I am not sure that I am impressed with the case being made by Deputy O'Connell for different limits in respect of social welfare and of health and presumably also for redundancy payments. That would seem to me to be not merely administrative inconvenience but the administrative nightmare, not particularly for the Departments involved but for employees in trying to calculate the level of their liability.
Having heard the long preamble from the Minister before announcing the changed figure I was surprised to hear the extent of the change. For the sake of an extra £500 it was hardly worth making any change because such a small change will not be likely to make much difference.
As I said on Second Stage, £5,000 was too low to have pitched the upper ceiling at initially. I was inclined to agree with the unions that a more realistic figure would have been nearer to £8,000. For a number of reasons the £5,000 ceiling is too low because it will exclude from cover for consultancy services quite a number of people who are earning more than that amount. These people will find it necessary to reinsure expensively with the VHI. The figure is too low from the point of view of the State. It is clear from all the figures that the yield from this scheme will be infinitesimal in comparison with the health costs in general. The Government have become committed to the concept of insurance that has been advocated by this party down through the years. I should have preferred, though, that the Government dealt with the situation properly and with the eventual aim of having the insurance contribution cover a large part of the out-goings. The entire costs of the health services are such that there is no way in which contributions will ever be meaningful in terms of covering those costs.
If Deputy Callanan were here he would be asking the Minister whether, in deciding to change the upper limit of £5,000 in respect of income earners which had been related by the Minister to a valuation of £60 for farmers, it has been decided to make any change in respect of this valuation.