Workmen's Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 1954—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. Some Deputies may be wondering why this Bill comes so closely on the heels of the Workmen's Compensation (Amendment) Act, 1953. The explanation is simple. That Act introduced for the first time, in the workmen's compensation code, allowances payable only to married men with wives and children. It did not alter the compensation rates for single men or women, a position which was regarded as unsatisfactory by the Parties in opposition at the time. In view of this limitation of the benefits under the 1953 Act and having regard to the general inadequacy of workmen's compensation payments all round, the present Government decided as part of its 12-point policy programme to improve the position of beneficiaries under the Workmen's Compensation Acts.

The two most important sections in the Act of 1953 dealt with increases in weekly payments for married men and increases in the maximum amounts payable in fatal cases. Under that Act supplemental allowances were granted in respect of a wife who was married to the injured workman at the time of his accident and in respect of a child under 15 years or each of two children under that age, born not later than ten months after the accident giving rise to the compensation. As I have said, the Act gave no increase to single men or women many of whom have to support aged parents or younger brothers and sisters. Moreover, an injured workman who married after his accident gets no allowance for his wife. For those injured workmen the maximum weekly payment remained at the 1948 limit of 50/-.

One further point: the maximum weekly allowances payable under the 1953 Act are 12/- for a wife and 7/- in respect of a child or each of two children, making the total maximum supplemental allowances payable 26/-. But not all married men eligible for those allowances received the maximum payment. The Act provides that the supplemental allowances be deemed to be part of the weekly payment for all purposes and, accordingly, the aggregate of the personal weekly payment and supplemental allowances cannot exceed 75 per cent. of the workman's pre-accident average weekly earnings. Where a workman earning less than £5 1s. 4d. a week—75 per cent. of which is 76/- —sustains injury at his work he cannot draw the maximum compensation of 76/- a week.

I would like to emphasise the fact that workmen whose maximum weekly compensation for total incapacity is pegged at 50/- are suffering grave hardship. It is beyond question that with present wage levels, the sum of 50/- a week is too far removed from what a workman should get on the basis of 75 per cent. of his pre-accident average weekly earnings. Because of the 50/- limit, the amount by which wages exceed £3 6s. 8d.—75 per cent. of which is 50/- —is not taken into account in the calculation of the weekly payment of compensation. Take, for example, the case of a man employed as an agricultural worker in the County of Dublin. According to the Agricultural Wages (Minimum Rates) Order, 1954, which came into operation on the 1st March, 1954, he must get at least £4 14s. for a normal week's work.

As the law stands at present, if this worker is a single man and meets with an accident he cannot get more than 50/- a week although 75 per cent. of his average weekly earnings would work out at 70/6. Where a man's employment is with an industrial concern in which, generally, wages are higher, or as a skilled worker in the building trades, the disparity between 50/- and 75 per cent. of the workman's wages is more marked.

Further, I should like to mention that during the course of the debate on the 1953 Bill a number of Deputies made the point that the payment of allowances to married men would be an inducement to employers to give preference in employment to single men because of the higher rates of compensation to which married men might become entitled. Despite the assurance given by the former Minister for Social Welfare when the 1953 Bill was before this House that this would not happen it is obvious that the temptation is always there. Needless to say, the temptation is all the greater where the employer does not insure against his liability to pay compensation.

The fundamental principle underlying workmen's compensation in this country is to compensate an injured workman for loss of earnings. That principle was embodied in the first Workmen's Compensation Act of 1897, which provided that the workman should receive half his earnings subject to a maximum of £1. The principle remained a feature of workmen's compensation here until the Act of 1953, which provided increases in weekly payments in respect of the wife and children of an injured workman. In so providing, the 1953 Act tried to bring the workmen's compensation code into line with current social welfare legislation and at the same time leave it on its present basis. I think that this position should not be continued. The introduction of supplemental allowances under the Act of 1953 deviated from the compensation principle I have mentioned and in my opinion it is most important that the principle should be restored.

This Bill proposes to increase the maximum of the personal weekly payment for all injured workmen from 50/-to 90/- and to abolish the supplemental allowances payable under the Act of 1953. The new maximum will permit wages up to £6 a week—75 per cent. of which is 90/—to be reflected in the weekly payment of compensation. It will apply to cases where the workman's accident happened before as well as to those arising after the passing of this Bill. The increases will not, however, be payable in respect of any day prior to the day to be appointed for the coming into operation of the Bill.

Special provision is contained in the Bill for the small number of workmen in receipt of compensation under the Acts which were in operation before the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934. The Act of 1948 abolished temporary allowances payable to these workmen—estimated to number less than 100—under an emergency powers Order of 1944, and in substitution provided an increase of two-thirds of the weekly payments as they stood on the 1st August, 1934, subject to a maximum of 50/-. The Act of 1953 gave an increase by way of supplemental allowance of 12/- to any of these men who were married at the time of the accident giving rise to their compensation and whose wives are still living. As the supplemental allowances payable under the Act of 1953 are being abolished by the present Bill provision is made in the Bill for raising the maximum of the weekly payment for these cases to 90/- with a corresponding increase of 80 per cent. in all payments below that figure. The Bill provides that no workman will suffer a reduction in compensation by reason of losing a supplemental allowance.

The second important feature in the Act of 1953 was the increases it brought about in the lump sums payable in fatal cases. Under the Act of 1934, adults who were totally dependent on the deceased workman got three years' earnings with a minimum of £200 and a maximum of £300. Where there were juvenile dependents only or juvenile and adult dependents, the minimum was £200 and the maximum £600. The Act of 1953 doubled the minimum and maximum of those lump sums, but in view of the depreciation in money values since 1934 those increases did not go far enough. It is now proposed to provide for a further increase of 50 per cent. on the present figures for lump sums, in the case of accidents happening after the appointed day.

The effect of the Bill on the present position will, therefore, be as follows:—

(1) Where the workman leaves an adult dependent who was wholly dependent on him, the maximum lump sum at present is the equivalent of three years' wages or £600, whichever-is the less, and the minimum is £400. The Bill raises the £600 to £900 and the £400 to £600.

(2) Where the workman leaves juvenile dependents wholly dependent on his earnings, the maximum of the children's lump sum is £1,200 and the minimum is £400. The Bill raises the £1,200 to £1,800 and the £400 to £600.

(3) Where the workman leaves both-adult and juvenile dependents who were wholly dependent on him, the-maximum amount, at present, of the aggregate lump sum is £1,200 and the minimum is £400. The Bill increases-these sums to £1,800 and £600 respectively.

In short, the Act of 1953 doubled the amounts appearing in the Second Schedule of the Act of 1934, which are used in the calculation of the children's lump sum. This Bill trebles the-amounts shown in that Schedule.

We now come to Section 8 of the Bill. As Deputies are aware, the Workmen's Compensation Acts provide-for a weekly payment to a workman while he is unable to earn as much as he did before his accident. The weekly payment can never exceed three quarters of his wages and, because of the fixed maximum, it is generally very much less. This reduction in income would be a great hardship at any time, and it is especially so while a man is sick. In the great majority of cases, incapacity lasts only a few weeks, and the workman and his dependents simply have to tighten their belts and endure the hardship until he returns to work.

There is another type of case, however, which involves hardship of a more serious and lasting kind—the type of case in which, say, a man who has been a carpenter all his life meets with an accident at the age of 45 and loses a few fingers. He cannot return to his old occupation and, at his age and with his limited qualifications, he cannot get employment in any other. Men in this type of case face the prospect of going through the rest of their lives with nothing to depend on but the meagre weekly payment of compensation. If they could lay hands on a little capital, many of them would set themselves up in a little shop or other business or undergo a course of training or treatment which would enable them to become again independent and self-supporting members of society.

As things stand, they have no right to seek redemption of their weekly payment. Employers have such a right under Section 27 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1934, but, if they do not choose to exercise it, there is no way open to the workman of securing a lump sum settlement except by agreement with the employer or, generally, with the employer's insurance company. There are about 800 cases settled by agreement for lump sums every year. Nearly half of these agreements are not registered under the Acts, and the average lump sum is about £360.

There is a widely held belief that these voluntary settlements are rarely to the workman's advantage. It is generally his first experience of such negotiations, and on the other side you have representatives of insurance companies who have long experience of this kind of business and are skilful at driving a hard bargain. There is a great temptation to the average workman who finds himself in debt after an accident to make a settlement for a few hundred pounds in the hope that his injuries are not as bad as they are represented to be and that he will be able to return to work in a reasonable time.

The purpose of Section 8 was to protect the interests of these men by bringing the courts into the picture. The section gives the court power to make a redemption order at the workman's request whenever the court thinks fit to do so, having regard to the workman's reason for seeking redemption, the nature of his injury and—where the employer so requests— the employer's circumstances. Where the injury is permanent, the redemption price is the same as that fixed for employers in the Schedule to the Act; where it is not, the redemption price is fixed by the court. By leaving it to the discretion of the court whether or not redemption should be granted in each particular case, the section was designed to hold the balance equitably between employer and workman and to protect the workman's interests without doing any injustice to the employer.

Since the Bill was circulated, however, organisations of employers have represented to me that the section as it now stands is unlikely to be confined in its operation to cases where redemption would be of benefit to the workman without doing any injustice to his employer. One of the great difficulties in doing this is, of course, the nature of the incapacity for which compensation is provided under the Workman's Compensation Acts. This incapacity is incapacity to earn and is a separate and distinct thing from physical disability. While there may be no doubt about the duration of physical disability, as, for example, in the case of the loss of a limb, there can rarely be the same certainty about the duration of incapacity to earn. We have only to think of the many thousands of disabled servicemen and others who have been returned to full earning capacity in Great Britain since the last war. As things stand, employers have the safeguard that compensation is a weekly payment which diminishes as the amount of the workman's post-accident earnings increases and ends when it reaches the preaccident level.

While I do not accept all the objections urged by the employers, I realise that much depends on the interpretation placed on the section by the courts, which might well have the effect of making the section do more than it was intended to do. I will, accordingly, await with interest the views which Deputies may have to offer on the section.

Another important provision is contained in Section 11 of the Bill which amends Section 60 of the Act of 1934. Section 60 was amended by Section 6 of the Act of 1953 which provides that acceptance by the workman of compensation under the Act or of any payment purporting to be by way of compensation thereunder shall not prevent the workman from maintaining proceedings independently of the Act. A recent judicial decision suggests that Section 6 of the Act of 1953 did not fully achieve what was intended and the purpose of Section 11 of the Bill is to place beyond doubt the right of the workman to claim compensation under the Act and also to take proceedings independently of the Act as long as the employer will not have to pay twice over.

The judicial decision mentioned is the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court and it is expressly provided that Section 11 shall not apply to that particular case nor to cases which stand adjourned at the passing of the Bill pending the determination of that appeal by the Supreme Court, nor to cases which may have been decided in conformity with the decision from which the appeal was taken.

