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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 2 Dec 1943

Vol. 92 No. 5

Committee on Finance. - Children's Allowances Bill, 1943—Committee (resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 4—(Deputy Liam Cosgrave).

I think that the question might now be put.

Having listened to the views expressed by Deputies, I am still of the opinion that it is desirable to leave the Bill as it is. A number of Deputies asked that the children's allowance payable under the Bill should be given to the mother instead of to the father. Some did so on the grounds that, in certain cases, the father might not be a person who could be trusted to expend the allowance for the benefit of the family. Others did so on the basis of some general social theory extending from the desire to enhance the position of women in the community, and the rather revolutionary view expressed by some other Deputies who, apparently, regard it as a first step towards the economic independence of married women.

I prefer to deal with it as a practical proposition, and as a practical proposition the provisions in the Bill are best —that the allowance should be paid to the father unless there is good reason for not paying it to him, or unless the father arranges that it should be paid to the mother or other member of the family. I think it would be undesirable to start an innovation in social practice in the case of a Bill of this kind. In the majority of cases the father, who is at present maintaining the family, and has full responsibility for their maintenance, will use the added income resulting from this allowance for the benefit of the family in accordance with his own judgement. As a general rule, I should like to have it established that we should interfere as little as possible with the management of an individual family.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided:—Tá, 60; Níl, 34.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Benson, Ernest E.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Butler, Bernard.
  • Byrne, Christopher M.
  • Carter, Thomas.
  • Connolly, Roderick J.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Fred H.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Daly, Francis J.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Fitzgerald, Séamus.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Friel, John.
  • Gorry, Patrick J.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Healy, John B.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Hogan, Patrick.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Kilroy, Séamus.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McCann, John.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Norton, William.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O Cléirigh, Mícheál.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Bridget M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Spring, Daniel.
  • Stapleton, Richard.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Ward, Conn.


  • Anthony, Richard S.
  • Beirne, John.
  • Bennett, George C.
  • Blowick, Joseph.
  • Broderick, William J.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, Alfred (Junior).
  • Cafferky, Dominick.
  • Cogan, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donnellan, Michael.
  • Esmonde, Sir John L.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Halliden, Patrick J.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Meighan, John J.
  • O'Donnell, William F.
  • O'Driscoll, Patrick F.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Jeremiah.
  • Tunney, James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy; Níl: Deputies Bennett and Hughes.
Question declared carried.
Amendment negatived accordingly.
Amendment No. 6 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:—

To delete sub-section (6) and to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-section:—

A person entitled to children's allowance shall get no more than that children's allowance during one week provided that the person so entitled has cashed each preceding cheque for children's allowance, but in case and only in case children's allowance payments to which such person is entitled have not been so cashed it shall be lawful to draw 12 such payments to which such person is entitled and no more. This sub-section is without prejudice to the condition that a person shall not be entitled to the payment of more than one children's allowance during any one week.

This amendment is not elegantly drawn but it is designed to ensure that, in the event of a person not drawing a children's allowance any week or allowing two weeks' allowance, or any number up to 12 weeks, to go uncashed, the person would be entitled to draw them. Sub-section (6) reads:

A person shall not be entitled to payment of more than one children's allowance during any one week.

That is open to two interpretations, (1) that a person could only draw a single allowance in any one week and (2) that in the event of a person being indisposed or forgetful about drawing an allowance, or wishing to draw five or six weeks' allowance together, it is not possible for that person to draw more than one.

I agree that the wording of the amendment could be improved and I propose on the Report Stage to change the word "during" to "in respect of." It is intended that a person shall not be entitled to draw more than one allowance in respect of any one week. This is a sort of omnibus provision to prevent persons from drawing double what they are entitled to and to meet a possibility which might conceivably arise by persons removing from one area to another. If a person changes from one area to another he can continue to draw upon the book that he has until that book is exhausted and then he will draw for the balance of the period from a special book issued to him to bring him into line with the other people residing in that area. Circumstances might arise under which a person would get entitlement to draw an allowance in the area to which he has removed as well as in the area he has left.

