, such as his Parliamentary Secretary or other physicians? Quite apart from conferring benefit on insured persons, I think it might be very good business to take the long view. What is the experience of the types of disease I have mentioned between the period from 60 to 70 years? I think the percentage would be remarkably high. I think the persons suffering from permanent incapacity between 60 and 70 years would represent at least 50 per cent. They would be suffering from some form of trouble that the Parliamentary Secretary might be inclined to trace to dental defects in their earlier years. When we are passing legislation which is going to deprive a large number of people of benefits they have been accustomed to receive, we ought to be careful that any economy we are making now will not prove to be an extravagance in the general administration of the scheme 20 years later. I would like the Minister to look into it. Apart from the benevolent aspect of the question, I would ask him to look at it from the point of view of good business and to see if it might not be to the advantage of the whole fund to take the precaution of giving dental benefit forthwith.

I cannot press the Minister on this point if he says he has not got the money to do it, but I think it is a most disastrous and backward step that we should deprive people who previously had these benefits from having them in the future. On this benefit of seeing to their teeth and to the teeth of the children I am not going into any medical matters. I will say nothing more than this, that I do not know of anything of more importance as far as the people are concerned than this particular benefit of keeping their teeth in order. I think it is a most disastrous thing that we should be faced to-day with the proposition that we cannot afford this treatment to people who had dental treatment before. I look upon this matter as of far greater importance even than hospital treatment. I do not consider the benefit of any other treatment equal at all to the benefit that can be derived from dental treatment. That is all I have to say, but I ask the Minister if it is at all possible for him to do so to make provision in the Bill for this dental treatment.

Has the Minister any estimate of the cost?

I have not got the figures of the whole cost yet.

Does the Minister admit that one-third of the present insurable people are in receipt of these dental benefits already?

I may say that it cost £1 to give dental treatment for every ten members. That would be a fair estimate. I think that is the case in some societies that are giving this benefit.

We ought to know this definitely and we should have the figures from the Minister. If a Deputy is able to stand up here and give us something like that why cannot we have the information from the Minister, why cannot we have something definite and not guesswork from a Deputy, the sort of guesswork that I might make myself. I have had the figures on this matter from time to time but I would not make any statement from these figures from memory. I would not fall back on my memory for that. I really think the Vice-President should have supplied us with some figures of that sort.

The whole finance of the scheme is based on an actuarial calculation on the basis of the present contributions. The present contributions are fully required to meet the present statutory benefits. We cannot increase the benefits without increasing the contributions. That is the financial basis of the scheme.

Is it not the position that some societies with a surplus have set aside some of that surplus for additional advantages and benefits for their members? Of all the benefits we are seeking to preserve this one of dental treatment is the vital one. We would take the risk on others.

If there was any hope from the figures I have got and the actuarial calculations made as to the money required to continue the present statutory benefits I would be agreeable to that. Certainly that is what I would consider a most desirable treatment, but some might argue in favour of dental treatment and some might argue in favour of optical benefit. Nobody will argue against it; everybody will want it. But the question is that the present contributions will not provide the funds to meet it.

That is the case in some of the societies.

The funds of the unified society would not meet it.

Does the Minister consider that there may be any possibility of giving these benefits?

We do not see that there is any possibility. We say that any surplus in the unified society will be dealt with as in the approved societies in the past. They will be used to provide additional benefits for the members and I do not see any possibility of our being able to do it.

We should have some estimate of the costs. The Minister may remember that on the Second Stage of the Bill he told us that in the unified society he would have a surplus of £55,000. In the answer he gave me to-day he dug up another £335,000.

That was mentioned on the last day.

I am not suggesting that the Minister concealed anything, but out of this surplus can he not see the possibility of a further benefit?

From which sums deficiencies on the other side will have to be deducted.

But that £55,000 does emerge. Then we do start with a surplus of at least £125,000.

That is so.

I take it then that the Minister is satisfied that the actuaries have borne that in mind when they advised him that they could not give other benefits.

I do not see the strength of the Minister's argument that people who do not require optical treatment would have some right to have a clause inserted that would guarantee benefits to them, but I do know this, that a number of people during the last five or ten years secured advantages and additional benefits from the approved societies. Some of them have had dental treatment. They have had their teeth extracted and new dentures have been given them. In some few cases they required optical or hospital treatment and got it. Therefore, I submit that they will have an equally good chance of getting the statutory benefit if the Minister is not assured that the actuarial figures will guarantee such benefits. Perhaps he would leave it to the discretion of the new Committee to formulate a scheme which would be suitable to cover all cases. This scheme would, perhaps, receive the sanction of the Minister.

Would the Minister be prepared to look into this matter and leave it over to the next stage of the Bill, when he could give us further information on it?

The information is that the matter has been closely examined from the financial point of view and there is no hope of including dental benefits.

Does the Minister not hope that if he went into the matter again with the actuaries it possibly would help matters? I say that because there is a feeling in the House that the different societies who have given their members dental treatment in the past are being denied something in the future. There is a strong feeling on that matter. If the Minister could do something to help both the members of the House and the members of these societies that have in the past initiated that treatment I think he would be meeting the matter.

There is nothing that would please me more than to be able to promise them.

Will the Minister look into it?

I will, of course. I would be very pleased to be able to promise dental, optical and any other benefits. We do not want to keep any of these from the people. There is only the measure of possibility. I am informed that it is out of the question to include any additional statutory benefit at this stage. There is no greater disposition on any side of the House than there is in the Ministry and in the Department dealing with this to increase the benefits as much as possible, but the money is not there.

Could the Minister even tell us on the next stage what the additional cost of the dental benefits would be?

I will try and get the figures.

The Minister said that he had the figures and that the actuary's report on the whole matter had been carefully and sympathetically considered. If so, could he give the House the figure by which the present sum would be increased by those who might receive this additional benefit after 5th July, 1936? He has not denied, I think, that one-third of the membership of insured societies are at present in receipt of this in addition to other valuable benefits.

I am not affirming or denying it, but I do not know what the proportion is. I doubt if it is one-third.

If the Minister could give us the figures of the additional cost, one could put that against his own estimated savings.

I will look up the figures and provide them on the Report Stage.

Will this amendment be reintroduced for the Report Stake?

That is for you to say.

It is quite definite that it will be.

Then it will be turned down.

Then we shall have a division on it now.

Very well, take it now. I do not want to mislead the House into thinking that there is any possibility of getting this statutory benefit. In case the House might be misled, I think you had better have the vote now.

Surely the Minister will agree that as a result of the unification some benefit ought to come to the insured people.

Might I submit that there is not the least use getting impatient over this? It will not improve the situation to have the division taken now. If the Minister will examine the question and place the details that he has not at hand at present before the House on the Report Stage we can then take the division on the Report Stage and the matter can be dealt with. I know Deputy Davin and Deputy Norton want to do their "stuff."

We can do our "stuff" without asking you to help.

I thought I would rouse the Labour Party.

Rouse the people behind you.

Let Deputy Dillon get in some of his Party to help him.

I thought the Deputy rose in the interests of peace.

I only got up in the interests of the people who might possibly get the benefit. I suggest that it might be to the advantage of these people if, before the House went to a division, there was an opportunity of considering the relevant facts. The Minister has not got these essential facts at his finger tips at present, but they can be got. They can be laid before the House and in the light of them the House can make up its mind. I suggest that it would be to the advantage of everybody if the matter were postponed to the Report Stage in order that we might have the essential information before we proceed to a vote. Deputy Davin can put down another amendment for the Report Stage.