A further section in the Bill substitutes the date of death of the workman for the date of allocation of the children's lump sum. The Act of 1934 defines a juvenile dependent as one who is under the age of 15 at the date of death of the workman. At present the children's lump sum is divided among the children in the ratio of the number of months between the date of its allocation by the court and the date on which each child will attain the age limit for juvenile dependency. A child attaining that limit between the date of death of the workman and the date of allocation cannot share in the children's lump sum. As he was not an adult dependent at the date of the workman's death he cannot get a share of the adult's lump sum and consequently gets no compensation at all. Cases of serious hardship have arisen as a result of this position which is remedied by Section 9 of the Bill.

Under the current legislation a workman does not receive payment in respect of the first three days of incapacity where his incapacity lasts less than four weeks. The 1906 Act fixed the period at two weeks, but this was extended to four weeks in Great Britain in 1923 and under our own legislation in 1934. The Bill restores the period to two weeks, which is considered more reasonable and corresponds with the position under the British Industrial Injuries Scheme.

The remaining section of the Bill raises the age limit for juvenile dependency from 15 years to 16 years, which is the age limit for qualified children under the Social Welfare Act, 1952, and for children's allowances.

The increases which it is now proposed to give in payments of compensation are long overdue. The inadequacy of these payments was apparent for a long time and, as I have already said, the Government decided, as part of its 12-point policy programme to bring about a betterment of the position. One of the first things I did when I took up office was to set about implementing that decision and this Bill is the result. Its aim is the restricted one of removing some of the most pressing difficulties, and it is not intended as a comprehensive measure to remedy all the defects of the existing system of workmen's compensation. The first step in this direction would be a full inquiry to ascertain and set out the defects in the present code and to recommend how best they might be remedied so that injured workmen would be assured of proper and adequate compensation.

I was first inclined to the view that such an inquiry should be entrusted to a parliamentary committee of the kind which this House set up in March last year, but later I found myself turning towards the idea of an outside commission or committee which would be representative of the various interests involved—the workers, the employers, the legal and medical professions and the insurance companies. I have finally come to the conclusion that the inquiry could best be carried out by a commission and I am having the necessary steps taken to set up such a body. I hope it will be possible for them to complete their examination of this vexed question within a reasonable time and that their recommendations will enable us to go as far as is possible in our circumstances towards providing the best possible system of compensation for injured workmen.

I move my amendment:—

To delete "now" and to add at the end of the motion "this day three months, and that in the meantime a Committee of 11 Deputies be appointed with power to send for persons, papers and records, to receive evidence and to report back to the Dáil on the probable consequences of the proposals in the Bill on employment and prices."

In considering the question of equitable benefits, in our social welfare system the criterion we must take is the need of the workman concerned. We do not appear to be in a position to afford any more than the workman might need but we are, of course, bound to go as far as practicable in that direction to meet his need. Whether the man is rendered incapable of work by an accident arising out of his employment or whether he should be out of work through sickness or through lack of employment, it appears to me that his need is the same. I cannot see any good reason why a person should get less when he is sick or unemployed than he would get if he were injured in his employment.

The Minister for Social Welfare naturally knows the needs of those men who are injured in their employment or who fall sick. We all know them and we are in a very good position to give an opinion as to what the needs of a man may be in order to maintain himself at the present time. Since, perhaps, we cannot afford luxuries, our aim should be to give the man sufficient to provide himself at least with food and lodging. In our social welfare system at the moment, before this measure should become law, if a man who is single meets with an accident arising out of his employment he is entitled to £2 10s. per week but if he meets with a similar accident, say, in the evening, in his own time, or if he meets with unemployment, he gets only 24/- a week.

I imagine that the Minister for Social Welfare, having that picture before him and, as he told us here to-day, being very anxious to fulfil one of the points in the Coalition programme of increasing social services, would have set himself the task, first of all, of improving the lot of those who suffer illness outside their employment or who suffer unemployment, and would see that the sum of 24/- per week would be increased to at least 50/- before he would ask the House to consider this measure dealing with workmen's compensation.

In the case of a married man we have a similar position. As matters stand at the moment, if a married man, with a wife and two children, meets with an accident arising out of his employment he is entitled to 76/- per week. If the same man were to meet with an accident in the evening, in his own time, he would come under the Social Welfare Act and would receive 50/- a week. Therefore, he is very much worse off than a man who would meet with an accident arising out of his employment.

The Minister, I am quite sure, is not unaware of this fact because I remember distinctly—and I think I mentioned this before—a speech he made in the Bull Ring in Wexford during the last election campaign when he put the rhetorical question: "How can a sick man be expected to live on 24/- a week?" That shows the Minister had thought about the subject before he became Minister at all. He is in a position now to answer that rhetorical question: "How can a man who is sick or unemployed live on 24/-per week?". I also feel sure that when the Minister was putting that question in Wexford the answer he expected to receive was: "He cannot live on it". If he believes that, we are entitled to inquire why a measure dealing with these particular categories was not brought before the Dáil because, in my opinion, their lot is much worse than the lot of men who suffer accidents in the course of their employment.

It may be a simple matter, as I am putting it here to the Dáil, to ask the question: "How can a sick man or an unemployed man live on 24/- a week?"; and it may be a simple matter to say to any member of the Dáil that he is much worse off than the man at the present time who meets with an accident arising out of his employment. That is a simple question to put and the answer is simple, that the person who is sick or unemployed is certainly very much worse off and that it is hard to see how he can live on the sum of 24/- a week.

However, I know the difficulty that a Minister would have in dealing with the question because in the case of sickness or unemployment the person comes under the Social Welfare Act and the increased benefits would have to be provided by increasing contributions. Contributions to the insurance fund come from three sources: so much from the employer, so much from the employee, and so much from the State. If the Minister were to introduce a proposal to bring these rates for a single man up to 50/- per week—I am not saying 90/—and if he were to leave the dependents' allowances as they are, that is 12/- for a wife and 7/- each for the first two children, it does not require very much calculation to discover that the contributions would have to be almost doubled. That creates an awkward situation for a Minister or for a Government because you have to increase the contributions from the employers, from the employees, or from the State, or if you follow the present pattern of raising money, it would come from all three sources. If it were to come in much the same proportion from all these three sources as it comes at the moment, the contribution from the employer would be doubled, the contribution from the employee would be doubled, and the contribution from the State would be increased by somewhere about £3,000,000 or £4,000,000.

Maybe we have sufficient knowledge and common sense to see why the Minister did not make this proposal to the Government and why the Government did not put these proposals before the Dáil. At any rate, we have now a Bill before us dealing with workmen's compensation. It is easier for a Minister or a Government to bring in a Bill on workmen's compensation because the complete cost will fall on the employer. That does not create any great problem for a Government; it does not create any great problem for members of the Dáil who have to pass the Bill; but we must recognise the fact that, whatever the increased cost there is, it must be considered by somebody and must come from somewhere. In fact, as we know, the increased cost comes from the employer, because in the Workmen's Compensation Acts the whole cost is paid by the employer and we are following that naturally in discussing this Bill here.

We should try to visualise what is going to happen, because in a Bill of this kind where there will be increased costs the money must come from somewhere and we should try to visualise what effect that will have on the country in general. Admittedly, the workmen will get more—we all admit that and I suppose most of us would agree with the Minister that we can make a case that the workman needs it. We need not labour that point or have any disagreement on it, but even so we must have some regard to the question of where the money is to come from.

The best way I can put it is in this way. There are employers who carry their own risks in regard to workmen's compensation. Some of them are fairly big employers. They have found from experience over the years, I suppose, that if they were to pay for this particular type of risk to an insurance company, the insurance company would get more out of it than they had paid in. Some of these employers have come to the conclusion that they had better carry the risk themselves and form a fund of their own and carry on on that basis. Let us take the example of a fairly big employer employing 500 men. I think, from any statistics that I have read on this subject, that if he has the same experience as other employers, a fairly average experience over the last three or four years, it would be that he would have had to put aside to meet claims under the Workmen's Compensation Acts about £5 per man per year. That is to say, for his 500 men he would be paying in £2,500 a year. Now, in saying that I want to make it clear that that is in a type of employment where there was no special risk.

There are some employments where the amount would be very much more. Where there is no special risk, however, I think that claims would be covered by £5 per year per person employed. That man has been putting £2,500 per year aside. He looks at this Bill, gets a bit of advice from those who are accustomed to giving advice on matters of this kind and he sees that in future if a man is injured in the course of his employment he will be paying him 90/-, not 50/-. He sees also two sections in particular in this Bill which I mean to come back to again—Sections 8 and 11—which are rather uncertain, in regard to what may be the liability under them. If the benefit is going to be raised from 50/- to 90/-, and allowing something for increased costs under these two sections, 8 and 11, he says to himself "I suppose I will have to provide at least double what I had to provide before." That means he must take £2,500 out of his revenue and put it aside to cover costs under this Bill.

What is going to happen as regards that £2,500? If he is an employer who is in a position to price his own goods, whatever goods he may be producing, he will add this £2,500 to his costs. The result will be that whatever goods he may be producing will be increased in price to some extent—I do not know how much, as that all depends on what he is producing, his total output and so on. There will be some increase in the cost of the goods produced by him and there will be an increase, therefore, to the purchaser when they reach the purchaser at the other end of the market. That applies to many employers. There are other employers of course who are not in a position to pass the cost on. There is the very big example of the farmers. The farmers are not in a position to name their own price. They must take what they can get on the market, according to whatever the market price may be. Under this Bill it appears to me that if the farmer has to provide more for workmen's compensation, whether he is going to carry that risk himself or pass the risk on to an insurance company, that increased amount, whatever it may be, will have to come out of the farmer's profits—it cannot come from anywhere else—or if the farmer is making a loss I suppose it can be added to his loss.

When the Fianna Fáil Government were bringing in their Bill for social welfare in 1952 they recognised the fact that the increase in contributions to most employers could be passed on in the price of their goods, but they recognised the fact that in the case of farmers it could not be passed on, that the farmer is not in a position to pass on increased costs of that kind. For that reason in the Social Welfare Act, 1952, the contribution from both the employer and employee in agriculture was a little over half what it was on other employers and other employees. In fact, the amounts were 2/4 per week for employer and employee in industry in general and in the case of farmers it was 1/3 per week on both the employer and the employee. We had that in mind and we tried to lighten the burden as far as we possibly could on the farmer and also on the farm worker for that reason. It appears to me that as a result of this Bill the increased costs will have to be found by the employer, whether he is a manufacturer or a distributor who is in a position to pass the cost on to his customer, or whether he is a farmer who cannot pass it on and who must bear that increased cost himself.

There is a departure in this Bill from what might be regarded as established principle in our social welfare legislation generally. That departure has been defended by the Minister in removing the dependent's allowances which were first introduced, as far as workmen's compensation is concerned, in the 1953 Act. The principle of giving more to the man with a wife and children than to a single man has been followed over the years and in many Acts of this Oireachtas in the past 20 years that principle has been extended. I think I have never yet come across any objection to the principle in any measure that was introduced.

