Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ambulance Drivers' Allowance.

asked the Minister for Health whether he is aware that the yearly allowance of £25 in lieu of house, fire and light made to ambulance drivers employed by local authorities is inadequate; and, if so, whether he will consider recommending a substantial increase in this allowance.

The remuneration of ambulance drivers employed by local authorities is determined as far as possible in relation to the wages paid in similar employment in the area. In the majority of cases the local authority provides the driver with living accommodation, fuel and light and deducts from the cash salary, determined as mentioned, a sum of £26 a year in respect of such emoluments. I agree with the Deputy that this sum does not represent the full value of the emoluments, but he will appreciate that if the figure is increased, as he suggests, in the case of the driver not provided with accommodation, it would be illogical not to increase it in the case of the driver who is so provided, and this would involve a reduction in the cash salary of that driver. Since, however, the salary in both cases is fixed by reference to prevailing cash rates in outside employments the present arrangements appear to be a reasonably satisfactory compromise in dealing with a problem such as this.

Would the Minister agree that, although the local authority deducts £26 from the ambulance driver's salary in respect of such items when provided by the local authority, that would not be a fair estimate of the actual cost to ambulance drivers who have to provide these items for themselves?

The difficulty, as I have said, is that if the allowance to those not enjoying these perquisites is increased, you must reduce the allowance in respect of a person living in. It is not an easy problem to deal with.