Before a division is taken, I join with Deputy Dillon in asking that the division should be left over until the Report Stage. I concede that the Minister is sympathetic. He is just endeavouring to cut his cloth according to his measure. The plea that Deputy Dillon made is a very fair one. If the Minister further examines the question in the light of what has taken place during this discussion, perhaps he may be able to meet the suggestion made by Deputy Davin and also by Deputy Dillon. I ask the Minister if he does not consider that this is a case of plundering the well-managed and efficiently-run national health insurance societies? In view of the fact that many of these people, who have been insured in these societies for a considerable number of years, and have been receiving dental, optical and many other benefits which, according to the Minister, they will not continue to receive, does not the Minister consider that it is simply a raid on the funds of these efficiently-managed organisations? Will he not consult with the Parliamentary Secretary, who must have technical and professional knowledge of these matters, in view of what he has heard to-day and the fact that we take it for granted that he is sympathetic and that we all believe he is, which is a tribute rarely paid to any Minister? I suggest that Deputy Dillon is only asking him to reconsider the matter with a view to doing the merest justice to these persons who have been for many years contributing to national health organisations.

If we agree to postpone this division, will Deputy Anthony give an assurance to the Labour Party that he will have the other members of his Party here on the next stage when the division takes place?

Mr. Anthony rose.

I allowed Deputy Anthony to make a three-minute speech after I had risen to put the question.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 62.

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Mulcahy, Rechard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice. Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Thrift, Will Edward

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Doherty, Joseph.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killiea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán. Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.(Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Corish and Keyes; Nil: Deputies Little and
Amendment declared lost.
Trayanor.
Question—"That Section 15 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECTION 16.
(1) On the day of transfer in respect of each approved society, the beneficial interest in all property, whether real or personal (including choses-in-action) which is immediately before such date vested in or held in trust (other than by the Minister) for such society in relation to health insurance business shall, without any conveyance or assignment, but subject where necessary to transfer in the books of any bank, corporation or company become vested in the unified society.
(2) Where any property vested in the unified society by virtue of this section is land, such land shall on the day on which it is so vested, be deemed without any conveyance or assignment to have been conveyed or assigned to the persons who are for the time being trustees of the unified society, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns (according to the nature and tenure of such land) as joint tenants.
(3) All moneys, stocks, shares and securities vested in the unified society by this section which at the date on which they are so vested are standing in the books of any bank, company or corporation in the name of an approved society or the trustees of such society shall, upon the request of the trustees of the unified society, be transferred into the names of such last mentioned trustees.
(4) From and after the day of transfer in respect of each approved society, every bond, obligation, security or other chose-in-action made with or to such approved society and the benefit of which is by this section vested in the unified society may be sued upon by the trustees of the unified society in their own names and it shall not be necessary for the said trustees to give notice to the person bound by such bond, obligation, security or chose-in-action of the vesting effected by this section.

I move amendment 9:—

In sub-section (1) to delete line 32 and substitute the following words: "such date vested in such society in its own name in relation to health insurance business or held by the trustees of such society."

This is merely a drafting amendment. A doubt arose in the mind of the draftsman as to whether line 32 is sufficiently clear to make it absolutely certain that the property of every society will be transferred to the unified society.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 16, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 17, 18, 19, 20 agreed to.
SECTION 21
(1) Every person who—
(a) was on the 30th day of June, 1932, the holder of a qualifying post under an approved society, and
(b) was immediately before the date of transfer in respect of such approved society the holder of a qualifying post (whether such post was or was not the same qualifying post as that held by him on the 30th day of June, 1932), under such approved society, and
(c) had immediately before the said date of transfer at least one completed year of qualifying service, and
(d) was not at the said date of transfer offered permanent employment by the unified society,
shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be entitled to be paid by the unified society compensation under this section.
(2) The compensation payable to a person entitled to compensation under this section shall be a gratuity and the amount there of shall be as follows, that is to say:—
(a) in case such person had less than ten completed years of qualifying service, a sum calculated on the basis of one-eighth of his annual remuneration for every completed year of qualifying service.
(b) in case such person has ten or more completed years of qualifying service, a sum not exceeding in any case three times his annual remuneration, and subject to that limitation a sum calculated on the basis of one-sixth of his annual remuneration for every completed year of qualifying service.
(3) For the purposes of this section the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(a) each of the following persons shall be the holder of a qualifying post under an approved society, that is to say:—
(i) the secretary of such society,
(ii) a whole-time employee of such society,
(iii) a part-time employee of such society who proves to the satisfaction of the provisional committee that his earnings from such society were his principal means of livelihood;
(b) in ascertaining the qualifying service of a person who was the holder of a qualifying post under an approved society immediately before the date of transfer in respect of such society the whole of the period immediately before such date during which such person was the holder of a qualifying post or posts continuously in any approved society or societies and no other period or periods shall be reckoned as qualifying service;
(c) the annual remuneration of a person entitled to compensation under this section shall be taken to be—
(i) in case such person had at the 30th day of June, 1932, five or more completed years of qualifying service, his average annual remuneration as the holder of a qualifying post or posts under any approved society or societies during the five years ended on the 30th day of June, 1932, and
(ii) in any other case, his average annual remuneration as the holder of a qualifying post or posts under any approved society or societies during so much of his period of qualifying service as ended on the 30th day of June, 1932,
and in calculating his average annual remuneration any amount or amounts paid to such person for the provision of clerical assistance or other expenses or by way of bonus shall not be treated as part of his remuneration.
(4) Where a person entitled to compensation under this section is given temporary employment by the unified society, he shall not be entitled to be paid such compensation until he has ceased to be employed by the unified society.
(5) Where compensation has been paid under this section to a person who, immediately before the date of transfer in respect of an approved society, was the holder of a qualifying post under such society and such person within three years from the said date of transfer is offered and accepts permanent employment with the unified society, such person shall repay to the unified society, either as the Minister shall determine, the whole of such compensation or such part there of as the Minister may fix.
(6) Any moneys payable by a person to the unified society under the immediately preceding sub-section shall be a debt due by such person to the unified society and may be recoverable as a simple contract debt in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(7) If any question arises as to the right of any person to compensation under this section or as to the amount of such compensation, such question shall be referred to the Minister, whose decision shall be final.

I move amendment 10:—

In sub-section (1) (d), line 52, after the word "society" to insert the words "on terms and conditions not less favourable on the whole than the terms and conditions on and under which such person was previously employed."

This section provides compensation, in the form of gratuities, to certain officers who lose their employment and are not offered employment in the unified society. Apparently the offer of employment in the unified society, under the Bill as it now stands, would preclude an officer seeking any compensation. Cases will occur, in connection with the transfer of staff from existing societies to the unified society, where a person who occupied the responsible position say of secretary of an existing society, with a certain scale of remuneration, might be transferred to a subordinate position in the unified society at a salary much less than in the existing society. But no matter what the conditions of transfer, under the Bill as it stands, he would be debarred from seeking compensation. My amendment seeks to preserve his right to compensation if transferred under conditions and terms that are less favourable than those that he now enjoys. I am sure the Minister does not intend that a person to be transferred should lose his right to compensation if he gets a subordinate position in the new society, not in any way comparable to that which he occupies in the existing society. I hope the Minister in the circumstances will accept my amendment.

I could not accept the amendment at all. I think the Deputy puts an exaggerated case when he suggests that a person holding a responsible position would be offered a subordinate post. If he is offered any post it will be a reasonable one in comparison with the post he held in the approved society in which he worked. I am satisfied that the offer of a reasonable post, taking into account the position occupied by the officials in the approved society, means that reasonable employment is offered to that person at remuneration as near as can be to his former position. I am not going to say, and we cannot bind ourselves, that the salary offered to any individual will be the same as he got in his approved society. I am told there are some approved societies that paid very generous salaries. I cannot hold out any hope that persons offered employment in the unified society will be paid the same salaries as they are now getting in their approved society. But I say that reasonable offers will be made to anyone selected for employment in comparison with the employment he previously held. That being so I think that if an individual turns down the offer made to him of permanent employment, in a unified society, he should abide the consequences. If there is no employment offered to such a person or if the managing committee were to offer him an unreasonable post that would bear no comparison to the post or the salary held in the approved society there would be some reason in turning it down, but so long as there is a reasonable offer made I think there is no cause for this amendment.