The Fianna Fáil Government brought in children's allowances which, I suppose, is the most obvious example of that principle of helping the man with dependents. There was no objection whatever to it. I do not remember any objection in this House. I think everybody agreed with the children's allowances measure when it was introduced. These allowances were increased by a Fianna Fáil Government in 1952—and, again, there was no objection. When we brought in the Social Welfare Act in 1952 it was the first time dependents' allowances were given to those drawing the sickness allowance. As I am sure Deputies are aware, the position at the moment is that if a man is sick he gets 24/-. If he has a wife he gets 12/- for her and if he has one or two children he gets 7/- for each of them. Therefore, a man with dependents gets a considerable addition to his sickness allowance compared with the single man.

When he was speaking, the Minister mentioned that a single man may have dependents too. That is true and it is a thing that could be remedied, perhaps. However, I do not think that the fact that a single man can have dependents is sufficient justification for removing the benefit to the married man with a wife and children. We could get around that matter in another way and try, as has been done in some cases, to cover dependents where it can be established that these dependents are depending upon the beneficiary.

As the Minister says, in 1953 we brought in dependents' allowances for the first time under the workmen's compensation code. A Bill was passed by the Oireachtas giving the same dependents' allowances to a man injured in the course of his employment as a sick man or an unemployed man was getting under the Social Welfare Act. I do not remember if there was any very serious objection to that particular provision at that time. I do remember, indeed, a point raised by the Minister who is here to-day. It was contended that employers would be more inclined to employ single men because if a single man were to be injured the amount payable to him would be lower than what would be paid to a married man. I argued strongly against it at the time. I said it was not likely that an employer would pay very much attention to that particular aspect of the matter when he was employing a man. I must say I have never heard of a single case where it happened, and I am quite sure that when I was Minister for Social Welfare and when that Act was passed I would have heard if any employer had adopted an attitude of that kind. Ministers are always sure to hear of things of that kind because the people concerned are sure to let them know. No such thing ever happened and I do not think it is ever likely to happen. Where they are insured, it cannot happen because, in insurance, whether the man be married or single, the premium rate is the same. The only place where it could possibly happen, therefore, would be in the case of an employer who is not insured and who is carrying the risk himself under the Workmen's Compensation Acts. It has not happened so far and I do not think it is likely to happen.

To come back again to the principle which I laid down at the beginning— and which I think is a proper principle which nobody can deny—the consideration which we should have before us in this matter is need. So far as we possibly can, we should meet the needs of the injured man. If we are meeting the needs of the injured single man by giving him 90/- per week, it is obvious we are not meeting the needs of the married man with a wife and children. Therefore, in departing from the principle of giving a certain allowance to dependents, we are doing an injustice to the man who has a wife and maybe children also. We should not depart from that principle.

When this Bill comes to be considered on the Committee Stage, I shall oppose that particular section very vigorously and try to get the Dáil to agree that, whatever the rate may be for the single man, the married man with a wife and children should get an additional amount to cover his dependents. I do not agree at all with some of the reasons given by the Minister. I am quite sure this section will be debated in detail on the Committee Stage and we can keep the detailed arguments until that stage arrives. I should just like to say now that it is a section which I would oppose very strongly on the Committee Stage.

I mentioned, in particular, Section 8 and Section 11. I think there is great uncertainty about what may happen under these two sections. Nobody could give any idea of what the cost to an employer would be because there are new provisions there which may or may not be tried out in a big way. We do not know what will happen. It is very difficult to give a forecast of what the cost will be under these two sections. I object in particular to some of the provisions of these two sections because I believe these sections will lead to endless litigation without resulting in any corresponding benefit to the workman.

Take Section 8, first of all. One cannot have any great objection in principle to sub-section (1) because, really, it gives the same right to the workman that the employer has had up to this. The object, I take it, is to give the same right to the workman as the employer had up to this. Hitherto, the employer could go to court after six months in the case of a man who was permanently injured and who was drawing his weekly allowance. The employer could go to court and ask the judge to fix a lump sum and the judge could do it. The workman had not the same right. In all fairness, he should have it and, to that extent, I am not objecting to sub-section (1). However, certain small matters arise on the section. In my opinion there should be some age limit but that is not a very important item and we can discuss it on the Committee Stage. I do not mind very much whether or not the Minister agrees, but I should like to put that consideration to him when we come to the Committee Stage.

Sub-section (2) is really only a schedule of the amounts and it is not very different from the Act of 1934, except that it extends the age beyond 49. Up to this, the employer could only apply for the lump sum where the man was under 50. Under this sub-section, the man himself, whether he is under or over 50, can apply for it and therefore the schedule is extended beyond the age of 49 and up to the age of 80. It is senseless to have it going as far as 80 because I cannot imagine any man applying to the court to give him 75 per cent. of what he was getting at the age of 80. He might as well stick it out for the rest of his life.

Sub-section (3) is a sub-section which brings in this uncertainty I speak of. It constitutes the introduction of a new principle because, so far, in this matter of lump sums, we have always dealt with men who are permanently disabled. Now we have here men who are temporarily disabled. I do not know how that is going to work because the man who is temporarily disabled, who is pronounced by his medical advisers and so on to be disabled for the time being, will recover and will be able to go back to work, but we do not know when. It may take a year or two years.

The Minister made a good case—I think the case that anybody would make in considering this aspect—for the man permanently disabled. He took the case of a carpenter who becomes temporarily disabled through losing some of his fingers. He cannot do carpentry work any more. That man may have been earning a good wage, but now he is on 90/- a week, and it is a poor prospect for such a man to have to live on 90/- a week for the rest of his life. That man will say to himself: "If I could get a lump sum, I could rehabilitate myself and go into another business and make perhaps as much or nearly as much as I made before." To that extent, we can make a very good case for giving that man the option of applying to the court and making his case, on which the court may fix a lump sum and say to him: "Go ahead; rehabilitate yourself and do the best you can."

That does not apply to temporary disablement at all and there is no case made by the Minister for that. I think it is going to put an unfair temptation in the way of a man who is six months disabled and who may be all right in a month or two to go to the court to get a lump sum. It is going to lead to a great deal of litigation. Many of the cases, I suppose, will fail and many may succeed, but the costs of that litigation, taking them all round, will probably outweigh what the workman gets, because obviously, if there are 100 cases over a period which go to court for a lump sum, and some are fixed in a lump sum of a month, some three months, some 12 months, and some none at all, the cost of the litigation will be higher than what the man will get. Therefore, you are putting a high cost on the employer and the workman is not going to get very much out of it. The Minister would be well advised to revise that section and, in fact, to leave it out altogether.

We have in this country a number of judges, but they do not all think and see alike. I am not sure whether this would be a matter for a jury or not, but, if it does go to a jury, juries also do not think alike, and there is, therefore, an element of a gamble in it, an element of risk. One man may be luckier than another and get away with his application, while another may be unlucky and fail. That should be eliminated as far as possible. It is a very bad principle to bring into a Bill.

When I brought a motion before the last Dáil for the setting up of a parliamentary committee to consider the future of workmen's compensation—in passing, I might say that I found it hard to make up my mind whether it should be a Dáil committee or an outside committee, but if the Minister thinks it should be an outside committee, I see no objection—I had in mind putting to them one point, that is, to have all these cases tried by a special court or tribunal, so that there would be uniform decisions for workmen in all cases and so that a man coming before the tribunal could judge from similar cases in the past whether he was going to succeed or not and would not have to depend on the particular view of a particular judge or on the constitution of a particular jury. If the Minister would try to introduce that principle of a special court or tribunal to deal with all these workmen's compensation cases, he would do a great deal to give fair play all round and would probably reduce existing costs to a great extent.

With regard to the man who is temporarily injured, I do not think it is a good thing that he should be able, after six months, to go to court and try to get a lump sum. We all agree that the sooner a man in that position recovers, the better for himself and everybody else, because if he recovers, he goes back to his full wage which is much better for him than any compensation he may get. We should not do anything to interfere in any way with the progress such a man is making towards recovery.

The Minister has told the House that, in the 1953 Act which I brought before the Dáil, I tried to remedy what appeared to be an unfair provision in the workmen's compensation code up to that period. Up to then, if a workman accepted workmen's compensation —I think it was 50/- a week—he was precluded from proceeding under the common law. That was unfair because it was alleged, and there was no reason why the allegation should not be true, that many workmen drew the 50/- per week because they needed it and then found after a few weeks that they were precluded from proceeding under the common law when they would have an opportunity of proving negligence against an employer and getting a bigger amount in compensation than they would otherwise get.

In the 1953 Act, I tried to remedy that and the Dáil agreed. What we aimed at was to ensure that a man who was not aware of his rights should not be debarred from proceeding under the common law by reason of the fact that he had accepted workmen's compensation. That is what we intended to have enacted when it was going through the Dáil and Seanad. That has been challenged in the courts and, as the Minister pointed out, a decision is being awaited from the Supreme Court, and that will take care of this. But the Minister is right, of course, in making the thing perfectly clear, so that there should be no doubt at all left in anybody's mind, in the mind of the court or anywhere else, that what we want to see is that a workman, if he accepts workmen's compensation, and does not know what his rights are, should not be precluded for that reason from going to common law; but Section 11 goes much further than that, in my opinion.

Now, Section 11 goes this far—this, I think, is going again to lead to very substantial or very heavy costs—that a man may go to court, bring his employer to court under the Workmen's Compensation Act, may get an award of an amount of money from the court, and he may then go back, and an ambitious solicitor will hand him over this amount of money and will say to him: "If you leave me a couple of hundred pounds I will now try the common law" and, as we know, many a workman would be tempted to try common law when he sees that thousands are awarded in cases of this kind, and many a solicitor would be tempted to help him out in fighting that particular case. There you have that workman, whoever he is, going to the High Court twice, and the High Court is a very dear court to go to. It costs a lot of money. I do not think it is necessary. From the point of view of the workman I do not think it is necessary at all.

Why could we not arrange—I am not a lawyer but I know the draftsman could do it if it is put to him—where a man thinks he has a case under common law, where he certainly has a case under workmen's compensation, that he goes to court and the court decides the issue? If there is negligence he gets his award under common law and, if there is no negligence, he gets workmen's compensation. I think you will, at any rate, cut the cost by half, and I think that we should have some regard to the costs arising in these cases because it is coming out of the employer's pocket; it is not going into the workman's pocket; and the thing could be done cheaper in some way or another. I am putting it to the Minister that he should consider that way of doing it. I know, from my own experience of things, that sometimes when you put a provision in like that the lawyers say: "That is impossible" but, very often, when you say to the lawyers: "I am going to do it whether it is possible or not", then immediately the lawyers say it is possible; so that if we insist on it, I think it could be done all right.

There, again, I am coming back to my own pet subject, I would like again to see a special court. I am not particular whether it is going to be a tribunal or two or three judges, or a mixture of judges and laymen, or whether it is a judge of the High Court specially appointed for these cases, but there should be one judge, anyway, in my opinion, who should try all these cases so that we would have uniform decisions, and every workman would get fair play.

