I move: That the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 1:
In page 4 the following new subsection inserted between lines 12 and 13:
"(2) In relation to the amendments of the Principal Act referred to in section 19 (†), the Minister may, in respect of a dismissal or a termination of employment in the period beginning on the 22nd day of January, 1971 and ending on the commencement of this section and notwithstanding the Principal Act, pay to an employee out of the Redundancy Fund any moneys to which the employee may become entitled by virtue of the said section 19 (†).".
Seanad amendments Nos. 1 and 3 are designed to provide for retrospection for three measures in the Bill back to 22nd January. The House will recall that I resolutely set myself against any measure of retrospection in this Bill and gave my reasons for doing so. There was very considerable pressure to have retrospection from different dates, from the date of the passing of the Bill in the Dáil before going to the Seanad, from the date of its circulation and back to the date of its introduction. For very good reasons it was not possible to consider retrospection of any great length and to give retrospective effect to all the measures in the Bill was not considered either feasible or desirable. The main reasons are that the fund is under fairly heavy pressure at present; only a certain amount of extra payments could reasonably be expected to be met out of it for the time to come, the work involved in giving a full measure of retrospection was pretty well impossible and, indeed, the whole question of making legislation retrospective is not considered desirable and I would not like the step we are taking here to be taken as a precedent in relation to any other legislation we might have.
The Labour amendments which we have here today seek to give retrospection to some other provisions in the Bill. I know that these are the provisions we would all like to make retrospective, particularly the one in relation to the shorter period for qualifying, but this is the one which would entail the opening up of new cases, the heaviest burden on the surplus that is already in the fund and practical work which would be impossible to carry out in any reasonable time.
I should like to point out that the measure of retrospection which these two amendments from the Seanad will give in relation to three provisions of the Bill will involve a considerable amount of extra work and will necessarily be slow. I should like to warn the House, as I did the Seanad, that if some of the recipients who will benefit under the payments provided retrospectively to 22nd January, expect that the payments will be made immediately, I am afraid they will be disappointed because it will take a very considerable amount of extra work in the Department and the extra payment will not be made immediately.