That Dáil Eireann is of opinion that Emergency Powers (No. 98) Order, 1941 (Compensation) Scheme, 1941, dated 17th September, 1941, should be revoked.
This is an order which has been issued for the purpose of fixing the amount that should be paid by way of compensation where people have suffered personal injuries, whether resulting in death or otherwise, as a result of bombing which has taken place, and naturally it makes provision for any future cases. An examination of the order brings us up against such astonishing facts that I think it is only necessary to state them, and to hear from the Minister what he has to say on these facts and on the principles behind them. Deputies may have read in some of the daily papers the other day that a High Court jury, in the case of an accident where a man was killed by an Army car and left a wife and family, awarded £1,700 to the widow and daughters by way of compensation. If an Army aeroplane had been responsible for the death of that man, the jury would, no doubt, have awarded £1,700. But, if an aeroplane belonging to one of the belligerents had accidentally caused the death of that man, the Minister for Finance, acting for the people of the country and expressing the public will, fixes in the most rigid language under the order, the cancellation of which I ask for here, that the widow and family would not get any more than £600 by way of compensation.
On the 20th November, as reported in Volume 85, column 845, I asked the Minister for Finance by way of supplementary question to a question on that day:—
"Would the Minister say if, in making claims in respect of loss of life and injury, the intention is to make a claim against the German Government on the basis of the amount of compensation contemplated in the Minister's order fixing the amounts of that compensation?"
The Minister stated:—
"I think so. We have not got the claims yet, and I should not like to say so definitely."
Then I asked:
"Will the Minister say whether, before making a claim on such a basis, he will make a statement to the House on the matter?"
The Minister in reply said "No." I do not understand why, if an Army car kills a man who leaves a wife and family, and a High Court jury decides that the State should pay £1,700, the Minister for Finance, in the distressing circumstances that we have and are likely to have, should fix for a widow and family left without a breadwinner, as the result of an accident caused by an outside aeroplane, a sum of £600, and why in making a claim against the people responsible for the accident this country on behalf of these aggrieved people should only make a claim for £600.
Again, the order provides for compensation in respect of injury, and I simply take the case of a person who has a wife and five children. If that man is seriously and permanently injured as a result of a bombing accident, the order provides that the maximum award that may be made for the maintenance of himself and his family is 30/- per week. Therefore, we get this picture. Assume it is a British aeroplane which comes down, as some of them have come down, and injures a man who has a wife and five children so as to disable him permanently and seriously. Under this order he would get a pension of 30/- a week, and, as the Minister suggests, we would make a claim against the British Government for that amount. But, if an Irish aeroplane happened to be driven across the Irish Sea and came down accidentally in Great Britain and injured a British citizen, as the Minister is aware, the British Government would compensate that man and his wife and family for prolonged and serious disablement at the rate of 68/9 per week, and no doubt would send us the bill.