I think that in time you would see the costs reduced very much under a system of that kind because lawyers generally and employers generally, and of course insurance companies, would get to know what case is likely to succeed, or what case is not likely to succeed, and the number that would go before the tribunal would probably become less and the costs, therefore, would be cut a great deal.

I do not want to speak on some of the other sections here which deal with other matters. They can be dealt with better on the Committee Stage. I think that it would be extremely hard to amend some of the provisions in this Bill on the points I mentioned, but I would like to amend it, and that is why I put down the amendment on the Second Reading to refer it back to a Committee of the Dáil to consider these points, and see if they could not produce a better Bill for consideration.

I was very interested in Deputy Dr. Ryan's speech, and I followed him as closely as I could. I think that his survey of the position showed that he has taken an interest in this question, and has delved fairly deeply into it.

I think Deputy Dr. Ryan is somewhat confused with regard to the legislation which was enacted by himself as Minister for Social Welfare, and by his predecessor when the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1934 was enacted. So far as I can see—I would be glad if the Minister would correct me if I am wrong—Section 11 of the present Bill is merely intended to operate in the way in which Section 6 of the 1953 Act, passed under the guidance of Deputy Dr. Ryan, as Minister for Social Welfare, was intended to operate. Deputy Dr. Ryan seemed to think that there was something very much more in Section 11 of the present Bill, that it had gone a lot further than Section 6 of his own Act.

I would like to be clear on this point. If a man went to court under the Workmen's Compensation Act, obviously he should know of his rights, because his lawyers would advise him, and that would make it impossible to go a second time. That is the point.

I do not think that is what was done under the 1953 Act. The reason I raise this is because Deputy Dr. Ryan, in the course of his remarks, said that what was intended by the 1953 Act was to ensure that a workman, who was ignorant of his rights, would not be penalised as would a workman who has accepted compensation for two or three weeks, and who then finds that he is precluded from taking common law action for damages. I merely want to make this point for what it is worth: there is nothing at all in the 1953 Act which makes a workman's rights dependent on whether or not he was ignorant of the position. I do not think there is any very great extension in Section 11 of the present Bill; I think the Minister has set out to cure a defect which appeared, or which, by judicial decision, was made to appear, in the 1953 Act.

Deputy Dr. Ryan made another suggestion with regard to a workman having the right to have his claim for damages at common law determined by a court in the event of failure on that score—that he should have his right to compensation. That was enacted about 20 years ago in the 1934 Act. In Section 60 of the Act I think the precise provision which Deputy Dr. Ryan has in mind will be found.

I do not think it is entirely correct to look on workmen's compensation legislation as forming part of our social code. It is social legislation, and I think it is social legislation of the better type. It is incorrect—it is not fully correct in any event—to consider it as forming part of our social welfare legislation for the reason Deputy Dr. Ryan pointed out. Under the workmen's compensation code, the State plays no part at all other than the enactment of the legislation.

The State does not contribute one penny piece towards the benefits which it requires the employer by the legislation to give to the injured workman. The State plays no part in this workmen's compensation code at all other than the passing of legislation through this House. To that extent I say it is wrong to consider workmen's compensation legislation as part of social welfare legislation. The workmen's compensation code was established away back in 1897 or so, before quite a lot of our present-day social welfare legislation was even thought of and before most of the benefits which are now expected, and rightly expected, were incorporated in legislation in this or any other country.

The State does not contribute anything towards the cost of this legislation. Neither does it play any part —other than through the ordinary courts of the land—in the administration of the workmen's compensation code. I think it is essential for Deputies in considering the workmen's compensation code and workmen's compensation legislation to keep before them the fact that there is a very real distinction in the work they do in legislating under the workmen's compensation code and the work they do in legislating under the social welfare code proper. In the latter case the State is called upon to make some direct contribution to the benefits, possibly to pay 100 per cent. of the contribution and the money required for the particular benefits has to be paid by taxation levied by the State or else by the contribution partly of the State, partly of the employer and partly of the workman. That does not operate here at all.

There are three parties to be considered. The State does, of course, come into it and comes into it in a very material way in so far as the State has the responsibility for passing the legislation in order to protect, as best it can, the interests of the weaker section of the community and those who require the protection of the State. The State comes into it in that way but, apart from that, the principal parties to be considered are the employer on the one hand and the employee on the other.

The employer is the person who must foot the bill. He is the person who must pay for the legislation we are enacting and which we have enacted in the past under the workmen's compensation code. Thirdly, you have the injured workman and his dependents. The injured workman is the person who has not got any wealth or any hidden resources to fall back on when he is injured or contracts some illness arising out of his employment. Such a person, I think, is entitled to the very special consideration of the State.

For my part I am glad of the fact that the Minister for Social Welfare dealt with this Bill in the particular manner in which he did. I do not agree 100 per cent. with the case he has made for the Bill. I think the Bill is open to criticism. I hope that the manner in which the Minister introduced it was intended to indicate, as it seemed to me to indicate, he was going to be serious about listening to the views of Deputies on the Bill and considering any reasonable suggestions made by Deputies by way of amendment. I thought it was a very reasonable frame of mind in which to introduce legislation of this sort.

I have no objection at all to the proposal to increase the workmen's compensation benefit. I understand a number of people feel that the Minister is going too far and that the increase of the compensation from 50/- to 90/-may result in very heavy increases in insurance premiums, etc. Deputy Dr. Ryan indicated that that was his view.

I was disappointed in Deputy Dr. Ryan's speech to this extent. Although he spoke for 50 minutes, I think, he did not indicate either his own attitude or the attitude of the Party he leads on questions such as this. He did not indicate their views firmly as to whether they supported or opposed the Bill. He indicated that a particular section of it was going to meet with his strong opposition but, by and large, he did not indicate whether he was for or against it.

I want to define my attitude by saying that, as an individual Deputy, I am in favour of this legislation but I believe that there are some dangers in the Bill presented to us by the Minister. With a careful examination and more detailed study of the position, the Minister may agree that these dangers are there and that adequate safeguards can be put into the Bill.

I believe that the principal dangers lie in Section 8 of the Bill which introduces an entirely new principle. I do not think that Deputy Dr. Ryan was correct in saying that Section 8, subsection (3) was a new principle to the extent that it did not operate before even in the case of employers. If he consults the 1934 Act he will find the employer had the rights of redemption after a six-months' period even in the case of non-permanent incapacity but the whole of Section 8 is a new principle in that it gives the workman for the first time an absolute right of redemption subject only to control of the court, and certainly an absolute right to seek for redemption of weekly compensation. That right under the present proposal is to exist not only in cases of total incapacity or of permanent incapacity but even in cases of non-permanent incapacity.

My fear in relation to this section does not arise out of any concern for insurance companies. My fear is in relation to the person who is not insured against workmen's compensation risk. I do not believe—I may be wrong in this—that the protection of the section for such persons is adequate to ensure that very great hardship may not result to an uninsured employer.

I think the House must have regard to the fact that very often, if not invariably, the employer who is required to pay workmen's compensation is entirely blameless. His only crime is that he gives employment. He has not been negligent. He may in many cases have actually forbidden the workman to do the particular thing which gives rise to the accident. Even under the 1934 Act, a workman was entitled to be compensated if the injury was serious, or his dependents if the injury was fatal, even in cases where the injury resulted because of his own wilful default or negligence, even in cases where the injury resulted from his disobedience of orders of the employer or because he acted in contravention of statutory enactments or regulations. In such cases he is entitled, under the workmen's compensation code, to get his compensation.

I am not saying that that should not be so. I merely want to emphasise the fact that there are cases where the employer actually forbids his workman to do a particular thing and if the workman, in disobedience of the employer's orders, does what he is told not to do and an accident results, the employer is, nevertheless, called upon to pay compensation. So that in most cases you will find that the employer is quite blameless. If he was not blameless, if there was any possibility of sustaining an action for negligence against him, I think I am correct in saying that, up to this, most employees who had sustained injury by accident, if there was any degree of negligence on the part of the employer, would have preferred to go ahead with a common law action for negligence and had, of course, a perfect right to do so.

The reason the employee accepted workmen's compensation in most cases, to my mind, was that there was no possibility of sustaining an action for negligence and that there was no culpability, no blame whatever, attaching to the employer.

I am not entirely satisfied that Section 8 holds the scale evenly between the blameless employer on the one hand and the blameworthy employee on the other. I think there should be some distinction between the employee who meets with an accident in a perfectly innocent way, through sheer bad luck or misfortune, and the employee who meets with an accident through his own wilful default, through his own disobedience of orders given by the employer. When a workman is being given what is a very valuable right and is a completely new principle being introduced into the legislation, the time has come for the Minister to consider whether or not the same rights and privileges should attach to a workman who has been injured through acting in disobedience of the instructions of the employer or through breaking statutory or other regulations which were made possibly for his own protection.

I suggest to the Minister that in such cases the workman's right to redemption should not be allowed except with the concurrence of the employer. You will, in many cases, find employers who are perfectly willing, irrespective of how the accident originated, that the weekly compensation should be redeemed either on their own application or on the application of the employee.

I would like also to suggest to the Minister in relation to Section 8 that, as a completely new principle is being introduced into the workmen's compensation code, it would be only proper that an appeal should lie from the Circuit Court to the High Court in relation to decisions under Section 8 of the Bill and that he should consider amending Section 36, I think it is, of the 1934 Act in order to provide for that.

I said earlier that I was concerned as to the position of the uninsured employer under Section 8 of the Bill. Section 8 provides that, where the employer so requests, the court may take the employer's circumstances into account. It is proposed to enact that the court shall have a discretion to grant or refuse an application under this section, that is, an application by the employee for redemption of his weekly payments, and that in exercising that discretion the court shall have regard to the nature of the workman's injury, his reasons for making the application and, where the employer so requests, the employer's circumstances.

I do not think that goes far enough in the case of an employer who is not insured. We have to recognise that there is a difference, and maybe a very important difference, between the employer, particularly the small employer, who is not insured, and the employer who is covered against workmen's compensation risk. I would suggest to the Minister that he might consider even going as far as enacting in this legislation that, except, again, with the concurrence of the employer, no order shall be made under that particular section where it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that the employer is not indemnified against workmen's compensation risk in respect of the particular employee who is injured.

It may be that the Minister intends that this Bill should be a step towards making workmen's compensation insurance compulsory. Taken by an large, without having considered the matter very deeply, I would not be against compulsory workmen's compensation. Nowadays, any employer who refrains from covering himself against workmen's compensation risk is exceedingly foolish but it is not enough to hold that view and, by legislation, endeavour to influence matters so that most employers will take out work men's compensation insurance unless something is done also to ensure that insurance companies will carry workmen's compensation risk and will carry that risk at some kind of reasonable premium.