May I ask the Minister to advert to amendment No. 25, which enshrines a similar principle. The Minister should bear this in mind, that for the purpose of effecting savings we are going to vitally affect the livelihood of a number of people, many of whom have reached middle age, and some of them advanced middle age, in the public service. It should be borne in mind, when dealing with this problem, that these men did great service. They built up a great system for protecting the interests of defenceless people, and they built up machinery so effective that the Minister can now take over the whole thing in the certainty that it will go. I suggest to the Minister it is a hardship that departmental officials should have the right to transfer men from positions they at present occupy to others of inferior status. My knowledge of the Minister and his Department leads me to believe that the transfer would be done with every consideration, and that every endeavour would be made to do as ample justice as the circumstances would permit. But at the same time cases almost certainly will arise in which it is necessary to offer a man who held a position of high standing in his own society a position which is materially of lower status in the unified society. In such cases I press the Minister that some proviso should be made whereby those people would be consulted as to whether they wished to be taken over or not. I quite agree if a man is offered a position of equal status or advantage it is up to him to take it, or sacrifice his right to compensation; but where a person is offered a materially inferior position, I think the Minister should signify his readiness to accept Deputy Norton's amendment, or my amendment, No. 25, to protect these men. There will be very few such cases but, nevertheless, in individual cases it might mean real hardship. There is not a big sum involved. There is no possibility of embarrassing the fund or the Minister and I think he should signify his intention of accepting the one amendment or the other. I think mine is probably more moderate than that of Deputy Norton. If the Minister cannot accept Deputy Norton's, which I think is reasonable, he should make a promise that he will accept mine.

In refusing to accept the amendment moved by Deputy Norton the Minister has expressed his intention of doing something that will cause great alarm among the employees of approved societies. He has indicated that, in his opinion, they are generously treated in the way of remuneration and that we may visualise the slender staff that will be retained in the unified society to do the work of national health insurance being remunerated on a less generous scale than that which obtains in the case of the 65 societies throughout the country. That suggests that the policy of parsimony is going to be carried a little too far. The Minister has refused to accept what I believe is an eminently reasonable suggestion— that men who have given loyal service to national health insurance and who are to be transferred under this Bill to other positions ought to have a right to refuse such positions if they are not of a standard or status approximately equal or analogous to that of the positions that they have occupied in the local societies. Their refusal to accept the offer of such positions should not debar them from compensation if they are not satisfied that they are getting a fair crack of the whip from the unified society. The number of well-paid posts will be fewer and less generous remuneration is to be paid. These officials gave very valuable service in building up the local societies and they handed them over to the Minister in apple-pie order. The number of failures amongst the societies is a high tribute to the manner in which these men applied themselves to the interpretation of an intricate and complex Act. Notwithstanding the talk we hear of deficits, the societies have been very successful and it is due to these officials that they should be treated with the greatest possible generosity by the unified society. It is regrettable that the view should be expressed that these men will get less generous remuneration than, as officers in the local societies, they are getting. I think that the proposal in the amendment is the minimum that these employees can expect. They should have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they will accept the position offered. If a reasonable offer is made to them, they are not going to throw it away. But if the offer is such that they cannot accept it, they should be entitled to the compensation set out in the Act.

I think that there is considerable danger of hardship, such as is anticipated by the mover of the amendment, arising from the interpretation of the clause as it stands. While the Minister may say that it is not proper that a person who is offered a reasonable alternative post in the unified society should be entitled to insist that he get a better post, what really is desired by the amendment is that a person who is offered any sort of post should not be debarred from compensation because he refuses the offer. The effect of the section, as it stands, is that if one of these employees of an approved society refuses the offer of any sort of post he loses all possibility of getting compensation. In effect, the question of the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the offer of employment rests entirely with the provisional committee to be appointed pending the appointed day. There is no possibility of having that questioned in any way. The net effect of the section is that any offer of employment whatever will, if refused, debar the employee of the approved society entirely from compensation. He cannot question whether or not the offer was reasonable in the circumstances.

I should like to remind the Minister, before he speaks, that in previous legislation aiming at unification of essential public services and creating redundancy in these services the wording is on the same lines as the amendment moved by Deputy Norton. If the Minister looks up the Electricity Supply Act or the various Railways Acts passed by this House with the approval, in some cases, of some of the Minister's own Ministerial colleagues, he will find that we are merely asking to have a provision similar to that in those Acts inserted in this Bill. If the Minister believes that there was nothing unfair in the wording of these Acts, then there is nothing unfair in the working of this amendment. The man who occupies a position in an insurance society is entitled, at least, to the small amount of protection afforded by Deputy Norton's amendment. I am sure the Minister realises that this Act is not going to be interpreted, in respect of every section, in consultation with himself or with whomsoever occupies the position that he now holds. The Minister may have a fairly decent outlook on matters of this kind but he should make certain that what he looks upon as right, or what his Ministerial colleagues supported in this House, should not be watered down.

The question largely depends on the interpretation that will be put on the words "reasonable offer," or on the words in the amendment, "on terms and conditions not less favourable on the whole than the terms and conditions on and under which such person was previously employed."

Where is the word "reasonable" in the section?

It is not in it.

The word "reasonable" is not in the amendment.

It is not in the section either.

Take the case of a person occupying a position worth £300 a year. If, instead of offering him £300 a year, we offered him £250, would that be a reasonable offer?

What would the Minister think?

I think that it would be.

I think he should be entitled to compensation in respect of the difference of £50.

A person receiving £300 a year would, under the terms of the Bill, receive compensation to the amount of £900. If, instead of compensation, we offered that man a permanent position worth £250 a year, I think that would be a reasonable offer. If it went below that, probably it would not be a reasonable offer.

If the Minister's colleagues took that view on previous legislation of this kind, nobody would have got compensation under the Acts I have mentioned.

I am trying to get a near shot at what I think would be reasonable. I do not want to bind myself to offer exactly the same salary, because there are 65 secretaries of local societies and their salaries vary. There will be only one secretary and assistant secretary for the new society. There might be a dozen secretaries of approved societies getting to-day the same salary as will be offered to the secretary of the unified society, or they may be getting more. Only one of these secretaries can be made secretary of the new society. Only one can be appointed assistant secretary and we cannot give all the secretaries of approved societies the same salary as the secretary and assistant secretary of the unified society. If they accept employment, the salaries will have to be scaled down because there will be only one secretary and assistant secretary.

I do not know how many secretaries of approved societies are at present getting salaries, probably as high as, and maybe higher than will be offered to the new secretary. We cannot bind ourselves to give the same salaries. If a form of words could be found to cover this I would be willing to accept it. I cannot accept "on terms and conditions not less favourable" because that would be binding us to the salaries they are drawing.

Will the Minister look at amendment 25 on the Paper and at the words "then such person if he is dissatisfied with his employment."

Would not the Deputy agree that two years is a long time to take to make up a person's mind.

I think it is. The Minister has stated that if he offered a man £250 instead of £300, that that, in his opinion, would be a reasonable offer. The employee might think it a reasonable offer also. It would relieve his mind if he could go into the unified society and try to get along, with the security that if he found it would reduce his standard of living, or that the economies it entailed were too severe, he would be able to take his compensation and get out. The Minister might find that the vast majority of people would settle down in a good job, with perhaps a superannuation scheme and security ahead. Once they got going there would be no more trouble. Some people might think that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. They might take compensation plus a chance of getting outside employment, whereas if they had an assurance that within two years of going in, if they could make a reasonable case that the conditions they were employed under were not analogous to those they enjoyed before the transfer, they could withdraw. As many people might come in that difficulty would not arise. At the same time, it would secure them against the possibility of a severe degradation, without the option of retiring.

