Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Payment of National Health Benefits.

asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will cause inquiries to be made into the delay in paying national health benefits to John Clarke, of 24 Lower Mountpleasant Avenue, Dublin, formerly employed as fitter in Maguire and Gatchell's, Dublin, and later at Harland and Wolff's, Belfast (National Health Card Number in Dublin, 55062, and 171105 in Blackpool).

John Clarke was formerly a member of the National Health Insurance Society. He took up residence and employment in Belfast in January, 1942. Under the reciprocal arrangements with Great Britain and Northern Ireland the insurance of a member of the National Health Insurance Society who takes up insurable employment in Great Britain or Northern Ireland must be transferred to the insurance fund in operation where he has taken up residence after the lapse of the third half-year of his new employment, if before that time he has not himself joined a British or Northern Irish society. In Clarke's case the third half-year expired in July, 1943, and his insurance was transferred to Northern Ireland at that date, when he was established as a member of the Deposit Contributors' Fund Northern Ireland, which then became liable for any claim for benefit.

He returned to Dublin in December, 1943, and claimed sickness benefit from the National Health Insurance Society. His claim and medical certificates were forwarded to the Ministry of Labour, Northern Ireland. On inquiry as to why benefit was not paid, the Ministry of Labour has replied that under the National Health Insurance Acts in force in Northern Ireland, benefit is not payable to John Clarke while he is resident outside the United Kingdom.

He cannot again become a member of the National Health Insurance Society unless and until he takes up insurable employment in Éire.

Does not that mean that the arrangement between the two Governments regarding reciprocity is not successful? Will the Parliamentary Secretary review the situation with a view to seeing that men like Clarke will get their pay?

It is within the discretion of the authorities in Northern Ireland to determine whether or not Clarke was permanently resident in Éire. If he is permanently resident in Éire, under the reciprocal arrangement he is not entitled to insurance benefit in Northern Ireland.

The Minister says it is within the discretion of the authorities in Northern Ireland to determine whether the man is permanently resident here, but what is the unfortunate man to do when that discretion is used against him so as to debar him from getting benefit in the whole of Ireland? It is really a matter for the Minister's Department and the Department in Northern Ireland.

It is a matter for the Department in Northern Ireland.

Is there not a certain reciprocity agreement which the Department here should see is carried out?

The agreement is being carried out.

The unfortunate man has been deprived of benefit. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to get his Department to write a line to the Department in the North so that this man may get the benefit to which he is entitled.