Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Bill, 1936—Final Stages.

I move:—

In page 8, Schedule, second column, opposite the words "Paragraphs (b) and (c) of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 1" to delete the words "any voluntary or gratuitous payment" and substitute the words "any income, by way of voluntary or gratuitous payment."

Will the Minister explain what is the essential difference in this phrase?

The wording as it stands means that if there were gratuities, income of any kind, from more than one source coming into the individual making the claim, the half-crown that is allowed would be allowed on every item of such gratuities coming from different sources. The proposal is to take all income, gratuities or otherwise, coming into the claimant together, and allow the half-crown on the total amount.

So that all the sources of income will be consolidated for the purpose of the half-crown allowance?

Will the Minister say why, if you have a person in your employment, and she becomes a widow, you will not be permitted to give her some allowance? Do you not think, by reason of the fact that the woman is a widow and in poor circumstances, that she should be entitled to the full amount in the ordinary way, apart from any gratuity that a person in whose employment she had been might make her? Such a person would give the money for services rendered. At least, that is what the employer does, and I think it is rather unfair that that should be taken into account in estimating her income. Of course I understand the law is that way, but I think the Minister ought to consider whether it would not be advisable to drop that in the case of needy people. Of course if a person has a considerable income it is a different matter. I submit the State should have nothing to do with the payment made by the late employer of a widow.

Of course all these claims are examined and the claimant is subject to a means test. It is only necessitous widows who will come within the ambit of the Act. It should not be for the Government to decide what form of income a claimant has, whether it be from an employer, from invested funds, or how the income may be derived. The questions for the investigation officer and for the Department to decide are: what is the income of the claimant, and is the claimant a necessitous person. There are certain allowances set out in the Bill, but aside from that, I think whatever the source of the income may be, all claims will have to be considered on the same basis.

What is the definition of a necessitous person? For example, a person having 30/- a week could not be considered to be in affluent circumstances. Anyone having less than 30/- a week should get the full benefit.

The Deputy obviously has not been at Rynanna.

Amendment agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

On that question, I desire to make a suggestion to the Minister. When the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Act was passed in 1935, the Department issued an explanatory memorandum relating to the various provisions and that memorandum was of considerable assistance to potential applicants. Might I suggest that a similar memorandum be issued in connection with this Act and brought up to date in the light of the amendment this measure will make in the main Act?

I will be happy to have that suggestion carried out.

Question agreed to.