Here we have a Bill going through the Dáil without consulting the insured contributors, without consulting the employers or without consulting the committees of management of the societies. This House is definitely deciding that unification is necessary in the interests of the people and of the State. These people have no grievances whatever. They are quite satisfied to carry on, but the State steps in and says: "No, the whole course must be changed; you must have a unified society." If that is the position, surely the State ought to recognise that people whose whole mode of livelihood will be changed, whose economic conditions will probably be imperilled, should have a right to reasonable treatment as a result of the State deciding to embark on a unification scheme. The amendment, as Deputy Davin stated, is an eminently reasonable one. Similar provision has been made in the Railways Act, in the Shannon Power Acts, in the Civil Servants (Transferred Officers) Compensation Act and in the Greater Dublin Act. This House has already accepted the principle that if a man is transferred from one position to another he ought to be transferred on conditions not less favourable than he formerly enjoyed. That is all the amendment seeks to do, that a person who is not desirous of being transferred but that the State compels to transfer should be treated reasonably in the new conditions. The Minister said these persons will be offered reasonable employment but there is no obligation to offer reasonable employment. All the Minister has to do is to offer permanent employment. The Minister wants to import reasonable conditions into the agreement, but when we come to the Minister's definition of "reasonable" it means £300 less £50. He thinks that taking £1 off a person with £6 a week is a reasonable offer. I hope Deputy Cormae Breathnach will take a note of that and that he will be glad the teachers were not treated in a similar fashion. It is a most unreasonable attitude for the Minister to adopt. These people are entitled to expect that the State which is going to direct the course of their future will treat them fairly and reasonably.

The amendment seeks to ensure that they will not get less favourable terms than they enjoyed. The Minister says "we cannot do that." I began to wonder who "we" were. In this case, the compensation is provided by the unified society from the National Health Insurance Fund and is repayable to the fund. It is expected that amalgamation of societies will result in administration costs not being as high in the future as in the past. The compensation will be provided out of the administration funds. Seeing that it will be provided in that way, what is the difficulty in treating these people in the reasonable way—not in a generous way—that we seek to provide under this amendment? The State will not be asked to pay a halfpenny compensation, or to make any contribution whatever in respect of any compensation that they may be entitled to. The compensation will be provided by economies effected by unification. I think this amendment would be desirable in any circumstances, but is doubly desirable in view of the statement made by the Minister.

The Minister gave an instance of an employee with £6 a week being reduced to £5, and he considered that that employee ought to be very well satisfied. Apparently Deputy Norton thinks that he would not be satisfied. I find myself in agreement with Deputy Norton. Could the Minister pursue that illustration a little further, and tell the House at what point would a person with £6 a week have a right to make a case objecting to the reduction? Perhaps if the Minister could give us an idea of what the figure would be we would have an idea of what is in his mind.

24/- a week.

The Deputy suggests 24/-. I will wait for the Minister to give us a guide as to what would be an unreasonable reduction in a salary of £6 a week.

Before the Minister replies I would like if he would give us his interpretation of the words in the section "the holder of a qualifying post under an approved society." Has he clearly defined what he means by persons holding a qualifying post? I want to ask the Minister if a person holding the position of a city parish secretary would be considered a person holding a qualifying post under the Bill?

The Minister must be aware that a number of very deserving persons have been engaged in building up the societies of the national health organisation for a considerable time. I think somebody in the House to-day referred to another class of men who have given their best years of service to the building up of these societies. The class of person to whom I refer is the parish secretary. His duties are multifarious. Amongst the number of things which he has to do are the collection and distribution of contribution cards, the issue of cards, the compilation of application forms for sickness and maternity benefits, the issue of forms of application for dental, surgical and hospital treatment, the completion of application forms in the case of new members, and so on. There is a number of other duties, but I do not want to take up the time of the House reading them out. These employees of the national health insurance societies have duties to perform from ten o'clock in the morning until six o'clock in the evening. The one with which I am best acquainted is the Diocesan Society of St. Finbarr in the City of Cork. They go on there in relays—one goes on from 10 a.m. to 12, another from 12 to 2 p.m. and so on, four of them operating from ten in the morning until six in the evening. That does not represent the full extent of their duties. When they have put in two hours in the office they have a good deal of other business to attend to. As indicating the importance of their duties, there is a case on record in the Diocesan Society of St. Finbarr in which one of these parish secretaries to whom I refer had to give up his position as it was considered so important and so onerous and he had to devote so much time to it that he had either to resign his position on the national health insurance society or resign his position in commercial employment which he held in the city. These positions, whilst looked upon as part-time positions, in reality are whole-time jobs. What I should like to know from the Minister is, does he consider these persons as coming within the terms of Section 21 of the Act and embraced in the words "the holder of a qualifying post?"

Deputy Anthony will find a definition of the persons holding qualifying posts in sub-section (3) of that section which he quoted—Section 21. Deputy Norton talks about the administration fund providing the money that is necessary. As a matter of fact, societies are exceeding at present the administration allowance, and I doubt if there are at present, without dipping further into the administration allowance to an extent which may be endangering the administration fund, money enough, without cheeseparing, to pay the compensation on the basis on which we propose to pay as things stand at present.

I did not say, and I do not say now, that it is reasonable to say to any individual: "We will take your post of £300 a year away from you and give you one back at £250 a year." What I did say, and what I say now, is that in the present circumstances, when we have to unify—even though, as Deputy Norton says, it was not asked for by the approved societies or by the committees—when we have to unify them, when circumstances force us to unify them and when it is certain that a number of people may be thrown out of employment, we have to offer them the alternative of an amount of £900, which is three years' salary at £300 a year, as compensation for the abolition of the post, or to accept a post at £250 a year for permanency. I think that it is a reasonable alternative. It would not be reasonable to say to the official: "We are going to dock you one-sixth of your pay" unless he was going to be thrown out of employment. But when the alternative is between £900 compensation or offering him a permanent post of £250 a year I regard the £250 a year as reasonable.

Will the Minister advert to amendment No. 25?

Two years is too long a period to allow.

If the Minister would say one year I should be prepared to accept it.

I think six months should be enough.

The object is to give the man time to examine the repercussions on his family.

We will discuss that when we come to the amendment.

Surely it is vital to know whether the Minister accepts it in principle.

I will accept it in principle.

The Minister stated that he considered that if the man were offered £250 a year for a permanency as against the previous £300 a year, it would be a reasonable alternative to £900 compensation. Would the man have the option of taking the £900 or would he have to take the post at £250?

I certainly think that if a man who got an offer of a permanent post of £250 a year it would be unreasonable for him to refuse that offer.

People, as a matter of fact, expect progression in their salaries after working for so many years and they do not expect to be going back in their salaries.

I quite agree with the Minister that as between an official offered a sum of £900, or three years' salary at £300 a year and, alternatively, a permanent salary of £250 a year, there would be very little hardship. At the same time, it is as well to point out to the Minister that one could also put forward a case as regards an officer who was in receipt of a salary of £300 and who would be offered alternative employment at a rate of, say £150 a year. I do not think the Minister would regard that as equitable or fair.

Whilst that might be the viewpoint of the Minister, as far as I personally am concerned I more or less agree with him and trust that the Minister would act fairly and justify to the officials. Nevertheless, the Minister might not be in the position at all. There might be some other man in his place who would be less sympathetic to these officials and who would offer permanent employment at a very much lower figure. It is in order to have some safeguard in the Act that this amendment was suggested by Deputy Norton in order that it, or something of the kind that would put a proper interpretation on what was in the mind of the Minister in regard to the words "permanent employment," should be enshrined in the Act.