We have tried to prevent a case of that kind occurring by covering the transfer from one area to another. We think it safer to have an omnibus clause of this kind providing that a person will not be entitled to two allowances in respect of one week. As I said, I intend to change that word "during" to "in respect of". In practice, as Section 18 provides, a person can draw up to three months' allowances in one week. He can accumulate his allowances for three months and then draw the whole lot. I think that meets Deputy Cosgrave's point, and I will bring in that amendment on the Report Stage.

Will this sub-section prevent a person from drawing two allowances? Supposing the parent or guardian of a number of children entitled to this allowance dies and the children are transferred to another person already in receipt of a children's allowance, will that person not be permitted to draw the other allowance as well?

There are provisions governing that. A lot will depend on the circumstances of the case. The allowance will continue to be paid to the person who takes charge of the children, but, presumably, in such circumstances there will be an adjustment of the conditions in respect of the families. We will have to try to deal with this by a general provision. That is provided for in the appropriate section. Deputies must not think of two allowances as being allowances in respect of two children. We mean the total sum payable to a household no matter what the number of children may be. What we want to provide by this is that a person will not be paid twice what he should get.

It might prevent a person who has taken charge of children whose parents are dead from being able to draw an allowance for these children as well as his own children.

Even this sub-section will not prevent that. We will have to cover that by another section and we do cover it. This is intended to see that a person gets only whatever he or she is entitled to get.

Surely there is something in Deputy Cogan's point, if the children of deceased parents are transferred to another person already in receipt of a children's allowance. The children's allowance, I take it, covers all the children in one family. But, if the children of deceased parents are transferred to that other person, there will then in fact be two children's allowances legally coming into that house, one for the original family and one for the family of the deceased parents. Will this sub-section prevent that?

No. The children's allowance is the sum total to which the family is entitled, no matter how many children there are. We provide in Section 33, sub-section (4) for the circumstances referred to by Deputy Cogan, where a person entitled to draw an allowance dies. In such circumstances, the allowance will continue to be payable to the person who takes charge of the children. I want to mention sub-section (3) so that I will be entitled to move an amendment on the Report Stage. Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney raised a question on the Second Reading on sub-section (3) as to the definition of maintenance. On examination, I think there is a point in Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's remarks and that the terms of sub-section (3) as a whole will have to be re-cast to avoid the possibility of confusion to which he referred. I, therefore, propose on the Report Stage to bring in an amendment to re-cast sub-section (3) of this section to meet the definition point of Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney on the Second Reading.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

The whole principle of the Bill, I suggest, is really enshrined in Section 3, and I take it that in discussing the section one can advert to the general structure of the Bill and the principle which is running through this section.

The principle in the section, yes.

Which I think is the principle of the whole Bill. I want again to make an effort to enlist the sympathy of the Minister for certain people who will be excluded from the provisions of the section. I want to come back to the anomaly which is created by this section, whereby it is possible for a person in receipt of, say, £10 a week, with a family of five children, three under 16, one 16 and one 17, to receive a children's allowance of 2/6 per week, and not to have to subject himself to any rake-off in respect of income-tax. I want to contrast that position with the position which arises in respect of lowly-paid workers, and, in particular, in respect of agricultural labourers. Under this Bill at present, as I said, it is possible for a person with £10 a week and three children under 16 to get an allowance. But it is also possible, through the incidence of the ages of the children, that an agricultural worker in receipt of 36/- a week, with five children, two under 16, one 16, and two over 16, will get no allowance. I suggest that a section which is drawn in such a way as to exclude a lowly-paid agricultural worker, or any other lowly-paid worker, from any benefit, deserves consideration by this House and reconsideration by the Minister.

I know, of course, it will be said that that in effect is looking for a means test. I suggest the section itself is, in fact, imposing a means test, through the incidence of the ages of the children, on a number of lowly-paid workers whom, I think, all Parties in this House would desire to help. I think if the Government had referred the question of the introduction of children's allowances or family allowances to an all-Party committee, it might have been possible to have done a number of things in connection with the introduction of such a scheme in this State. We might, on mature consideration, have been able to devise machinery whereby a children's allowances scheme could go hand in hand with a scheme for raising the school-leaving age to 15 or 16 years, and machinery whereby a family would get certain compensation because of the fact that their children were compelled to remain at school until 16 years of age instead of, as at present, being permitted to leave at 14 years of age, when in fact they are not properly educated.

