I move amendment No. 3a:
In page 5, after line 45, to add the following new subsection:
"(2) The Children's Allowances Act, 1944 is hereby amended by—
(a) the insertion in section 12 (1) of the following paragraph after paragraph (c):
`(d) who buys, sells or offers for sale, takes or gives in exchange or pawns or takes in pawn any children's allowance book,'; and
(b) the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (1)
`(1A) In any proceedings under this section the Court shall have particular regard to the economic circumstances of the person selling, offering for sale or pawning such children's allowance Book.'."
This amendment arose out of a point I made in relation to the section on Second Stage. My view is that there should be specific reference to the interchange of children's allowance books between the people who are probably under pressure and consequently need money and those so-called human beings who take the allowance book and give the unfortunate oppressed person money. This amendment was moved by me to take account of the special circumstances, social and otherwise, that would require an unfortunate citizen of this State to hand over his or her children's allowance book to some person who would be anti-social enough to take that book and hand cash to the oppressed person in exchange for it.
I agree—and the Parliamentary Secretary will no doubt make the point—that this amendment may reek of legislative piety, that there is no need for this pious intent in legislation and that its legal effect would appear to be nil. I would accept, if that was to be the criticism, that this amendment is set down as a guide to the court to take into account the special circumstances of a citizen who would have to hand over his or her children's allowance book in exchange for money.
It is for that reason that I propose this amendment on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party. The principle behind the amendment is to ensure that the oppressed person would be given special consideration and that the oppressor would not be given any consideration. The person handing over the children's allowance book may be a person who in the normal way would do it whether he had money or not; but in the main you will find that there are people who have to deliver their children's allowance book to these people.
In our society children are generally treated with a high degree of respect and have a prominent position in the average family. If a mother is forced to dispose of her children's allowance book—an allowance which is specifically to cater for the child and to provide money to ensure that the child has food in its belly—she should be given special consideration by the court. The maximum penalty should be inflicted on the person taking the allowance book. One is open to the accusation that the amendment itself is somewhat flabby in the legislative sense. Nevertheless, the intention of the amendment is important. If the amendment is defective—and there is a possibility that it is—I would accede to the Parliamentary Secretary's request to withdraw it at this stage and to reintroduce it, perfected on Report Stage.