If it would meet the requirements of those who are insisting on this amendment to put in the word "reasonable," or some such word that would qualify it, such as "permanent employment at reasonable remuneration" or "reasonable terms"—if any phrase of that kind would cover it, well and good, but if not I cannot do any better.

Did I understand the Minister to say that he would bring in an amendment on Report?

Something such as I have suggested, yes.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá: 49; Níl: 66.

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Corty, Frank.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred, Hugh.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • McDonogh, Martin.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Corish and Keyes: Níl: Deputies Little and Traynor.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 11:

To delete sub-section (2) and substitute three new sub-sections as follows:—

(2) (a) Every person entitled to compensation under this section who had less than five completed years of qualifying service shall be entitled to a gratuity calculated on the basis of one-sixth of his remuneration and emoluments for the year ended on the 30th day of June, 1932, for every completed year of his employment.

(b) Every person entitled to compensation under this section who had not less than five completed years of qualifying service and who by reason of the establishment of the unified society:—

(a) has suffered loss of employment; or

(b) has relinquished his employment in consequence of being required to perform duties such as were not similar or were an unreasonable addition to the duties which he was required to perform by such approved society at the date of transfer; or

(c) has suffered diminution of salary, wages or emoluments; or

(d) has been placed in any worse position in respect of the conditions of his employment than he was in that respect on the date of transfer; or

(e) has suffered any direct pecuniary loss in consequence of the establishment of the unified society including any loss of prospective superannuation or other retiring or death allowances and allowances to his widow or orphan children,

shall be entitled to receive compensation in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this section hereinafter contained.

(3) The compensation to be paid under paragraph (b) of sub-section 2 of this section to a person who either:—

(a) has suffered loss of employment; or

(b) has relinquished his employment in consequence of being required to perform duties such as were not similar or were an unreasonable addition to the duties which he was required to perform on the date of transfer;

shall be an annual sum not exceeding in any case two-thirds of the remuneration and emoluments payable to him for the year ended on the 30th day of June, 1932, and subject to that limitation to be calculated at the rate of one-sixtieth of the said remuneration and emoluments for every completed year of his service with the approved society with an addition thereto based on the number of completed years of his service and calculated according to the following scale:—

If he has twenty or more completed years of service an addition of ten-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments;

If he has less than twenty completed years of service then such addition shall abate proportionately and so that no person shall receive an addition of less than one-sixtieth of his remuneration and emoluments for every completed two years of his service.

(4) The compensation to be paid under paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of this section to a person who either:—

(a) has suffered loss or diminution of salary, wages, emoluments; or

(b) has been placed in any worse position in respect of the conditions of his employment than he was in at the date of transfer; or

(c) has suffered any direct pecuniary loss in consequence of the establishment of the unified society, including any loss of prospective superannuation or other retiring or death allowances and allowances to his widow or orphan children;

shall be an annual sum not exceeding in any case two-thirds of the remuneration and emoluments payable to him for the year ended on the 30th day of June, 1932, and subject to that limitation as nearly as possible the equivalent in money of the annual diminution in remuneration and emoluments or of the worsening of the conditions of his employment (as the case may be) including any direct pecuniary loss suffered by him and shall be payable during the continuance of the employment in which such annual diminution in remuneration and emoluments or such worsening of the conditions of his employment (as the case may be) is so suffered by him as aforesaid.

In moving this amendment, my object is to provide for the persons affected some more reasonable measure of compensation than that provided by the Minister in the Bill. Under the Bill, the Minister provides compensation in certain circumstances, assessed at one-eight of the annual remuneration where the person has less than ten years' service, and one-sixth of the annual remuneration where he has ten or more completed years of service, but subject to an overriding maximum of three years' salary. Many of the arguments that could have been used on this section have been already used on the previous amendment. Here again, it is hardly necessary to point out in any detailed way, the State comes in, and creates a situation by this unification Bill, the effect of which is to prevent these people following the occupations which they formerly followed. The State in that way interferes with their livelihood and yet the compensation provided by the Minister under this section is a maximum of three years' salary. Many of these people will have given 22 years' service to the business of administering the national health insurance. Many of them are people highly skilled in the knowledge not merely of the Act but of the thousand and one regulations made under the Act. Many of them have reached an advanced age at the moment. Here the State steps in and interferes with their employment, jeopardises their livelihood and then offers to pay them three years' salary. We must add to that the fact that they are not likely to get any further employment having regard to their past avocations. That is, to say the least of it, treating these people in a most unreasonable way.

The amendment which I propose provides that these persons shall be paid as a gratuity one-sixth of the salary for each completed year's service. That is for persons having under five years' service. For those with a service of over five years, my amendment seeks to provide compensation in the form of an annual allowance calculated at one-sixteenth of the salary for each year's service, subject to an overriding maximum of two-thirds of the remuneration and emoluments in the year ending 30th June, 1932, with the addition, as already recognised in legislation, of certain added years in compensation for the abolition of the person's office. Under this amendment of mine, it would be possible for a person to get compensation if he is dismissed, or if he is compelled to relinquish his employment because the conditions are not similar, or are an unreasonable addition to the duties which he was formerly required to perform. The amendment provides also for the payment of compensation if a person suffers loss or diminution of salary, wages or emoluments, or if he is put in any worse position as a result of his transfer, or if he suffers any other kind of loss set out in sub-section 4 (c) of the amendment.

I think the House will agree that a person who suffers loss of employment is entitled to compensation and that a person whose salary or wages is reduced is likewise entitled to compensation. If the State seeks to transfer a person from a reasonably remunerated post to a post which is not remunerated so well it worsens that person's position. If he is put in a worse position than he occupied previously he is entitled to compensation. In assessing compensation the Minister is confining himself to a gratuity basis, giving people with 22 years' service in national health insurance work a gratuity of three years' salary. That method of remuneration or compensation is not the normal method or the method that the legislation passed through the House for the past ten years has recognised. In all cases it is recognised that persons with a certain service are entitled to an annual pension. That particular point has been already conceded in the case of the Electricity Supply Board, in the case of the Railways Act, in the case of the Greater Dublin Act, and in the case of the Civil Service (Transferred Officers) Compensation Act. Seeing that the State has adopted this principle of compensation in cases somewhat analogous to the cases with which we are now dealing I do not see any reason why the State should depart from that method of compensation now.

That is a reasonable piece of legislation which has been endorsed by this House, supported by all Parties in the House, and it seems utterly unreasonable to come along now and give to people who have 22 years' service in national health insurance, who were responsible for the smooth and satisfactory running of the National Health Insurance Acts for the past 20 years, such miserable compensation as is provided in the sections of the Bill introduced by the Minister. I hope the House will show irrespective of Party that they stand for a square deal for these officers who are being transferred to the unified society. These officers are quite willing to carry on with the unified society and give their services to that society, and if they lose their employment or if their conditions are in any way worsened they are entitled to compensation on not less generous terms than the State provides in the case of civil servants, in the case of railway employees under the Railways Act, and in the case of persons affected by the Greater Dublin Bill and the Electricity Supply Bill. There is a strong case for extending to these officers the same consideration as the legislature has already extended to other officers, and I hope that, irrespective of Party, the House will say definitely that it wants a square deal for these people whose interests and livelihood are jeopardised by the action the State is taking in the matter.

Will the Minister, in dealing with that, say what his intentions are in respect of amendment 15?

Deputy Norton suggests that we should deal with the officials in this case as generously as we would deal with civil servants. What he proposes is that they should be dealt with on a much more generous basis that civil servants in the cases in which the offices of civil servants were abolished, but, in the case of the abolition of their office, civil servants would not get the terms that Deputy Norton is suggesting that these officials of approved societies should get.

I am talking of the terms provided in the Civil Servants (Transferred Officers) Act.

That is different.

That is the analogy I quoted.

The Deputy, in the end of his speech, said that they should get the same treatment.