But, apart from the possible advantages—and I think they are widespread —of utilising a Children's Allowance Bill for a purpose of that kind, a purpose which, I suggest, would assist enormously in raising the intellectual standard of our people, we could even in other directions have carried out certain useful reforms, if we had broadened the basis of this Bill and used it for a purpose other than the mere granting of children's allowances, no matter what the circumstances of the family were.

That is certainly a Second Reading speech.

I do not want to make a Second Reading speech, I can assure you.

To broaden the whole principle of the Bill would inevitably be a Second Reading speech. The House has approved of the principle of this Bill.

I think you will agree, Sir, it is a very unusual Bill. If you take Section 3 out of this Bill, there is no principle in it at all.

Quite. The Deputy knows perfectly well that the principle of a Bill is decided on Second Reading. It is not permissible to have a repeat now.

No matter how you may doubt it, I want to assure you I have no intention of making a Second Reading speech on the Bill.

The Deputy is doing very well.

I wish the Deputy's speech were in accord with his declared intentions.

I will do my best to make the words fit the thoughts, but I suggest, Sir, that on Section 3 which, as I say, contains the principle of the whole Bill, we are, because of the manner in which the section is drawn, deliberately excluding from participation and benefit large numbers of lowly-paid workers. I have instanced already the case of agricultural workers and I want to plead with the Minister, even at this stage, to give careful consideration to the section as it is drawn in the hope that the Minister may see his way to devise machinery whereby, if, under Section 3, he is going to permit persons such as I have quoted with, say, £10 per week and five children, to get an allowance of 2/6 per week, he will not, merely by the incidence of the ages of the children, deprive agricultural workers and other lowly paid workers from getting at least the same benefit as the more highly paid person.

I know, of course, it will be suggested that that is a means test. To some extent it might be said it is a means test, but I will put it to the Minister that he is imposing a much more rigorous means test by the way in which the section is drawn inasmuch as he is depriving the lowly-paid worker, such as the agricultural worker, from getting benefits under this section although he warned us on Second Reading to remember that, if this Bill is passed in its present form, £2,250,000 will have to be raised by taxation and, as an instance of the widespread character of the taxation to be raised, he mentioned that it would necessitate increased taxes on sugar, I think on tea, on beer and tobacco and increased income tax.

All of which was stated on the Second Reading.

I submit, Sir, that I am not out of order if I cannot find words to use other than those which were used on the Second Stage. I think again I am entitled to argue on the section that the Minister is drawing the section too tightly, and I think I am entitled to plead with him to amend it on Report Stage. That is what I am endeavouring to do by pointing out the blemishes in Section 3 of the Bill as it stands. As I said, I welcome the principle of this Bill. I hope to see it extended in due course, but I think there will be a very violent reaction when this Bill is law when it is discovered that an agricultural worker with, as I said, five children of the ages I have indicated, has to pay increased taxes on tobacco, beer, sugar and tea—if the Government decides to resort to those methods of taxation to finance this Bill—and here is the irony of the whole thing—that he will have to pay these increased taxes in order that the person with £10 per week will get 2/6 per week, while he will get nothing at all.

I suggest to the Minister that it is unfair if it works out that way and my fear is that it will work out that way. It is because of that that I think the Minister ought to put on his thinking cap in the next fortnight and come in here on Report Stage and tell us that, having reconsidered the matter, he recognises that if children's allowances are to be paid in the State there is a good case—I may be expressing a personal view on this matter—for making sure that these allowances are paid especially to persons who have low wages, in order to help to raise their standard of living.

Therefore, a means test?

A means test if you like. I am not at all frightened by the suggestion that this is a means test. Personally, if I have to choose between giving a man with £1,000 per year a family allowance of 5/- a week and giving an agricultural worker, with 36/- a week, 10/- a week, I will vote for giving the agricultural worker the 10/-, even if it involves taking the 5/- from the man with the £1,000. That is my personal view on the matter.