I understand the position to be that, in relation to certain occupations in any event, a number of companies will not accept workmen's compensation cover. You cannot, on the one hand, endeavour to force compulsory insurance on employers unless, on the other hand, you are prepared to take some action to ensure that that cover will be readily available to employers.

I have no objection to having that cover made compulsory provided the facilities are there for the employers. I think the time has probably come, and it will have to be faced up to sooner or later by this House, when a decision has to be made as to whether or not workmen's compensation benefits should not come in whole hog into the social welfare legislation and be carried, so to speak, on the stamps in the same way as sickness benefits, unemployment benefits and so on are operated, and I think—possibly the Minister has gone into this matter already—that it would be desirable and worth while having a very thorough examination of the position to see whether or not that should be done.

The Minister mentioned that he was thinking of setting up a committee. I take it that will be one of the questions which would go for exploration to that committee. The Minister made clear the principle on which he operated when deleting the provisions for dependents' allowances and as he said, there is no distinction in the present Bill between the amounts of compensation which will be paid to the single man on the one hand, and to the married man on the other hand.

At first sight that does not seem to be desirable; at first sight it would seem that Deputy Dr. Ryan's point of view that some special consideration should be given to the married man is the correct one, but I certainly am very much influenced by the argument made by the Minister, which I think is a reasonable argument, namely, that if there is too great a distinction between the benefits paid to the married man and the unmarried man the result may be to drive employers, particularly those who carry their own insurance, to seeking single men for whatever vacancies they have rather than to encourage them to employ the married man with a family.

That is a danger which obviously must be present and the Minister apparently has decided that it can best be offset by abolishing distinction between married and unmarried men. As I say, I accept that although it does not at first sight seem reasonable to abolish the distinction. I hope the Minister will give very full consideration, particularly to Section 8 of the Bill, between this and Committee Stage. I hope he will find himself in a position to do something to offset the danger of increases in insurance premiums. I quite frankly admit that I do not know what the position is as to whether or not there would be justification for insurance companies raising their premiums if this legislation is passed. I hope the Minister—and I am sure he has—has given careful consideration to that aspect because many people would have difficulty in paying increased premiums if the increases were in any way large.

I do not think any Deputy in the House will grudge the Minister's effort to give further assistance to those people who are in good jobs and who, unfortunately, through injury find themselves and their dependents, possibly for long periods, without the usual income to which they have become accustomed. I think most Deputies will agree with me when I wish the Minister well in the effort he is making on behalf of those people. For my part, as I say, I am glad the Minister has approached this Bill in the way he has and I hope he will give serious consideration to the suggestions of Deputies in relation to the Bill.

Normally there would not be very much to say on this Bill from the point of view of the Labour Party and of the trade unions except, perhaps, that we welcome the Bill and that we feel it is overdue and that it could have been before the House last year. While there are certain aspects with regard to workmen's compensation which do come to mind, I think we can agree with Deputy Dr. Ryan that it is the human needs involved that we are mostly concerned with and I should like to point out that such delay as has arisen in bringing this measure before the House has meant that many injured workmen have had to continue on the old rates of benefits when the matter could quite readily have been remedied had the measure been brought before the House earlier.

I should like to say that the main objectives of the Bill do not require much discussion. Similarly, much of what we would have been inclined to say on a Workmen's Compensation Bill has been rendered largely unnecessary because of the Minister's indicated proposal to submit the whole workmen's compensation code to a Special Committee, and, therefore, the opportunity of submitting the code as a whole to a more minute examination in the House will be available later. I want to make only some general remarks in regard to the Bill itself and to comment on some of Deputy Dr. Ryan's remarks where they concern the main provisions of the Bill. As to the amounts of weekly payments there is very little we can say from these benches because the amounts embodied in the Bill are what we originally sought in a private Bill in 1953 and I think it is not unfair to say that because we did present that private Bill at that time we were the means of inducing some activity on the part of Deputy Dr. Ryan who was then Minister for Social Welfare. However, our view as to the figure of weekly payments to be aimed at was not accepted.

The provision in the Bill with regard to the lack of distinction between single and married workmen I should like to leave until later. In so far as the other main sections of the Bill are concerned, I should like to point out that in Section 8 the principle the Minister seeks to adopt, namely to provide equality as between the injured workman and the employer in respect of opportunities to seek to have weekly payments remitted by lump sum agreements, is on the face of it one that could be argued against, and while there may be, on Committee Stage, various points of view expressed on amendments which may be submitted it must be borne in mind that in seeking to deal with the present situation, which has been the subject of continuous complaints by working people over the years, the Minister, in framing this section, has met with certain difficulties and members of the House may seek to amend that section to conform with certain conditions which they might think desirable. It should be borne in mind that the need for certain provisions to deal with the present situation is one that has been brought about by the insurance companies themselves.

The problem that those of us in the trade union movement always had to face was that when a workman met with an injury and received his normal weekly payments, if he was a married man with a family, we very quickly discovered after a short lapse of time that it was not the merits of his case that were going to determine whether or not he should settle for a lump sum; it was the economic pressure exerted on himself and his family, through actual distress from being compelled to try to exist on a weekly income far below what he normally received in respect of wages. That, in itself, would be a bad enough problem but when, as we frequently had, undue, unfair and deliberate advantage being taken by insurance companies in an effort to use economic pressure to compel a workman to seek or accept settlement of a lump sum far below what he would rightfully be entitled to, then we reach the position when some step must be taken to remedy that situation.

I recollect one case of a man meeting with an injury which incapacitated him for life when he was in a large public undertaking. I recall that man being kept for nine years living on a sum of 35/- per week and, during those nine years, trying to rear a family of six children and maintain his wife and himself on that miserable pittance. At the end of nine years the case was settled for a lump sum. By that time the man, through some peculiar miracle or other, had succeeded in rearing his children; in some cases he had succeeded in finding employment for them; in most cases, he had succeeded in completing their somewhat limited education; and the heavy burden that he had had to bear for those nine years had been alleviated somewhat. At that point an opportunity of settling for a lump sum was given to him. When he received his lump sum and paid his debts he was left with exactly 60 to maintain him for the rest of his life. He was at that time 45 years of age.

That is the outrageous kind of case which has called for the Minister's attention in framing this particular section. Whatever may be the faults of the section, the arguments that may be made against it on the Committee Stage or represented in amendments, it should be borne in mind that this section has been occasioned by the treatment accorded to injured workmen over many years, and the Minister is, I think, trying to remedy that situation now. It may well be that it will require the common wisdom of both sides of the House to try to do that in such a way as to do justice to the injured workman and, at the same time, not give rise to fresh and difficult problems.

So far as Section 11 is concerned, I think the best thing the Minister can do is withdraw that section altogether. I think it is an outrage and a disgrace. First of all, Deputy Dr. Ryan, when he was Minister, sought with the best of intentions to remedy this problem of the right of election. No doubt he had the advice of his legal advisers in the Department and of the draftsman; and, in all good faith and with the support of the House, the original Act was amended and a section was put into the 1953 Act. Advantage was then taken of that section by those concerned. Subsequently the courts took a different view and we now have this further attempt to correct the position.

There is nothing wrong in that. We recognise quite well that the view taken by the court may be somewhat different from what this House anticipated. But it does seem somewhat remarkable that, having had the advice of the legal experts and the draftsman and having found that the drafting in the 1953 Act was weak and open to different interpretations which are now creating difficulty in regard to this right of election, we should now get this rather peculiar formula in sub-section (4) of Section 11 which, in effect, says that if the legal advisers and the draftsman did make a mistake, this House is now going to go on record as saying that they did not make any mistake and what was originally intended by this House in 1953 was, in fact, carried out by the draftsman in the 1953 Act.

I think that is going too far. I understand from members of the legal profession that if this section is left as it is—it is a most complicated form of draftsmanship—it will give rise possibly to further difficulties and I gather there is a general preference, in order to simplify the position, for the repealing of the entire section in the 1953 Act and the substitution of a new, simple and straightforward section rather than try now, by this retrospective legislation, to correct a position we thought we had corrected in 1953 or to cover up mistakes on the part of those who are supposed to guide us in these technically legal matters.

There are naturally a number of matters we will require to raise on the Committee Stage, but they can well be left until then since they are more appropriate to that stage. The bigger issues of principle that would normally arise in a discussion here on workmen's compensation can well be left over until a Special Committee has had an opportunity of considering the whole code. I would, however, like to touch on one or two points raised by Deputy Dr. Dyan. First of all, I would like to deal with his suggestion that the Second Reading of the Bill might be deferred for a period of three months to allow a Committee of the House to consider the matter in relation to its effect on employment and prices.

Might I say, with all due respect to Deputy Dr. Ryan, that if that is his motion it certainly was not the argument he made here to-day? In fact one might be well inclined to take the view from his argument here to-day anyway that the sole purpose of his motion is merely to secure delay for the sake of delay. He ended by urging the House to consider his motion because, he said, in the light of certain factors he advanced, it might well be found possible for the Committee to bring in a better Bill. There are no such terms of reference in his motion so far as the Committee is concerned. The duty he proposes to impose on that Committee is not to draft a new Bill but merely to consider the existing Bill in the light of its possible effect upon employment and prices.

While Deputy Dr. Ryan in his contribution did touch, somewhat briefly, upon the question of employment and prices—and, no doubt, the Special Committee could give further thought to that—when the report of the Special Committee ultimately comes before the House, it will be on the basis of the present Bill and we will be faced with exactly the same task, as we now have, of dealing with this Bill on its merits and in the light of such knowledge as the Committee might place before us with regard to its effect on employment and prices.

Now, I have no doubt that members on both sides of this House can readily acquire information just as factual as that which a Special Committee could acquire; or they can exercise their imaginations, if they wish, as to what would be the effect on employment and prices of the Bill now proposed by the Minister. I think we might well look at the Bill from the point of view of the injured workman for a change.

First of all, Deputy Dr. Ryan raises the question as to what should be the basis of approach in reckoning the reasonable amount of weekly payment to a workman who meets with an accident in the course of his employment; and he stresses that, in his opinion, the qualifying factor should be "need". Of course Deputy Dr. Ryan never followed that principle when he was Minister for Social Welfare, but it suits him now to change the argument because it provides a convenient peg on which to hang an argument against the flat-rate payment of 90/- per week to a workman irrespective of his connubial state in favour of what he would get under the 1953 Act.

Deputy Dr. Ryan is quite well aware that since the Workmen's Compensation Act was passed nearly 60 years ago, at no time and under no circumstances was the need of the injured workman taken into consideration. The basis of the entire code is compensation for loss of earning capacity, a very cold-blooded, cash transaction. If it was need, will Deputy Dr. Ryan now suggest that on the basis of measuring need, the need of a workman was adequately met when in the 1934 Act the weekly payment was fixed at a maximum of 35/- per week for both single and married men, and for a married man with a wife and possibly ten or 12 children, by his own Government and by the Minister in his own Government who piloted that piece of legislation through this House?