Those officers were civil servants.

They were, but under special conditions. They were being transferred from one country to another. There was quite a different set of conditions and circumstances in that case from what we are dealing with in this Bill. The civil servant who is dealt with in respect of abolition of office is, to start with, a pensionable officer while these officers of approved societies are not. The civil servant's salary scale is much lower because he is a pensionable officer, and, if his office is abolished, and if he has ten years' service, all he gets in the way of pension is based on one-eightieth for each year of service, plus a gratuity based on one-thirtieth.

He could get one-sixtieth, too, of course.

The amendment that Deputy Norton proposes would give these non-pensionable employees of approved societies not only one-sixtieth calculated on service, but added years on the general scale. Our position is that anything that is done in the way of compensation or gratuity has to be paid out of the administration fund. The administration fund is limited and, at present, the societies are exceeding the administration allowance. At present, that allowance is about 4/9 instead of 4/5, and, in order to provide this compensation, we shall have to dip into the administration fund to a heavy extent and to take from the administration fund moneys which ordinarily should be required for administration. We will, of course, make some economies, because the various expenses of the approved societies, such as office expenses and salaries, are bound to be reduced. We will thus be able to make economies. Therefore, the whole of the sum now spent on administration will not be necessary. We shall have to use these economies plus further economies that we shall have to make in order to be able to pay the compensation on the scale we propose to pay.

Perhaps it is just as well that I should say, at this stage, that, while I cannot at all accept the amendment proposed by Deputy Norton—the fund will not allow it—I propose to accept, at any rate, in principle, amendments 12, 13, 14 and 15, in the name of Deputy Dillon. It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I am accepting these amendments. I will not say that it is against the advice of the Department, but the Department certainly has accepted them under pressure from me. I thought that the compensation ought to be increased even to the extent of taking a risk when we were putting these people out of employment and it was only under the very greatest pressure from me that the officials eventually decided that we might risk it. They do, however, impress upon me that it is taking a risk with the administration fund. That risk I am prepared to take and, if the fund would allow it, I should like to go further, but there is no earthly hope of that. There is no earthly hope of basing the compensation on the scale that Deputy Norton has set out in his amendment. In the case of the pension scheme, he mentioned the Railways Act and the Electricity Act, but they were dealing with affairs that were business affairs and supposed to be making a profit. The moneys came from the shareholders' pockets while, in this case, the money will come out of the fund of the national health insurance societies and we will be robbing them of the benefits to which they are entitled. It will be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is the people who would be sick and infirm and entitled to the statutory benefits who would be losing and we cannot afford to take any more from these people in the way of benefits.

Any further addition to my proposal would be taking money out of the fund provided for statutory benefits and that we cannot do. The only other alternative would be to tax the contributions to national health insurance by both employers and employees and that, I do not think, would meet with the approval of this House either. Therefore, we propose to go to the furthest limit and to take some risk in going that far with the administration fund. It will be going to the fund to an extent that some of my advisers say is not right, but, on the whole, we have decided to take the risk and to go as far as we can to meet these people because we are putting them out of employment. I should like to go further—it is my own personal attitude—and I must say that the officials feel the same way about officers being put out of employment but they want to safeguard the funds of national health insurance and that is our first concern. That being so, we cannot go any further and we cannot accept Deputy Norton's amendment.

When I first examined these proposals, I was inclined to the view that superannuation was the most equitable arrangement. I saw that there was a great deal to be said against superannuation, not the least being the difficulty of financing it, and I must say that I consider that the Minister has met this problem as generously and as fairly as his resources would permit. I am not authorised to speak for anybody on the matter but I have watched the business as it went forward with considerable anxiety to see that these men who would prove redundant as a result of this scheme of unification would be fairly dealt with.

Taking into consideration the fact that the Minister proposes to accept in principle amendments 12 to 15 inclusive, in my opinion and in the opinion of my colleagues he has done what is fair by these people. So far as we are concerned, we appreciate the spirit in which he has met the situation and the spirit in which he has provided compensation. We recognise that had it been possible financially he would have gone further. Having gone so far as he has is an indication of that. I am sure he feels with us that it would have been desirable to go further if such were possible without seriously embarrassing the administration. Taking everything into consideration, he has met the situation generously.

Deputy Dillon speaks in a tone of voice which makes those who do not know him feel that he speaks with the authority of a person who is infallible on every subject. He did not tell us, as he should have, the difference between the cost to the administration fund if the Minister accepts his amendments compared with the cost of £90,000 that would accrue as a result of the compensation clauses in the Bill as originally introduced. The Minister has assured us throughout this discussion that he has made a careful study of the consequences from the point of view of compensation and further concessions to insured members. Perhaps the Minister will tell us a little more of the information at his disposal. He told us the cost of compensation would be £90,000. Will he tell us—I am sure he can, after agreeing to accept Deputy Dillon's amendments—what would be the increased cost to the administration fund as a result of the acceptance of Deputy Dillon's suggestions? Will he also tell us what would be the cost arising out of the acceptance of the amendment moved by Deputy Norton?

There is no reason whatsoever, from the Labour Party point of view, at any rate, why the members of this Party or the Cumann na nGaedheal Party should vote for the insertion in this Bill of certain clauses in the Electricity Supply Act and the Railways Act, watering down the measure of compensation. The Minister says that the compensation in these cases is being paid by business companies supposed to be making a profit. I do not think that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, when putting the Electricity Supply Bill through the House or when pushing the Railways Bill through, could have at that time indicated what the cost was likely to be. He first approached the consideration of the whole question from the point as to what was likely to be fair to those going to lose their livelihood as a result of legislation passed here. If I wanted to, I could quote several passages from speeches made by the Minister's colleagues supporting the same principle in the case of previous legislation concerning people who did lose their livelihood as a result of the passage of legislation. What grounds can he give for reversing the policy adopted by himself and his colleagues when they were in Opposition, in relation to matters of the same kind?

I have been told that three-fourths of the existing servants of approved societies are likely to be taken over by the unified society. I do not know whether that figure is right or wrong. The Minister could give more figures than he has given in connection with this matter. On the Second Reading the Minister indicated that he had reached the limit—that the compensation section of the Bill was the limit to which he could agree to go so far as paying compensation to redundant officials were concerned. He said they were doing the best they could with the moneys available. Deputy Dillon, who apparently knows more than the Minister about every aspect of the Bill, without having any official figures at his disposal, says that the Minister has acted as generously as his resources would permit. Where did he get the information? Has he more information than the Minister on this matter? If he has, then it is due to the House that this person who recently posed as an expert should give us what information he has. Seeing that the Minister did not accept the water-tight amendment which Deputy Dillon proposed this evening in connection with those who will get the positions of secretary and treasurer, I suggest that the Minister might, in the light of the very valuable advice given him by Deputy Dillon on the question of national health insurance and in view of the financial limitations supposed to be involved in the acceptance of our amendment, seriously consider the absorption of Deputy Dillon as one of the principal officer of the unified society when it is established.

I want to correct one or two statements made by the Minister. The Minister stated that I was claiming more for the insurance official than for a civil servant. Either the Minister's brief is wrong, or the Minister has not had time to read it. If he looks at it again he will find that in the case of the civil servants there are two schemes of superannuation, one concerning one-sixtieth for each year of service and the other one-eightieth for each year of service, plus a lump sum.

We were not talking of superannuation; we were talking of abolition of office.

We were talking of superannuation.

Fire away. Give all the cases you like.

Perhaps the Minister will recollect the legislation concerning the Dublin and Blessington steam tram which was recently passed by his own administration. His own Minister for Industry and Commerce justified the compensation. Now the Minister wants to justify this Bill which is, to my mind, most unsatisfactory.

From the Deputy's point of view.

