asked the Minister for Social Welfare the cost of increasing the social services in Ireland to bring them on a par with those prevailing in the North.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Social Services Level.
There are so many differences in coverage and qualifying conditions between the two systems that it would not be practicable to arrive at a reliable figure of the cost of bringing them into line.
Could the Minister give any sort of estimate?
I would not like to give a broad estimate without being reasonably satisfied as to its accuracy.
Could the Minister give any kind of figure?
Did the Minister or anyone in his Department ever make any examination with regard to the parity level of the services this side of the Border and on the other side?
We frequently make them. Those are two booklets for anybody to read. One is from Northern Ireland and one from here.
Is the Minister saying that the Department in Dublin have never made any examination as to the parity between the two?
The Deputy knows perfectly well that it is not just as simple as that. Most of the basic rates payable in Northern Ireland are supplemented under certain conditions regarding health, circumstances and family conditions. We would want to know whether those conditions, and to what extent, applied to our recipients before we could make comparisons. Do you want me to go round and have an investigation about what the possible results would be if we were to apply those here?
That is entirely different.
Not at all.
Does the Minister remember about three years ago when he said he was going to make comparisons between the social services here and those in the EEC countries?
Has that been completed yet?
Broadly speaking, it has. Those are two different things.
Not at all. Would it not be more important to cost the social services in the Six Counties to see if we could get over one of our problems as far as Partition is concerned?
The problem of accurate costing, if we are to get an exact figure, is one which would be pretty difficult to arrive at. If the Deputy wants to know the difference between the costings there now and what they are costing here that could possibly be provided.
Why did the Minister not provide that now?
That question was not asked.
Surely the Minister must be able to give some estimate of what it would cost to bring our services on a par with theirs without going into the conditions regarding qualification?
We must go into the conditions, the contribution conditions and the qualifications governing the payment of supplementary allowances.
How long would the Minister's Department take to go into that?
I do not think it would even be worth while.
Does the Minister not think it would be a good thing?
I am calling Question No. 46.
This would be a very desirable thing to do. Does the Minister not realise that ought to be the first thing which should be undertaken to solve Partition?
I do not think it would be the first thing to solve Partition.