It is all very well to suit the argument to the particular purpose, but all of us can do that, and we are quite well aware that when in 1953 the Labour Party introduced a Private Bill embodying the present figure of 90/-, and the then Minister, Deputy Dr. Ryan, decided suddenly to introduce the new principle of allowances for dependents, the wives and the children, it was not merely from the point of view of meeting a particular need of the married man, but it was a very convenient argument against giving any increase to the single man. That was one of the main factors that induced the Labour Party of that time to take exception to his approach. If Deputy Dr. Ryan and the Fianna Fáil Party want to deal with this matter on the basis of need and apart entirely from the basis of compensation for loss of earning capacity, I have no great difference of opinion with them on that. I think we should also have regard to human need. It is very simple to meet it. Let the Fianna Fáil Party agree to accept the present figure of 90/- suggested by the Minister and put forward on the Committee Stage an amendment to pay in addition to the 90/-, dependents' allowances to the wives and to the children.

We will do that.

Fair enough. So far as the Labour Party are concerned we have no objection at all to getting as much as we can for the injured workman within reason. I recognise there may be difficulties from the point of view of the Minister for Social Welfare, whether Deputy Dr. Ryan or Deputy Corish, in trying to hold the balance between the principle applicable in respect to the code of social welfare and the code of workmen's compensation and it may vary from one side to the other. Possibly if there is a Special Committee and when there is an opportunity to go into the whole matter we may get a different approach, but up to the moment, the whole basis of the code and the whole basis of compensation for employees under the code is this principle of loss of earning capacity and that is why there is considerable argument in favour of maintaining the principle in relation to injured workmen.

There is the other factor that if we are dealing with the compensation code and not a social welfare code in which compensation is to be provided for loss of earning capacity, it should be borne in mind that the wage structure in this country and in other countries is not based on need. There is no distinction made in the main systems of wage structures in this country as between the single man, the married man and married man with dependents. It is purely a question of relating the rate of wages to the particular job of work, the capacity of the worker or responsibility or skill, or to put it probably more brutally, to the amount for which the workman can be got to go to work depending on whether he is in a position to protect himself by a trade union organisation or otherwise.

If, therefore, the basis of the system of wages has no regard to human needs or the conjugal state or the dependents of workmen and the code that has been administered and which up to the moment at least was very admirably supported by Deputy Dr. Ryan when he was Minister is to be continued on that basis, there is every argument for suggesting that whatever the rate of weekly payment is to be, even if it is to be sufficient to meet the need of the married man with dependents, the amount payable to the single man should be equally high because it is compensation for loss of earning capacity.

On the actual figure of 90/- itself, I do not think there is much argument to be made against it at the moment. In the light of the changes that have taken place in the cost of living since pre-war it is well justified by direct mathematical calculation that the old figure of 35/- would require to be raised beyond 80/- at the moment but to the extent that for many years it was felt that the level of weekly payments in regard to average wages was low, I think the time has certainly come when that might be corrected, and that further justifies fixing the maximum now at a figure of 90/-.

Both Deputy Dr. Ryan and Deputy O'Higgins are somewhat fearful as to the effect of the amendments proposed in the Bill on the employers in regard to their costs and the possible effects on employment, and particularly on this whole problem so beloved especially by members of the legal profession—the employer who is not insured. With all due respect to Deputy O'Higgins, it may be quite easy to make a case as between, as he says, the blameless and the blameworthy worker, but it is not as simple as that because the employer who does not go to the trouble, either through cupidity or stupidity, in securing for himself insurance cover in respect of employer's liability, does not employ merely the blameworthy worker—he also employs the blameless worker. We know from experience the blameless worker can, entirely through no fault of his own, while observing all due caution and paying proper respect to statutory regulations in regard to safety and so on, meet with an accident and he is in exactly the same difficult position if it then turns out that his employer has neglected to take the elementary precaution of ensuring insurance cover against such a risk.

We are too much inclined to be concerned with the apparently simpleminded employer who fails to take out that insurance and then is unfortunate enough to employ some stupid oaf of a worker who deliberately puts his hand in a machine or steps into something or finds some other foolish way of laying himself up and reducing his earning capacity. Naturally all our hearts bleed for the poor simple employer who finds himself in that position. I suggest that we should look at the other side of the picture and take the poor simple worker who goes to work for an employer believing he is reasonably covered under the compensation code against the effects of an accident which he may sustain at work, meets with that accident and maybe is crippled for life and then discovers that there is no remedy available for him because his employer is not covered by insurance and no recovery can be made against him.

We have had too many of those cases to allow that type of argument to influence to any degree our opinion as to the merits or otherwise of such proposals as are embodied in the present Bill. In that connection it might well be pointed out that while it can be argued that the insurance companies do exercise discrimination in regard to those whom they will accept as policyholders under employers' liability insurance, that could be remedied much more simply than by trying to adjust the legislation to deal with cases of employers who will not take out insurance. We employ the compulsory requirement that drivers of motor-cars on the highway should carry insurance, and in the trade unions on many occasions we have found it necessary to make it a condition prior to the acceptance of employment by our members in certain trades that a policy of insurance will be produced by the employer before we would allow our member to go to work because of the painful experience both the trade unions and their members have had as a result of this failure on the part of individual employers.

There has also been some fear expressed in regard to the consequences of the cost of operating this measure. I think there is one aspect of this to which we should have regard and which makes it somewhat different from, say, damages under common law. It is quite clear that accidents to people engaged in industry are a characteristic of industry itself and that men meet with accidents in the course of their employment not solely because of their own negligence or the negligence of a fellow workman or some other purely accidental cause, but because they are working in industry. That is proven by the fact that the incidence of accidents changes with the character of the particular industry and that is also reflected in the rates charged by the insurance companies for insurance cover for workmen in various occupations.

To that extent we should look upon workmen's compensation as being part of the normal charges that not the individual employer has to meet, but that industry has to meet in order that it would be carried on and in the same way as industry has to meet other charges that arise because of the fact that any industrial activity is being discharged. It cannot be avoided unless we take the other view of regarding protection for the injured workman as being placed on a broader social base than hitherto we have done when we have dealt with it purely on the narrow basis of occupation.

Again, changes of that sort may give rise to certain difficulties because if we are going to deal with the claims of injured workmen purely on the basis suggested by Deputy Dr. Ryan, that sickness or illness, whether it is occasioned by an injury in employment or by ordinary natural sickness or by an accident outside of employment, creates the same need and should be measured in respect of sustenance by the same measuring rod, we do come up against this other factor. I doubt if anybody in this House believes that the need of a sick workman is measured at the moment by the sum of 24/-per week. I doubt if Deputy Dr. Ryan believed it when he was introducing his Social Welfare Bill and establishing those rates.

Deputy Dr. Ryan, in the same way as a Minister of any Government or any Party, had, when he was Minister, to adjust his possibilities of meeting that need by the over-all position in regard to the national economy, the available financial resources and other calls upon the Exchequer. Therefore, under the social welfare code, the payment to be made is not regulated by the need, but merely by the possibility of meeting that need to some limited extent. The very fact that the average workman requires his full wages to maintain himself and his family shows that that is generally the measure of his need. Usually when he is sick his needs increase because of additional expenses. Therefore, there should be very little cause to support the idea that something less than full wages will meet his needs from the point of view of sickness or illness whether they arise as a result of an injury at work or through ordinary physical causes.

In so far as injuries sustained in the course of employment are concerned, I think it could be well argued—whether it will be accepted is another matter— they they should be treated as part of the general overhead costs of industry. To the extent that industries in general cannot hope to be carried on with the complete elimination of all risk and all possibilities of injuries to workmen, adjusted as they are to the nature of the particular industry, those injuries should be regarded as a charge on that industry. Whether we do as we do at the moment, place that charge against the individual employer or the individual employing company or whether we spread it in some other form, it should be regarded as related to industry rather than related to the general question of social need and the social and communal commitments we all bear in regard to relieving members of the community as a whole who find themselves facing natural or social or economic difficulties from time to time.

On the question of the possibility of increased costs, I have no particular information, but it does seem to me from what has happened previously and from general knowledge I have that a considerable part of the increased costs that may arise through the passing of this present Bill could very considerably be borne by the insurance companies themselves. It is well known that out of the total premiums they collect in providing this form of insurance cover a very large percentage is absorbed in management costs and that the actual amount returned in the form of payment of claims bears a very small ratio to the total amount collected. It may well be that a review of the question of costs from that aspect may make it possible to limit the increase. Also we can have recourse to the steps that were taken in the case of private motor insurance of requesting the Prices Advisory Body to have a look at this particular problem of the cost imposed upon industry and upon employers by their having to insure with private insurance companies.

As Deputy O'Higgins says, if we pass legislation requiring employers to carry certain obligations in regard to their workmen who meet with injuries then we should also, as far as reasonably possible, protect those employers against undue exploitation by commercial interests who would take advantage of a situation we have built up by the passing of such legislation. Nobody wants to be unfair to employers either individually or collectively in this regard. It is merely suggested that those who are carrying on industry and who have to apportion their charges to meet the costs of production would be required to take into consideration the fact that one of the costs they must meet is the risk of injury to their workmen. Having passed this legislation, we would not wish to cause them to be exploited by commercial interests. From that point of view the Minister might consider the possibility of keeping a close eye on any suggestions of very considerably increased premiums following the passing of the present Bill and if he is dissatisfied with what he finds he might well have recourse to the Prices Advisory Body which dealt in a very salutary manner with the question of motor insurance premiums previously.

On the whole, I think the Minister is to be congratulated on what he has done in regard to this Bill. It may require more careful consideration on the Committee Stage. I think it will also prove helpful and enlightening to us all, to both employers and workmen and others in public life and those of us engaged in trade unions, if through the medium of the Special Committee he has in mind we now have an opportunity of examining not merely the merits or demerits of the workmen's compensation code but its working for the period of some 60 years since it was originally inaugurated. As it is now, we cannot through our own legislation substitute a more acceptable approach to this problem than we have inherited from the British Parliament and which over the years imposed on so many Irish workmen an experience of privation and suffering and very often early death, because the code was not satisfactory or suited to meet their particular needs.

I feel the House will not accept Deputy Dr. Ryan's motion. The argument he put forward was not a strong one and the urgent needs of injured workers for an increase in their present amounts weekly would outweigh any argument he has made for a delay of three months. Whatever could be done by a Special Committee can be done in the course of the debate; and the major problem of the code as a whole can go before the Special Committee envisaged by the Minister. I see no cause for a further delay of three months, which would put this off until well into the Autumn Session of the Dáil, thereby requiring injured workmen to wait another six or nine months before they get the aid and relief they are entitled to expect from a Parliament which on a previous occasion, in regard to injured men, expressed the point of view that the injured workman should take his full wages when he went out.

I am surprised at the approach of Deputy Larkin—I assume, on behalf of his Party. I expected his approach would be that workmen's compensation should be abolished altogether and included in some scheme of social welfare.

I am looking for that.