That is a new argument by the Labour Party against the Bill.

If Deputy Allen wants to keep it for the man on the £1,000 a year, let him say so.

We will have it down the country.

Deputy Allen should not come to Dublin unless he is prepared to discuss things in Dublin. This is a deliberative assembly where we are supposed to discuss these matters. I want to put this consideration to the Minister: There may be a widow with, say, four children, two of whom are under 16 years, one 16 and one 17. That poor widow may to-day be living on a non-contributory rate of widows' and orphans' pension. That rate, in an urban area, will give her 8/- a week. One would imagine that the State in introducing a Children's Allowances Bill would aim at ensuring that the poor unfortunate widow living on 8/- per week, non-contributory widows' pension, would get something under the Bill. She has no bread-winner and she has to support four children.

Under this Bill—believe it or not— that unfortunate widow will not get even a halfpenny, whereas, as I have pointed out before, the man with a salary of £10 a week is entitled to get an allowance of 2/6. I hold that these are anomalies and defects in the Bill which we ought to endeavour to repair while there is time to do so, even though we are welcoming the introduction of a scheme of children's allowances. Accordingly, I appeal to the Minister not to force this Bill through the House with this very serious blemish upon it. I would suggest that even if it meant the hanging-up of the Bill for a certain time, it would be better to do so than to deprive a widow, in the circumstances that I have outlined, from getting children's allowances. I think, at any rate, that the Bill should not be passed while there is this serious blemish upon it. Deputy Allen says that there is no means test applied, but is there not a means test applied in the case to which I have referred?

Might I say, Sir, that this is the kind of speech that Deputy Norton will make at cross-roads throughout the country to people who have never read the Bill? It would appear to me that Deputy Norton himself has not read the Bill, in view of his remarks.

Well, with regard to speeches at the cross-roads, I do not know that there is any more competent assessor of their value, who could advise me on the matter, than the Minister himself, who has made more cross-road speeches of a corkscrew character than any other member of this House.

And made them successfully.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance admits that the Minister for Supplies, or for Industry and Commerce, made those cross-roads speeches successfully.

We know the Deputy's record so far as such speeches are concerned.

The Minister's crossroad speeches are public property now. Fortunately, they are on record on that paper which has as its motto "Truth in the news," and he can scarcely deny the accuracy of statements made in that paper. However, I want to come back to the provisions of Section 3, instead of talking about cross-road speeches made by the Minister or anybody else. I want to put it to the Minister that it might be worth while to delay the passage of this Bill until he has a better opportunity of going into all the circumstances that are involved in connection with Section 3. I think it would be better to leave the matter over until these anomalies that occur under Section 3 can be remedied.

Will the Deputy point out what are the anomalies in this connection? It appears to me that the Deputy is suggesting that every family which fails to qualify for children's allowances will be that of a poor widow with four or five children, and that every family that will succeed in getting children's allowances will be that of a family with an income of, say, £1,000 per year. As I understand it, that is the case that is being put forward by the Deputy. He apparently thinks that it will be always the poor family that will fail in making a claim for children's allowances, and that it will always be the rich family which will succeed in getting these allowances. I have pointed out already that there is no means test in this Bill, and that the only thing taken into account is the number of children in the family. Whether it is the case of a poor woman or a millionaire, the allowance will be paid on the same basis. Is that clear to the Deputy?

Yes, clear, and daft.

With regard to the illustration the Deputy gave, of a widow with four children, two of whom are under 16, and the other two are 16 or 17 years of age, as compared with a man with a salary of £1,000 a year getting a family allowance of 5/- a week, because he had two qualified children, is that the blemish that the Deputy is talking about? If so I can tell him that it does not exist. He may suggest raising the age to 18, but the same kind of thing could happen then also. If that were done, would not the Deputy come in here and raise the question of extending the age limit still further? We are proposing here to place this scheme on the basis of the number of children in a family, under 16 years of age, irrespective of means, and the only qualification we make is in regard to the number of children in a family, with the exception of the first two. The Deputy suggests making the qualification 18 years of age, so long as there are children, in excess of the first two, under 16. So far as I can determine, however, the adoption of that suggestion would increase the cost of the Bill by something over £500,000. I should say that if we were prepared to increase the already considerable cost of this Bill by another £500,000 I would prefer to do that by increasing the amount than by raising the age limit. What we want to do is to increase the income in the case of the larger families. I tried to stress that point when speaking on the Second Reading of the Bill.

