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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 26 Nov 1942

Vol. 88 No. 19

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take business on the Order Paper as follows:—Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 2 (Votes 74 and 62). No. 1 will be taken in its usual place.

Would the Minister indicate what the sittings are likely to be this side of Christmas? Are we going to sit next week?

It is not intended to sit next week, but we shall sit the following week and then probably adjourn for Christmas.

Mr. Byrne

Will the family allowances report be published before Christmas?

What report is the Deputy talking about?

Mr. Byrne

The report promised by the Minister.

That is a report to be made to the Minister.

Mr. Byrne

Will it be published before Christmas?

It will not be published.

Until the general election.

Will the Minister say whether that report is not in the nature of information collected from the various Departments bearing on the subject of family allowances?

Will the Minister say why that information should not be made available for the public generally in view of the public interest taken in this matter?

It may be made available later on, but there is no present intention of publishing it.

Will the Minister say why it cannot be published before we come to deal with the question?

Because it would be stale for the general election.

Leave the general election out of it. I take it that everybody in this House is equally interested in the question of family allowances. Deputy Dillon is not the only Deputy who has some interest in it.

You are all on the band wagon now, but there was very little heard of the question until I raised it.

We were interested in it long before the Deputy was heard of.

Will the Minister reconsider the matter in view of the difficulty of finding definite information on certain rather statistical matter that requires to be examined before coming to any conclusion on this question? Will the report be published before the matter comes up for discussion?

If you set up an inter-Departmental committee of this character and it reports specially to the Minister, the form of the report may not be regarded as one that should be published. It will all depend on the character of the report. If such reports are intended for publication, and the names of individuals are mentioned, you are not going to get the same sort of information that you would get in the case of a confidential report. I do not know what the particular character of this report will be, but I think it would be very unwise to establish the precedent that if you ask for a report from an inter-Departmental committee, it should necessarily be published. It may be possible to prepare a memorandum that would give the information that the Deputy is looking for.

Would the Taoiseach consider the possibility of publishing a White Paper containing these statistics?

It may be possible to do that, but it would be a question of the time at which it could be published. However, that would be a better method of approach than to publish the report itself.

Does the Taoiseach not recognise that the statistical information contained in this report is practically the only information of the kind available to Deputies on the subject and would he examine the matter with a view to releasing that statistical information?

I do not know to what extent the report consists of statistical information but, at any rate, it seems to me that the approach by way of the White Paper is a far better way to release the information than the publication of the report which was asked for and which was prepared by people who had no idea that it would be published. I have no idea of what type the report is.

I should like the Taoiseach to understand that the statements made from Government Benches from time to time suggested that it was merely a statistical report, a report of facts.

I did not suggest anything of the kind.

Perhaps we misunderstood the statements that were made but many people were waiting for the publication of the statistics in the report rather than put down a series of Parliamentary questions that would bring out the statistical information necessary to deal with this matter.

I do not think there was the remotest indication in anything the Minister said that would suggest that the report would be published.

I am not saying that but it was stated that an inter-Departmental report was being prepared on the subject. Naturally it was assumed that that inter-Departmental report would be one in which the facts were collected. It was anticipated that the report would be one simply bearing on the facts. If it were a political report that was wanted, on which to form a political policy, I take it the information would be collected in another way.

At any rate you are all on the family allowances band wagon now. That is one thing to be thankful for.

The Deputy being the wind instrument of the band.

We have got to wait and see.

You are all out for family allowances now.