That is done elsewhere and I am surprised he did not advocate it. I recollect that the present Tánaiste, Deputy Norton, told the House some years ago that a scheme would be brought in to embody workmen's compensation as part of a comprehensive social welfare scheme. If that is the ultimate intention, it is a matter of some importance, as to the principles on which we are to approach this whole question.

Anyone who is used to dealing with migratory workers is used to the position in England, where there is no workmen's compensation but a system of paying an injured workman a certain amount for six months and after that assessing his disability as partial or limited and paying him a type of pension. They assess whether his disability is 5, 10, 12 or 25 per cent. and allocate him a social welfare pension in accordance with that disability. In contemplating their comprehensive scheme, undoubtedly they had to take into consideration certain fundamental principles. We, here, are heading in that way. There are certain fundamental principles that we have to consider and some of them we have to consider in connection with some of the sections of the measure before us now.

For instance, under Section 8 there is a completely new principle coming into play here—as I hope to convince both the Minister and House in a few moments. Even on the question of social principle, I want to point out that we are departing from a principle that has been in practice in State Departments here since the foundation of the State, that is, that they resist paying their own workmen injured in State service a lump sum in redemption of the weekly payment. I can give several instances—including that of one particular man whose case fits into the analogy the Minister himself purported to give in his opening speech. This man is a carpenter named Sumerville from the village of Cong, whose finger was taken off in a sawmill accident there many, many years ago.

Time and again I approached the Department of Lands about that man's weekly payment, but they always refused to pay him a lump sum, over the last 12 or 15 years, on the social principle, they say, that there was a danger he might dissipate the lump sum, whereas if he were kept on a weekly sum it would be there for all time as a pension and his dependents would be provided for as he would have this weekly payment all his life. I was informed that that was the principle with all State employees—and I have no reason to question the civil servants who so informed me—that the State would not pay a lump sum for this reason, it being argued with me and alleged by them to me as the social aspect of the matter, that it was better and safer to let the weekly payment continue than to take the risk of paying a man a lump sum in redemption, which he might dissipate or squander to the detriment of his dependents.

Does the Deputy mind my asking this, for the purpose of getting some information—did the Deputy himself believe in that particular case that the weekly payment ought to be redeemed? Maybe it is not a fair question?

I will answer that. I argued with the Department—and, as far as my recollection goes, I raised the matter here—that when insurance companies would redeem in cases of this kind they should in fact, but I was met with the answer of the Department which I am now giving to the Minister. I was also informed that that was the practice in regard to all State employees in this country. I have given the reference and the Minister can get that man's file from his colleague the Minister for Lands and he will see that that has been the attitude taken not only over a year or two but over a long number of years. I am giving just one instance, but I am sure there are many other cases on the State books of injured workmen with the very same story.

Under Section 8 we are proposing to depart from that principle. Before I finish with the question of principles, there is another point. Perhaps I am misreading it. Sub-section (1) of Section 8 says:—

"Where any weekly payment... to a workman, whose incapacity is permanent, has been continued for not less than six months..."

It says "whose incapacity is permanent"; it does not state whether the incapacity is total or partial permanent incapacity. Besides total permanent incapacity you may have partial permanent incapacity just as in the instance I gave of the workman in England who qualifies for a permanent disability pension, under their social system, of 10/- or 15/- a week, according to his partial permanent incapacity. If you take a man who loses two or three fingers, he will have permanent incapacity but it will be partial and not total.

To judge by sub-section (1) of the section, I do not know whether it is contemplated that what we would be dealing with there is total permanent incapacity or permanent partial incapacity. Assuming, as I gathered from his speech, that the Minister means total permanent incapacity, then we come to the question of giving him the right to redeem. My colleague, Deputy Dr. Ryan, said he thought it was fair enough that when the employer had the right to redeem, in a case of total permanent incapacity, the workman should equally have that right. I think there are certain aspects that may have escaped the notice of Deputy Dr. Ryan. In the first place, we have to realise that we are dealing with retrospective legislation under this section and, in dealing with retrospective legislation instead of prospective legislation, we must be quite clear what the impact of the law will be. There are certain classes of industries that this may affect in a very serious way.

Deputies have been talking here about the type of people who insure and the type of people who do not insure. So far as I am aware, the vast majority of employers, as a matter of common good sense, insure. In my experience, the only classes who do not insure are (1) small farmers who can only afford possibly a casual workman for three or four months of the year or during a busy season. The small farmer does not insure because he can badly afford the workman, not to talk of insurance. The second class of persons who do not insure are connected with the type of industry where it does not pay to insure. I am talking now of the type of industry where, by virtue of the work carried out, the insurance rates are so prohibitive that it would pay them to carry their own risk. However, the vast majority of employers in between insure as a matter of good business. When this Bill becomes law, every employer will insure if he can get insurance. There is no use in discussing compulsory insurance—we have not got it and it is not proposed under this Bill—if the position will be that insurance companies will not cover the risk.

There is one particular branch of industry that I will deal with in a few moments in respect of which insurance companies will not cover the risk: I refer to the mining industry. I know that in one particular instance, at all events, for the risks under this Bill, a quotation of 21 per cent. of the wage bill has been given. That position would be impossible. It would mean the closing-down of the industry. It would mean an increase in the price of coal such as to put that particular class of coal out of competition on the markets where it now sells. I want the Minister to appreciate, with regard to this right of redemption by the workman, that, even in permanent cases, there are a considerable number of permanent cases and I refer particularly to the mining industry. If these men can come in under this Bill and have compulsory redemption at figures such as they will work out under this Bill, it will run into a tremendous amount of money. It will run into such a sum of money that the industrial concerns which will be affected by this particular section will be unable to meet it.

If this Bill goes to a Committee, I think the Minister should keep an open mind as to whether a case can be made for a particular type of industry being excluded from the compulsory redemption provisions of this Bill. I am not so much concerned with the rate of the weekly compensation proposed under this Bill: it is a matter that can be examined. Its different implications can be examined. What I do think and what I do see is that the effects of this section allowing compulsory redemption can prove more far-reaching—and I am sincere about this—than I think the Minister or his advisers have possibly contemplated.

I come now to the rest of Section 8. Sub-section (3) is a new departure. It reads as follows:—

"Where any weekly payment (including a weekly payment which commenced before the appointed day) to a workman, whose incapacity is not permanent, has been continued for not less than six months, the court may, on the application of the workman made at any time after he has attained the age of 21 years, by order provide for the payment by the employer, by way of redemption as from the date of the application of his liability to make the weekly payment, of a lump sum of such amount as may be determined by the court."

I do not know how it is proposed to work that sub-section because there is no guidance for any court in it, as it is drafted. How is a court to determine a lump sum for a temporary incapacity? On what basis is a court to assess such disability? Sub-section (4) of Section 8 provides:—

"The court shall have a discretion to grant or refuse an application under this section and, in exercising that discretion, shall have regard to the nature of the workman's injury, his reason for making the application and, where the employer so requests, the employer's circumstances."

I should like the Minister, when he is replying, to pose to me what might be the reasons for a workman's application under this section that a court might consider just or reasonable. Does the section mean that any workman who is temporarily incapacitated for a period exceeding, say, six months, has the automatic right to go to a judge of the Circuit Court and ask him to fix his lump sum?

The judge has certain matters to guide him as far as a total permanent incapacity case is concerned: 75 per cent. of the annuity figure is provided under the workmen's compensation code. In this he has nothing to guide him. Will he proceed on the basis that, in all probability, in accordance with the medical evidence, this particular workman whose incapacity is admittedly of a temporary nature will be, say, 12, 18 or 24 months incapacitated and, if so, is he to assess the figure on 75 per cent. of that or will he go on the basis that he will give him full weekly compensation for a period of two years? From what point of view is the judge to get assistance on this matter? From what point of view can a judge know what we in this House mean by this particular section?

The sub-section suggests that, before a workman can apply under this section, he must have some reason. What is the reason that the Minister or his advisers have in mind? Is it a free for every workman who is temporarily incapacitated or must a workman have some particular family circumstances upon which he can base his application to the court to put this machinery in order? These are matters that certainly I do not comprehend. I can assure the Minister that I can see tremendous difficulty in endeavouring to ascertain the meaning of this section, if it is left as it stands.

I want to bring the Minister now to one of the most abused sections in the 1934 Act, Section 24, which enables a judge to treat a case of partial incapacity as total incapacity. That section is worked day in and day out in our courts in dealing with the type of cases we have particularly in the country. I should like the Minister to appreciate that the vast majority of workmen in the country are not simply left starving if they happen to meet with an accident, because invariably they have small farms or they live on small farms and so are entirely different from their opposite numbers in the heart of Dublin City or across the water. For that reason, if one of them meets with an accident, he has something else to do—he can walk around the farm and draw his weekly compensation.

If he suffers a finger injury or develops a septic left hand, in view of the type of employment he has been in, he can go to the court and say: "There is no work for me, although I agree that I am able to do light work. Though I am only partially incapacitated, I still cannot get a job," and ask the court to treat his partial incapacity as permanent. In 95 per cent. of cases he must succeed, because, under the machinery as we work it, he will be sent by his advisers to the labour exchange to ask: "Have you any job for a man with one hand or one foot?", and you can be quite sure that there is no employer who is going to take on somebody like that. The decks are then cleared for an application to the court and he goes in and is dealt with under Section 24 as a partial case to be treated as a total incapacity case.

That is going to arise under Section 8 and I should like to know if such a man, who, admittedly, is only partially incapacitated, is treated at totally incapacitated by the court, can use sub-section (3) and claim a lump sum based on permanent temporary incapacity? I do not know what the answer to that one is and I am quite sure that there is no insurance company will know what the answer to it is. I do not know how a judge could interpret that situation. Judges, like everybody else, are not infallible. They have to try to administer the law according to the way we write it into the Statute Book and these are some of the matters that occur to me as arising under Section 8. From that point of view alone, for the achieving of whatever object he wants to achieve by the section, the Minister would be well advised to accept Deputy Dr. Ryan's amendment and to have a Committee of the House to examine how we can deal with the problems that it appears to me are going to arise under the section.

I am not very much concerned with the other sections. When this Bill has passed, I do not think there will be any such thing as common law actions. With the compensation being increased to £4 10s. per week and the lump sum going up to £1,800, I can see common law actions being very few and far between, because while formerly a workman naturally went for a common law action whenever the circumstances justified it, after this Bill has passed, in nine cases out of ten, even though the workman has a common law action, he will fare so much better under this, with his right to redeem his lump sum, with no risk whatsoever being taken by him in the law courts, that common law actions will simply disappear, except in very exceptional circumstances.

I am not greatly concerned with the figures, but I believe that the weekly figure should be increased. Again, it seems to be a matter of a difference between some of the people who have spoken on the Minister's side and Deputy Dr. Ryan as to whether there should be special provision for the married man with dependents. I think there should be, because his need — and we must get down to the question of needs in this matter — is much greater. Whatever may be said about how far we should go, there should be special provision for the married man with dependents.