The main justification for this Bill, and for the imposition of further taxation on the community as a whole, is the fact that need can exist even in the case of families where the bread-winner of the family is employed at what might be called a standard wage in his ordinary occupation. A person, of course, can be in need because of unemployment, old age, or ill-health, but it must be remembered that people who are in receipt of normal wages can also be in need because of the size of their families, and the purpose behind the introduction of this Bill is to help such families. The only qualification is that the family must be a large one, with more than two children under 16 years of age, and there is no means test involved.

Whatever condition may be imposed with regard to the family of an agricultural labourer, that condition is also imposed in regard to the families of other people. The only exception is in the case of people who belong to the income-tax paying classes, and we are endeavouring to see that there will be no additional advantage in the case of such people, by taking back a corresponding amount under an adjustment of the income-tax code. So far as this Bill will increase family incomes, it will affect, generally, people who are not in the income-tax paying class and who have not got large families—that is, families consisting of a large number of children under 16 years of age than the first two.

I think, Sir, that this is a proper time for me to mention a difficulty that I have in mind. Take the case of a poor woman, with four children, let us say, living in a tenement room in the City of Dublin, and who, for the sake of her health, is compelled to send two of her children to live with a relative, such as a married sister. Is there any provision under the Bill to deal with such a case?

Sub-section (3) of this section defines the circumstances which must be complied with in such a case, but, as I have already informed Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney, there will be a further amendment with regard to this matter. I can say, however, that if the child concerned resides with the person—a relative, such as a married sister, which the Deputy has suggested, and who is the head of the household, that relative will be entitled to claim the allowance. Actually, there is no condition of parentage or relationship necessary to qualify in such cases. What is necessary is that the child should reside in the family in respect of which children's allowances are claimed.

Take the case of a family in which there are only two or three children, one of whom may be away at school, how would the family be affected in such a case?

If the child were in a boarding-school, there would be the same entitlement to an allowance.

I should like to refer to Deputy Norton's suggestion.

What was Deputy Norton's suggestion?

Well, at any rate. I think that the Minister's own words should confirm the appeal that I am going to make. The Minister states that the effect of this Bill will be to help families, whether they have large or small incomes.

No, I did not say that. What I said was this Bill was designed to help large families.

Yes, but what I am concerned with is the use of the word "need".

This Bill is concerned with the helping of large families.

Well, with regard to the question of need, every Deputy here, I am sure, knows that there is need in the case of the families of agricultural labourers, and, particularly, in the case of the family of a widow in receipt of a non-contributory pension, or that of a serving soldier who has only the Service allowance. A case was made the other night for serving soldiers. I say that such cases are entitled to consideration. It could happen that if there was need in the homes of these three classes mentioned, that they could be left out, while they will have to pay their share of taxation on tobacco, sugar and tea.

The whole idea of the Government should be to help those in need. I am satisfied that that is the idea but, in certain cases, there will be hardship, and for that reason I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the matter. I pointed out on the Second Reading that unless there is consideration given to the second child in the classes mentioned the Bill will not help the most needy.

One point does not appear to have been made clear, and that is in reference to children who are being maintained for payment. The guardians of these children receive payment. Whether the amount is adequate or inadequate does not matter now. Take the position of children boarded out by boards of health, two or three of whom might be in one house. Are the guardians of these children qualified to receive the allowance?

They are.

In order to avoid confusion. I take it that the Deputy was referring to children boarded out by boards of health, where more than two are in a home. The Bill authorises payment to the person who maintains them. In that case I take it that those children are being maintained by boards of health. Deputy Byrne mentioned the case where there were four children, two of whom were sent away.

