I hope it is not taken that £70 per week is sufficient remuneration for any man, married or single. If work cannot be provided now, I wonder where the work will be created for these proposals. I am anxious to know what the position will be for a married man with a large family who is in receipt of unemployment assistance and who works for two-and-a-half days for £70 but whose unemployment benefits will be in excess of that figure. Will he be paid the difference? I do not want any unemployed people to be worse off as a result of working two-and-a-half days. It is vitally important that people should work and I do not think any person wants to line up outside a labour exchange seeking what can only be described as money which lowers his dignity as a citizen. Nobody is anxious to be drawing unemployment benefit. I do not accept the argument that there are people who will not work. There is a great degree of self pride left in our people. They like to be independent, fully developed and associated with some form of creative activity. I do not believe, as has been said thousands of times, that there are people who would not work if it was available for them. People will work if the jobs are there and a good standard of living is guaranteed to the worker and his family at the end of the week. Workers do not aspire to being rich or wealthy but they expect to be better off on Friday night when work finishes than they were when they started on Monday morning. If under the Bill attractive employment is created I have no doubt a section of our people will be grateful to the Minister.
The provisions in the Bill merely scratch the surface. They are an attempt to assist those who are anxious to get off the unemployment register but we need to know more about it. I presume there will be a debate in the House when the Minister for Labour outlines the schemes; the variety of work and whether work will be available for plasterers, bricklayers, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, slaters and a variety of other tradesmen. If the move is to let the unemployment position limp from month to month for one year it may bring some relief to those anxious to be employed. To be unemployed must be one of the greatest disasters to befall any individual, especially an energetic and enthusiastic person who wishes to be engaged in some creative activity.
I wish the proposals in the Bill every success. Let this not be the last word in relation to the provisions of useful and effective schemes which will be an asset to everyone in the towns, cities and country. There are a variety of schemes crying out for attention. I hope what the Minister has in mind will reach a very satisfactory outcome. I cannot see this making any great impact, but I welcome it even if it only provides Members of this House with an opportunity to deal with the problems of those in receipt of social welfare benefits who are very anxious to be relieved of the responsibility of having to queue up each week for their benefits.
In my view the Minister should have given more notice about the abolition of the wet-time scheme because 40,000 building workers are likely to be affected. I agree with the Minister that circumstances today are completely different from what they were when the scheme was introduced. I hope the abolition of this scheme will focus attention on the building industry. In my opinion there is no greater source of employment than a thriving building industry. I want to pay a tribute to the 40,000 dedicated workers who have given a great service to the building and construction industry. They have worked in all kinds of weather. I hope the Minister, in consultation with his colleagues, the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Labour, will not let this be the last occasion when serious thought will be given to the problems facing the building and construction workers. Although these 40,000 workers will be losing benefits under the wet-time scheme from next month, they will expect an input into the building industry so that they will not have to worry about wet-time because they will be guaranteed security of employment by a thriving building industry. It is very necessary for this country that the building industry be a thriving one.
This is a very short Bill which must be welcomed. I hope it will lead to a reduction in the number of registered unemployed, but other moves must be made in co-operation with the Manpower service, the Department of Labour and all the training organisations to provide jobs for our young people as well as for our not so young. However, we still have a long way to go.
When the time comes we will be judged by the electorate on our record. There is nothing more important than providing jobs. As I said on many occasions, if we have our priorities right our first priority should be the provision of employment. I wish the Minister luck with this Bill. We will have another opportunity to have a further debate when the Minister for Labour introduces his Bill. Any step which takes people off the dole is welcome, but I do not want my constituents to approach me or the other Deputies representing our area telling us that they were better off before the Bill was passed. We must avoid that. I hope the Department of Social Welfare will ensure that no person who is registered unemployed will receive less for working than he is drawing at the moment.
This Bill is a step in the right direction; but it is not steps we need to deal with problems of this kind but a race. We have a responsibility to provide employment for a very large number of fine honourable boys and girls who unfortunately are unemployed at present. We must accept responsibility for providing employment. There would not be so many on the dole queues if private enterprise was encouraged to create more jobs thus taking people off the labour exchanges. Only tax reliefs will help create employment.