There is another point to which I should like to draw the Minister's attention. He will find that people dealing with these cases have come across the very same instances in this regard as I have. Take the case of a single man. He is being provided for with £4 10s. per week and if he is the type of workman I have in mind, the man with a small farm or living on a small farm, the difference between £4 10s. a week and his ordinary wages is negligible. The present wage of workers under the Mayo County Council is £5 per week. That figure has not been sanctioned yet, but it is the sum which has been passed by the Mayo County Council for their workers. Under this section, the injured workman during the period of his incapacity will draw £4 10s. per week.

Time and again, I have come across cases of workmen who, their own medical advisers say, are not going to get right until their cases are settled. I do not mean that in any cynical or jocose way, so far as the workmen are concerned. In the case of workmen who have been used to regular employment and who have been knocked out of employment for two or three months, many of them develop neurasthenia and get a fixation that they are never going to recover. I have come across cases and have been in cases where a workman's medical advisers assured me that the one thing to be done in the workman's interest was to settle the case, when he would get well. The phobia was brought on by the worry of having the thing hanging over him, and they told me he would tend to get worse the longer it went on.

There is a small margin between the weekly payment he gets in compensation and his wages and what the temptation will be to a workman—it may start as a temptation and then develop in these neurasthenic cases— when the difference between sitting at home without making any attempt to work and going to work is 10/- per week, I do not like to speculate. I do not know what the effect of it may be, but undoubtedly it will have some effect and not, I am afraid, a very good effect. However, there is a reasonable line in everything, and, in particular, I should be more inclined to make it £4 10s. per week, or even more, for the married man with a family, the man whose very family circumstances will encourage him to go back to his work immediately he is able to do so and who, while he is out of work, when he very genuinely needs it, will have sufficient to keep his home and his family going.

There are some matters in this Bill —and there are certain matters not in it—which should be considered from the point of view of the ordinary workman. One of these which might be considered by a committee set up to examine such matters is the case of injured workmen. I have come across such cases very often. For instance, the cases where workmen develop what we call industrial diseases. I know of at least two cases of dermatitis where, before the men could bring proceedings, a doctor—I forget what he is called under the Act—had to certify that those diseases arose in the course of their employment. His own doctor might be attending him for, possibly, two, three or four months and suddenly, for some reason, his compensation is stopped. He then discovers that his own doctor's certificate is no good to him. It is only when he consults his legal advisers that he finds, before he can launch proceedings, that a doctor who never saw the patient before must certify that his condition was due to this industrial disease and that the disease arose in the course of his employment. I have come across one case in which a certain doctor could not certify that this was so. In order to do so, he would have to have seen the patient when this industrial disease began, three, four or five months before. You will find workmen deprived of their rights because they did not know, as far as industrial diseases were concerned, that this peculiar provision was there.

There are some other matters which I think we might possibly deal with from the workman's point of view in this Bill, but, if the Minister will eventually have this matter considered by a committee, I suppose we will have to wait until we hear what this committee is able to do.

As far as Section 11 is concerned, I think the period of 12 months should be sufficient. I do not accept, whatever the Minister may think, that, in these days, if any workman has been injured, a period of six months elapses without his knowing his rights. I think, taking the matter by and large, as a nation we are probably the most legal minded in the world. At all events, from my experience, I have come across very few workmen who, having met with accidents, were not aware of their rights within a matter of days, not to talk of letting the matter drift for six months or 12 months.

There is also the employer's side of that, and there is the insurance company's side. While I hold no brief for insurance companies at all, what I want to say is that these premiums, which the employer will have to pay, will largely be determined by their experience under this Bill, when it becomes law. From my knowledge of that, there are very few insurance companies that want to touch workmen's compensation insurance. My experience has been that, where insurance companies were taking workmen's compensation insurance, they wanted to take over every insurance of the firm they were covering. As far as I know, insurance companies do not seem to be anxious to get hold of workmen's compensation insurance.

It is only fair to the employer, if a workman of his has an accident, that he should know at least within 12 months whether he is going to deal with him, or will have to deal with him under the workmen's compensation code, or whether he has to go to common law. I think, from the workmen's point of view, they should have their minds made up for them. They should make up their minds whether they are going to launch common law actions within 12 months. I think that period is long enough, and should not be extended to 24 months.

I should like to say to the Minister that, as far as the mining industry of this country is concerned, and the extraordinarily high premiums that must be paid to cover their employees, he should consider dealing with this industry separately, in relation to these compulsory provisions. I think the answer to the argument that it is not fair for the workmen not to have the right compulsorily to redeem when the employer has it, is to take away the right from both sides. In my experience, over a long number of years, in dealing with workmen's compensation, I have only come across two cases where the employers, who in both cases followed the insurance company, exercised their right to compulsory redemption. In 99 per cent. of cases it is a question of mutual agreement, and making a bargain between the parties.

I can, on the other hand, visualise this: take the case of a small farmer, who is not in good circumstances, and who has a workman, maybe a neighbour, employed possibly for a week, a fortnight, or a month, during the busy season, or during the spring. I can see that man becoming a farmer, and the small farmer will be sold out straight away, if these provisions go through in this Bill. These are matters which I think the Minister should fully consider.

I think the sensible way to do it, the sensible approach is to have an all-Party committee of this House to deal with the matter, as suggested by Deputy Dr. Ryan. It is incorrect, it is simply not true, for Deputy Larkin to say that the only thing to be conaidered under Deputy Dr. Ryan's amendment is the impact of this Bill on industrial costings. The whole idea of this amendment of Deputy Dr. Ryan's is to consider how we can improve this Bill, how we can make a workable Bill. I think we would do this better if we referred it to a committee of this House rather than if we dealt with the matter in the cut and thrust of debate in the ordinary Committee Stage. I think the Minister would be well advised to accept the proposition put up by Deputy Dr. Ryan. I can assure the Minister that we are all anxious to make this a workable measure when it goes on the Statute Book.

Deputy Dr. Ryan and Deputy Moran have just assured the House that the proposal before the House in the name of Deputy Dr. Ryan is a suggestion, and only a suggestion, that the workability and practicability of the Workmen's Compensation Act should be examined and that the desirability of the various sections, particularly Section 8, and Section 7 with which Deputy Dr. Ryan is also concerned, should also be examined. The proposal which the House is discussing is a proposal that a committee of the House be appointed for that purpose. The Fianna Fáil Party would appear, therefore, to be adopting the attitude that all they are concerned with in putting down a motion on the Second Reading of this Bill is that the Bill should get careful consideration as to some particular sections and as to the operation of certain sections and sub-sections.

That may be the present intention of the Deputies opposite, but it may be no harm to remind the House that the proposal which is before the House in the name of Deputy Dr. Ryan is that a committee should be appointed to consider the Bill "on the probable consequences of the proposals in the Bill on employment and prices." It is nothing more and nothing less.

So far we have not yet heard any speech from the other side of the House which would deal in any way with the "probable consequences of the Bill on employment and prices." If the Deputies opposite have any views on the probable consequences of this Bill on employment and prices it would be of great assistance to the House to have them. It would be of particular assistance to the House to have them when the Deputies opposite have proposed a motion that a committee of the House should inquire into that problem.

I cannot agree with Deputy Dr. Ryan's contention that this Bill can or should be approached on the general basis that it is merely another branch of social insurance. In approaching the Bill generally and its provisions in particular, Deputies should remember that the type of legislation with which we are dealing, the whole workman's compensation code, has, as Deputy O'Higgins mentioned, an older origin than nearly all social welfare provisions which we now find normal and acceptable.

I believe that the workmen's compensation code and even present-day workmen's compensation legislation should be viewed in the light of the fact that all modern industrial progress, the mechanisation of agriculture, and all forms of more efficient and more productive work carry in their wake a necessarily added risk to persons who are engaged in that work. I am not concerned with inefficiently run factories. I am not concerned with over-stupid employees doing risky things which they know they should not do. I am not concerned with employers who are stupid about ordinary precautions and ordinary safeguards, but in considering any workmen's compensation Bill it is fair to say that modern progress in all forms of production, whether it is agricultural or industrial, necessarily means that manual workers working efficiently in properly run premises under proper supervision and in accordance with any factory Acts we can make or put into operation will necessarily incur an added risk in their employment every year as we progress.

I think it is one of the costs of increases in industrial and agricultural efficiency. If it is, it is a cost that we must bear in the form of making a special provision for workmen who are injured in this particular way. I think that the workmen's compensation code should be approached not merely on the basis that it is one of the branches of social welfare with which all Deputies are concerned but on the basis that it is a special code the need for which was seen long before much of our modern social welfare and the need for which to-day is even greater than it probably was 30 or 40 years ago.

In that light it seems to me that the general provisions of this Bill are desirable. In particular, I believe that an increase of the maximum compensation awardable to a workman is desirable and justifiable in the Bill. Again, we have yet to hear what the Deputies opposite think about that increase.

Deputy Moran suggested that it was a dangerous increase. The only reason he advanced against it was that a workman earning £5 who might get compensation at £4 10s. might be tempted to malinger. I think we can allay the fears of Deputy Moran on that question. A workman earning £5 a week under this Bill can only get £3 15s. a week. In order to get £4 10s., as I understand it, a workman must earn something in the nature of £7 so that a workman earning £5 a week will still get considerably less. He will get 75 per cent. whatever way it works out. The objection to the raising of the maximum compensation to £4 10s. need not be one to disturb the House.

With regard to the other provisions of the Bill, there is one matter I would like to mention to the Minister which is not provided for and which should be considered between this and the Committee Stage of the Bill. In Section 5 the Bill provides an increase for juvenile dependency. That is a necessary and desirable increase but there is still no cure for the hard case which arises where a juvenile dependent is the only juvenile dependent of a deceased worker killed in a fatal accident. If a child being the only child of such workman is within a month of 16 years and if the workman dies, then the child will get a figure of less than £10 even as the Bill is drafted. I would like the Minister to consider introducing into Section 5 of the present Bill some additional provision which would ensure that under no circumstances, as can arise at present under the Schedules to the 1924 Act and the 1953 Act, can a sole juvenile dependent who is just short of 16 be in a position that he gets £10 as a juvenile and fails to get anything as an adult. I would like the Minister to consider that before the Committee Stage of the Bill.

Section 8 of the Bill is the next section which has had much discussion in the House. I do not think Deputies need be so afraid of Section 8 as some of them are. It introduces a new provision in so far as that workmen previously could not apply to the court for redemption. We would be closing our eyes to the working of previous workmen's compensation legislation if we ignored the fact that in the great majority of cases both permanent and temporary incapacity were concluded by the payment of a lump sum. I suppose 90 per cent. of workmen's compensation cases whether they were permanent or temporary ended with the payment of a lump sum, whether big or small. That is the way they were concluded.

It was usually done by agreement. I can find nothing alarming, basically speaking, in the idea that it should now be capable of being done either by agreement or by the court at the instigation of the worker.

Debate adjourned.