I get the Deputy's point now.

Would the board of health get the allowance there?

No. The board of health does not get the allowance in any case.

So that no allowance will be paid to the board of health?

It will be paid to the person who has the care of the child.

Even though the maintenance is borne by the board of health?

Does not the Bill indicate that it is the person who is maintaining the child will be paid?

To the person with whom the child was ordinarily resident. No doubt the board of health may adjust the allowance in respect of a child but the Bill does not require them to do so.

For instance, if a child is sent down the country for the sake of its health, and if I am paying £2 a week for the maintenance of that child, strictly speaking, am I not maintaining that child?

As the Bill stands, a child shall be deemed to be maintained by the person in whose custody, care and control it is. That is the wording of the section and the general idea. We will have to change that in view of the point raised by Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney.

It would be advisable to look into that question, particularly as the word "control" is used.

I agree.

I understand that boarded-out children are under the control of the board of health.

I agree that Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney raised a point that we must deal with. I am going to re-cast Section 3.

The regulations that will be made under this Bill are more important than the Bill itself. We have it from the Minister and from other Deputies that some people who should benefit are not very well qualified to do so. This paragraph reads:—

(a) A child shall be deemed to be maintained by a person if—(i) the child lives with, and is in the custody, care and control of, that person, or ....

That must be read in conjunction with another paragraph which requires the Minister to prescribe regulations as to the manner and times at which children's allowances are to be paid. I should like to know if these regulations will be published or laid on the Table on "the appointed day." These regulations are of importance to people who may change from one region to another, and who may not be able to fill in the necessary forms. I suggest to the Minister that a simplified form is necessary in respect of such changes. It is evident that people will change from towns to the cities and from the cities to the towns and for that reason the necessary forms should be simplified. I ask the Minister to consider whether these regulations could not be published and made available before "the appointed day" and, if necessary, amended. There is another important section which prescribes that a person who qualifies must be an Irish citizen, and must have been for two years immediately preceding the qualifying date resident in the State. There are 100,000 of our people in England and we must assume that some of them will marry English girls. Take a case where a man serving in a foreign army is killed, leaving a widow and children. The widow may not be an Irish citizen, and would not have been two years resident in this State. Would it not be a hardship on the widow if she returned to this country with the children, not to be entitled to the allowance?

I think the Deputy is wrong there, and that the law is that the wife secures the nationality of the husband, unless she elected not to do so.

In England?

If the woman got married in England?

As long as the husband was of Irish nationality. I think that is provided for in the Nationality Act which was passed here.

What I want to be certain about is this: will the widow in that case be treated as an Irish citizen if she returns to this country with the children? Otherwise, she would not qualify for the allowance.

She could apply for nationality.

Will she qualify under the Bill?

I will look into the point. My recollection is that she acquired Irish nationality as soon as she married an Irish citizen, unless she took steps not to do so.

That is to say, within this State?

It is the law that operates here.

If that is made clear I am satisfied. If a woman marries an Irish citizen, and if that Irish citizen dies, if the widow returns to this country will she be entitled to the benefit set out in the Bill? I want to be clear about that.

We inserted this qualification that the person must be an Irish citizen or resident here for some time, because it is necessary for the purposes of this Bill that there should be some stability about the family. What we want to ensure is that these children's allowances are paid to families which are in fact permanently resident here, and this is an effort to exclude people who are merely in transit from one country to another or are here for a temporary period only. With regard to the other point raised by Deputy Hogan, concerning the regulations, let me say to the Dáil, that the Department of Industry and Commerce and I, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, have no concern other than the concern which other Deputies have, or should have, that is, to ensure that everybody will get the allowance whom the Bill contemplates should get it and that nobody will get the allowance who is not qualified to get it.

The whole purpose of the regulations should be directed towards that end, that everybody who is entitled to the allowance will get it, and that nobody will get it who is not entitled to it. If the Dáil wants power of control over the regulations, that will slow down considerably the process of implementing it. I can understand the feeling which Deputies have that all regulations, even quite simple regulations, such as the form of the voucher or the manner of posting it, should be submitted here for consideration; but it is a feeling which, if put into effect, is going to make the whole machinery of the Bill much more cumbersome, and which will slow down its operation.