This Bill provides inadequate compensation. The hair shirt is put right through this whole section. The Minister thinks this is generous compensation and Deputy Dillon congratulates him upon the generous attitude he has adopted. It would seem as if there were a new alliance between Deputy Dillon and the Centre Party and the Minister. Deputy Dillon is saying everything that is complimentary about the Minister so long as it is reactionary. I must congratulate the Minister on his new convert. I would go even further than Deputy Davin; I would suggest that Deputy Dillon might not merely be absorbed into the unified society but he should be absorbed into the Ministry. Apparently he will be found to be a very accommodating gentleman judging by the things he is prepared to say and do in the House. I again emphasise that this measure of compensation is thoroughly unsatisfactory. It is unfair for the Minister to tell Deputies that the measure of compensation we seek can only be provided either by increasing the rates of contribution or by taking benefits from sick people. The Minister knows that is not true. I do not accept that as the position and the Minister's advisers know perfectly well it is not the position. In any case, so far as we are concerned, we do not accept it as the position. It is true that the societies find a difficulty at the moment in carrying on under the administration grant but that is because there are 65 offices, 65 telephones, 65 separate secretaries and 65 separate sets of furniture. One would expect that with unification a very considerable economy would be effected there. The working of the Act will disclose what the economies will be.

Our attitude on this Bill has been dealt with at some length already. The difference between us and the Labour Party in relation to this Bill is this: That we have tried to amend the Bill to the best advantage and for the benefit of any person who might otherwise suffer under it. But the Labour Party is concerned to-night to "do its stuff" here, to edify the railwaymen and the post office workers and all the diverse persons from whom Deputies Norton and Davin cherish the hope of getting a vote in the future. They salute their flag and salute their staff.

You do not salute any flag not even the national flag.

I will discuss that with the Deputy on another occasion. Once this Bill was introduced my Party here took it to be their duty to do everything in their power to assist the Government to make it a more equitable and, possibly, a more generous measure. So far as we are concerned we are of opinion that the Government has made a genuine and generous attempt to meet the exigencies of the situation. Our position is that when they do that we deem it our duty to support them in that course. If they fail in that course we consider it our duty to vote against them. The jibes from Deputy Davin and Deputy Norton and from others on the Labour Benches are interpreted by us rather as compliments coming from the quarter they come. Praise or compliments from the Labour Benches would be received by us with very uneasy feelings and with heart searchings. The Labour Party only a short time ago pursued a very different course towards the Government. But they are now trimming their sails. We followed a different course all the time.

The question I have to put is: that the words:—"The compensation payable to a person entitled to this compensation under this section shall be a gratuity," stand part of the section. That matter is disposed of by the Minister in Section 21 (2).

This is not prejudicing any further amendment?

It means that any Deputy has a right to move further amendments.

If Deputy Dillon's amendments are defeated by the House they cannot be moved again on Report Stage.

If something is defeated in Committee Stage it cannot be accepted on Report Stage but the House as a whole can disagree with what it has done in Committee. The House as a whole can refuse to assent to what it has done in Committee.

When we come to amendment 14 and 15 we can decide that.

You are not entitled to a clear division on an amendment of this kind. Conceivably we could defeat this amendment and Deputy Dillon's amendments and still stand by the Bill.

Seeing that the Minister has accepted the principle cannot Deputy Dillon's amendment remain over for Report Stage?

The question I have to put is: that the words "The compensation payable to a person entitled to compensation under this section shall be a gratuity," stand part of the Bill.

That means that our amendment though it was allowed to be discussed is not to be decided by the vote of the House.

I take it that if we vote for the question put from the Chair we are really voting against the amendment in Deputy Norton's name.

That is so. If Deputy Davin will read his own amendment he will find that it was to be the sum provided for pensions. The other would be a gratuity. I want the House to understand that before I put the question.

Can you give any reason to the House why you are not putting the positive case?

If I were putting the positive case I would cut out Deputy Dillon from moving his amendment because if the House decided that the amendment stands he could not move amendments 12, 13, 14 and 15.

That was because Deputy Dillon wanted to side-track our amendment.

I am not concerned with that at all.

Question put and agreed to.
The following amendments stood in the name of Deputy Dillon:
In sub-section (2) (a), line 58, and in page 8, sub-section (2) (b) line 1, to delete the word "ten" and substitute the word "five."
In sub-section (2) (a) line 60, to delete the words "one-eighth" and substitute therefore the words "one-fifth."
In sub-section (2) (b), page 8, lines 2 to 4 inclusive, after the word "service" to delete the words "a sum not exceeding in any case three times his annual remuneration and subject to that limitation."
In sub-section (2) (b), page 8, line 6, after the word "service" to insert the words "with an addition thereto based on the number of completed years of his service and calculated according to the following scale:—an addition of one year for every completed two years of his service; but in no case shall more than ten years be added to the years of his service."

I propose to accept in principle amendments 12, 13, 14 and 15. There may be some amendments that we cannot have discussed. The principle of these four amendments is accepted.

I heard the Minister say that no material alternation would be made in the amendments. I ask the leave of the House to withdraw them.

Might I say that the additional sum that would be put on the administration fund by these amendments would be round about £50,000 or £60,000. If we were to accept the amendment moved by Deputy Norton and Deputy Davin the total cost would be round about a quarter of a million pounds as against £140,000. That is a sum we could not face.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 16:—

In sub-section (3) (a) (i), line 12, after the word "secretary" to insert the words "treasurer or other salaried officer."

This is an amendment designed to bring in principally the treasurer of an approved society. The Minister will note that there is mention specially of the secretary and whole-time employees and part-time employees who derive the greater part of their income from salaries as servants of an approved society. But it would seem, however, that a part-time treasurer who was an officer held in a society a status similar to that of the secretary. If he were only a part-time employee he would be entitled to no compensation at all. It seems to me, as the Minister has accepted the principle that the secretary, being an officer of the society, and, therefore, an employee, is entitled to compensation, that principle should be extended to include the treasurer as well. Very probably the sum involved here would be trivial. Where the treasurer was a part-time employee his work was largely formal and his remuneration was proportionate. There may, however, have been and, I think, there were certain cases where the treasurer's duties were more than formal and he occupied something in the nature of the position of general consultant to the secretary. Officially, of course, that could not be recorded; for official purposes he was treasurer of the society. But in these cases where he was acting in the nature of consultant to the secretary his remuneration was sometimes a material sum, perhaps £100 a year. These cases would be very few and the amount that would fall upon the administration fund for compensation in respect of treasurers would be very small. A real hardship, however, might accrue if they are not provided for and it is to provide for the possibility of such hardships that I have put down the amendment.

I cannot accept the amendment. I suppose amendments 16 and 17 cover the same thing.

Amendment 17 is an alternative, because if you dealt with them under amendment 16 you gave them compensation whether they derive the major part of their income from employment or not. Amendment 17 is merely to ensure that there should be no doubt that a treasurer was an employee.

I do not think that there is any case where a treasurer, who was not a whole-time official of an approved society, was anything but a consultant such as Deputy Dillon suggests. I do not think there is any case for compensating a consultant, no matter how frequently he may have been consulted. If the treasurer occupied any position in the society, whole-time or mainly whole-time, and if he derived most of his income from that employment, of course he will be compensated. Otherwise I am afraid there is not any case for a treasurer.

