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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 21 Jul 1970

Vol. 248 No. 10

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Children's Allowances.


asked the Minister for Social Welfare why in an application for children's allowances, where the father resides with the mother of the child, the mother is seemingly excluded from making the formal claim.

As laid down in the Children's Allowances Acts and statutory regulations made thereunder, the father of a child whose mother resides with him is the only person qualified for a children's allowance in respect of that child. Accordingly, the application for the allowance must be made by him. He may, however, nominate the mother to receive the children's allowance and, if he does so, the allowance is made payable to the mother.

May I ask the Minister why this anomalous situation is allowed to continue in statutory legislation? Apart from the legal——

Has the Deputy a question to put to the Minister? Question No. 11.

May I please have a reply to my supplementary?

If I understood the Deputy's supplementary correctly, he is suggesting that the legislation should be amended.

Why was that provision incorporated in the Children's Allowances Acts?

I do not know, but somebody must be made responsible. If both parties have equal rights, I can see great trouble resulting.

May I put it to the Minister that most families do not enter into disastrous marital disputes about children's allowances? I suggest that a mother should have equal rights with a father in making an application for children's allowances. Is it not a scandalous situation that only the father can apply for the allowances? Will the Minister please ensure that this unchristian-like situation is rectified?

It is not all that unchristian-like. Somebody must decide which one is to make the application. As it is at the moment, the husband can nominate his wife to be the recipient. I do not see much wrong with that.

In a nice peaceful household there would be no problem.

I know of a case where the husband refuses to collect the allowances and refuses also to authorise the wife to collect. In such case, can the Minister say whether the wife can be authorised to collect the allowances?

The Deputy is the devil for coming up with a peculiar type of case. I do not know what could be done in a case like that.

Could the Minister ensure that the wife gets the money?

Would the Minister consider examining the position with a view to bringing in a Social Welfare Bill in 1971 which would amend the provision whereby this disgraceful injustice is allowed to exist?

I do not think this is as simple as the Deputies are making it out to be. First of all, in a well ordered household, where there is agreement, the existing legislation is adequate. But where there is likely to be disagreement as to who should draw the allowances, if both had equal rights, as suggested by the Deputies, a serious situation could be created.

The Minister has not answered my question in relation to a husband who refuses to collect the children's allowances on grounds of principle and who refuses also to authorise his wife to collect.

In that case we could give the wife permisson to draw.


No, I did not say that.