I have no doubt, judging from experience, that many of the regulations will be amended in detail before they get into final form. No doubt, it will have to be a piecemeal procedure and they will have to be made known to the public, but I think it is undesirable that they should be subject to the usual procedure which gives to the Dáil a period of time within which it can effect amendment. Clearly, if that procedure is adopted, action on the regulations cannot be taken until the period has passed because one can never say beforehand that amendment by the Dáil will not be made. In so far as a Bill of this kind prescribes general principles which everybody wants to get into operation, these regulations which relate to minor matters should be left to the discretion of the administrators so that they can be brought into operation quickly. If, at any time, a Deputy feels that there is a public grievance created by the application of these regulations, he is entitled to raise the matter by motion or in the usual form on the Estimate for that particular service.

May I say in relation to the points raised generally, that whatever other form of need exists, the only kind of need we are trying to eliminate by this Bill is the need created in large families due to the size of the family and the inadequacy of the standard income to provide for them, whether derived from a standard wage or from an average farm. Let me explain that in the case of the widow, to which particular reference was made, the position of a widow with a family of more than average size, a family of three children, in the borough areas after this Bill is passed, will be such that she will be drawing from public funds 25/- per week: that is to say, she will be receiving that amount under the Widows and Orphans Act, under this Act and under the food voucher scheme. The unemployed man with a wife and three children will, after this Bill is passed, draw 31/10 from public funds. These are fairly generous allowances. I will admit that in present circumstances, with present prices, the allowances do not represent the same purchasing power as in normal times, but on the basis of the standards to which we were accustomed in this country in normal times, it cannot be contended, having regard to the resources available, that they are ungenerous allowances. No doubt there will be other cases of want arising from time to time. No matter what legislation we enact, no matter how hard we work in the Dáil, other problems will arise in future and will be there for somebody else to adjust. We cannot hope to create perfection in our time but we are trying in this Bill to provide for one of the most pressing needs. We are trying to eliminate one cause of want, one cause of need, that which arises in larger families in an economic system based on standard wages. That is the purpose of the Bill and we should not try to extend its scope to do more than to achieve that end.

The Minister has made a statement which I think is far removed from fact, that the purpose and the effect of the Bill are to secure an increase in the income for large families. I do not think that the Bill does that, no matter how the Minister may enshroud himself in make-believe. As far as this Bill is concerned, three children are considered as constituting the family entitled to an allowance. You have got the case of a bank manager with three children.

Why take the bank manager? Why assume that the hard case is always that of the poor man and the generous case that of the rich man?

I shall keep pegging at this until 9 o'clock for the purpose of enabling me to deal on this section with a typical case.

If the Deputy promises to read this section, I think it is worth while keeping at it until 9 o'clock.

If you read the section and read the complaints you will get after this Bill is passed, I think you will be a sadder but a wiser man.

The Deputy should address the Chair.

The Minister is apparently dispensed from that formality.

Certainly not.

He was not reproved by the Chair.

The Minister said: "If the Deputy will read the section", while the Deputy's observation was: "If you read the section". That was the difference—a material one.

Then I say that if the Minister would read the section himself on the next occasion, and read the complaints he will get after the full import of the section is realised, the Minister will then be a sadder if a wiser man. I take the case of a widow with three children, aged 12, 14 and 16. Everybody knows that there are widows with children of these ages.

And there are also widows with children under these ages.

I know there are.

As long as the Deputy admits that, I am quite satisfied.

The Minister should go back to a kindergarten class and play with blocks, or balls on wire, and learn how to count. There are widows, as everybody knows, with children of 12, 14 and 16 years of age, and there are well-to-do people with children aged 12, 14 and 15.

And 16. I shall keep at this until I get the Minister to realise the effect of this section.

Would the Deputy move to report progress?

I move to report progress.

Progress reported: Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 9 o'clock until 3 p.m., Tuesday, 14th December.