The Minister perhaps throws undue emphasis on the case I described, where this individual might be employed in a consultative capacity. In these few cases these men would have received much larger salaries than treasurers normally receive. Treasurers are usually rather figureheads, simply for the purpose of singing cheques, and got £10, £15 or £20 a year for filling that job, but there were a few cases in which they got a more material sum. £100 a year, say, is a very material part of an income to a man, but we are proposing to wipe that out without any compensation. What I am putting is this: that compensating the vast majority of treasurers will cost practically nothing, because they were only in receipt of £10 a year or so. There may not be more than 60 treasurers and a great many of these are banks. Therefore, I doubt very much that there will be more than 30 or 40 men holding the position of treasurer. The burden it is going to place on the administration fund is trivial, but the burden that it might place on individuals, if a provision of this kind is not made, might be very severe indeed and might materially alter the whole standard of living. I do not wish to press this at present. If the Minister would look into the circumstances and ascertain if there were any such persons as I have described between this and the Report Stage, he might undertake to deal with it himself on the Report Stage, if it requires attention. I imagine that if he looks into it he will find there are going to be three or four hard cases if they get no compensation, whereas if he decides to compensate them, all individual treasurers, except the banks, who are corporate bodies, he will find that the burden will be the merest bagatelle and he will avoid doing serious harm.

Are these consultants lawyers?

These consultants are largely working men who are treasurers of societies.

I am afraid I have gone to the limit already with the administration fund. Any further encroachment upon the fund would put it in a state that I would hesitate to put it in.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 17:—

In sub-section (3) (a) (iii) line 14 after the words "part-time employee" to insert the words "treasurer or other salaried officer."

Would the Minister not even consider taking the men as employees? He said that the only treasurer who can apply for compensation was a person who could satisfy the Minister that the larger part of his income was derived from his position as treasurer. Will the Minister allow them to come in under that category?

Certainly if the treasurer is able to satisfy the Minister that the larger part of his income comes from that employment he will be compensated.

It is clear then that the introduction of the word "treasurer" after the word "employee" is unnecessary—employee covers treasurer?

Certainly it would.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 18:—

At the end of sub-section (3) (a) (iii) line 17, after the word "livelihood" to insert the words:—"or that he was performing work usually performed by wholetime employees."

The wording of the amendment explains its meaning.

If the amendment is meant to cover a person who, though free to do other work, is actually performing duties for a society which would normally occupy his whole time he would be regarded as entitled to compensation.

Is the Minister accepting the amendment then?

If that is the meaning of it, I will accept the amendment, but I think it will have to be redrafted. If the meaning of it is that the individual concerned gave so much time to it as would normally make it a whole-time position he would be entitled to compensation. I will put up an amendment on the Report Stage if the Deputy wishes.

To make it clearer what is intended in the sub-section?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 19:—

In sub-section (3) (b), line 24, to delete the word "continuously."

If the sub-section is passed in its present form it might be found to operate unjustly in several cases. It would provide that employment should be continuous and that all voluntary or enforced absence would not be allowed for. The object I had in mind in putting down this amendment was to ensure that employees of approved societies who had their services broken by activities during the civil war, by strikes and so forth, would have that time allowed them, but I notice that Deputy Costello has put down amendment No. 20 which covers the point I have in mind. It probably makes the position clearer, with the exception of the word "strikes." He makes no provision here in amendment 20 to provide for those people who went on strike. Such cases have come to my notice, that people in approved societies have been on strike in the past. I would like to make provision for them. Perhaps I ought to pay a compliment to Deputy Costello for the drafting of this amendment No. 20—although it may be premature until he is allowed to move it—seeing that he has accepted the principle that both parties in the civil strife are entitled to recognition.

I cannot accept amendment No. 19 as moved by Deputy Kelly, but I would propose to accept the amendment by Deputy Costello which covers the same thing. I think Deputy Kelly is rather suggesting that he would accept that.

Mr. Kelly

If it would cover those people who had been on strike.

I do not know whether there are any such cases or not. At any rate, I would not hold that being out on strike would break the continuity of the employee's service.

Amendment 19 withdrawn?

Mr. P. Hogan (Clare):

Before it is withdrawn I would like to feel that the Minister would give some consideration to it. There has been talk about armies. I am not interested in any army. I know cases where a man's service was broken; the son was asked by the father to carry on the position for a period so that the proceeds would be coming in to the family. If you put in the word "continuously" there you knock this man, whose main source of livelihood is that position, out of getting any compensation.

Why was the service broken?

Mr. Hogan

There may be various reasons why a man had to go away for a period of a year or two, and his son asked and got the approval of the society to carry on the position. When the father came back he resumed his own position. If he had let the position go to an outsider that source of income, which was very necessary to the family, would have gone out of the family altogether. Possibly there would be a very grave danger that it would never come back.

I think that in accepting Deputy Costello's amendment, which covers a wide variety of cases, and the principle of the one suggested by Deputy Kelly to include people who may have been on strike, if there are such cases, all that could be reasonably expected to be covered in the way of broken service will have been covered.

Might I ask the Minister if he can have included the word "strikes"? From former experience in this House I found that where the Minister's intentions were expressed in debates but not definitely put into the Bill, which subsequently became an Act, the fact of it having been stated that that was the intention meant nothing because it was not in the Bill. In that case I should like to know if the Minister would include the word.

We will put in this new section proposed by Deputy Costello, with some words to cover the position mentioned by Deputy Kelly. We will have it on the Report Stage.

Amendment 19, by leave, withdrawn.

I understand that the Minister is accepting amendment No. 20?

I accept the principle of it.

Amendment No. 20 not moved.

I move amendment 21 on behalf of Deputy Good:—

In sub-section (3) (b) line 26, after the word "service" to insert the words "Provided that where such person was temporarily unemployed by reason of illness or in consequence of a vacancy not being available in an approved society when no interval shall be deemed to have elapsed if he resumed his employment with an approved society as soon as reasonably possible, but such period or periods of temporary unemployment shall not be reckoned in computing his total period of qualifying service.

I think it is covered by amendment No. 20.

Amendment 21, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 22:—

In sub-section (3) (c), line 28, after the words "taken to be," to delete the words down to the word "remuneration," inclusive, in line 43 and to substitute the words "his annual remuneration for the year ended on the 30th day of June, 1932, and in calculating his annual remuneration any amount or amounts paid to such person for the provision of clerical assistance or other expenses shall not be treated as part of his remuneration.

This amendment has two objects. In the first place, it aims at calculating the remuneration as on the 30th June, 1932, and not, as in the Bill, for the previous five years. I can understand that there is a good case to be made for taking the average of five years; at the same time I do suggest to the Minister that people who have got say an increase of salary just before June, 1932, by reason of their special merits, ought to be entitled in the circumstances created by this Bill to have their compensation assessed on the basis of the actual salary they were in receipt of on the date in question. There can, I think, be no question that no approved society would have artificially increased the salary of any employee with a view to getting compensation, because I think that the provisions of this Bill were not generally expected. In any event, the bad case should not prejudice the good one. I would suggest that particular point for the consideration of the Minister.

The second point in the amendment aims at allowing the question of bonus to be considered in assessing the compensation, for the reason that as I understand it the amount available for administrative expenses depends upon the number of effective members each year. That cannot be ascertained until the end of the year; therefore, it was the practice in a number of approved societies to give a fixed salary to their officers, with the intention—when they knew what their proper financial position was at the end of the year—of increasing that salary by way of bonus. In effect then, the bonus was really part of the salary, but only ascertained when the facts were available for the society.

I cannot accept this amendment. The question of unification has been before the country for a considerable time. It has been discussed, I think, for years, and the fact that it would be necessary to unify was announced to the approved societies and to the public a considerable time ago. In at least one case there has been an effort to forestall the provisions of this Bill by rushing increases of salaries to officials. We think that it is necessary to average the period of salary over five years, and that is as fair a way as any of measuring the compensation. At any rate, the compensation we propose to give has been calculated on the average over five years, and we have stretched that out in accordance with the demands that were made here in the House, and the feeling that there should be a more generous scale of compensation. We have stretched it out and given out of the administration fund as much as we think that fund can afford. We cannot contemplate increasing the draw on that fund to any extent beyond what we have done.

Amendment 22, by leave, withdrawn.
Progress reported.
Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 18th May, 1933.